How to Ship an Electric Bike Overseas

Many people search for eco-friendly, economical transportation solutions as they grow more ecologically concerned. Enter – the eBike.

Shipping an e-bike in the US is much like shipping any other bicycle. However, the difference is that e-bikes have lithium-ion batteries, making them fragile. An e-bike can be shipped globally by air.

These green bikes have seen a sharp increase in sales. They’re also becoming increasingly popular on crowdfunding websites. Right now, eBike projects are among the most well-known and profitable ones.

However, shipping is a serious worry for the owners of eBike campaigns; more specifically, delivering electric bike batteries is a problem.

Shipping Your E-Bike

E-bikes vary widely from one another. Others are made to be mountain bikes, while some are made to be road cycles. Some lie halfway in the middle, such as urban versions designed for commuting and leisure riding.

Each has a unique frame design and set of tires, necessitating special shipping concerns. Many consumers are apprehensive about shipping their electric bikes. They are unsure how to send an e-bike or are concerned that their bike will arrive damaged.

Bikes may be sent without significant limitations, but eBikes are significantly more difficult. This is because most eBikes include lithium batteries, which couriers categorize as dangerous products and subject to stringent shipping regulations.

An eBike cannot be sent the same way as other goods. Large lithium batteries, which may weigh up to 3 or 4 kilos and pose a serious transportation danger, are frequently found within these gadgets.

Due to their high flammability and extreme sensitivity to external conditions, lithium batteries can catch fire while being transported.

Because of this, transporting an eBike battery in the US might be difficult. Additionally, check to see if your manufacturers have the necessary government and regulatory permits to export motorcycles; China might be a problem here.

Most significant messengers, such as USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx, won’t automatically accept shipments of eBikes that include lithium batteries. Furthermore, shipping eBikes requires large and frequently unusually sized packaging.

Since most couriers only provide services for smaller goods, they might not be prepared to manage these large shipments.

However, this does not exclude you from shipping bikes. Start these conversations early with your shipping supplier to better understand the premium charges involved with the transportation of these bikes, even if the enormous nature of the items presents issues in shipping.

You should also think about how you’ll send your eBikes. Air shipments are more challenging since they need a lot more paperwork, and you’ll also need the carrier and airline’s permission.

For domestic shipment of eBikes, land services could be helpful. However, ocean freight is more appropriate for shipping internationally.

Is it Dangerous to Ship Your Electric Bike?

If your e-bike is packaged appropriately and the battery is transported separately, airlines will accept it as cargo. You may ask your neighborhood bike store for assistance in packaging your e-bike or do it yourself. This UPS blog post offers useful advice on how to get your bike ready for shipping.

For your e-bike in the US, you may utilize one of the many courier services like UPS or FedEx to send the battery by air. They can offer guidance on packaging and labeling needs that abide by Dangerous Goods legislation since they have specific rules they must follow.

The airline and courier business must be contacted in advance to arrange this option. You will need to find out how much it will cost you since it varies depending on many factors. 

According to the rules, your e-bike may be shipped by air in much of North America. Lithium-ion battery shipment on commercial passenger planes is restricted by the US Federal Aviation Administration depending on battery power.

These limitations apply to all airlines that are IATA members worldwide. The guidelines for the air transportation of lithium-ion batteries for e-bikes are fairly specific. Batteries for e-bikes are limited to 100 watt-hours of capacity.

Most e-bike batteries utilize lithium-ion cells, which have a far better energy density (more power, less weight) than nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries, like the ones in your vehicle.

Volatility is a trade-off with lithium-ion: If metallic (pure) lithium is in the presence of airborne water, it will burn.

Lithium compounds used in lithium-ion batteries increase the stability of the cells while storing less energy than pure lithium.

It also concerns how the cells are shaped. Cylindrical, prismatic, or pouch-shaped cells are used to produce e-bike battery packs. Because cylindrical cells have a tendency to withstand greater temperatures without deforming, reputable e-bike companies employ packs containing cylindrical cells from reliable vendors. Deformed or leaking cells may result in a short circuit and subsequent accumulation.

A short circuit and consequent accumulation of heat from deformed or leaking cells run the danger of thermal runaway. The primary type of cell used in smartphones, the prismatic cell, has a flatter form and is more likely to swell.

Pouch cells are frequently not subjected to as thorough testing as other forms since they frequently enlarge over their life cycle.

Even though lithium-ion batteries in an e-bike in the US can become hazardous, a unique categorization for battery-powered vehicles known as UN 3171 allows shipping e-bikes in a single package to be simpler, more affordable, and more practical.

Due to this classification, you may transport your e-bike to and from more destinations without having to be a hazardous-certified shipper, pay a hazmat premium, or be a hazmat-certified shipper. Under this classification, ground delivery inside the contiguous United States is the only option for shipping e-bikes.

