One of the profound economic implications of bicycle use is that it liberates the user from oil consumption.(Ballantine, 1972) The bicycle is an inexpensive, fast, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. Ivan Illich stated that bicycle use extended the usable physical environment for people, while alternatives such as cars and motorways degraded and confined people's environment and mobility. Currently, two billion bicycles are in use around the world. Children, students, professionals, laborers, civil servants and seniors are pedaling around their communities. They all experience the freedom and the natural opportunity for exercise that the bicycle easily provides. Bicycle also has lowest carbon intensity of travel.
Being member of European Economic Area (EEA), Norway implemented the European Union directive 2002/24/EC. This directive defined legal ebikes for all EU and EEA countries to "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h or if the cyclist stops pedaling.” The definition became part of Norwegian vehicle legislation in 2003. A more detailed specification will become effective when the new European ebike product safety standard EN 15194 is published in 2009.
The electric bike revolution has officially crossed into the arena of off-road motorbikes. For those who prefer riding in nature, Cake introduced a product which not only respects the environment but other riders, as well. Cake’s Kalk is a silent off-road motorbike that releases no emissions into the atmosphere. Additionally, its electric motor means no gear changing or clutching — a silent motorbike that won’t detract from the experience of others. Perhaps the best part is Cake avoided any sacrifice in performance. The Kalk reaches speeds of fifty miles per hour and features three distinct driving modes: Discover, Explore, and Excite.
Gulas boast that their Pi1S is the world’s fastest e-bike achieving a maximum speed of 71mph (115km/h) while pedal assisted. You won’t see one of these in the UK without a licence plate because any electric bike having motor assistance above 15.5mph has to be registered as a road vehicle. This 38bhp electric bike weighs in at 128kg, with two separate battery options; a 6.5 kWh battery giving around 75 miles per charge, and a 10 kWh boasting 120 miles per charge range. Pricing starts at £17,500. Visit www.gulas.bike for more information or to book a test ride.
As long as the electric bicycle meets three criteria it is considered a low-speed electric bicycle, or simply a "bicycle." Three criteria: must travel less than 20 mph on flat ground without pedaling, must have functional pedals and must have less than a 750 watt motor. This is the same criteria as Federal Public Law 107-319. I checked my facts with the law office of Spohn, Spohn & Zeigler at 144 East Center Street, Marion, OH 43302 on August 21, 2009. A low-speed electric bicycle does not require registration, insurance, license plates (tags), or a driver's license. The rules of an electric bicycle are the same as a traditional bicycle. There is some confusion caused by Ohio interchanging the word Moped with "motorized bicycle." If a dealer sells you a bike that follows the guidelines of Federal Public Law 107-319, then you have a bicycle. If the bike has no pedals or has a higher wattage motor than 750 watts or can travel faster than 20mph you have a moped or scooter; Ohio requires tags and registration for mopeds and scooters.
As of May 19, 2009, Nevada amended its state transportation laws to explicitly permit electric bicycles to use any "trail or pedestrian walkway" intended for use with bicycles and constructed with federal funding, and otherwise generally permits electric bicycles to be operated in cases where a regular bicycle could be. An electric bicycle is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals with an electric motor producing up to 1 gross brake horsepower and up to 750 watts final output, and with a maximum speed of up to 20 miles per hour on flat ground with a 170-pound rider when powered only by that engine.
But the good times of the stealthy ebike existence will not endure forever. The ebike market is growing steadily and more so, technology is driving performance up and costs down. The market for a green, lifestyle friendly, transportation technology, with GPS, theft ID, cell service and probably skim lattes is alive and driving an emerging market. It is a matter of time before we all must face and respond to the legal demands of the state and local laws. Not to be over obligatory about being legal and duty oriented, but I do call on my fellow ebikers to ride legal, whether ebike, moped or other. Go ahead and build the 1200W ebike of your dreams, but get it insured and licensed if you must. Such compliance will set the precedence for public acceptance of ebikes in general, and build a track record for expansion and mainstreaming of moped-speed ebikes for commuter value driven needs of the future.
