What Are The Differant Types of E-Bike?December 11, 2017
When dealing with e-bikes, it is easy to stumble across different names for seemingly the same thing. Often used synonymously, sometimes also applied in a more differentiated way, it makes sense to take a look at the exact definitions of e-bikes and the names that accompany them. While there are many more, today we will be looking at the 3 main types…
The pedelec (= pedal electric cycle) is what the average consumer means when they say e-bike. It has an electric motor that supports the driver with an output of up to 250 watts – but only up to a speed of 25 km/h. Driving faster is also possible – but then you have to rely solely on your own muscle power. If the rider doesn’t pedal, the motor won’t perform either. Many modern pedelecs have a pushing aid up to a maximum of 6km/h. This is helpful if you have to push the bike up the basement stairs, for example, or in pedestrian underpasses, etc.
Legally, the pedelec is equated with a bicycle (§1 Para. 3 StVG). There is no age limit, no insurance or helmet requirements. This also applies to pedelecs with a pushing aid.
The Speed Pedelec
Even if an S-Pedelec, also known as a fast Pedelec or S-Class, looks almost the same as a normal Pedelec, it is something completely different. Unlike the pedelec, an S-pedelec is no longer a bicycle from a legal point of view. It is one of the lightweight motorcycles (similar to a moped or scooter). From a technical point of view, the features of the S-Pedelec are the increased pedal support up to a speed of 45 km/h compared to the normal Pedelec, as well as a motor output of up to 500 watts. As with a moped or scooter, a driver’s license, an insurance number plate and an operating license (= vehicle documents) are required. In fact, the lower age limit is 16 years. Helmets are also compulsory. However, an S-Pedelec is a relatively new phenomenon, and therefore some legal issues have not yet been finally clarified. For example, it is disputed which type of helmet the legislature requires: the wording only says a “suitable helmet”. Whether this is a bicycle helmet or a motorcycle helmet has not yet been clarified. In practice, however, a bicycle helmet is sufficient. Further consequences of the classification as a light motorcycle come as a surprise to cyclists: Firstly, speed pedelecs may not be ridden on forest paths unless they are explicitly approved for motor vehicles. It is also not permitted to take children with you – be it in a child seat or in a child trailer. It is also important to note that most parts of the S-Pedelec may not be changed arbitrarily, otherwise the operating license will expire.
E-bikes in the true sense can be compared to electric mopeds. These can be driven without having to pedal. E-bikes in this sense belong to the vehicle class of mopeds (formerly: light mopeds) as long as the motor power does not exceed 500 watts and the electric drive does not go faster than 20 km/h. The same applies here: if you want to drive faster, you have to do it entirely with muscle power. Insurance is compulsory for mopeds, an operating license (= vehicle documents) and at least one moped test certificate are required. However, there is currently no obligation to wear a helmet in this constellation.