I know you. You want to take your electric powered Brompton bike with you everywhere. You want to fly with it, you want to tour with it, you want to explore Europe and the Far East with it! It's your New York Taxi, your London Limo, your trusty dusty camel carrying you through the crowded squares of Cairo. The electric Brompton is your magic carpet unrolled at the right moment and whisking you off to destinations far and wide..
There's just one thing: how do you take your batteries on an air plane?
When the International Air Travel Regulators announced their tightening up of Lithium Ion battery regulations a few years back we had to start telling customers that it was no longer possible to fly with their bike in carriage. We hate doing that. We know you love to travel with your Brompton and it's just a shame to leave the poor guy at home. He's lonely...
You see, the rule is that "with the approval of the airline, lithium ion batteries...not exceeding 160 W.hr may be carried as spare batteries in carry-on baggage. No more than two individually protected spare batteries may be carried." You also need to notify your airline in advance that you intend to bring these batteries with you.
What's the rub? Well, "W.hr" stands for "Watt Hours" and is calculated by multiplying the voltage of a battery by its amp hour capacity (V x Ah = W.hr). By that calculation the typical 36 Volt 10 Ah electric bike battery has a capacity of 360 W.hrs! That's well over the regulations and the airline would be well within the rules to turn you away. So what about a 160W.hr battery, why not just power your bike with that?
You definitely could run our electric Brompton motor kit on a 160 W.hr battery (36V 4.4ah) but it be sort of wimpy. The battery would drain our within a few miles and you'd have to replace it sooner due to these deep discharges. What to do, what do to... Ah-ha! What if we run two of these packs in parallel? That way the voltage will remain 36 volts but the combined capacity will be 8.8Ah (or 316.8 W.hr)! Now that's more like it.
With a split battery pack we've provided an elegant solution that satisfies both stipulations of the regulations: individual batteries below 160 W.hr and no more than 2 of them needed to power the bicycle!
Well, the benefits of a split battery don't stop there. The new set up also makes better use of pockets on the Brompton bag. Our older "interior" battery sat inside the main portion of the bag, inside the zipper pouch that is intended for a laptop. With the new split battery, the two packs fit inside the two rear pockets of the bag and leave the entire inner compartment free. You connect the batteries together using a simple wiring harness that takes about 2 seconds to hook up, and then you're good to go.
Already have the older interior battery? Never fear, upgrading is as easy as ordering an airline battery set, placing them in the back pouches of your current bag and plugging them into your bike. Done. We love when upgrades can be retrofitted to existing products and that's just how we design our own!
That about covers it. Our new airline battery option is your ticket to far off lands and endless adventure!
About the author: Peter Yuskauskas is the manager at NYCeWheels. He is a Brompton owner himself and very interested in electric powered vehicles.