(…) "Pedelecs are dangerous, the industry however considers the legislation as sufficient, the quality does not undergo external examination – this should however be the case, as the products are apparently dangerous to life." This was the tenor of a six-minute report which was identical in its effect to the pedelec test carried out by the German product testers StiWa and the General German Automobile Association ADAC and which ignored entirely the differentiated consideration of our institute.
Because in the end my person was described contrary to my actual statements – according to my understanding - as "protagonist of unsafe bicycles" and this entirely unjustified. The situation set out in the report is in my opinion skewed, because the report was cut in a way that it contained only the statements matching the critical context of the SWR editorial department. My differentiations and the indication that there are enormous qualitative differences between committed suppliers of brands and free-riders were actually ignored, although everything had been recorded by the camera.
The qualitative differences of pedelecs on the market as well as the backgrounds had been discussed in detail with the SWR-editors beforehand; nevertheless they followed in their report the “leitmotiv” of the product testers and the ADAC. The consequences for the manufacturers are fatal, because they do not even know how to react, as the test criteria, which would be the basis for innovative working, are not made transparent.
The complete report is even less comprehensible when considering the background that the sad and severe accident of the described Mr. M. happened on a pedelec which had come out as test winner of the StiWa pedelec test 2011. The fact that this was not mentioned or possibly not researched, gives the story in this context a slightly grotesque touch: The StiWa tests are praised without publishing the test criteria, as described, and a pedelec that was StiWa test winner is used as horrifying vision of deficient quality. Even against this background the editorial department of “Plusminus” unswervingly follows the StiWa and ADAC line: The non-existence of safety checks of the products by third parties would results in deficient products and that after all on the complete market. This marginalizes, in plain language, a complete sector.
It would have been easy to report according to the actual situation on the market and to also criticize deficiencies as they are pointed out again and again by the Zedler institute. But also by depicting the different qualities on the market, which is what counts after all to find a safe pedelec. This tenor, however, does nobody any service. Neither the consumers who are only confused, nor the manufacturers who are not only affected by StifWa’s lack of transparency, but also punished wholesale. And neither again the master mechanics who committedly and seriously keep an eye on the operational safety of their bicycles.
Nevertheless: To avoid such reports in future we must keep on working on our absolutely ecological, economical and sound products giving us so much fun. It is, however, also important to build up a strong lobby by fusioning our associations, our retailer cooperatives etc. otherwise, we will experience such kind of reporting again and again.
Last but not least the working on the production of standards should pick up speed quickly. Since the installation of the European standards in 2006 one had missed to correct mistakes and to introduce urgent improvements. At present, I can only recommend to the manufacturers to test their products beyond the standard and not only in terms of operational strength, but also in view of the riding characteristics. A field that has not been considered at all by the standard to date, in spite of attempts from our side.
Author: Alexander Schmitz