Electric bikes continue to grow in popularity. With more power and speed than a traditional bike but far slower than a motorcycle, it’s the ideal in-between gadget for those who want to stroll in style without too much risk. But is there a risk to electric bikes? And if so, what do riders need to be concerned about?
Are electric bikes dangerous to ride? As with any type of battery-operated piece of equipment, there is always some risk of danger. However, with proper precautions and safe riding techniques, the risks can be greatly reduced.
If you are thinking about purchasing an electric bike and are worried about the potential problems associated, we can help. We have found the top 7 reasons why electric bikes can become dangerous, along with solutions to avoid these problems. We are also going to share some must-know tips and tricks when it comes to safety and e-Bikes.
The 6 Biggest Dangers Associated with Electric Bikes
There are six major risk factors associated with electric bikes. They can range from mild to severe, depending on the problem. The good news is that most of the dangers and risks that come with an electric bike can be avoided and fixed so that they don’t happen to you. So what should electric bike riders be potentially prepared for?
1. Too Much Initial Throttle Can Cause Minor Injuries
Another thing that can cause minor injuries is the rider applying far too much throttle right off the bat. In fact, this is so common that is has become the number one cause of injuries related to electric bikes. But what does initial throttle mean?
Applying too much throttle when you are at a dead stop can cause the bike to ‘run away’ from you. And while that might seem like a major accident waiting to happen, most injuries (if any injuries) are minor because the bike will be going at a slow speed. You can regain control of your bike after too much throttle application, but it’s best to avoid this potential risk altogether.
There are a few different ways to make sure that you don’t apply throttle when you’re not ready. Perhaps the best way to make sure this never happens is to add a special switch to your throttle that will allow you to adjust to different levels of power. If your electric bike simply doesn’t go until the switch is dialed in, then you won’t have to worry.
You should always make sure that the controller and throttle are properly dialed. A faulty controller and twitchy throttle can cause the bike to take off before it’s supposed to, which can lead to one of the more common injuries associated with electric bikes.
One of the simpler tips to avoiding injury in relation to the throttle is to never apply any throttle until you are ready to move. This may sound like it doesn’t need to be said, but if you are new to electric bike riding, it may be challenging to remember this at first. But making sure that your hands are away from the throttle until you are completely ready will save you from injury.
Lastly, one of the major concerns with applying the throttle before you are ready is popping a wheelie when you certainly did not mean to. So what is the antidote to this potential issue? Unless you are planning to be the next Tony Hawk, you should always make sure that you are leaning forward onto the handlebars when applying the throttle. This will keep you level.
Applying the throttle early may not be the biggest injury-causing accident when it comes to an electric bike, but it is certainly a minor incident that can occur regularly. Avoiding this is rather simple, though, as long as you:
- Don’t touch the throttle until you are ready to move.
- Add a switch to your throttle that dictates the amount of power you are applying.
- Make sure your controller and throttle are properly dialed before leaving.
- Always make sure you are leaning forward onto the handlebars to avoid mishaps.
2. Throttle Gets Stuck in the Wide-Open Throttle Position
Reaching the wide-open throttle position can be pretty exciting on an electric bike. You’re reaching the bike’s maximum potential, with the wind blowing through your hair and your heart racing as fast as you ever thought it could.
While you might be having the time of your life going WOT, or wide-open throttle, you are going to want to stop at some point. So what happens if your electric bike decides it’s not time to quit? What happens if your throttle ends up getting stuck in this position?
The electric bike’s throttle can jam and get stuck during a wide-open position, which can cause a serious accident if you aren’t able to stop it. There are only two ways to avoid this, and it’s highly recommended to have both if you are planning to go fast on your e-Bike.
Your first option is to add an emergency stop button to your e-Bike. Since you won’t be able to manually calm your bike down out of the wide-open throttle, you will require some backup assistance. This is where the emergency shut off switch comes into place. With this button, you will never have to worry about getting stuck and going faster than you would like.
On the other hand, you may also want to consider adding high-quality hydraulic disc brakes to your electric bike. These are highly beneficial to your electric bike in many ways, but the biggest benefit is that they will be able to stop an electric bike that’s jammed in WOT by applying pressure to the rear wheel and slowing it down.
As you can see, going fast without the opportunity to slow down on your electric bike sounds terrifying, but it doesn’t mean it has to happen. There are two great ways to reduce the chances of this happening and causing damage:
- Add emergency shut off button to your bike to automatically slow your electric bike down.
- Add high-quality hydraulic disc brakes that can slow down the bike in the rear when all else fails.
3. Accidentally Twisting the Throttle Without the Bike Being On
One major concern about electric bikes is that they are completely silent, which actually does more harm than good. We will get into further complications later, but one of the major concerns with a silent electric bike is that you can accidentally twist the throttle when the bike is on, and the bike takes off.
It happens like this: the bike is turned off, and someone goes to turn on their bike with the intention to hit the open road. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, an accidental twist of the throttle can start up the electric bike quickly and automatically, which means the bike will take off out of the rider’s arms.
