How to Make "off-road only" Electric Bike Legal in California

Mike leroy

Active Member
My street lacks a bike lane. The hill is 10% grade and 35mph speed limit. I must ride in the right hand lane with traffic. I have no other road. I am considering this 3500 watt bike with a top-speed over 35mph.

How to make an eBike legal in CA.

Other useful information may be found at the NHTSA Internet home page.

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov

Should you have any questions please contact Kristi Bragdon on (202) 366-5291, fax: 202-366-1024, or e-mail to: Kristi.Bragdon@nhtsa.dot.gov


Perhaps the bicycle tires are not designed to wear with the amount of force from a 5kW motor? Moped tires may be designed for that type of wear. I understand this bike does burnouts. Car tire codes and speed ratings.

E-Bike ready. The main sizes are approved and tested for E-bikes up to 50 km/h. The following sizes carry the ECE-R75 mark: 60-507, 60-559.


Adding turn signals, horn, lights and other legal requirements is easy.

Would they have to pass DOT regulation for them to say "on-road" use? There must be some test they would fail, like the tire tube overheating on hot pavement at the RPMs to reach 45mph.

USA bike tire standards are only 30mph, even though the tires are capable of much higher speeds, twice the test standards.

What is the worst-case scenario with a chain drop? Can a dropped chain bind up and break when the throttle is fully powered on a rear hub motor? If so, how to prevent chain from binding?

Is it possible for the rider to be thrown off the bike, like a motorcycle hi-sider, if the chain binds up?

What are other common dangers with a powerful rear hub motor, chain and throttle?

If the chain simply breaks, due to wear, could the chain get wrapped inside the spokes and cause a loss of control?

The bike has a Schlumpf drive, so is that the safest way to switch gears at very high speed?
 
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Marko

Active Member
Shouldnt there be less chain wear with a rear hub motor, because you need to put less newtons on the pedals. Anyways, I have never heard of chain breaks, stretching yes. Maybe chain wear is more an issue with mid drive motors, which have an additional cog connected to the motor. But even in the event of chain dropping and getting tangled e.g. somewhere in the front chainring the only thing that happens is that you cant pedal anymore. I think the biggest risk with a bike with max speed of around 50 is crashing it against something in traffic or falling. I would probably not ride at those speeds with only a normal bicycle helmet.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Shouldnt there be less chain wear with a rear hub motor, because you need to put less newtons on the pedals. Anyways, I have never heard of chain breaks, stretching yes. Maybe chain wear is more an issue with mid drive motors, which have an additional cog connected to the motor. But even in the event of chain dropping and getting tangled e.g. somewhere in the front chainring the only thing that happens is that you cant pedal anymore. I think the biggest risk with a bike with max speed of around 50 is crashing it against something in traffic or falling. I would probably not ride at those speeds with only a normal bicycle helmet.
My street lacks a bike lane. The hill is 10% grade and 35mph speed limit. I must ride in the right hand lane with traffic.

Do you see any other option? I have no other road.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Shouldnt there be less chain wear with a rear hub motor, because you need to put less newtons on the pedals. Anyways, I have never heard of chain breaks, stretching yes. Maybe chain wear is more an issue with mid drive motors, which have an additional cog connected to the motor. But even in the event of chain dropping and getting tangled e.g. somewhere in the front chainring the only thing that happens is that you cant pedal anymore. I think the biggest risk with a bike with max speed of around 50 is crashing it against something in traffic or falling. I would probably not ride at those speeds with only a normal bicycle helmet.
Maybe I asked the wrong question.


The bike is "off-road" use only. Why is that? The bike has a 20mph cut off that can be disabled from the CA display.

Would they have to pass DOT regulation for them to say "on-road" use. There must be some test they would fail, like the tire tube overheating on hot pavement at the RPMs to reach 45mph. USA bike tire standards are only 30mph, even though the tires are capable of much higher speeds.

Perhaps the tires are not designed to wear with the amount of force from a 5kW motor? Moped tires may be designed for that type of wear. But, I understand this bike does burnouts.
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I would hazard a guess that the bike simply cannot be sold as a road legal bike because it has the capability to exceed 20mph and the motor is larger than 750w - both are the federally defined requirements to be met for a road legal e-bike within the US in general, without regard to state laws. They can only sell them as intended for off-road use if those requirements are exceeded. I doubt it has anything to do with tire ratings, but rather a set definition that keeps electric bicycles from becoming unregulated vehicles with more available power than those requiring license, registration and insurance. The power/speed ratings are also set, imho, to be in line with reasonable performance of a typical non-powered bicycle.
 

opimax

Well-Known Member
A bike w/that power is too much to be considered a bike as stated so it isnt a bike. since it isnt a bike it cant go on bike paths and since it isnt a bike it cannot go on street either.It is a motorcycle that does not meet DOT standards so again it cant go on a street and since it is a motor cycle it cannot go on bike trails. This is the manufacture's way of selling it and not be liable when you do either of these things
 

