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E-bikes charge ahead

1 March, 2012

Sales of power-assist bikes are taking off throughout the world. Simon Vincett tested 18 Australian options.

Everyone could use a bit of extra oomph in their pedalling sometimes and that is exactly what e-bikes provide. In fact, the 200 watt motor (the legal limit on Australian e-bikes) approximately doubles the power of your pedalling.

The very best thing that assisted bikes offer is confidence: confidence that you can take off from the intersection quickly enough to be comfortable in traffic and confidence that you can head off on a day ride with friends or family and you’ll be able to keep up with ease. They are also chosen by riders who don’t want to get sweaty on the way to work or who ride over hilly terrain.

The first step in appreciating e-bikes is to get over the weight factor. E-bikes are heavy (about 25kg) due to their power assistance system and that makes them seem cumbersome in comparison to unassisted bikes. However, they ride as comfortably as a conventional bike and the motor makes up for the extra weight.

They’re also heavy because they are loaded with useful accessories like mudguards, a chainguard, a rack and sometimes a lock, pump and tools. Many also come with lights. Very often you could ride one straight out of the bike shop and start running your errands.

E-bikes aren’t generally built for speed. Most available in Australia now have a hybrid or city-bike shape, providing an upright position that is good for taking in the view or surveying traffic conditions. The motors usually provide no more assistance over 27.5km/h. Some models come in only one size and tend to the smaller end of the range, so taller people may struggle to achieve an appropriate adjustment.

The motor is brought to life through either a throttle on the handlebar, or an assist system that needs you to be pedalling before it kicks in. Different assist levels can be set, and the power turned on and off, most often through a small touchpad fitted onto the handlebar.

Pedal assist systems are usually based on cadence, where sensors check how fast you are pedalling relative to how fast you’re actually travelling. If you need more assistance you change down a gear and the motor controller responds. However, some systems are based on torque – the pressure you are applying to the pedals – which may better suit those who prefer to push a big gear, or who struggle with using gears.

There are many bikes for many different needs and budgets. Some will suit you and some just won’t and the only way to tell is to test ride as many models as possible before buying.

“How far can I ride?” is a common question. There are many factors affecting this. First is the size of the battery. They tend to range from nine amp hours to 14 amp hours, and between 24 volts and 37 volts. The capacity of the battery is best measured in watt hours, which is its amp hours multiplied by its volts. Using a throttle pulls more from the battery than the power assist function on many electric bikes, so this shortens your ride. The lower levels of assistance of the power assist function use less of the battery charge. In addition, hilly terrain and under-inflated tyres make the motor work harder and battery drain faster. Cold also inhibits the battery. UK e-bike company Wisper suggest “You will get about 15% more range on a warm sunny day than you would in deep winter.” Typically, a 360 watt hour bike will take you 65km before needing recharged; enough for most return commutes, or a good day’s riding.

Considering all these variables, it makes sense that the range of the bikes suggested by the manufacturers varies so widely, because some are conservative while others are optimistic. A more concrete measure is the capacity of the battery, expressed in amp hours.

All the batteries in this test are lithium ion, unless otherwise stated. However, ‘lithium ion’ can describe a variety of different chemical combinations, all of which provide different weight and bulk for performance and price. All lithium ion batteries require an initial charge overnight and then between two and six hours to recharge after that. Most can be partially charged – for an hour, for instance – and can be topped up before they are completely discharged.

Most lithium ion batteries can be fully recharged about 500 times. A partial re-charge is a fraction of a full recharge. This equates to about 20,000km of riding. Replacement batteries are available for all the bikes on this test. They cost between $650 and $950.

Wisper suggest longer e-bike battery life comes from “three simple rules

1. Never leave your battery fully discharged.

2. Always leave your battery at least 50% charged.

3. If your battery is left unused for longer than eight weeks recharge it for two hours.”

Most battery chargers cut out by themselves once the battery is charged. If they don’t you can’t leave the battery charging overnight, for instance. The best chargers have a fan to cool them, which reduces the risk of malfunction and damage to the battery. Finally, chargers come have different outputs and a four amp charges faster than a two amp.

All the motors in this test are 200 watts and brushless, unless otherwise stated. The motors can be larger than 200 watts (such as 350w) and configured to operate at 200 watts. This can provide the advantage of greater torque, though they will be bigger and heavier. Higher torque is particularly useful on cargo bikes for carrying heavy loads.

Motors can be in the rear hub, front hub or driving the chainring. Motors in the rear hub generally make any maintenance to do with the rear wheel more complex and expensive. Chainring motors are unusual and provide powerful assistance down to very low speeds.

Bolted axles and cables makes it tricker to remove a wheel with an electric hub motor, so most e-bikes have heavy, puncture-resistant tyres so you’re less likely to need to remove the wheel.

Pedal assist systems are usually based on cadence, where sensors check how fast you are pedalling relative to how fast you’re actually travelling. If you find you need more assistance you change down a gear – as with a non-powered bike – and the motor controller knows to provide more assistance. However, some systems are based on torque – the pressure you are applying to the pedals – which may better suit those who prefer to push a big gear or who struggle with using gears. For instance, if you’re stuck in a high gear the bike knows to help rather than waiting until the pedals are spinning at a certain speed. Throttles can be twist grip operated or thumb lever operated.

A number of different kits on the market can easily add power to your bike, trike or recumbent. The three reviewed here are operated by throttle only and have no pedal assist function. It seems unlikely that the new regulations will be applied to bikes already fitted with throttle-only systems. Keep watching this blog for updates. Beware that any motor you fit to your bicycle can only have a maximum of 200 watts of power. Note also that a 10mm axle on a motor won’t fit in many modern bike dropouts made for 9mm axles. A shop fit out of the kit might cost $50.

The latest on Australian e-bike regulations.

Gazelle Orange Pure Innergy

$2,699

Pedal assist, no throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear
  • Battery comes with a two-year warranty
  • Beautifully constructed and accessorised
  • Good to ride un-powered
  • Some will find assistance under-powered compared to other e-bikes

99%

Subtle, effective and silent assistance – the benchmark in city-bike-style e-bikes.

Envirowheels Forest C

$2,695

Pedal assist, no throttle

Battery: 396 watt amp hours

  • Six levels of pedal assistance that are easy to shift between, though dashboard is otherwise bewildering.
  • Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear.
  • Hydraulic lockout for suspension forks.
  • Highly puncture-resistant Schwalbe Marathon Plus 26×175 tyres
  • Very well appointed with all the accessories you’d need

93%

Almost Gazelle quality and with more powerful assistance.

eZee Torq

$3,050

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub gear
  • Unique eZee selector for ultra fine tuning of assistance level
  • Powerful lights run from bike battery
  • Double leg kickstand and all the accessories
  • One size frame – 19 inch

91%

Top flight diamond-frame electric that is ready for anything.

Wisper 705se

$1,870 

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 288 watt hours

  • Wide range of gears including very low gear for steep hills
  • Kenda puncture resistant tyres with slime for further resistance
  • Lights run from bike battery
  • Skirt/coat guard, mudguards and chainguard

88%

This Wisper model offers a very good budget option city-style bike.

eZee Sprint

$2,400

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear.
  • Shimano mechanical disc front with big rotor and dampener; rear roller brake.
  • Mudguards, rack with spring clip, lights with front powered by bike battery, double-leg stand, ring lock, cateye computer.
  • Aesthetics let the bike down: power assist controller and battery indicator are clunky, the junction of the seat stays and seat tube is ugly.
  • One size frame – 17 inch step through or 20 inch diamond frame.

87%

Very good performer let down by looks.

