Why E-Bikes Need Mirrors
By Patrick Benjamin, Ed Benjamin
January 30, 2017
Regulatory compliance is an essential element of our industry. Without it, we cannot ensure that bicycles being sold meet fundamental requirements for consumer safety. As technology advances, regulations usually morph slowly to meet new challenges. S-Pedelecs - pedal-assisted electric bicycles that exceed 20 mph top speed - are the latest challenge to current regulatory practices. The opportunity for our industry to self-regulate and beat the approaching tide of regulation to the punch has never been clearer than it is today.
Two-wheel electric vehicles in the United States, at present, generally fall into two categories: 1) Vehicles limited to 20 mph, which are generally referred to as "electric bicycles", 2) Vehicles limited to 30 mph, which are referred to as "motorcycles" or "mopeds".
The first category is regulated the same as any standard, non-electric bicycle, whereas the second category is beholden to the same regulations as an actual motorcycle. With the advent of S-Pedelecs - pedal-assisted electric bicycles which exceed the 20 mph limit but are otherwise a fairly typical bicycle in construction - we find that the current regulations create an unfortunate situation for those looking to sell, buy, and ride them: too fast to be counted as a standard electric bicycle, and generally impossible or at least extremely onerous to make compliant with motorcycle requirements.
Thus, the need for a new regulatory category was born. California leads the way on this issue, having recently created the "Type 3 E-Bike" classification with the passing of AB-1096, which defines a "speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle" as having a top speed of 28 MPH, and to be counted as neither a motorcycle/moped nor a standard electric bicycle - thereby opening up a legal and straightforward path for S-Pedelecs to be sold and ridden in that state, without laboring under the onerous requirements put upon motorcycles/mopeds.
California's actions in this arena are a vision of things to come. Very soon, the whole of the United States will have something similar, as the clear and rapidly-expanding potential market for S-Pedelecs continues to assert itself. It is not a matter of "if", but "when".
The European Union has already committed itself to more finely describing the difference between S-Pedelecs and mopeds, with an important philosophical caveat: EU lawmakers tend to view S-Pedelecs as more closely resembling mopeds in terms of their safety considerations. One key requirement that stands out is the inclusion of at least one rear-view mirror.
To many bicyclists, the idea of having a rear-view mirror on a bicycle may seem non-essential - after all, you can simply look over your shoulder to see where you're going. This is true when you're pedaling along at 10-15 mph - taking a quick glance doesn't interrupt your day much - but imagine doing the same when your speed is doubled, or even tripled. A moment of distraction could have disastrous results. This is the principal consideration EU lawmakers appear to have in mind - and it makes good sense. Motorcycles and mopeds, which travel at similar speeds to S-Pedelecs, already require one or more mirrors for this reason.
The question that faces us Americans is this: Bicycles have safety considerations. Electric bicycles have even more. Speedier electric bicycles will have even more still. What can we do to address these considerations? And for how long should we wait?
It seems inevitable that new safety regulations, very similar to those already on the books in Europe, will come into force here at some future point. It would be reasonable for us to prepare for the future by self-regulating now, so that when new laws are passed, we are already in compliance.
Rear-view mirrors are just one of the many common sense measures we can adopt right now. Doing so will not only making cycling safer, but also ensure that our industry is in compliance with what will surely become the law of the land in very short order.
California's E-Bike Type Regulations: AB-1096
EU Type Approval Regulations: EU Regulation No. 168/2013
Supplement to No. 168/2013: EU Regulation No. 3/2014
Exact regulations regarding rearview mirrors as reference in No. 3/2014: UNECE Regulation No. 81 + Amendments 1 & 2
USA Electric Bike Market up at least 50% in 2016
USA Ebike Market 2016
Patrick Benjamin, Edward Benjamin
December 29, 2016
eCycleElectric’s annual USA ebikes market estimate for 2016 is for a minimum of 211,000 and likely as many as 251,000 units. eCE found 196,000 ebikes imported into the USA during the 12 months of 2016, with an additional 15,000 thought to have been built from parts by various assemblers, putting our low-end estimate for the USA market in 2016 at 211,000 units.
