High wattage ebikes

Berry78

Active Member
This has probably been covered, but I haven't seen a thread...

I was on another Ebike forum and there were a lot of people talking about having super high wattage on their bikes...like 2000! (Watts, not people).

I know it would be fine on private property, but I have a hard time believing everyone abides by that rule.

Maybe this is part of why the non-ebike community is so disenfranchised by ebikes? Maybe it's the reason so many trails don't want them?

After all, a person can't tell a legal 500w motor from an illegal 2000w one...so how would a park Ranger know which bike shouldn't be there? Easier to ban them both.
 

Edward 1

New Member
I do not think the 2000 watt motors are illegal, just the speed your going at the time.... either way your on the moral high ground for not poisoning our environment with co2 and noise pollution. Priorities I geuss...

Thats where I get my laws from... morality.... if its the right thing to do... laws be damned.

With that being said.... its well known that anything above 30 kph fatalities in collisions skyrocket... This is probably the reason for the 32 kph limit for e bikes in north america.

over 30kph is the death speed... so please be careful

Statistics.... wear your helmet :)
 
Last edited:

Berry78

Active Member
I do not think the 2000 watt motors are illegal, just the speed your going at the time....
..:)

Ok, the simple version : E-Bikes that are under 750w/20mph are considered bicycles, by Federal law. Any bike that is equipped more powerfully and/or faster moves into moped or motorcycle classification, and must abide by those rules instead. (Lights, turn signals, license, registration, restrictions about where they can be driven, etc.)

Since most ebikes are not equipped like mopeds, chances are they ARE illegal.

But, I do like what you are saying about death speed...
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Ok, the simple version : E-Bikes that are under 750w/20mph are considered bicycles, by Federal law. Any bike that is equipped more powerfully and/or faster moves into moped or motorcycle classification, and must abide by those rules instead. (Lights, turn signals, license, registration, restrictions about where they can be driven, etc.). Since most ebikes are not equipped like mopeds, chances are they ARE illegal...

This was a helpful explanation. In considering which ebike to buy, should I be concerned that speed pedelecs might soon attract attention by local law enforcement? I mean, if they are technically illegal but major companies are selling them (Trek), I'm just assuming they don't currently draw the attention of law enforcement unless the rider is doing something stupid (like riding down the sidewalk at 28mph). But could at some point in the future if their numbers increase and/or there are some 'incidents/accidents' within a jurisdiction(?) - basically at law enforcement's discretion. Just asking because there is still a model or two that I am considering that are 20mph bikes (like Kalkhoff Integrale 8) mostly because I think I could live with a lower top speed and I would hate to shell out $6K for a speed pedelec and then find myself getting tickets every so often for riding a moped without license, registration, turn signals etc.
 

Berry78

Active Member
This is really the question, isn't it?

Unfortunately I can't answer it because the State and local laws are all different. For example, all ebikes appear to be illegal in NYC, despite the Federal classification.

In California, they permit speed pedelecs in some areas but not others.

I live near the GAP trail, one trail that is in 2 States. Ebike regulations vary according to which section/State you are in!

Not such a short answer, but I would look to see what your local laws are based on where you want to ride. Then you can evaluate your individual risk of being stopped for any noncomformity that you may choose.

The stealthier the bike, the less likely you will be picked out.

But, always keep in mind that if you are riding an illegal bike, and are involved in an accident that hurts another person or property, you may be paying up for a while.

The whole issue is hairy, because police can't tell what wattage is on your bike. So you could have 3000w between your legs, and unless you are speeding, how are they to know?

But, if you are planning on NOT speeding, then you don't want an oversized motor because it would be irritating to reign it in all the time.

BUT, if you are like me, 300lbs, living in the mountains, you might find you need 1500w, just to make it up the hills at a slow speed!

*Shrug*...I dunno..
 

Berry78

Active Member
Just wanted to add...I don't own a 1500w bike, I just finished using a bike calculator, and it said that is what I would need for my hills.... eye opening to be sure...
 

Nutella

Active Member
Ok, the simple version : E-Bikes that are under 750w/20mph are considered bicycles, by Federal law.

This isn't true actually. The federal law is a Consumer Product Safety Act only defining what you can sell as an ebike. It doesn't refer to where you can ride them at all. States and cities decide that.

There is no way for anyone to know what power bike you are riding, it's not a problem now since there are so few in the US, as long as you don't stand out, you'll be fine. Once ebikes are common, the power issue might be problematic.
 

Berry78

Active Member
This isn't true actually. The federal law is a Consumer Product Safety Act only defining what you can sell as an ebike. It doesn't refer to where you can ride them at all. States and cities decide that.

There is no way for anyone to know what power bike you are riding, it's not a problem now since there are so few in the US, as long as you don't stand out, you'll be fine. Once ebikes are common, the power issue might be problematic.

Thank you for clarifying. This explains why the laws are all over the map...(see what I did there?).
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Thank you for clarifying. This explains why the laws are all over the map...(see what I did there?).
Another oddity is your state of Maryland restricts ebikes to 500 watts. Pennsylvania is 750 watts, as I believe all states that border MD are. @Bike_On wrote the following about MD.

https://electricbikereview.com/forums/threads/maryland-ebike-laws-update.374/

Wikipedia on MD law.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws#Maryland

As you say, all over the map:confused: 750 watts, or one horsepower should be the law for all the US. Set appropriate speed limits for where bikes go and it's done.
 

