Travel with the Bionx

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jfklown
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Travel with the Bionx

I'm going to do something crazy, and bring my electric bike to the UK. I know that the European speed limit is 15mph, but I plan to take it easy (except for the hills of course).

As many of you know, flying with bicycles is fine, (and on Virgin, free apparently), but Lithium batteries are forbidden (http://safetravel.dot.gov/larger_batt.html) as of last year (though not in cargo, oddly enough). In any case, I'm FedEx'ing them to the Heathrow FedEx office, but they need the Material Data Safety Sheet, whatever that is, which has the UN#, whatever that is. Does anyone have these, know where I can download them? I've had trouble getting a hold of the Bionx folks, a story to which I'm sure you can relate.

And any thoughts/experience with travel or shipping would be welcome of course.

Hopefully, I have some pictures to post and stories to tell when I get back.

carrynation
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

funny, I was about to post with a similar question - jfklown - I'm going to be doing the same thing with a Bionx conversion in August (to the UK as well)! are we sure the bionx batteries are illegal on commercial flights? my 250 watt li-ion one seems to fit into the "larger li-ion" category, no? (the 350 watt one, being over 300 watts, is probably not allowed in any case)

http://safetravel.dot.gov/definitions.html#lithium_ion

25 grams of equivalent lithium content are equal to about 300 watt-hours.

do you have the 350 watt one?

the advice of anyone else with experience in flying with bionx batteries is greatly appreciated! my concerns are with TSA scrutiny (even if carrying the battery is totally legal) and what I can expect to encounter.

many thanks.

jfklown
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

I'm still working at this problem, and here is some new information.

I talked to the representative at Bionx, and she says that there is no UN/ICAO# (required for shipping by air). They say that they exclusively ship by ground and by sea, which seems odd, but there you go.

I then talked to FedEx, who nicely suggested that if I knew the manufacturer of the cells in the battery (I'm fairly sure that Bionx does not manufacture these from scratch), that they would have a UN/ICAO#, and I could use that for shipping.

I'm not sure if anyone is checking this thread, but does anyone know who this manufacturer is? Or, and I'm a little scared to do this, how to open up one of the packs? My older battery is near the end of the 500 charges anyway, so I'd be willing to try it.

As far as Carrynation's post goes, I'm not sure either. There seem to be any number of ways to calculate amounts of lithium, and some suggestion that there is no real lithium in Li-On batteries to begin with. I'm not a chemist, so I don't know. There are stories of batteries being chucked, which would not be cheap, so be careful to get as much paperwork as you can. In any case, if I find anymore information about lithium content, etc. I will be sure to be post it.

cyclepete
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

According to NYCewheels, http://nycewheels.com/battery-info.html, they are Sony Lithium Manganese batteries. The E for Energy review also said the batteries are Sony.

carrynation
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Re: Travel with the Bionx + new question

hey jfklown -

I wish I could help as far as the UN/ICAO# goes. please don't open the battery - that sounds dangerous.

I've worked out my own battery problem - I bought a NiMH Bionx kit, and hopefully it'll be okay.

Now I'm worried about the bike itself. I keep seeing this on airline sites:

One item of bicycle equipment is defined as 1 non-motorized touring or racing bicycle with a single seat.

surely having to pack a battery and mark it as a battery for my bike will tip off TSA that it's a "motorized" bike. has anyone had a problem in this vein?

thanks all.

JDJ
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

Don't know if this is any help, but I believe Toshiba and Sony make the batteries for BionX. I'm sure you know they keep a "closed" shop on these and you need their batteries to run the controller as the batteries themselves have a chip in them that interacts with the controller and the hub motor. Can't imagine why their number wouldn't be ok for private shipping to the UK.
JDJ

jfklown
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

I think tracking down those numbers through Sony is the way to go. When I get them, I'll post them here.

I promise I won't open up the battery, but I don't think it's too dangerous; the guy at my bike shop has done it a couple times.

I don't know the definition of motorized - obviously gasoline motors were out of the question to fly with, but it may apply to electric. I suspect even if you get answer, whoever's on duty that day may decide differently. Maybe there's some kind of paperwork to pre-clear it through the TSA. I don't know since I haven't done it yet. Shipping the batteries and motor ahead of time is the only sure way, but it won't be cheap, and it's also inconvenient. If I find anything out about that, I'll post that as well.

jfklown
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

I talked again to Bionx, to see if they had any information about the actual cells that go in the Li-on battery. I got a different guy this time (Pierre), who was very nice, and again reiterated that these should not be shipped via air. He furthermore stated that they were shipped via boat from Germany.

