This is an unofficial guide to the laws governing electric bicycles in the United States as of 2016. It was contributed by a guest writer The Smart Ped`aleck who was paid and remains unaffiliated with any electric bicycle company. It may be updated ongoing and is cited throughout with reference links and attributions at the end. It is designed to be an entertaining starting point for understanding the space, digging deeper and in turn choosing the best electric bike platform for your needs.
Gearless (Direct-Drive) Hub Motors – Some conversion kits (and bikes) use gearless, direct-drive motors. On this type of motor, the axle that passes through the center of the motor is actually the axle of the motor itself, with the copper windings fixed to the axle. The magnets are mounted to the outer shell of the hub motor. When electricity is applied to the stator a magnetic field is induced that causes the magnets to move. This in turn makes the whole shell of the motor turn and propels the e-bike forward. Even though corrosion will eventually have an impact, this type of motor should last for years since there’s no gearing and no contact between moving parts. They’re also capable of higher top speeds. But since there’s no gears, they have less torque and it requires more power to get the motor up to speed. Most direct-drive hub motors are 350w-500w and reach speeds of 18-25 mph. But more powerful motors can reach speeds of 35+ mph.
We need to support and put our purchasing power behind ebikes sold in the U.S. that are trying to comply with the California rules which allow 500w and 750w nominal motors and establish 3 classes. If these bikes can create a big enough footprint in the market then future U.S. bike rules may universally adopt these standards. It is better than engaging in regulation showdowns without any standardized and unified proposal on the part of the Electric Bike Community.
In my experience, there aren’t people out checking on ebike classes and the way you ride has a lot more to do with being stopped than what you are riding. I have never been stopped on an ebike anywhere for any reason. The bigger risk is riding a faster and even more powerful electric bike that would be categorized as a moped without a license and that if you got into an accident, you could be liable for more and charged with driving an unregistered vehicle or something. It’s great that you’re being careful and thinking about how to fit into the community, that alone goes a long way
"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.
Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first-ever races in Ireland and then England. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1890s invention of coaster brakes. Dérailleur gears and hand-operated Bowden cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders.
Saddles also vary with rider preference, from the cushioned ones favored by short-distance riders to narrower saddles which allow more room for leg swings. Comfort depends on riding position. With comfort bikes and hybrids, cyclists sit high over the seat, their weight directed down onto the saddle, such that a wider and more cushioned saddle is preferable. For racing bikes where the rider is bent over, weight is more evenly distributed between the handlebars and saddle, the hips are flexed, and a narrower and harder saddle is more efficient. Differing saddle designs exist for male and female cyclists, accommodating the genders' differing anatomies and sit bone width measurements, although bikes typically are sold with saddles most appropriate for men. Suspension seat posts and seat springs provide comfort by absorbing shock but can add to the overall weight of the bicycle.
At just 36V and 5.2 Ah, the battery is not designed for long distance travel. GOTRAX claims the Shift S1 has a range of up to 15 miles (25 km), though that’s only with a lower pedal assist level. If you’re going full throttle, 10 miles (15 km) is a better estimate. But with a battery this small, you could easily charge it at your desk or in the corner of the classroom – lengthening your effective range.
These small complaints prove that the Rad Wagon isn’t perfect. But its overwhelmingly positive qualities clearly outweigh the drawbacks. The Rad Wagon handled beautifully on city streets, accelerating with ease and maintaining a charge for extended range. Rad Power bikes also offers an array of helpful accessories—think racks, baskets, panniers, and platforms—that make the bike nearly as convenient as a car. Time and time again I passed cars stuck in traffic on their daily commute and couldn’t help but wondering: Why don’t more people switch from cars to an e-bike?
A new European product safety standard EN 15194 will be published in 2009. EN 15194 contains several new requirements for ebikes to be sold in European Union and European Economic Area, including weight and voltage limitations. EN 15194 also defines a specific name for EU approved electrically-assisted cycles, EPAC - "Electrically Pedal Assisted Cycle".
The BC Bike Show is the premier cycling and outdoors event in Western Canada and is happening in just 2 weeks on March 2nd and 3rd. We'll be there of course, and in addition to our exhibitor booth we'll also be hosting Cycle Stage to give more public presentations. On Saturday at 11:45 am we'll talk on how to navigate the various motor and battery options available for ebike retrofits, and on Sunday at 2pm we'll be doing a live demonstration of a regular bicycle being converted over to electric assist.
Staring up the bike path of the Manhattan Bridge on a recent frigid February morning, I feel the familiar dread when confronted with a steep, uphill climb. There are few things more discouraging to a city biker — especially a fair-weather one like me — than an arduous, sweaty ascent in work clothes. But before my thighs can cramp up, I remember that I’m riding a new electric bicycle from a company called Wing.
Visually, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is stunning – a smart blend of yesteryear's style and today's technology. Pleasantly high handlebars, a sprung seat, and lovely Schwalbe Fat Frank tires make it very comfortable. Stopping is taken care of by powerful disk brakes, front and rear. Lights are included, as is a useful cargo rack. From an e-bike standpoint, the Pedego Classic City Commuter sports a reliable, hub-mounted motor driven by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery. There's a digital display with a trip computer, odometer, speedometer, pedal assist level, and battery charge information.
Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world's bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles. One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China.
First off we want to apologize for the longer than normal response time and email backlog as much of our team was busy both in the preparation and attendance at the Taipei Cycle Show this past week. We'll be working hard to catch up on that in the coming days and thank your patience and understanding. To all the dealers, vendors, manufacturers, component partners, and general industry friends we met at the show, what a great time and we look forward to exciting pursuits ahead.
