How to Replace an Electric Bike Battery if the Model is Discontinued or the Company is Out of Business

Court

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Hi guys! I'm moving some content off of the main site and into the most relevant categories of the forum. This post was originally made on October 9th 2016:

Introduction… skip to the third paragraph if you’re in a hurry :) Some products are designed to be disposable… this may be due to health and sanitation reasons or simply because producing and delivering a new widget is more efficient than refilling or repairing an existing one. As the price of energy fluctuates and different delivery channels are established, products go from disposable to recyclable or refillable and supply chains adapt. In parts of Europe, nearly all waste is recycled because landfill space is limited and exporting trash has a high energy cost. Product disposal is also highly regulated and enforced compared with other parts of the world. In the United States there is ample room to bury trash and regulations are varied from state to state, as a result, many items that could be recycled are not. That’s not a bad thing in the short run as fossil fuels are used both to create and dispose of products but if we were harvesting renewables and could lower the gray costs of transport and recycling activities, it would make increasingly more sense to recycle. There are certainly other factors to consider such as the variety of trash being disposed of as well as population density and proximity to advanced recycling facilities. While the vast majority of materials used in consumer products can indeed be recycled, doing so isn’t always the best option… at least not immediately. In recent years, some older landfills have become mines where materials disposed of decades ago are being recovered.

Okay, so let’s talk about electric bike batteries shall we? Why did I create such a long introduction instead of answering your question directly! Well, electric bikes use a variety of battery types including Sealed Lead Acid, Absorbent Glass Matt, Lithium Iron Phosphate, Lithium Magnesium Cobalt and other minor variations of Lithium-ion or Lithium polymer with more or less energy density and durability characteristics. What this means is that getting an exact replacement can be tricky and labor intensive… Your best option is usually to purchase direct from the manufacturer or a certified shop. Not only do you want to protect the expensive controller and motor on your ebike, you want to make sure your house doesn’t burn down as the result of using an incorrect or damaged battery. This is why there are often warning labels and tamper stickers on batteries, urging you not to open them. In many ways, ebike batteries are configured to be disposable / recyclable for safety reasons. One company in Santa Cruz California called NTS Works decided to design a solution for reuse and recycling of their electric bike pack by offering to repack batteries sold with their electric bikes! NTS Works, which seems to have gone out of business in recent years, offered a rebuildable upgradeable battery solution mentioned in an interview here. I suspect that the recent restrictions on shipping Lithium-ion battery packs has contributed to their transition… It’s expensive and time consuming to deal with batteries so most companies, at the time this article was created, simply do not. You have to be certified to ship hazardous materials and they are generally only moved via ground transport, not air. Big companies can ship the packs to their shop/dealer distribution points but consumers may struggle to ship them back because they are not hazmat certified, this is where shops and special shipping locations can help. Most companies I’m aware of simply prefer to trash or recycle used battery packs and encourage you to buy a new one.

discontinued-electric-bike-battery-fix-station.jpeg checking-ebike-battery-with-voltmeter.jpeg ebike-battery-replacement-service.jpeg electric-bike-battery-ran-out-service-to-replace.jpeg

One company that’s working around these limitations is Rechargeable Power Energy in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. I heard about them during an interview with Sam at the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton California. Sam has been in business selling ebikes since the mid 2000’s when he began transitioning away from gas scooters. Some of the earliest models he sold included the eBike from Lee Iacocca and e-moto. The video below shows Sam and one of his long time customers discussing two older Emoto models that have had their batteries “repacked” three times and are still going strong! Re-packing refers to the process of unloading the existing cells or pouches from a custom container or battery pack and then refilling it with the appropriate and compatible replacement cells to be used ongoing. An alternative path is to get rid of the original pack design and use a rear carry rack like this to support a new more generically shaped battery box. If you get help identifying the proper voltage and size, replace the wire interface going from the replacement battery to your bike can be a solution and some ebike shops may help with this for a fee… but this is definitely an advanced approach that will void warranties if they are still in effect. One company that offers battery packs in different sizes and is familiar with e-bikes is AllCell Technologies. But again, they just offer generic looking rectangular packs that you have to wire-in yourself. I think most people prefer to keep their existing bike design in tact, especially if the battery is hidden in the downtube for improved aesthetic and balance so let’s talk more about Rechargeable Power Energy and their repacking service…


