When does an electric bike become an electric motorcycle?

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Electric bike classification, pedelecs, throttles, bike paths, bike lanes, safety, OEMs, Federal laws, state laws...

All these, and more, come into play when determining this Line-in-the-sand.

When, where, how do we determine the cross over?

My criteria:
1. It has to have a weight limit to limit motor size and battery. 80 lbs?
2. It has to have usable pedals. I'm not sure how to DQ the electric scooters with fake pedals, but it needs to happen, and pedals with working cranks must exist.
3. Power and speed: you define...

added:
4. When human effort stops adding meaningful propulsion.
This depend on the gears and hills, but a typical 48T/11T high gear is ok for the 28-30mph range and still work the legs. The power for that speed can be 500W for smooth road, skinny tires and more aggressive position. It can be 1 hp, 750W or more for less ideal. Add in hills, cargo, off road, and more power is needed to maintain speed.

5. Defining something less than 750W, per the federal law is a step BACKWARDS, imo.

6. In most states, a motorized anything, with 2 wheels, going 20-30mph is likely a Moped, which usually requires a driver's license, etc. Speed pedelecs meet that definition.

So why would anything under 30mph and 750W, with a throttle, be classified at motorcycle status, but a speed pedelec is a bicycle? That is what the CA legislation does.

I think the States will see through this and hopefully correct it.
 
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J.R.

Well-Known Member
Your criteria and my opinion:
1. check (75-80lb)
2. check - Maybe crank width. As I have seen the cranks on those e-scooters are much wider. Combined with weight and power, that will rule most out of ebikes.
3. 1 HP (750w)
 

Hong

Active Member
The federal limit is based on speed, not weight. Every state will have it's own laws, or abide by the federal regulation. Each country is different too.

We've built our bike to the future legislation, currently under consideration in the State of California. We believe other states will use these definitions as well.

Cheers,
Hong
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Curious about the Minnnesota laws on the books currently - Electric-Assisted Bicycle -- Bicycle with saddle, pedals for human propulsion, two to three wheels, max. 1,000-watt electric motor, top speed of 20 m.p.h., meets federal standards. 1000 watts?

source - http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/lowpower.pdf

"Generally same traffic laws as motor vehicles"

Does that mean they can only be operated in the street?

Edit: After reading further, I found out they can even be ridden on sidewalks under certain circumstances.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
Minnesota is awesome, glad I live here! E bikes are treated as normal bikes unless they are specifically excluded on signage, including non motorized use trails, as long as bikes are allowed.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
We've built our bike to the future legislation, currently under consideration in the State of California. We believe other states will use these definitions as well.

Cheers,
Hong
Wow, you guys are really smart to be able to predict the future and have a product on the market ready to capitalize on those limits.
 

Credible Hulk

Active Member
This is an interesting subject to me. After "backing" a Sondors ebike and then realizing it's unlikely to materialize until later this year (if at all) I decided to buy an existing ebike now, so I'd have some transport for this summer. I did a lot of research about the available options, and chose an e-scooter, though I still want an ebike. But based on what I've learned about e-scooters, I think the two vehicle types serve two different functions, and should be classified differently under the law.

Before actually test driving e-scooters, I was convinced that having separate laws for ebikes and e-scooters was redundant and discriminatory. I was surprised to find that driving an e-scooter was quite intimidating, despite being very comfortable on bicycles. They're huge, heavy, and with their smaller wheels and fast acceleration, it's easier to lose control and wipe out. The balance is a lot different between pedaling vs. putting your feet on a platform. I found the experience of driving an e-scooter more akin to driving a car than riding a bicycle.

I'm now looking into taking a motorcycle driving course, if possible. There should be courses for e-scooters as well, and I think the laws governing them should be closer to motorcycle than bicycle. There's a reason the best scooters have motorcycle-grade chassis, wheels, shocks, tires, ABS hydraulic brakes etc. E-scooters definitely DO NOT belong on bike trails or sidewalks IMO. Bike lanes, sure, but not park trails and paths with pedestrians etc. Too fast, too heavy - I would not want to be hit by a speeding e-scooter as a cyclist or pedestrian!

That said, drivers these days are aggressive, selfish and reluctant to share the road. They are the reason e-scooters need some kind of legal status of their own. As long as e-scooter speed is regulated to 20 mph (Canada) they're in a dangerous grey zone legally and on the roads. When I was test-driving along the edge of the street in a quiet neighbourhood, without fail, every driver that came up behind me sat on my tail instead of just driving around me. It was pretty nerve-wracking trying to learn to drive this thing with some SUV practically pushing me down the street! But this comes from lack of clear laws and lack of driver education. Scooters look like motorbikes to drivers, so they expect them to go just as fast. Lack of insurance for e-scooters doesn't help.

The pedals for e-scooters are an idiocy that does nothing but injure riders' legs and cause accidents when they catch on the street during a turn. In other words, a safety hazard which is supposed to address safety. I asked the e-scooter dealer if they could be used to move the bike if the battery dies. "You'll need roadside assistance for that." Idiotic to have pedals only so a vehicle can be classified as a bicycle - when it's not! I ordered folding pedals as a workaround - the fact that they're needed in the first place demonstrates the stupidity of this law.

