EU Group Wants to Up E-Bike Power to 1000 Watts

Dispute arises over whether increasing the available power to e-bikes should cause them to be reclassified as e-mopeds.

Published: 15-Feb-2012

A war of words has erupted over proposed changes to EU laws on electric bikes. At present, for an e-bike to be treated as a bicycle its assisted speed must be limited to 15mph/25kmh and its engine must have a maximum continuous power rating of 250w. If it exceeds these limits, it's classed as a moped and vehicle tax, helmet use and third party insurance become compulsory

The European Twowheelers Retailers Association is lobbying to increase the power limit – but not the speed limit – of pedelecs (bikes where power kicks in automatically on pedalling) to 1kw. It also wants all throttle-controlled electric bikes to be classed as e-bikes, not e-mopeds, as long as they fall within these limits.

At present, EU law states that the motor alone can't be used to propel the bicycle. This has widely been interpreted as allowing throttle-controlled e-bikes, as long as the throttle only works when the pedals are turning.* The new proposals, which are to be voted on by a plenary session of the EU Parliament later this month, would remove this requirement, allowing use of "twist and go" throttles which work independently of pedalling.

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