Since Sony doesn't make batteries in Germany, and against any common sense, I decided to open up the cases, both on the old Li-on, and the new Li-Mn. They are in fact both made by BMZ (Batterien-Montage-Zentrum) in Karlstein. Here is the website.

BMZ Batteries

There are 60 Cells tied together, and given a 37v Nominal Voltage and the 9.6 Ah, I suspect the cell is in the BCGR-18650 series (The Li-Mn batteries are labeled Li-on by the way - I can't find any mention of Lithium Manganese batteries at BMZ). I have emailed them about their shipping policies, but I may not hear back in a while as their factory caught fire this week. Whatever they say, I think I'm taking this as a sign that this is not the trip to send Li-on batteries via air, and I'll just ride the old fashion way. Given the amount of food I usually eat over there, this may not be such a bad thing.

I'll keep everyone up to date if I hear anything more.

cristianx
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

any update on this matter? I'd like to travel with my bionx from SFO to LHR and understand the battery won't be allowed on the plane, please help!

jfklown
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

I can say from my end that there is no update. I wound up moving to England, and shipped the batteries via air freight, and can vouch that they are fine for air travel. However, it wound up costing me $800, and it was not short on paperwork. There were able to with an old 2009 guidance sheet on air freight and a UN# ( ). I also know that NYCEWheels ships the batteries internationally (by air), and don't have a problem.

This is new, and more detailed, guidance form than what existed when I flew:

http://www.iata.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Documents/GuidanceDocumentontheTransportofLiBatt_2010.pdf

It's not good news, nor bad news. There are three problems that I see

1) Batteries must be in carry-on (possible, but I suspect some raised eyebrows with a Bionx battery if they don't allow shampoo)
2) Batteries must be 100 Ah, or, for some airlines, 160Ah (the smallest Bionx battery is 300 Ah. However, technically speaking, it's actually an array of smaller batteries).
3) Batteries must be for personal electronic devices (also, technically true).

My non-expert opinion says these are safe to fly with, especially since it's been done a kajillion times without incident

(you can read here about the reason why the authorities looked into lithium batteries, and finally concluded that they aren't any more or less dangerous than clothing, in that they don't spontaneously catch fire unless they're very poorly made, which Bionx batteries are not - http://www.iata.org/html_email/CAR1001654/lithium_batteries.pdf )

If you dare, I would pack the bike under sporting goods (fully allowed) and show up with the battery as a carry on. Explain that these batteries, made by BMZ, are 60 Cells of their BCGR-18650 series (3.7v nominal voltage and 2.1Ah - here is the catalog if it helps: http://www.bmz-ltd.cn/download/pdf/BMZ_LI-ION_Katalog.pdf) and that they are in fact an array (which the X-ray will confirm). If you can find a data sheet for the the BMZ battery, (I can't) so much the better. Print the above IATA regulatory sheet, in its entirety, underlining the point that the individual batteries are far less than 100Ah. If you make it through - and I'd give it a 50-50 chance, then hooray! Otherwise, you've got your bike (which they have to fly), which will work without a battery. Though it's not really the same, is it. Maybe make sure you have someone at the airport who can drive with the battery back home. The advantage if you make it there is the classic: they let me through last time...

Are you willing to be the guinea pig for the rest of us?

filitosa
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

any folks out there with updates? thanks

LeftieBiker
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

This only tangentially related, but if you have to ship lithium batteries, *do not use FedEx*. After two months of getting packages returned by them, they now have my $500 battery pack (I was returning it to Prodeco) in Limbo, and it may end up destroyed. This was *with* the required HazMat labels and papers on the box. Prodeco has screwed up multiple times on this, but FedEx has exhibited a lethal combination of bureaucratic nit-picking and terrible customer service, from people who range from "incompetent" to "confident but completely wrong". If you have to ship a lithium battery pack, I suggest you use UPS, and hope that "a battery" is sufficient answer when they ask what's in the box.

miro13car
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Re: Travel with the Bionx

jfklown,
correct your post!!!
you confuse battery electric units.
it should be 100Wh not 100Ah,
100Ah is hudge battery impossible

CM

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