Lithium safety for an e-bike

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Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 06:57
Points: 76
Lithium safety for an e-bike

I am getting some severe warnings on an e-bike assist site that lithium is too dangerous as a source of power for an electric bike-- is anybody using lithium on e-bikes?

Is a charging bag such as this a good safety step during charging, use and storage?

Due to my setup, it would be very easy to keep the battery in the bag all the time.

reikiman's picture
Last seen: 16 hours 37 sec ago
Joined: Sunday, November 19, 2006 - 17:52
Points: 8447
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

It depends on the sort of lithium you have. Which e-bike site did you come from?

In any case there are multiple lithium chemistries. The older lithium chemistries, li-poly or li-ion, have cobalt in them and can explode in certain circumstances. Remember those exploding laptops from a couple years ago? Those were cobalt based batteries along with bad management circuits.

Other chemistries are lithium-iron-phosphate or lithium-manganese. I have LiFePO4 packs in a couple bicycles and have not had any problem with them.

Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: Saturday, July 7, 2007 - 23:55
Points: 1686
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

LiFePO4 batteries are very stable, mainly due to the much lower concentration of lithium (3.5% by weight, vs a lithium cobalt battery which is close to 50%)

one thing you have to watch out for is charging them when the battery is at a temperature below 0 deg C.
other than that, theres not alot to go wrong (safety wise, a BMS will give u decent service life).


Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 06:57
Points: 76
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

The e-bike site is yahoo electric assist-- which has been very helpful over the last year with advice to get me going as an e-bike commuter.

Here is the battery situation:

The batteries were manufactured for Schwinn and are in the
original undamaged case.

On the bike, I can put them on the front rack or the rear rack: I would like to
keep an eye on them, but I would rather lose my a** than my eye.

I did have to get a third party charger:

Here is the battery company website:

I found an owner's manual with charging instructions-- there is a claim that the lithium is in a solid form which makes it safer.

Here is the link to the manual pdf:\

From their sales claim:

Super-light Protanium® Lithium battery pack
Schwinn's choice for battery power is the Protanium® lithium polymer battery,
claiming to be the lightest and most durable on the market weighing in at a
little over 4 pounds,. One charge will last 40 - 60 miles.

The size, weight and convenient positioning of the Schwinn Protanium® battery
gives the rider a battery they can charge, insert and forget about. Like other
lithium-ion batteries, it charges fully in less than 4 hours and provides 100%
power to the motor until the point when the battery is fully depleted. The
Schwinn Protanium® battery will last approximately 500 - 600 charge cycles at
100 percent output. 24 volt Lithium battery charger included.


Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 06:57
Points: 76
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

I am not too worried about the low temperatures because I don't ride if it is much more than 5 degrees below zero Celsius and the batteries will be in a camera bag with some padding acting as insulation. On the other end, the bag is black and I do wonder how warm it will get on a hot day-- putting the batteries in a fireproof bag would add to the temperature. The bag will not be in the sun all day-- only for the 40 minutes of my commute.


Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Saturday, February 24, 2007 - 19:14
Points: 117
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

Again Lithium are not all the same.
LiFePo is very safe and stable.
I am using this chemistry from BMI for 2500km with no problems, charging them at 10A no problem, unlike Polimer Lithium they love heat.
Cobalt based Lithiums are universally considered as dangerous, because they require strict charging regime, overcharging invites disaster, discharging them below certain voltage invites disaster.
just read RC forums how dangerous Polymer is.


Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: Friday, December 19, 2008 - 23:25
Points: 441
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

The Lithium Polymer type cell chemistry that you are considering is apparently more power for less weight than the LiFePO4 cells, ... but more expensive, maybe only 1/3 the charge cycles, and need to be carefully not over-charged (to avoid some nasty results).

The LiFePO4 weighs more and takes up more space, ... but is less expensive, apparently can have a longer life (over 2000 cycles if treated conservatively and not over-charged or over-discharged), and apparently has no nasty (fire, explosion, etc.) habits, even when abused.

