Do Electric Bike Batteries Explode?
Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, seem like the new, trendy way to get around town these days. Although e-bikes can be a fun and convenient method of transportation, are there hidden dangers in riding one?
Electric bike batteries are generally very safe and can be used and enjoyed with little risk. However, there have been a few cases of e-bike-related fires and explosions in recent years. Fires and explosions may encourage some to exercise caution when using electric bike batteries.
We’ll lay out why fires and explosions occur with e-bikes, how to prevent these accidents from occurring, and what to do if your e-bike catches on fire. Hopefully, this information will leave you feeling informed and prepared the next time you set out on an e-bike.
Causes of Electric Bike Battery Explosions
If you own an e-bike, chances are it functions using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries are used in many devices besides electric bikes, including laptops, smartphones, and electric cars.
Lithium-ion batteries have evolved to be versatile these days, so it is no surprise e-bikes also use them.
Lithium-ion batteries have become popular recently because they are easily portable yet still hold an abundance of power. Additionally, these batteries are super convenient to use because they don’t need to be replaced periodically like other types of batteries.
Just plug your device or battery into the wall socket when it loses power. One single battery could last in a device for many years. However, when the lithium-ion batteries in e-bikes malfunction, explosions can occur.
You probably use lithium-ion batteries with little to no concern, as battery explosions are rare. You are probably storing some in your home or office right now. While you shouldn’t avoid devices with lithium-ion batteries, you should nevertheless be aware of their risks.
When using lithium-ion batteries, it is important to remember that they hold a lot of energy in a small package. Their compacted energy and natural flammability can cause them to overheat. Overheating can produce dangerous chemical reactions with fire-starting potential.
Therefore, there is always a risk of explosions and fires when lithium-ion batteries overheat. The risk of overheating increases when batteries are cheaply made and old, which makes these batteries more likely to malfunction.
Preventing Electric Bike Battery Explosions
The thought of a battery exploding or catching fire while you ride your e-bike can feel terrifying. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent accidents when using a bike powered by a lithium-ion battery.
Taking precautions while choosing bikes and batteries as well as properly storing these items will help prevent electric bike battery explosions and fires. In these next sections, we’ll give you information about preventing e-bike battery explosions.
Tips For Choosing Safe Equipment
Purchasing safe equipment is one of the best ways to prevent electric bike battery explosions. All e-bikes are different, so you should stay up-to-date about how to choose the safest options.
To ensure your equipment is safe:
- Only purchase new electric bikes and batteries, as old and second-hand equipment is more susceptible to accidents.
- Check manufacturer reviews or speak with experts to ensure that your equipment is high-quality.
- Make sure all batteries are laboratory certified.
- Only purchase charging cords and other power accessories that go with your specific bike.
- Never purchase broken or damaged equipment.
It may be more cost-effective to buy a used or lower-quality electric bike. However, using the best equipment will allow you to enjoy your e-bike without worrying about safety risks. Buying more expensive equipment now can get you ahead later on.
Tips For Proper Storage of Electric Bike Batteries
In addition to purchasing high-quality equipment, it is important to ensure that your electric bike batteries are stored safely to help mitigate fire risks. While a fire-proof container is the safest storage method, you can also store e-bike batteries without one.
To safely store your e-bike’s batteries:
- Ensure that you never expose batteries to extreme temperatures that could cause them to burst; store them at room temperature.
- Keep batteries away from all materials that could easily catch fire, especially fabric.
- Once you fully charge your batteries, immediately take them off the charger to prevent them from overheating.
- If you notice that a battery appears to be damaged or is leaking, dispose of it immediately using e-waste or battery-disposal services.
Paying close attention to the condition of your lithium-ion batteries, whether they are in use or not, will ensure your safety and prevent damage. If you are ever suspicious that your battery is damaged, dispose of it safely and buy a new one.
What To Do If Your E-Bike Battery Explodes?