Renewable Power Energy (RPE) actually designs and sells their own line of electric bikes but their primary business is batteries. They offer a range of chemistries including Lithium Cobalt Manganese, Lithium Cobalt Oxide and Lithium Iron Phosphate which are optimized for fast discharge, heat resilience and lower price respectively. All offerings appear to come in pouch prismatic form vs. the cylindrical 18650 cell that are most common with new batteries (those from Samsung and Panasonic I usually see). From what I’ve gathered, there are technicians at RPE who will open your battery, test the battery management system (BMS), remove the existing cells and fill the space with their pouches to meet or exceed the required specs of your ebike. This means that you could take an older bike battery casing and actually fill it with more energy to extend the range of your electric bike! I called the company to chat about the process and discovered that they began this type of work around 2011, are certified to ship hazardous materials to customers and have already successfully done this for IZIP, Stromer, e-moto and Easy Motion electric bike packs! One company that they’ve struggled to work with however is BionX because their controllers are more secure and proprietary with software locks in place. Thankfully, BionX is still in business and has a large network of authorized dealers who should be able to help you buy direct from the source. The turnaround time for battery rebuilds with RPE is one and a half to two weeks and they require you to discharge your battery completely before shipping using ground. You may also have to send your battery charger along so they can fill and test it.

expired-electric-bike-battery-being-refilled.jpeg individual-cell-replacement-on-ebike-batteries.jpeg refilled-and-restored-electric-bike-batteries.jpeg repacking-electric-bicycle-batteries.jpeg

In today’s ebike market, Lithium battery packs are one of the most expensive components of the bike and I’ve seen them sell for as much as $800 a piece from Bosch, Specialized and other premium sellers. Over time we might see these prices drop but part of the reason they aren’t already lower is that dealers take a cut (and both of the aforementioned brands are dealer-only, meaning you can’t buy direct). With Renewable Power Energy, expect to pay $75+ for an initial inspection of the pack and $400 to $550 for a refill with their pouch prismatic cells. That’s slightly less expensive than getting a new pack from a brand like Emotion but not much… All things considered, I’m glad to know that someone is willing to work on old batteries to keep these bikes on the road. There aren’t too many options besides a DIY approach and some have talked about this in the forums but the tools and time required can be prohibitive. I personally find it intimidating to work on my own packs because there have been fires in the past and massive battery recalls from companies like Pedego just to err on the safe side. One thing you will need with RPE is a material safety data sheet (MSDS) to help identify what is being shipped. This is something RPE will provide and you can fill out before sending ground via UPS or another provider. It’s part of what makes shipping as a consumer possible. Some electric bike shops are now becoming hazmat certified so they may be able help with shipping if you have an especially large battery.

As always, I welcome input, corrections and suggestions for other ways to fix and repack e-bike batteries or even recycle old broken ones. It’s kind of an empty but evolving space but it aligns with the values of riding a bicycle and ebikes in general, sustainability :) the steps involved are usually shipping, diagnostic, unpacking, battery replacement and recycling of old parts, rebuilding and return shipping so it’s not super fast or inexpensive. I’d love to see more big companies offering this sort of service to existing customers the way Apple Computers is now recycling old phones using robots. I think it makes sense for them given the small compact size of their phones (again, battery capacity is a big factor in shipping) and the large established customer base. Even smaller batteries can have issues as we’ve seen with the Samsung Galaxy S7 recently. Ebikes are still a niche market in the US but perhaps we’ll see new developments as they catch on or a new type of battery that isn’t as sensitive and potentially hazardous.