Due to complexities in tracking these numbers, we suspect that the actual number may 20% higher, thus giving us our upper-limit figure of 251,000 units. That would represent a 70% increase.
Ebikes were imported by approximately 135 entities during this period. Most came from China, but also from Taiwan, Korea, and elsewhere.
The largest importers were ebike specialists, followed by major bicycle brands. A large number of bikes were imported by specialist ebike retailers. Other importersincluded sporting goods stores, online sales, and mass merchants.
Many small importers brought in shipments of 6 - 50 bikes. These are thought to be start ups, retailers, and companies considering the ebike business.
There are obstacles to obtaining exact numbers for the USA market. In the case of import records, electric bikes lack a specific HS code which would simplify the process of searching for and determining the accuracy of individual records. This leads to a tedious process of evaluating thousands of individual records, one at a time, by hand. Such a process is subject to both human errors and definitional confusion; many products that would not be conventionally regarded as an “electric bike” may be listed as such, or in similar terms. Our figure of 40,000 additional imported bikes is intended to realistically encompass both our likely margin of error and bikes that are either poorly defined within the record, not described with any of the 60 terms we search under, or simply mislabeled entirely. The remaining 15,000 USA assembled bikes is based on data gathered through our relationships with USA assemblers, retailers, brand managers, OEMs, component suppliers, and sales reps.
An easy observation to make is that these numbers merely reflect the ebikes that entered the market, not bikes that were sold through - an electric bike may of course languish in a warehouse for years before being sold. However, we feel that if this were a widespread problem, grumbling in the supply side would be heard loudly and clearly. As it is, grumbling has been absent, so we feel that most of the ebikes entering the market are being sold, and easily.
A few sources within the industry have been reporting as much as three times unit sales as the previous year, with many claiming between 40 and 70% increases. This aligns with our observations, and thus we feel confident that the path from importer to customer is, at the moment, fairly well-lubricated.
An often overlooked detail of the USA ebike market is that it cannot be as easily compared to the bicycle market as we might like. A figure of a quarter-million bicycles sounds unimpressive for an industry that moves in tens of millions in the USA. However, with the average ebike somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, with many examples reaching towards (or even past) $6,000, this small volume represents a larger slice than is immediately obvious.
Thus we feel that the overall picture of the market is this: Sales are up, some (but not all) companies are growing fast, and this small yet profitable industry segment is continuing to grow due to a variety of global and USA trends. www.eCycleElectric.com
Bicycle Retailer wants to know what retailers think about e-bikes
LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. — Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the trade magazine for the North American bicycle industry, is asking bike retailers to weigh in on electric bikes in an on-line survey.
Bicycle Retailer will publish the results of the brief, 5-minute survey in a special e-bike report in its February issue.
The magazine is asking retailers if they sell e-bikes, how much they contribute to their total bike sales, and how they expect U.S. e-bike sales to grow. All bike retailers — IBDs, eIBDs, and others — are encouraged to take the survey whether or not they currently sell electric bikes.
Responses will remain anonymous unless retailers agree to be interviewed by a Bicycle Retailer editor. As an incentive, the magazine is giving away an Evo ST1 e-bike from Hawley-Lambert. The winner will be chosen at random from respondents who provide their email addresses.
Please respond to the survey ONLY if you are a bicycle store owner or manager. (No suppliers, please.) The survey will close at 5 p.m. PDT on Friday, Jan. 6.
To take the survey, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EbikeRetailer.
Safety Equipment For Ebikes
Monday, December 19, 2016
One of the great advantages that electric bikes have is a simple one: They are regulated and homologated as….”bicycles.”
That carries a number of advantages and privileges. We can ride on the bike path or the roadway. We have the same basic rights to the roadway as any car or motorcycle (and the same responsibilities), but we do not need a license plate, insurance card, or - often - a helmet.