If your e-bike battery explodes, immediately call the fire department. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries are hazardous because they are very hard to stop and can spread very quickly. In addition to the actual fire, lithium-ion batteries can also produce toxic gasses that can harm your lungs.
Using a Class BC or Class ABC fire extinguisher can help control fires in many cases. However, you should call the fire department, even if you think you put the fire out. If you cannot control the fire, evacuate the area quickly and safely and wait for the firefighters to arrive.
If your battery is not on fire but you notice smoke or the battery feels hot, proceed with caution. Warning signs of fire include overheating. You should contact the fire department or Environmental Health and Safety for assistance if you ever run into this issue.
So, do electric bike batteries explode? The short answer is that, yes, electric bike batteries can explode. Electric bike batteries and lithium-ion batteries in general cause very few explosions and fires. Purchasing a high-quality e-bike and proper storage decreases the likelihood of accidental fires.
Don’t let the possibility of your electric bike exploding or combusting ruin your fun. The proper precautions and a watchful eye will allow you to experience the thrill of an electric bike without worrying about the possibility of spontaneous combustion.
Jason Hawkley is a biking enthusiast, which is a nice way of saying he’s a total nerd when it comes to bikes. One day while mountain biking through the woods in New Hampshire, the idea came him to create Our Streets as a way to share his biking passion with you.
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Replacement Electric Bike Batteries Guide
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A good e-bike battery should last for hundreds of cycles. With average use, this means several years. Eventually, electric bike batteries need to be replaced as their life cycle comes to an end.
You can tell when a battery is nearing the end of its life when it does not provide you with much range. Some high-quality batteries that come on the top e-bikes such as a Bosch battery have a battery management system (BMS) integrated into the battery that actually tells you the current capacity and also how many charge cycles it has gone through.
But no matter what type of battery you have you’ll sooner or later be asking yourself the all-important question: how can I replace my e-bike battery?
Down below Electric Bike Report dives into this question and more in greater detail.
Are E-bike Batteries Interchangeable?
In general, the answer is no – you should only replace a battery with one that comes from the same manufacturer and is of exactly the same spec.
The reason is that the original e-bike or kit manufacturer has the responsibility to ensure that the battery pack, charger, and e-bike all work safely together, and using a ‘non-original’ replacement pack potentially introduces all sorts of uncontrolled risks.
It’s a little more complicated than this in some situations. For example, some Bosch batteries of different capacities are explicitly made to be interchangeable and there will be many instances where an original supplier and/or manufacturer of the e-bike cannot be traced or has gone out of business – in such cases we look at your options below.
As an important side note: you should always, if possible, use a charger that comes from the original manufacturer too. The one that comes with your battery should sync up well and not overload the battery. Pairing your battery with a different charger adds in risk of malfunction during charging.
Let’s first look at the basics of getting a replacement battery for your e-bike, then we will look at some of the major manufacturers of e-bike batteries and some of the main e-bike manufacturers to see which common battery types are still replaceable. Let’s consider the options for replacement in terms of desirability.
Where Should I Go to Get a Replacement E-Bike Battery?
On this last point it may help to note that there are a couple of manufacturing standards for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes. Although it’s not a legal requirement, it may be that one of the standards is actually marked on the battery itself.
The standards are BS EN 50604‑1 and UN38.3, the latter required for lithium-ion battery transport by air, sea or land. Just because these standards are not marked on a battery doesn’t mean it does not comply with them – but it is a reassuring sign if a battery does bear one or both of these marks.
Note that using a replacement battery that does not come from the original manufacturer (whether a dealer is involved or not) may void the warranty of your electric bike or kit. Check with the e-bike or kit company to understand what their policy is regarding the use of aftermarket replacement batteries.
Replacement Batteries from Original Manufacturers
Bosch E-Bike Batteries
Only Bosch manufactured batteries will be used on any new Bosch e-bike – this has always been the case and so it makes advice on interchangeability a little more straightforward than with the likes of Shimano and Brose who have both allowed the use of third party batteries with their mid-drive motor systems.