As the bike begins to take off, the throttle will twist significantly without anyone applying pressure to it. This intensifies the speed of the bike, making it more challenging to take hold of. And while you might think that you need to take control of the throttle to get the bike to stop, a tightened throttle will also make the problem worse.
So what should you do to make sure that this doesn’t happen? Well, there are a few different things the rider can do. The biggest piece of advice is to always make sure that the bike is turned off when you are not using it. It may sound obvious, but the silent electric bike can sneak up on you if you are not careful, so double-checking that it’s turned off is crucial.
You may want to switch the type of throttle used on your electric bike, switching to a throttle that is run by the push of your thumb or a half grip. This will make it significantly less easy to turn the bike on, which means you won’t have to run after your e-Bike any time soon.
It may also be beneficial to consider purchasing an electric bike that won’t add power until the e-Bike is going at least 5mph. This will eliminate the chances of your bike taking off from under your feet until you are ready.
Another option when buying an e-Bike is to find a model that will sense how much pressure is being applied to the pedal and activates the throttle accordingly. This gives you more control of when and how fast your bike is going.
The good news is that this is another common occurrence that doesn’t cause major injuries. Since the bike is going at a slow speed when the throttle is activated and twisted, you may only end up with a few bumps and bruises in the meantime trying to catch it. But if you do these simple things, you should have nothing to fear:
- Make sure the bike is always turned off. Double and triple check to avoid accidents.
- Change the throttle on your e-Bike to one that is controlled by thumb or half grip.
- Buy a bike that is either controlled after 5mph is reached or controlled by the pressure applied to the pedals.
4. Failure of the Front Fork
When it comes to more serious injuries, one of the culprits will be a failure of the front fork. But why is this one of the worst things that could possibly happen on an e-Bike? A failed front fork will result in the rider flying over the handlebars headfirst. As you can imagine, this can easily result in a fatal accident or one with plenty of major injuries.
As scary as it sounds, though, there are a few different ways to avoid your front fork from failing at the last second. Perhaps the biggest tip is to install torque arms onto your electric bike. This will help the front fork from failing altogether. Just make sure that the torque arms are extremely carefully installed so they can get the job done.
While we’re discussing proper installation, another thing you need to make sure was professionally and adequately installed is the front-wheel-drive hub motor. Without proper installation of this essential piece of equipment, you might be looking at a failed front fork. If you have any problems with this area on your e-Bike, it is important to get it looked at and replaced or fixed by a professional as well.
Another good idea while riding your electric bike is to refrain from using front-wheel drive when you’re using suspensions forks. This can enhance the risk of front fork failure, which, in turn, can cause a major accident.
Last but not least, put your worries to rest by avoiding high power motors paired with the front wheels of the e-Bike. Putting too much power and pressure on the front of the electric bike can cause the front fork to fail.
Front fork failure on an electric bike can be fatal and is one of the biggest concerns for those who are contemplating whether or not to hop on an electric bike. But these simple tips and tricks will lessen your chances of fatality and other major injuries:
- Always make sure your e-Bike has properly installed torque arms.
- Never add front-wheel drive when paired with suspension.
- Make sure your front wheel drive hub motor is always placed professionally and replaced or fixed when damaged by a professional.
- Avoid any type of higher-powered motors in the front wheels of your bike.
5. Injuries Occurring from Improper Riding
A lot of accidents associated with electric bikes happen because of the rider, not the actual electric bike. At this point in time there are not a whole lot of laws and regulations regarding electric bikes, but think of it this way: the electric bike is basically the ‘in-between’ gadget of a regular, traditional bike and a motorcycle, and laws of the road should be followed as such.
To put it simply, if there is a speed sign posted, the rider should always follow the speed limit. It’s even more important to say that that a rider should never go faster than they are comfortable with, to begin with, as this can cause injury. Generally, riders should always follow traffic rules to avoid potential injuries.
Avoid doing stupid things while riding on your electric bike. It’s not a dirt bike, so don’t try and take your electric bike through the sand dunes, and it’s not a motorcycle, so don’t think that you can swerve in and out of traffic on the highway. Treat your electric bike like a faster traditional bike, and you should avoid potential problems.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the electric bike is completely silent. Pedestrians, as well as other cyclists on traditional bikes, will not hear you coming, which can be an injury-inducing experience for both the biker and the other individual involved.
Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated–always pay attention while on your electric bike to avoid potential problems. If you can’t stop in time, then at least give the other person the courtesy of telling them that you are there by yelling at them or honking a horn (which you will need to install separately).
6. An e-Bike Battery Can Potentially Catch on Fire
This might automatically make someone uneasy. After all, fire is one of the scariest things that can happen to and around a human being, so knowing that your e-Bike battery can light up in flames isn’t exactly a great thing to hear. But does that mean that it’s a big enough risk factor to deter someone from buying and riding? We say no.
The majority of e-Bike batteries that catch on fire are ones that are homemade and not cared for properly. You see, most electric bikes will require Lithium batteries in order to operate. However, these types of batteries are highly combustible, meaning they can catch fire–if not cared for properly. This is even more so with a homemade battery.
That is why you should never create your own battery pack at home. Unless you have done ample research on creating your own battery pack, it should be avoided at all costs. Without the utmost confidence and knowledge, your homemade power can turn into a ticking time bomb that’s ready to light up.
