There are many ways the bicycle industry can and should address the issue of e-bike fires. Some are very productive and responsible. The recently announced webinar series sponsored by the National Bicycle Dealers Association is a step in the right direction. The information available from Human Powered Solutions is intended for bicycle retailers but their tips and directions work just as well for e-bike owners. Third-party certification is my favorite answer to the problem. The recently published article in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), written by the “staff,” is hands down the worst way to address the issue.
The article contends that recently reported e-bike fires in New York City have “caught the industry’s attention and shined a brighter light on the topic of battery safety.” Weird, because I’ve been posting about potential fire problems for years. Pedego recalled EVERY e-bike they had sold up to 2015 due to potential fire hazard. How can BRAIN claim the “industry” is just taking notice?
The article continues to go off the rails by quoting anonymous industry experts who blame fake news on the over reporting of e-bike fires. Note that BRAIN credits anonymous “industry experts” to this statement because BRAIN journalists are either lazy or no expert would agree to be quoted saying something so defensive and clueless. Claiming that two reported e-bikes fires were really scooter fires somehow doesn’t make me feel more confident about the e-bikes in my garage (or in nameless industry experts). There are plenty of accurate news reports on e-bike fires. Sure, scooters have a problem, but that doesn’t lessen the e-bike problem.
When the article does quote a real person, it is a doozie. Larry Pizzi, who leads the PeopleForBikes e-bike committee, blames “low-priced vehicles coming from ‘rogue’ importers.” I guess it slipped Larry’s memory that Specialized, Santa Cruz, Ancheer and Pedego have all had e-bike recalls due to potential fire hazards. These are well-established brands, not rogue importers. Deflecting a problem to other products seems like the worst response from an industry that has a documented problem.
I recommend that Bicycle Retailer And Industry News remove the article. It will only come back to embarrass the publication and those “industry experts” who contributed to it.
Buying decision: The last e-bike I purchased was an easy decision. The Trek Verve model, powered by Bosch, is UL certified. Why would you spend more (or less) on an e-bike that isn’t third-party certified? Even with UL certification, I always charge the battery on the patio and keep track of the charging time on my phone.