Is an LSEB defined as a Bike or not???

Ken M

Well-Known Member
A lot of EBR forum contributors know I interpret the statutes that a "Low Speed Electric Bicycle" (LSEB) is defined as a "bike" and that state bike use/traffic laws going back many decades were intended to regulate them exactly the same. It's my opinion that is best for the ebike industry as it keeps it simple and doesn't try to parse assist tech systems and speed classes that just lead to the interpretation messes we are seeing with the 3-class policy adopted by some states.

In 2002, Dr. Currie with help from a few congress members were able to effectively get some legislation passed, and a bill signed into law that defined what a LSEB is. It moved from being under the guides of NHTSA to being under the guides of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and it was bulleted within the definition of a bicycle. Before 2003 there was really very little in the way of laws or regulations dealing with electric bikes so this was a big deal.

But, it was perceived by a PFB group chaired by Larry Pizzi that it didn’t accomplish any guidelines for use at the state level (this is the big deception), because each state has their own vehicle code and determines where various types of vehicles can be used, how they can be used and what kind of infrastructure they can be used on. In reality use / traffic laws for bikes existed for decades in every state and an LSEB was defined as a bike (they are explicitly stated to not be motorized vehicles but some, even many engaged on the EBR forums will frequently state they have motors so they are still allowed to be use regulated by states as such). A compliant LSEB should be allowed to be used on any path or infrastructure a bike is allowed because that is what the federal statute says an LSEB is. The explicit interpretation can not be anything but that.

Is an LSEB a bike or not? The only state Attorney General to publicly make a statute assessment on this said it was clear that a LSEB was defined as bike to be use regulated exactly as other bikes (not parsed as something else).
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
Why is that I can never get anyone to provide an opinion on this topic or the regulations. It's as if everyone is afraid to research and form their own opinion these days.
 

Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
100% an LSEB= bike

I think the majority or 99.99% are just clueless customers who don't know the history, don't know what CPSC agency does, and are super excited at the words Class 1/2/3 ebike but asking them more then that is rocket science.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
100% an LSEB= bike

I think the majority or 99.99% are just clueless customers who don't know the history, don't know what CPSC agency does, and are super excited at the words Class 1/2/3 ebike but asking them more then that is rocket science.
I fully agree, but you writing this may get a lot of those that don't know about HR727 or the CPSC to say you don't know what your talking about because that is not what they were told via their bias confirmation sources. Worst are the ones that claim they'll loose all trail access if the Class system is preempted by the CPSC.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Why is that I can never get anyone to provide an opinion on this topic or the regulations. It's as if everyone is afraid to research and form their own opinion these days.
Maybe because nobody knows or cares what a LSBE is?
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Maybe because nobody knows or cares what a LSBE is?
There in lies the problem. Most people will not spend the time to understand something like this even when it impacts them. I simply encourage anyone that rides an ebike to read HR727 vs the 3-class system promoted by People for Bikes as improving clarity and safety when it has nothing to do with either. Just ensuring the federal definition for a LSEB to be a bike will benefit all riders - the class system is creating a use regulation mess as some trails start with allowing all 3 classes and end with banning all ebikes as motor vehicles. They are "bikes" and should be allowed where any conventional bike is allowed.
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
There in lies the problem. Most are just ignorant and don't want to learn anything

Just the perfect way to entice people to get in a discussion.

My frustration is evident...I know that. There people on this forum that argue that the only reason they have trail access is because of the class system and they believe it even though a compliant LSEB could be ridden on trails allowing bikes prior to the Class system being adopted.

What I'm trying to do is start with the basics - just get riders to read HR727 to see if they agree that it defines a "low speed electric bike" as the equivalent of a bike.
 

Gordon71

Well-Known Member
There in lies the problem. Most people will not spend the time to understand something like this even when it impacts them. I simply encourage anyone that rides an ebike to read HR727 vs the 3-class system promoted by People for Bikes as improving clarity and safety when it has nothing to do with either. Just ensuring the federal definition for a LSEB to be a bike will benefit all riders - the class system is creating a use regulation mess as some trails start with allowing all 3 classes and end with banning all ebikes as motor vehicles. They are "bikes" and should be allowed where any conventional bike is allowed.
How would that affect someone that owns a Whizzer?
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I'm assuming a "whizzer" is a term for a compliant ebike/LSEB.

