Positive discussion on ebikes and pedal assist bicycles
Has anyone read the "power-assisted_pedal_cycles-proposal_for_a_new_ab_vehicle_definition-may_2009" pdf, the document submitted to the Government by the RTA proposing a revision to the current electric bicycle law? A document more devoid of any rationality you are unlikely ever to see. Lots of clever sounding rhetoric, but zero common sense. In short, the proposed law seems to have been engineered to comply with two main requirements.
1. Restrict the performance of bicycles to that which is possible for average riders.
2. Make the law easy to enforce.
So basically what we will get if the law is changed will be:
Power: Instead of a paltry 200 watts, we get a slightly less paltry 250 watts - hills, watch out.
Control: Instead of the option of pedelec or a throttle to control the power, we get mandatory pedelec. People with knee injuries need not apply.
Max speed: Instead of the current situation where there is no stipulated maximum speed, we get steadily reducing power assistance till we get to 25kph, and then all assistance must cut out.
Does anyone else here share my opinion that this is worse than the current situation? The only positive feature is an extra 50 watts, for all the difference that will make, but we lose flexibility of control and possibly lose out on top speed in order to get that 50 watts.IMO this is not a good trade off. I am not too clear what will happen to all the bikes already sold that either are not pedelec (some) or do not enforce a maximum speed (most?).
So all those elderly, infirm, disabled or injured people hoping to get back on their bikes for a bit of healthy exercise will apparently have to look elsewhere, unless they are up to full time pedaling. And this pedelec trade-off has not been done for any reason other than to make it easier for authorities to enforce the edict that the bicycle in question must be a real bicycle not one with vestigial pedals. Is this another great trade-off? Punish the old, sick and infirm so as to make policing the law easier for the authorities? Should laws be framed to achieve a specific purpose or simply because they can be enforced easily? Mmmm. I am not even sure how pedelec actually will do what the RTA hopes it will. I still see no reason why a manufacturer cannot make a PAPC with pedals that only control the power, without actually being connected to a drive train and actually propelling the bicycle. The law only seems to require that the pedals activate the motor.
For anyone who thought that Australia was serious about making electric bikes into a useful form of general purpose green transportation, I would imagine they would be disappointed. At least I am.
There is of course still the chance that the proposal will be rejected by the Government. I for one hope this happens, but it seems rather unlikely.
I was foolishly hoping for something more in tune with the US or at least Canada, but thats looking less likely than ever.
What more can I say, except perhaps, damn! At least i'll save a mot of dosh on motors and Lithium batteries. To hell with healthy living - wheres the TV.
Can't say that I see the problem - 25kph is perfectly reasonable for an unlicensed, unregistered vehicle. If you need a faster power assisted vehicle there are lots to choose from....
"A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye."
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
25kph is pretty fast.
I don't see what the changes would make it hard for the elderly.
The ones that can stil cycle wil easily be able to use the power asisted bike, they only have to pedal for two minutes.
If this is too difficult , then they should look at a scooter , where pedalling is not required.
As I understand it, it is powered assist, and it stil remains that way.
It's a good way of combining cycling with a small engine.
Feel free to correct me im am looking at it wrong. (electric bikes are not my specialty..)
The dutch have one word to describe the aussie MHL, this word is ;
That sounds very sensible to me. I applaud the law makers for reaching a reasonable compromise to allow these vehicles into our society.
Making the electric bikes capable of travelling faster than an average cyclist means they would be dangerous on an average bike path designed to be used by average cyclists. If they want to ride faster than an average cyclist, under these laws they'll need to use their bodies to ride faster than an average cyclist, just like all the other faster cyclists do. I doubt there will be many "old and infirm" riders attempting that though.
Making the law "easy to enforce" is one of the main requirements of any law. Unenforceable laws are pointless.
Sorry mate, but you're probably preaching to the wrong audience on this forum. Nearly every rider here accepts that riding requires a certain level of fitness to participate in the sport/past-time/mode of transport. Very few here would empathise with people who refuse to use their own legs to - even minimally - propel themselves (and still ask to be counted as "cyclists".) If you like banging your head against a brick wall, by all means, keep raving about the laws on a bike forum. Just don't expect us to be swayed by your arguments - by and large, we as a community, don't want scooters on our bike paths.
If 25kph is perfectly reasonable for an unlicensed, unregistered vehicle, then does that mean you would object to someone riding an unpowered bicycle at more than 25kph? Yet that would be perfectly legal; indeed a human powered bicycle is perfectly legal riding down a steep hill at 60 kph in a 60 kph zone.
As to the faster vehicles to choose from, you can only choose from them if you have the financial means to pay the rego and insurance, and possess a valid license. Not everyone is in that position.
