Page 1 of 5

Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:22 am
by ColinOldnCranky
The legality of electric bikes is regularly discussed so I suppose I am breaking some netiquette. But I think this sub forum should be the area it is hosted in so here goes.

What is the definitive law for electric bikes? On paths? On the road? Much is reported but seldom sourced.

For example, My understanding in WA is that the 10kph is not associated with 200w electric bikes but is, rather, a limit on the capability of gophers and such that have a motor in excess of 200w and would otherwise require a license. But head onover to and the two issues are merged into one.
"MOTORISED bicycles with engines of more than 200W and capable of travelling at more than 10km/h are classified as motorcycles under the Traffic Act, making it illegal to ride them on paths or the road, even with a valid driver’s licence."

I have trolled around the WA Govt acts and regs site but thiere is much I have not found.

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 2:21 pm
by Joeblake
Assuming the article was written by somebody who knew what they were talking about, I think the important word is actually the conjunctive "and". For a vehicle to be classed as a moped it would have to meet BOTH conditions, of having a motor of greater than 200 watts AND be capable of more than 10 km/h. An unassisted bicycle with a moderately powerful rider can easily exceed 10 km/h, whereas the mobility assistance machines probably wouldn't exceed 10 km/h, even if they have motors more powerful than 200 watts.

Looked at in that light, it's a pretty grey area to be sure.

It would seem that it would be possible to be charged if I were doing (say) 35 km/h but the motor was not working, since it is governed to only 16 km/h.

I certainly wouldn't want to go before a court using that article as a reference, but I'll have a bit of a dig around myself and perhaps we could start up a thread with links to definitive legislation in each state, and see if we can make some sense of it all.


Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 2:47 pm
by KenGS
Starting with the definition of a bicycle we have in the Victorian Road Safety Rules:
bicycle means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be propelled by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor), and—
(a) includes a pedicab, penny-farthing and tricycle; but
(b) does not include a scooter, wheelchair, wheeled recreational device, wheeled toy, or any vehicle with an auxiliary motor capable of generating a power output over 200 watts (whether or not the motor is operating);

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 3:26 pm
by Joeblake
Here's a link to the latest (Feb '09) version of the Australian Road Rules

(It's quite big, about 400 pages)


Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 3:44 pm
by DarrylH
The laws that I have trolled through seem pretty standard with the main rule being max power of 200w with no speed definition.

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 3:47 pm
by Joeblake
This link seems to have already done the collation of laws from different states.

And one from Western Australia (fact sheet, not legislation) ... _bikes.pdf


Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 4:22 pm
by blkmcs
In WA a power assisted pedal cycle is defined here.
Road Traffic Act 1974
Preliminary Part I
s. 5
power assisted pedal cycle means a vehicle designed to be
propelled through a mechanism operated solely by human
power, to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion
motors having a combined maximum output not exceeding 200

A power assisted pedal cycle is defined as a bicycle here
Road Traffic (Bicycles) Regulations 2002
3. Interpretation
(1) In these regulations, unless the contrary intention appears —
bicycle means —
(a) any 2 wheeled vehicle, not being a scooter, that is
designed to be propelled solely by human power;
(b) any 3 wheeled vehicle, intended for use on a road, that is
designed to be propelled solely by human power; or
(c) a 2 wheeled or 3 wheeled vehicle that is a power assisted
pedal cycle

However the definition changes here
Road Traffic Code 2000
Part 1 Preliminary
r. 3
bicycle means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be
propelled by human power through a belt, chain or gears
(whether or not it has an auxiliary motor) —
(a) including a pedicab, penny-farthing and tricycle; but
(b) not including a wheelchair, wheeled recreational device,
wheeled toy, scooter or a power-assisted pedal cycle (if
the motor is operating

So it appears that when the motor is off it is a bicycle but when the motor is on it is something else, haven't found out what yet. :?

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 11:30 am
by x8pg2qr
Reading that page. I had no idea these were legal in NSW, but they are…

Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch

Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:16 pm
by KenGS
blkmcs wrote:So it appears that when the motor is off it is a bicycle but when the motor is on it is something else, haven't found out what yet. :?

You are looking at laws from three differnt times: 1974, 2002 and 2000
Presumably the latest definition (2002) supersedes the others. You need to check which is current

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:27 pm
by aussiejeff
blkmcs wrote:In WA a power assisted pedal cycle is defined here.
Road Traffic Act 1974
Preliminary Part I
s. 5
power assisted pedal cycle means a vehicle designed to be
propelled through a mechanism operated solely by human
power, to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion
motors having a combined maximum output not exceeding 200

Being complete tosspots when it comes to knowing ANYTHING about electric motors, they have conveniently neglected to accurately define "maximum output" as being (a) Continuous or (b) Peak power. Currently, electric motors for bicycles are mostly rated at their CONTINUOUS power output (ie a power setting that can be maintained almost indefinitely without incurring any damage whatsoever to the motor or windings).