 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Hi guys, I met another individual who may be offering replacement pre-packed and upgraded ebike batteries as well as doing some repairs when I visited Electric Bike Outfitters in Denver, Colorado in 2018. That individual runs a company called Hi-C Battery and his name is Patrick Duggan. You can see Jason and Patrick in this video:

 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Following are some of the original comments that were made on that post:

ELECTRIC REBEKAH
Thanks for the article! We do our best at RPE to exceed your expectations and keep you on the road! Love the new Compare Tool; perfect for everyone new to the ebike world.

COURT
Thanks Rebekah! I enjoyed learning about the services you offer at RPE and appreciate how they might keep more electric bikes on the road! Maybe other people will chime in with questions but you did a great job supporting the article with the questions I had, it was fun :)

RICHARD WOZNY
Today as we speak, my electric bike is just sitting in the garage because the battery has failed. My old battery worked fine for around three years and then it went dead. The battery that I’m talking about was 36V 10AH Li-Po battery pack. What would the cost of reconfiguration of a battery to replace? I would request a response ASAP. I’m talking about a configuration of smaller cells to accomplish a similar result. The life of the battery would have to be strong enough for twenty miles.

COURT
Hi Richard! I don’t actually offer this service myself but Renewable Power Energy does and I have linked to them in the article. I recommend reaching out to see but my guess is at least $500.

BIKERJOHN
A good article here, Court! The problem remains for finding a reliable service out there for reconditioning old bateries. RPE may have some temporary issues right now with their ability to cope with the demand for refurbishing the legion of failing batteries that are out there. The continuing weakness with e-biking seems to be the battery and having access to rebuilding or replacing the battery once it’s useful life is over.

COURT
Yeah, it seems like a great business opportunity and I hope they can execute on it well. Have you taken their service? What has the experience been like so far and do you see it as a solution?

BIKERJOHN
So I’ve been going through some problem issues with fulfillment service from RPE. I sent them $490 via PayPal to diagnose and rebuild my battery pack. There was some confusion after they received the battery. It seems that they confused my battery with a different battery. At one point Sean at RPE told me my battery was 48 volts, not the 36-volt battery that I sent them. In order to clear up that confusion, I sent them a second set of photos showing them again images of the battery and the 36v, 350 watt 8FUN hub motor it was made to supply power to. That seemed to clear up their issues, and I was assured my battery was refurbished and was being shipped back immediately.
Supposedly, they rebuilt the battery, generated a return label with FedEx for the package to be sent back to me. FedEx shows the shipping label was generated but the tracking info shows that the package has not been shipped.
So, here I am with no battery and no idea where it is. I’m out money and my power supply, waiting patiently for some sort of resolution, trying to keep my cool over the situation without blowing my stack and making horrible proclamations of being ripped-off. Sean at RPE has assured me that they will resolve the situation and make things right. I’m holding back a negative review as long as the lines of communication stay open and RPE remains responsive to this situation.

BIKERJOHN
My conclusions regarding doing business with RPE are positive: RPE is a battery solutions provider for lithium and other chemistry battery related products. Among their services and specialties include refurbishing old lithium batteries for e-bikes. E-bike components and e-bike battery refurbishing seem to be growing niches for RPE’s business.
The company cares about customer satisfaction and was very responsive to my needs. After some initial communication about their service, I decided to send them my 36-volt Lithium-Ion battery for evaluation. They quoted a price to rebuild the battery at $490 -which seemed reasonable for an upgrade from 12Ah to 15Ah. Somewhere along the process of shipping the battery back to me, the battery turned up missing. RPE promised to make good on the loss and followed their words with deeds. They refunded my $490 and gave me a lightly used original equipment battery as a replacement. So, I didn’t get the upgrade, and although I incurred one-way shipping costs, the replacement battery is next-to-new and should serve me well for a while.
The bottom line for me is that RPE is a company I can depend upon to provide trustworthy and reliable service. I intend to do business with them the next time my e-bike battery requires service. Thanks to Rebekah and Sean and the entire RPE team for being responsive and dependable. bikerjohn

