Can You Fly With E-Bike Batteries?
If you’re reading this, you probably love your e-bike more than most. Who would even consider the headache of getting any kind of bike on a plane other than a truly passionate cyclist?
There’s a whole world (literally!) of great cycling vacations out there. From the quaint cobbled streets of Swiss villages to jungle tracks weaving among the temples of Cambodia, avid cyclists are spoiled for choice when looking to explore the world on two wheels.
Unfortunately though, flying with your e-bike (or even parts of it!) isn’t as simple as checking it in and then going to your gate…
So, Can You Fly with E-Bike Batteries?
The short answer is no.
The Federal Aviation Administration has set the maximum size of a lithium ion battery that can be taken on a plane at a measly 100Wh. With the majority of e-bike batteries ranging in size from 400Wh to 500Wh, this leaves most of us with no option but to leave our batteries on the ground.
If you seek special permission from certain airlines, you’ll be able to take two lithium ion batteries up to 160Wh each aboard. However, with 180Wh batteries like the one in a Cytronex C1 conversion kit being on the smaller end of e-bike batteries, that rules most of us out too.
Though you might be grumbling about overzealous plane regulations right now (remember that pair of scissors you had to throw away because the blade was a half-inch over the limit?) the FAA does have good cause for banning larger batteries from planes.
Batteries are a fire hazard, and the larger the battery, the greater the risk it poses to an aircraft. If a lithium battery’s shell is pierced or overheated, the battery is liable to short-circuit and create a spark, igniting the highly flammable lithium and causing a fire or explosion.
So, you can’t take your usual battery on a flight - but don’t give up hope just yet! There are a few viable alternatives to flying with your battery which will still allow you to take that e-bike trip you’ve been dreaming of.
Renting a Battery at your Destination
Pros: This option lets you bring the e-bike you know and love with you, simply by removing the battery and taking it on board as a normal bicycle. That way, you won’t have to take your chances trying to find a good e-bike you can rent at your destination. It will also work out significantly cheaper than renting a whole e-bike when you get there.
Cons: The big drawback here is making sure you’ll have the means to actually rent an e-bike battery in the city or region you’re heading to. E-bike battery rental isn’t exactly a common service. Even if you [i]do[/i] find somewhere that offers it, you’ll have the extra hassle of finding a battery that’s compatible with your bike.
Mailing your Battery to Yourself Separately
Pros: This method not only ensures you can fly with your e-bike the same way you would with a normal bicycle, but also guarantees that you’ll have a battery you’re familiar with. That means you won’t have to worry about glitchy, poor-quality batteries or weird ways of recharging that you might experience with rental batteries.
Cons: Unfortunately, shipping your battery to your destination is always going to come with a hefty fee, as the battery needs to be designated as dangerous goods. To make matters worse, there’s stringent rules about how you need to package your battery to prevent it from short-circuiting in transit. Both of these factors mean a lot of hassle and uncertainty, but if you’re dead-set on using your own battery, it’s usually the best option.
Using Another Form of Transport
Pros: If you’re able to get to your destination by boat, train, or even by car, you’ll have the freedom to take the bike and battery you’re used to without having to worry about regulations or extra fees.
Cons: Practicality. Finding another mode of transport is often only viable for short, domestic trips. If you’re planning to cycle the Great Wall for example, and you want to get there by sea rather than by air, you better be prepared to turn a one-day trip into a 20-day one!