These ratings are usually VERY conservative for obvious reasons of offering a "reliable" product that should give many trouble free years of service (though some manufacturers of "cheaper" quality motors might be pushing the "rating" envelope a bit!)

What these "authorities" who set the laws fail to realise is that a motor rated, say, at 36V 200W with a 14A controller that has a natural unloaded max speed of 25kph will pull approx 540W going uphill under max amps!! So much for their "maximum output" rubbish. If 200W really WAS to be the maximum "peak" output under max load, the continuous rating would have to be down around 80W or so :shock: - not enough to pull the skin off a runny custard, let alone even think of climbing ANY sort of slope - clearly NOT desirable!! :mrgreen:

Obviously, there needs to be a National approach to this, with Federal laws overriding state bumpf. Having all these stupid, confusing, illogical and wildly varying state laws really is madness and certainly does us no credit in the eyes of international tourists IMO. The sooner this situation is resolved, the better we can all get on with enjoying the benefits of e-biking without having to worry about whether we are "legal" or not...

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:26 am
by hartleymartin


Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:43 pm
by glowwormbicycles
The definitive laws in writing have been posted in this forum thread and are generally interpreted as:

- it has to have pedals
- it has to be below 200W (but we don't know what that means or how to measure it)
- it can go whatever speed it wants

What is not generally agreed upon in NSW is whether or not a throttle is legal. My opinion is that it is legal, but the confusion comes from the fact that a judge once declared a certain electric scooter (with pedals) as illegal because the motor was the primary source of the scooter's power. IMHO, he judged this way because it was clearly not what was intended by the laws (it was a motor scooter with full fairing and little pedals, weighed 70kg and could go 40km/h on motor alone and was probably around 2000W peak output), but it was too difficult to declare it above 200W because they (RTA and NSW Police) didn't know what that meant or how to measure it, so instead used his discretion to declare that the vehicle in question did not have an 'auxiliary motor'.

Just because a judge said that doesn't mean a throttle that can make an ebike move by itself is categorically illegal, it would be up to a judge in each case to decide if the ebike had an 'auxiliary motor' or not.

My philosophy on these things remains the same:

If it's reasonably low powered and not too fast and if it looks like a bicycle, then the Police won't notice or care and other users of the bike paths won't complain. Furthermore, in front of a judge it would like just like a pedal assist bike and you'd be fine. When the new laws come in, if ever they do, we might be able to say the same as above except replace 'reasonably low powered' with something definitive and 'not too fast' with 25km/h. But other than that, little will change. Sure there are many borderline ebike/mopeds/scooter cases but I'm not that interested in those ones and once the 25km/h law comes in, they'll be ruled out.

And those horrible petrol powered things - they aren't illegal by default but they have little chance of being below 200W and they attract attention from police and the public, so they tend to get in trouble. The reason more people don't end up in court with those is they generally self destruct (the petrol bikes and or the people) before the local cops stop them enough times to take it further.

Re: Legal issues - what are the DEFINITIVE laws

Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:04 pm
by Joeblake
glowwormbicycles wrote:
Just because a judge said that doesn't mean a throttle that can make an ebike move by itself is categorically illegal, it would be up to a judge in each case to decide if the ebike had an 'auxiliary motor' or not.

As a court reporter, I have worked on many cases where previous decisions by judges (even in other countries eg UK) are quoted as precedent law in Australian courts. Once a decision has been made by one decider of fact, it's usually easier for second court to follow that precedent. That's not to say a subsequent case can't overturn a previous decision, but it usually means that more work has to be done, by both counsel and judges, to get the interpretation changed.


Proposal to change definition of power assisted cycles

Posted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:01 am
by alan101
Hi all.

I've been posting content on a national proposal to change the definition of power assisted cycles (includes ebikes) in a Bicycle Victoria forum thread. I favour the 50 watt (0.07hp) increase in power to 250w (0.34hp), but find the 25kmh speed limit and pedalec throttle system abhorrent. I currently ride a 200w Jamis ebike up to 34kmh, before the motor fizzes and I just let go the throttle and crank it. This is usually with a tail wind or off a RR hill. I was doing a regular 200w ebike 1-2x/wk 34.4km (one way) commute in 1'15" Werribee to Melb CBD for 2 years, and recently retired. The legislation proposal was work-shopped by NSW RTA, and currently (9/2010) resides with fed Dept of Infrastructure, Road Safety Standards Unit.

