E-bike battery fires – Should I be worried?

car fire

With an estimated two million e-bikes in the UK, and sales on the up, battery fires are on the increase. However, they occur at a rate of less than one per day.

To put that in perspective, 100,000 cars go up in flames every year resulting in the death of around 100 people. That’s nearly 300 vehicles fires every day. In other words, a car is twice as likely to catch fire as an e-bike.

However, given electric bicycles are most often charged inside the home, it’s a risk worth guarding against – especially when the safeguards are so easy to follow.

e-bike fire safety

E-bike fire risk advice

The greatest risk of e-bike fires stems from poor quality electric bicycles, chargers and batteries sold by disreputable dealers. E-bike conversion kits that have not been installed by a professional, and mismatching batteries and chargers also increase any risk.

The UK government recommends these five steps when buying and charging your e-bike:

  • Only buy an e-bike, e-scooter, charger or battery from a known seller and check any product reviews
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and using e-bikes or e-scooters
  • Not all e-bike or e-scooter batteries and chargers are compatible or safe when used together. Check and only use the manufacturer’s recommended battery or charger
  • Always charge in a safe place without blocking exits and always unplug your charger when you have finished charging
  • Never attempt to modify or tamper with your battery

E-bike fires: Existential threat or moral panic?

Unlike car fires, e-bikes pose a risk inside the home, but what about chip pan fires? These occur at a rate of 1,000 a month and with one associated death per week. E-bike battery safety/regulation is important, but context is everything.

chip pan fire

Lithium ion battery safety

Most of us already use lithium ion batteries in devices such mobile phones, laptops and cordless tools, and do so safely. Most of the fire risk occurs with products that don’t conform with the CE or UKCA mark, or mixing and matching batteries and chargers. E-bike are no different.

Before a lithium-ion battery catches fire, there may be warning signs. Stop using or charging your battery immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Excessive heat, or smoke
  • Swelling or leaks
  • Hissing or cracking sound
  • A strong or unusual smell
  • A sudden deterioration in performance

If the charger or battery starts smoking or catches fire, raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999 immediately. Remember to report your faulty charger or battery to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.

e-bike with flat battery

If you tamper with your e-bike to increase its top speed, you’re increasing the risk of fire and, in the eyes of the law, turning your bicycle into a motorbike

Charging e-bike batteries

The fire service has the following advice on how to charge e-bike batteries:

  • Don’t charge e-bikes and e-scooters in bedrooms or where escape routes can be blocked – for example, hallways.
  • Don’t leave your battery charging unattended, when you are out or while you are asleep.
  • Don’t cover chargers or battery packs when charging
  • Don’t overload sockets or use inappropriate extension leads
  • Don’t charge or store batteries in direct sunlight or in hot locations (above 45⁰C)
  • Don’t charge batteries close to combustible materials or hazardous substances.
  • Always unplug your charger when you have finished charging
  • If your battery can be removed from your e-bike or e-scooter and charged separately, it should be charged on a hard flat surface where heat can disperse and in area with good ventilation.

E-bike insurance

The ETA covers all road-legal electric bicycles. And we include battery theft and Cycle Rescue at no additional cost. If your e-bike develops a mechanical fault, you can call on our breakdown team 24/7.

Read a full list of everything we include as standard.

ebike battery

ebike batteries can cost over £500 to replace – we cover them against theft as standard

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.




  1. Colin Green


    One of the problems I had with E-bike batteries was the time it took to charge after a long ride, when the charger was outputting at a maximum of 2 amps. Six hours to charge sometimes. (Something that I accepted)

    How many users will think it would be a good idea to replace the charger that suited the battery with one that could charge at 8 amps so they can charge their bike in a quarter of the time?
    Do that with any battery is a really bad idea, with a cheap, poor quality battery and you are looking at disaster.

  2. Peter Moore


    Your statement that cars are twice as likely to catch fire as ebikes, is not supported by the figures you quote. 2 million ebikes estimated, but how many cars? You do not say, and appear to have ignored the big difference in vehicle parc size when making your claim.

    • The ETA


      33m cars in the UK, works out at 0.00091 of cars registered per day. For e-bikes, it is 0.00005, so car fires occur near-enough twice as often. The point is that incidents such as car fires and chip pan fires do not make the news in the way e-bike fires do

  3. N. Bonney


    Good advice. Puzzling maths.
    Cars: ~100k fires per annum causing around 100 deaths annually among a fleet of (at minimum, RAC) 34 million = 1 in 340 cars burn p.a. and 1 in 340k kill.
    E-bikes: 338 fires per annum (2023 projection, Guardian 5/23) causing 8 deaths over 3 years (ibid) among a fleet of ~2 million = 1 in 5,900 p.a. burn and 1 in 750k kill.
    Hence, cars are ~SEVENTEEN times more likely to catch fire, and around 2.2 times more likely to kill, than an e-bike. Obviously there are complicating factors, but this is what the raw data says.
    So there’s dramatically less likelihood of a fire with e-bikes but, when it happens, it’s comparably dangerous possibly largely due to often being indoors).

    • The ETA


      Thanks for the correction – at least it reinforces the point we were trying to make

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