People for Bikes: Progress on Ebike Laws in the US

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
There are electric motorcycles on the market today that will perfectly meet your requirements. Let's keep a bike a bike!
To late! There are hundreds, if not thousands of high power "Stealth eBikes" out there. The endless_sphere thread alone has 675 pages of E-S "Stealth Bikes". This is just the first page of examples!
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Mass Deduction

Active Member
To late! There are hundreds, if not thousands of high power "Stealth eBikes" out there. The endless_sphere thread alone has 675 pages of E-S "Stealth Bikes". This is just the first page of examples!
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Those are trying to be stealth what? They all look like electric motorcycles. None of them look very much like a bicycle, IMO.

Sure, I know bikes and maybe I'm not the best one to ask. But in our community we have a team of e-bike equipped bylaw officers who ticket people using overpowered bicycles on local regional trails, and we see them and chat with them regularly. These wouldn't fool them for even half a second.
 

Phil Agur

Member
The eMotorcycle industry has really abused the definition of eBikes. We really need to see Type 1 laws back in line with EU standards. US biking advocates would like to see European levels of cycling but insist on reinventing the wheel.

A Type 1, an eBike intended to provide assist, should not produce more power than a club level Rider. Assist is not doing the entire job for you, it's doing a portion of the work. 250 watts is enough to do 100% work (about what a non-team rider puts out) and yet our laws says it's 3 times that. Watch the GCN shootout between a very fit cyclist on a high end road bike vs an MTN eBike climbing an mountain in the French Alps. The road bike that won was fitted with power meters thereby providing great data on human power. The rider put out 280 watts, so to match him on my 250 watt eBike I'd need to put out 30 watts. That's very little work on my part.

Classifying Type 1 as assist only and then letting it be 750 watts (a full horsepower) added to the expected human power is exactly why eBikes get banned. The total is approaching 4 times the power of the cyclist that get told to slow down on 15 MPH mixed use trails.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
As it has been proven that the EU 250w limit type 1 standards you champion is just a nominal wattage and that ALL the various mid drives under that directive sold here in the US and the EU are capable of putting out up to 3 times that I guess I would argue that it is the manufacturers of eBikes that are abusing the definition of eBikes.

The GCN comparison you site is flawed in that the bikes are not in the same classification weight/intended use wise and the added weight of an e system alone takes up alot of that 250w you suggest is enough to do 100% of the work. I have both road and mtb assist bikes and my 40c tire road bike version with the same 750w peak motor as my 2.5 tire mtb is much more efficient for its intended use overall but still has to overcome the extra weight to start out with.

Sure on the steepest climbs I am showing 500w motor output and 175w human output on my meter but I am only going about 8 mph at best and if I bump it up I might go one or two mph faster but at the expense of ride range. On level ground I keep my human input consistent in the 100-150w output and the motor output is reduced to the 250w +/- range once again to achieve maximum range.

Everyone should respect speed limits and be courteous on MUP's and if they don't, it's not the bikes fault, regardless of assist or not.
 

Grumpy Hiker

New Member
Agree with JRA. What is in question is the behavior of the cyclist, not the capability of the machine. With automobiles we have speed limits and many rules about how to drive -- not restrictions on the power of the vehicle. Bikes are no different. We frequently see non-electric cyclists exceeding limits or breaking rules but we do not limit their gear ratios or mechanical efficiency. Innovation should be encouraged, but following the rules (e.g. speed limits, common courtesy) also should be encouraged.
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Triad
Agree with JRA. What is in question is the behavior of the cyclist, not the capability of the machine. With automobiles we have speed limits and many rules about how to drive -- not restrictions on the power of the vehicle. Bikes are no different. We frequently see non-electric cyclists exceeding limits or breaking rules but we do not limit their gear ratios or mechanical efficiency. Innovation should be encouraged, but following the rules (e.g. speed limits, common courtesy) also should be encouraged.
I would say that following speed limits should be enforced, not just encouraged, but I don't know how that would work. More cops on bike ways with speed guns?

Unfortunately, as we have seen from response in the time of pandemic, "encouragement" to do the right thing fails in the face of human idiocy and intransigence.
 

Phil Agur

Member
I know there's a lot of bait and switch going on. "Here's the 250 watt model we advertise, can we sell you the battery upgrade?" And with that the Canadian sourced Bangfung mid-drive became 350-400 watts. It is still faster, lighter, and has much longer range than the majority of the eBikes. This particular eMTB, like my gravel eBike, has a complete drive disconnect clutch. When off there's no additional rolling resistance over a normal bike. That means it can be ridden great distances off, just like my normal bike. 100KM or 63 miles event "off" is certainly doable using my gravel eBike. My new tires made a huge difference. I installed Continental Grand Prix 5000 TLs (28cm front / 32 cm rear). Coasting I've caught and could have passed a friend who annually rides the paris roubaix cycling race.

