Is chipping electric bikes safe
Is chipping electric bikes safe? What’s at risk if you choose to break these rules?
Besides the legal ramifications, the manipulation of an e-bike could damage both the bike and its drive system and you will quickly lose your manufacturer’s guarantee and invalidate any warranty claims.
Arguably the most serious ramification of chipping your e-bike is the risk of an accident. You could seriously injure yourself or others, and any accident could result in high liability costs or even criminal prosecution.
Accidents are more likely to happen at high speeds, and while you are increasing the speed of the bike, you aren’t increasing the power of the brakes.
One of the main temptations of chipping an e-bike is that it is difficult, if not impossible, for authorities to spot one just by looking at it.
However, as soon as you are in an accident, the truth will come out and you will face some serious consequences.
So yes, there are ways in which you can legally ride a chipped e-bike, but there are even more reasons not to. Not least the existence of safe and legal mopeds and motorcycles.
E-bike limits do not stem from the motor itself, but rather from the manufacturer’s regulations. So when people chip their e-bikes, they’re not actually pushing the electric motor to its limits, but rather removing the limiter that keeps the motor reined in.
E-bike classifications in the US
In the US, the legal definition of bicycles extends to ‘pedelecs’ – a type of electric bike where the rider’s pedalling is motor-assisted. Three e-bike classes are then used to further categorise the bikes, but at a federal level, e-bikes are limited to a support capacity up to 28mph (45km/h) and a motor with a continuous power supply of no more than 250w.
Within this definition, cyclists do not need insurance, a driver’s license, a helmet, or a registration number. However, once you break these limits, you are legally operating a moped or other type of motorcycle.
E-bike classifications in the European Union
In Europe, the conditions are similar, but here there are two categories of motorised e-bikes: e-bikes and speed bikes. E-bikes are legally defined as those whose support capacity does not exceed 25km/h and has a motor no bigger than 250w.
You can ride e-bikes on bike paths, shared-use paths and public roads without restrictions, but any modification or chipping of the bike may then limit its legal capabilities.
The other classification in Europe is speed bikes: bikes with a maximum speed of 45km/h. Legally speaking, these fall into the same category as mopeds, and thus require insurance, registration, a helmet and a license to operate.
Chipping electric bikes will push it into the speed bike category
To operate it on any public road or way, you will need to adhere to those requirements.
What happens if you chipping electric bikes?
Generally speaking, if you can’t legally ride a motorcycle there, you can’t ride a chipped e-bike there either, so speed bikes and chipped e-bikes are banned from cycleways and shared-use paths.
Every country and local county has its own set of laws for e-bikes, so do some research before you decide to chip your e-bike. As of 2020, France instituted a new law that bans the chipping of e-bikes or manipulating them past their 25km/h limits.
Violating the law could result in fines of up to €30,000 or one year in jail. Manufacturers and sellers of e-bike chipping kits could also be prosecuted.
eBike standard EN 15194
The rules set out in EN 15194:2017 serve to establish a uniform European Standard for electronically power assisted cycles (EPAC bicycles) that covers all the components involved.
By purchasing an eBike that conforms to EN 15194:2017, the buyer is guaranteed that the electric drive unit and other components meet the minimum requirements of this European Standard and that these components function properly together.
EN 15194:2017 furthermore stipulates that effective measures be implemented to prevent or compensate for any plausible manipulation (such as tuning of the maximum speed).
What does “tuning” actually mean?
With the help of so-called “tuning dongles”, as well as through chip tuning, it’s possible to increase an eBike’s maximum speed using the support provided by the motor.
Legally speaking, whoever manipulates a pedelec and exceeds the actual 25 km/h support limit is no longer operating an electric bicycle with equivalent status to a non-motorised bicycle, but rather is riding a moped and must comply with the corresponding requirements when travelling on public roads!
The risk of chipping electric bikes
The risk is posed by the fact that tuning kits and other types of manipulation can damage the drive system as well as the bike itself.
If an accident is caused by tuning, it may result in high liability costs as well as criminal prosecution. You risk losing your guarantee and invalidating your warranty claims.
You pose a real danger to yourself and others
The technical manipulation of eBikes, such as increasing the shutdown speed to over 25 km/h, creates continuous loads that were not accounted for in the design and for which even the robust, high-performance components of Bosch eBike Systems are not designed.
In this situation, it is mainly the brakes that are subject to increased loads. However, components such as the handlebars and fork are affected, as well as the frame and several other components.
As a result, tuning compromises the safety of the pedelec as a whole, putting yourself as well as other road-users at risk.
While derestricting an electric bicycle is easily done by following a few guides on the Internet, it’s not recommended for a few different reasons.
Here are some implications of tuning your electric bike to remove the set speed limit:
If something goes wrong with your electric bike after you’ve owned it for a few months, you’d likely contact the manufacturer and get the broken part repaired or replaced for free under the manufacturer’s warranty.
However, once you derestrict your electric bike, that warranty is void. This could leave you with a hefty repair bill to get your electric bike up and running again.
By derestricting your electric bike, you’re increasing the amount of power the motor needs to provide the e-bike to accelerate. As the load on the motor increases, you’re going to notice an impact on your electric bike’s battery life.
You may find yourself needing to charge your electric bike more regularly or not holding enough power to get you to your destination and back home.
Most importantly, it is unlawful to derestrict an electric bike to get it to go above the legal speed limit of 20 mph.
While riding your electric bike, you risk getting pulled over and receiving a ticket for violating the law.
There is a reason that electric bikes have a 20 mph limit — it’s put in place to keep the rider safe! While you can tune your bike to increase how fast it can go, that doesn’t mean the brakes or other bike parts were built to equip these new speeds.
Not to mention, handling a bicycle at speeds greater than 20 mph can be pretty tricky for more inexperienced cyclists.
Are There Any Exceptions to Chipping Electric Bikes?
Electric bikes are broken up into three classes which are:
These electric bikes are pedal-assist only and have no throttle, meaning that the electric motor only works when you are pedaling the bike.
Class 1 electric bikes can reach a maximum of 20 mph and are allowed to ride on bike paths and bike lanes alongside traditional, unassisted bicycles.
Similar to Class 1, these electric bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph. They feature pedal assistance and a throttle, meaning that you can manually pedal or rely on the bike’s motor for acceleration.
Class 2 electric bikes are legally allowed to ride on any bike paths or bike lanes as well.
These electric bikes are pedal-assist only and do not have a throttle. Class 3 electric bikes have a maximum speed of 28 mph — higher than the standard e-bike speed limit, unlike the previous two classes.
They are to be ridden in bike lanes and are not allowed to be taken on bike paths not alongside the road or on paths shared with pedestrians.
Because original equipment offers the greatest enjoyment and because safety is important to us, at Shuangye eBike Systems we are committed to responsible eBiking in line with laws and regulations.
After all, tuning pedelecs is a risky business: Using tuned eBikes on public roads may not only lead to technical problems but also result in serious legal consequences.
In legal terms, pedelecs with a support capacity of up to 25 km/h and a motor with a continuous rated power of up to 250 watts are equivalent to bicycles.
As a result, eBike owners do not require any extra insurance, registration number or driving licence and are permitted to use cycle and forest paths – a real bonus!
It’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain this status if we are to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other cyclists. Tuning eBikes puts this situation at risk – and that concerns us all!
If you are looking for a new way of commuting or want a healthier lifestyle, we are here to help you. Visit our website to learn more about electric bikes and electric scooter or please leave information to us.
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