Point of origin is the legal situation of the pedelec 25. Unlike the speed pedelec which requires a type approval anyway, it is in principle a bicycle with the fine distinction that it is subject to the European Machinery Directive. It therefore must be provided with a CE mark before being put on the market. By means of this mark the manufacturer assures conformity with all regulations of the Machinery Directive (keywords: risk analysis, EMC-test, operational strength test according to DIN EN).
The big question is, whether the bicycle may be modified just like that after it was put on the market for the first time, directly at the moment of purchase by the end-user or at a later date. This question led to a debate between ZIV and VSF triggered by the section in an article published in RadMarkt 01/2015 about a DVM workshop on speed pedelecs. Even though both associations do not have congruent opinions, it can be gathered from the comment of ZIV-lawyer Stefan Zdarsky that dealers must proceed with care and competence. Only appropriate parts must be assembled retrospectively. In addition, the dealer should request a declaration of no-objection from the manufacturer of the component, as for ex. Humpert recently started to offer.
Of course, it can be concluded from the VSF comment that this point still needs a more rigid response to be on the safe side in terms of liability. Any risk could be excluded by using exclusively those parts deviating from the original parts list which had been approved by the manufacturer of the bicycle. It is therefore recommended by the VSF association that the manufacturers establish a list of exchange parts. Such a list has recently been established by the manufacturer Riese und Mueller with the assistance of the legal advisor Ulf Blume who supports just like the expert Dirk Zedler this wider interpretation of the facts.
We’ll skip details of the comments as long as the debate is still in course. The important thing is that the associations are in principle of the same opinion that a new risk analysis becomes necessary when the electric bicycle was modified to a considerable extent. But what means considerable? For the ZIV association frame and motor are regarded as such constituent components that the dealer assumes all duties of a manufacturer, a thing which is actually beyond what they can render. For the VSF association, however, there are further components which modify a bicycle significantly. The handlebars are parts which are often changed to increase comfort. But this would change the position of the centre of gravity and have effects on the riding behaviour. Does this mean that you are only allowed to change the bell? That is something we need to talk about.
The legal framework for the modification of a pedelec in the shop is essential for the trade and needs clarification. In addition, the regulations must be practicable. It would therefore be most welcome that the associations would agree upon common policy in this question. The mentioned parties assured that they were already in contact; RadMarkt will keep you informed about the result.
Author: Michael Bollschweiler