There seems to me to be very little point to paying an extra thousand or so to add a motor which cannot get you up steep hills, cannot help you go any faster than a normal bicycle, and cannot power the bike without the rider pedaling. It only seems to help you when you don't really need it - when riding slowly on flat terrain. Better than nothing certainly, but unlikely to inspire a large shift away from other more environment damaging modes of transport.
Its just a thought but - if the authorities allowed more powerful motors on electric bicycles, they would'nt need to ride on bike paths - they could ride on the road with the other fast traffic.
Sorry but don't under stand the "pedal for two minutes" comment.
Pedelec makes it hard for the elderly or people with knee injuries for example, since you have to pedal to get power assistance. If an elderly person find themselves unable to pedal for whatever reason, perhaps a muscle spasm or something similar, they are now unable to go anywhere, since the bike will now not move. Currently, with an ebike that has a throttle, that person could perhaps return home using motor power alone, but with pedelec they would be stranded. Someone like me who has a knee injury might also find it hard to walk if there knee began acting up, and end up stuck at the side of the road somewhere, unable to get home. They would also likely be unable to get on a bus to get home with a heavy bike in tow. They would now need to call someone and get rescued. A simple throttle control would avoid that problem.
Seems the regulators have forgotten about the elderly and infirm with their ebike legislation. This is especially dissapointing since many people advocating electric bikes blather on and on about how it will encourage older people back onto bikes for a healthier lifestyle. judging by some comments on this forum, most cyclist consider bicycling as an activity for healthy persons only.
Quite a good thought.
What you're discussing is the grey area between bicycles and motorcycles.
Motorcycles are inappropriate for cycle path use. Many power assisted bicycles are inappropriate for cycle path use.
While bicycles are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and more environmentally beneficial, motorcycles are a lot easier to ride up hills.
At some point the authorities are going to call more powerful electric bicycles "motorcycles". They'll insist they meet some ADRs and be subject to licensing. The line in Australia looks like being set at 250W. Personally I reckon that's plenty of assistance. More power than that and a throttle control to boot and you'll see a lot of friction (and some bad accidents) on the bike paths.
Unfortunately the legislators have to consider all users and all paths. Certainly if it were only mild mannered elders riding electric assist bikes in hilly areas 500W throttle control might be an option, but power assist bikes have become an inexpensive motorbike option for everybody, including the odd tattooed beanie wearing ninja from the back blocks who's run out of a license and needs to to get to the grog shop quick smart for a six pack and a carton of winnie blues. I think they're called the lowest common denominator
I wil answer that..
These vehicles are mainly designed to bridge the gap between cycling and the scooters that need a license.
They are not replacements for bicycles , and they are not replacements for scooters.
They are not to be compared with a bike or a scooter, they are a category on their own.
I think you should be happy that they are there in the first place.
They are somewhere in the middle, and the main target group is those that can peddle a bit , but not much, and can't afford a scooter.
These things are not designed to go fast, if they where you would need a license for that and it would be called a scooter.
They are designed to get you from a to b, the engine is there to assist you when you are tired, or to be able to do longer distances.
You can't have all, one or the other.
The dutch have one word to describe the aussie MHL, this word is ;
I don't think that the power assisted bicycles are not suited for cycle path use.
If used correctly, there is nothing wrong with them.
I can also say a lot of bicycles are not suited for cycle path use, because the rider is not capable adjusting his/her behavior to the circumstances.
It's not the vehicle itself that is the issue, but the person controlling them.
If the vehicle can't do more then 25km/h, then it is hardly any different from the speeds a bicycle can do.
I don't look at it as a grey area, but as a new category that is now in the stages of being fine tuned.
All we need is a good name for them.. , mayby mopeds ??
These type of vehicles are very common in the netherlands, and they are very welcome on cycle paths.
They are being used how they should, like a bicycle, wether the enigine is on or off, it is being ridden like a bike, slowly.
Don't forget these things have breaks...
And they coexcist perfectly between all the other bikes..
The dutch have one word to describe the aussie MHL, this word is ;
I am beginning to realise (belatedly) that what I am really talking about is an ebike, not a PAPC (pedal assisted pedal cycle), and that they are really two different things, or at least are being considered that way by the authorities. What I reeally want to ride is a electrically powered ultra-light motorcyle. Something that's a little bit faster than a normal bicycle, able to cruise along at 30-35kph on the flat, easily climb even relatively steep hills, be quiet and non polluting, and whilst having pedals to allow human propulsion for healthy excercise, to not require it. I think this corresponds to what most people would regard as an ebike. I have no desire to ride on bike paths on such a vehicle, and presume that if a seperate ebike class was created of the kind I have just described, it would not be allowed on bicycle paths or to shared bicycle pedestrian areas.