Power Ped Mantis Li Delux

$2,495

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 504 watt hours

  • Longer range from a bigger battery but less powerful pedal assistance.
  • Mechanical disc brakes front and back.
  • One size frame but good adjustability – seatpost is long enough for a tall person but can also be dropped low for a short person to have feet flat on the ground.
  • Soft start on motor makes for gradual take off and more subtlety in stop start traffic.
  • Slime filled tubes for puncture resistance, pannier rack, rack mounted pump and tool set included.

85%

Standout for battery capacity with good performance and fit-out.

The Electric Bicycle Co Commander

$1,799

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours, lead-acid type

  • Diamond-frame version of the Challenger; one size frame
  • Cables exit from the side of the motor rather than the axle, which provides more protection from damage.
  • Speedometer incorporated in battery level indicator; good double-leg stand
  • Kenda puncture resistant tyres with slime for further resistance.

84%

Very good value diamond-frame e-bike.

The Electric Bicycle Co Challenger

$1,799

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours, lead-acid type

  • Step-through version of the Commander; one size frame
  • Less upright riding position than bikes of its type
  • Cables exit from the side of the motor rather than the axle, which provides more protection from damage.
  • Speedometer incorporated in battery level indicator; good double-leg stand
  • Kenda puncture resistant tyres with slime for further resistance.

84%

Very good value step-through e-bike.

Nuibike Super Light E-bike

$2,795

Pedal assist, no throttle

Battery: 324 watt hours

  • About 10kg lighter than most e-bikes (at 15kg).
  • Fitted to durable steel-frame road bike with reasonable low to mid-range parts.
  • Low-profile assistance system doesn’t ruin the road-bike look.
  • Rear hub positioned motor.
  • Changing pedal assist level requires changing hand position, which can be fiddly.
  • Battery takes up one bottle cage space.

82%

A welcome option for roadies with powerful, adjustable assistance.

Apollo Eon

$1,499

Pedal assist, no throttle

Battery: 264 watt hours

  • Small capacity battery (that rattles in mount).
  • Good to ride un-powered.
  • Rear hub positioned motor.
  • Charger is low voltage (and takes longer than average) and has no fan to control heating.
  • Single frame size allows seat to lower for short people to place feet flat on the ground but can’t be raised enough for an average height person to pedal properly.
  • No lockout on suspension.

82%

Good value bike for a small person.

Hirun Tango

$2,595

Pedal assist and throttle

Battery: 324 watt hours

  • Torque sensor provides assistance based on how hard you have to pedal.
  • Front mechanical disc brake.
  • Rear hub positioned motor.
  • One size frame.
  • Seems expensive but torque system is not commonly available.

78%

Torque-based pedal assist is the best system for some riders.

Gette Sportif

$2,150

Pedal assist and throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Powerful chain-drive assistance is ideal for steep hills.
  • Ideal assistance for off-road obstacles though construction may not be robust enough for much mountain biking.
  • Mechanical disc brakes front and back.
  • One size fits all – large.

77%

Low-speed power and off-road potential.

Wisper 805fe

$2,150

Pedal assist, no throttle

Battery: 324 watt hours

  • Wide range of gears with front derailleur for two chainrings.
  • Folds if you need it to but it’s heavy and awkward to handle when folded
  • Small wheels make motor feel extra powerful
  • Front hub positioned motor is a good design.
  • One size frame with adjustability limited by folding capability.

73%

About as good as a folding electric bike can be.

Tonaro Chianti

$2,650

Pedal assist

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Powerful chain-drive assistance is ideal for steep hills.
  • Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear.
  • Pedal assist operates such that you can skip using gears.
  • Sparely appointed for the cost.
  • Doesn’t seem to be constructed as well as the price would suggest.

72%

Quality is fair but seems expensive for what you get.

Power Ped Sherpa

$2,195

Pedal assist and/or throttle

Battery: 360 watt hours

  • Folds if you need it to but it’s heavy and awkward to handle when folded.
  • Small wheels make motor feel extra powerful.
  • Rear hub positioned motor.
  • One size frame with adjustability limited by folding capability.

70%

Most powerful folding electric.

Solarbike e-bike conversion kit

$950 plus postage

6–12kg depending on set-up

Battery: 360 watt hours

Throttle only

  • 700C, 26 inch and 20 inch complete front wheels available
  • Disc or non-disc brake options; 9mm axle.
  • Bottle battery or custom double-layered lockable battery rack (both with mounts).
  • Strong custom torque bar.
  • Twelve month warranty.

81%

Versatile and tremendous value kit.

The Electric Bicycle Co Hurricane e-bike conversion kit

$1,199 plus postage 4kg

Battery: 360 watt hours

Throttle only

  • 700C, 26 inch, 24 inch and 20 inch complete front wheels available.
  • Disc brake compatible; 9mm axle.
  • Pannier-compatible rear rack with lockable/removeable battery.
  • Cables exit from the side of the motor rather than the axle, which provides more protection from damage.

73%

Good performance for conventional bikes with rack capacity.

Power Ped EVO e-bike conversion kit

$1,595 plus postage 6.5kg

Battery: 360 watt hours

Throttle only

  • 700C, 26 inch, 24 inch and 20 inch complete front wheels available.
  • Disc or non-disc brake options; 9mm axle.
  • Battery comes in codura fabric bag with velcro straps to mount on a rack.
  • Cables exit from the side of the motor rather than the axle, which provides more protection from damage.
  • On button is boxy and sticks up – it’s a bit ugly.

64%

Good performance but pricey while cheap-looking.

Thanks very much to Spokes for supplying a number of bikes for the test and for excellent advice.  Also thanks particularly to Cargo Cycles and Glowworm Bicycles for supplying bikes and advice.

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

60 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    9 March, 2012 8:35 am

    I love my electric bike, it really does give me the confidence to just ride as far as I can. Take care with the extra weight though – with it, I managed to over-lean when turning right on a roundabout going uphill and crashed pretty badly!

  2. 14 March, 2012 6:51 pm

    I have had my Mantis electric bike for about 3 years and apart from some battery trouble have been very satisfied. Admittedly e bikes are heavy, about 26 Kg, compared to my 11 Kg road bike but the e bike has enabled me to ride up to Olinda which – at 89 years – I am no longer able to do with my road bike. So if there are any hills at all its onto my e bike.

  3. 14 March, 2012 8:25 pm

    Electric bikes address the problems of access for the elderly who cannot walk and who use an electric footpath scooter or younger cyclists who have a severe disability . Sadly there could be a million people who could use electric bicycles and tricycles for gaining access to where they want to go and by pedaling get some exercise as well. 12 years ago Japanese health experts were responsible for the design of electric bicycles that could be ridden with half the effort .

    In Australia in 2004–05, 31% (6 million) of the population (33% of females and 29% of males) reported having a long-term disease of the musculoskeletal system: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and back problems plus uncounted others with MS, obesity, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

    When motorists are not allowed to drive anymore our doctors should be advocating use of electric bicycles as the “in-between machine,” before moving to 3 and 4 wheeled electric scooters. Just like Keith Dunstan did when his knees gave him problems (L. Money Age news 10-3-2010).

  4. Carolyn Hirsh permalink
    15 March, 2012 12:14 am

    I rode many kilometres every day for about 20 years, (slick tyre, mountain bike) and took part in lots of great Victorian bike rides, including the Blue Mountains to Melbourne ride. However, a few years ago osteoarthritis put a stop to it. Now I’m back on my bike — my Electric Bicycle Company Challenger e – bike is wonderful, and enables me to pedal for the whole ride and get help from the throttle when the going gets too hard. It’s also great for starting safely. At age 75, it beats an electric ‘scooter’

  5. Pete permalink
    15 March, 2012 8:17 am

    I really love my Apollo Eon Nexus, apart from getting readily avaible spare parts from Apollo in Knoxfield, and several emails i got satisaction from Paul who did his utmost to please. I find the Battery charge is very good for a ride of approx 75kms. And why did i decide to go Electric well after buying a normal bike, i found that i could not ride due a surgeyi had. to a Aotro bypass graft. I am very happy with the speed that my E-bike goes.

