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New EU ruling allows for bicycles without a chain/belt/gears or any form of traditional cycle transmission

Words by Eddie on 01/03/2022 09:12:18

Does that sound like an ebike or a bicycle?'

As confusing as it may be this is now the case and the departure from the traditional bicycle transmission proved such a difficult theory to absorb that it took the EU more than 5 years to agree that vehicles with series hybrid drives can be considered ebikes.' It takes physics students less time to get a PhD in quantum physics but we are talking about politicians and when everyone in the room specialises in the sound of their own voice these things will take time.

Of course after all of the deliberation and clarifications there are only a few simple requirements to meet for these vehicles to be classified as ebikes and these are:

  1. The electric motor’s power generation must be capped at 250 watts.

  2. The motor must shut off when the rider stops pedaling.

  3. The motor must remain an auxiliary source of power. That is, it should not be possible for the bike to be propelled using only the motor. This is a significant change because the Mando Footloose could be ridden by simply opening a handlebar-mounted throttle with no pedaling required.

  4. A chain to generate kinetic power is no longer required to be classified as an ebike. 

This departure from traditional cycle transmission may seem a small detail however it opens the playing field to many alternative designs, many of which may stray further from traditional bicycle design.

The advocates for such designs are many including Norway's PodBike who make the Frikar which is a velomobile becoming a car and something we are very excited about. They point to the significantly reduced cost and maintenance burden of an ebike without sprockets, chain and gears.

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Another advocate is the Mando Footloose which has attracted attention pioneering the idea of pedals connected to a generator rather than a transmission and therefore failing to meet the previous iterations of EN15194. Anyone who has ridden the Mando will know that it feels nothing like a bicycle, however technically it is interesting.

Although there are costs much of the maintenance of an ebike can be mitigated by choosing suitable components such as the Enviolo hub and belt drive seen most notably on the Gazelle Grenoble C380 HMB and the Ultimate C380 HMB and of course most exquisitely on the Riese & Muller models.

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Also a pedal generator incurs a much higher energy loss than you'll find in a traditional cycle transmission for most use cases.

I think the most interesting developments given the freedom to traverse EU highways and cycleways will be a departure from traditional bicycle design and may solve problems that require a fresh approach. Hopefully the ultimate outcome will be the ramping up to ever greater magnitude the transition away from fossil fuel vehicles and even from the faux solution offered by current eCar technology.

Join us as the pedals (any pedals) turn on this new transport culture.

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