Electric bikes are considered motorcycles in Hong Kong, and therefore need type approval from the Transport Department, just as automobiles. All electric bikes available in Hong Kong fail to meet the type approval requirement, and the Transport Department has never granted any type approval for an electric bike, making all electric bikes effectively illegal in Hong Kong. Even if they got type approval, the driver would need a motorcycle driving license to ride. As a side note, Hong Kong doesn't have a moped vehicle class (and therefore no moped driving license), and mopeds are considered motorcycles too.
I have been able to find ebikes of all speeds out in the wild and after years of riding and a reflective posture for the law, I see that lawmakers were thinking less about me and my practical wants as the user, and more about the mass motor vehicle driving public, their perceptions and expectations of ‘typical bicycle speeds’ on the roads and paths. So the laws were made to bicycle NORMS, not the potential performance limits for users.
By 1898 a rear wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 Template:US Patent by John Schnepf depicted a rear wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle. Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his Template:US Patent. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; each rated less than ½ horsepower and connected through a series of gears.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) stipulates that commercially manufactured low-speed electric bicycles, or tricycles, must have fully operable pedals, an electric motor not exceeding 750W of power and a top motor-powered speed not in excess of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h). An electric bike remaining within these specifications will be regarded simply as a bicycle for purposes of safety standards. This supersedes any state law that is more stringent, but only regarding safety equipment required on electric bicycles and the standard of manufacture they must meet.. The legislation enacting this amendment to the CPSC is also known as HR 727.
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.
Under Title 23, Chapter 316 of the code, bicycles and motorized bicycles are defined as follows: Bicycle—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle. Motorized Scooter—Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
Electric motorized bicycles can be power-on-demand, where the motor is activated by a handlebar mounted throttle, and/or a pedelec (from pedal electric), also known as electric assist, where the electric motor is regulated by pedaling. These have a sensor to detect the pedaling speed, the pedaling force, or both. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. Most controllers also provide for manual adjustment.
Bicycle includes all vehicles propelled by the person riding the same by foot or hand power or a helper motor; and (3) "helper motor" means a motor having a capacity of less than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement, rated not more than two brake horsepower, capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour and equipped with automatic transmission. Local jurisdictions can pass law at variance with the state law.
For those who missed seeing it live, we've also uploaded a youtube video of our live demonstration of a regular bike being converted over to electric assist. We hope that this helps demystify the process for some considering their first kit purchase. It was a fun opportunity as the owner of the bike was at the show and could ride it away the next day.
None of this would matter if the VanMoof Electrified S2 (and its close relative the X2) wasn't fun to ride, but it is a blast. Like the Brompton, it pulls off the neat trick of powering you along but giving the illusion that you're doing the work, reacting quickly and cleverly to the speed of your pedalling and the difficulty of any incline you're on.
Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500.