How do the State Laws relate to the 2001 Federal Law? This is a difficult question to answer and know how they apply to you individually. From the Federal Law, one would hope that your purchased ebike is simply classified as a bicycle, with all the rights and privileges allotted to a normal cyclist. However, State Laws are confusing because they may be more restrictive in parts and add other requirements. About 30 U.S. states still have confusing regulations around them. Either the bikes are technically classified as mopeds or motor vehicles, or they have equipment, licensing or registration requirements that cause problems for riders. Thanks to the People-For-Bikes/Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) partnership with local advocacy groups, they have been able to make the case for streamlining state regulations so that e-bikes are essentially treated like regular bicycles.4
When you have the electric motor turned on, it engages with your first push of the pedals. The difference in acceleration is startling compared to any other bike I've ridden. In Eco mode, I could sprint from 0 to 20mph in about 200 feet/65m. Switch to Turbo, and it's about 150/30m feet. As I mentioned above, you still have to pedal. The difference with an electric bike is the feeling of getting more bang for the buck. And if you want to be lazy, you can. Stay in third or fourth gear and you'll be able to stay around 18-19mph with minimal effort. But if you want to go much faster than 20mph, you'll need to work.
An anti-theft radio GPS that mounts to standard bottle cage bosses and can locate within 9 feet, it runs on the Verizon network and costs $5/mo in addition to the hardware. Integrated vibration sensing alarm sends an automated text message alerting you anytime the bike has been "locked" using the companion smartphone application (Android or iOS)...
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We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
Electric Motorcycles News (EMN) has been launched in March 2017 and is a personal initiative from graphic designer Guy Salens (Belgium) to inform you about electric motorcycles, electric scooters and some offroad performance e-bikes. EMN collects and publishes all kind of info from available sources on the internet: press releases, existing website content from manufacturers. EMN has also developed a search engine where you can search for e-dealers with your specific keywords, in different countries, different brands and/or categories.
Mid-mounted system means that the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. Mid-drive systems tend to feel more like a normal bike, since they drive the pedals, just like your legs, and those who frequently climb long, steep hills tend to prefer mid-drive systems for their ability to handle long climbs. As they can leverage the bicycles lowest gears for climbs, mid drive systems can also leverage the high gears to reach higher speeds on flat areas than a hub system. The mid-drive motor drives the crank, instead of the wheel itself, which multiplies its power and allows it to better take advantage of the bike’s existing gears. If the rider changes the gears appropriately, the motor can turn closer to its ideal rotations per minute which makes a huge difference while climbing hills, so this is a perfect option for those who love mountain biking.
EU: EN15194 (EPAC – Electrically Power Assisted Cycles) defines the use pedal-assisted less than 25k/h bikes: "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h or if the cyclist stops pedaling.”
Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast.
Legislative changes in 2012 significantly altered the classification and regulatory structure for e-bikes. The general effect was to establish electric-assisted bicycles as a subset of bicycles and regulate e-bikes in roughly the same manner as bicycles instead of other motorized devices with two (or three) wheels. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 3, §§ 15-17, 21, 23-26, 30, 32-33, and 41. The 2012 Legislature also modified and clarified regulation of e-bikes on bike paths and trails. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 4, §§ 1-4, 20.
A new electric cyclist will likely experience two conflicts of thought: 1). Will the general public accept my use of this power assist technology, or Will they ridicule and reject me as being lazy? 2). Will I stand out to law enforcement by the look of my bike or riding a bit faster than other cyclist on hills and roads? Grappling with these two thoughts will tempt most folks to try and remain unnoticed and ride more responsibly. After I became an advocate of e-transportation on two wheels, enjoying the benefits of power assist commuting, I eventually was a bit put off by this federal law, especially the 20mph limitation. Is 20 mph really practical and justified? Is it not true that many active young people on typical road bicycles are able to actively ride in the 20-25mph range? I discovered that ebikes, with larger tires and disk brakes, can comfortably and safety cruise in that range of speed. The standard 2001 Federal law of 20mph, eventually became a practical limitation for an ebike commuter of over 20 miles a day, and caused me to get a bike beyond the federal limits, making me more alert and sensitive when riding in the presence of the police.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an electric bicycle dubbed Zike. The bicycle included Nickel-cadmium batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial electric bicycles were available. It wasn’t until 1998 when there were at least 49 different bikes. Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%. By Contrast, according to Gardner, in 1995 regular bicycle production decreased from its peak 107 million units. Some of the less expensive electric bicycles used bulky lead acid batteries, whereas newer models generally used NiMH, NiCd and/or Li-ion batteries which offered lighter, denser capacity batteries. The end benefits usually varied from manufacturer; however, in general there was an increase in range and speed. By 2004 electric bicycles where manufactured by Currie Technologies, EV Global, Optibike, Giante Lite, Merida, ZAP.
Unrelated to the show but also of local interest. The BC government is soliciting input on what is meant by "active transportation" which could hopefully help to direct policy and regulation governing not just ebikes but all kinds of human scaled transport. If you think electric skateboards should be on their radar or faster S-Pedalec class ebikes then this is a chance to have your voice heard. Electric bicycles have been an entirely grass roots phenomenon for most of their trajectory and it's encouraging to see the entire scope of personal mobility finally being acknowledged and discussed at this level.
If you need an ebike that can provide a full-on mountain bike experience, but you are also on a limited budget, this bike is an excellent choice for you. We doubt you can find a double suspension bike, jam-packed with features for a better price. Large wheels and low-rise handlebars provide more control and easier ride, but the powerful 500W brushless motor attached directly to the rear wheel hub will give you plenty of “umph”.