LEVA-EU and Bike Europe Information Meeting at Eurobike: electric bike companies still have many questions on electric bike rules

At Eurobike, LEVA-EU and Bike Europe organized an information meeting on electric bikes. In the EU these are subject to a lot of complicated rules: type-approval, CE-standards, the Machinery Directive, helmet obligation, insurance, traffic code, …  Companies which are manufacturing, distributing or selling electric bikes in Europe may well get lost in this maze of rules. That is why LEVA-EU and Bike Europe teamed up to help these companies find their way in the regulatory maze and to answer all their questions on electric bike rules in the EU.

The need for information and clarification clearly appeared from the number of participants. Some 50 delegates attended, representing the full spectrum of the electric bike business as well as all continents.

LEVA-EU Manager Annick Roetynck presented an exhaustive overview of rules and regulations relating to several types of electric bicycles. Should electric mountain bikes be type-approved? Can one produce electric cargo bikes with more than 250W? Must speed pedelec riders wear a moped helmet? Do they have to have insurance and a number plate for their speed pedelecs?  What about kits, electric wheels and electric trailers?

Annick Roetynck answered these and many more questions. She has been working in the twowheel business since 1987, focusses exclusively on light electric vehicles since 2013 and has an in-depth knowledge and expertise in electric bike legislation. She has been on the European Commission’s Working Group “Motorcycles” since 1999. In this Working Group, the European Commission negotiates directly with the member states and with stakeholders on technical rules for two-, three- and four-wheel light vehicles, including electric bicycles.

In a second presentation, Bram Rotthier of the Belgian university of Leuven, explained his findings on the requirement of factor 4 for speed pedelecs. Some time soon the European Commission will be reviewing this requirement, which stipulates that the power of speed pedelecs should be no more than 4 times the power, which the cyclist puts into the bike him/herself. In anticipation of the Commission’s review and for his PhD-thesis at KU Leuven, Bram Rotthier has done scientific research into factor 4.

At the meeting, he explained that factor 4 is not a legally binding requirement for speed pedelecs. They must be tested to establish their assistance factor but there is no legal obligation to comply with factor 4. From his research, he concluded that factor 4 is contested since this limitation is causing slower and more fickle speed pedelecs. It discriminates weaker riders. The official testing method is not guaranteeing to measure the real maximum assistance factor. The controllability is not taken into account and there is no scientific link between the assistance factor and safety.

The two presentations prompted many questions, which showed how complicated the matter is. From the meeting, there appeared to be a few hot issues. The legislation for electric mountain bikes has serious loopholes, which is cause for great concern. The 250W power limit is a considerable obstruction for further innovation of electric cargo bikes. It is impossible to fit kits and electric wheels, aimed at turning conventional bikes into electric bikes, into the current legal framework. The sector is not well informed about type-approval, specifically for speed pedelecs. Some companies believe for instance that speed pedelecs must have a 45 km/h speed limit, whilst electric bikes with a speed limit in between 25 and 45 km/h would not be not categorized as speed pedelecs and therefore don’t need type-approval.  This is totally incorrect. The replacement of type-approved component parts was yet another issue that raised a lot of questions.

LEVA-EU is a newly established association, which is exactly aimed at helping companies finding an answer to all the above questions. What’s more, LEVA-EU will negotiate directly with the European institutions to improve existing rules and regulations. However, for LEVA-EU to be able to convince the European institutions, the association needs the support and the input of the LEV-companies. Therefore, LEVA-EU membership is a win-win situation. The companies that join LEVA-EU are ensured of an answer to all their questions, whilst allowing LEVA-EU, by means of their membership, to promote their interests at European level and to work for a better legislative framework.

After the meeting, several companies expressed their interest in LEVA-EU membership. If you want to join them and support LEVA-EU in promoting the interests of the LEV-sector in Europe or if you want further details, please contact LEVA-EU Manager, Annick Roetynck, tel. +32 9 233 60 05, email leva-eu@telenet.be

LEVA-EU has a very close cooperation agreement with LEVA in the USA. LEVA Chairman, Ed Benjamin, was at the Eurobike meeting. There are special arrangements for companies already member of LEVA and wanting to join LEVA-EU and vice versa.

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