Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sought feedback for proposed laws and regulations on electric bicycle in the United States. Comments were taken up until May 14, 2024, and we’ll be hearing soon what changes may be coming. Until then, these are changes that I would and would not like to see.

The commission’s desire is to reduce the risk of injury from the use of ebikes. There are already regulations on the books, but some feel more laws and requirements are needed.

Proposed Changes For Ebikes Are:

  • Creating and Enforcing Minimum Performance Requirements
  • Possibly Capping Wattage or Speed
  • Creating a New Category for High-Speed Ebikes
  • Regulating Tire Size
  • Creating Regulations for Ebike Lights
  • Regulations on Kid’s Ebikes

Of the proposed changes on this list, one that I do agree with is creating minimum performance requirements, especially for high-speed ebikes. As someone who has tested ebikes that are capable of speeds higher than 28 MPH, I most certainly believe that there should be minimum requirements for brakes, suspension, frame integrity, and tire strength.

Minimum Requirements for High Speed Ebikes Are Needed

Mechanical disc brakes are not enough to reliably stop a heavy ebike going over 30 mph. They wear out much faster, and don’t have the capability to stop that much force in a sufficient amount of a time. I think cargo ebikes should have a minimum of 180 mm rotors and hydraulic braking systems.

Too many ebike companies, especially in the past, cheaped out on this essential safety. Lately, I’ve been seeing better brakes, but that is probably due to lawsuits and customer injuries.

juiced hyperscorpion
Moped-Style Ebike

Higher speeds also require frames and suspension that can handle hitting bumps in the road. Speed wobble can be deadly. A tire blowing out at high speeds creates the same danger. So, I do believe minimum requirements need to be set for high-speed ebikes.

---Ads---



---------

A New Category for High-Speed Ebikes Is Needed

There are currently three classifications for ebikes. Class 1 are ebikes that are capable of pedaling speeds up to 20 mph. Class 2 are ebikes with a throttle capable of reaching 20 mph. Class 3 are ebikes that can reach 28 mph using pedal assistance. Legally, the max speed for an ebike throttle is 20 mph.

There are many moped-style ebikes that can exceed these limits. Ebikes companies get around these requirements by saying that they are for off-road situations on private land. But, we all know that riders are using these bikes on roads.

I owned a moped-style ebike that could reach 34 mph. I could change the settings of the bike myself, making it a Class 2 or Class 3 ebike, or setting it into off-road mode for the highest speeds.

I couldn’t register it as a moped because it wasn’t street legal, though it was basically the equivalent of a 50cc scooter. I’d like to see a new classification for such ebikes, and minimum performance requirements to ensure they’ll be safe around traffic on city streets.

Yes, this means registration, insurance and licensing, but this would enable high-speed ebikes to have a place on city streets.

Max Speeds Should Be Set For Trails, Not Bikes

I believe speed limits should be set for individual trails and bike lanes, instead of enforcing max speeds for ebikes. Honestly, I’ve been passed by cyclist on road bikes far more often than someone on an ebike.

---Ads---

-------------

Most of the people on ebikes are the 50+ crowd in my city. They’re not flying up and down the bike paths like maniacs.

RadExpand 5
RadExpand 5

It does make sense to have speed limits on trails, for any type of bike. Where pedestrians and bicycles mix, this is especially true. It’s like going back to the car speed limit analogy. Cars are capable of exceeding posted speed limits, but it’s up to the driver to comply. If he or she doesn’t, there are consequences.

Regulations for Lighting Makes Sense for Some Ebikes

For most ebikes, I don’t believe minimum standards for lights are necessary, unless we’re going to require the same lighting requirements for regular bicycles. For high-speed high ebikes, good lighting is a welcome safety feature, since they are often ridden on the road like a moped. Brake lights and turn signals need to be visible from a certain distance, like on a motorcycle. Headlights need to provide proper lighting for the rider to respond in time.

I don’t see the same need for most ebikes, however, like the Class 1 ebike pictured below.

Velotric T1 ST

Regulations for Kids Ebikes

I do agree that regulations should exist for ebikes designed specifically for kids, such as max wattage and max speed. There are already age restriction in place for Class 3 ebikes in most places.

Concluding Thoughts

I do believe that some changes are needed in the regulation of ebikes, but I don’t want the United States, adopting overly strict regulations, like is seen in Europe. Such restrictions aren’t necessary here, because our cities are built differently. There is a place for high-speed ebikes, and I’d like to see a new category created for them. They could help take a lot of cars off the road.

Mostly, I’d hope that any new regulations are purely for the benefit of the rider and the public, and not simply meant to become another source of tax revenue.

Categorized in:

News,

Last Update: June 25, 2024