Anyway, to sum up, I totally agree with the OP. However, I think the laws for e-scooters are sorely in need of updating to get them out of the grey area. They need to either remove the speed limitation and pedals, and let them function and be licensed and regulated like gas motorcycles, OR limit the size and weight of e-scooters, make the pedals functional (and mandate gears), and give them the same access to infrastructure as ebikers and cyclists have.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
The most sophisticated answer to this fantastic question might be to just look at the watts contributed. A fairly fit rider can produce 100 watts of power, which is easy to measure. So the motor can add a range of additional power. If you are at 100/100 watts, that's the even split, and those 200 watts propel a bike at around 18 mph.

You can pick a maximum ratio of motor to human power that you want. But to me, at some point, it's not a bike at 5/1 or 10/1. And bikes are very bad, aerodynamically, so you just burn up watts beyond 20 mph. If you really want a bike, the limit is likely to be in the 20-25 mph range.

The notion that pedal assist is better than throttle assist doesn't have a lot of logic behind it. Power is power. If you want more power, you get more power, since both are adjustable. People keep saying a throttle makes an ebike a scooter. Yeah, if you want it to be that. I built a bike that has a throttle and it works fantastically as a bike because it is light and has 27 speeds. The throttle didn't make it a scooter. The throttle makes it completely controllable as a power bike. If I know how much power I want, why do I need a pedal assist? You really can't be arguing that ebikes have to have pedal assist to force people to pedal. Or that pedal assist is purer.

I think forcing pedal assist down the throats of ebikers is going to prove to be a mistake. Utah is not going to follow California. We just don't like California, particularly. We had and have a set of Federal rules. We thought those rules would be around for a while. The States have not followed CPSC definitions. Why will they follow California? What if we have more faith that a guy with a 22 mph bike and a throttle can ride on a bike path, more faith than California?

I only want one question answered at this point: Are we allowed to believe that the California rules are wrong, and will there be a place for us in the ebike world if we think differently? I don't think Utah is going to follow California into the Euro-standards, anyway, so where does that leave things? Are you guys just going around picking fights with people who are pretty dedicated to ebikes?
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Are you guys just going around picking fights with people who are pretty dedicated to ebikes?

Each state will make its own rules, and beyond that municipalities will make their own rules. The proposed California legislation is just a guideline for other states to use if they want.

But a uniform guideline helps, because frankly the legislature from any state is not really going to be very concerned about electric bikes. They want a quick, simple solution and move on to the next thing.

A smart, simple solution that is already there can be of great benefit to the electric bike community. Hence the proposed California law!
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
These rules were of great benefit to the ebike community. Many of us respect them. Mr. Pizzi does not explain his changes.

cpsc.JPG
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
These rules were of great benefit to the ebike community. Many of us respect them. Mr. Pizzi does not explain his changes.

View attachment 3026

George, you are citing federal rules for product safety.

The actual rules governing use of these products will be up to the states and local municipalities. Mr. Pizzi did not "change" anything.

The California legislation seems to me to be somewhat based on European e-bike usage rules. But they are different laws than those governing Consumer Product Safety.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
George, you are citing federal rules for product safety.

The actual rules governing use of these products will be up to the states and local municipalities. Mr. Pizzi did not "change" anything.

The California legislation seems to me to be somewhat based on European e-bike usage rules. But they are different laws than those governing Consumer Product Safety.

I am.

They are.

He did.

More than somewhat.

They are.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Mr. Pizzi is an executive for an ebike company that generates $1Bn in revenues a year. Mr. Pizzi wants to enact legislation that will isolate throttle based e bikes from pedelec e bikes, among other things. People who have $1000 to spend, to make an ebike, often use throttles. Accel’s $3-4,000 and up bikes use sophisticated pedal assist. It’s unseemly for a executive of an ebike company to single out the kit builder making a low cost bike for basic transportation.

The CPSC rules were meant to guide the states. The idea was to have basic e bikes treated as bikes, with no other regulatory structure, just the bike rules of each state. Mr. Pizzi has abandoned that goal. He quietly raises money within the industry to force changes in state laws. There’s no record of any debate. I guess Mr. Pizzi decided that throttle controls are not acceptable, so now they will be singled out. Why?

This is basically about bike paths and bike lanes on roads used by regular traffic. Since the concentration of e bikes where I ride is stupefyingly low, it strains credibility to impose any new rules, whatsoever, on e bikes. That is what Mr. Pizzi is doing, with a throttle category and limits on ‘speed pedelecs’, whatever that really works out to be.

Most states will not follow California, just as they have chosen not to follow Washington and the CPSC. Unless you live in California, this seems like a waste of time and energy.

It’s not productive for anyone to say what an ebike is, outside the CPSC definitions, or the state and local definitions, where they live.