The 250w/25kmh proposal is being driven by compliance issues in NSW; and not for promoting fitness, reducing traffic congestion or climate abatement. It is not in the best interest of the ebike genre. Adopting the EU standard is not culturally appropriate in Australia, and a lazy way to update our standard. The new legislation will affect the Australian Standard and Road law for the next 10 years. The process has taken 2 years to date, and is copying someone else's standard! Pedalec introduces undesirable ride characteristics with starting (power kicks in hard (AT) 6kmh) and at 23-25kmh power cuts out making it awkward in traffic. Bikes in traffic are safest when they are moving closest to traffic speed, and merge well with the flow.

For a paper trail on a proposal to update the 30y old Aust Standard that set 200w as the ebike limit (being power a fit male can output), see this thread.
'NSW looking at electric bike wattage limit': ... &start=150.

Another BV thread of general interest around ebikes is 'Bikes for the non-cyclist' : ... 58#p481358

Werribee ebiker

Submission to Bicycle Vic Board re 250w/25kmh law: no

Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:46 pm
by alan101
Preliminary response to my submission to Bicycle Victoria's Board - on not endorsing the 250w/25kmh pedalec standard from the EU as an Australian Standard.

'The board received your submission and considered the matter at our meeting just last Monday (27/10/10). You will receive a letter of response but basically the board remains committed to the adoption of a single Australian standard for e-bikes as proposed by the NSW RTA and a speed limit at 25 kmh. There will be more detail about our reasoning in the letter you will soon receive'.

From a separate source I was told that my 13p submission was reduced to a single page and given to the board for consideration near the end of the meeting. I was not allowed to present a case before the board.

A few things come to mind with this. A Qld ebike manuf/retailer told me that regular bike retailers and the lycra brigade are the worst enemies of ebikes. This outcome rather endorses that viewpoint, although the link I make is tenuous. He also found that Bicycle NSW gave a similar deaf ear to his attempts to raise technical ebike issues.

The paper which I presented had 33 points, and 5 appendices of technical discussion. I don't believe the board have considered the ebike issue in any sort of informed manner. I had discussion with 2 ebike manuf/retailers, an ABC New Inventor, a UK pedalec expert and others whose opinions went into the submission. No one who appreciates ebikes thinks 25kmh pedalec speed limiting is good for the genre. So the question arises, who are the Bicycle Victoria Board supporting, because it isn't people involved with ebikes. The proposed standard represents a 25% decrease in ebike speed capability, in exchange for a 0.07hp increase in power to 0.34hp.

I wouldn't recommend ebikers joining Bicycle Victoria for representation.

This reply to me today from a UK pedalec expert, 'It's sad isn't it Alan, exactly the same as the sort of reply we get in Britain, "Thanks very much but we'll just carry on as we intended", so you already know what to expect in their full reply. This sort of governance makes a mockery of democracy, just blocking any participation in decision making, no matter how well informed'.

250w/25kmh: ebike sector in Oz not consulted

Posted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:38 pm
by alan101
I wrote this to a pedalec expert in UK 1/10/10 Fri.

What is substantively missing with this 250w/25kmh proposal in Oz is any discussion with the exisiting ebike sector. I've talked with EVS, who are now Australia's biggest ebike distributor (AustPost contract), and they're not happy about 25kmh speed limiting or pedalec throttle control. Elation in Qld was deeply dismayed with the process, and he's been going 5 years with ebikes.

The other bias in this legislative proposal is that pedestrian safety on shared paths is given high importance, leading to the 23-25kmh power cutoff to motor. It ignores that a cyclist can ride to the prevailing conditions. However, the benefit of bikes travelling >30kmh in traffic so they merge with the traffic flow easier is not addressed at all.

I now know that Bicycle Vic and Bicycle NSW are apparently bent on marginalising ebike capability with a 25% cutback in speed (the 23-25kmh power cutout to motor) in exchange for a 50 watt (0.07hp) gain to become 250w (0.34hp). This trade-off just doesn't stack up for existing ebike manuf/retailers and current users. On my 34km ebike commute (1'15"), it probably adds 20 mins.

This leaves the possibility that some big retail chain is holding sway, based on the sweet sell of 'great ebikes in every shop and elec-mechanics in every workshop' that I've heard. A bike mechanic here told me that the Aust bike sector is really quite small, and it isn't hard for individuals to push themselves up the food chain in bicycle groups. Funny I say quite small, because bikes have outsold cars the last few years.

