Conversion kits to blame in 40% of ebike fires, says London Fire Brigade

The kits are not regulated like standard ebikes, and can be lethal when used with incorrect batteries and chargers

wo firefighters at work putting out a fire
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A spate of terrifying and explosive ebike fires that spring seemingly from out of nowhere have been making the news recently, both in the UK and the USA.

Now London Fire Brigade (LFB) has revealed that conversion kits are the cause of nearly 40% of ebike fires, in a report by the BBC.

"It's approaching about 40% of fires have been down to conversion kits," LFB assistant commissioner Charlie Pugsley said.

"If you don't have it fitted safely, then it's not a safe product – and particularly if you don't use the right charger for it."

With LFB having recorded 93 ebike fires and 18 escooter fires this year so far, amounting to roughly one every two days, Pugsley called it the "fastest growing trend" in the capital.

Ebike conversion kits are fitted to a regular bicycle to allow them to make use of electric power, and can be a cheap way to the ebike experience.

They are perfectly legal and can be safe if bought from a responsible retailer. However, conversion kits are not regulated in the same way as bona fide ebikes are, which are restricted to 250 watts of power and should show battery charge and voltage, according to government guidelines.

The BBC's ebike expert Gez Medinger, who has fitted 70 conversion kits at his company, said that those using conversion kits should stick to high quality branded batteries.

"The real issues start when you have a charger that tries to put 48 volts into a battery that's only rated for 36 volts – and this is a huge safety concern," he said.

"I would really encourage the government to look at the industry and try and bring in some regulation that can improve safety for everyone," he added.

It comes after a report by the charity Electrical Safety First released a report saying ebikes should be regulated like fireworks, citing ebike and escooter fires as being involved in 12 deaths and 200 injuries since 2020.

There has also been a spate of fires in New York City, including one in an ebike shop that left four people dead.

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