A group of German organizations have developed a more pragmatic solution: They have developed guidelines for replacement parts that spell out when retailers must use original parts, and when they can use similar parts.
The guidelines, published in 2015 and updated this year, are the result of a collaboration between Verbund Service Fahrrad e.V. (VSF), a German service and bicycle association; Zweiradindustrieverband (ZIV), the German two-wheeler industry association; and Bundesinnungsverband (BIV), the umbrella organization for german industry guilds.
The replacement parts guidelines classify pedelec components in four categories, from most to least critical. Category l, for example, includes components that should never be modified and should be replaced only by original replacement parts. All electric components of the motor fall into Category l.
Retailers have a little more flexibility for components that are classified as Category 3. These are parts that can be replaced by similar components from the same manufacturer, as long as the dimensions are the same.
For example, a Shimano Deore 10-speed chain and sprocket can be replaced by XT-series components and vice versa, as long as the chain width and sprocket range are identical.
The newest version of the replacement parts guidelines explains the restrictions on replacing certain components.
Retailers still need access to a variety of original parts, which means bike manufacturers need to keep these parts in stock. Bike manufacturers, in turn, have to work with their suppliers, such as stem and handlebar makers, to ensure that their retailers have access to CE-compliant replacement parts even after a particular pedelec model is discontinued.
We recommend that retailers consider the availability of such replacement components when deciding which brands to carry in their stores.
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