I met an eBike owner last week from the other end of the scale (on rolling resistance) who wished they'd add regenerative braking. A rolling bicycle stores kinetic energy and any attempt to recapture that as battery charge always fails do to conversation losses. I didn't want to ask but I bet his eBike has walk assist, a feature added to mask how bad it rolls and how overweight it's become compared to a normal bike.

eBikes start at 24 pounds and go up to 31 pounds for decent road eBikes. If they weigh much more than that then the designer feels like he must try to conceal the weight. I should really weigh mine, I'm sure I've added too much. 36-37 would be my guess.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
"When off there's no additional rolling resistance over a normal bike."

Until you get to a hill where the added weight of the e system can't be ignored and not a liability on a normal bike of like kind. The type/terrain of gravel riding I do on my 45lb. bike would have you reaching for the on button pretty quick if you tried to use your bike un-assisted. I wouldn't recommend your tire selection either as you would spend all day fixing flats as well.

"Coasting I've caught and could have passed a friend who annually rides the paris roubaix cycling race."

See the above reference to weight and Newton's Laws of Physics as pertaining to: Objects with greater mass have more inertia

I have regen on my DD hub road bikes and I am having a hard time following your logic there? The regen function may not add much back into the battery charge but it is very good as a braking aid in general which saves on pad life quite a bit I have found. In fact when I think about slowing down my regen button is the first thing I go for and apply the brakes as necessary while keeping it down. One thing it does regarding the above is that when rolling downhill with no motor use necessary to keep speed in check I use the regen and depending on the grade and desired speed, I don't like to go much over 30, is very effective at keeping to that speed without using any brakes at all. Any charge back into the battery, generally 5% over 40 miles and 500wh's, is gravy. Regen is generally only available on DD hubs but the new Gmac hubs from Grin are geared and they have worked their magic getting them to provide regen as well as being able to provide for freewheeling using only a small amount of energy.

In addition to torque sensing PAS I also have an all out throttle on all my bikes that yes does come in handy for masking the weight of my bikes if having to push and I use it with joy. There really is no effect on the rolling though when I am off the bike and without the cranks turning the bike is only riding on the hub bearings. I know it came in handy on a recent ride having to work my way through this unridable section:

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This is not to ignore the other part of Newton's 1st law:

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Bicycles have been fighting this battle for years. It is well known that a lighter bike will handle better if compared apples to oranges. I personally have come to grips with it and actually like the planted feeling, especially on gravel, as the bike isn't as apt to deflect around on the chunkier sections.

This of course also pertains to brakes and a heavier bike will need better ones which are readily available and should be considered on any eBike in order to be sufficient for the overall weight of the bike and rider and expected speed/terrain to be able to stop in a reasonable distance safely.


There is alot of focus on the low power/low wh battery type bikes that allow for a lighter overall weight currently and it will work for some but not all potential eBikers. One is no worse than the other as long as the rider is happy with their decision and it works for their needs.
 

Phil Agur

Member
Currently it all grool in the US. Type 1 is pedal assist only with a 750 watt shovel of grool. Type 2 adds a twist / thumb throttle with the same 750 watt shovel of grool. Type 3 is the same 750 watt shovel of grool without the twist / thumb but an the assist cut off is jacked up (raised).

The lazy designers / dealers love serving grool based Type X eBikes. Add a throttle and it's a Type 2, pull the throttle off and reprogram the cut off and it's a Type 3.

A 250 watt 15 MPH Type 1 definition would force creativity to compete as Type 1, not just bigger shovels of grool. Type 2 & 3 can shovel away.
 

opimax

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Atlanta
I believe you can have a throttle on type 3 to 20mph...same grool different mixture
 

Phil Agur

Member
It could be a state to state variation but I've always interpreted this California requirments table as Type 2 is the only type with a throttle.

I do wish the 20 limit was 15. I spent some time working up the food chain with Orbea trying to get mine changed. It appears the x-drive hub is different here, not just the controller cut-off, so it must be in the planetary gearing. So making it faster than all MUTs allow cost me torque as well as rideability in pace lines.

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tomjasz

Well-Known Member
A world went crazy. I can own an AR15 but you don't want me to ride faster. I think a licensing system needs to happen, as many actually use motorcycle components. But it's no goofier than hanging a 1500W mid-drive on a Walmart bike. Personally I'm not for the grumps insisting on being nannies.
 

Phil Agur

Member
A world went crazy. I can own an AR15 but you don't want me to ride faster. I think a licensing system needs to happen, as many actually use motorcycle components. But it's no goofier than hanging a 1500W mid-drive on a Walmart bike. Personally I'm not for the grumps insisting on being nannies.
If want you to ride faster do so where it is safe. The big bike trail here is the ARBT which is marked as 15 MPH. All multi use trails I've ridden on are also marked 15 MPH. My eBike, a US 20 MPH version, is far less functional at 15 MPH than it's European stablemate which just comes up and goes into cruise control.

On the road last week I hit 39.3 MPH on my eBike. It was off of course. That's 3 MPH faster than my non-eBike max last year. The F30 has gravel bike frame geometry so it was a little twitchy at that speed.

