E-Bikes are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. They can be safe an fun for wide range of people, some that might not even be able to ride regular bicycles anymore. However, there is a lack of federal regulations surrounding the components and batteries used in e-bikes. Even with their higher average speed and weight, e-bikes only have to comply with the same consumer safety testing as regular bicycles. This has led to a situation where manufacturers are free to use whatever components and batteries they choose, without much oversight or standards to ensure their safety and quality.
Some manufacturers advertise the ability to unlock or adjust the speed controls on their e-bikes. However, any e-bike in the United States where the motor continues to provide power after 20 mph with a throttle, or 28 mph pedaling, is no longer a street-legal electric bicycle. Those vehicles would more likely be classified as electric motor vehicles and probably require vehicle registration, insurance, and a license to operate them on public roads.
The risks associated with buying inferior components or batteries for an e-bike are also numerous. Low-quality batteries could malfunction or even explode, putting the rider at risk of injury or death. Similarly, poorly made brakes or tires could fail at a critical moment, leading to an accident. In addition, inferior components can reduce the performance of an e-bike, making it less appealing to riders.
Despite these risks, many consumers are unaware of the lack of regulations in the e-bike market and the potential dangers of buying low-quality components. To address this issue, there have been calls for stronger regulations and standards for the e-bike market. As an example, the risks associated with e-bike battery fires was so great that New York City recently passed a law requiring all e-bikes to be certified to UL standards. No such law exists in California.
In the absence of regulations, consumers can protect themselves by doing their research before making a purchase. They should read reviews and product specifications, as well as seek expert advice from industry professionals, such as your local bicycle shop. Consumers should also be cautious about buying components or batteries from unknown or untested sources, and stick to established brands and products.
The team at Kruse + Company is committed to matching customers to safe and reliable e-bikes. Each e-bike is unique, just like each rider. Our team will make sure you find the right bicycle, even if it isn’t something we sell. At the end of the day we are more concerned about e-bike safety than sales.
If you do decide to buy something online, make sure you take it to a reputable mechanic to be inspected before your first ride. If you are nearby, Kruse + Company is happy to help. If you can’t make it into our shop, call our good friend Chris at Hoopty Bikes (https://www.hooptybikes.com/services/electric-bikes).
Until there are more regulations in place, educate yourself or find an expert. That way we can all continue riding e-bikes safely.