Because airplanes are frequently employed to complete “ground service” shipments to certain states, we don’t ship to Alaska or Hawaii. Never transport your e-bike in an area where it is illegal, such as by misrepresenting its status as a bicycle to transport it by air.

There will be a hefty fine and maybe jail time as a result. If your battery were to go down while traveling, you might be responsible for an aircraft disaster and fatalities.

Options for Shipping Your Electric Bike

ground shipments that include hazardous products, an additional $39 cost applies. UPS may deliver the batteries of the e-bike in the US by ground or air. Lithium-ion batteries are under Class 9, which UPS will ship for an additional $54.50 as air is inaccessible.

Even if UPS classifies your e-bike as UN 3171, there are certain restrictions on shipping. A certification label must be placed on the box’s exterior if the e-bike battery is lithium, the package cannot weigh more than 30 kg, or the battery cannot weigh more than 5 kg.

FedEx distinguishes between hazardous materials and dangerous items. The category of hazardous materials includes lithium batteries. For ground shipments that include hazardous products, an additional $39 cost applies.

Ground Couriers

There are fewer limitations when delivering your e-bike with a battery by ground service. Additionally, the prices will probably be less than air freight. To comply with rules on handling dangerous commodities, there will also be specific packaging and labeling.

Prior to having your bike picked up or sending it off at the nearby shipping facility, it is essential to double-check the criteria with your ground courier. However, it is not a practical choice to travel abroad.

Air Couriers

Your e-bike and battery may be shipped by air using providers. Get in touch with them for information on their packing requirements and the insurance options available to safeguard against loss or damage.

While doing so, you may discover whether there are restrictions on where you can ship, particularly to foreign locations. This alternative also requires some forward preparation and organization to avoid delays in delivering your e-bike to your destination.

It would seem straightforward to ship an electric bike with the battery attached. It’s only one thing, so why not ship it all at once? Sadly, it’s not that simple. Most couriers are pretty cautious when moving these kinds of products, and your eBike probably has a lithium battery.

You must follow a few measures to guarantee the security of the cargo if you plan to ship your eBike while the lithium battery is still attached. Choosing whether to send lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries is one example of this.

Obtain authorization from the airline, the delivery service, and, if necessary, the national authorities. Make sure it’s packaged carefully and isn’t damaged. If required, have a person with a valid HazMat certification load the e-bike.

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that lists information on potentially hazardous products, a UN38.3 Certificate, a Certificate of Origin, and a Certificate for the Safe Transport of Goods are just a few of the documents and certifications you should get.

Also, remember that if you’re exporting overseas, you’ll need to complete all the necessary customs documentation to ensure that your items arrive at their destination without delay.

Split the Shipment

If your e-bike in the US is adequately packaged and the battery is transported separately, airlines will accept it as cargo. You may ask your neighborhood bike store for assistance in packaging your e-bike or do it yourself. This UPS blog post offers useful advice on how to get your bike ready for shipping.

You must utilize a courier to send the battery by air. They will be able to offer guidance on packaging and labeling needs that abide by Dangerous Goods legislation since they have specific rules they must follow. The airline and courier business must be contacted to arrange this option. Verify both parties’ needs and get a price quote.

Rules and Regulations

Before bringing in bike batteries, ensure the shipping firm you select has facilities matching the criteria. Regulations for storage call for having the right firefighting tools on hand and adhering to restrictions on how much lithium may be kept in one location.

Make sure the facilities are up to code for the batteries when you onboard with a new 3PL for e-bikes as part of your due diligence.

An e-bike in the US’slithium-ion battery may prompt the carrier to label the entire shipment as hazardous. The USDOT classifies any lithium-ion battery with a watt-hour capacity of more than 100 as UN 3480. The designation for shipping battery-operated vehicles is UN 3171.

The entire package can ship under the UN 3171 classification when lithium batteries constitute a necessary component of the electric bike. It all depends on whether the battery is an essential component of the bike.

The shipping generally won’t be hazardous if a lithium battery is fitted on the bike or contained within the frame. However, you should know the hazardous classification if transporting a battery separately.

An electric bike to ship has a unique set of difficulties. Bikes are large and clumsy, and an e-bike may be much larger due to its heavier frame than a conventional bike. Additionally, the lithium battery that drives the bicycle adds new shipping challenges.

An electric bike may be sent the same way as a regular bicycle. The lithium-ion battery is what makes a difference.

Your shipping charges for the e-bike in the US will greatly depend on the size of the e-bike battery and how it is mounted on the bike.

While some e-bike businesses make direct consumer sales, most bike sales occur at bike shops. However, the shipping issues are the same whether you send e-bikes to a bike store or a customer.

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