Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why most E-bikes are illegal!

fixed gear; single stage reduction

Why most electric bicycles are illegal:

Most people don’t even try to understand laws, and pretend that they will never get in trouble. Every time I try to bring up the subject they chant “the cops don’t care, the cops don’t care”. That is denial in the worst way!

All direct drive hub motors are set at such a high gear that they are not only illegal but also terrible hill climbers. All mid-drives, are by the letter of the law, ILEGAL; because if your bicycle can pedaled over 20 MPH on flat land, using its own gears, a One Horsepower motor can do a much better job than you can; you don’t even need to take your feet of the pedals! But of course most police will never bug you about it. But don’t count on the lawyer of the jerk that runs into you to take it so easy on you. All they have to do is claim you were moving too fast. And if you have a speed sensor to limit your motor, there is no way to prove it was connected right at the time of the wreck. 

There is only one way to set the speed mechanically; that is by setting a single speed gear that your motor’s output will not be able to push past. And you will have to program the controller to limit the output to that power. 

You could use a two speed gear box if the top speed is less than 20mph; then an extra low gear for steep hill climbing.

Do California's new laws help? I don't think so. they seem rather vague to me. and they still are limited to 20 mph.

This is also an interesting example of how nonsensical many electric bicycle laws are. Limiting the wattage of ebike motors doesn’t necessarily limit how powerful they can be. Even though a motor is marked as 250 watts (and even if it may actually be a true 250 watt motor), anyone could connect it to a 48V battery and run 20 amps through the motor to achieve 1,000 watts of power. Of course this could eventually damage or destroy the motor, but it is still demonstrates how it is entirely possible from a practical standpoint.

In fact, direct drive motors such as the Nine Continent are often listed as 500 or 1,000 watt motors, but many people have had success running them at over 3,000 watts by drilling out the cover plates to provide additional air cooling to the motor. Other modifications such as increasing the gauge of the wires carrying power to the copper windings can help maximize the useful power output of these strong, underrated motors.

Seattle police report:

Thank you for contacting the Seattle Police Department (SPD) regarding your concern and interest in complying with traffic laws associated with electric-assisted bicycles.

Enforcement of RCW’s 46.04.169 (Electric-assisted bicycle) and 46.04.071 (Bicycle) by law enforcement officers is dependent on officers’ judgments and observations. Officers do write citations for moving violations, including for speed limit overage, to bicycle operators. However, officers must have ‘reasonable suspicion’ to conduct a traffic stop rather than solely pulling over an electric-assisted bicycle operator to verify the motor’s wattage does not exceed 1000 watts or to test its ability to exceed 20 mph. In the event of a serious collision involving an electric-assisted bicycle, it would then be properly tested and investigated for the aforementioned requirements.

In general, operators of electric-assisted bicycles are advised to ride safely and within the parameters of traffic laws.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you need further assistance, please contact SPD Traffic Section at (206) 684-8722.

Apparently local police do not need to enforce federal law:

In washington state an e-bike can have a motor with only 1000 watts out put. So a velomobile should be registered as a moped. So the motor can have a 1500 watt output.

Electric bicycle laws:

Moped laws of Washington state says that you can't have more than 2 Brake Horsepower:

Horsepower at the output shaft of an engine, turbine, or motor is termed brake horsepower or shaft horsepower, depending on what kind of instrument is used to measure it.

It is the measure of an engine's horsepower before the loss in power caused by the gearbox and drive train etc.

In Europe the DIN standard tested the engine fitted with all ancillaries and exhaust system as used in the car. The American SAE system tests without alternator, water pump, and other auxiliary components such as power steering pump, muffled exhaust system, etc. so the figures are higher than the European figures for the same engine. Brake refers to the device which was used to load an engine and hold it at a desired rotational speed. During testing, the output torque and rotational speed were measured to determine the brake horsepower. Horsepower was originally measured and calculated by use of the "indicator diagram" (a James Watt invention of the late 18th century), and later by means of a de Prony brake connected to the engine's output shaft.

More recently, an electrical brake dynamometer is used instead of a De Prony brake. Although the output delivered to the driving wheels is less than that obtainable at the engine's crankshaft, a chassis dynamometer gives an indication of an engine's "real world" horsepower after losses in the drive train and gearbox.

For any vehicle with three or four wheels: No, in order for a vehicle to be street legal, the vehicle must meet the federal requirements for road use and be certified by the manufacturer to meet those standards. Therefore, the vehicle must be originally manufactured for road use in order to be licensed in Washington State.

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