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Legal regulations for e-bikes and pedelecs

Whether it's an e-bike or a pedelec: electric bicycles are trendy. From a legal point of view, e-bikes and pedelecs are not always bicycles. From certain performance levels and top speeds, they are considered a moped or moped. In the following you will find out which legal regulations apply to the various electric two-wheelers and their drivers.

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Every electric bike that is sold within the EU must have an EU declaration of conformity and a CE mark. Depending on the vehicle type, they require an operating permit. Individual approval is not necessary, as even fast pedelecs (S-Pedelecs) and e-bikes can reach a maximum of 45 kilometers per hour and are therefore among the vehicles that do not require approval.

Regulations for pedelecs

Pedelec stands for Pedal Electric Cycle. Up to a certain speed, its electric motor assists the driver only when pedaling. Optionally, they can also be equipped with starting or pushing aids.

The technical regulations for pedelecs are:

  • Motor power maximum 250 watts
  • Speed ​​with motor assistance maximum 25 kilometers per hour
  • Starting and pushing aid without pedaling up to a maximum of 6 kilometers per hour (§ 63a StVZO)

Legal regulations that pedelec riders must observe:

  • it is legally equivalent to a bicycle (§1 paragraph 3 StVG)
  • Cycle paths that are subject to compulsory use - marked by blue traffic signs with a white bicycle symbol - must be used (Section 2, Paragraph 4 of the StVO)
  • Child seat required for passengers up to 7 years of age
  • (Children's) trailers may be attached
  • Safety equipment according to the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO)
  • a lightening bell (§ 64a StVZO)
  • 2 independent brakes (§ 65 Abs. 1 StVZO)
  • a white headlight and a white reflector pointing forward (Section 67 (3) StVZO)
  • a red tail light and a red reflector or reflector (Section 67 (4) StVZO)
  • the lighting can be supplied with power either by an alternator or by batteries (§ 67 StVZO)
  • yellow reflectors on the bicycle pedals to the front and back (Section 67 (6) StVZO)
  • either two yellow reflectors in each of the spokes of the wheels or a white reflective ring on the bicycle tire (Section 67 (7) StVZO)

Regulations for S-Pedelecs

S-Pedelecs are much faster than normal pedelecs. Their motor also supports the driver when they step on the pedals. However, there are models that are equipped with a throttle and can travel up to 20 kilometers per hour without a pedal drive.

Technically, S-Pedelecs must meet the following criteria in order to be considered such:

  • Motor output of a maximum of 4,000 watts with a maximum of 400% pedal assistance (EU regulation No. 168/2013)
  • Speed ​​with motor assistance when pedaling: maximum 45 kilometers per hour
  • Speed ​​by throttle without pedaling: up to 20 kilometers per hour
  • Tire tread depth: at least 1 millimeter
  • Rear-view mirrors, yellow side reflectors, lighting for insurance license plates, horn, side stand and brake light must be available
  • the side stand must fold in automatically when the load is removed
  • Multi-lane S-Pedelecs (e.g. cargo bikes) also need indicators and a brake system level indicator
  • Only use spare parts that have been approved according to the operating permit (BE)

The following applies to S-Pedelecs and their drivers:

  • they are mopeds (class L1e-B)
  • they need an operating permit
  • they are subject to compulsory insurance
  • Insurance number must be attached
  • Minimum age of the driver: 16 years (§ 10 paragraph 1 FeV)
  • AM class driving license
  • Helmet compulsory (§ 21a paragraph 2 StVO)
  • The light must always be switched on (§ 17 paragraph 2a StVO)
  • suitable child seat for passengers up to 7 years
  • Cycle paths are not allowed to be used
  • Only use one-way streets in the direction of travel
  • Alcohol level maximum 0.5 per mille
  • Taking along on buses and trains varies depending on the federal state and transport association
  • Child trailers are prohibited, cargo trailers permitted under certain conditions

Regulations for e-bikes

E-bikes are electric motorized bicycles that accelerate at the push of a button and without the driver having to exert force. Depending on the maximum speed, they fall into a different vehicle class and their drivers have to observe different regulations.