Massachusetts General Laws define three classes of motorized two-wheeled vehicles: Motorcycle, Motorized bicycle, and Motorized scooter. Although the definition of motorized scooter includes two-wheeled vehicles propelled by electric motors with or without human power, motorized scooter specifically excludes anything which falls under the definitions of motorized bicycle and motorcycle. Motorized bicycle is a pedal bicycle which has a helper motor, or a non-pedal bicycle which has a motor, with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour. Motorcycle includes any bicycle with a motor or driving wheel attached, with the exception of vehicles that fall under the specific definition of motorized bicycle. Thus, a pedal bicycle with an electric motor or a non-pedal bicycle with an electric motor, automatic transmission, and maximum speed of 30 miles an hour would fall under the definition of motorized bicycle. An electric bicycle that did not meet those restrictions would be either a motorized scooter or motorcycle, depending on specific characteristics.
It is very important that sensors work well and that they are integrated/tuned for good usability. Although ebikes do need some initial mental adjustment from riders, some model do much better then others, e.g. most testers seem to prefer the TDS Impluse over the Stöckli E.T. over the Stromer (which model?) with respect to reactivity. Of course, usability is subjective and some people may prefer one behavior over an other. However, cheap bikes may be just plain bad and this is why test driving is important.
All classes of electric-assisted bicycles may be operated on a fully controlled limited access highway. Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles can be used on sidewalks, but Class 3 bicycles "may not be used on a sidewalk unless there is no alternative to travel over a sidewalk as part of a bicycle or pedestrian path." Generally a person may not operate an electric-assisted bicycle on a trail that is designated as non-motorized and that has a natural surface, unless otherwise authorized.
This article did a good job of trying to justify the assist speed limits but fell short of detailing how that can ever be effectively enforced. In reality the only enforcement that is going to work is applied speed limits to use of bikes and ebikes. For example, it makes sense that a bike lane on a street that the speed limit of vehicles is the speed limit of the bikes/ebikes. On sidewalks and shared pedestrian paths the speed limit probably does need to be in the 15-20mph range to match traditional bikes speeds on those paths.
The first mechanically-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle may have been built by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839, although the claim is often disputed. He is also associated with the first recorded instance of a cycling traffic offense, when a Glasgow newspaper in 1842 reported an accident in which an anonymous "gentleman from Dumfries-shire... bestride a velocipede... of ingenious design" knocked over a little girl in Glasgow and was fined five shillings.
Another type of electric assist motor, often referred to as the mid-drive system, is increasing in popularity. With this system, the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. In more typical configurations, a cog or wheel on the motor drives a belt or chain that engages with a pulley or sprocket fixed to one of the arms of the bicycle's crankset. Thus the propulsion is provided at the pedals rather than at the wheel, being eventually applied to the wheel via the bicycle's standard drive train.
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October 5, 2009 — Ontario is bringing in some new safety requirements for electric bikes. E-bikes, which can reach a speed of 32 kilometres per hour, are allowed to share the road with cars, pedestrians and other traffic throughout the province. The new rules limit the maximum weight of an e-bike to 120 kilograms, require a maximum braking distance of nine metres and prohibit any modifications to the bike's motor that would create speeds greater than 32 kilometres per hour. Also, riders must be at least 16 years of age, wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets and follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists. Municipalities will be able to decide where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails. E-bikes will not be permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Riding an e-bike under the age of 16 or riding an e-bike without an approved helmet carries fines ranging from $60 to $500. For all other traffic offences, e-bike riders will be subject to the same penalties as cyclists.
Conversion kits, on the other hand, are sold and installed separately on traditional bicycles. They are harder to setup and conceal, and require some basic mechanical ability and a little bit of ‘elbow grease’ to install. The advantage of conversion kits is that you can choose almost any standard bicycle, and you have the freedom to change or upgrade components as you go. A conversion kit will also allow you to achieve higher power and speed ratings that are not possible on most pre-built electric bike models. Kits are great for tall or heavy riders because they can opt for a larger bike, with higher power and weight carrying capacity. People living in hilly terrain may require the additional torque to handle extremely large inclines. For people who prefer a specific bike model or just love to go faster, a conversion kit offers enormous flexibility.