For the manufacturer and distributor, ebikes are convenient. Conforming to regulations is pretty simple, and a matter of self declaration. No outside testing is required, and the safety equipment is only the minimal amount needed for manual bicycles. No operator’s license or training is required.
By comparison, motorcycles must have tires, mirrors, turn signals, lights, license plates, insurance, helmets (often), a drivers license, and more. Cars….even more requirements.
While this special status for ebikes is convenient, this author wonders if it is prudent?
We know that ebikes are used more often, and accumulate more miles than manual bikes. We also know that operators of ebikes are often less experienced than some manual bicycle riders. And going very close to the maximum speed of the bike is the preferred normal velocity for many riders.
The result is a heavier vehicle, averaging a higher speed, for more miles, than a manual bike.
The implications, off the cuff, are these:
- More tire wear. More wear on other parts, perhaps brakes in particular.
- Longer stopping distances. Perhaps not much longer, but at least a bit.
- More interaction with traffic due to higher average speeds, and the fact that many if not most ebikes are used as transportation, rather than sport and fitness.
- Riders are supposed to signal turns with hand signals. That does not actually happen much.
- There is no brake indicator.
- The rider, whohas no training, may be poorly informed and equipped to ride in traffic. Or to know when the bike has need for safety related service.
- There are no mirrors, which means the rider must glance over their shoulder to know what is behind them.
I count myself as an expert bicycle rider, based on the road racing trophies on my shelf, the decades of commuting on a bike, participating in triathlons, and working in the bike business. But there are some moments on an ebike that make me nervous. Here they are:
The big one: Since I am often in traffic, I need to know what is behind me, and my habit is to glance over my shoulder. That takes my attention off the road for a moment, and frankly, my path has a little bobble in it when I swing away from the edge of the road for a meter or so during my look back. My guess is that a less experienced rider has a bigger bobble or swing into the traffic lane.
When I hit a pot hole or other road hazard, I wince. Knowing that the tires were designed for lighter bike, at a slower average speed, I know that I am close to pinching the tube between tire and rim - which could result in a flat, or even a loss of control.
The last time I formally signaled a turn with my hand signals was in elementary school. That was roughly 10 years before anyone reading this was born. While I confess to being lazy, this does seem like a bad practice.
Having lost a brother because he was riding a bike at night with no lights, I am a fan of powerful and conspicuous lighting for bikes. Yes…it can be purchased. But perhaps it should be required as original equipment?
All of my comments above are in the context of an ebike traveling at or close to 20 mph.
There are some new, and fun bikes (California Cat 3), speed pedelecs, that go closer to 30 mph.
When I look over my shoulder at 30 mph, the bobble is much larger.
When I hit a hazard at 30 mph, the forces are much greater.
When I am traveling at 30 mph, i am with traffic in many cases, and the car drivers are both a bit confused by that, and frankly….I need to behave more like a motorcycle in how I ride and signal.
My concerns about these issues are two parts:
I believe that the ebike business needs to step up and self regulate. We need to be instituting standards for safety equipment, before they are imposed upon us by politicians. And by doing so, we are going to be saving lives and preventing injuries.
Let’s adopt standards for tires, for rider training, for mirrors on both handlebar ends, and give serious thought to ways to incentivize helmet use and possibly turn signals and brake lights.
I am sure this will be a contentious topic, and I welcome comments.
LEVA Board Member, Richard Liang, Named VP of Sunwoda
Richard Liang, board member of the Light Electric Vehicle Association, has recently joined Sunwoda as the Vice President. From the middle of 1999 to Oct. 2016, Richard worked at Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Co., Ltd.as the Executive VP.
Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, Sunwoda is a leading lithium battery supplier and went public in Apr. 2011. Sunwoda is highly recognized in the consumer electronics industry worldwide. With strong environmental commitment, it is also expanding into EV and energy storage markets.
