Can you take an electric bike on the plane?
As the nights draw in and winter is indeed on the horizon, cycling enthusiasts are beginning to ask whether you can take an electric bike on the plane.
Okay, let’s be upfront. We love a wet and windy cycle. Sometimes, you just can’t beat a muddy trail ride, especially if you have the appropriate equipment to stay safe and warm.
However, we’re human, and cycling in fairer climes (particularly at this time of year) certainly has its appeal. What’s more, variety is the spice of life, and there are some fantastic cycling trips to be had on the continent and further afield.
Owners of folding electric bikes are often particularly keen to travel with their e-bikes, for obvious reasons, but similarly are those who own electric mountain bikes, or more classic models given their utility and fun factor.
We hate to break it to you, though. You aren’t able to take an electric bike on a plane. Panic not, though, this doesn’t mean electric bike rides abroad are impossible.
In this blog, we’ll explain why you can’t take your e-bike on a flight, and explain alternative options and workarounds.
The issue of the battery
The reason why you can’t take an e-bike on a plane comes down to its battery.
Lithium batteries are a potential hazard and any rechargeable lithium battery with a capacity of more than 100Wh cannot be taken onto a plane.
Should a lithium battery be damaged or overheat, it could cause a fire. Now, modern electric-bike batteries are made to the highest safety standards to avoid such situations - indeed, most modern batteries are.
However, given the enormous potential impact of a fire on an aircraft, aviation authorities will not take that risk.
Although some airlines will allow batteries on board with a 160Wh rating (with prior consultation), it’s unlikely you’ll find an e-bike that has a battery with a watt-hour rating as low as that in order for it to be suitable to take on a plane, thus you’ll have to look at other options to travel with your electric bike.
How do I know the specifications of my battery?
Generally, battery specifications will be provided by the retailer on the purchase of your electric bike. Indeed, should you buy an e-bike from Eco Bike Co., our team of experts will ensure that all key information is detailed with your bike.
However, it isn’t impossible that some bikes will be sold without all primary energy parameters provided.
When it comes to flying with a battery, you’ll need to know its watt-hour rating. To calculate this you can multiply the battery’s voltage by its amp-hour rating. For example, a 40V e-bike battery with a 10Ah rating will have a 400Wh rating (well in excess of the maximum limit to be taken on a plane).
Taking electric bike batteries abroad
As mentioned above, although you cannot take an e-bike battery on a plane, it doesn’t mean that electric bike rides are off the table when in foreign countries.
The popularity of e-bike riding is a global phenomenon. That means it is often popular to find e-bike retailers abroad who will rent batteries.
This means you can travel with your e-bike, as you would with a conventional bike, but simply leave your battery at home.
Of course, should you prefer to leave your entire bike at home, it is quite possible to rent an e-bike abroad, rather than just the battery.
Another option is to carry multiple smaller batteries that can be combined into a larger, e-bike-ready, battery on arrival at your destination. Of course, this may be considered a slightly more costly option, and it’s vitally important that you pay attention to all best practices when it comes to taking them on a plane. Check your airline's specific regulations as well as global and regional aviation laws.
Some e-cyclists opt to ship their battery to their destination. While this may well allow you to take a bigger battery abroad, do ensure that all appropriate safety measures are adhered to and documentation provided. It can also be a costly option as e-bike batteries are considered a “dangerous good” when shipped and surcharges will apply.
Alternative travel options
Arguably, the simplest way to benefit from your eclectic bike abroad is to avoid flying entirely.
Many cyclists take advantage of expanded Eurostar routes, the channel tunnel, or ferries to Northern Europe. There are multiple popular cycle routes in Northern France, Belgium, and Holland, suitable to all abilities and experience levels.
Should you be driving with your bike (via ferry or channel tunnel) it is worth reminding yourself of the regulations when travelling with a bike using a car or van. Make sure your bike(s) do not exceed the width of your vehicle by more than 20 cm on each side. It also must not obscure your vehicle’s brake lights or license plate.
If taking your e-bike by train, do remember to ensure it is securely packaged and stored. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and find your bike damaged. Of course, the same applies if taking your e-bike on a plane (without a battery). There are a range of travel cases available to ensure your e-bike arrives in good condition so that you can travel with peace of mind.
Can you take an electric bike on the plane?
In this blog, we’ve asked the question: “Can you take an electric bike on the plane?”
Should you be wanting to take your e-bike with its battery, as you might well do, you’ll find this impossible due to aviation regulations surrounding lithium batteries.
However, you are able to take your e-bike frame (as you would a conventional cycle) on a flight.
You may be better off looking to rent an e-bike battery abroad, or simply look at other travel options such as trains or ferries - certainly appropriate for cycle adventures in Europe.
For more information about travelling with an e-bike, or for any general electric bike questions and queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Eco Bike Co. team.
We would be more than happy to advise you on how to maximise your next e-bike trip.