  6. Elizabeth permalink
    15 March, 2012 11:46 am

    What do you all recommend for a rider who pedals 90% of the time but can’t do steep hills? Prefer something light, doesn’t need huge battery capacity.

    Are there any bikes where pedalling recharges the battery?

    • Christopher Webber permalink
      29 March, 2012 12:58 pm

      Hi, Elizabeth, there are few bikes which can use regenerative braking or similar systems as this would add too much cost andn weight and would make it take too long for you to go down hill. Using a solar panel to recharge the batteries is possible. see http://www.ecospeed.com/regenbraking.pdf for some discussion of why regenerative braking is considered inefficient and too expensive on an e-bike

    • rob permalink
      16 July, 2012 8:10 pm

      My wife and I both have e-bikes which I made up from TEBCO Hurricane kits. Far too many ebikes are far too heavy to handle. My wife had one that was hopeless. Get a light, strong aluminium frame bike and get it converted with a kit.

      • rob permalink
        16 July, 2012 8:14 pm

        I forgot to say to use only lithium-ion battery, not lead-acid. The weight saving and performance are well worth the extra cost.

  7. Allan Garbutt permalink
    15 March, 2012 3:42 pm

    E-bikes will take off in the next few years. As the current crop of (ageing) riders start to experience knee/leg issues, they will turn to assisted cycling in their droves. I know I will. Hopefully continued research will get the weight down to (say) 10kg which is where most bikes are now. I think the future for cycling looks great.

  8. 15 March, 2012 5:58 pm

    Hi Allan,

    Unless the new new Australian standard comes through at 250 watts and it is speed limited electric bikes could be as safe as a bicycle. Especially with new the new Japanese standards that up to 6 km a hour the power assist is 2 to 1 and then 1 to 1 till it cuts out at 25 km per hour.

    Hi Elisabeth, the 2 to 1 power assist would take you up the steep hilla at speeds of less than 6 km/hr.

    EU TELLS DRIVERS TO TAKE FEET OFF THE PEDAL: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

    The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2011 that “strongly recommends the `responsible authorities to introduce speed limits of 30 km/hr in all residential areas and on single lane roads in urban areas which have no separate cycle lanes “ This resolution is is part of a wide range of measures to halve Europe’s 31,000 annual road fatalities by 2020. (Kock Report 2011)

    The latest information from Europe is that a 30 kph limit on local roads and main roads in busy urban areas heavily used by walkers are much safer for al non-motorised users, motorised wheelchairs and electric bicycles. Compare this with the overall road safety record of the Netherlands and Australia shown on table 2.

    It is very clear that on the basis of kilometres ridden by bicycle the Netherlands is still safer even though no one is compelled by law to wear a bicycle helmet. Table 3 shows the pedestrian fatality rates per 100,000 population for Australia and the Netherlands and it is clear that since 1965 the Netherlands has been much safer for both pedestrians and cyclists. The Dutch government believes that the 30 kph limit is of great benefit to all non-motorised users”

    It is assumed that riding a speed limited electric bicycle is as safe as a bicycle given the existence of a low speed limit This assumption is soundly based on data from selected bicycle friendly EU countries which have the following 2010 road death rates per 100,000 population: , Sweden 3.0, Netherlands 3.7, Japan 4.3, and Germany 4.7, Denmark 4.5, Switzerland 4.5 France 6.1. Australia’s death rate is higher (6.2) and the US death rate of 10.5 is even higher.
    The European bicycle friendly countries are safer for all road users. (See table 2 )

    Table 2. Road deaths and death rates selected EU countries. Source IRTAD 2011

    Source: Parker, Alan (2011)  In Europe 250 watt pedelecs reduce pollution and improve the safety and mobility of young and elderly riders.  Australasian Transport Research Forum 2011 Proceedings 28 – 30 September 2011, Adelaide, Australia.

    Note to moderator. Its a pity people cant put in their graphs, tables and photos on this site.

    Ideally, it is desirable to analyse the three road safety risks measures used by the international road safety agency (IRTAD 2010)) accident analysis for 20 countries to compare the safety levels in those countries experiencing a large growth in both bicycle and pedestrian exposure, as is done for other road users. The most reliable measure for pedestrians and cyclists is deaths per 100,000 population has to based on exposure. Even now far bicyclists ride or how far pedestrians walk in Australia is not done systematically.

    The problem in Australia is that neither the of death rate per vehicle billion kms, or rate 10,000 registered vehicles, that is shown on the right side of Table 2 have always been used by Commonwealth or state transport agencies to measure tatal death and serious injurery rates . That is until Until IRTAD compelled the Commonwealth and state agencies to measure cycling and pedestrian exposure by age group in 2009. Before then usable data was not available. Even now these estimates are not based on reliable national survey data as is done in the Netherlands every two years. Australia would have around 600 few deaths if it had the Netherland’s 2010 death rate.

  9. Allan Garbutt permalink
    15 March, 2012 7:43 pm

    Alan A Parker – Unless the new new Australian standard comes through at 250 watts and it is speed limited electric bikes could be as safe as a bicycle. Especially with new the new Japanese standards that up to 6 km a hour the power assist is 2 to 1 and then 1 to 1 till it cuts out at 25 km per hour.
    I don’t understand!

  10. Christopher Webber permalink
    16 March, 2012 10:25 am

    There was no assessment of hill climbing ability or the ability to carry groceries – no point in an e-bike if it can’t take you up hills (this is a common problem with e-bikes) and carry your shopping!!! Please recommend a bike with good hill climbing capabilities. this bike http://www.aseakoelectricbike.com.au/index.html appears to have good hill climbing cabailities but nil shopping ability

    • 16 March, 2012 12:17 pm

      Hi Christopher
      All the bikes were tested on hills. The chain-drive type such as the model you link to here certainly has the strongest climbing ability. We reviewed the chain-driven Gette Sportif above.
      As for shopping, the Tonaro Chianti is the only one that comes with a basket but most could be fitted with baskets front and back. Many of the bikes with batteries in the rear racks don’t easily take pannier clips, which is annoying. Your favourite bike shop should be able to kit you out.

  11. 16 March, 2012 2:23 pm

    HI Allan,
    It Is confusing because the only change for E-bike regulations in Australia is the increase to 250 watts and a 25 Km/Hr motor cut out. These changes are being considered at the next Australia BIcycle Council meeting at the request of the ARRB, to persuade the Commonwealth Department of transport to accept these changes. These changes where knocked back in 2009. Perhaps these changes will go through 2012.

    Even if these changes are accepted they will be better than no changes. Because Australians far more E-bikes to choose from in the bike shops.

    However they will still be inferior to the European Electric Bike AND COMPONENT Regulations. The Japanese regulations upping the “one to one” assistance to “two to one” assistance from starting of to to a speed of 6 km/Hr. The “two to one” assist will be of great assistance up steep hills.

  12. Wendy-jane Anderson permalink
    19 March, 2012 8:31 am

    Hi I ride an E-trike which you did not do justice to in your review. I ride a Christiannia cargo trike daily on a 32km daily school commute.. I love my etrike and the pedellec motor and battery really do offer great support and do get up the big hills like the MCG bridge. It just gives me confidence to do rail trails, maybe you could get cyclists who actually ride these bikes long term to do the reviews??

