Key Takeaways:

  • Modifying ebike batteries is frowned upon and can void your warranty.
  • DIY USB port mods for ebike batteries should only be performed by experienced electricians.
  • Go the safe route and just upgrade your ebike battery to a version with a USB port.

While most people are satisfied with modern electric bikes in their factory form, some prefer to modify their bikes. And a popular modification request is to add a USB charging port to their ebike. Maybe this is because they’re constantly on the go and want to travel light, or they just like the idea of having one more place to charge devices. Whichever the reason, find out if you can turn your eBike into a portable charger.

Is Adding a USB Port a Popular Modification?

Perform a Google search for “add a USB port to an ebike” and you’ll quickly find that while lots of people are asking if it can be done, the answer can be hard to find. With our research, we noted that while plenty of “electric bike” and Reddit forums are dedicated to the search for this information, few people have a straightforward answer.

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Finding Answers Online

And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a legitimate DIY or electric bike website that will tell you how to add a USB port to your electric bike. Even with our research, we found a few Youtube videos for creating a charger for a moped, and plenty of forums where everyone had questions but few answers.

Even with the rare English language Youtube video that we did find, it was more of a hack than a true modification where a USB port was hardwired into the moped’s battery pack. Instead, the Youtuber created a portable USB connector which then had to plug into the electrical port on the moped’s battery pack. We think you’ll agree that this is a workaround, not a true mod.

Warning: And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a legitimate DIY or electric bike website that will tell you how to add a USB port to your electric bike

Will Adding a USB Port Void My Warranty?

Ultimately, you’ll need to check with the owner’s manual for your electric bike to confirm which modifications — if any — are allowed. However, given that adding a USB port will most likely require opening and modifying the lithium-ion battery, it’s safe to assume that this DIY modification isn’t authorized and can void your warranty.

Warning: it’s safe to assume that this DIY modification isn’t authorized and can void your warranty

Why Should I Be Careful About Modifying My Battery?

Although society has collectively gotten complacent and used to lithium-ion batteries powering our electronics, it’s important to remember that they’re highly volatile pieces of equipment. Keep in mind that even when you don’t tamper with your battery, common user errors such as leaving a battery plugged in long after it’s fully charged, or leaving a fully charged lithium-ion battery idle for extended periods can damage it.

Likewise, even with approved usage behavior lithium-ion batteries are notorious for overheating — both while in operation and when charging. And depending on the quality control used to create your electric bike battery, just regular wear and tear could subject the lithium-ion cells to leaks. Over time, all of these scenarios can increase the risk of malfunctions. In extreme cases, this has led to the battery overheating — sometimes to the point of causing smoking, explosions, and even fire.

Warning: even with approved usage behavior lithium-ion batteries are notorious for overheating

Warning: just regular wear and tear could subject the lithium-ion cells to leaks

Warning: In extreme cases, this has led to the battery overheating — sometimes to the point of causing smoking, explosions, and even fire

So Can I Add a USB Port to My Electric Bike?

We’re going to err on the side of caution here and say unless you’re an electrician or technical pro that’s worked extensively with opening and working on lithium-ion batteries, this is a modification that’s best left to the professionals. Adding a USB port to a battery isn’t a modification that beginners should attempt — at all.

The chances of a novice inadvertently damaging the battery and creating a catalyst for malfunctions is too high. At best, you’ll damage the battery to the point that it no longer works and you need to replace it. At worst, it could literally explode in your face, start a fire, and potentially burn down your home or workshop.

Okay, So How Can I Charge My Devices on the Go?

If you have your heart set on the idea of having an ebike battery that can double as a power bank, consider replacing your existing battery with a model that includes a USB port. This is the easiest workaround and most likely won’t void your warranty. Replacing the battery yourself is usually considered an approved activity.

Tip: If you have your heart set on the idea of having an ebike battery that can double as a power bank, consider replacing your existing battery with a model that includes a USB port

But Play It Safe

However, you’ll want to make sure that you pick a lithium-ion battery that’s rated compatible with the specific make and model for your ebike. Keep in mind that many of these batteries with USB ports are aftermarket products. So, you’ll want to make sure that not only is it compatible with your ebike, but that it meets United Laboratory (UL) standards to reduce the risk of the battery becoming unstable if it overheats.

Tip: make sure that you pick a lithium-ion battery that’s rated compatible with the specific make and model for your ebike

STAT:

When Li-ion cells with layered transition metal oxide cathodes are overcharged to 4.7 V or higher, the cell temperature increases rapidly, and the cathode becomes unstable and violently reacts with the electrolyte. The reaction produces enough heat to increase the cell’s internal pressure above the vent pressure of the burst disc, causing the cell to eject its hot internal content that catches fire and/or explodes (Electrochem.org)

Staff estimates 132,800 injuries (sample size=3,645, coefficient of variation=0.11) related to all micro-mobility products were treated in U.S. EDs over the 3-year period 2017 through 2019. The annual estimated ED visits were 34,000, 44,000, and 54,800 in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. (CPSC)

Sources:

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-EWyvotgrU

https://caprouge.com.au/pages/battery-care

https://www.ul.com/services/personal-e-mobility-testing-and-certification

https://www.electrochem.org/exploding-hoverboards-explained

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Micromobility-Products-Related-Deaths-Injuries-and-Hazard-Patterns-2017%E2%80%932019.pdf?90dOQxCOSzGvGRFGX6UF6Z6zvQhV9R1P

Add a USB Charging Port to an Electric Bike FAQ

Can I add a USB port to my ebike?

While it’s possible, you probably shouldn’t unless you’re an experienced electrician or technician. Adding a USB port requires opening and modifying the lithium-ion battery which can be dangerous.

Will adding a USB port to my e-bike’s battery void the warranty?

It can potentially void the warranty. Most manufacturers list modifying the battery as a prohibited activity.

Are lithium-ion batteries dangerous?

Most lithium-ion batteries are fairly stable. But they’re known for overheating, and if manufacturing standards were inconsistent, they pose a higher risk of malfunctioning — including smoking, exploding, or catching fire.

Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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