Electric bikes

11 October 2023

Risks associated with electric bikes and how to manage them.

Black electric bike with thunderbolt detail plugged into a charging point.
As the use of e-bikes continues to rise in popularity, there has been a significant increase in fires linked to battery charging. These fires have resulted in damage to homes, serious injury and sadly some fatalities.
Electric bikes all come with rechargeable batteries, typically charged using a cable plugged into a 13amp wall socket. These devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which can become unstable if they are not used properly, or become damaged or overcharged, which can lead to the battery and device catching fire and releasing toxic smoke.
To reduce the likelihood of an incident, we recommend the following:
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging your device, and never use charging equipment that isn’t compatible with the make of your e-scooter, e-bike etc.
  • Always buy your charging equipment from a reputable retailer or directly from a manufacturer who will perform rigorous tests to ensure their products meet UK safety standards. This will ensure that the battery charging commences at the right level and ceases before overcharging occurs.
  • Do not use a battery that has signs of damage, has received a sharp blow, has been dropped, or is in poor condition. Replace it with a new one compatible with your bike.
  • Batteries should not be left to charge unattended overnight or when your home is unoccupied.
  • Avoid leaving items continually on charge after the charge is complete. 
  • Unplug battery chargers when not in use.
  • Ensure you frequently check your charging cable for wear and tear and replace it if any damage is evident.
  • If you are charging from a 13A mains socket in your home, ensure the wiring in your property has been checked prior to doing so. Old wiring may not cope with the demand from charging your device.
  • Think carefully about where to charge the bike, it may be convenient to use the hall or entrance lobby to your house, but make sure you can safely exit your home should an incident occur.
  • No flammable or combustible material should be within 2 metres of the charging point.
  • You should ensure that the charging area is covered by a combination smoke/heat alarm.
  • Consider purchasing a lithium battery fire extinguisher, designed to help tackle lithium-ion battery fires.

Insuring your electric bike

Methodist home insurance policies can cover your e-bike but if it’s worth more than £750 you will need to let us know and there will be some precautions you need to take. 
When storing your bike at home lock your bike to a permanent fixture in a secure shed, garage, or outbuilding.
When using your e-bike away from home, make sure you use a high-quality lock and learn how to lock your bike properly.