The world of go faster is well served by Type 2 & 3 eBikes. Actual sport cyclist would be better served by by a Type 1 definition configured for sport cyclist activities.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
@bob armani



No is the short answer to your question. HR 727 is a consumer law legalizing ebikes to be sold as bicycles and not motorized vehicles in the US. For the purpose you want (if necessary?), you would want state and local laws. That's what determines if your ebike is legal and that you're allowed to ride where you are riding.
If anyone cares to review the congressional notes of HR727 it's actually pretty clear the intent was to define a compliant "low speed electric bicycle" per the definition as a bike for all usage laws. I think we should all keep in mind that the federal definition pretty much worked for 12+ years before the P4B class table was pushed via lobby money from Europe (never was about safety). I realize the number of ebikes was low but we are talking about 750w (power of an average 2 slice toaster) and an advocacy group parsing the federal definition into classes for nothing but harmonizing the market.

I'm almost certain that the EU went with the 250W limit because they didn't want the low cost Chinese hub motors flooding the market (hub motors do need higher power at the lower speeds because of simply physics). I will argue that the world needs the best human scale transportation solutions and we should be listening an advocasy group getting paid to lobby for laws that were about harmonizing a market while FALSELY claiming it was about safety and growing the market. I like their charter but they violated it themselves and I'm not going to hold back punches.

I encourage everyone to read about Dr. Malcolm Currie who was responsible for pushing the federal definition early. I believe he knew the potential of the technology far better the PFBs and his definition should have been advocated instead of chopping it to pieces to harmonize with Europe. The table has some inherent conflicts with the HR727 which put the table in legal standing jeopardy. Just watch it will come down. The Mississippi AG is on record as stating his opinion that a low speed electric bicycle should be just treated as any other bike (mtn bike, road bike, recumbent, trike, etc.).

Larry Pizzi is on pod cast record as saying that the intent was for the class table to be consistent with the HR727 / CPSC definition. It's not because money got in the way of logic.
 

Westlafadeaway

Active Member
Region
USA
My problem with this discussion though is that in California they must determine speed limits for cars based on the 85th percentile of the speed actually driven. So in order to enforce speed limits in Los Angeles, they had to measure the 85th%, and roads in some community roads went up to 45 mph. It was for "enforcement" but you know the last time I saw someone get pulled over for speeding? Your guess is as good as mine. So I really wish everyone thought bigger and said, let's talk about all vehicle speeds. Cadillac just announced they have a car that can hit 200 mph, Musk says he thinks he can get a car to hit 0 to 60 in 2 seconds.... These are street legal while my e-bike (when it arrives) is illegal because of .... reasons not held universally across all forms of transportation. If this is the next big thing, I'd really hope everyone makes this a point of contention. Why is a car capable of hitting 60 mph in 2 seconds on a street where my love of this universe (my wife) is crossing the street?

There's a joke about transportation and it goes like this: A car driver, a pedestrian, and a cyclist go into a bar and buy 10 bottles of beer. The driver proceeds to drink 9, and then looks at the pedestrian and tells him to watch out, the cyclists is eyeing your beer.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
It makes no sense to regulate ebike like this. I can only imagine the brainy state politicians meeting with People for Bikes talking about using stickers to regulate the usage of ebikes. Was there anyone in that room that said WTF?

Just using the federal definition and using bike traffic regulations that every state had already for bikes would have continued to work just fine.
 

BEC111

Well-Known Member
I ride a class 3 US bike. Mostly on a MUP rail trail. My usual average speeds are 12-17 mph depending upon weather, path use and other conditions. I chose class 3 for street riding - I feel safer riding as fast as I can on the street and the assist up 28 mph allows me to hit 30-34 on occasion. With cars on a 35 mph street driving 40-45, going slower on my bike feels too dangerous.

The politicized speed categorization of ebikes is based upon a significant misunderstanding. (It’s assist not capacity.) Assist up to 20 or 28 mph isn’t a real issue (on unthrottled bikes) since you can go faster on human power and many road bike riders regularly go much faster. Even on my MUP.

Speed limits on MUPs are unenforceable and therefore doubly irrelevant. (Most riders can’t ride at 25 mph or above on any pedaled bike. Speed limits don’t work on a trail if for nothing else than the effects of gravity on inertia.) Regulation of MUP bicycle use by some form of the current class system makes sense for the safety of all users. Enforcement of even that system is nearly impossible. The only recourse is education and eventually social pressure. And these probably won’t work. Idiots seem to be immune to reasonable behavior.
 

mogulskier

Active Member
Lots of people on this board talk about fines, impoundment, citations, etc. I still am not seeing any enforcement whatsoever. With all this "defunding the police" movement, and staffing levels trending down, I can't even get CHP to give a damn about 90+ speeds, even I even see them at all. Local PD isn't much better. Reactive more than proactive.

And someone is suppose to care about enforcing e-bike regulations? Why even bother with all these laws regarding e-bikes in the first place? I see clear signage regarding laws and municipal codes, but no one is listening.