Herrmans Launches E-bike-Ready Lights at Interbike
Fort Collins, CO – Herrmans OY AB
Europe’s leading OEM supplier of lights and grips is launching its H-One E 75 lux (140 lumens) headlamp at the Interbike show. This plug & play headlamp is specifically developed for E-Bikes and Pedelecs and will run on any e-Bike battery from 5.5 to 48 volts. A hub dynamo version is also available.To see this new headlamp visit Herrmans at Interbike booth 25242.
For more information, please contact:
Velimpex Marketing, Inc.
Read more: here
Berlin Trefected - Film Premiers at Eurobike Trefecta E-Bike Trialled and Trailed in Berlin
This June, Pedelec Adventures explored the limits of the latest achievements in electric bikes. Three experienced test riders - trial world champion Marco Hösel, LEV designer Norbert Haller and head of Pedelec Adventures Susanne Brüsch - set out to discover the versatile nature of Trefecta, an e-bike that can be pushed to 70 km/h by pedal power and a 4-kW-motor. The film ‘Berlin Trefected’ about their journey through the urban scenery of Berlin before hitting the trails in the city‘s surrounding woods will be launched at Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, with the team sharing their experiences live on stage. Read more
Berlin Trefected - Sneak Preview of Pedelec Adventures Film at the LEVA Dinner
Exclusively for guests of the Eurobike 2015 LEVA /AVERE Networking Dinner at 18:30 on August 27th Susanne Brüsch of Pedelec Adventures will give a preview of her latest project and the film 'Berlin Trefected - Exploring the Limits' that will officially premier at Eurobike on Friday.
This summer, joined by trial world champion Marco Hösel and LEV designer Norbert Haller, she went on a journey through the urban scenery and the surrounding woods of Berlin to discover the talents and limits of the 4-kW Trefecta e-bike from the Netherlands.
Enjoy stunts, backgrounds, and experiences with the opportunity to test ride the Trefecta bike and meet founder Haiko Visser.
Register for our Eurobike 2015 LEVA/AVERE Networking Dinner here
XD Double-Speed Motor: A Real Breakthrough for Uphill E-bike Riding
E-bike motor specialist and LEVA sponsor-XiongDa will launch its double-speed motor during the upcoming Eurobike 2014. Its uniquely-designed internal double-gear structure allows it to generate twice the torque under the same current without causing tension on the chains. Its smooth automatic and manual transmission is another highlight of the system. Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 22, 2014
AllCell Technologies Working on ARPA-E Grant for Advanced EV Battery Development
April 22, 2014– AllCell Technologies, producer of safe and long-lasting lithium-ion batteries, is working on a program led by Stanford University to develop advanced electric vehicle (EV) batteries through an ARPA-E grant. The program, titled “Robust Multifunctional Battery Chassis Systems for Automotive Applications,” will integrate lithium-ion battery systems into vehicle structures, generating significant savings in cost and weight, which in turn improve drive range and efficiency. The project team estimates the new battery would reduce total vehicle weight by more than 40%.
Supported by AllCell and lithium-ion cell producer Envia Systems, the project objective is to develop an EV battery that can act as a structural component of the vehicle, supporting structural loads and absorbing impact energy during collisions. AllCell’s proprietary thermal management material, which employs phase change materials (PCM) to absorb and distribute heat to improve battery performance and safety, is a key component of the new battery design. University material research experts and AllCell’s thermal management experts will collaborate to create a new generation of PCM-based materials that are optimized to both provide thermal management and improve crash worthiness by absorbing impact energy. The new material will be equipped with advanced sensors and will be integrated directly into the battery system.
“To date, lithium-ion batteries have been considered liabilities in automobile crashes,” said AllCell CEO Dr. Said Al-Hallaj. “We are turning that notion on its head. With the support of this program, our new material will not only thermally protect the lithium-ion cells within the battery, but will also assist in mechanically protecting vehicle occupants from the physical force of a collision.”
