E-bike companies really don’t want cyclists to hack e-bikes for speed
Electric bike hot-rodding, hacking, or tampering – call it what you want. But the main European e-bike companies are doing everything in their power to prevent cyclists from gaining more speed with their e-bikes.
Most e-bike companies in Europe have opposed the practice of e-bike hacking for as long as they have been selling e-bikes. But now the industry is organizing more about it.
As part of the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), 15 national associations of the bicycle industry in Europe and 68 companies have signed an industry-wide pledge to prevent owners from hacking their electric bikes for more speed and power.
The signatories include major manufacturers of electric bicycle motors such as Bafang, Bosch, Brose and Shimano.
Other major e-bike makers who have also signed the letter include Giant, GoCycle, Haibike, Gazelle, Riese & Müller, Specialized, Tern and Trek.
As explained in the letter:
CONEBI members are against any type of manipulation of electric bikes and electric bike drive systems, for example to increase performance or the maximum supported speed. Riding manipulated electric bikes on public roads can not only lead to technical problems, but also lead to serious legal consequences. Tampering kits and other types of manipulation can damage the drive system as well as the bike itself. Runners risk losing their warranty and invalidating their warranty claims. If an accident occurs with a falsified electric bicycle, it can lead to high liability costs as well as criminal prosecution.
As part of their commitment to prevent e-bike piracy, the signatories of the letter have pledged to take a number of steps.
The group is committed to re-evaluating current anti-tampering standards to determine if they are still “fit for purpose” as well as continuously working on “improving e-bike riding systems to make tampering more difficult”.
The issue of e-bike hacking in Europe is receiving more attention due to the much lower speed and power limits for e-bikes compared to other parts of the world.
In Europe, most e-bikes are limited to power levels of 250 W and speeds of up to 25 km / h (15.5 mph).
Most untrained cyclists and even many children can generate 250W of muscle power when pedaling, and the slow speed limit for e-bikes in Europe means that many e-cyclists are routinely overtaken by pedal cyclists on pedals. fitness / road bikes.
In practice, most European car manufacturers actually exceed the power limit of 250W because it is difficult to measure and apply. High-end motors from companies like Bosch can actually produce well over 250W of power at their peak power settings. Speed is much easier to measure and apply on the side of the road, and therefore almost all European e-bikes are limited to slow speeds of 25 km / h (15.5 mph).
Speed pedelec classes for 45 km / h (28 mph) e-bikes exist in some parts of Europe, but they often require the fastest e-bikes to be registered, carry a license plate, and prohibit them from riding. use the cycle paths. Such restrictions remove many of the benefits of e-bikes and have led a tiny fraction of e-bikes in Europe to exceed 25 km / h (15.5 mph) limits.
This has led many cyclists to research and discover ways to increase the speed of their e-bikes. We’ve even covered products that make this task simple and easy.
Many companies have already started cracking down on the practice, and Bosch even introduced an update that would lock the bike’s motor if the rider tried to hack it repeatedly for more speed. Some countries, such as France, have made hacking e-bikes a criminal offense punishable by jail time.
While many riders are simply looking for more speed in order to get to where they are going faster, safety concerns about faster e-bikes have led to this industry downturn. Pedestrians were hit and killed by hacked e-bikes that moved faster than the manufacturers expected.
In addition to the tragedy of such events, manufacturers fear that such cases may ultimately lead to increased regulation of e-bikes or classification as motorcycles instead of bicycles.
Measures such as this letter of self-commitment are an indication that the industry is now taking self-regulation even more seriously to prevent such measures in the future.
As someone who rides e-bikes often in the United States and takes advantage of the 20 mph and 28 mph (32 km / h and 45 km / h) speed limits of Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes, I feel the pain of european e-bike hackers, but I also certainly understand the safety ramifications of faster vehicles.
The problem is, these aren’t e-bikes, but fast bikes. Period. A common argument against electric bikes is that they weigh more and therefore a potential accident is more dangerous.
A typical battery and motor add around 5-6 kg to a bike. So I don’t accept the argument that we have to keep e-bikes slower because they weigh more, especially when the weight difference is around 5-8% of the entire cycle / bike system. These 5 kg can be equivalent to that of a pedal cyclist who cannot exercise self-control in the candy store. If anyone really believed in the merits of this argument, they would argue for selling a scale with e-bikes and forcing beefier riders to use a slower speed limit. The variation in human weights is simply much larger than the variation in the weights of bicycles / e-bikes.
What I’m thinking is that there should be speed limits for bikes in mixed-use areas regardless of the type of bike. Pedestrians and cyclists shouldn’t really be forced to share paths anyway, but as many cities are forced to modernize their non-auto transportation systems, mixed-use paths are an inevitable outcome at the moment. Thus, bicycles should simply have speed limits in high traffic areas of cities to protect pedestrians. Post reasonable speed limits for bicycles and compel anyone who exceeds them. An e-bike can be perfectly safe on the side of the road at 25 mph, but it would make sense to force the rider to slow down to half that speed in an area where pedestrians and cyclists are forced to share the same paths.
In my opinion, location-based bike speed limits make a lot more sense than e-bike power limits. We are not forcing automakers to limit horsepower to 70 hp. We tell motorists not to go over 70 mph. Or 35 mph. Or whatever the safety speed for a specific area. And that’s exactly the point – security is relative. Creating a single power or speed limit built into the electric bike doesn’t make sense if the argument is safety. Why not take a real step towards safety and put in place smart restrictions that have a bigger impact on the safety of drivers and pedestrians.
As an added bonus, tickets for hooligan cyclists who exceed safe speed limits in high traffic areas can be tagged and the money invested in building safer cycling infrastructure.
Now that’s a plan.
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