I yeeted an electric bicycle battery into a tub of water to see what happens

baua


I test a lot of electric bicycles. It’s kind of my whole thing. People tell me I test more e-bikes than anyone else on the internet, but who’s counting, right? Yet here’s the thing: most of my e-bike testing involves just riding around on e-bikes to see how well they perform.

This time though, I got the chance to try something entirely different. That’s right, I chucked an e-bike battery from the new Velotric Discover 2 into a tub full of water just for the hell of it.

I mean, it wasn’t purely without cause. Technically, it was for science.

Basically, I wanted to see just how waterproof a “waterproof” battery could be. And in a time when battery safety is more important than ever, the results actually matter. Not that most people are taking their e-bike snorkeling with them. But water ingress into e-bike batteries is a leading cause of the still-rare fires we tend to see on the news, and so improving waterproofing of batteries is critical.

The Velotric Discover 2 commuter e-bike, which was released late last month, comes with an impressive level of waterproofing. The bike is rated at IPX6, meaning you can pressure wash it without worrying about water getting into the electronics or damaging anything.

But the battery is even more waterproof, rated at IPX7. That means it can survive swimming in up to one meter (39 inches) of water. Theoretically, you could toss it in the shallow end of your neighborhood swimming pool, fish it back out, and it should work just fine.

So that’s what I did.

Except that to avoid getting my family in trouble with their local HOA, I decided not to use their actual neighborhood pool. Instead, I recreated the local pool with a tub of water. I probably didn’t achieve the exact ratio of kiddie pee, but this is more of an art than a science at this point.

So there I was. With the Velotric Discover 2 battery in my hands, hoisted aloft Simba-on-Pride-Rock-style, and while wearing a seriously worried look on my face, I let ‘er rip.

In what felt like slow-motion in my mind, the battery fell through the air and crashed into the water face-first, sinking quickly to the bottom of the tub and hitting the table below it.

In hindsight, I probably should have just gently placed it into the tub of water, since the dramatic fall from above my head that I sent it on resulted in an even more dramatic smacking sound as it bottomed out quickly on the, well, bottom.

It may be IPX7-rated for water resistance, but I don’t know how high of a fall it’s supposed to handle. Whoops.

Anyway, what’s done was done, and the only way out was back up the way it came. So I fished around and yanked the battery back out of the tub as water poured out of the electrical connectors and from the charging port. This was starting to feel all sorts of wrong.

I shook off the excess water from the connector, figuring it’s probably good if I don’t just dump a handful of water into the connections on the bike. Then I gave it a cursory wipe on my shirt and slotted the battery back into the Discover 2 e-bike. An unnecessary slap-on-the-back confirmed for me that it was locked and loaded.

All that was left was to push the ‘On’ button and hold my breath. A second later, “VELOTRIC” flashed across the e-bike’s bright yellow display.

And then the display immediately died. Uh oh.

I pushed the power button again, and again the display lit up. And then it shut back down.

Putting the idiot adage to the test, I repeated the exact same thing for a third time, hoping for different results.

And this time it worked! Enough water must have drained from the battery connections in the time it took during the previous two attempts to clear whatever electrical short was erroring-out the startup sequence. I mashed the throttle and the bike’s rear wheel sprung to life, whirring up to full speed like a sopping wet golden retriever splashing back out of the pool with a hard-earned tennis ball in its mouth.

A mere 10 seconds after the battery had been sleepin’ with the fishes, so to speak, it was back in an e-bike and powering me up to 20 mph!

velotric discover 2 e-bike

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, that’s exactly what the battery is built for. This was the whole reason I was even doing the test, mind you.

And yet, I was still just a bit shocked. Tossing an e-bike battery into a bucket of water has a real ‘cuddling an iron in the bathtub’ vibe to it. Nevertheless, here I am, still kicking.

This is a pretty amazing feat, and I don’t know of any other electric bike batteries that can do this. But I sure hope the industry is taking note and working to achieve this level of waterproofing.

We’ve seen some modest advancement in batteries over the past few years, but as scrutiny over battery safety continues to grow, it’s these kinds of innovations that are going to continue pushing the industry forward towards safer and more effective e-bikes. And that’s a benefit for everyone.

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