The perils of DIY bike modifications were learned by an Australian septuagenarian whose Pinarello bike was melted after his aftermarket e-bike battery burst into flames.
Gerry Ryan, 79, suffered minor burns and saw his bike written off while riding up Adelaide’s Corkscrew Hill, regularly used by the Tour Down Under WorldTour race.
An alleged short in the circuit saw the battery catch fire, with reports of 10-foot high flames. Ryan’s bibshorts then also caught alight before he dismounted with the Co2 canisters in his saddlebag also bursting into flames seeing the fire spread across the dry earth.
Luckily, fire crews were observing a small scrub bush in the local area which allowed them to reach the blaze and prevent it from spreading in good time.
Australian television channel Nine News attended the incident, speaking to Ryan who said of his mishap, ‘Coming up the hill, my electric bike caught fire and I threw it down.’
Ryan’s friend, Keith Harris, who saw the incident added that his Ryan ‘just managed to get off the bike before it actually burst into flames. It was probably 10 foot high flames to start with from the bike.’
Thankfully, besides Ryan’s minor burns, no more injuries were sustained and the fire was controlled and extinguished before it had time to spread.
Fellow riders remarked how it was lucky that there was no wind considering how dry the terrain has been following Australia’s prolonged heatwave.
The lithium-based battery that caught alight had been added to Ryan’s Pinarello F8 after purchase.
Aftermarket e-bikes have existed for some time with the ability to retrospectively fit motor systems to either the bottom bracket or rear hub. The option of a friction motor in the seat tube is also available.
These type of systems were also the centre of controversy following various claims that electric motors had been used in the professional peloton.
To date, only one incident of electronic doping has been seen in professional cycling. This was Femke Van den Driessche, the Belgian cyclocross rider who is currently serving a six-year ban after being charged with mechanical doping at 2016 World Championships.