Play it Safe, Make it Easy – E-bike manufacturers will offer you a large variety of styles, types, colors and utility, but the base specifications will be a bike producing less than 750 watts of power (1 horsepower = 746W) , and have its speed limited to 20mph on motor power alone. The majority of US ebikes meet that specification. Manufacturers do this for their own liability. Going this route assures you that your bike was built and sold legally. As a result, you will have about every privilege that a normal bicycle can expect. However, state and local laws may dictate reduced speeds and limited access to bike paths.
State law defines a motorized pedalcycle as a motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals, a motor rated at no more than 1.5 brake horsepower, a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and a maximum design speed of no more than 25 miles per hour. Subchapter J of Publication 45 spells out the vehicle requirements in full.
Since 2001, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs). They are currently defined as a two or three wheeled bicycle with an attached electric motor of 500W or less and which is capable of being propelled manually. Furthermore to meet the safety requirements set down by this legislation it must meet the following; when engaged by muscular power it must cease assistance when muscular power ceases or if powered by an accelerator controller cease power when braking and be incapable of providing assistance above 32 km/h and bear a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle.
There's no question that electric bikes are far better for the environment than petrol-powered car engines. But that doesn't mean they're completely perfect. Making and disposing of batteries can be very polluting. Not only that, but an electric bicycle is still using energy that has to come from somewhere. You may think you're using clean green power, but the electricity you use for getting about might have come from a filthy old, coal-fired power plant or one driven by nuclear energy. (If you're lucky, of course, it might have come from solar panels or a wind turbine!) Electric bikes are nowhere near as environmentally friendly as ordinary push bikes, but nothing is ever perfect—and, as people often say, "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Electric bikes are certainly a step in the right direction. If everyone used them to get about instead of cars, global warming might be less of a problem, and the world would be a far cleaner and healthier place!
This 150mm-travel e-mtb tackles big descents, shines on flowy trails, and provides the boost you need for the trip back. Pedal assist comes from Shimano’s 6.2-pound STePS E8000 motor with a 20mph boost. Shifting is motorized too, with Shimano’s exemplary XT Di2 drivetrain providing the most precise and consistent shifts a mountain bike can have. The fun comes from the E-Core’s 150mm of front and rear travel courtesy of a RockShox Yari fork and Deluxe RT shock. Both can be locked out for long, fire-road type climbs, though on an e-bike that feature feels less necessary.
On February 4, 2014, SB997 was introduced by Senator Matt Smith, which seeks to amend PA Vehicle Code to include "Pedalcycle with Electric Assist". In a memo addressed to all senate members, Smith said the definition shall include "bicycles equipped with an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts, weighing not more than 100 pounds, are capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 mph, and have operable pedals."
The definition was clearly written with gasoline-powered pedalcycles in mind. The requirement of an automatic transmission is troublesome for those who just want to add an electric-assist motor to a bicycle, for almost all bicycles have transmissions consisting of chains and manually shifted sprockets. The registration form asks for a VIN, making it difficult to register some foreign-made ebikes. The fine for riding an unregistered electric bike is approximately $160.00 per event as of 2007.
On October 22, 2014 PA house bill 573 passed into law, which is Act 154, which changes the definition of "pedalcycle" (bicycle) in the PA state vehicle code. "Pedalcycle" is now defined as a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals or a "pedalcycle" (bicycle) with electric assist( a vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor rated no more than 750 watts and equipped with operational pedals and travels at speeds less than 20 mph). This bill allows the usage of pedal assisted bicycles in PA that follow the adopted state guidelines.
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 U.S. Patent 627,066 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 U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.
Federal law in the United States states that an electric bicycle must have a top speed under 20 mph and a motor which produces less than 750 watts/1 hp. They are not considered motor vehicles by the federal government and are subject to the same consumer safety laws as unassisted bicycles. Their legality on public roads is under state jurisdiction, and varies. See the main Electric bicycle laws article for details on the law in individual states.
In Norway, e-bikes are classified as ordinary bicycles, according to the Vehicle Regulation (kjøretøyforskriften) § 4-1, 5g. Hence, e-bikes are not registered in the Vehicle Registry, and there is no demand for a license to drive them. Still, there are constraints on the bicycle construction. The maximum nominal motor power output can be no more than 250 watts and the maximum performance speed of the vehicle when the engine is running is 25 km per hour (15 mph). A function that reduces motor power when vehicle speed exceeds 25 km per hour is mandatory. However, if the motor is not running, the e-bike, or any other bike, answer only to the constraints of the ordinary speed limits.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
In general, electric bicycles are considered "bicycles", rather than motor vehicles, for purposes of the code. This implies that all bicycle regulations apply to electric bicycles including operation in bike lanes. Exceptions to this include a restriction of operation on sidewalks and that a license or permit is required if the rider is younger than 17 years of age.
Can I legally buy/build and ride an ebike that’s faster than 20 mph? Yes you can, but you need to know that the ebike is no longer considered equivalent to a bicycle and is subject to other state vehicular classifications. The definitions for electric bikes spanning 20-30mph, and 1-2 horsepower ranges, will vary from state to state, resulting in a no-man’s-land consensus about limits for motor vehicle definition. The common label for a 20-30mph, 2-wheeled vehicle with active pedals is a Moped. Other MVA labels include motor scooter, motorbike and dirt bike which may have equivalent power and speed performance, but do not have pedals to assist and move the vehicle.
Some prohibitions also apply, such as on: carrying cargo that prevents keeping at least one hand on the handlebars or prevents proper use of brakes, riding no more than two abreast on a roadway or shoulder, and attaching the bicycle to another vehicle. Minn. Stat. § 169.222, subds. 3-5. The vehicles may be operated on a sidewalk except in a business district or when prohibited by a local unit of government, and must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. Minn. Stat. § 169.223, subd. 3. By default, electric-assisted bicycles are allowed on road shoulders as well as on bicycle trails, bicycle paths, and bicycle lanes.
Another type of electric assist motor, often referred to as the mid-drive system, is increasing in popularity. With this system, the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. In more typical configurations, a cog or wheel on the motor drives a belt or chain that engages with a pulley or sprocket fixed to one of the arms of the bicycle's crankset. Thus the propulsion is provided at the pedals rather than at the wheel, being eventually applied to the wheel via the bicycle's standard drive train.
The Wavecrest Tidalforce M-750 was based on The original military experimental M-313 model. The M-313/M-750X was the first electric bike to be made and tested by Wavecrest Labs. It is based on a design developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that was meant to allow zero-heat long distance troop movements for the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan. The rear wheel in-hub motor and 36 volt/8ah front-hub battery were mounted onto a standard Montague Bicycles Paratrooper Bicycle frame. The 1000 watt rear hub motor had no set speed restriction, but was limited to about 25-32 (depending on load weight) MPH on a flat course. The distance the bike traveled on a single charge ranged from 15 miles (heavier load with no pedaling) to about 25 miles (vigorous assisted pedaling with less hill climbing).
Today I’m looking at the Rattan Challenger 350W ebike. It can be found for under $680 at Amazon (after Electrek coupon code 5AIDO2GB) shipped and includes free assembly at a local bike shop. I assembled mine at home however in about 15 minutes with the graciously supplied in box hex tool and wrenches. It is pretty straight forward – the hardest part was bolting the front light on.