Can you take an electric bike on a plane?
Ebiking holidays are growing in popularity with many people taking to the pathways and trails of Europe for some sightseeing and adventure. If you own an electric bike, you’ve likely considered such a trip; flying to Spain or France to enjoy the wonderful cycling routes they have to offer. However, taking your electric bike on the plane with you won’t be as easy as you’d hope. Here we discuss the problems you’ll run into when trying to take an electric bike on a plane and ways to get around them.
In short, the answer is no: you can’t take an electric bike on a plane. It’s all because of the battery. Any rechargeable lithium battery larger than 100Wh is prohibited from being taken onto a plane. Some airlines may allow batteries that are up to 160Wh, but you’ll need to ask for permission in advance. The reason being that lithium batteries can be a fire hazard; if their shell were to be damaged or overheat, the battery could short-circuit and cause a spark. Lithium is highly flammable, so this spark could set it on fire and could even cause a small explosion. Of course, most modern lithium-ion batteries are designed in a way so as to prevent such issues. However, aviation security cannot take any chances.
A fire in the cargo hold could spread unnoticed and there’s a good chance that it will come into contact with other highly-flammable items such as aerosols and nail varnish. This is obviously a huge problem on a plane. And it happens more often than you’d imagine. In fact, between January 2006 and January 2020, there were 268 incidents involving lithium batteries on planes – that’s more than one every month!
This regulation, however, allows for most personal items, such as phones, laptops, and cameras, to be taken on planes. The problem is that electric bike batteries tend to be a minimum of 300Wh – our smallest electric bike, the Etura, is 313Wh. Therefore, they’re banned from being flown on commercial planes.
Alternatives to flying with an electric bike
Your hopes of taking your electric bike with you abroad shouldn’t be dashed just yet; there are ways of getting around the issue.
Rent a battery once you arrive
A popular option is to remove the battery and fly with what is essentially just a normal bike. Once you’ve arrived, you can source a battery to use for the duration of your trip. There are a couple of things to consider here. Firstly, do your research before you fly and make sure you can actually find a lender. It’s not the most common of services, so be sure to check. If you’re flying to a popular cycling destination then your chances of finding a lender will be significantly higher. Secondly, you need to ensure that the battery is compatible with your particular electric bike. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all”, so you’ll need to do some research here too.
While this may seem like a lot of effort, it’s going to be significantly cheaper than hiring an entire ebike for your trip. Biking trips can last several days, even weeks, so hiring fees for an electric bike can be pretty steep.
Ship your battery separately
In some circumstances, it’s possible to send your bike’s battery to your destination, but it will come with a hefty fee. Certain couriers, such as FedEx and UPS, provide detailed information on how your battery must be packaged and how to go about sending it abroad. For example, it must be declared as “Dangerous Goods” and labelled as being suitable for cargo aircraft only. It must also be packaged in such a way that it is protected against short-circuiting. It can be quite a hassle, but if you’re really set on taking your own battery with you, there is a way.
Use another form of transport
If it’s possible, the best option may be to use an alternative mode of transport. For example, there are no restrictions on taking electric bikes on ferries. You can take the ferry from the UK to mainland Europe, places like France or Belgium, and then continue the rest of your journey by car (or by ebike!). This does limit the number of destinations you can choose from, but it may save you a lot of hassle.
Don’t let these regulations discourage you from the electric bike experience. We’re firm believers that parts of the world are best seen by bike, and electric bikes provide the assistance you need to conquer inclines that you otherwise might not be able to. Our Furo X is a powerful ebike, boasting a 314Wh battery, which can also be folded for easy transportation. It’s one of the most powerful folding ebikes you can buy and is perfect for any occasion. Get in touch with us if you have any ebike-related questions.