Backdrop: Considering supply and demand and with a view to the consequences, there is a clear need for clarification on both topics from the associations' point of view. »Many users seem to be unaware of the serious consequences, including criminal offences, especially in the case of tuning.« Retrofitting bicycles with e-drives is another topic that is regarded as critical by the experts in view of the existing technical standards and requirements. Together with the industry the trade associations of the cycle industry have been campaigning for years to make tuning as difficult as possible and to inform users about the state of facts and the dangers.
E-bike tuning: that’s what you should know
While from the experts’ point of view, retrofitting a motor is more of a specialist topic for workshops, tuning, i.e. increasing the maximum design speed of e-bikes, is to sensitise primarily the broad awareness among consumers.
The fact is that according to the experts’ experience the suppliers of tuning kits do not provide their customers with sufficient information. Often it’s only mentioned in the small print that the use of such kits is not permitted on public roads. There is not a single word said to indicate that use in general can be dangerous, as the bicycle components are not designed for a higher permanent load. “Riding without driving licence” or “Driving without insurance protection” on public roads can be particularly serious.
An important fact to know: EPACs with tuning kits are no longer e-bikes, but motor vehicles that are moved in traffic without insurance protection and not allowed to be ridden for example on bicycle lanes.
Bicycles solely built and tested for muscle power
In their guidelines “Risks related to retrofitting bicycles with e-drives” trade associations of the cycle industry from the industry, commerce and trade explicit indicate that bicycles are designed and tested for being used with pure muscle power. Retrofitting them with special kits turns these bicycles at least into e-bikes 25 kmh/15.5 mph / EPACs that are subject to the Machinery and the EMC Directives (electromagnetic compatibility) and have to be tested accordingly. Finally, the retrofitting person would have to draw up a declaration of conformity what he usually cannot or is not allowed to do. With a higher power than 250 watts and more than 25 kmh / 15.5 mph pedal assistance it is a motor vehicle in terms of traffic law that requires individual approval, an operating licence from an authorized body.
Both new guidelines now available as download for free
Both German guidelines are now available for download as pdf files under this link and that link.
Finally, it should be noted that the European Union has adopted technical measures against tuning. The technical specification CEN/TS 17831 “Cycles - Electrically power assisted cycles - Anti-tampering measures - Reproducible tests fighting counterfeiting” will be published shortly. This lists various measures and tests that manufacturers of e-bikes must comply with.
Text: Jo Beckendorff/trade associations