I guess that the RTA's proposed laws do fit quite well with the PAPC concept. I can only hope that the authorities have the idea to create a new ebike class that could fill the void between PAPC's and light motorbikes.
This is an interesting comment, as it begs the question of what is meant by an unenforceable law. I would argue that in practical terms many existing laws are in essence "unenforceable", at least going by the practical meaning of the term.
Take speed limits for example. How many road users normally keep within the speed limits? I have been driving for more than thirty years and I can honestly say that not once have I ever driven the car without exceeding the speed limit at least once during the trip. When I get onto the Hume highway after leaving my house and join the traffic, most of the traffic is exceeding the speed limit, maybe not by much, but by enough to trip a speed camera if one were around. So are speed limits really enforceable? Speed cameras work more to raise revenue than prevent speeding.
Another example would be burglary. That's certainly illegal, but thefts of cars, bikes and items stolen from houses continues unabated. Most items stolen from houses are never recovered, nor are the thieves ever prosecuted.
Personally, I think most laws are by and large unenforceable in any major sense. The presence of the laws and the police are valuable in deterring the majority of people from flouting the laws, but those who have no intention of obeying the law break it most of the term uninterrupted by the so called "enforcement" authorities. I believe the laws are far more valuable in their ability to guide law abiding citizens than they are to "force" people to follow them. Those people who have no moral compunction about obeying the law will break it anyway. Enforcement is not really practicable in most cases. To properly enforce most laws would require a police force of such a large size that no country could afford to pay for it. For example to properly enforce speed limits you would either need a police patrol car on every street in the country and one per every 100 meters of major highway, or millions of speed cameras, neither of which is ever going to happen.
In retrospect I think unenforceable laws are certainly worth having. They guide the law abiding majority, which is the main thing, and the minority of people who regularly break the law will do so anyway, "enforceable" or not.
OP ....just save up and buy one of these!
can i have a ride when you get it?
The proposal sounded perfectly sensible to me. It's one that provides sufficient power to get more people out, and be able to tackle Sydney hills with some ease, but not enough to run down existing cyclists. In any case, there'll still be crazies who run massive motors illegally and terrorise cycling facilities.
Otherwise, go and get a motor scooter and stay off bike lanes and paths.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple
Two things that concern me especially with the RTA proposal for PAPC's are the way the power output limit of 250 watts was ascertained, and secondly and of less concern just how this limit will be measured on actual PAPC's to prove compliance.
250 Watt Power Output Limit.
The method used to determine the required power output of the PAPC appears to be completely theoretical, and the output power specified, namely 250 watts, is the net power delivered to the bicycle as forward thrust, not taking into account the losses and inefficiencies of real world motors and transmissions systems. Actual motors available produce their maximum output only over a limited speed band, and to deliver this power over the whole range of speeds required on a PAPC presents serious problems. Remember that full output power would need to be delivered at the necessary low speed required when climbing steep hills, as modelled in the RTA proposal, as well as at higher speeds for more moderate inclines and on the flat. In order to achieve this, a real world power delivery system would I believe have to use either of the following two techniques (or a combination of both).
One technique would be to marry a motor of slightly more than 250 watts output (allowing for transmission losses) to a continuously variable transmission that is in turn automatically controlled by sophisticated electronics that adjust the gear ration to maintain the motor in the middle of its maximum output power band at all times. The other would be a more brute force approach which would use a motor of a much higher output than 250 watts coupled with a single speed transmission. This would be married up again with a sophisticated control system that would monitor and compute net power delivered at the wheel, and continuously adjust input power to the motor to achieve 250 watts net propulsive power to the PAPC.
The first approach would be the most efficient, operating the motor at a point in its power band where it is at high efficiency and would use the least electrical energy and give the longest range on a given size of battery. The second single speed approach would have the motor operating much of the time at a point in its power curve where it is very inefficient. This would mean a relatively high consumption of electrical power giving either a very short range or needing large, heavy and expensive batteries.
I am not sure if either approach is practical at the moment. The Nuvinci hub gear can deliver a continuously variable gear ratio and has a reasonably wide range, but it is not automatically controlled. It is also heavy and rather expensive. Neither system I think would deliver 100% of the 250 theoretical watts specified in the RTA proposal. Perhaps a real world cost effective system might deliver on average about 200 watts over most of its range if it was mid drive and used the bikes gears. I am rather doubtful of a single speed hub gear getting anywhere near the net 250 watts to the wheel performance the RTA envisage at slow speeds climbing steep hills of various grades.
