All about bicycles, electric-assisted bikes, technology and safety in the press

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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RadMarkt 05/2016
Reading time 2:30 minutes

Dirk Zedler: Replacement parts guidelines for pedelecs

German bicycle workshops are more on the safe side when modifying or repairing pedelecs when they follow the replacement parts guidelines worked out by the two German bicycle associations VSF and ZIV together with Zedler-lnstitut für Fahrradtechnik und -Sicherheit.

Dirk Zedler explains the background and the realization: Due to their motor assistance, pedelecs (unlike bicycles) are subject to mandatory CE-marking. Everyone who brings a pedelec on the European market (as manufacturer or importer) confirms by applying the CE-mark that the product complies with the relevant safety regulations (among other things with the product safety law) and that the respective parts lists, test protocols and risk assessments are available. So far, it was only in the case of an accident that the correctness of the marking was checked. At present, however, checks were allegedly made as a precautionary measure and the misuse of the mark was prosecutable.

In workshop practise this means that the dealer is actually not allowed to modify the pedelec. He is, for example, not allowed to replace the handlebar just like that, as the vehicle then no longer complies with the parts list on which the CE-marking was based. A new risk analysis is then necessary. If you replace a straight handlebar against a high riser handlebar, this would make sense, explains Zedler, as the changed position of the rider would change the axle load and the pedelec’s riding behaviour completely.

In the event of repair, the workshop should therefore use an original part. However, if this part is no longer available, because it was removed from the parts manufacturer’s product range, you should ask the vehicle manufacturer’s approval for the alternative part or follow the replacement parts guidelines. The guidelines classify the parts in various categories: For example parts for which the approval of the pedelec manufacturer is needed, for which the approval can also be given by the parts manufacturer or parts for which no special approval is necessary. This means, for example, you are allowed to replace the inner tube, as long as the valve remains the same. For modifications there is also a plausible frame: It is, for example, possible to install a handlebar with another rise, as long as you do not have to change the lengths of the cables. All modifications should be documented by writing in the workshop.

The guidelines had allegedly no statutory character, but were a pragmatic approach to what dealers can do without running a risk. Zedler considers the mandatory CE-marking also as a chance: It would provide more safety for the users, because the dealer had a means to explain to the users why they wouldn’t want and were not allowed to make absurd modifications. On the other hand this would lead to a better brand loyalty: If, for example, Flyer would state "All Humpert handlebars, level 5 to 6, can be used", than the customer would decide to take these. In addition, Zedler expects a further professionalization of the sector, because good manufacturers and dealers will win out.

Author/photo: vz

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