Berry78

Active Member
Yep, just looked up MD law, and it is indeed 500w or less to be considered a bicycle. 501w-1125w is a moped. Mopeds require license, registration, and insurance, and cannot go over 30mph.

Looks like I need 2 bikes....one moped for mountain streets, and one 250w for bike paths. Just for fun, I'll check into how much it would cost to own a moped...
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the discussion. The Wikipedia link for Michigan doesn't address ebikes specifically so I assume that means there hasn't been a need to yet and there is currently a 'hole' in the code. I think then I'm not deterred from buying a speed pedelec therefore and will just follow the common sense guidelines for responsible use (ie don't go screaming through the local city park scattering the Pokémon chasers). For avoiding theft, vandalism and for not attracting law enforcement, the less e-bike looking commuter I can find the better.
 
Yep, just looked up MD law, and it is indeed 500w or less to be considered a bicycle. 501w-1125w is a moped. Mopeds require license, registration, and insurance, and cannot go over 30mph.

Looks like I need 2 bikes....one moped for mountain streets, and one 250w for bike paths. Just for fun, I'll check into how much it would cost to own a moped...
just get a 500w sticker and put in on the motor, no one will check
 

Berry78

Active Member
The plot thickens...

So I go to the MVA, and it will cost $25 for registration.

Then I call my insurance company to get a quote. They will have to insure under a motorcycle policy, and need a make/model/vin #. To my knowledge, e-bikes aren't even equipped with vin #s. I could get a vin # through the MVA, but I'll bet that wouldn't be good enough for the insurance.

Then I google "moped". Those vehicles don't even resemble an ebike!

So, I'm pretty well stuck. I can use a 500w or less ebike, or an actual motorcycle (not me!).. but anything in between is essentially illegal, or too difficult to comply.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
The plot thickens...

So I go to the MVA, and it will cost $25 for registration.

Then I call my insurance company to get a quote. They will have to insure under a motorcycle policy, and need a make/model/vin #. To my knowledge, e-bikes aren't even equipped with vin #s. I could get a vin # through the MVA, but I'll bet that wouldn't be good enough for the insurance.

Then I google "moped". Those vehicles don't even resemble an ebike!

So, I'm pretty well stuck. I can use a 500w or less ebike, or an actual motorcycle (not me!).. but anything in between is essentially illegal, or too difficult to comply.

I know Western Maryland very well, where I live in PA is similar. I have both a 500 watt direct drive bike and a 350 watt geared bike and both handle everything very well. A friend has a 500 watt geared rear hub bike that can blow my 350 away on the steepest hills.

I live at the top of an ~850 foot climb, no matter which way I go home. The steepest section is 18% grade and while I'm going 11-12 mph, my friend is rolling past me at 15 mph.

You'd be fine if you want to be within the existing MD law.
 
Last edited:

George S.

Well-Known Member
After all, a person can't tell a legal 500w motor from an illegal 2000w one...so how would a park Ranger know which bike shouldn't be there? Easier to ban them both.

The California 'model' law allows 28 mph on speed pedelecs, which aren't real ebikes (they can't go on bike paths). The 750 watt limit* is to be enforced in 2017 with a sticker. The manufacturer must certify the maximum watts (and speed and class of bike) and put a permanent sticker on the bike. To change the motor specs means a new sticker. Obviously there are penalties for falsifying the sticker, or altering the motor, etc.

We'll see what happens, but that's where things are going. They seem to be selling California legal 28 mph ebikes 'everywhere'. Curious.

*In Utah they specify 750 watts output power. If you check the electric load with a simple wattmeter, that is input power. The motor is maybe 80% efficient, so about 1000 input watts makes about 750 output watts, at least in theory. They really need to write some rules and guidelines, or tell us what they will measure and why.

Snip of the bill as it was being revised. Many changes along the way, all the crossed out sections.
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot 2016-09-16 at 10.01.11 AM.png
    Screenshot 2016-09-16 at 10.01.11 AM.png
    30.8 KB · Views: 157

Berry78

Active Member
[QUOTE="J.R., post: 67415, member: ]. A friend has a 500 watt geared rear hub bike that can blow my 350 away on the steepest hills.[/QUOTE]

What brand is your friend's bike (or is it home-made?)? How much does your friend weigh?

I also have about an 18% grade to get home. I was hoping to get something with enough oompf that I don't have to worry about it overheating, etc. I don't need fast, just strong!
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member

JayVee

Well-Known Member
BUT, if you are like me, 300lbs, living in the mountains, you might find you need 1500w, just to make it up the hills at a slow speed!

*Shrug*...I dunno..

Battery size will be critically important if you live in a mountain area. I live near the Alps and occasionally climb (small) mountain passes. When I climb a particular 7 mile 3000 vertical climb on a Panasonic 250W mid-drive, I typically use about 340Wh worth of battery. The BionX D500 eats up close to 450 Wh on the same climb, but it recuperates about 45% battery capacity going down that same hill if I use an aggressive regen mode (a little pedaling is required). People say regen is a useless feature, but if you live in the mountains chances are you'll love it. I weigh about 200-210 pounds for reference.
 

Berry78

Active Member
I have been eyeballing the Bionx system. Thank you for confirming its useful nature in the mountains. I have a similar 2.5 mile, 1300 ft climb that I don't HAVE to do, but would be on the agenda occasionally. The good news is my super-steep hill to get home isn't more than 1/4 or 1/2 mile, so I can walk it if necessary...

The other good news is most any trip I might want to take is maybe 10 miles from home, so I only need a 20 mile range. Most trips will only be 6 miles total.