Maybe the most confusing legal issue facing e-bike riders today is the difference between a bike lane and bike path. A bike lane is a marked section of roadway shared with motor vehicles. Bike paths pretty much universally prohibit the use of motorized vehicles. Still, you will need to research your area. As an example: “A path near our office specifically says “no motorized bicycles.” Yet, when we tracked down an employee who claimed to work enforcement on the path, he said that our e-bike was allowed.”8
Photo: Left: The hub motor of an electric bike. Right: If you took off the casing, this is the kind of thing you'd see. It's a simple brushless motor from a PC cooling fan, but it works in broadly the same way as a bike's hub motor. There's a static part made up of four electromagnet coils (left) and a rotating part (right) made from a permanent magnet (the gray ring) that clips onto it. When the coils are energized in sequence, they generate a magnetic field that makes the permanent magnet and fan spin around. At a glance, a hub motor looks much like an ordinary bicycle hub, but look closer and you'll find it's a lot more bulky.
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.
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 cycle "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 release of Garmin’s new Edge 520 Plus GPS bike computer made a big splash in the world of cycling. It was an impressive upgrade, likely a response to increasing competition from the likes of Wahoo. But the Garmin Edge 520 Plus upgrade has caused a little confusion, because it seems to offer the same mapping and navigation capabilities as the more expensive Edge 820 and 1030. We clear up the confusion with two in-depth posts, Garmin Edge 520 vs 520 Plus, and Garmin Edge 1030 vs 820 vs 520 Plus.
In Israel, persons above 16 years old are allowed to use pedal-assisted bicycle with power of up to 250W and speed limit of 25 km/hour. The bicycle must satisfy the European Standard EN15194 and be approved by the Standards Institution of Israel. A new law, effective January 10, 2019, states that riders under 18 who have no automobile license will need a special permit.   Otherwise, no license or insurance is required. Other motorized bicycles are considered to be motorcycles and should be licensed and insured as such. The maximum weight of the e-bike itself cannot exceed 30 kg.
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.
What's the Centros like? Big and heavy, but with enough power to overcome that, it really reminded me of a more upmarket Volt Pulse. You do tend to find that the weightier e-bikes give more of a feeling of speed, even though you're only doing 20mph or so at the absolute most (only up to 15mph with electrical assistance so you'll need leg muscles or a downward incline to get to that outlandish velocity).
Controllers for brushed motors: Brushed motors are also used in e-bikes but are becoming less common due to their intrinsic lower efficiency. Controllers for brushed motors however are much simpler and cheaper due to the fact they don't require hall sensor feedback and are typically designed to be open-loop controllers. Some controllers can handle multiple voltages.
DIY enthusiasts, with tens of thousands of converted bikes using throttle-only, 20+ mph kits, are now officially labeled Moped class. While these bikes handle and pedal-ride just as safely as the class 3 speed pedelecs in many cases, our DIY counterparts will be officially kicked out and left on their own for advocacy and legal acceptance in California. This is a big deal, without a class sticker, any DIY electric bike conversion kit is considered a Moped and not a bicycle.
The $3,099 MSRP is a bit daunting if you've not shopped for high-end bikes before, but it compares favorably with, say, Trek's electric bike lineup. That said, you can get a solid urban/commuter bike without a motor for well under $1,000. You can even score an e-bike for under a grand, but you'll likely be looking at a battery range of less than 40 miles, along with lower-quality components.
On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.
Rad Power’s lineup of 2019 bikes start at $1,699 (there’s also a Cyber Monday special on their 2018 models), proving that electric bikes don’t have to be over $2,000 to have the amenities and quality you need for daily commuting. Of course, that’s still a steep price for some. But as prices keep dropping in the e-bike industry, affordability breeds better access, and this might be the key that our cities—and their traffic—so desperately need.
As of 2008 a standard class C license, proof of insurance, and registration (annual fee: $9.00) are required for operation of any motorized pedalcycle in Pennsylvania. Additionally, there are strict equipment standards that must be met for operation, including: handlebars, brakes, tires/wheels, electrical systems/lighting, mirrors, speedometer, and horns/warning devices.
To qualify as an electric-assisted bicycle under state law they need to have a seat and fully operable pedals for human propulsion, meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, an electric motor that has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts, maximum speed of not more than 20 mph (electric motor and human power combined), disengages or ceases to function when the vehicle’s brakes are applied, two or three wheels