The following applies to all e-bikes:

  • they are not bicycles, but motorcycles
  • the models need a valid operating permit
  • Drivers need an appropriate driver's license
  • they are subject to compulsory insurance and must have an insurance number plate
  • Only use one-way streets in the direction of travel
  • Alcohol level maximum 0.5 per mille
  • Children are not allowed to be transported in trailers (§ 32a StVZO)
  • Tires must have a tread depth of at least 1 millimeter

Technical restrictions for e-bikes up to 20 kilometers per hour:

  • Motor power maximum 500 watts (§ 3 Paragraph 2.2 StVRAusnV)
  • Empty weight maximum 30 kilograms (Section 3 Paragraph 1.1 StVRAusnV)
  • Rim diameter from 26 inches to 28 inches (§ 3 paragraph 1.2 StVRAusnV)
  • Tire width maximum 1.75 inches (Section 3 Paragraph 1.3 StVRAusnV)

Legal regulations for e-bikes up to 20 kilometers per hour:

  • According to the exception ordinance (StVRAusnV), they are considered light moped
  • Minimum age of the driver: 15 years (§ 10 Paragraph 3 FeV)
  • Moped test certificate for everyone born after April 1st, 1955 (Section 5 (1) FeV)
  • no helmet requirement
  • Child seat required for passengers up to 7 years of age
  • are only allowed to use cycle paths if they are marked with “E-Bike free” or “Moped free”

Regulations for e-bikes and their riders up to 25 kilometers per hour:

  • are considered a moped
  • Minimum age of the driver: 15 years (§ 10 Paragraph 3 FeV)
  • Moped test certificate for everyone born after April 1st, 1955 (Section 5 (1) FeV)
  • Helmet compulsory (§ 21a paragraph 2 StVO)
  • are only allowed to use cycle paths that are marked with “E-Bike free” or “Moped free”
  • A suitable child seat is required for passengers up to 7 years of age

Regulations for e-bikes and their riders up to 45 kilometers per hour:

  • they are mopeds (class L1e-B)
  • Motor power maximum 4,000 watts (§ 2 Paragraph 11a FZV)
  • Minimum age of the driver: 16 years (§ 10 paragraph 1 FeV)
  • Driving license compulsory for class AM
  • Helmet compulsory (§ 21a paragraph 2 StVO)
  • The light must always be switched on (§ 17 paragraph 2a StVO)
  • Bicycle lanes are taboo
Bike typeTop speedDriver's licenseHelmet compulsoryUse of cycle paths
Pedelec25 km / hnot necessaryNocompulsory
S-Pedelec45 km / hClass AMYesforbidden
E-bike 2020 km / hmopedNoOnly if free for moped
E-bike 2525 km / hmopedYesOnly if free for moped
E-bike 4545 km / hClass AMYesforbidden

Retrofitting of bicycles to e-bikes and pedelecs

Converting a bicycle to a pedelec or e-bike is cheaper than buying a new vehicle straight away. However, experts advise against the conversion. The General German Bicycle Club (Adfc) warns that bicycles that are not designed for the attachment of electric motors pose a safety risk. The components could fail, leading to unforeseen accidents. In addition, any guarantee claims on the parts of the bike will be void.

If you still want to electrify your bike, according to Adfc, you should look for a dealer who will carry out the conversion professionally and check the components accordingly. During the conversion, the vehicle type can also change depending on the engine. If you convert a bicycle to an S-Pedelec or E-Bike, it requires an operating permit, which is associated with additional costs and increased effort.

Tuning in electric bikes

Like the souped-up moped, the tuned electric bike is particularly appealing to its riders. But a higher maximum speed quickly changes the entire vehicle type. A pedelec quickly becomes an S-Pedelec. Anyone who simply continues to drive as usual is liable to prosecution several times, because the tuned vehicle now requires an operating permit and insurance. In addition, the driver needs a driver's license.

And the demands are also changing technically. The components are subject to greater stress due to the increased performance. As a result, they wear out much faster. Ultimately, the drivers are left with the costs, because the tuning void any claim to guarantee, warranty and product liability.

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