  13. don owers permalink
    19 March, 2012 4:52 pm

    What happened to the Australian designed e bike that won on the Australin inventors. It consisted of a motor that sat on the rack and drove thru’ a rubber friction drive onto the rear wheel. This wheel could be engauged whenever required and the whole system could be easly removed when not required . It was also relatively cheap

  14. Allan Garbutt permalink
    19 March, 2012 5:49 pm

    This is a really interesting and relevant discussion. What is sacroscant about 200 watts? As battery technology implroves and motor technolgy progresses, why not 350 watts? Is this a beurocratic ceiling? Or are there saferty/physical limitation at play?

  15. 20 March, 2012 4:23 pm

    HI Allan
    The NSW Road Traffic Authority is recommending 250 watts. With 2 to 1 power assist till 10Km/Hr, and then 1 to 1 assist till 25Km/Hr and then the electric assist cuts outs. In Victoria Vic roads still wants 200 watts with 1 to 1 assist with no cut out at any speed and throttle control which enable young cyclists to wind up their speed to to 30 to 50 Km/Hr which other slower cyclist and pedestrians would raise objections to their use on “shared footways and on segregated bicycle lanes. However many commuter cyclists would find throttle controlled Electric bike Using ON-Road bikelanes is unknown however the elderly ones riding slower might. Its likely that the National Bicycle Council will advise the minister of transport to 250 watts and automatic cut out at 25 Km/Hr. That is called a Pedelec and was invented by Yahama in 1990 at the request of Japanese health experts to elderly cyclists to carry on cyclist.

    • Allan Garbutt permalink
      20 March, 2012 5:18 pm

      Hi Alan. Thanks for the ongoing information. If it is as you say then I think I agree with the National Bicycle Council. The aim of e-bikes should be on-going mobility not to emulate the Tour de France. Speed is not the goal. Mobility is.

  16. John Jacobs permalink
    22 March, 2012 9:19 pm

    The adoption of an arbitrary wattage limit is an indication that the ebike is poorly understood by both the legislators and the non-assisted cycle groups who seem to want to take an active role in their development. The national bicycle council has no more reason to dictate to ebike legislators than the pedestrian council has to dictate the rules to those who administer marathon events, and here’s at least on reason why; they have demonstrated that they don’t understand the motive power. Surely a pre-requisite for such an endeavour.

    Watts isn’t a measure of speed. It is a figure derived from the amount of Amps being drawn by the motor at a rate multiplied by the volts. Depending on the winding and type of motor this could mean an ebike that draws 20 amps at 24 volts (480 Watts) yet only travels at 15 kph max. The power would be translated as excellent torque for starting and hill-climbing for a heavier rider or for a hilly area. The same 24 volts at just 8 amps (192 Watts) in an ebike that uses the bike’s gears could see it storming past you on the cycleway at 45kph scaring the fluoro vest of your back.

    Considering that I can achieve 65kph with a bit of a tailwind and a bit if a downward slope using leg power alone makes me think that these restrictions being touted by my fellow cyclists as being a bit pious and worthy.

    I strongly disagree with the notion that “The aim of e-bikes should be on-going mobility not to emulate the Tour de France. Speed is not the goal. Mobility is.”

    In my view, the goal of the ebike should be to assist in changing the face of transport from 2 tonne carriages propelled by the power of 200 horses, to small lightweight one or two person vehicles propelled by the electron equivalent of one or two horses. I really believe that the National Bicycle Council (I don’t remember voting in that election) has a conflict of interest in this matter and should butt out.

    • Allan Garbutt permalink
      26 March, 2012 3:40 pm

      Interesting conversation on the relationship between watts, amps and voltage. The people I talk to who ride e-bikes are really only interested in having a system that will allow them, with their dicky knees, to travel moderate distances over moderate terrain. They are not on a planet changing quest to rid the earth of cars. They just want to ride a bike. It is as simple as that.

      • 9 April, 2012 6:06 pm

        I agree with that wholeheartedly. The goal should be to make bicycling for transportation or fun easier and more accessible to everyone, not to turn bicycles in Formula 1 racing machines. A bicyclist is a vulnerable person. Racing along at 60 kph or even more is beyond insane and should not be allowed on the road.

      • Allan Garbutt permalink
        14 April, 2012 7:09 pm

        Today as I left Montmorency station I spoke with a women riding a bike with a tag-a-long. It also had an electric motor. She said the electric motor allowed her to ride with her 6 year old(?) along all of Melbournes bike paths. She said it allowed her to bond with her child and to give her knowledge and attitudes about sensible riding before she became an independent cyclist. I was really impressed with this approach to e-cycles. It is a view I had not thought about. A new dimension opened for me. Also the notions of watts, volts an amps bored her to tears.

      • 22 April, 2012 5:09 am

        Although I did not think about this specific use, that’s exactly one of the uses that would be “covered” by my view of things. I love it!

        Essentially, in my view, an e-bike should make riding more accessible by taking away the unpleasant aspects of bike riding: climbing hills, going against the wind, taking away the effort needed to carry (heavy) loads…

      • Christopher Webber permalink
        20 April, 2012 10:25 am

        Well at 60 or 70 Kph an ordinary bicycle begins to shudder alarmingly and becomes hard to control but these bikes are heavier (and hopefully more strongly constructed) and hopefully that isn’t such a problem but anyway it is very hard to achieve those sorts of speeds on a bike. I would expect that an average speed of 40 km/h should be possible as that is possible on an ordinary bike and if a maximum has to be set then 40 km/h should be the maximum, maximum 25 km/h is just laughable for an experienced bike rider and would discourage those seeking a car alternative.

      • 22 April, 2012 5:32 am

        If you really mean that, then you must be consistent and also advocate driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis at 300+ kph on the road.

        The goal of the electric-assist style e-bike is not so much as the creation of an alternative mode of transport as it is to take away the unpleasant aspects of exclusively (wo)man-powered bicycles. The goal is to create an improved bike, not a new class of machine.

        In a hilly city such as Toronto, riding a bike can be challenge. The addition of an electric motor to assist the user, essentially flattens out the hilly parts and makes riding a bicycle in Toronto as easy and natural as riding a bicycle in Amsterdam, i.e. the e-bike is not meant to turn every six-year or eighty-year old into a bullet, but to make it possible to ride a bike where now, only a tiny minority is strong enough to do so. It is an attempt to improve the bike, *without* creating a new class of transportation devices.

        What you describe is essentially the construction of a motorbike with an electric motor instead of a gas guzzling engine. I have nothing against that. I’d be a fool if I did. However, machines like that belong on the road, not on bike lanes and bike paths where bicycles ride.

        Yes, I know, I have been a bit ambiguous in my previous message by saying “should not be allowed on the road”. I meant, of course, the part of the road where bicycles go, i.e. bike lanes and bike paths.

      • John Jacobs permalink
        19 April, 2012 10:58 pm

        Heartwarming story. Let’s hope bicycle lobby nanny groups like the National Bicycle Council don’t succeed in their quest for legislation to make her assisted bike illegal.

    • 22 April, 2012 5:40 am

      Nobody is restricting the speed of e-bikes. All that is being advocated is cutting out the assist above a certain speed. That is a major difference.

      • John Jacobs permalink
        22 April, 2012 12:34 pm

        @Bart: “Nobody is restricting the speed of e-bikes.” Really? The EU limits speed to 25kph, wattage to 250W and removes the ability of the bike to operate without pedalling. What is being advocated for Australia is adoption of this Wattage limit, as well as the speed limit as well as the inability to provide assist from rest without first pedalling.

        When carrying a child (or two as many parents do), either in a child seat or on a trailer, the capacity to being rolling before you lift your feet off the ground and apply force to the pedals is a major safety benefit. Particularly attractive to mums & dads making the decision to leave the 3 tonne SUV at home and ride instead.