There have been four basic designs made by Bosch over the years (good online overview here):
- Rack mounted batteries: PowerPack in 300, 400, and 500 Wh versions which are all interchangeable with each other.
- Down tube mounted batteries: PowerPack in 300, 400, and 500 Wh versions, current versions of which are all interchangeable with each other.
- Frame integrated batteries: PowerTubes in 400, 500, and 625Wh versions, with the 400 and 500 units being interchangeable with each other. The 625Wh may be retrofittable but it needs a compatible frame with a big enough space to house it (400 and 500 units are the same physical dimensions but 625 is bigger). 500 and 625 Wh units are used on the Dual Battery system to give a capacity up to 1250Wh.
- Frame Integrated ‘Smart’ Option batteries: This is a new 750Wh option for 2022 and will be only compatible with 2022 e-bikes that feature the Bosch ‘Smart’ system and will not be compatible with other Bosch e-bikes that are ‘non-Smart’. Similarly, other types of PowerTube batteries (400, 500, and 625Wh versions) will not be compatible with e-bikes featuring Bosch’s ‘Smart’ system.
Some third-party batteries compatible with Bosch systems are available as detailed in the section below.
There are some suppliers of batteries that will fit older models, in some cases dating back to 2011 when the Bosch e-bikes first entered the market, for example, The Holland Bike Shop in Europe sells some batteries compatible with much older Bosch-powered models.
Shimano E-Bike Batteries
Shimano produces its own brand batteries for use on their systems, but you may also find new e-bikes powered by Shimano motor systems with batteries manufactured by their licensed partners Darfon and SMP. These third party batteries are not interchangeable with any Shimano batteries.
Shimano’s current range includes rack-mounted, downtube-mounted and frame-integrated batteries from 418Wh to 630Wh. You can see a brief overview with detailed links to each battery on offer here.
It’s important to note that each battery model has a limited number of specific battery mounts it will work with, so it is important to replace an old battery with one that is compatible with the mount on your e-bike. You can check out detailed compatibility info here and here.
Shimano says that ‘the oldest current battery we have is the BT-E6000 and the corresponding battery mount BM-E6000. These are compatible with all five of our current drive units (DU-EP8/E8000/E7000/E6100/E5000), but not earlier systems. For reference, DU-E8000 is the oldest in that list – it was introduced in 2016.’
Brose E-Bike Batteries
The only battery listed on Brose’s own website is a 630Wh frame-integrated option.
However, Brose systems are widely used by other manufacturers who also spec own-brand or third-party batteries. These include the likes of the widely respected battery manufacturer BMZ and well-known brands like Scott and BULLS.
For example, Specialized’s ‘full power’ range use Brose-based mid drives and a range of their own brand frame-integrated batteries. Although information on interchangeability is scarce, a Specialized FAQ page, in response to the question ‘Can I increase range by using the 604Wh aftermarket battery in any Turbo Vado/Como?’ says yes, all Vado batteries are cross-compatible as long as you are running the latest firmware (by implication so are Como and Turbo full power batteries are cross-compatible too).
The above appears only to address compatibility on current Specialized models and battery availability for older models appears a bit more complex with lots of debate online over the matter.
The fact that the latest Specialized e-bike batteries contain a Bluetooth chip to communicate with the latest Mission Control App certainly suggest both backward compatibility and availability of third party batteries will be very limited. Current e-bike batteries available from Specialized can be found here.
Yamaha E-Bike Batteries
Yamaha has integrated, rack-mounted and frame-mounted options ranging between 400Wh and 600Wh but information on backward compatibility is rather hard to find. Their systems appear on Haibike models and in the US on their own brand models too.
Giant use Yamaha motor systems but apparently have their own brand of battery – the EnergyPak range. The standard EnergyPak comes in rack-mounted and frame-integrated options whilst the Smart Compact variant allows for faster charging.