The class system is more stringent than the federal definition (the fed definition does not require assist cut-offs so it's functionally a superior specification). By being more stringent it actually violate interstate commerce laws but few will take the time to understand what this is and why it's a problem but to put is simply we don't want each state defining what is a compliant consumer product because no company that produces anything wants to have to make unique versions for each state. The CPSC legislative OWNS product definitions such that those products are legal for sale in every state and states when needed are to only have "use" laws for those products. On LSEBs for some reason People for Bikes has convinced a lot of states that the 3-class system was needed for effective "use" control of ebikes and for improved clarification and safety (it was entirely a legislative capture effort). In Europe speed pedelecs require registration and insurance pretty much equivalent to motorcycles and I believe that will happen to Class 3 ebikes if the class system is not preempted. The class system is not good for the adoption of ebikes but most on this forum believe it is. I'm doing what I can to educate but that is by no means and easy task in this country.
 

Gordon71

Well-Known Member
The Whizzer is a bike and/or add on kit made back in the 1940's with a small gas engine. Brought back briefly in the 90's. Basically the same as an Ebike but uses different fuel. I believe you can go back even further and find a steam engine add on for bikes.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The Whizzer is a bike and/or add on kit made back in the 1940's with a small gas engine. Brought back briefly in the 90's. Basically the same as an Ebike but uses different fuel. I believe you can go back even further and find a steam engine add on for bikes.
The federal definition for a LSEB as a bike only addresses electric bikes. Most of the fossil fuel drive system ?bikes? will likely fall under NHTSA control or into the "off-road" category that seems to fall outside of CPSC and NHTSA control. That does not mean they can be ridden on public infrastructure and trails as they are not specifically defined as a bike like LSEBs are.

Most likely those gas models are "motor driven cycles" that are a class below motorcycles regulated by the NHTSA.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The Whizzer is a bike and/or add on kit made back in the 1940's with a small gas engine. Brought back briefly in the 90's. Basically the same as an Ebike but uses different fuel. I believe you can go back even further and find a steam engine add on for bikes.
What you need to recognize is that a lot of products are being called "ebikes" which really are not compliant to the federal definition. What marketing calls something means nothing when it comes to regulatory interpretation. Many people do not understand this. I've seen 8000W 80mph electric motorcycles with ???? functional pedals called ebikes but regulatory wise they are anything but. Reports were that Simon Cowe broke his back in an ebike accident but he was essentially on an electric motorcycle with pedals.
 

Gordon71

Well-Known Member
The federal definition for a LSEB as a bike only addresses electric bikes. Most of the fossil fuel drive system ?bikes? will likely fall under NHTSA control or into the "off-road" category that seems to fall outside of CPSC and NHTSA control. That does not mean they can be ridden on public infrastructure and trails as they are not specifically defined as a bike like LSEBs are.

Most likely those gas models are "motor driven cycles" that are a class below motorcycles regulated by the NHTSA.
I'm sure you're correct but an Ebike is also a motor driven cycle when using the motor. It just uses a different type of fuel. I believe the same is true of the old Whizzers. They could be pedaled or propelled by a tiny gas motor. I think you could by a kit for any bike for around $50 or a complete bike for around $100. Not really much different than an Ebike.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I'm sure you're correct but an Ebike is also a motor driven cycle when using the motor. It just uses a different type of fuel. I believe the same is true of the old Whizzers. They could be pedaled or propelled by a tiny gas motor. I think you could by a kit for any bike for around $50 or a complete bike for around $100. Not really much different than an Ebike.
What something is called is not relevant to the federal regulations. The NHTSA has made a formal statement on this. Just because pedals can be put on a motorcycle doesn't make it an ebike just because the marketing team at the company wants to use that word.

HR727 has a very good definition for a LSEB and makes it clear that if compliant that is to be treated as a bike (not a motor vehicle regardless that a LSEB has a motor - this may seem contradictory but not in the relm of regulations where product definitions determine what is legal to sell as what in all 50 states.

