A 79-year-old Australian cyclist riding up the Corkscrew climb in Adelaide, Australia was lucky to escape with minor burns when his electric assist bike burst into flames on Monday. Gary Ryan was on his Pinarello Dogma F8 retrofitted with an aftermarket electric hub motor on the rear wheel when the device caught fire. The result of the ordeal was a melted frame, minor burns for Ryan and a bush fire caused when he threw his bike to the ground.
The Corkscrew is a popular climb amoung locals in the area and will feature on Stage 4 of the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under that kicks off the WorldTour season on Tuesday.
“I was coming up the hill and my electric bike caught fire, so I threw it down,” Ryan told 9news. He suffered burns through his lycra shorts as a result of the flames. After discarding the bike on the side of the road, the brush caught fire. It’s high fire season in Southern Australia where it’s dry with blazing hot temperatures frequently above 30 C. Then the CO2 canisters in Ryan’s saddle bag started to explode preventing the cyclists from moving the bike out of the brush.
Fortunately, the local fire service was able to contain the blaze which had spread nearly 30 metres by the time it was extinguished.
“He just managed to get off the bike before it actually burst into flames,” Ryan’s friend Keith Harris said. “It exploded into flames basically. It was probably 10 foot high flames to start with from the bike.”
“We couldn’t get close to it because of the explosions. When one of the cylinders goes off it’s like a bloody bullet,” said another friend riding in the group.
The electric motor outfitted with a highly flammable lithium-ion battery was not a stock product but was installed on the Pinarello after it’s purchase. “The guy who built my bike said I must have had a short [circuit] in it. Because that never happens,” Ryan added.