        With respect to your comparison of unrestricted eBikes and 300kph Ferraris, the fact is that I can ride along almost all bike paths at speeds in excess of 50kph legally and without any motor assist. Why then do we have people advocating a speed slower than mine for assisted riders who may not be able to match my leg power on the same stretch of cycleway? Why are they being penalised by this imaginary safety concern? I’m not the fastest rider on the bike path either but I don’t begrudge those who overtake me. I believe the real issue here is that those cyclists who populate committees seek to impose their collectivism on others by looking for a way to appoint themselves as keepers of the cycleways by inventing fallacious safety concerns.

        My message to the bicycle committee members is “you own a bike, not the cycleway”

      • Allan Garbutt permalink
        22 April, 2012 2:29 pm

        To advocate high speed cycling along what are shared pathhways; shared by mothers with prams, young children, elderly walkers etc. is irresponsible. If you want to travel at high speed on a bike, then do it where it is safe to do so, not on a shared path.

      • 22 April, 2012 2:55 pm

        I could not agree more, Allan. There is a reason we have sidewalks and footpaths and bikepaths and roads. Just because there is now a technology. If people want to ride at the same speeds as cars, all the power to them, but they should do that where those speeds are appropriate, and that’s not on sidewalks or bike paths.

      • 22 April, 2012 2:43 pm

        With respect to your comparison of unrestricted eBikes and 300kph Ferraris, the fact is that I can ride along almost all bike paths at speeds in excess of 50kph legally and without any motor assist.

        I am impressed. How many milliseconds are you able to sustain that? For your information, the UCI “hour record” is held by Ondrej Sosenka, who managed 49km700 in 2005. That was indoors, on a smooth track, not outside on the road. My question is therefore not a superfluous one.

        Furthermore, How many people are doing that? The two previous record holders were Chris Boardman and my countryman Eddy Merckx who set his in 1972. The difference between the three records is less than 300 metres. The comparison with 300kph Ferraris may not sound all that far-fetched anymore.

        As I said elsewhere, nobody is trying to limit your astonishing speed, but you’ll have to do it yourself and you’ll have to do it somewhere else than a bike lane or a bike path. As it should be. Motors that allow the average family to reach such speeds is something we already have: they are found in cars and that’s what they are for. No one is trying to eliminate the car, just trying to encourage people to limit its use to when it is actually necessary to use one.

        If you want to replace the gas-guzzling engine by an electric one, by all means. But just changing the source of energy from gas into electricity does not change cars into bicycles. They are not and should not be allowed on bicycle lanes and paths for exactly the same reason that we do not allow bicycles on sidewalks.

        The reason leg-powered rockets like yourself are allowed on bike lanes is simply that no-one ever predicted that superhuman cyclists like yourself would ever emerge in such large numbers as to become a danger to their fellow primates limping around at average speeds of 15 or so kph.

        Just an extra question: how do you manage to slalom through all those people who are biking around at real speeds of 10 to 20 kph? In Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park, we have cyclists who fancy themselves racers, and while their speeds average between 25 and 35 kph, they cause more accidents than we can shake a stick at, including bumping into pedestrians, other cyclists and killing the wildlife the Park is there to protect.

        Oh, and in Toronto, the speed limit on paths and trails is 20 kph. In light of this, there seems no point in electric bicycles that go any faster. Unless of course, their riders want to ride on the road.

      • Harvey Beetle permalink
        22 April, 2012 2:40 pm

        @John Jacobs: I think what @Bart meant was if you can pedal fast enough or hard enough you can still exceed 25kph, meaning the bike itself is not speed-restricted, only the assistance. Pedantry, perhaps. ;)
        Also, could you clarify if you mean specifically cycle paths, or do you mean shared paths? …Footpaths? If you mean shared paths or even footpaths, then surely the legal responsibility rests with the cyclist to travel at a safe speed that prevents collisions with pedestrians, even if the “speed limit” is much higher. Again, pedantry. :)

      • John Jacobs permalink
        22 April, 2012 3:59 pm

        Pedantry indeed. Bart, I reach speeds in excess of 50kph every day on my commute, not on a flat velodrome, but on the downhill sections of my ride, like 10,000 other cyclists who follow that route. Your attempt to ridicule me by doubting my claims shows that your understanding of physics, by failing to consider gravity, means that you either live in a land as flat as a billiard table or, you have never actually ridden a bike. I have ridden in Belguim and I suspect the latter. Pious much?

        The point I have laboured to make is that many many cyclists can ride at 50, even 60kph on their bicycles unassisted and do so when it is safe and legal. Why then do the collectivists want to limit eBikes to a state of lesser privilege because of their available motive power. Why is it so important to make sure that my wife takes twice as long as I to make a bicycle journey. Why do people make ridiculous assumptions that a pedal powered cyclist will travel at a safe speed but an electric assisted cyclist will ride flat-out like a lunatic? The opposite is more likely to be true. I ride fast downhill because I have to pedal up the other side. An eBiker doesn’t need to.

        Harvey, Non-Assisted cyclist don’t have any moral superiority over other cycleway users or inate ability to judge what speed is safe. The seperation of cyclists into sub-groups and path classifications is a sure way to keep the committee happy and the nuovo cycliste off your precious cycleways.

        I don’t advocate unsafe speeds I simply oppose limiting the bicycle’s capacity to satisfy fallacious safety concerns brought about by those who seek to control the movement of others by deliberately making false claims.

      • 22 April, 2012 5:27 pm

        I reach speeds in excess of 50kph every day on my commute, not on a flat velodrome, but on the downhill sections of my ride, like 10,000 other cyclists who follow that route.

        Indeed, but that’s not quite what you wrote is it?

        the fact is that I can ride along almost all bike paths at speeds in excess of 50kph legally and without any motor assist.

        means that you either live in a land as flat as a billiard table or, you have never actually ridden a bike. I have ridden in Belguim and I suspect the latter.

        I have ridden a bike almost all my life. That includes when I was 11 years old and was forced to ride a bike to a restaurant approx. 12 km away where I worked for between 12 and 16 hours, only to have to return in the middle of the night, have a short sleep and go back.

        Oh, and yes, that part of Belgium is indeed very flat. It also has the notorious North Sea wind that often keeps you from advancing to the point that your speed becomes so low that you fall over.

        And no, that’s not typical for Belgium. As any country -including Holland as a matter of fact- its relief is varied. Sure, there are no Alps there, and no Pyrenees, no Appalachian mountains, not even an El Capitan, but Flanders *is* home to the “Wall of Geeraardsbergen”, a notoriously difficult climb, revered and feared by professional cyclists the world over.

        As for the rest, I don’t think you need me to point out that your argument holds no water. If it did, we would not need speed limits for cars, would we? If it did, we would not have people dying in speed-related accidents all over the planet every single day, would we? If it did, we would not see serious injuries and daths diminish when we lower the maximum speed, would we? Unless, of course, you would be able to show that the brains of cyclists are wired so differently that they become risk-averse instead of risk-seeking when the speed limits are removed. You prove that, and you’ll have most of us changing our minds.

        And by the way, there is a speed limit of 40 kph on bicycle lanes in Belgium at least since I was a child. So, even if you *can* pedal faster, you’re not allowed to. And yes, people do get arrested for exceeding that limit. In Toronto (the one in Ontario, Canada) the speed limit is 20 kph.

        If your wife can’t ride that fast, so much the better for all of us, including her and you. Has it occurred to you that your wife, falling at 40 or 50 kph is likely to be very seriously hurt, unless you put her in body armour, which is of a nature to take away the very reasons us mere mortals like bikes in the first place?

