What’s a legal e-bike and what’s not?
What is legal for an electric bicycle in Australia has changed. Not a lot. Just a little. Electric bikes now have to comply with European Standard EN15194 You can read it. (pdf file)
Changes to the Law
- Pedalling is now necessary (A standing start from 0 to 6kmh without need of pedalling is allowed).
- Assistance to rider (by PAS) must reduce as speed increases up to 25 kmh and cease beyond 25kmh.
- The motor must stop within 2 metres of your stopping pedalling.
- Allowable power is increased to 250 Watts, with these provisos.
It follows from that that the e-bike cannot go faster than 6kph with only its own power, and cannot assist you to go faster than 25kmh…
Although there is no limit to your speed with your own unassisted pedalling.
The previous rule required “not capable of more than 200 watts”
The new rule allows “continuous rated power output of 250 watts”…
but “peak power” can be higher, and
there is allowance of 15% for transmission losses between motor shaft output (if power output is measured there), otherwise it is “on the road” power that counts),
and there is a 5% tolerance in test results.
This effectively means that a motor rated as 300 watt input might comply.
Other Changes to the Law
There are very many other provisions in EN 15194 covering
- The Battery and the electric system – including cables, sockets and connections.
- The frame – construction standards, strength
- Safety – braking performance
- Testing – of all the above.
Note that changes will affect bikes imported in future and that electric bicycles that are already here that comply with the old rules can be used and sold.
Any e-bike not complying with EN 15194 is limited to 200 watts, and may have a throttle usable at any speed. That would be most e-bikes imported under the previous rules.
There may be different interpretations of the rule. “Bicycle” is not well defined, and neither is “assistance”, “capable of” and even ” a road”, and whether adjacent footpaths or bikeways are part of it. Unusual shaped bikes and ineffective pedals could be challenged as not being a “bicycle”.
Many Parks and forests have “no motorbikes” signs but don’t specify electric bikes.
The rules declare that a bicycle with any fuelled motor is a moped and must be registered as such, although that is not likely to be possible in practice.
In other countries the rules, or lack of rules, varies.
In US the legal limit is 750 watts and seems to be not enforced.
In most of Europe the philosophy has been that riders should be pedalling but may be assisted, but they should not be going faster than 25kmh anyway, and so they should not be helped to go faster than 25 kmh. That is fine for compact, dense, slow moving and generally flat cities like Amsterdam, London, Paris and Berlin but not so for more hilly, spread out, faster moving cities like Sydney or Brisbane. In adopting the European Law Australian governments adopted the European thinking.
In Asia there the cities are so congested that limits would have no effect.
In Switzerland and Canada they have a more reasonable compromise – 500 watts but with 25kmh speed limit. Maybe if enough bike riders say something to their politicians Australia may have that too.