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How to Ship an eBike: A Beginner’s Guide

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, many are looking for green, affordable transport options. Enter the eBike. The sale of these eco-friendly bikes jumped eight times between 2014 and 2018 and raked in $77.1 million in 2017. They’re also a growing trend on crowdfunding platforms; eBike campaigns are among some of the most popular and successful right now. But, for the owners of eBike campaigns, shipping is a real concern; more particularly, it’s shipping electric bike batteries that is an issue. 


Most eBikes use lithium batteries, which can be dangerous to ship. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to ship them, though. There are just a lot of hoops to jump through, from packing the shipments properly to getting the right certification and paperwork. 


Indiegogo has supported a number of successful eBike campaigns, including Nireeka, and The Babymaker. Our shipping partner, Easyship, has also helped Mate Bikes, another successful eBike campaign on Indiegogo, fulfill their orders so they can offer plenty of help and advice about how to do it properly. If you have a lot of orders going to the US or the EU, Easyship can also help you find a bespoke direct injection solution that could help you save on import duties. 


Can You Ship an e-Bike?

While there are no major restrictions with shipping bikes, eBikes are much tricker. That’s because most eBikes contain lithium batteries, which couriers classify as dangerous goods and place significant shipping restrictions on. 


Shipping an eBike is not like shipping any other commodity. These devices often contain huge lithium batteries that weigh up to 3 or 4 kilograms and present a significant risk for shipping. Lithium batteries are highly flammable and can cause fires while in transit because they’re very sensitive to environmental factors. That’s why shipping an eBike battery can be challenging. Also, be sure your manufacturers have the proper government and regulatory approvals to export bikes, this can particularly be an issue in China. 


Most major couriers – including USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx, will not automatically accept shipments of eBikes that contain lithium batteries. In addition, shipping eBikes requires big and often odd-sized packaging. Since most couriers offer services that are designed for smaller packages, they may not be well-equipped to handle these big shipments. 


This doesn’t mean you can’t ship eBikes, though. Although the oversized nature of the goods creates challenges in shipping – begin these discussions early with your shipping provider to better understand the premium costs associated with the shipment of these bikes.


Another factor to consider is how you’ll be shipping your eBikes. Air shipments are more difficult as they require a lot more documentation; you’ll also need to get approval from the carrier and airline in question. Domestically, ground services may be useful for shipping eBikes, while ocean freight is more suitable for international shipping.


Shipping an eBike with Lithium Batteries Installed

Shipping an electronic bike with its battery installed may seem like the easiest thing to do. After all, it’s all one product so why not ship it together? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Your eBike likely contains a lithium battery, and most couriers are very wary about transporting these types of items. 


In order to ship your eBike with its lithium battery installed, you’ll need to take a few steps to ensure the safety of the shipment. This might include: 

  • Working out whether you’re shipping a lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries (couriers handle them differently)
  • Get approval from the airline, the courier, and potentially the national authorities 
  • Ensure that the isn’t damaged and has been packed carefully
  • Put a dangerous goods label on the shipment
  • Have the eBike packed by someone with a current HazMat certification
  • Get the right documents and certifications, including a Material Safety Data Sheet (which shows information about potentially hazardous materials);  UN38.3 Certificate (proves your battery has been tested according to UN guidelines); Certificate of Origin (shows where your bike was manufactured); Certificate for the Safe Transport of Goods (verifies the safety of your bike)


Don’t forget that if you’re shipping internationally, you’ll also need to fill out all the right customs paperwork so your goods can enter the destination country without delay. Easyship can help with this by automatically generating the shipping and customs documentation you’ll need. 


Shipping eBikes with Their Lithium Batteries Removed

Removing the lithium battery from your eBikes before shipping them can make the process a bit easier because your eBike will then be able to ship like any other non-dangerous good – you may still have to deal with oversized package issues, though. 


However, you’ll still need to send the battery to the customer; you’ll just need to do this separately with a major courier that has the experience to handle these types of goods. In this case, you may have to deal with some of the same paperwork issues outlined above and take steps such as displaying a Dangerous Goods label on your shipment. You might also need to get P1965 certification, which states that your battery has been tested and deemed safe for transport. 


You’ll also need to pack the battery carefully. This may include covering the battery terminals with non-conductive materials; placing the battery in a sealed interior packaging; and using padding materials to ensure stability. 


Another factor to consider is cost. If you’re shipping an electric bike battery separately from the eBike, you’ll have to pay for two shipments. You’ll want to plan for this and perhaps add this into your funding goals so you’re not taken by surprise when fulfilling your campaign. 


Fulfillment: The Key to a Successful eBike Campaign

It’s entirely possible to ship an eBike, whether you’re shipping the battery with the bike or not. But, as you can see, the process isn’t especially easy. You’ll need a lot of paperwork and certificates to get a courier or airline to accept the shipment. And, because of their sheer size, there are significant cost implications, too. You should remember to factor this into your funding goals when planning your campaign. 


If your campaign involves shipping eBikes, Easyship can be a great resource to help. The team can provide plenty of guidance and support about fulfilling your eBike campaign, whether you’re in the planning stages or are ready to start shipping to backers. Learn more about Easyship’s offerings to Indiegogo campaigners, and request a free shipping consultation here

Download the Shipping for Crowdfunding Guide

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