        You want to ride your bike downhilling at speeds in excess of a 100 kph? (yes, that’s indeed possible), you’re welcome. You’re just very unwelcome doing that where our fellow primates are expecting a modicum of courtesy. You want to ride at the speed of a car, you ride with the cars. It’s that simple. Just as we don’t want bikes knocking us to the ground on sidewalks, we don’t need speed maniacs knocking us out of our socks on the bike paths.

        Once again, the legislation Europeans and North Americans have created and are still refining, is meant to allow bicycles to be assisted by a motor while still remaining bicycles. If you don’t agree with that, that is your right. Just vote someone into office who will defend your views. That’s how democracy works.

        The seperation of cyclists into sub-groups and path classifications is a sure way to keep the committee happy and the nuovo cycliste off your precious cycleways.

        Nope. It is to keep racers out of places that are not for them and make sure that bike paths keep the function they were and are intended to have. It is to make sure that a bicycle remains a bicycle, even when it is equipped with a motor. That is why the motor cuts off when the biker reaches speeds that are no longer considered typical for a biker. You still have the option pedalling that fast on your own. I see no problem here. If you want to reach higher speeds with a motor, fine, you buy a motorbike. That’s why the category exists.

        Lowering the maximum-allowed speed for cars has been proven to increase safety. Your argument would be a lot less flimsy if you were able to prove that this is not true for bicycles.

      • John Jacobs permalink
        23 April, 2012 12:02 am

        I am truly bewildered at your endless assumptions. Yes I can reach speeds of 50kph on almost any bike path. When riding with friends I can sustain it for about 45 minutes. 50 kph on the flat is not a herculean task and most of the riders I ride with could do the same. So your point is moot. I get it, you’re old and slow and don’t like being passed by faster riders. This is an issue for you not the rest of the world. Buy a mobility scooter instead.

        The other point is the outright lie that a cyclist travelling at 50 or 60 kph is a danger to himself and others. Because of the nature of cycling, the usual attire one wears and the natural vulnerability, a cyclist is mindful of his riding conditions and adjusts his speed appropriately. I live in a place where cyclists ride at higher speeds than the average commuter and there is no subsequent rise in the number of collisions or pedestrians knocked down. This tests your hypothesis and proves it wrong.

        I oppose the assumption that pedal assisted cyclists are idiots incapable of sound judgement and require speed limiting devices. Cars require limits because they are 2 tonne monsters with the power of 200 horses carrying the kinetic energy of a missile. They are not vulnerable like cyclists and act accordingly. Comparing cyclists to car drivers is as foolish as comparing a rider to a 300kph Lamborghini… Reductio ad absurdum.

        My wife, also an accomplished cyclist with a disability from a complication during childbirth has ridden with me for decades, herself in Houffalize at a World Cup event, is entitled to continue cycling and doesn’t need an ill-informed collectivist making absurd assumptions about her ability or need for me to dress her in body armour. We are adults opposing those who so desperately feel the need to protect us from ourselves by creating absurd predictions, unsupported by the data, about the dangers of cycling above 25 or 40 kph. The fact that Canada has those ridiculous speed limits and is prepared to incarcerate citizens to enforce them shows what a backward country Canada is ‘eh. It doesn’t make it a fact.

        Your pathological need to oppress me with your lies and rules is truly bewildering. “speeds no longer considered typical for a biker” is such a ridiculous claim I can only shake my head in disbelief. Why do you make up such nonsense? Why do you feel the need to stifle development of this wondrous transportation device we call the eBike? Do you work in Canada for Exxon or General Motors? Why do you want to ruin the adoption of alternative transport by making it over-regulated and unworkable?

      • 23 April, 2012 2:50 am

        This is what happens when you defend a position while disregarding the evidence: you end up contradicting yourself and known facts and end up making a joke of yourself.

        the fact is that I can ride along almost all bike paths at speeds in excess of 50kph legally and without any motor assist.

        I reach speeds in excess of 50kph every day on my commute, not on a flat velodrome, but on the downhill sections of my ride, like 10,000 other cyclists who follow that route.

        When riding with friends I can sustain it for about 45 minutes. 50 kph on the flat is not a herculean task and most of the riders I ride with could do the same.

        It becomes also vanishinly unlikely in comparison to what the UCI tells us: that the UCI “hour record” is held by Ondrej Sosenka, who managed 49km700 in 2005. That was indoors, on a smooth track, not outside on the road.

        Furthermore, even if you were able to ride at these highly atypical speeds no one is trying to prevent you from doing so. You are simply required to do so in places where this is appropriate, i.e. the road, not bike paths.

        The increase of the number of accidents and their seriousness is well-established by police departments and hospitals and morgues the world over. Visit them. Be astonished at the difference of crashing into a tree at 5 kph and at 50 kph.

        These are not assumptions, sir, they are verifiable facts. If you choose to deny them, that is your prorogative. Your arguments will be weighed and taken into account accordingly: not at all.

        You are entitled to your own opinion, not to your own facts.

  17. 27 March, 2012 5:21 pm

    Hi Allan,
    I agree about the dicky knees. This is why Keith Dunstan BVs first President got one and so have tens of thousands Dutch 600,000 of them for a wide range of heath complaints
    I have at 75 Just had a new pacemaker put into my chest and when I ride I can only generate 80 watts so I want a new EU or Japanese 250 watt Bike and the sooner all elderly Australians who have serious health problem that make it dificult to walk like osteo arthritis. Read my transport conference paper to understand how serious this health issue is. The last paper on my website Website: http://alanparker-pest.org/

    In Australia in 2004–05, 31% (6 million) of the population (33% of females and 29% of males) reported having a long-term disease of the musculoskeletal system: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and back problems plus uncounted others with MS, obesity, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

    • Allan Garbutt permalink
      27 March, 2012 5:33 pm

      Hi Alan ( and others). Quite coincidently as I completed my Tuesday 60K ride with my cycling buddies, I saw this cyclist with a mountain bike complete with a 1000 watt motor that took up half the area of the back wheel. He informed me that he regularly cycles from Eltham to the city and back without a charge. Now 1000 watts is approaching 1 horsepower. What is going on? We are discussing 200 watt motors and this guy is using 1000 watts?

      • John Jacobs permalink
        28 March, 2012 11:37 am

        I’m flummoxed as to why a person who rides a bicycle for exercise would want to endorse restrictions on a person who rides an eBike for transport. On the flat, almost none of them can outpace a strong rider on a road bike (which make up 90% of the Saturday morning coffee run peloton anyway). Allan, you illustrate the point well that power output of eBike motors is poorly understood. I’m sure the motor you refer to is the Golden Motors’ Magic Pie. The diameter of the motor is relative to its mechanical torque not its electrical output. There are much smaller motors with internal planetary gears that can outperform this motor. My point is that we shouldn’t let motor size or rated Watts dictate the laws on performance restrictions. After all, most people who ride eBikes have good knees, they just want to arrive at work without being saturated in sweat. In my view, bicycles are for exercise and eBikes are for transport. Why is 1000 Watts a concern? I’ll tell you why, because like everyone else, you don’t understand what that means in terms of both performance and safety. It’s a little like our lawmakers banning wheels bigger than 26″ because the bikes will be too fast. It is flawed logic.

  18. Allan Garbutt permalink
    28 March, 2012 1:22 pm

    “In my view, bicycles are for exercise and eBikes are for transport…” I don’t believe this is an accurate description of e-bike users. Some e-cyclists I have spoken to use them as asistance to recreation and ecercise riding as they have medical conditions that calls for pedaling assistance at times. No doubt there are many who can be classed as transport users, but we can’t be so black and white in classification.

    This has all been an interesting thread. I guess what we all want to do is influence those who are making decisions on our behalf. How do we do this? Who do we write to to make our views known? What is Bicycle Victoria’s position on all of this?