UK pedalec expert replied to me (1/10/10)

That exactly parallels our experience, no-one in our e-bike sphere has been involved in discussion about the laws set by parliament and the EU agenda is mainly influenced by Holland where they have no hills to speak of but do have the largest proportion of bike users in any European country. For the Dutch 250 watts is plenty and being predominantly utility cyclists, 25 kph is plenty fast enough for getting the shopping and riding to school or work on local cyclepaths. For us in Britain having large areas dominated by hills and where commuting distances into our large cities can be long and mixed with motor traffic, we need both more power for climbing and 35 kph to keep commuting times and speeds sensible, but we have no way of getting those. This is why I so clearly understand your situation and frustration.

On the other hand I can see why the EU is guided the way it is. The Dutch with just 16 million population buy around 350,000 e-bikes a year currently. Britain with 60 million population buys 20,000 in a good
year, so of course it's the Dutch they are mainly guided by since their e-bike buying and usage rate is nearly 50 times that of Britain's. The other low countries and Germany also have very high e-bike sales, and indeed those countries also have very much higher ordinary bike usages too, so it's understandable they get much more say than us.

There's another reason why Britain won't get any increase out of Europe, we've already had one on speed and are about to get a second one, this time on power, meaning our chances of a repeat on those is minimal. Our original EAPC regulations were for 200 watts and 12 mph (19 kph) assist power limit, but some while ago to nearly harmonise with the EU the assist limit was raised to 15 mph (24 kph) and we are about to have the 250 watts finally made fully legal.

I'm sure you are right about major players being the influence there. With the main e-bike sources being China, Japan and now Germany, the latter two already having 250watt and 25 kph laws and China producing to those standards, the pressure from business interests is mainly going to be for low cost conformity, not expensive diversity.

Chinese law, Japan and EU ebikes.

Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:57 am
by alan101
From my ebike supplier in Melb, I've heard that Chinese ebikes are really more e-mopeds (don't really pedal) and are now running at 48v. A trade journal mentioned that Chinese ebikes generally travel 30-35kmh. This discussion almost reads as an ad for the proposed 250w/25kmh legislation regime currently proposed for Australia. I warm to it, and then get the nagging feeling about ebike speed limiting 23-25kmh pedalec cutout to motor. This chap is very knowledgeable on ebikes.

From personal email with UK pedalec expert, 2/10/10.:
The Chinese legal position has been high power with low assist speed, their so called e-bikes are in fact what we would think of as mopeds with rudimentary pedals. Generally approaching 700 watts rating and scarcely needing pedals, the assist limit is 12 mph but that's been universally ignored, 20 mph being common. I was aware that they were tryng to crack down now, but with not much success. Of course in some of their towns and cities e-bikes are totally banned and in other main centres they are banned from certain routes on the grounds that they > hold up cars!

Japan has long had a large domestic market for e-bikes, exports being from Yamaha and Panasonic, mainly to Taiwan and Europe. I knew they hardly appeared there in Australia due to their 250 watts rating. Yamaha were our largest selling Japanese brand for a long time, but the position has reversed with a number of European and Swiss makes using the Panasonic units and Yamaha only represented by the use of their unit in the Hungarian Gepida e-bikes. In mainland Europe's cycling countries Chinese e-bikes sell very much less these days, the market dominated by the European and Swiss brands, plus Giant of Taiwan. One main reason for that is the sophistication of the pedelec systems on the throttle-less Japanese and European designs, Chinese pedelec controls being mostly crude rubbish and general bike quality iffy. This comment from "Blew it" in our forum illustrates what I mean, the Kalkhoff Sahel being Panasonic > powered and German quality:

"After climbing Blunsdon hill, I popped into the E-bike shop for a cuppa. While they were brewing up, I went for quick spin on a £2.5K hub-motored bike, talk about chalk and cheese. After riding Sahel for
four days the difference was immediately noticeable. Crude power delivery, harsh ride even though it had front suspension, nowhere near as nice to ride."

If you do get the pedelec only law I'm sure your market will change too, our British one also drifting strongly towards the European made bikes now. Europe is increasingly getting it's own power units too, the direct drive Sparta unit, the Daum now and of course the long established Heinzmann, plus new entrants from Bosch, Siemens and Smart (Mercedes). Japan also has Sunstar, Dapush and Shimano motors now added to Panasonic and Yamaha. There's a new Swiss hub motor appearing in some French and German bikes and Canadian BionX sales are currently expanding rapidly in Europe. Exciting times!

Pedalec is bionic assist (UK)

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:17 am
by alan101
From UK pedalec expert to me 3/10/10.