Marko

Active Member
Thus the question follows: why would you want to pay that much money for a bike that you can't use anywhere but in private areas or some woods yet most likely not be able to use that max speed even then. One way could be to try to mod the bike into motorcycle by installing DOT tires, DOT lights and other requirements needed for light motorcycle registration. But then of course all the motorcycle requirements will apply, like helmet, insurance, etc.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
I would hazard a guess that the bike simply cannot be sold as a road legal bike because it has the capability to exceed 20mph and the motor is larger than 750w - both are the federally defined requirements to be met for a road legal e-bike within the US in general, without regard to state laws. They can only sell them as intended for off-road use if those requirements are exceeded. I doubt it has anything to do with tire ratings, but rather a set definition that keeps electric bicycles from becoming unregulated vehicles with more available power than those requiring license, registration and insurance. The power/speed ratings are also set, imho, to be in line with reasonable performance of a typical non-powered bicycle.
I want to register the bike as a motorcycle. For example, the Grace One.15 is advertised as an eMotorBike. The one.15 is manufactured to DOT standards, right down to license plate holder.

I do not want to play games with the law. I want a fully, legally compliant "eMotorBike" like the Grace One.15. I intend to get a CA M1 motorcycle license, not a CA M2 scooter license.

Something is wrong with this picture that I cannot accurately articulate.
 

Marko

Active Member
I'll try to articulate. Registering the contraption as a MC you will lose many of the benefits of the bike, which is being able to ride in bike paths away from the heavy traffic -> much more dangerous and stressfull.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Thus the question follows: why would you want to pay that much money for a bike that you can't use anywhere but in private areas or some woods yet most likely not be able to use that max speed even then. One way could be to try to mod the bike into motorcycle by installing DOT tires, DOT lights and other requirements needed for light motorcycle registration. But then of course all the motorcycle requirements will apply, like helmet, insurance, etc.
We are thinking along the same lines. I want a "eMotorBike" built to DOT standards like the 2000W Grace One.15. The One.15 is DOT legal right down to license plate. Please notice the One.15 has a Gates Carbon Drive belt, rather than a chain. Uses Schwalbe Crazy Bob 26″.

E-Bike ready. The main sizes are approved and tested for E-bikes up to 50 km/h. The following sizes carry the ECE-R75 mark: 60-507, 60-559.

My reason for rejecting the One.15 are explained in this post.
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I want to register the bike as a motorcycle. For example, the Grace One.15 is advertised as an eMotorBike. The one.15 is manufactured to DOT standards, right down to license plate holder.

I do not want to play games with the law. I want a fully, legally compliant "eMotorBike" like the Grace One.15. I intend to get a CA M1 motorcycle license, not a CA M2 scooter license.

Something is wrong with this picture that I cannot accurately articulate.
Well I would think that if it is registered (and can in fact be registered), that it is then legal by the state's definition. The sale of the bike as for 'off road' use only is probably (as opimax indicated) used by the dealer so that they can sell the vehicle without having to register it - there is most likely specific state requirements for a business to be able to sell and title vehicles that they do not want to be involved with (or pay for as it is probably a small portion of their business, if they are primarily a bike/e-bike sales business). So, the business sells as off-road use only and that puts the burden on the buyer to title, register and insure the bike according to your intended use.

Edit: it sounds like you don't actually want that bike in particular (not gonna read that other post - TL;DR), only something similar that doesn't actually exist? My guess would be the electric bike manufacturers don't at this point see a large market for a medium powered bike somewhere in the range/power of a scooter - it is either step up to a motorcycle (including the electric options), down to the typical e-bike level, or build your own and take a risk on getting caught with it.
 
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Kaldeem

Active Member
I read all the posts here, well I skimmed them. Anyways. The answer to "What dose off road only mean" in regards to e-bikes are as follows:
From the Guides page here on EBR, under the Classifications of "What are e-bike classifications and why do they matter"
"Class 4: Moped or Motorcycle
The electric drive system can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle. The top speed is above 28 mph (45 kph) and/or the motor wattage may be greater than 750 watts. In all major geographies this class would be considered a motor vehicle which requires licensing and registration and is limited to certain motorized off road trails or traditional roads. There has been some confusion in America where machines that resemble bicycles (having pedals) that are capable of high speed and power are used inappropriately without licensing or insurance and on infrastructure reserved for bicycles such as paths and mountain bike trails. This behavior is subject to the same legal action as driving a gas powered motorcycle or car and may result in sever legal ramifications"

So basically, above 750w the bike is considered to be a motor vehicle and subject to all laws and regulations that govern these vehicles.
Likewise you subject your self to rules and regulation about non bicycle vehicles being on bike trails and paths. So it's really F'n simple. Nothing terrible complicated or confusing. You either have a bike that is sub 750w, or you don't.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
I read all the posts here, well I skimmed them. Anyways. The answer to "What dose off road only mean" in regards to e-bikes are as follows:
From the Guides page here on EBR, under the Classifications of "What are e-bike classifications and why do they matter"
"Class 4: Moped or Motorcycle
The electric drive system can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle. The top speed is above 28 mph (45 kph) and/or the motor wattage may be greater than 750 watts. In all major geographies this class would be considered a motor vehicle which requires licensing and registration and is limited to certain motorized off road trails or traditional roads. There has been some confusion in America where machines that resemble bicycles (having pedals) that are capable of high speed and power are used inappropriately without licensing or insurance and on infrastructure reserved for bicycles such as paths and mountain bike trails. This behavior is subject to the same legal action as driving a gas powered motorcycle or car and may result in sever legal ramifications"

