Here’s one for you: Can electric bikes overheat?
It’s a good question to ask, especially if you own an e-bike that gets too hot to touch a little too often. It’s also an important question if you’re thinking of buying an electric bike — and you want to know what you’re getting yourself into. So here’s everything you need to know.
Like any other electric device, an electric bike can overheat if it’s used for a long time or is subjected to a lot of strain. This risk is more common with certain makes and models and operating conditions than with others.
For example, if you live in Spain and buy an entry-level e-bike, you may have problems in summer due to the heat. This probably won’t be the case for somebody who lives in the Nordics and decides to purchase a higher-end e-bike.
It’s one thing if you use the bike for daily commuting or weekend recreation, and another for delivery work.
Why Electric Bikes Overheat
The most common cause of overheating on an electric bike is the battery. Most electric bikes have lithium-ion batteries that naturally heat up while the device is in use. This type of batteries can also get hot if you’re charging them with a too powerful charger too quickly.
But it isn’t just the battery that generates heat on an electric bike. Other parts that heat up when used are the motor and the controller. Depending on how hot they get and how well the bike is constructed, this heat can get transferred to other parts and make them too hot to touch.
If you’re worried that your bike is systematically overheating, refer to the owner’s manual and consider visiting a repair shop. If this is caused by a fault and you don’t address it on time, it can lead to damage to the controller, motor, or battery — and posing a life-threatening fire hazard.
What Happens When Your e-Bike Overheats?
Arguably the biggest problems when an electric bike overheats are the risk of component damage and, worse, fire.
When most electric bikes get too hot, they throw an error and stop working. Usually, the built-in protection mechanisms will kick in and the e-bike will cut the power until it’s cooled down again. But this won’t happen if the sensors fail.
If your e-bike gets too hot, too often, this can cause problems. It can affect the charging cycles of the batteries, reduce the range and performance ofthe bike, and cause faults in the controller or electric motor. At worst, the bike can become unsafe to ride.
How to Keep Your Electric Bike From Getting Too Hot
If you read this far, then you learned that overheating is indeed an issue with e-bikes. You also learned that not addressing this issue on time may cause damage to your bike, or make it dangerous. Is there anything else you can do to keep your e-bike from getting too hot?
As it turns out, there are a few simple habits that you can build that will help you prevent your e-bike from overheating, extending its useful life and making it break less. We’ve listed them below:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to charge and use the e- bike. These include not charging the battery at too high a rate. As battery engineer Natasha George writes at SomEV, a slow charge is better than a quick one.
- Always check your tire pressure before every ride and never ride with underinflated tires. When your tires are too soft, your e-bike’s motor will have to work extra hard due to the added friction with the road.
- Pedal on the right gear. Your e-bike will overheat less if you put in more work, particularly when going uphill. By setting your bike to the right gear, you’re making sure that you’re getting maximum propulsion out of every cycle.
- In summer, avoid using the electric bike at noon, especially in direct sunlight. This can cause the battery and other components to heat up, and will eventually lead to overheating. This can trigger an error and cut power to the motor temporarily.
- Regularly check the temperature of the electric bike and its components. If the electric bike becomes too hot to handle, give the motor a break and allow it to cool down before continuing to apply throttle.
E-bikes can get hot — and sometimes too hot — even if manufacturers try not to talk about it in product descriptions and owner’s manuals. With the tips below, at least you can reduce the number of times you get an error and have the bike shut down on you.
The Bottom Line
Yes, electric bikes can overheat. Although this is a common issue, if you want your bike to break less, last long, and stay safe, you should do everything you can to keep it from getting too hot.