Rose Heyer and Josie Tabor of Dept Tech, Department of State Information Center, the Secretary of State and the office of ROCK AND BORGELT, P.C., Attorneys at Law, 24500 FORD ROAD, SUITE 10 DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MI 48127-3106, determined electric bicycles are considered mopeds and need registered and licensed. In order to operate an electric bicycle on public streets, the driver must have a valid operator, chauffeur, or special moped license. However, not all electric bicycles are street legal unless they have the following safety equipment: operating brake light, headlight, and turn signals. The local police department must inspect the bicycle using Form TR-54 which is taken with proof of purchase to the DMV. The fee for the plate is $15 for a three year decal, whereas the fine for no decal is $150 per incident.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.
Speed Pedelec ebikes – A new classification of bikes called ‘Speed Pedelecs’ have emerged which technically meet the bicycle definition for a 20 mph ebike. These ebikes are designed to max out at 28 mph. Pedelecs are pedal activated vs throttle activated. The weasel words within the definition says, “20mph on motor alone”. Thus, a person who adds their leg power to the motor assist and happens to cruise at 28mph is NOT doing it by motor alone, and therefore the bike is considered to be compliant with the Federal Law. If the rider stops pedaling, the speed pedelec cannot maintain speed. Speed Pedelecs are becoming more popular in Europe and America, which means more models are being offered.
The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots", in which e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.
Pedelec is a European term that generally referred to an electric bicycle that incorporated a torque and/or a speed sensor and/or a power controller that delivered a proportionate level of assist and only ran when the rider pedaled. On the opposite side, a Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for similar type vehicles which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorized bicycle. Finally, Assist Bicycle is the technical term used to describe such a vehicle and Power-Assisted Bicycle is used in the Canadian Federal Legislation, but is carefully defined to only apply to electric motor assist, and specifically excludes internal combustion engines (though this is not the case in the United States).
I've put almost1 thousand miles on the bike in 2 months, and so far I love it! Using the just electric mode only go about 12-13 miles an hour on level ground and I only weigh about 160. So it's not real powerful. But on pedal assist it works great up hills. It folds up quick and easy. It's a real pain putting the rear wheel back on if you get a flat so I recommend getting tire linners. It also would be nice if you could charge the battery off the bike. I think it's well worth the money! Great bike ! Its made it through lots of abuse even through miles of down pouring rain!
The E-bike is everything it was advertised to be. It's big and fast and fun to ride especially when riding uphill with pedal assist you have the superhuman ability to get up those tuff climbs that would normally leave you winded and probably walking the bike. The setup was fairly simple however the frame had a couple of serious deep scratch marks in the otherwise impeccable paint job. And even though it's purely cosmetic it was still very disappointing to receive a brand new bike in this condition. It's not clear to me what if anything I can do about it but I still love the bike.
Federal law defines the limits of a low speed electric bike, equating it to a bicycle, and bypassing the definition of a motor vehicle only “For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards…” which means that the manufacturers of these bicycles don’t have to meet federal equipment requirements, and are instead governed by the manufacturing requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act. There is no mention of exemption from other federal, state, and local traffic laws, or exemption from the definition of a motor vehicle for other purposes.3 This means the law applies to the manufacturer’s product and sale, avoiding federal safety requirements applying to a motor vehicle such as brake lights, turn signals and braking specifications. The goal of the law was to give businesses a legal framework to define and sell low speed electric bikes without the more stringent Federal classification of a motor vehicle. Ebikes that meet the criteria are considered a “bicycle”, do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle, and will be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The law also grants the commission authority to add safety requirements to this product. The Federal law supersedes all state laws that equate bicycles to ebikes where the state law is more stringent (lower limits) on power and speed.
"Bicycle" means either of the following: (1) A device having two wheels and having at least one saddle or seat for the use of a rider which is propelled by human power. (2) A device having two or three wheels with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (one horsepower), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden, is less than 20 miles per hour.
Some of the Rad Wagon’s (small) flaws became apparent once I added more weight to the bike. The integrated rear rack can attach various panniers, platforms, or baskets to cary your cargo, but I was most concerned with hauling my two kiddos to school. Riding the bike with my three year old was a cinch; he held on to the bars in the caboose (available as an accessory add-on) and enjoyed the view. Adding my very tall, almost seven-year-old daughter, however, was a bit more complicated.
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.
Electric bikes advertise with a huge array of varying ranges, but what is the dominant factor is range? Electric bike range is determined by the battery, and just like other lithium battery products like laptops and cell phones the batteries performance can fluxuate based on a variety of external factors. Extreme cold, rider weight, head winds, hills, rough terrain, tire pressure and many other factors. But since we need to start somewhere to get the general range that a battery can produce there is baseline that we can reference to get a good indicator of range. Take a look at...
State and Local Laws dictate your use, but cannot constitutionally supersede the federal law – Any ebike purchased within the 750W/20mph limits has no fear of being under federal motor vehicle classification, nor can any state classify them a motor vehicle. The ebike is considered a ‘bicycle’ for consumer purposes. However, the State Laws on local bike paths and local thruways may prohibit or limit ebike access. When bike path signs use word such as ‘motor vehicles’ and ‘motorbikes’ , the laws are likely referring to gas-ICE motorbikes/dirt bikes/scooters, and not ebikes. Other references to ‘motorized bicycles’ or ‘motorized vehicles’ sound more inclusive and probably are intended for either ebikes or gas mopeds. If in doubt, you always have the option to pedal unassisted by completely powering your bike down. Even though Federal law grant ebikes a bicycle status, the common consensus found in my research allows local and state law to add additional regulation to pathway and road access, just because “it has a motor”. So the Federal laws protects the consumer from the burden of motor vehicle requirements, but not the restrictions to local and state right of ways enjoyed by all non-motored bicycles.
About Terry Brightwater. Terry lives in the Afan Forest, South Wales, UK, with his wife Jay Brightwater. He is a professional Life Coach, specialising in “Emotional Fitness” for over 18 years. Terry’s passion for health and fitness, has spanned over the last 40 years, mainly being expressed through cycling, weight training and healthy eating. He … Continue reading eBikes as a Wonderful Health and Fitness Tool by Terry Brightwater
While I would have loved to see some higher end components such as disc brakes or built-in lights, the bike still works well for what you get and is a pretty good value for the price. One missing component that I feel would make a big difference is a kickstand. I’ve never seen an e-bike that didn’t come with one, outside of ultra premium multi-thousand dollar road and downhill e-bikes that try to save every gram of weight. But for a commuter, a kickstand is pretty important. You can always add a cheap $7 kickstand from Amazon, but I would have preferred they save us the step and include their own cheap kickstand.
A response to an inquiry made to the Mass DOT/RMV indicates that Massachusetts does recognize the federal low speed electric bicycle Federal Law (15 U.S.C. § 2085) and interprets that to mean these ebikes do not require license or registration. However, some of the materials available on the RMV website do not distinguish between "Motorized Bicycle" and low power ebikes. One form, Bicycle Conversion to Motorized Bike, does document the exemption of low power ebikes.