One thing all cyclists have in common is the desire to explore and ride new places. It’s generally pretty easy to put your bike on a car rack and hit the road. If you’re flying, you can easily secure it in a bike bag and add it to your checked luggage. Traveling with an E-Bike though presents some more challenges. The lithium ion battery and extra weight requires some additional steps and equipment to not only travel safely, but legally with an E-Bike.
If you’re driving, you’ll need a hitch-mounted, tray-style rack to help distribute and support the additional weight of an E-Bike. Many racks will specify if they support an E-Bike, but you should also check the weight per bike for the rack you’re considering. If you ride with plus sized tires, you’ll have to make sure the rack can accommodate a larger tire as well. One trick when lifting the bike onto the rack is to first remove the battery. This will reduce the weight by almost 6 pounds and also makes transporting the bike safer. It’s important to be careful not to leave the battery in a hot or cold car for extended amounts of time. Optimal storage temperature for a Shimano STEPS battery is 30 – 80˚F, so it’s best to bring it inside if your vehicle will be parked for an extended time. If you’ll be driving through some rain or other inclement weather, wrap the battery mounts with a plastic bag or some other covering to prevent those areas from being directly exposed to the elements.
Flying with an E-Bike is a bit trickier. There are no regulations on flying with the bike itself, but there are regulations on the lithium ion battery. All Shimano STEPS batteries are either 418- or 504-watt hours, and some airlines have a limit of 100-watt hours. Others won’t allow anything much larger than your cell phone or laptop. Once the battery is removed, you can pack your bike in standard bike bag or hard case and check it like any other mountain bike. Most of the times, you can rent a battery from a local shop or ship it to your destination. Shipping is probably the easiest option, but you’ll have to make sure you ship from a location certified to ship lithium ion batteries. Most UPS Stores can ship them, and are probably the most convenient, especially since you’ll have to ship the battery back home as well. Once you arrive, pick up your battery and hit the trails.
While it might require a bit more effort, but there’s no reason your E-Bike should keep you from exploring new grounds away from home.
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