Currie Technologies Sponsors LEVA in 2014
Simi Valley, CA- February 4th, 2014- Currie Technologies is proud to once again sponsor the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA), the world’s largest and most influential trade association for electric bikes and other electric and eco-friendly light vehicles. As a Bronze Sponsor, Currie Technologies, one of the oldest and most established manufacturers of electric bikes in the US, will continue to support the Association in its efforts to educate businesses and the public on the benefits of electric bikes and electric light vehicles. Read more
The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) Announces ProdecoTech Renews Gold Sponsorship for 2014
Holly Ridge, NC (01.30.14) The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) is pleased to announce that Gold Sponsor ProdecoTech has renewed its sponsorship again for 2014. ProdecoTech, headquartered in Oakland Park, FL, is a researcher, developer, manufacturer and marketer of quality electric bikes. Read more
Light Electric Vehicle Association Announces New Bronze Sponsor: Gates Corporation
DENVER (October 11, 2013) – Continuing its push into the electric bicycle market, Gates Corporation, maker of the Gates Carbon Drive™ system for bicycles and eBikes, has joined the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA), the world’s largest and most influential trade association for electric bikes. Read more.
Light Electric Vehicle Association E-Bike Technician Training Event
The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) is developing a series of 3 training and certification courses for electric bike technicians. The TEVA chapter of the Electric Auto Association (EAA) is helping with the development of the training courses. EAA member Don Gerhardt provided the first part of Level 2 Beta training on February 2, 2013 to 19 EAA members and high school students from the Greensboro NC Dudley High School automotive program. Read more.
The Light Electric Vehicle Association Introduces New 2012 Silver Sponsor: Shenzhen Elite Electronic Co., Ltd.
(ORONO, ME) May 21, 2012. LEVA is pleased to announce that Shenzhen Elite Electronic Co., Ltd. is a new 2012 Silver Sponsor. They join Gold Sponsor Prodeco Technologies (USA) in supporting the various activities of the association to expand members' businesses while initiating efforts to influence and adopt legislation, regulation, performance standards, promotion and general best practices in the light electric vehicle industry. Elite, brand name, ELITOP, is located in Shenzhen, China. They supplies batteries for E-bikes purchased by the Vancour government for their policemen and postmen. Read more.
The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) Introduces New 2012 Silver Sponsor: Jiangsu Yadea Technical Development Co. Ltd.
(ORONO, ME) April 19, 2012. LEVA is pleased to announce that Jiangsu Yadea Technical Development Co. Ltd. is a new 2012 Silver Sponsor. They join Gold Sponsors, Prodeco Technologies (USA); Silver Sponsor, Tianjin Flying Pigeon Electric Bicycle Manufacture Co., Silver Sponsor, Suzhou Bafang (8fun) Electric Motor Science Co., Ltd. (China); and Bronze Sponsor, Tianjin Lishen Battery Company. Read more.
LEVA Announces New Developments at Lishen Battery Co.
(ORONO, ME) April 11, 2012. A major polymer battery expansion construction project began at LEVA Sponsor Lishen Battery in early 2011 is expected to be completed at the end of May 2012. At that time, Lishen will have increased their production capacity by over 6 million cells per month of their big polymer batteries with capacity above 3.5Ah (including those used in electric bikes polymer batteries). Read more.
LEVA Member AllCell is now offering our eBike customers a drop ship option for our compact, lightweight, and long lasting lithium-ion batteries assembled at our facility in Chicago.
(ORONO, ME) March 26, 2012. With this new service, you can avoid the cost, hassle, and added expense of holding inventory and HazMat shipping. Read more.
The Light Electric Vehicle Association Announces Prodeco Technologies Renews Sponsorship for 2012 and Adds Production Space
(ORONO, Maine)- March 1, 2012. The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) is pleased to announce that Gold Sponsor Prodeco Technologies has renewed its sponsorship again for 2012. Read more.