Yes I suppose my mail did show the good sides, but they are real. For example, pedelec means that power is only there while pedalling, meaning it's impossible for the police to tell by sight if the motor is assisting you when doing over 25 kph or whether you are doing it on your own. Pedelecs like the Panasonic and Yamaha crank/chain drive units don't have continuously running motors anyway, the systems are truly bionic. The motors are servo ones in effect, applying thrust pulses during each pedal downstroke on the torque sensor and accurately mimicking the leg muscles pressure on the pedals. In standard mode you have your normal strength doubled, in High Power mode it's multiplied to two and a half or three times normal strength depending on model. To up the assist speed on the hub gear models you just change the rear sprocket for less that £5, any assist speed limit from 17 to 20 mph available. You can't do that on a hub motor bike! Derailleurs not so flexible since that means changing the cassette cluster and there are limits for how far that can increase top gear unless a wide range hub gear is used, Rohloff, SRAM DualDrive or NuVinci CVT.

The 12 mph Chinese assist speed limit is with or without pedalling, the motor is supposed to cut at that, but none of them do. The gearing is usually single speed and very low, usually only possible to pedal to about 10 mph with legs spinning fast. This is what a typical Chinese e-bike looks like, this one sold in England with 250 watts only but 680 watts in China:

Ebikes on Vic shared paths (w/ pedestrains)

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:13 pm
by alan101
Hi all. I'm coming in late here, but anyway... I've been ebike commuting 34km in Victoria from Werribee to Melb CBD. I had 16km off-road on the Federation Trail and about 5km off-road around Docklands, with both being shared trails. There's no restriction in Victoria on using a 200w ebike on shared paths, given that 200w is about the power that a fit male can put out.

With currently proposed 250w/25kmh legislation, ebikes would have pedalec throttle control to cut out power to the motor at 23-25kmh. This is largely predicated around pedestrian safety on shared paths. It ignores that riders have a brain and can ride to the conditions.

However, it completely misses that cyclists are safest in traffic when their speed is most closely matched to the traffic. In crowded city traffic, traffic may move at 40-50 kmh, so an ebike doing 32kmh is safer than someone on an unassisted bike riding at 12kmh. If you're riding a car's tail, no one is going to cross your path and cut you off.

My 200w Jamis ebike travels happily at 28-32kmh in up to 15kn (24kmh) headwinds. Speed drops to 24-26kmh in 15-25kn headwinds. For a 34km commute, the ebike gave you a good workout but also stamina to reliably cover the distance in 1'15".

Some historic depth on 250w/25kmh legislative proposal

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:37 pm
by alan101
I found this reference today, which gives some depth to the Aust 250w/25kmh legislative proposal. Alan Parker (74y ebiker) has been lobbying for 250w ebikes to be made legal in Australia for quite some time.

PEST (People for Ecologically Sustainable Transport) was created by a small group of transport activists in 1996 to promote the need for an ecologically sustainable transport system.
In the upper right hand corner of this URL, click on 'Recent publications' to view his lobbying work for ebikes.

He makes an interesting case that NSW RTA have mandated for limits on ebikes which have allowed some of the worst examples of ebikes and e-scooters to be sold in NSW, while simultaneously keeping out the best 250w ebikes from Japan and Europe. Japan, in particular, devised their ebike laws scientifically and with govt support to help specific population segments with low cost sustainable transport. NSW RTA failed to cite Japan's ebike reference material in it's reporting, and appear to have obfuscated against improved ebike standards in Australia for years.

Ebikes for the elderly and disabled.

Posted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:13 pm
by alan101
Elderly and disabled. The pedalec concept eliminates a throttle, and forces you to pedal to access motor power. A comment from a UK review: 'My dealer was somewhat horrified and basically told the supplier that he wouldn't be able to sell bikes without the throttle control (much of his clientèle are elderly and not able to pedal effectively)'. And another: 'I really wanted the Wispa Folder but opted for the IZIP as it had the throttle, something I felt I still needed as I cant always just use pedal power due to health issues (yawn!)'.

Comment from Melbourne ebike retailer. Sales to the under 40 year age group comprise a significant proportion of disabled persons. For a wheel chair bound child to be able to use a powered ebike to ride with his/her mates is wholly transformational. This group use ebikes out of necessity. Young people don't like the stigma attached to a mobility scooter, but are out in the thick of it with an ebike and no longer disabled. Specifically, this group require a throttle and not pedalec control.

