Cal 28 mph Ebike Sailing Along

Are the California Rules Good?

  • Yes, the ebike world has that need for speed, and this is simple

    Votes: 4 40.0%
  • It's OK, but there are now two classes of ebike and little to pull them together

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • The high speed will finally move ebikes into the mainstream

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • The basic US rules for speed and power were the best in the world, so why do this?

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • It's acceptable because the ebikes under 20 mph are generally protected

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • They should have aimed to get CPSC rules nationally. It's now dead.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 4 40.0%
  • I love it

    Votes: 1 10.0%

  • Total voters
    10

George S.

Well-Known Member
The revisions to California ebike law have been discussed. A revised version passed the lower house. It passed unanimously, which is hard to believe these days. Is it that good? Vote.

Changes:

There is now an assist category and a throttle category. Apparently the thing about throttles not being allowed on unpaved trails is gone. No one knew what that was about. It's very clean, now. If you have a throttle and you go under 20 mph, you are a bike, and you can ride on bike paths. Same for 20 mph throttle assist. Kudos from me for cleaning this up. It still seems artificial, but the way it is written creates no obvious path to eliminate throttles because throttle bikes are bikes, under 20. I hope.

The 28 mph ebike is almost here, legally, in California. It is not allowed on any bike path unless the path is part of a roadway. You are in traffic. You can go 28 while pedaling. It is pedal assist only. No sign you can have a throttle.

The cutoff speeds are defined clearly. If the speed is 20, the motor must cut out at 20. If the speed is 28, the motor must cut out at 28. How hard you have to pedal to go at max speed is not clear. If you just need to gently turn the pedals to go 28 mph, then what?

The rules for the bikes are intense. You have to certify the bikes, 1 , 2, or 3. You have to certify watts. You have to certify top speed. You cannot tamper with the settings in the bike firmware without re-certifying. There will be a sticker, which make enforcement simple. There are guidelines for certifying ebikes to CPSC bike standards. This does not seem to help the little guy. Unless they get a lot more states to go along, what will California certifications mean to any other state? Maybe it is a ten year plan.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml

312.5.
(a) An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.
(1) A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(2) A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(3) A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.
(b) A person riding an electric bicycle, as defined in this section, is subject to Article 4 (commencing with Section 21200) of Chapter 1 of Division 11.
(c) On and after January 1, 2017, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed, in a prominent location, to each electric bicycle. The label shall contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle, and shall be printed in Arial font in at least 9-point type.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
if a Ferrari can drive on my street at 25 mph, I can drive on a bike trail at 20 (if that is the speed limit) both can go faster , why should the rules be different?

The class 3 is clearly aimed at commuting.

As George indicated as well, I'm glad they eliminated the somewhat limited access for throttle only (and I'm a mostly pedal-assist user). I just didn't see the point of differentiating where the class 1 and 2 could go. I don't mind them having a distinct label as long as they are treated the same in usage.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Thanks for staying on top of this George. Looks like Accell got their wish. Oh well, if they outlaw throttles only outlaws will use throttles. The big problem I see is if I come down to CA from OR with my OR legally compliant 1000w/20mph/throttle bike will I get busted by the 50 for using it? Lot's of murky waters ahead for the e bike industry here in the USA I think.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Thanks George.

So why didn't they continue with a class 4 ebike? Up top 28mph, with a throttle?
312.5. (a) An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.
Therefore, a throttle bike with 750W, limited to 28mph, should still be labeled an "electric bicycle". That's a WIN in my book.


I have to agree with keeping a fixed line at 20mph and 750W. That seems to be a core metric for a low speed rider. Enough power to accelerate, but limited for safety.

Also, can anyone tell me where 28 mph comes from? I would guess that the typical speed for a 750W ebike unrestricted on the flats?

In your survey, you say the CPSC rules are now dead. What did you mean by that?