I also interested in how the authorities will measure the performance of a PAPC using a dynamometer. To measure the maximum output of the PAPC will presumably require measuring the maximum output over the whole range of driven wheel rotational speeds and the entire range of loads. This would also need to be done for both wheels in the event the PAPC has 2 wheel drive. Manufacturers of PAPC's would need to be very careful with their design in order to keep within the 250 watt net power limit, and I suspect most will do his by being playing it safe and being very conservative with the actual output of their PAPC's, with again most PAPC's not going much over 200 watts.
The combination of using purely theoretical calculations to model electric bicycle performance without factoring in real world variables such as power bands and efficiencies of motors and transmissions, together with the concerted effort to keep the performance of the PAPC as low as possible, means there is very little leeway provided within the specification and suggests to me that real world systems will have performance in real world situations that is nowhere near as good as suggested by the RTA's proposal .
I conclude that only very sophisticated and expensive PAPC's will get close to the theoretical performance of the RTA models, and even trying to get close will add significant cost to the cheaper PAPC's too. PAPC's will either be good performing and very expensive, or cheap and with poor performance.
Overall, I firmly believe that the RTA's proposal is far too conservative and over cautious, and liable to constrain PAPC performance to a level where it is much less attractive to many of its potential users.
Wonder how much it would cost? Somehow it does not look cheap. Does look like it means business though, does'nt it?
I get the hint. Everyone but me likes it. Well its good I suppose if most people like the new regulations - it means most people will be happy.
How does that sci-fi film put it? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one (me).
I believe the class already exists, and they are called mopeds. You just require a motorcycle licence to ride them and they need to be registered... becasue they are considered to be motorbike.
I find my self struggling to find any valid reasons to disagree with the authorities' assessment.
"People have a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight." -- James W Loewen
I find the concept of allowing vehicles up to but not exceeding the performance envelope of a strong cyclist to be flawed.
Yes, some cyclists can ride good unpowered bikes at higher speeds, and some few can even maintain it. But there is a contiuum of speeds, with not too many going at highest possible speeds. The prevailing speed is way lower than these exceptions.
Making it easy for all and sundry to match those same speeds will result in many more actually going at those speeds. The exception will become the norm.Am I safer with 500 people passing me at 25kph every morning? As opposed to a couple of dozen? No, I am certainly in a far more dangerous space.
If we are to have many more riders easily matching pro cyclists and serious others for the whole trip then we had better have some serious infrastructure put in place first. I'd rather the money be spent on filling in existing holes and fixing existing shortcomings. And even after that is done I do not want to be riding in a prevalently high speed environment. That is what my car is for. And motor bikes and mopeds.
Unchain yourself - Ride a unicycle .
As an ebike commuter for the last five months I would personally prefer the upper limit to be higher than 25kph. 30kph would be fine. 35kph would be great.
For me, 30kph means that on the flat the ebike helps me up to top speed but then I manage on my own. If the power could then progressively come in as the load (or gradient of the hill increased) to keep the speed at 30kph on hills that would be great.
35kph would actually be great but represents inhuman ability IMO
I don't mind pedalec control (not that I have it) but I would want a convenient switch near the handlebar so that I could turn it off (on pyrmont bridge for example)
Scott Sub 40 with 200W, 36v Ezee geared front hub motor
Trek Madonne 3.1 driven by left leg and right leg
I'm also in agreement that the new rule strikes a pretty decent balance.
If people want more juice, there is still the option of getting the additional training, licencing and insurance that are commensurate with the responsibility of a more powerful vehicle.
Plenty of motorscooters to choose from.
I think this line of argument is a furphy.
It's not like the eldery/infirm were exactly queuing up to buy ebikes under the existing rules...
In fact I don't think I have ever seen such a person riding one.
As do your arguments. I would find it easier to take what you say more seriously if you could point to your own personal experience. But so far you have refused offers made to have a "test ride", even by people other than "retailers".
I've tried to be helpful and give you the benefit of my own experience (as have other posters) but I get the feeling that you are just after a "free" ride. You want want to have transport that you don't have to work at, either in expending your own energy or money. I think if you bought yourself a moped which has the capacity to be pedaled but will still be road capable you would find most of your requirements (except cost-free) being answered.
This particular sub-forum is about e-bikes. I suggest that what you are arguing for is not covered by its ambit.
If you disagree with the law why not put your energy into lobbying those people who actually make the law? I would have thought that by now you should have realised that you are very much in a minority.
To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy
Many people feel their lifestyle has a high price, but they're quite cool with that .. as long as somebody ELSE pays the price.
Can the mod combine this and the other thread on effectively the same subject?
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple
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