eBike debate heats up

Max Stanley   August 29, 2017

Photo courtesy of Newport Beach Lifeguards

To some people, cheaper eBikes mean that an eco-friendly alternative to driving and public transportation is becoming a reality, while others feel like these electric bicycle hybrids are a sign of the end of cycling as we know it. The electric motors in these machines assist riders when they need an extra push up a hill and cut the effort of a long commute in half. To the casual rider, this sounds like a blessing, while many cycling purists consider this concept to be nothing short of blasphemy.

Regardless of which side you are on in this debate, one recent incident in Southern California in which the battery on one of these cheap eBikes exploded into a ball of fire and sent flaming bits of chemicals and shrapnel flying into the air should make you take notice. According to the original story, nobody was hurt, but as you can see in the photo, the sight was a spectacular display of destruction and a reminder that not all advancements in technology are worth cutting corners to achieve.

Original story published by By SCOTT SCHWEBKE | sschwebke@scng.com | Orange County Register
March 21, 2017

NEWPORT BEACH – An electric bike caught fire Sunday, shooting battery parts as it burned, authorities said.

The incident was reported around 4:30 p.m. at the end of an access ramp on 18th Street.

A man and woman had parked their newly purchased electric bikes on the beach and were sitting next to them when the battery on one of the bikes malfunctioned, said Mike Halphide, lifeguard battalion chief for the Newport Beach Fire Department.

“Lifeguards on scene reported that the battery was popping and sending projectiles dozens of yards from the fire,” Halphide said. “It’s something I’ve never seen before.”

The couple were not injured and firefighters used a dry chemical to extinguish the blaze. One bike was destroyed and the other was damaged, he said.

The couple bought the bikes, that each cost about $2,500, last week, Halphide said.

“I hope they get their money back,” he added.

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