An ebiker with 1 leg was mentioned, who is able to get moving with the throttle and then competently pedal. Otherwise, starting off is difficult. Good for his health and excellent transport. Generalise this across to older people who've got hip or knee replacements. Again, a throttle rather than pedalec control is preferred. Committed cyclists with injuries are another group that buy ebikes to get a leg over.

The UK are about to eliminate throttles and make pedalec power access standard to comply with EU regulations. The UK have major traffic issues, and yet are limited in devising local solutions by over-bridging EU regulation.

Current Australian regulations allow a throttle (good for controlling speed!). The proposed 250w/25kmh-limited PAC legislative revision would disallow a throttle and substitute pedalec controls. Pedalec is an added mechanical complication, potentially increasing weight and cost. Remember the KISS principal: keep it simple stupid?

I was recently made aware that in NZ, where 300w ebikes are common, an elderly or disabled person may access 600-650w ebikes with a doctor's recommendation. This states that the extra power is required due to physical disability. One imagines that the extra 300w power would give an extra 4-6kmh on the flat, but it's utility lies in helping weaker people with hills. A very common sense position. A 74y Aust ebiker with osteo arthritis told me about this.

He also mentioned that 2 years ago the Aust Bicycle Council (ABC, fed govt) were recommending a 300w power limit for ebikes, and he presented this to a transport conference in Wellington NZ. Some 9 mo later he got a letter thanking him for his input, and NZ had adopted the 300w limit they now have. Two years later and Australia still has a 200w limit, and ABC have knocked themselves down to a 250w/25kmh limiting proposition. The extra power (eg 650w max) for people with disabilities was a new concept to me, but one that totally makes sense.

(late entry) A German pedalec site posted this Shanghai trade show example of a pedalec trike for taking a partner out: ... echnik.htm

Current 250w/25kmh Power Asstd Cycle leg'n proposal

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:33 am
by alan101
The Australian Bicycle Council tell me at Sept 2010, the current 250w/25kmh Power Assisted Cycle (PAC) legislation proposal is that power assisted peddle cycles (includes ebikes) be:
- 250 watt maximum power
- Power is only available when pedalling
- Assistance cuts out gradually up to 25 km/h
- Max 6 km/h twist and go power to assist starting
- To generally follow the EU standard EN19154

Two years ago the Australian Bicycle Council supported a 300w PAC maximum, which led to NZ adopting this limit. The current legal maximum for an ebike in Victoria is 200w with no speed restriction.

The current legislation is based upon a May 2009 draft report 'Power assisted pedal cycles proposal for a new AB vehicle definitions' by the NSW Centre for Road Safety. It was submitted in April 2010 by the NSW Road Traffic Authority, who coordinated with RTAs nationally, to (fed) Vehicle Safety Standards Unit, Dept of Infrastructure. The DoI contact is Steven Hoy (02 6274 7511, Mr Hoy's Director told me that if ebike capability were to be degraded by the proposed legislation, there will be an opportunity for public comment. With the level of insight shown into ebikes to date, I doubt that they would know if the legislation were up, down or sideways in relation to ebikes. More recent documentation is not publicly available.

The May 2009 (precursor) draft legislation is located at this URL:

European Commission Proposes New e-Bike Category

Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:22 pm
by alan101
URL: ... ility.html
News Bike Europe, Nov 2010

European Commission Proposes New e-Bike Category for Type Approval

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Last week the European Commission has published its long awaited proposal for the review of the type-approval legislation for mopeds and motorcycles which includes a new e-Bike category.
One of the key issues which the Commission wanted to address with its proposal was the lack of a legislative framework for vehicles fitted with new technologies. It was exactly in this context that the European Two-Wheeler Retailers Association (ETRA) had taken up the matter of e-Bikes with the Commission.

ETRA argued that e-Bikes could not be classified as mopeds and therefore needed to be taken into consideration separately. As a result of ETRA’s work, e-Bikes are now acknowledged in the proposal and integrated in the new categorisation.

ETRA is pleased with the fact that the proposal is finally out and that it recognizes e-Bikes as vehicles that differ from mopeds and motorcycles. However, the proposal still leaves room for improvement. ETRA believes that the particularities of the e-Bike business have not been sufficiently taken into account. Even though the draft contains a new category for powered cycles, this category does not cater for all types of e-Bikes.

“The importance of this draft Regulation should not be underestimated”, announced ETRA in a statement. “It will determine whether in the next few years the e-Bike market will have the possibility to develop to the full. ETRA is now preparing for consultations with Parliament, Council and Commission that should eventually result in a Regulation that will allow the e-Bike business to achieve its full potential.”