COURT
That’s wonderful, thanks for taking the time to share your experience with the company. It sounds like they really went above and beyond to help you :)

ANNIE
Hi, I’m looking to buy a used bicycle wondering about replacing the battery for a Diamondback 2015 Lindau EXC Womens model with a 48-watt battery 500 volt. The bike has been discontinued and I wonder how to find the replacement and what that might cost. The cost of the battery affects how much I’d pay for the bike. REI says it’s a good battery that is supposed to last up to 6 years. Any thoughts/ideas on this? Thank you so much and great site! Annie

COURT
Hi Annie, the Lithium-ion batteries are known for being long-lasting, especially if they were stored in a cool dry location like an REI showroom. I believe that you’re correct, Diamondback has paused their electric bicycle line… so working with a service like RPE could be the best route for a repack or upgrade down the line. I personally would go with the stock battery for as long as it lasts vs. upgrading it right away. I can’t speak for Rechargeable Power Energy but give them a call and report back what you find out, I’d love to hear their estimate and what you decide :)

ANNIE
Hey! Thanks so much for the speedy, helpful reply. I test drove this used bike yesterday. It ran pretty good though the sensor on it to change the gears was bit funny – only goes one direction and the used bike store didn’t know what the Cruise button was for — I couldn’t figure that out either. The power in it was great but the previous owner had 2200 miles on it and they wanted $1,100. I offered $650 because I figured the battery life might not be more than 2 more years and the cost of replacing it, could get a newer bike etc. I noticed online that Bike Performance had a closeout on these bikes for $450! crazy — but they were out of stock. A friend bought this 2015 model new at REI for $1,500, a close-out for 2016. So, thinking of offering $750, now. Any suggestions? It rides pretty well, but definitely has been a little worn. Wasn’t sure how much I’d be putting into it to get things replaced in a couple years….
Thanks again, Annie

COURT
Hi Annie, I think you’re right on with the lower offer given the used condition (batteries also tend to have a set number of full cycles before they start to lose capacity). There are many ebikes in the space now for ~$1,500 that offer similar design features, power, and range as the Diamondback. Trying to find the right frame style can be the biggest challenge, and dealing with an online purchase vs. in store. I really hope things work out for you, did they seem like they would accept the $750 offer? Feel free to sort through other bikes here on the site by using the advanced search to limit for step-thru or mid-step frames and using a price cap of $1,500

CARMEN
Thanks for the info. Here’s my question… I currently have an e-bike with a 36V li-ion battery that is starting to get old – can I replace it with a new 46 V li-ion battery or are they not compatible?
Thanks!

COURT
Hi Carmen, most of the time electric bike controllers are set to work with a specific voltage. You can see this on products like the Motive Spark and Sleek or any of the Pedego cruisers which let you choose from two 36 volt batteries (one high capacity and one low capacity) or from two 48 volt batteries… Once you pick the system, you generally cannot change the voltage, just the amp hours.

THOMAS WELDON
I have an E-Bike made by Lee Iacocca’s company which does not exist any longer. I have 36v dead battery but would like to have it restored. What do I need to do?

COURT
Cool! I think I may have a solution for you Thomas… Try reaching out to Rechargeable Power Energy as they can repair and even improve electric bike batteries in many cases. I’d love to hear back if this works for you, hope you can get back out there and enjoy your E-Bike :D

BRANT HUDDLESTON
It’s a shame NTS Works and Neil Saiki’s idea for a “Lifetime Rebuildable Battery Technology” seems to have disappeared off the map. He was on the right track! The Europeans are buying E-Bikes by the hundreds of thousands. How are they handling the battery challenge?