Finally, there is the Giant EnergyPak Plus, for use with the Smart Compact – a range extender style battery that fits onto the frame and effectively increases the capacity of the main Plus battery.
Giant’s Service web page states that there are EnergyPaks with 300, 360, 400, 500 and 625Wh capacities and also states ‘Giant EnergyPaks are interchangeable’.
Fazua E-Bike Batteries
This lightweight German-made system uses a frame-integrated 250Wh design and there have been two types of battery, Battery 250 and Battery 250X, the latter having the ability to be switched on and off remotely.
The latest Fazua Evation 250X battery is compatible with all Fazua electric bikes from 2019-22.
GRIN and Cytronex E-bike Kit Batteries
Canada’s GRIN is a true expert in producing a wide variety of e-bike kits. Whilst they do several designs of batteries, one of their best options from a replaceability point of view is their own brand LiGo batteries.
LiGo batteries are very unusual in being modular so that you can easily connect together as many as you like to increase or decrease battery capacity at will. They are particularly suitable for lightweight and folding bikes (I use them on a GRIN Brompton kit) and also for those who want to air travel with e-bikes as the individual battery units are only 98Wh and so are generally allowed on passenger aircraft (disconnect them from each other for travel and reconnect them on landing to make a useful e-bike battery).
The design has been around for several years and is backward compatible.
The UK’s Cytronex produces both European and US spec lightweight kits which use a unique own-design of ‘bottle battery’.
Cytronex says all their lithium bottles are compatible forwards and backward from the first version in 2017. They have different firmware for the new Bluetooth variant but both this and the non-Bluetooth version allow you to use the new 2-way – 5 level Boost Button or the previous one-way 3 level button.
In fact, if you have old and new kits on two bikes you can switch the bottle between both and it will recognize the two different button types automatically.
E-bike Manufacturers Own Brand Batteries
There are hundreds of e-bike manufacturers in the more budget space so it’s way beyond the scope of this guide to cover the options for each one; rather we’ll take a look at a couple of the market leaders.
Rad Power Bikes E-Bike Batteries
Rad Power Bikes first started producing e-bikes for the North American market in 2015 and now claims to be the US market leader. Their website lists several replacement batteries and their current lineup of bikes uses one of two battery designs.
There is the External Battery Pack (with the option for the smaller pack specific to the RadMission) which is compatible with all 2018 and newer model ebikes except the RadRover 6 Plus and RadCity 5 Plus, which use the Semi-Integrated Battery Pack.
Rad Power Bikes does offer legacy options for bikes older than that 2018 ‘cutoff’ and although some of these legacy batteries are currently out of stock Rad says they have plans to restock them.
The battery packs are consistent across their main sales areas of Canada, US and Europe.
The Rad Power website has a great filter system so you can track down the compatibility of what batteries are in stock against all current and previous models, right back to the original 2015 RadRover. All e-bike manufacturers’ websites should provide this service!
Pedego E-Bike Batteries
A longstanding US manufacturer with a clear set of battery specs for current models here. However, there doesn’t appear to be any info about legacy batteries or backward compatibility.
Interestingly, and it seems uniquely amongst the mainstream manufacturers, Pedego have recently introduced a serviceable battery (pictured above) – designed to be easily maintained at the local Pedego store. It features a rear light, brake light and indicators to boot.
Batteries for Out-Dated Motor Systems
There are a number of older motor and battery systems that are either not used or little used these days but there are still some suppliers out there who may be able to help out and if you are in this position a bit of internet research might just turn something up. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
BionX E-Bike Batteries
BionX operated between 1998 and 2018 and were once one of the leading e-bike system manufacturers in North America, with the likes of Trek and Kalkhoff using their systems.
There are still limited stocks of spare parts available here and there, including batteries, for example on this Ohm webpage.
