It is expedient to learn about e-bike laws and specific knowledge before you become the electric bike rider. This article will focus on introducing you to the e-bike classifications in the US and different regions of Europe.
Classes of E-bikes by United State Regulations
There are distinct characteristics that differentiate many newly released e-bikes from others. The description of the three classes of e-bikes is further explained below.
The class one category of e-bikes provides riders with assistance until they attain a speed level of 20 miles per hour. No class one rider should expect assistance from the motor after reaching 20 mph. However, the class three and two rules are stricter than class one regulations. Although class one e-bikes are not restricted to any gender or age, individuals below 17 are mandated to wear helmets. You can also ride this e-bike on most bike lanes and streets.
The main similarity between class one and class two electric bikes is the maximum assist level, which is 20 mph. Instead of the pedal design in class one, the class two bikes are mainly designed as throttle versions. However, the electric motor can assist the bike's handlebar. It is also ideal for commuters who are either students or workers. The e-bikes in this category are also suitable for sidewalks and most bike lanes, except mountain bike lanes. This is because mountain bike lanes have higher chances of damaging throttle bikes.
Contrary to the class one and class two e-bikes, class three continue to provide support until a rider reaches 28 mph. However, a rider can activate the e-bike's motor assistance by pedaling. Since class three e-bikes have a higher speed limit, every rider is mandated to wear a helmet. Also, people riding the class three electric bike should be prepared for strict road regulations. The type three rules also vary with the rider's state or residence. California state regulation prohibits people from throttling while using the class three e-bike. Some other country rules permit throttle functions without exceeding 20 mph. Exceeding this speed limit would require that you switch to the pedal-assist part. It is also expedient that every class three rider avoids multi-use trails. Hence, it would help if you avoided any lane where pedestrians are also seen, such as a park.
European Classifications of E-bikes
Generally, European bikes are categorized into four parts. It helps riders to organize their e-bikes and identify the regulations surrounding them. European law has classified the first set of e-bikes as L1e-A. European riders cannot also ride beyond a 1,000 W and 25 km/h speed. Another name for the L1e-A is power cycles.
Moreover, riders can use pedal and throttle features in the L1e-A e-bike class. The subsequent division of e-bikes is the L1e-B. The maximum speed here is 45 km/h, with the highest power output of 4,000 W. However, they only operate with the pedal-assist function. L2e and L6e have similar speed and power limits to L1e-B and L1e-A, respectively. The wheel number varies with both, as L2e has three wheels and L6e has a maximum of four wheels. Moreover, the same e-bike categories can be found among scooters, especially for European rules.
The Necessary Requirements for Riding E-bikes in Europe
Several riders categorize Europe, and you will see them on bike lanes and cross-country trails. This is because of the eco-friendliness and portability of the electrically powered bike. In Europe, riders do not require a license, causing the need for setting specific regulations and laws. The main reason for this is to ensure riders' safety. On the other hand, people who ride an e-bike with 250 W and above should register their e-bikes or get a license. As you increase your e-bike speed, it is only expected that you reduce the power output without exceeding 25 km/h. You cannot also receive assistance when you ride beyond the maximum speed. Also, the e-bike motor should only serve as an assistant and not be allowed to operate alone. Furthermore, every European Union country has specific rules guiding e-bike usage. These rules are further discussed below.
The Belgium bike authority believes that e-bikes can be placed into diverse categories. Hence, Finland's authoritative body recognizes e-bikes according to speed limits and power rates. Firstly, every age group should wear a helmet when using an assist level of 25 km/h, with a 250 W power rate. Belgium further categorizes e-bikes as a motorized feature. Only 16 years and above can ride the motorized e-bikes with a 1000 W and assist level of 25 km/h. Mopeds or speed Pedelecs are the last categories of e-bikes, with a 45 km/h speed and 4,000 W.
The Finland e-bike requirement is mainly on the speed limit and power output, which are 25 km/h and 250 W. Before you can ride with an extra power rate, it is mandatory to get a license or register the e-bike. You must also provide insurance proof to ride between 250 W and 1000 W. However, e-bikes in this category refer to the L1e-A, allowing the motor to assist you without pedaling. However, the speed limit is fixed in Finland, even for e-bikes built with a separate assist.
France and Germany
The maximum speed for riding in Germany is 20 km/h, while in France is 25 km/h. However, France allows a category of e-bike called speed pedelecs, which may operate as high as 45 km/h. Meanwhile, Germany only will enable riders to go beyond the 20 km/h, provided there is a helmet. Germany's power output limit is 500 W, but you will need a number plate and proof of insurance. On the other hand, France only permits e-bikes with tax clearance and an authorized manufacturer. Fortunately, Honbike produces its HF01 and U4 products, following European standards. As a result, you are less bothered if you order from the Honbike brand.
Italy and Ireland
Italy specifies the maximum speed for riders based on your riding path. For instance, riders can not exceed 6 km/h when riding in a pedestrian lane. You can go as far as 25 km/h in Italy, only if it is a bike lane. You don't have to get insurance or a license, but at 14-18 years, riders are mandated to wear a helmet. More so, 14 years and below, individuals are not of legal age to ride in Italy.
Contrary to Italy, Ireland has no solid regulation guiding e-bike usage. According to the Minister of Transport, deliberations concerning e-bike usage in Italy are ongoing. However, residents can expect no strict insurance or e-bike registration laws. For now, 16 years and below, riders are not of legal age to ride in Ireland. Meanwhile, 16-18 years should wear helmets, restricting riders from footpaths.
The United Kingdom
E-bike riders are not permitted to go beyond the maximum power output of 250 W and speed of 25 km/h. Moreover, a rider cannot use an e-bike beyond 30 kg; the legal age for authorized riders is 14 years old. The Honbike U4 weight is 20 kg, with a capacity to load 120 kilograms of luggage. Hence, you are on the safe side if you are considering this e-bike model.
Before purchasing an electric bicycle, understanding your province's various classes of e-bikes is paramount. It also helps in identifying national requirements and prevents legal charges. Many new riders have fallen victim to enormous legal demands due to a lack of knowledge. Hence, make sure to know what counts as an e-bike, especially in your province.