It can be very tricky to understand which laws apply to e-bikes and which don’t. In fact, the first hurdle to understanding is to know whether your bike classifies as an e-bike according to your country’s definition. Simply because your bike works on electricity doesn’t mean it is considered an e-bike in all countries around the world. The next thing you need to figure out is what type of e-bike yours is and the maximum speed it can travel at. Generally, e-bikes with a top speed of up to 25 kmph do not require a license. However, there are many kinds of e-bikes, some “high speed” ones that can run up to 45 kmph, that need both an insurance badge and a license. These types of e-bikes also require you to wear a helmet while riding. As for mopeds, the same regulations apply with a few additional requirements for bigger mopeds. So, in order to assess if you need a license, you will need to know what type of e-bike you have and its specifications. This article will be diving deep into the different kinds of e-bikes available, their features, as well as laws that may or may not apply to them.
Types Of E-Bikes
Different e-bikes are made to serve different purposes. While some are made for daily commutes some are better suited for activities like mountain biking. There are three types of e-bikes that are currently available on the market. However, not all of them are allowed to be ridden on the roads of Germany.
- The first e-bike is called Pedal Assist. In this electric bike, the motor only works when you are pedaling. It is an ordinary bicycle with the addition of a motor that senses when you’re pedaling and activates to aid the pedaling effort. This is a very basic e-bike that most closely resembles a traditional bike. It is perfect for people of all ages and especially people who are less physically competent. It is also a better option if you ride bikes for exercise rather than for travel. Pedal Assist e-bikes do not need a license in most places and have no age restrictions, but the maximum speed is 20mph and they might not have a throttle.
- The second type of e-bike is the throttle-only variation. The motor in this bike is controlled by a throttle. The advantage of this e-bike is that, unlike the Pedal Assist, you do not have to pedal to benefit from the motor. All you have to do is crank the throttle when you want to speed up and it will continue pushing forward even when you are not pedaling. However, the less you pedal, the sooner the battery runs out. Just like with the Pedal Assist, the regulations and specifics for the throttle bike are the same. Unfortunately, this bike is not allowed in Germany as it is throttle only and may increase the likelihood of an accident occurring during acceleration. In fact, there have been many cases reported where e-bike mishaps occurred due to pushing the throttle by accident.
- The third type is also a Pedal Assist. This is faster than the first type and you can travel 28mph or 45kmph. This is considered the fastest “legal” e-bike as they have stronger motors of greater than 250-watt output as well as provide assistance for up to 45kmph. Although this still falls under a normal bicycle category you will need to get a license as the speed limit in Germany is 25kmph. In Germany, this e-bike is called an S-Pedelec or an S-bike. If you are to use this bike, you not only need a license but must also wear a helmet. In addition to that, riding these S-bikes at high speeds in bicycle paths in Germany is strictly prohibited.
Motors And Other Features
The type of motor the bicycle operates on is just as important when looking for the right e-bike. This is because on different terrains an e-bike’s functionality can change and some e-bikes will not be able to bear the strain which causes them to get damaged. If you are looking to travel around Berlin, try to find an e-bike with a rear-hub direct-drive motor as it is good for flat commutes.
When you are buying these e-bikes it is important to know the level of power assist modes as well. In a typical e-bike, you will find three or four power-assist modes. The three modes are Eco, Standard/Tour, and High. If you prefer, you can switch off the assistance, but most people use either Eco or Standard modes for their day-to-day travel. These modes allow even beginners to ride along at a maximum speed of 25 kmph. Moreover, if you are using your e-bike for off-road travel, the Standard/Tour mode will suffice even when climbing hills at a normal speed. However, unless you are using an S-Pedelec, the assist feature turns off when you reach speeds over 25 kmph.
Electric Bicycle Laws In Germany
The e-bike laws in Germany have changed over time. Previously, riders were required to have a special certificate if they wanted to ride an e-bike in Germany. However, with the new regulations, e-bikes, although they are electric vehicles, are classified as regular bikes. That is, it does not matter whether they have start-up aid or not. So congratulations! If your requirement is to travel on an e-bike at less than 25 kmph, then you do not need a license. Nevertheless, you need to follow German law and ensure your e-bike (pedal assist) or Pedelecs has a maximum continuous power output of 250W. If you are looking to ride a speed-pedelec then you will need a license when traveling as those e-bikes have more power and the speed limit is 45kmph.
Furthermore, as e-bikes fall into the small electrical vehicles category, even if you do not need a license, your e-bike has to weigh less than 55 kg, have all the safety features such as front lighting/side reflectors and warning signals, and possess two independently functioning brakes.
In Berlin, according to German law, there are two categories of mopeds. Small Mopeds do not require a license while bigger ones do. In Germany, small mopeds are called Mofas. They can be driven at speeds up to 25 kmph without a driving license. However, not everyone is allowed to ride them since the rider should be above 15 years of age. A helmet is mandatory. This is because their technical specification is lower than necessary for a European license class AM. Even if it wasn’t mandatory, you must always make sure to wear a helmet when riding any type of bike.
Unlike with e-bikes, for Mopeds you are required to pass a written and practical test and qualify before you are allowed to use it on the road. You can get these tests done through a majority of the driving schools in Berlin.
Furthermore, in order to ride a Mofa, the Mofa in question needs to pass a set of specific regulations. This includes being less than 50cc, utilizing less than 0.5 kW of power, weighing less than 30kg, and the front and back wheel have a width of 26cm and 28cm respectively.
The other category of mopeds is called the Mokick. This is a bigger version of the Mofa and a license is required as two people are allowed to ride a Mokick, unlike a Mofa. Although it is 50cc as well, a Mokick can be driven up to a speed of 45 kmph. The age limit to drive a Mokick is sixteen years which is one year more than that required for a Mofa. Even if you do not need a license both these mopeds need to have a license plate which has to be renewed every 12 months.
E-bike laws can be very confusing and different from region to region. So when purchasing your own e-bike, you need to make sure that you meet the requirements stated by the country you are planning to ride it in. To sum things up, throttle e-bikes are banned in Germany, Pedal Assist e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 kmph do not require a license but Pedal Assist bikes with speeds exceeding that will require a license. Moreover, Mopeds come in two types called Mofas and Mokicks. Mofas do not require a license but Mokicks do. Of course, this is said in a general sense and there are several other factors, which were discussed above, that you have to take into consideration when deciding whether your e-bike falls into the right category.
There are many other rules and regulations that you are expected to follow in accordance with the type of e-bike or moped you have. These laws have been implemented to ensure your safety as well as the safety of pedestrians. Therefore, you must make sure to follow them if you want to make your riding experience a good one.