Heinzmann E-Bike Batteries
German company Heinzmann had a great reputation for quality and produced the now obsolete Classic system and the newer Direct Power system. At various times both were available as kits or fitted to off-the-peg e-bikes.
In the UK Electric Vehicle Solutions are the main stockist of complete Direct Power kits and of spare parts for the Classic system.
What About Non-removable Frame Integrated Batteries?
A relatively small number of e-bike batteries are incorporated into the frame and not designed to be removed by the rider – they must be charged on the bike. Whilst perhaps inconvenient for some, the system has the benefit of a sleeker and simpler design and keeps the battery cells well-protected.
The Ebikemotion X35 system is one example of the most common lightweight systems out there to feature a frame-enclosed battery.
When it comes to replacing these batteries, to be clear, our official advice is that this is a job for the dealer, or expert shops to do only.
DIY in this area can get tricky in a hurry. Looking into service options to replace batteries in an integrated system is something to consider before purchasing the bike.
Third-Party Replacement E-Bike Batteries
For some older batteries – or even some current ones – there may be manufacturers other than the so-called OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) who made the original batteries. These third-party companies are not recognized by the original e-bike manufacturers so if possible it is always best to go back to your dealer or the manufacturer directly to source an original battery.
However, third-party batteries may be a solution where no original batteries appear to be available.
There are a growing number of companies that provide third-party batteries and here we take a look at a couple of the bigger operations.
Please note that on e-bikes that are still in their warranty period, replacing the battery with one from a third-party manufacturer will most likely void the warranty.
FTH Power has a good amount of experience in the electronics business and has diagnostics and assembly capabilities. They look to have good stocks of popular far eastern battery brands such as Reention (used by the likes of Juiced and Surface 604) and Hailong. They also have this handy battery/model finder to see if they have batteries for your particular model of e-bike.
Third-party battery provision (and recelling services) appear to be bigger business in mainland northern Europe than in the U.S. It makes sense, this is where e-bikes have been around much longer and where the average value of e-bikes is higher. The need to keep older bikes going longer is greater. For example, Heskon is a major supplier of replacement batteries to dealers and Fiets Accu Revisie is the part of Heskon that sells direct to customers.
The UK’s Electric Transport Shop network offers battery diagnosis (refundable against a replacement battery or recell if required). The ETS says they also have stocks of Battery Management System chips that can be used on certain packs, usually on older e-bikes.
The ETS also says ‘There are so many shapes of e-bike batteries now that we cannot guarantee that we have cell packs to fit them all and it is usually cheaper to buy a factory-built replacement than to hand-build a replacement pack in the UK so we usually recommend buying a battery from the original supplier if the diagnosis proves that’s what is needed. If their supplier is no longer available to supply a replacement pack in this instance we will help people find a suitable replacement or as a last resort we will offer to wire in an alternative pack which may be in a different position on the bike.’
What Should I Do With My Old E-bike Battery?
If at all possible the ideal solution is to take it back to the dealer you bought it from who will send it on for recycling.
In the US the industry is in the midst of setting up its own recycling scheme. It was organized by People for Bikes and will be directly coordinated under the auspices of Call2Recycle. There will be a network of battery drop-off locations from the nation’s roughly 3,000 independent bike shops. Manufacturers and retailers can sign up here.
The batteries will be sent on to ‘processing partners’, four of which are domestic and two of which are foreign—one in South Korea and one in Belgium.
The consortium brands are funding the recycling service, which will be free to riders; of course, consumers will still have to pay for replacement batteries. There are also plans for a consumer-direct mail-in recycling option in the summer – EBR will keep you posted on its development.
There are already such ready-made recycling networks in mainland Europe and the UK is just beginning to establish such a network.
This guide to replacement electric bike batteries hopefully covered the basics of what is out there for you. It’s certainly just the tip of the iceberg though. If there is anything else that wasn’t covered here, let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below and we’ll update this guide with the info our readers are looking for!