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The Dangers of Electric Bikes Explained (And How to Manage Them)

So, you’ve got your e-bike ready to go and are starting to get excited about your first ride. But, before you take off, you should consider the risks involved with getting on the road. While you’d like to think an activity like e-biking is super safe, you must make sure that you fully understand what you need to look out for to minimize the risks of riding. So, what are the dangers of e-bikes anyway?

E-bikes are more dangerous than traditional bikes. The higher speeds mean a collision is more likely and worse when it happens. Using a helmet, being aware of local laws, and even adding accessories like rear-view bike mirrors and rechargeable flashing lights will decrease your chances of an accident.

E-bikes seem to be everywhere. The jump in popularity coincides with a few other factors, like the advancement of battery technology and an increasingly environmentally friendly world. As more and more e-bikers take to the streets, there will inevitably be some incidents. But are e-bikes somehow more dangerous than regular bikes? Moreover, what can you do to help decrease your risk when riding? We’ve got those answers and more; just read on!

Are E-Bikes More Dangerous than Normal Bikes?

Electric bicycle in a park on a sunny day

If you’ve recently switched from pedal power to an electric boost, you may have noticed that extra juice is giving you a bit more speed, and consequently, a bit more risk. So are e-bikes more dangerous than your traditional mountain bike or beach cruiser? Of course, it comes down to the rider and the situation, but generally speaking, are you inherently taking on more risk when you add that extra power to go faster and ride longer?

E-bikes can be more dangerous than traditional pedal-powered bicycles. Your average e-bike can top speeds upward of 20 mph, which often puts riders in a more precarious position when it comes to safety. Rider training and proper protection are essential to keeping things safe on all rides.

While speed is certainly a factor in e-bikes, even your average classic bike rider can reach around 18 mph with some serious pedaling. What often causes the bulk of e-bike accidents can trace back to the rider’s training and habits. Your e-bike may not top 20 mph, but it can still pose a significant risk to riders if operated improperly.

Always make sure you completely understand how to work the throttle, braking system and gear system before jumping on your bike.

Another factor that plays into e-bike safety is the fact that a battery powers the motor. While it is true that e-bike manufacturers include plenty of safety precautions, compared to a normal bike, there is a higher risk of accidents. But, you’ll find a few more things to consider when it comes to managing your safety when you jump on your e-bike.

Are E-Bike or Motorcycles/Cars More Dangerous?

With around 80,000 incidents per year, motorcycles are widely known as a relatively dangerous form of getting from A to B. With Cars, on the other hand, 13 in every 100,000 accidents are fatal. Compare that to 72 out of 100,000 for motorcycles.

Pedal-powered bikes rank at around 843 total deaths per year, with around 50 million riders in the U.S alone is small compared to their fully motor-powered counterparts.

Deaths are, of course, fairly extreme in terms of accidents, but it helps us clarify that motorbikes and cars are statistically much more dangerous than an e-bike. This has a lot to do with how fast you can travel on an e-bike more than anything else. E-bikes can be more dangerous than normal bikes, but they don’t even come close to the number of accidents you usually see from cars and motorcycles on roads every year.

What are the Dangers of E-Biking

So we’ve touched on higher speed as being the main culprit for e-bike dangers. But there are a few other things you need to be aware of to have a firm grip on what to watch out for to ensure your safety. Below you’ll find some common e-bike dangers.

We’ve listed them in terms of probability, meaning the top items are the things you should be the most careful of.

Collisions at Higher Speed

Alright, so we’ve already touched on speed, but you need to fully understand the risks in this context. First, let’s talk about relative danger. For people, bike riding, in general, can be a dangerous endeavor. Even for the most skilled rider, there are always risks that just can’t be mitigated. One of those is the risk of collisions. Add the extra speed of the e-bike, and you’ve added a bit more risk to the equation.

While your average e-bike can’t go much faster than 20 mph using its own motor, that’s still plenty of juice that can get you into a serious accident if not properly handled. Studies argue that a 10% boost in speed equals roughly a 40% boost in safety risks. So, this considered, e-bikes can definitely be dangerous if you are riding at top speeds.

And keep in mind that weather can exacerbate all of this. We have a separate article explaining how to ride in a way that mitigates the added risk of rainfall and slick roads, for instance.