  19. 28 March, 2012 4:28 pm

    Alan parker • OAM T
    he problem with BV is simply that they believe what VicRoads tell them. As VicRoads has no rational policy on E-Bikes an neither has BV thats where problem lies. What is needed is for the commonwealth and the states to adopt the new EU legislation on the 250 watt Pedelec and associated regulations on the safety Ion lithium batteries and their transport. The Commonwealth uses some EU regulations for trucks and cars.

    Below is a summary of my transport conference paper on Pedelecs which is the last paper
    of several on this subject on my website. .Website http://alanparker-pest.org/

    Summary
    The pedelec invented, tested and made in Japan in the 1990s and mass produced in Europe, China and Japan since 2007. Fitted with ion lithium batteries by 2010, charged by small solar cell arrays at home or work by 2015, could de-congest the roads, the clean up the air and reduce CO2 emissions in the cities of the EU, China, Australia and the developing world by 2020. The adoption of new Pedelec safety regulations, by the EU, China, Australia and other countries during or before 2012. Speed limited 250 pedelecs are a safe, healthy and viable alternative to unsustainable car travel in cities needed for the evolution of sustainable transport for 2 billion city dwellers by 2020. Consumers able to legally ride pedelecs as bicycles and make better use of both existing and new bicycle infrastructure. In Australia the 200 watt limit and contradictory state regulations need to be replaced by EU regulations as the Chinese government Intends to. Other aspects of the Pedelec and it potential use in cities follow.

    It is assumed that riding pedelecs is as safe as riding a bicycle. This assumption soundly based from selected bicycle friendly EU countries which have the following 2010 road death rates per 100,000 population: – , Sweden 3.0, Netherlands 3.9, Japan 4.3, and Germany 4.7, Denmark 4.5, Switzerland 4.5 France 6.1. Australia’s death rate is higher (6.2) and the US death rate of 10.5 is even higher. After all These bicycle friendly countries are safer for all road users.

    BV really has had problem for the last 10 in coming to terms with what needs to be done.
    Dont listen to me I merely write peer reviewed papers at transport research conferences.
    What would know?

    • John Jacobs permalink
      30 March, 2012 12:42 pm

      I agree that an international standard would be better than a local one for a variety of reasons. If it’s 250W pedelec then so be it. However, this form of transport is being regulated to appease the wishes of pedal powered bicycle users rather than as alternative transport to, as you rightly say “de-congest the roads, the clean up the air and reduce CO2 emissions in the cities of the EU, China, Australia and the developing world by 2020″

      The problem with a Watt limit as opposed to a speed limit is that the restriction on amps available to the motor severely restricts available torque for starting and climbing even modest hills. An eBike almost always has a battery pack of a fixed voltage. Commonly that is either 24, 36 or 48 volts. The motor is wound to spin at a predetermined number of revolutions per volt. More volts = faster spinning. The Watts in this case is determined by the electronic controller (and devices like the cycle analyst) and the amount of ‘amps’ it allows the battery pack to deliver to the motor. More amps are required for accelleration and climbing hills. So, a modest motor WOUND for 25kph at 48 volts but allowed to receive 20 amps would not exceed 25kph but would climb hills and accellerate adequately from the lights, though sometimes peaking at 1000W on steeper climbs. On the flat it’s still a 25kph limited bike but drawing say, 4 amps and outputting 190W or so.

      A speed limit is also far more easily implemented and Policed than is a Watt limit. Police don’t carry multimeters or bicycle dynomometers. Even if they could, the accuracy required to determine an eBike’s output would be easily challenged. Currently they rely on a 200W sticker on the motor which can be purchased on ebay and stuck to your 1kW motor in seconds. There really is no point creating a limit that cannot be measured, enforced or prosecuted. Governments already have the tools and the trained manpower to measure, enforce and prosecute speed regulations.

      If they want to enforce 25kph for eBikes, that’s do-able. If they want to enforce 200 or 250 Watts, that isn’t.

  20. 1 April, 2012 2:08 pm

    Alan parker OAM.
    High John,
    In the EU countries; a Member of European Parliament, Wim van de Camp, invited the ETRA to make a submission to the EU. The ETRA submitted two proposals applying to E-bikes and E-scooters the differences between them are very important

    1. All pedelecs with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h in order to allow the EU to amend the Classification under the Machinery, Directive+ EN 15194, the current standard. This would exempt the Pedelecs from the type-approval procedure and they would be classified as bicycles. As a result they could be used In the EU without helmets, drivers’ licenses or insurance.

    2. E-scooters with pedals, up to 45 km/h cycles that can be propelled by the motor itself, would still be subject to type-approval but the procedure would be adapted to suit so that unnecessary requirements would not apply.

    Australia has no mechanism for adapting to point 2 above and should be rejected because the maximum speed permitted is 45 Km /Hr which makes them less safe for riding on shared footways, bikelanes and residential streets with low speed limits

    The draft report of the European Parliament on the review of the type-approval was published on 5 May 2011. The pedelec proposal is in the regulation in 2012.

    Australia has the option of changing its regulations for accept 250 watt pedelecs but as far a higher wattages scooters with pedals the National Bicycle Council ,the NTC and the commonwealth Transport Minister and Austroads cannot make a decision because of the Bureaucratic regulatory mess in Australia which wili take years to resolve this.

  21. John Cammeron permalink
    9 April, 2012 11:59 am

    HI all,
    I noticed my ASEAKO MOTO was not listed in the test – http://www.aseakoelectricbike.com.au

    I bought my MOTO electric bike online for a fraction of the bikes tested above but the funny thing is its exactly the same bike as the Gette Sportif, minus the retail margin. Yes excellent hill climbing ability, and groceries can be carried if you fit your own pannier or basket etc – I didnt want to ruin the sporty look of my MOTO so I have not fitted either as I dont need them.

    Just adding to the posts above I always ride my electric bike with minimal power assist (Low) and then raise this to high assist when I come to a hill, which just flattens out the hills when I ride. This gives me exercise and also allows me to ride long distances and on almost any terrain, which I cant do on a standard bike otherwise I would be walking up most hills. I am sure most people would not ride their electric bike in this way but this is how I do it – its gives me some exercise and allows me to ride long distances – its a great concept which will grow in Australia at an alarming rate as more people experience a good quality electric bike.

    • 22 April, 2012 5:48 am

      In the beginning of March, I ordered a Gazelle Orange Excellent Innergy (which I hope should arrive before the end of April) to do exactly what you do: flatten out the hills and reduce the power of the wind when It’s working against me. I can hardly wait to receive it!

  22. Allan Garbutt permalink
    23 April, 2012 1:55 pm

    The ongoing discussion about how fast some people can ride a bike is clouding the issue. The discussion should be about ‘appropriate speed’. If you want to travel at high speed on a bike, then do it on the road. A cycle path with a whole range of cyclists of differing ability and age is not the place for speeding. Young children who are unpredictable. Older cyclists who deviate a fraction to miss that piece of glass etc. are all at risk from speeding cyclists. In addition, two bikes coming head on at 40 kph will hit at a combined speed of 80kph. That is grim reaper territory. Let us all try to keep cycling safe for everyone.

  23. Nic permalink
    4 June, 2012 7:30 pm

    I’ve been riding a Gazelle Innergy e-bike for the past 6 months now and absolutely love it. I’m healthy, in my 40’s and have been riding all sorts of bikes for as long as I can remember. You don’t have to be a pensioner to consider the joys of an e-bike. Mine is all I need to lift my spirits, get me motivated in the mornings and help me relax in the afternoons on the way home from work. I choose to leave the car behind for health and environmental reasons, to ride anywhere, no matter how far. In fact, we as a family ride most days, we’re considering selling our second car. I recharge the battery on average 2 times a week. Special cycling “gear” is not required on our commutes, we wear normal clothes. The biggest hurdle is not the rain, the hills or the cold mornings, it’s the lack of safe cycle paths. We have to keep reminding the government… “if you build safe cycle paths, more riders will come”. Hopefully words will turn into action to avoid many more avoidable deaths.