We honestly to not want states making these decisions or companies would be overwhelmed with making different products for each state. The EU has been working thru very similar issues.
 

Gordon71

Well-Known Member
What something is called is not relevant to the federal regulations. The NHTSA has made a formal statement on this. Just because pedals can be put on a motorcycle doesn't make it an ebike just because the marketing team at the company wants to use that word.

HR727 has a very good definition for a LSEB and makes it clear that if compliant that is to be treated as a bike (not a motor vehicle regardless that a LSEB has a motor - this may seem contradictory but not in the relm of regulations where product definitions determine what is legal to sell as what in all 50 states.

We honestly to not want states making these decisions or companies would be overwhelmed with making different products for each state. The EU has been working thru very similar issues.
Ah got it. I'd not read that definition of what an LSEB was. The Whizzer as best I could find used a 2HP motor and I guess the limit in HR727 is 1HP or 750 watts. So that means anyone with an Ebike using a motor greater than 750 watts has exceeded the limit and is not legal.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Ah got it. I'd not read that definition of what an LSEB was. The Whizzer as best I could find used a 2HP motor and I guess the limit in HR727 is 1HP or 750 watts. So that means anyone with an Ebike using a motor greater than 750 watts has exceeded the limit and is not legal.
I think very very few ebike riders have ever read HR727 with the definition of a "low speed electric bike." They just listen to the marketing and if a company calls it an electric bike they believe it must be a "regulation compliant" electric bike but it may not be.

The other confusion arises because very very few know what a motor rating is. The actual wording of the federal definition allows for higher than 750W peak power below 20mph but people think "rating" is the max power allowed. The reason why it's not really a problem is because the only ebikes that need more than 750W below 20mph are cargo and utility bikes so it's not really that compelling to anyone to bump up the power much below 20mph.

A guy name Dr. Currie wrote the federal definition and he was very astute to allow higher power below 20mph and limited power per the 170lb on level surface constraints above 20mph. The problem is he had a PhD in electrical engineering so most people read the definition and just go starry eyed and go back to watching the Kardashians.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
A guy name Dr. Currie wrote the federal definition and he was very astute to allow higher power below 20mph and limited power per the 170lb on level surface constraints above 20mph. The problem is he had a PhD in electrical engineering so most people read the definition and just go starry eyed and go back to watching the Kardashians.
I’m sure it’s potentially a big issue but what other consumer electronics (read cell-phone) or e-anything are average folks boning up on as the complication gets exponentially more complex? It’s going to keep and expand this development pace on and on while manufacturers inform us consumers less and less and legally keep us from properly utilizing or maintaining anything we own.
As a corporate training curriculum developer, I spent months developing proper and complete training programs for even one complex piece of process control equipment. It’s a time consuming and costly endeavor that fewer companies are willing to spend big money on. I worked with engineers, phds and scientists who, if left up to them, would be fine just living in their little labs developing things nobody but themselves understood how to use. Just look at the “users guide” you get with your ebikes these days!
The problem isn’t about the Kardasians, it’s about the lack of real commitment to teaching in a real world where everything is becoming overly (and in many cases needlessly) complex for the wow factor in the next sales cycle.
End rant.
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
Not sure if any ebike rises to the level of being overly complex but I do tend to favor simplicity. I have yet to ride any pedelec / pedal-assist with the array of sensors (torque, speed, cadence, heart rate, etc.) that provides the desired assist under all riding situations. I do think they provide a more traditional bike riding experience but the simplicity of throttle-assist just makes more sense since the rider then is always in complete control of the level of assist. Sorry programmers, I just think I know what assist I want better than any algorithm you can develop for an ebike.

That said, the federal definition written by a PhD Electrical Engineer is more elegant than what the spandexters at People for Bikes came up on the 3-class system. It makes no sense at all to have separate classes for pedal-assist and throttle-assist with everything else being equal. I will also argue that not allowing throttles on Class 3 is just bizarre when they are in most cases being use regulated to streets and road side bike lanes where every other vehicle they are moving with has a throttle / pedal. There was no reason that the "simple" federal definition of a LSEB as a bike was not better for the industry but People for Bikes got lobby money and they did what Bosch wanted.