The first lecture already opened a Pandora’s Box by overrunning. Speaker Dirk Zedler had been announced to read on the CE-marking of electric bikes. The lecture was expected to take no more than a quarter of an hour, as the state of facts were actually simple: Bicycle manufacturers must explain the conformity of their electric bike with the relevant regulations, such as the machinery directive: in a declaration of conformity and with a CE-sticker on the bike.
However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Because the declaration must comply with the truth, i.e. the bicycle must be as safe as required by the legislator. In view of this aim, manufacturers have to do a lot of things, e.g. the have to make a risk assessment. This means that they have to weigh the potential risks against the probability of occurrence. The persons acting on behalf of the market surveillance had a poor knowledge about bicycles, but knew a lot about regulations and forms. They checked the conformity not only at the manufacturers’ facilities, but also in bicycle shops and could stop the sale of e-bikes. In Lower Saxony the authorities were doing this with the help of an eleven page long control sheet.
But it was not only this. Because Zedler broadened the discussion, he no only spoke about the CE-marking. He recalled the product liability law and the product safety law. He stated that the products would have to meet the state of the art in science and technology. And that the supplier of the bicycle would have to be from within the European Union, otherwise the importing dealer were the manufacturer. This was indeed the biggest fun killer in Zedler’s lecture. The dealer becomes faster the manufacturer than he thinks, with all obligations and risks. He buys custom-made bicycles from a wholesaler, but provides them with his own brand name. And already he is the manufacturer.
He receives used bicycles in payment and resells them. And already he is the manufacturer. Rebuilding e-bikes is a delicate subject. A sales talk often results in an order placement, but only by mounting another saddle and another handlebar to the e-bike for comfort reasons. This renders, however, the conformity null and void. The manufacturer delivers a parts list which has to be observed strictly, even if worn parts have to be replaced at a later date. To mount another component the dealer must ask the manufacturer for a written approval of this component.
Zedler’s lecture left lots of forehead wrinkles in the audience.
Text: Michael Bollschweiler