Once the class 4 battle gets resolved: moped vs another ebike, then the turf wars will begin. What class where and when?
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
I looked it up... after class 3, here it is:

SEC. 2.
Section 406 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

406.
(a) A “motorized bicycle” or “moped” is a two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and a motor that produces less than 4 gross brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
(b) Every manufacturer of a motorized bicycle or moped, as defined in this section, shall provide a disclosure to buyers that advises buyers that their existing insurance policies may not provide coverage for these bicycles and that they should contact their insurance company or insurance agent to determine if coverage is provided. The disclosure shall meet both of the following requirements:
(1) The disclosure shall be printed in not less than 14-point boldface type on a single sheet of paper that contains no information other than the disclosure.
(2) The disclosure shall include the following language in capital letters:
“YOUR INSURANCE POLICIES MAY NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING THE USE OF THIS BICYCLE. TO DETERMINE IF COVERAGE IS PROVIDED YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY OR AGENT.”

Moped -> M2 class.
(5) (A) Class M2 includes the following:
(i) A motorized bicycle or moped, or a bicycle with an attached motor. motor, except an electric bicycle as described in subdivision (a) of Section 312.5.
(ii) A motorized scooter.

My take, CA has better defined electric bikes, and have done ok to remove them from standard Moped and scooter regulation. I still see a small disconnect between a 28mph pedelc and 30 mph moped. They could have easily included electric driven mopeds up to 28mph, in the protected ebike class.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Thanks for staying on top of this George. Looks like Accell got their wish. Oh well, if they outlaw throttles only outlaws will use throttles. The big problem I see is if I come down to CA from OR with my OR legally compliant 1000w/20mph/throttle bike will I get busted by the 50 for using it? Lot's of murky waters ahead for the e bike industry here in the USA I think.
JRA,
States are coming to terms with the low powered electric bikes, and it looks like they are being favorable.

Speed pedelecs got a PASS in CA.

Again, we lament ebikes with throttles , 750W, maybe 1000W, go 28-30mph, and are lumped with ICE scooters and motorcycles. An ICE bike (with it's stated automatic transmission) will have 2.4-4.o brake HP and proper about 30-45mph. This is a different class of vehicle, IMO.

Why can't ALL ebikes get two limits: 20mph and 30mph?
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
@Bike_On

The 28 mph comes from a very complicated process. It is explained here:

https://www.electricbike.com/28mph-legal-strategy/

It was never worth the effort. Why? Because California never allowed ebikes on bike paths. No one obeyed the law, but it was written that way. Why push CPSC limits when California isn't following CPSC anyway. So, the new rules recognize that California was not going to do the CPSC rules.

I say CPSC is dead because the core idea of CPSC was that ebikes are bikes, but only at the limits they set. CPSC was a federal standard, so you hoped states just honored it and left it at that. Now you could sort of say that 20 mph ebikes are now bikes, in California, but the 20 + bikes are not ebikes, or not bikes. The 28 mph bike is the one they want, the money bikes.

If you read the material on the 28 mph legal strategy, they were trying to preserve CPSC, or a federal standard, but once you go to California and rework the laws, and ignore CPSC, then CPSC is dead. They won't try for a federal standard, they will do it state by state, if they can.

A lot of the states just aren't letting ebikes, any ebikes, on bike paths. California finally lets low speed ebikes on the paths. States are pushing more regulation for 28 mph ebikes than California. So every state is going it alone, and no one cares about CPSC if they haven't adopted it and stuck with it. Only a handful of states really follow CPSC.

Elio wanted changes in laws for his 3 wheel motorcycle car. It has taken 5 long and hard years to get rid of helmet laws. You have to wonder how this will work. Bikes come into California, and they may all get the sticker (Category 1,2,3). But then what?

I guess the industry really wants the 'commuter' 28 mph bike, more than anything else. The industry probably wants more legal/liability protection than a flimsy CPSC ruling when they know many states are way below the 28 mph limit. So now they have to make 28 mph legal in all states.