So basically, above 750w the bike is considered to be a motor vehicle and subject to all laws and regulations that govern these vehicles.
Likewise you subject your self to rules and regulation about non bicycle vehicles being on bike trails and paths. So it's really F'n simple. Nothing terrible complicated or confusing. You either have a bike that is sub 750w, or you don't.
Thanks. In CA, it is actually 1000W for "motorized bicycle". I want a motorcycle or eMotorBike. I plan to register and comply with all laws, get M1 motorcycle license, etc...

The HPC distinction is confusing me. I emailed them but have not received a response. HPC does not want anyone to use the bike "on-road". They will only sell for off-road use. I do not get it.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I bought some tires for my conversion and they have that ebike rating. I think it is '50'. Didn't know what it was.

The regs for motorcycles may be in this pdf, and I could see where an HP ebike manufacturer just wouldn't choose to ever meet them.

The liability laws in this country limit all kinds of things.
 

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Mike leroy

Active Member
I bought some tires for my conversion and they have that ebike rating. I think it is '50'. Didn't know what it was.

The regs for motorcycles may be in this pdf, and I could see where an HP ebike manufacturer just wouldn't choose to ever meet them.

The liability laws in this country limit all kinds of things.
George,
Thank you. I have been trying to track the details down. I have a feeling DOT is a thorny issue. I remeber Court mentioning the DOT requirement for a steering stop in his Grace One video review. If many issues like steering stop prevent motorcycle registration, then it could be a significant barrier.

About 6 minutes into the video.

 

Mike leroy

Active Member
I would hazard a guess that the bike simply cannot be sold as a road legal bike because it has the capability to exceed 20mph and the motor is larger than 750w - both are the federally defined requirements to be met for a road legal e-bike within the US in general, without regard to state laws. They can only sell them as intended for off-road use if those requirements are exceeded. I doubt it has anything to do with tire ratings, but rather a set definition that keeps electric bicycles from becoming unregulated vehicles with more available power than those requiring license, registration and insurance. The power/speed ratings are also set, imho, to be in line with reasonable performance of a typical non-powered bicycle.
Agreed, I think a steering stop in one example. Please see Court's video in the post below

http://electricbikereview.com/commu...-electric-bike-actually-mean.1761/#post-19413
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
A bike w/that power is too much to be considered a bike as stated so it isnt a bike. since it isnt a bike it cant go on bike paths and since it isnt a bike it cannot go on street either.It is a motorcycle that does not meet DOT standards so again it cant go on a street and since it is a motor cycle it cannot go on bike trails. This is the manufacture's way of selling it and not be liable when you do either of these things
Thanks.

What are DOT requirements? I want to register a legal "eMotorBike". I found one obscure DOT requirement in Court's video. Please see the video post below

http://electricbikereview.com/commu...-electric-bike-actually-mean.1761/#post-19413
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Well I would think that if it is registered (and can in fact be registered), that it is then legal by the state's definition. The sale of the bike as for 'off road' use only is probably (as opimax indicated) used by the dealer so that they can sell the vehicle without having to register it - there is most likely specific state requirements for a business to be able to sell and title vehicles that they do not want to be involved with (or pay for as it is probably a small portion of their business, if they are primarily a bike/e-bike sales business). So, the business sells as off-road use only and that puts the burden on the buyer to title, register and insure the bike according to your intended use.

Edit: it sounds like you don't actually want that bike in particular (not gonna read that other post - TL;DR), only something similar that doesn't actually exist? My guess would be the electric bike manufacturers don't at this point see a large market for a medium powered bike somewhere in the range/power of a scooter - it is either step up to a motorcycle (including the electric options), down to the typical e-bike level, or build your own and take a risk on getting caught with it.
Ageeed. Some things may be impossible unless designed. Please see Court's video

http://electricbikereview.com/commu...-electric-bike-actually-mean.1761/#post-19413
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Thus the question follows: why would you want to pay that much money for a bike that you can't use anywhere but in private areas or some woods yet most likely not be able to use that max speed even then. One way could be to try to mod the bike into motorcycle by installing DOT tires, DOT lights and other requirements needed for light motorcycle registration. But then of course all the motorcycle requirements will apply, like helmet, insurance, etc.
Agreed. I think the issues are more technical and may be impossible. Please see Court's video

http://electricbikereview.com/commu...-electric-bike-actually-mean.1761/#post-19413
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
I'll try to articulate. Registering the contraption as a MC you will lose many of the benefits of the bike, which is being able to ride in bike paths away from the heavy traffic -> much more dangerous and stressfull.
I only have one road as an option. I am forced into heavy traffic. I have to be powered to deal with cars. Undesirable from my viewpoint. I do not want so much power, but what is necessary to deal with auto traffic.