Published (AT) 12-10-2010 Author : Jan-Willem van Schaik

Tim Pallas MP, Vic Minister for Roads and Ports letter

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:40 am
by alan101
Back in May 2010 I wrote to Julia Gillard as my local federal MP about the 25kmh cutout to ebike motor aspect of the 250w/25kmh pedal assisted cycle (PAC) legislation proposal. On 11/10/10 Ms Gillard's office forwarded a response which they obtained from Mr Pallas's office. After setting out current and proposed legislation, 3 paras at the end give context which I'll reproduce here.

'The proposed new definition does not limit the speed of the bicycle to 25kmh as indicated by Mr Page, it simply cuts off power from the motor. The cyclist can still continue to pedal'.

'As part of the normal process to review proposed changes to the Australian Road Rules and national Vehicle Standards (ADRs), each jurisdiction and other interested parties will have the opportunity to review and comment on the proposals'.

'Victoria will evaluate the outcome of this review when it is completed and will participate in the ongoing development of a national approach to standards for power assisted bicycles. In this process, Victoria will be looking to ensure that the safety of all road users across the state are properly considered'.

A 3 para extract of my 13/10/10 reply to Ms Gillard's office follows:

'The 23-25kmh power cutout to the motor being proposed has 2 genesis. One is that NSW has a vocal pedestrian advocate, and the original Australian Bicycle Council (fed govt) proposal for 300w ebikes has got watered down to 250w and 25kmh speed limiting as a tribute to him. This ignores that cyclists in traffic are safest when their speed is most closely matched to surrounding traffic. A cyclist riding the rear quarter of a 40kmh car is less likely to have someone cut across his/her path, or accelerate to turn left across the cyclist's path than a 12kmh rider'.

'The second issue I've heard a couple of times is that adopting the EU standard 250w/25kmh is the easiest and least costly way to get a power increase for Australian ebikes. This legislative proposal has been going on for 2 years, with NSW RTA doing the startup work; with another year probable before the legislation comes into effect. Three years to copy an existing standard is very lame! There is a lock step movement who only want a 250w/25kmh standard, and it's probably because setting up a new Australian Standard is felt to be a costlier option'.

'The existing Australian Standard is 30 years old, and the new one is meant to last for the next 10 years. The world has changed immensely in 30 years. Ebikes use 1% of the caloric energy in fuel to move a person compared with a car. The ebike offers huge benefits across health, climate abatement, regional dislocation, and traffic calming. It would be worth doing a decent revision of the Australian Standard, and this would include utilising the full potential that ebikes offer rather than this current nobbling proposition. The nobbling is so nanny state micro-management, and a typical RTA over-reaction to a new and evolving mode of transport. The fed Dept of Infrastructure's Vehicle Safety Standards unit are currently looking at how the legislative proposal affects the Australian Standard'.

I'll add here, that Mr Pallas's response mirrors that which a representative of the Australian Retail Cycle Traders Association gave to me in a phone conversation. That is, 'the 25kmh peedalec limit simply cuts off power from the motor. The cyclist can still continue to pedal'. This is very indicative of people who have never ridden an ebike. Ebikes weigh between 18-40kg, depending on construction and particularly battery type. Mine weighs 22kg with bell, lights, mudguards, rack and Li-ion battery. The weight of an ebike holds it's speed down to a max 2-4kmh more than what the motor helps it achieve when pedaling vigorously; and then wind resistance kicks in above 30kmh. So my 200w ebike does a max 34kmh pedal assisted when the motor just fizzes out, and if I let go the throttle and grab the bar extensions I can crank it up to 36 kmh for 1-2km. So when the pedalec's motor is cutout by design at 23-25kmh, then pedaling like mad might get you to 25-27kmh. So people who that tell you one can always pedal up the speed basically have no concept of how ebikes work, are sadistic, or both.

Note that Beach Rd (Melb) weekend road bikers do 40-45kmh when applying themselves, and can have a good chat at 35kmh. An appendix in my 13p submission of early Oct 2010 to Ms Gillard and Mr Pallas explains the speed self-limiting characteristic of ebikes, and follows:

Introduction. Bicycle Victoria Forum member Kens did (2) 100km bike rides on the weekend, went to work Monday and Monday evening did this work. He has an electronics engineer background, but currently works in IT. He doesn't have an ebike, although has considered having one previously. He's dispassionate about the 25kmh pedalec cut-off question, and did this to look at ebike motor characteristics.

We had earlier interacted thus. (Ken) RE.'Brushless motors which are a bit after my time as they rely heavily on electronic control. Basically their power peaks at half their absolute maximum speed whilst torque is maximum at stalling speed. I'm interested to see if there is an optimum for both speed on the flat and climbing. I suspect not, so you need to design for one or the other.'.

