There is no denying that there is an e-bike boom currently being experienced around the globe. More people are abandoning their vehicles and coming back to cycling to enjoy the fun and convenience that these battery-powered two-wheelers are offering.
It’s not unusual to see people carrying their electric bikes on a biking trip abroad. In fact, this has become quite a popular trend as it saves you the cost of renting a bike. But how do they manage to pull this off, especially when the destination is a long way from home?
Here is the lowdown on how to travel with your electric bike!
Traveling with Your E-bike
Obviously, you can’t ride your bike to your destination when you set out on a distant trip. This leaves you with the option of transporting it as any other luggage you might be carrying. The common way to transport your electric bike is by vehicle, train, or plane. Let us look at how each of these options works:
Transporting Your E-bike by Car
Most e-bikes will fit on a standard car bicycle rack or a roof rack without much hassle. It gets even easier if you have a foldable bike because this can fit inside the trunk effortlessly. The procedure is no different from that of a regular bike.
When installing the rear mounting, ensure that it doesn’t exceed the width of the car on either side by more than 20cm. It should not conceal your license plate or brake lights as this can get you in trouble with the authorities.
Additionally, it would be wise to check with the manufacturer about the maximum load you can carry on the rear rack. Remember that e-bikes are generally heavier than conventional bikes, so if you have more than one bike to carry, the weight is definitely going to be an issue.
Ideally, you should remove the batteries and motors to keep the weight in check. Also, confirm with the local regulations to ensure you’re not breaking any laws, especially if you are driving in a foreign land.
Transporting Your E-bike by Train or Plane
Carrying your electric bike on a plane or train is a little bit complicated. Given that you’re using public transportation, there are safety regulations that operators need to follow. Not to mention that you will pay quite a handsome sum for your bike to be transported as luggage
Can You Bring Your Electric Bike Inside a Plane?
Unfortunately, airlines won’t allow you to fly with your electric bike. This is mainly because of the safety concern posed by the e-bike battery. Generally, any rechargeable lithium battery with a capacity beyond 100Wh is forbidden from going inside a plane.
While some airlines are more lenient and set the limit at 160Wh, you’ll still need to get permission from the people in charge before you board the plane. The reason they don’t allow batteries is that lithium batteries are a fire hazard. In case the shell is damaged or the battery overheats, the unit can easily short-circuit and end up causing a spark.
The lithium material is extremely flammable and a small spark could even lead to a small explosion. Despite the fact new-generation lithium-ion batteries are built in a way to prevent such an eventuality; air travel security can’t afford to take any chances.
A fire in the cargo compartment, however small, could spread gradually and unnoticed. Not to mention the possibility that there are even more high-flammable materials like nail varnish or aerosols in the vicinity.
What Can You Expect to Part with for Packaging an E-bike?
You can after all fly with an e-bike if you decide to leave the battery behind. However, it will cost you quite a bit to fly the luggage, more so when we are talking about a heavy electric bike. Remember that not all carriers will charge per pound; some airlines refer to weight brackets when determining the flat or fixed rate you’ll pay.
Typically, checked bags (which you can stow away in overhead storage in the passenger area) cost less compared to checked luggage. On average, a bag of between 50-70lbs is charged around $100.
But I doubt you’ll manage to fit your e-bike components (If you disassembled the bike) in a bag and end up with less than 50 lbs. These will have to go to the luggage hold, where it’s more expensive. Note that before you bring in the motor, you will need a special license for proper packaging.
Alternatives to Flying with Your Electric Bike
Just because they didn’t allow your bike inside the plane, your hopes of traveling with your bike should not be dashed just yet! It is possible to get over this “tiny” hurdle.
Rent a Battery on Arrival
One option is to leave your e-bike battery behind and fly with what can be considered a regular bike. When you arrive at your destination, you can find a store to hire the battery for the length of your trip. However, there are pertinent issues you ought to take note of if you decide to do this.
For starters, conduct due diligence in advance to confirm that there is a willing lender where you’re traveling to. “E-bike battery hire” is not a mainstream service, so you want to be sure. Your chances will be better if you happen to be visiting a city with a rich cycling tradition.
Another thing to consider is the compatibility of the battery you plan to hire with your electric bike design. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to e-bike batteries and prior confirmation is very necessary.
This may sound like a lot too much effort, even before you begin the journey. However, it will eventually prove to be much cheaper and more convenient than a bike rental when you get to your destination. Remember that your biking trip can extend into weeks and you can’t imagine what the daily rates are!
Ship the Battery Separately
Alternatively, you can decide to ship the battery to your destination beforehand so that you arrive when it’s already there. The only thing is that it will cost you a lot! Couriers such as UPS and FedEx will usually provide well laid-out details on how the battery should be packaged and the whole process of getting it abroad.
For instance, they dictate that you should declare and label it as “dangerous goods”. Furthermore, it should be packed in a way that prevents short-circuiting. All this will prove to be such a hassle, but if you really want to travel with your electric bike as a whole, it might all be worth it.
What is the Best Bike to Travel with?
It will be much easier to travel with a folding electric bike compared to any other design in the market. This is because the foldable construction makes it easy for you when it comes to storage. It can sit inside the trunk of your car and it won’t take much space in the public transportation mode you choose.
Furthermore, it is more convenient because you can take it inside your hotel (if you find one that permits this) and reduce the chances of theft or vandalism.
So, if you want to bring your beloved electric bike on a biking trip abroad, the above guide provides you with all you need to know as far as traveling with your electric bike is concerned!