If people say one kind of ebike is more of a bike than some other kind, it’s like arguing that blue is better than yellow. It’s the group that HAS to have their way that worries me. I’m troubled that it has to be Larry’s Way. I’m troubled that Larry’s Way hurts the low end guy, building a basic bike. It’s fine to make high end bikes with sophisticated drive trains. But there are people who could use low priced bikes with anything that fits that price point. Nothing in the California ‘model legislation’ points to low cost e bikes. The CPSC rules were simple, and gave people a few limits, nothing else. Why is Mr. Pizzi going down this road?

Larry once told me that Currie was going to build a “Model T”, a basic bike for everyone, something that could sell in the millions. Larry misled me. Larry wants to build multi-thousand dollar bikes, and he wants to hurt the low end bikes by discriminatory legislation.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Going to have to pull the confirmation bias cord on you here steve. Each coin has two sides however it is some of our opinion that the coin is just going to buy less for the consumer and more for the industry if the new classification laws are passed. Not to mention the amount of publicity it brings to the current Federal regs which are quite reasonable and certainly better than the EU guidelines that Accell is most familiar with and has the greatest amount of inventory speced to sell. Whereas US companies like Prodeco and Pedego have their lines setup under the current Federal regs and this will hurt them the most in the end. Just because they use a throttle for some models. Or for those that want to use kit systems that have throttles as has been pointed out. As long as the top speed is regulated at 20mph what does it matter?
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
The most sophisticated answer to this fantastic question might be to just look at the watts contributed. A fairly fit rider can produce 100 watts of power, which is easy to measure. So the motor can add a range of additional power. If you are at 100/100 watts, that's the even split, and those 200 watts propel a bike at around 18 mph.

You can pick a maximum ratio of motor to human power that you want. But to me, at some point, it's not a bike at 5/1 or 10/1. And bikes are very bad, aerodynamically, so you just burn up watts beyond 20 mph. If you really want a bike, the limit is likely to be in the 20-25 mph range.

The notion that pedal assist is better than throttle assist doesn't have a lot of logic behind it. Power is power. If you want more power, you get more power, since both are adjustable. People keep saying a throttle makes an ebike a scooter. Yeah, if you want it to be that. I built a bike that has a throttle and it works fantastically as a bike because it is light and has 27 speeds. The throttle didn't make it a scooter. The throttle makes it completely controllable as a power bike. If I know how much power I want, why do I need a pedal assist? You really can't be arguing that ebikes have to have pedal assist to force people to pedal. Or that pedal assist is purer.

I think forcing pedal assist down the throats of ebikers is going to prove to be a mistake. Utah is not going to follow California. We just don't like California, particularly. We had and have a set of Federal rules. We thought those rules would be around for a while. The States have not followed CPSC definitions. Why will they follow California? What if we have more faith that a guy with a 22 mph bike and a throttle can ride on a bike path, more faith than California?

I only want one question answered at this point: Are we allowed to believe that the California rules are wrong, and will there be a place for us in the ebike world if we think differently? I don't think Utah is going to follow California into the Euro-standards, anyway, so where does that leave things? Are you guys just going around picking fights with people who are pretty dedicated to ebikes?
Wow George. So well said n so many points.

Yes, the throttle option is being treated as the inferior stepchild on this forum and is being blackballed by Big Box via CA proposal for market share.

One would think a dual option like a Bionx kit is the BEST of both, but comments and proposals say otherwise .
Reasonable.

However all the stuff about the small builder is just a tiny minority looking out for themselves.

Confirmation bias plays both ways here.

...and it is still apples and oranges :)

Stevey,
Your stubbornness is unbelievable. At least you admit to being bias.

I kind of like to debate the points, like you, but it is tough to give you any merit when you dismiss and ridicule anything non-bosch, non-currie. Are you related to an insider? Have a financial interest of some kind?

Hey, I have my favorites...but, I will give credit where it is due. I want to support good products and I want to support the industry as a whole. I think it is ok to critique and report issues and facts as they arise (like the discussion on the Bosch design and chain suck), but our comments cannot just be opinions without some form of tests, analysis, independent review, substance, comparison, experience. It is also a valuable credit to your opinion if you can recognize some positives in what you critique.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Reasonable.

However all the stuff about the small builder is just a tiny minority looking out for themselves.

Confirmation bias plays both ways here.

...and it is still apples and oranges :)

Prodeco and Pedego are anything but tiny. Insignificant as compared to Accell however in the global marketplace.

I am not biased against PAS. I think that if done right it makes a fine system but when done wrong it isn't. And unfortunately the done wrong stuff is at the lower end of the marketplace which seems to be the focus of the consumers at this time. As a current example how do you think that the Sondors bike, which is a single speed, and is making a big deal of offering PAS is going to work? Without a way to toggle through the different levels of assist such as you have on your Bosch system along with the multiple gear ratios you have on tap? In that instance they are way better off just sticking with a throttle don't you think?

And I am sorry but I don't see any apples to oranges in any of this. We are here discussing e bikes and a 20mph e bike is pretty much a 20mph e bike not matter how it gets there.