If you’re at all mechanically adept, chances are you’re unfazed when you find yourself stuck on the side of a road with a flat tire. Provided you have a spare tube or patch kit, chances are you’ll be back on the road in no time. The same is true for slightly bigger jobs like adjusting your bike’s gears, brakes, and perhaps even repacking its bearings. When it comes to the complicated electronics of e-bikes, however, this is a different story.

As it would turn out, those warning stickers on your e-bike’s motor and battery telling you not to open them up are there for a reason. It’s not just about e-bike manufacturers not wanting you to boost their products with more power than they’re designed to handle; it’s a matter of safety. If you’ve been reading stuff about e-bikes lately, chances are you’ve seen a lot of cases involving fires. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these incidents come from modified e-bikes, or substandard ones that don’t meet safety certification standards.

E-Bikes Under Fire At Burning Man Festival

Indeed, there exist Right to Repair laws in many countries. However, like all things, even these have their limitations. We’ve talked about e-bike brands imposing hefty penalties on folks tampering with their systems, but now, it seems that we could be seeing more regulations when it comes to tinkering with the electronics of electric bikes and other personal mobility devices. Advocacy group People For Bikes, along with several electric bike manufacturers are working together to push for lawmakers to amend Right to Repair laws to exclude electric bikes, specifically their complex batteries.

If you look at this from a cynical perspective, you may think that the move will unjustly empower e-bike manufacturers to charge exorbitant prices for simple battery repairs. However, if you take a look at the numerous cases of e-bike-related fires in New York City alone – of which there were 219 reported cases in 2022 alone – you’d see why regulating the repair of e-bike batteries is essential. Nevertheless, the initiative of People For Bikes will surely set stringent rules and regulations for e-bike manufacturers, too, in order to prevent the monopolization of battery repair.

Of course, you can’t ignore cheap e-bikes with battery packs which are basically disposable and irreparable. Naturally, bikes like these attract users from lower income brackets, which are also more likely to resort to bootleg battery repair and replacement practices. Of course, this is a different issue altogether, and one that the UL certification proposal we talked about before seeks to address.

At present, there are lots of e-bike brands that have battery repair, trade-in, and recycling initiatives. While all these are beneficial in providing commuters with safe and reliable ways of ensuring their bikes are roadworthy, e-bike-related fires as a result of unregulated, uncertified, and tamered batteries remain a growing concern, not just for New York, but numerous urban cities around the world.

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