My motorcycle (scooter body) has 21 LiFePO4 cells, of 60 Ah capacity. But, of course, that is not enough ... partly because the scooter and I are very aerodynamicly "challenged".

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 06:57
Points: 76
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

I found a bit more on the Schwinn site in terms of the chemistry-- a claim that these batteries have "moved from lithium ion to lithium polymer (LIPO)"

Here is the link to the full description:

I am stuck on what is my best option. The pair of batteries were less than fifty bucks, but the charger I ordered from batteryspace came with a plug that does not fit the input on the battery-- same barrel style, but different size center pin. I am trying to contact Schwinn about ordering the proper charger, but their phone support has been unhelpful due to lack of technical knowledge by the phone staff.

Are these likely to be a good source of lightweight power if I can get them going?


Last seen: 15 years 1 week ago
Joined: Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 22:39
Points: 31
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike The explosion is at 1:30.notice they specify the size? this is a 1500mah and is probably less than 9v. These batteries are nothing to F with. If the battereies were designed for what your using them for they probably will be fine. I would hate to see 24V or 36V of these things go off between my legs (although it would make quite a show from a distance). As people have said there are different chemistries. This couldn't happen with a LiFePO4, or the Mn ones. If they are old Co batteries they are probably bad anyway.

Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 06:57
Points: 76
Re: Lithium safety for an e-bike

Thank you for the input-- I am giving the batteries back-- nothing lost, but time.

I am probably ready to try a LiFePO4 pack from Ping.


Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 11:22
Points: 19
Re: Lithium safety for a ChargeFest

(from my post at

We had a lively discussion at our local EV club meeting Saturday on dealing with used batteries at a business such as a repair shop. The discussion was both about fully supported "full sized" electric vehicles such as Chevrolet (Bolt, Volt) or Toyota (Prius, et al) and about Light Electric Vehicles such as e-bikes and others such as the Organic Transit ELF.

Concerns for LEVs and other ebike batteries from those who work at commercial bicycle stores:

  • If a vehicle comes into a shop without a supported battery pack, or without the OEM charger, then stop, do NOT work on it. Period!
    • Lack of information such as Safety Data Sheets may violate terms of insurance
    • Potential for bad events ranging from meltdown of battery to actual fire in the area
  • If a vehicle which is made by a manufacturer where YOUR business has a working relationship comes and they need an evaluation, then you have greater backing and possible coverage under current insurance for products carried. Still. proceed with caution:
    • If any leakage from batteries, then again STOP working on this battery pack
    • insist on having the original OEM charger available - many problems with charging can be traced back to the charger

The local club is still planning to host a Light Electric Vehicle Chargefest, where we share techniques to restore battery packs in Light Electric Vehicles such as ebikes. Concern was raised over liability over sharing tools to safely restore batteries including:

  • Basic safety equipment: gloves, eye shields, fire extinguisher nearby, smoke detector nearby
  • fire resistent battery bags or fireboxes for batteries under test
  • UL listed multichemistry chargers such as Grin Technologies Satiator, and Multichemistry chargers from EV-Peak and GT Power

A local Maker Space has offered to host the few of us who have Multi-chemistry chargers and share their chargers and expertise with others. We plan to setup several stations for battery owners to try their hand and restoring their own batteries. We asked any battery owner to bring their OEM charger as a condition of being tested. The battery owners will do the hands-on testing, with our experienced staff providing example setups using their own battery packs and acting as consultants for earnings estimates. We now have a liability disclaimer that we are going to ask attendees to sign, and hope they still stay around to work on their battery packs!

Do any of you on V is for Voltage have suggestions how to run this ChargeFest and help Light EV and ebike battery owners but avoid liability for battery failures after the event?

Best, Mark
PS - I am posting here as I don't have enough activity to start a thread.

Mark Smith, LEVA Tech Instructor
2001 Currie eFolder, 2005 Giant LaFree, 2007 Currie eZip,
2007 Optibike 600,
2013 OT ELF, 2014 OT Naked ELF2, 2014 Optibike Helia, 2019 Segway Mecha, 2019 Trikke Pon-e 2WD, 2020 Lectric XP

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