(Alan) 'My Suzho Bafang brushless hub motor uses somewhere around 1:14 gear reduction in the hub (3 nylon planetary gears). Gearing lets the motor rev high, but give torque at wheel speed. It makes a noise like 'a tram starting off' below 26.5 kmh, and then is happily in it's torque range around 27-32kmh and really does nothing (beyond it's torque curve) >34kmh. There is an electronic controller in my rack soft pack in front of the battery, which a thumb throttle controls'.

Ken's treatise was then developed: Interesting that you mention a torque curve. As I understand it, a DC Motor (brushed or brushless) has a linear torque vs rpm "curve". Max torque occurs at stall and zero torque at maximum rpm. This is the same with our human legs by the way.

So there is a power curve where maximum power occurs at 1/2 max rpm and half max torque. If I recall right its due to the back EMF produced in the windings - a voltage that is generated that opposes the battery voltage and reduces the current and therefore the torque (since torque is proportional to current).

The power curve is an inverted parabola so what you are calling as a torque range is really a power range. This has interesting implications regarding speed limiting because as you go faster you need more power but the DC motor starts to lose power above 1/2 max rpm. Note: I'm assuming the electronic controller for a brushless DC motor does not do anything fancy to overcome this (e.g. by tweaking the voltage)

Context. The rpm figures used below are at the hub of bike wheel, so after any gearing internal to the motor. Broad parameters are motor doing eg 5400 rpm and wheel 360rpm using a 1:14 planetary reduction gear in the hub motor assembly.

Assuming a 250W hub motor on a 26inch wheel, then 60 wheel rpm translates to 7km/h. So you could design your motor to have peak power at about 300 wheel rpm which allows a 100kg rider+bike to cruise on the flat at 36km/h. This would basically be its top speed (except downhill) since any faster requires more power but you are already at peak. But going uphill would be an issue because a 4% grade at that speed requires some 630W and 8% requires over 1000W.

You could instead design peak power to occur at 180 wheel rpm or 22km/h (so max rpm is 360). At 300 wheel rpm you would be getting (I think) around 140W - not enough. At 270 wheel rpm you get 190W which would keep you going at 32km/h which then becomes your top speed on the flat. On a 4% grade at 180 wheel rpm you are still short of the 307W you need (without pedalling) and well short of the 540W you need for 8%.

So as you can see, as you design more for climbing hills you reduce your top speed on the flat. So speed limiting circuitry is really unnecessary - its an inbuilt characteristic of the motor unless you have specifically designed it for speed on the flat and no climbing ability.

Negative impact of over-zealous state bike interventions

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:12 pm
by alan101
This text is provided as an example of how over-regulation can work to kill off an innocuous, healthy and environmentally friendly activity (cycling). In pushing for people to wear helmets, publicity implies that cycling is unsafe. It may be more unsafe not to cycle, as you leave yourself open to lifestyle diseases.

From sociologist Dave Horton, Lancaster University,UK on Copenhagenise forum.
URL: ... otion.html

- 'Efficacy at the aggregate level. Do helmet promotion campaigns make cycling more or less safe, overall? There is evidence that cycling levels decline when helmets are promoted and collapse when they become compulsory (Liggett et al 2004, 12). Australia, the first country to make cycle helmets compulsory, witnessed a post-compulsion fall in levels of cycling of between 15 and 40 per cent (Adams 1995, 146). According to ‘the Mole’ (2004, 5), in Melbourne 'compulsion reduced the number of child cyclists by 42% and adults by 29%'. Because cycling tends to be safest where there are many cyclists (Jacobsen 2003), and most dangerous in places with few cyclists, and because helmet promotion campaigns reduce the overall numbers of cyclists, helmet promotion increases the risk of cycling. The relationship between increased cycling and increased safety appears to be confirmed by the experiences of the Netherlands and Denmark, which have high levels of cycling, very low rates of helmet wearing, and low rates of death and serious injury among cyclists'.

In the context of ebikes, mandatory power cutout to the motor at 23-25kmh makes the ebike slower in traffic. Hence, is more disposed to drivers cutting of the cyclist; eg a driver accelerating in front of the rider to turn left and cut the cyclist off. Similarly, if the ebiker travels faster he/she will have less traffic to contend with for a given journey distance. In my 34km commute from Werribee to Melb CBD, the 25kmh motor limit would add 20 mins to my current 1' 15" trip time. I would therefore use my motorcycle instead, leaving me open to acquiring lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. That's not in the traffic portfolio, so road traffic authorities don't have any problem with that.