COURT
Hi Brant! I enjoyed our chat today at the Philadelphia Ebike Expo. I agree that some sort of battery repacking or efficient recycling channels could make a positive difference for both the environment and easing concerns for people who are about to spend big money on an ebike. I like that companies like the Ebike Market Place are now offering repacking and that many communities have recycling channels for electronics. I’ll keep an ear out and maybe this would be a good discussion to bring up in the forums? Perhaps there are programs in place that we don’t know about yet?
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#5
FYI-I have been trying to find a local shipping company to have my E-bike battery shipped from the Midwest to California for battery re-packing. I have notified UPS, and I get different answers from different reps with nothing concrete. Some say they will ship it, others have indicated that UPS does not ship any type of lithium batteries. Some reps say they have a certified Hazmat packer, others simply have indicated that I would need to take a training coarse to become a certified packer and then pack it in a certified UN3480 box with a data sheet for them to accept it is a DG shipment.

Bikeflights originally had indicated they could do it, then told me it would have to be attached to an E-bike, then told me to do a local dealer search on their website and have one of them take my battery and ship it for me. I then contacted a local dealer and again, they initially said they could do it, then came back and said the battery was too large to ship if it not attached to a bike.

Can anyone give any insight on this thread as to the easiest way to ship my battery? It is a 36V 11.6 ah battery weighing approx 7lbs.
 
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#6
I recently mailed my 36v, 20ah, lithium battery from Wytheville VA to Ohio.
1)Needs to be "ground" shipment.
2) Local UPS store verified content, listed as "ebike lithium ion battery" on form and put a sticker on in signifying the Lithium battery and don't ship if container crushed.
(Box and battery weighed 23.3 lbs total)
No problems getting shipped back from vendor either. My battery rebuilder recommended UPS or FedEx ground.
Used UPS because of local shipping store.

Hope this helps.
FYI- battery rebuilt from 20ah to 35ah upgrade ?
Any questions please ask.
RJM
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#8
I recently mailed my 36v, 20ah, lithium battery from Wytheville VA to Ohio.
1)Needs to be "ground" shipment.
2) Local UPS store verified content, listed as "ebike lithium ion battery" on form and put a sticker on in signifying the Lithium battery and don't ship if container crushed.
(Box and battery weighed 23.3 lbs total)
No problems getting shipped back from vendor either. My battery rebuilder recommended UPS or FedEx ground.
Used UPS because of local shipping store.

Hope this helps.
FYI- battery rebuilt from 20ah to 35ah upgrade ?
Any questions please ask.
RJM
Thanks for the info!
1) How expensive is it to have it shipped and is there an extra charge from UPS for the DG labeling? I was also told that if you pack it yourself with the correct box and labels, UPS will just take it without any questions.
In another post on this forum, someone took a packed battery to UPS and they accepted it, however, after 2 days, the box was rejected after being put through their scanning equipment.

2.) Did you provide the correct shipping box when you packed your battery? If not, where can you purchase battery shipping boxes?
 
#9
Greetings Bob.
-I paid $20 for 23.3 lbs from Southwestern Virginia to Ohio(about 400 miles). Included label. Verify Lithium Ion battery and no issues. Ship GROUND! I used local UPS store.
- Packing. Most rebuilder's will WANT you to pack your charger as well so they can test charge after rebuild. The fact that battery is IN case helps- safer. Try to use battery life before shipping.
Use a thick walled box with plenty of padding. I work in a factory, calibrating inspection gages so I used a Starrett Height Vernier box. Just imagine people throwing the box around and asking: Will my battery survive??
My battery rebuilder actually received an empty box that had a Stromer battery. The person must not have packed it tightly and the battery beat itself out. $800 bucks gone!
- Purchase box. Do you have a cardboard recycling center near your home? Should be able to to find something to work. Again double walled or better yet pack a box in a box with packing between boxes.
Also, wouldn't hurt to take a picture of your battery to show to UPS Customer service representative so they understand what you are describing.
Anything else?
Hope this helps.
Robert.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#10
Greetings Bob.
-I paid $20 for 23.3 lbs from Southwestern Virginia to Ohio(about 400 miles). Included label. Verify Lithium Ion battery and no issues. Ship GROUND! I used local UPS store.
- Packing. Most rebuilder's will WANT you to pack your charger as well so they can test charge after rebuild. The fact that battery is IN case helps- safer. Try to use battery life before shipping.
Use a thick walled box with plenty of padding. I work in a factory, calibrating inspection gages so I used a Starrett Height Vernier box. Just imagine people throwing the box around and asking: Will my battery survive??
My battery rebuilder actually received an empty box that had a Stromer battery. The person must not have packed it tightly and the battery beat itself out. $800 bucks gone!
- Purchase box. Do you have a cardboard recycling center near your home? Should be able to to find something to work. Again double walled or better yet pack a box in a box with packing between boxes.
Also, wouldn't hurt to take a picture of your battery to show to UPS Customer service representative so they understand what you are describing.
Anything else?
Hope this helps.
Robert.
Hello Robert-Thanks for sharing your experience with shipment. I have been sent through hoops with all of the Q&As regarding this issue. So many different answers from bike shops, Bikeflights, different UPS reps from different stores, etc, etc. Now that I know what you were able to accomplish, I can move forward with this. No DG certification required by packer is now confirmed.

