What you need to know, and how to choose the right bike.
As electric bikes gain popularity and more manufacturers and importers enter the market, it’s important to understand the regulations surrounding their use, especially if you intend on carrying your family and charging it in your home.
In Australia, there are specific rules regarding the maximum power output of the motor and how the power is delivered.
What are the laws?
The maximum power output allowed is 250 watts in most states, except for New South Wales (NSW) where it’s 500 watts. Additionally, the maximum speed limit is set at 25 km/h. However, enforcement of these regulations is often lacking, making it difficult for authorities to determine compliance on the side of the road.
The power from the motor can only be delivered as pedal assistance, meaning the bike can’t solely rely on the electric motor for propulsion.
If your bike has a throttle, assists you over 25 km/h, or has a motor rated above the specified limits for your state, it would be considered a motorised vehicle, and illegal to ride in public spaces.
What are the consequences?
Consequences for using an illegal electric bike can vary, but it’s worth noting that some bikes being advertised in Australia exceed the power limits, have higher speed capabilities, and even feature throttles. Certain websites even mention the ability to derestrict motors and install throttles upon request. However, using such illegal features can have serious implications, especially in the event of an incident.
An extreme case in Australia involved a man who hit a child on a footpath while riding an electric bike with a power output of 1961 watts. He was found guilty of multiple offences, including driving on a path, driving while disqualified, and using an unregistered and uninsured vehicle. In this case, the bike was not considered a bicycle under road rules but rather a motor-propelled vehicle.
So your bike is legal, is there anything else you need to consider? Absolutely!
While ensuring your bike complies with legal regulations is crucial, it’s also important to consider electrical safety. Many jurisdictions, including New York City, have introduced new laws due to concerns over battery fires and safety issues. Regulations addressing the importation of electric mobility devices into Australia primarily focus on the roadworthiness rather than electrical safety.
“Amid a rise in fires and deaths, New York City enacts new e-bike rules. At least 19 people died nationwide in 2022 due to these devices. The new laws will ban the sale of uncertified bikes and unregulated lithium-ion batteries. The story has become a sadly familiar one in New York.” ABC News
Some of Australia’s environmental factors that make electric bikes so appealing, can also pose the highest risks for electrical equipment not designed to withstand the elements here.
Being able to ride further on a summers day without breaking a sweat or around our hilly coastlines, also means riding in extreme heat and through salty air. This can generate risky conditions for low quality electrical equipment designed for different environments.
The results can be anything from simply no longer working, to explosions and deaths.
How do I choose the right bike?
To choose the right bike, opt for brands that prioritise legal compliance and electrical safety. For example, at Lug+Carrie we only use Bosch eBike Battery Systems that are certified to the UL 2849 safety standard, which is the highest standard for e-bike systems. Our frames are also tested to EFBE Prüftechnik GmbH standards to prove the frame and fork can handle the mass gross vehicle weight specifications ride after ride.
This ensures you can trust that you’re riding home on a legal, reliable, and safe new mode of transport. Good Move.