Lyft yanks e-bikes from San Francisco after possible battery fires

Two of the company's rentable electric bikes appear to have burst into flames in the past week.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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Lyft rolled out its new e-bike model to the Bay Area in June.


Lyft debuted its new electric bike model just last month, and it's already having issues with the vehicle. One of its e-bike's battery packs, which are connected to the bike frame, appears to have exploded in San Francisco on Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Examiner

This is the second time this has reportedly happened in the past week. Another e-bike appeared to have caught fire in the city on Saturday. The aftermath of what happened was captured by Twitter user Zach Rutta. "Don't think I'll be going on a @lyft @baywheels any time soon. Yikes," he tweeted

The San Francisco Fire Department told the Examiner that the fire wasn't suspicious and it classified the incident as a "battery pack issue" and a "fire from battery pack."

Lyft immediately said it was pulling its e-bikes from the city, adding that it wanted to be proactive and put rider safety first. Lyft said it's had no reports of injuries.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily making the e-bike fleet unavailable to riders while we investigate and update our battery technology," a Lyft spokeswoman said in an email. "Thanks to our riders for their patience and we look forward to making e-bikes available again soon." 

After acquiring bike rental startup Motivate last year, Lyft became the largest bike operator in the US, with rentals in cities across the country. In the Bay Area, Lyft has roughly 1,000 e-bikes out on city streets. It operates those bicycles under the name Bay Wheels.

Though the electric bikes are still on city streets, the Lyft spokeswoman said they've been disabled and no one can use them. Lyft will be collecting the e-bikes over the next few days.

This isn't the first time Lyft has experienced issues with its bikes. The company had to pull an earlier model of its e-bikes from New York and San Francisco in April after overly responsive brakes sent riders flying over the handlebars. 

Electric scooter and e-bike fires have also been reported in other cities over the past few months. One of Lyft's bikes reportedly caught fire in New York City in March, according to the New York Daily News. And according to TechCrunch, scooter companies Lime and Skip have also dealt with exploding battery issues. 

Originally published July 31, 5:15 p.m. PT.
Update, Aug. 1:
 Adds information on the e-bikes being disabled and collected.