I assume that you were able to obtain the proper DG shipping label at your UPS store, correct?
 
#11
Hello Robert-Thanks for sharing your experience with shipment. I have been sent through hoops with all of the Q&As regarding this issue. So many different answers from bike shops, Bikeflights, different UPS reps from different stores, etc, etc. Now that I know what you were able to accomplish, I can move forward with this. No DG certification required by packer is now confirmed.

I assume that you were able to obtain the proper DG shipping label at your UPS store, correct?
Yes. Once I filled them in, he simply put a sticker on it. Looked like sticker on box when receiving a phone or tablet in the mail. Again specify Lithium Ion type.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#13
Thank you Robert! I know I have seen this label before, however, it has been a while since I have received lithium products in the mail. I have to say you are the only person thus far that has provided me with direct and concise answers to this ongoing dilemma. No smoke and mirrors here. Simply straight answers to all questions. Not sure why this is so difficult for others (that are in the bike and shipping business!!) You are the man! :D
 
#16
Thank you Robert! I know I have seen this label before, however, it has been a while since I have received lithium products in the mail. I have to say you are the only person thus far that has provided me with direct and concise answers to this ongoing dilemma. No smoke and mirrors here. Simply straight answers to all questions. Not sure why this is so difficult for others (that are in the bike and shipping business!!) You are the man! :D
report back on your success. every UPS store is different, and your local store may not be up to speed on what is 'legit.' For ebike shipping, the best by far, who knows the rules, is ShipBikes.com. No hazmat cert needed. P.S. The rules keep evolving, and the education of the shipping industry is playing catch up. Hopefully in the not too distant future this wont be the issue it has been. The past 2 years, have seen a lot of turmoil, but less so in just the past 6 months.
 
#17
Longest trip, 9 miles back and forth to work, still showed FULL charge. A couple hundred feet of hill elevation over the 4.5 miles. Battery much more spunky. Level 3 feels like level 5 before upgrade.
(Battery was over 5 years old)
Thx
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#18
Longest trip, 9 miles back and forth to work, still showed FULL charge. A couple hundred feet of hill elevation over the 4.5 miles. Battery much more spunky. Level 3 feels like level 5 before upgrade.
(Battery was over 5 years old)
Thx
Thanks for the update! Sounds like you are now riding on 'super charged' batteries compared to the old set before repacking. That is deal maker if you are getting that kind of performance with PAS levels, etc. Sounds like that was well worth the upgrade with no more 'range anxiety' in play.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
#20
report back on your success. every UPS store is different, and your local store may not be up to speed on what is 'legit.' For ebike shipping, the best by far, who knows the rules, is ShipBikes.com. No hazmat cert needed. P.S. The rules keep evolving, and the education of the shipping industry is playing catch up. Hopefully in the not too distant future this wont be the issue it has been. The past 2 years, have seen a lot of turmoil, but less so in just the past 6 months.
'ShipBikes.com'- Was not familiar with this company. Will give it a try and see what their shipping charges are like. Sounds like it will save the hassles of these non-consistent answers I have been receiving from different UPS locations.