    • 5 June, 2012 11:34 am

      Which one do you have? The Orange, the Medeo, the Chamonix…

    • Allan Garbutt permalink
      5 June, 2012 4:10 pm

      Agree NIc. Over the last few months I am seeing many more e-bikes being ridden by people of all ages. A number of them had imported their kit fromm overseas an installed it themselves. The latest I saw was a computer controled model that allowed for power outputs to be regulated between 200 watts to 800 watts with a 48 volt battery system. A little heavy, but impressive.

  24. 4 October, 2012 12:34 pm

    I think its great you can get conversion kits, with legal power and also more powerful models. http://www.rev-bikes.com is the best place to buy them, local folks in Melbourne, with a workshop where they can help you do the conversion. Go ELECTRIC!!!

    • Big Al permalink
      4 October, 2012 1:30 pm

      I agree Rebecca. I rode an e-bike recently along a 65k bush rail trail and I guess I used the motor for about 25% of the ride. In all other respects it handled like my non electric bike. I think they are fantastic and continued development will see the weight start to fall.

  25. Big Al permalink
    4 October, 2012 1:27 pm

    I listened with interest to a news report on Melbourne radio (10/4/2012) that many e-bikes are being bought by motorists who have lost their car license for a variety of road offenses. Apparently due to a legal loophole, these people are allowed to drive a powered vehicle under 200 watts. VicPol is looking at the loophole. The law of unintended consequences strikes again. We cyclists might see ourselves having to contend with drunks along with all of the other hazards.

    • 4 October, 2012 1:37 pm

      Hi Big Al,
      The Herald Sun also published an article about this yesterday. FYI: It is no more legal to ride a bicycle (or electric bike) drunk than it is to drive a car.. Its just less likely to get caught. Nobody needs a licence to ride an electric bike under 200w, and this makes sense, as a fit cyclist can put out more power than this. It is not a legal loop-hole, it is just a great way for people with no licence to get around! Nothing says they have to be drunk, and I’d say they are more a danger to themselves than to us if they are. The primary power must be pedals, so I’d say an electric bike ride is far more sobering than hopping into a car. Be careful about labelling people who lost their licence as a danger on a bike, electric or not.

  26. 6 October, 2012 12:19 pm

    If we seriously want electric bikes to make a dent on transport – 250W is far too low. People need to be able to get from A to B whilst wearing work clothes, not having to shower or change at the each end, through hills etc.

    1000W with a 25-30km/hr cut out is needed in my view.

    I’ve been commuting on such a bike for 6 months and hate the thought of having to return to normal cycling or public transport.

    http://www.greenrenovation.com.au/golden-motor-magic-pie-3-electric-bike/

    • 8 October, 2012 11:30 am

      Excellent points you make Andrew, and I definitely agree!!! What does the output of the motor have to do with anything, without factoring in load?? The most important thing is the top speed, so that its not dangerous.
      We sell (with Australian support & warranties) the Magic Pie 3 motors like you have, I’m happy you are loving it :) Have you really limited the top speed? Most of our customers love the 45km/h ! Although I do think that is a bit fast, I believe the less difference in speed between bikes and cars, the less likely accidents are. If only we had our own lanes everywhere, like China have.

  27. Big Al permalink
    8 October, 2012 9:52 am

    I think that all of us would agree Andrew. We can only hope that cycling representatives such as BV are supporting a higher wattage.

  28. Brett Johnson permalink
    30 October, 2012 3:28 pm

    Having just read through this article and all of the other readers’ comments, I have some observations I think you will find pertinent. Firstly, let me say I recognise (at all times) there are three sides to every story; “his side, her side, and the truth”. I understand the thrust of the various arguments presented by some of the readers, and I can appreciate the merits of points made on each side of the debates. However, I see some significant points are misunderstood (or even completely overlooked) by proponents of each side of the debate.

    I am particularly interested in Power Assisted Bicycles as a form of commuter transport. I also quite enjoy riding for enjoyment. I do not own or ride a power assisted bicycle currently, but have been researching alternatives with a view to making a purchase in the near future.

    The arguments presented by a number of contributors here seem to pit one form of cycling against the other. Such approach is entirely unhelpful to both sides of the debate. Surely a balanced approach inclusive of the needs of ALL cyclists would present more rationally to legislators for their determination of appropriate rulings with respect to incorporation of motors in bicycles (whether powered Electrically or via Internal Combustion Engines).

    I recognise many here may not wish to hear anything whatsoever about petrol engined bicycles, however in the interest of balance and inclusion of the various alternatives I think discussion of the root issues is warranted. I have not yet fully formed a preference for any of the available alternatives. For this reason I would ask that you also suspend any prejudice you may have against ANY of the alternatives.

    The most significant aspect to any debate on the question of power assisted bicycles must be that of safety. To that end it must be noted rapid acceleration to a safe speed may be necessary for collision avoidance. As an example, it is widely accepted that many road accidents have occurred where vehicles (including cars) have been involved in crashes because they have been underpowered and unable to accelerate out of the path of oncoming traffic. As I intend to ride on the road as a commuter in hilly terrain in Sydney, this is an important consideration in my decision making process. To that end, it seems incredible to me that it would be seriously considered to limit available power for fear of top end speed. I think it would make far more sense to avail sufficient power to a vehicle to achieve safe acceleration to a governed maximum speed. Modern electronics makes it entirely possible to program such acceleration and maximum governed speeds via a controller unit. Such device could be fitted to either Electrically powered or Petrol engined vehicles (of any type).

    In terms of regulation and policing, a vehicle fitted with a programmable electronic control unit could have a tamper-proof label (resistant to counterfeit such as Microsoft Product Key labels) affixed at manufacture to prevent opening or interference. In the case of privately built or modified bicycles, the bicycle (including Controller) could be tested/inspected by a Licenced Certifier (as is already the case with other motor vehicles) at small cost. This would enable authorities such as the Police in each state to simply monitor vehicle speed and to inspect the tamper-proof label to ensure compliance with regulation.

    Such approach should satisfy the requirements for all users. This would avail sufficient power for hill climbing or collision avoidance, whilst simultaneously limiting vehicle top speeds to a limit deemed safe and reasonable.

    I recognise the cost of an engine management system for a Petrol Motor assisted bicycle would be a concern for owners and riders of these machines, but I would be confident a small EMS would be (relatively) uncomplicated as compared to that of a passenger sedan and would therefore cost significantly less than that of a unit in use in a passenger car. Given the global proliferation of these bikes over recent years, the unit cost of design and manufacture should see the price of these devices down at a reasonable level.

    I’d welcome feedback and further discussion on these points (but please avoid provocative or emotive arguments – as I mentioned earlier, it’s really not helpful to the debate !!)

  29. 6 December, 2012 9:52 pm

    Great Article on a fun subject, I have had one for over a year now and love riding it on the beach between Tallebudgera and Currumbin at low tide on the hard sand. I have bought several from Tonaro and am happy to give anyone on the gold coast a go anytime. electricbiketours.com.au There is also a Dealer/rental on the spit for the Pedego bikes called Electric Crooze. In the intrests of free market competition come and choose for yourself next time your on the gold coast as both bikes represent the increasingly wide spectrum available. Love the enthusiatic response of owners, they really are so much fun and get you out and about so much more. As seems to be mentioned the market penitration of the product has a considerable way to go but is gaining momentum with great coverage like this. Kind Regards Duncan

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