Bike industry cracks down on e-bike hot rods

The European bike industry has vowed to stamp out tampering with the electronics of e-bikes that enables illegal high speeds.

E-bike tampering is becoming more widespread as uptake of the technology has introduced recent e-bike converts who seemed to have brought an MGIF (must get in front) attitude across to the bike lane from the car lane.

They have tampered with their bikes to defeat the limiting of electronic assistance to 25kph, and the use of pedals, as required by law—a law that law was carefully crafted to ensure that e-bikes and standard bikes safely shared a common performance envelope.

The result has been that bike infrastructure is becoming unattractive and unsuitable for the people for whom it was it was designed, and a threat to the reputation of the e-bike industry.

Bike manufacturers in Europe have had enough, and 68 of them along with 15 national bike industry associations have signed a pledge to take all steps available to thwart the tampering trend.

The Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) has issued a statement outlining the plan of attack, and listing all of the bike brands that have come on board.

There is genuine concern that the status of e-bikes as a bicycle is at risk, and that the many positives of electric assisted bicycles may be overshadowed by dangerous post-market modification.

"Tampering kits and other types of manipulation can damage the drive system as well as the bike itself“ CONEBI says.

"Riders risk losing their guarantee and invalidating their warranty claims. If an accident occurs with a tampered e-bike, it may result in high liability costs as well as criminal prosecution.”

CONEBI members have agreed to ensure that all the anti-tampering measures in the current Euro standard for bikes are met, and that further measures will be investigated.

"Pro-active measures, such as trainings, documentations, workshops, campaigns, etc., are being taken to raise awareness of the risks and dangers of tampering for all involved. This applies, for example, to dealers and end users,” CONEBI says.

"The e-bike industry will actively encourage everyone in the product supply chain to also inform others of the legal consequences of tampering.

"CONEBI and its members will support market surveillance authorities and the police in identifying tampered e-bikes and are available to cooperate with governments and local law enforcement.

"With regard to the tampering of e-bikes, CONEBI cooperates with its members, industry, dealer associations, consumer organizations, police, accident research institutions, experts, testing institutes and specialist media to speak out against the tampering of e-bikes and support other stakeholders in preventing tampering.”

While Australia bases its regulation on the EU e-bike standards, we have never updated them to include the anti-tampering provisions.

None-the-less, e-bikes imported from Europe most likely are fitted with anti-tampering.

But e-bikes made outside Europe, including Australia, most likely have no anti-tampering features. And some e-bike dealers are known to have handed out cheat-sheets to customers to help them tamper with their bikes so as to ride them at high speeds.

These latest moves in Europe come against the background of a rush of new companies into the sector, especially from the automotive sector.

These new entrants have been pushing for higher allowable speeds for e-bikes with more powerful motors, but they still want them to be allowed in the bike lane.

However, they are more motorised transport than active transport, and belong in the traffic lanes, not in the bike lane with standard bikes and pedelecs.

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