You should also always carry your battery in a metal box. This will help keep the battery secure and safe during your bike ride, avoiding potential mishaps that can happen with a Lithium battery when it comes into contact with things such as rocks or pebbles. You may also consider using a BMS, or Battery Management System, to increase the safety for you and your battery while riding.
There is also the issue of batteries flaring up while they are being charged. This is mostly because these batteries cannot handle being overly charged, so overcharging may cause combustion. You also can’t discharge the battery completely and try to charge it up again, as this can harm a battery.
Where you charge your battery is also important. You want to make sure it’s in an area that isn’t overly hot or overly cold. If your batteries are stored someplace where there’s danger, the batteries could be punctured (which is highly unlikely), you don’t have to worry about that danger.
Last, but not least, only buy Lithium batteries from trusted dealers. You don’t want to buy a battery that doesn’t have a proper cell structure and design for higher temperatures, which can lead to fires. This isn’t likely with a trusted dealer, but buying secondhand or from a lesser-known shop could lead to trouble.
You should be aware that e-Bike batteries are becoming safer by the day. Companies are designing batteries for electric bikes to provide better performance without the worry of flare-ups. However, even with the greatest technology as of right now, e-Bikes are prone to short-circuiting, although this is a rare occurrence.
To put it simply, there are a few things you can do to stay away from potential fiery batteries:
- Never try and make your own Lithium battery.
- Always buy an e-Bike battery from a reputable dealer.
- Carry your battery in a metal box paired with a Battery Management System.
- Don’t overcharge or discharge the battery.
- Don’t allow anything to puncture the battery, as this can cause dangerous leakage.
- Be careful where you charge your electric bike.
As long as you follow these commonsense guidelines, the chances of your bike’s batteries causing harm are minute.
Tips for Safely Riding an Electric Bike
Now that you know the different ways in which an electric bike can be dangerous, it’s time to get some tips and tricks on how to make your ride safer. We have compiled a must-see list of the best things to do to get home safely.
- Always Wear a Helmet
You need to wear a helmet whether you are on a traditional bike or an electric bike, and it’s even more so true if you’re riding electric. Think about if your electric bike ends up stuck in a wide-open throttle position or the front fork fails, you can end up with your head meeting the pavement, and you want to make sure your head and face are protected from the pavement.
- Always Make Sure Your Lights are Working and You Have a Lot of Them
No matter what type of bike you are using, there is always the risk of motorists not seeing you, especially if you are driving at night. The best way to avoid this potential pitfall is to always make sure you have enough lights and reflectors on your bike. You might want to consider a blinking/flashing light that is either red or white. Apply reflecting stickers to the bike and wheels.
Aside from having enough lights on your e-Bike, you should also ensure that the lights are in good working order before taking off. You would hate to be halfway through your trip to find out that you have a blown-out backlight, so check it out before leaving.
- Drive in the Lanes
With an electric bike, you have the advantage of being able to go the same speed as the rest of the traffic. If you are able to go with the traffic laws, such as 25mph on the road, then don’t be afraid to drive in the lane with cars.
Another benefit of driving inside the lane with the rest of the cars is that they will see you more easily when trying to merge or turn. Since motorists tend to look inside the lanes, they won’t miss you and your electric bike. This is also why it’s important to stay away from the far edges of the road as these are common blind spots for motorists.
- Follow the Traffic Laws
We mentioned earlier that the biggest reason why people get into accidents on electric bikes is that they don’t follow traffic laws. Well, we decided we would make it an even point by tossing it into the list of ways to stay safe on your electric bike.
Therefore, the best thing to do when riding an e-Bike is to treat it like you would a traditional bike or a motorcycle. If there is a posted speed limit, you need to follow it. If there is no right turning in a certain area, then don’t turn. Simple things like this will keep you out of trouble and away from accidents, big or small.
- Add a Mirror to Your Bike
If you really want to take safety on your e-Bike to the next level, then turn it into a smaller, less quick motorcycle by adding a mirror to your bike. This will help you easily see behind you when you are driving in the lanes, which means you won’t accidentally cross over into a lane with a car speeding up and potentially hitting you. Check out the Mirrcycle Mirror on Amazon.
- Make Sure an Electric Bike is Right for You
So why is this on the list of safety tips for e-Bikes, you ask? Well, first and foremost, an electric bike is different from a traditional bike as it possesses additional power and speed. If you are not able to handle a bike at greater speeds, then you might not want to invest in an e-Bike.
The same is true for those who don’t have the quickest reflexes, such as elderly individuals. An e-Bike is a bit more challenging to use, and you will need to have fast reflexes and the ability to handle more intense situations on the ride, which should be reserved for those who are ultimately ready to take on the challenge.
So are electric bikes really dangerous? Well, they are barely any more dangerous than traditional bikes. They do allow for more speed and power, and there is the potential for problems with the throttle and a few minor instances of problems with batteries. However, knowing the potential problems with an e-Bike and finding the solution before taking off will save you trouble in the future. Paired with smart driving, an e-Bike, just like a regular bike, is as safe as the driver makes it.