Gary Ryan’s high-end Pinarello Dogma F8 caught fire on Adelaide’s Corkscrew Road hill climb, filmed by 9News.9News
A 79-year-old Australian man had a lucky escape earlier today when the high-end road bike he was riding burst into flames on a famous ascent near Adelaide. Gary Ryan’s Pinarello Dogma F8 had been retrofitted with an electric motor, but the bicycle’s carbon fiber frame is now a “melted mess,” said a TV report on Adelaide’s 9News.
“I was coming up the hill and my electric bike caught fire, so I threw it down,” said Ryan.
He added: “The guy who built my bike said I must have had a short [circuit] in it. Because that never happens.”
Ryan, dressed in Spandex clothing sporting the Dogma brand name, was later taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with minor burns. A bush fire caused by his bike’s explosion was rapidly tackled by a fire crew in a passing fire truck and was extinguished. The bike exploded on an ascent of Corkscrew Road, 20 kilometers from Adelaide. The climb is one of the most noted in South Australia and has previously featured in the Tour Down Under professional bicycle race.
Soon after the battery on Ryan’s bike caught fire some CO2 canisters in his saddlebag exploded. These canisters are used by cyclists for emergency tire inflation.
Gary Ryan’s bigs-end road bike is now a “melted mess,” said a reporter for 9News.9News
“We couldn’t get close to [the bike],” said Ryan’s friend Dave Chandler. [“A CO2 canister goes off] like a bloody bullet,” he said.
Pinarello is an Italian maker of high-end bicycles, including road bikes used by recent Tour de France winners. It also makes electric road bikes but the one that caught fire is not one of them. Forbes spoke to Richard Hemington, managing director of Pinarello’s dealer-direct UK firm.
He said: “This highlights the risk of poor quality aftermarket kits that may be available to fit to any bicycle. In any example like this, there are other implications for the customer; warranty will be void on the bicycle and any insurance policy will be void which for third party liability is a huge risk, in this instance possible payment for the damage caused.”
Hemington added that neither he nor Pinarello have details of the aftermarket kit that was used on the exploding bike but “performance will be poor and clearly from this, the safety is terrible. Pinarello e-bikes are made to the highest standards in partnership with Fazua which conform to all legislative requirements.”
It’s unusual for electric bikes to catch fire, but not unheard of. Lithium-ion batteries are highly flammable, and need to be charged and stored with great care.
In July last year a Dutch factory assembling e-bikes caught fire leading to 300 nearby residents being evacuated from their homes overnight. The mayor of Nunspeet told the De Stentor newspaper that the fire at the Stella e-bikes warehouse was a “wake-up call.”
Also last year, trade magazine Bike Europe commissioned a fire safety engineer to examine the aftermath of a fire in a Dutch bike shop started by an unattended charging battery. Rob Overdijkink told the magazine that lithium-ion batteries are “rather unreliable, rather explosive. You are never sure if or when they will explode. And when they do, you have a big problem.”
It is recommended that owners of products which use large lithium-ion batteries – which includes drones and many other consumer products as well as e-bikes – should use battery storage containers with a certified lithium extinguishing system or a storage room equipped with an integrated automatic extinguishing system that would include a heat and smoke detector. Charged and spent batteries should be stored in fireproof bags or boxes.
Experts further recommend that e-bikes should be charged during the day and under supervision, rather than unwatched at night.