So if California has a 28 mph ebike, legal, and you come to Utah with a 20 mph limit, then what? I think in Utah the motor has to cut out at 20 mph, so do they cut off the 28 mph bike at 20? This is why it figures to be very messy for a lot of years.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
George,

Re-read that article. Mr Spinning magnets is philosophizing and speculating about many things, but establishing nothing concrete relating to 28mph!

D

The basic idea (CPSC) is that there is a 750 watt limit and a 20 mph unassisted (just motor) limit. The space between those two things is moving with pedal effort and the motor together. Someone said that should not be limited to 20. There is a European limit around 28 mph. Maybe that is a top speed for a very fit rider. They thought there was some wiggle room between the 20 mph unassisted motor speed, and a speed with both rider and motor power together. Maybe 28 mph sounds precise.

The problem is that many states immediately took the view you had to turn the motor off at 20 mph. It only took the industry a year or so to give up on the idea. They should probably just go to 30 mph. I think Europe is 45 kph, which is 27 mph. At least 20 mph was a nice round number.

I assume Accel and the other manufacturers have decided they need more legal cover. That's the number they have been using, after all, for 2 years or so.
 
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Bike_On

Well-Known Member
The basic idea (CPSC) is that there is a 750 watt limit and a 20 mph unassisted limit. The space between those two things is moving with pedal effort and the motor together. Someone said that should not be limited to 20. There is a European limit around 28 mph. Maybe that is a top speed for a very fit rider. They thought there was some wiggle room between the 20 mph unassisted speed, and a speed with both rider and motor power together. Maybe 28 mph sounds precise.

The problem is that many states immediately took the view you had to turn the motor off at 20 mph. It only took the industry a year or so to give up on the idea. They should probably just go to 30 mph. I think Europe is 45 mph, which is 27 mph. At least 20 mph was a nice round number.

I assume Accel and the other manufacturers have decided they need more legal cover. That's the number they have been using, after all, for 2 years or so.
Copy you on CSPC. That has been the US law and note, it is higher in power and speed than Europe and Australia. Thus, I don't mind keeping some legacy law here. It covers existing bikes on the street, and 20 is nice-n-round and much better than 15. For the typical newbie rider, a 20- ebike will allow them a good average speed around town, maybe 14-18 mph, without the sweat, which is the whole idea of the ebike, right?

The next level, being speed pedelecs, is to have ebikes that ride FASTER than an average fit road bike, or equal to, with averages in the low 20's. This allows a person to really cover some ground, but still maintain safe speeds for handling. It is a grey area for safety, I admit, and for liability, etc, but much less than a motor scooter or motorcycle.

The market upside is this is new and supports a green lifestyle. Win-win, so legislatures seem to be cutting ebikes some slack.

I see the market>legal landscape moving towards the unfortunate 4 class breakout from CA. Pure speculation on my part...just saying here.

1. Class 1 will be dominated with PAS Mtn bikes, fat bikes, big tires, small sprockets, off road focused.
2. Class 2 will be the mainstream from Easy Motion geared hubs, comfort cruisers, folders, etc. This is the safe zone with CSFC and CA being established. The downside is a flooded market with cheap knock offs on quality, batteries, etc . The recent market has seen OEM differentiate by sleeker, lighter, centered, efficient and designs of variety. I hope we don't make a run back to the bottom days of cheap and unreliable.
3. Class 3 will be dominated by the ddhubs, bigger batteries, upgraded forks/frames/brakes. The Turbo, ST1-2 types I think will become the standard for class 3 IMO. As the class 2 folks become bored with class 2, more will move up.
4. Class 4, if it ever gets recognized as an ebike, looks to be the scapegoat for all the fear mongering lawmakers. Simple DIY kits either ddhubs or BBS02 mid drives could become targets of the few. The High-power cycles, Stealths, Optibikes, DIY guys will be left behind and illegal for commuting and road access without state license, registration, insurance. I expect these guys to be adding PAS designs to compliment their throttle designs, in a short order.