When riding in the rain, you’ll want to change the way you ride by doing things like breaking sooner, taking turns slower, and wearing reflective materials like this simple TOURUN Reflective Vest (on Amazon) to increase your chances of being noticed by others on the road and lower your chances of an accident.


What often turns your average casual bike ride into an accident is other vehicles on the road. This unfortunate fact of bike riding isn’t just for e-bikes, but for all cyclists. Being aware of the vehicles that are riding near you is a great habit to get into, and it can help you mitigate some of the risks involved with riding in traffic.

What makes e-bikes at a higher risk of accidents is the average pace of the motor. You see, while any cyclist can probably get up to 20 mph in a sprint, it’s hard to maintain that pace consistently. For an e-bike, it’s not an issue to ride at a higher speed for the entire duration of the trip. This puts e-bike riders in a precarious position since it feels appropriate to ride along with traffic since you’re traveling at such high speeds.

Traveling in traditional bike lanes can be a game of weaving and bobbing. Moreover, traveling with regular traffic can mean slowing down the flow, leading to a higher risk of collisions. This can be a daily ordeal for riders living in areas with limited bicycle infrastructure. E-bike riders need to be more aware of these situations than regular riders in general.

To manage other traffic you want to optimize your visibility on the road and your awareness of others. The vest mentioned above is a good start, but, you may also want to consider adding a taillight with a flashing mode like the Ascher USB Rechargeable Flashing Light Set (on Amazon). And to be more aware of others, you can actually get some aftermarket rear-view mirrors like the XSafe Bike Mirror (on Amazon) to know what’s going on behind you.

Battery Fires

We’ve all seen those crazy videos online where phone batteries seem to spontaneously combust, leaving charred plastic and ash behind. Those batteries are made from lithium-ion. E-bike batteries are also made from lithium-ion. So it seems that they should be just as dangerous, right?

Let’s jump into some answers here. While lithium can be dangerous and pose a potential fire hazard and explosive risk, most battery manufacturers are constantly coming up with new and improved ways to mitigate the dangers of using these high-performing chargeable batteries.

So while you might see a battery fire video go viral, the reality is that it happens very rarely and is often caused by improper use, damage, or something else.

Additionally, batteries for e-bikes aren’t identical to the batteries used for cell phones. You’ll often see them encased in the frame, behind layers of durable material or removable to keep them safe during the lifecycle of the bike.

Can You Get Electrocuted Using an Electric Bike?

While batteries do pose a risk of electrical issues, the chances that you’ll have to deal with this issue are very slim. Battery manufacturers make their products to last, be durable, and above all, be safe. The risks of electrocution from batteries usually only come from improper use and mishandling. If you read your owner’s manual carefully, keep up with recommended care routines, then you should stay more than safe.

How to Use an E-Bike Safely

Bike mechanic repairs folding bicycle in Workshop

By this point, you’re most likely fully aware of some of the risks of using an e-bike, as rare as they may be. But if you want to be a bit more cautious, or just want to make sure you’ve got the full picture, what other safety tips should you be aware of?

More Tips for Using your E-bike Safely

  • Look up local laws — You might not be aware of them, but your local municipality and state may have very specific laws regarding e-bikes and their use. Always make sure you do your research to stay safe on the roads and within the law.
  • Protective gear — The risks of seriously damaging yourself drastically reduce when you don the proper safety gear. Don’t make this mistake; invest in a high-quality helmet like this one from Schwinn (on Amazon).
  • Check your bike — Before you ride, take a few minutes to give your bike a quick inspection. Check tire pressure, brakes, chain and other important areas before getting on your way.
  • Gear Up! – using the reflective vest, mirros, and flashing lights (all or even just one of them) will increase your chances of being noticed and at least minimize the chance of someone else hitting you!

These are just a few quick tips to get you started. Bike safety is incredibly important, especially with an e-bike. Since you have the capacity for both higher speeds and longer rides, being extra careful with using your e-bike is always a good idea.

Wrapping Up

While e-bikes do pose some dangers, they are not much riskier than your average pedal bike. Of course, the extra speed can cause some issues, but you should be fine if you are aware of your local laws and stay safe. E-bikes offer quite a lot of benefits, especially when compared to traditional bikes and other motorized forms of transportation.

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Thursday 23rd of December 2021

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