In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.
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32, 50, 45, 25, 30 ... Small number games? Brain jogging? No! This is about speed limits. About the speeds at which the motor assistance of a pedelec cuts off. That is to say at which the speed should be cut off, according to the opinion of various specialists. Although the legal regulations for normal pedelecs are clear at present: assistance until 25 kmh. Whatever has a faster propulsion is a bicycle which requires registration and among other things a registration number and a driver licence. However, the discussion has been given new impetus recently. Not least since Boris Palmer, Mayor of the Swabian city Tuebingen, publicly requested an increase of the permitted assistance from 25 to 30 kmh for pedelecs and from 45 to 50 kmh for speed pedelecs about one year ago. One of his arguments: Higher speeds would allow e-bike riders to go better with the flow of the traffic. Moreover, Palmer stated that a pedelec with a too low assistance speed became rather unattractive for certain target groups, such as for example for rather sporty commuters. They were already riding at this speed without motor assistance. That sounds logical.
In 2012 the project "GoPedelec" supported by the EU brought an exciting speed limit model into discussion. The maximum assistance speed should stand in relation to physical strength. A law that is already installed by sensor technology in high-end motors: The more watt self energy is introduced into the pedelec, the more energy is provided by the motor. By implication this means as legal regulation: Pedalling for example at no more than 50 watt means a motor assistance of only 15 kmh before the motor is cut off. More propulsion is only provided with more pedal force. The recommended maximum assisted speed of the project is 32 kmh.
This recommendation does not only meet Palmer’s demand, it is also based on experiences in the USA where the motors of pedelecs only stop from a speed of 20 miles per hour (33 kmh) on. The advantage of the stepped control: "Increased safety for all. Those whose legs are not very powerful and who will most probably not control their vehicle at higher speeds receive a lower maximum motor assistance", says Thomas Lewis, project coordinator of "GoPedelec".
TECHNOLOGY & INFRASTRUCTURE
This is technically possible, says Dirk Zedler, owner of the same-named institute for bicycle technology and safety in Ludwigsburg. "The latest, modern, high-end systems, such as the Bosch System, gather three parameters: speed, cadence and introduction of the rider’s force into the pedals. With a custom-made software these are able to control the motor output. Another question is the operational safety of the bicycles. Maybe they have to be designed for higher speeds." If such a regulation were enforced, the sworn bicycle expert sees another advantage: "The requirements concerning control and regulation of the pedelecs would be in a way that unsafe products which are actually not fit for the market would disappear."
Author: Andreas Baehren
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