The EU Commission has ruled that chainless e-bikes can be sold as electrically powered assisted cycles (EPAC), following five years of campaigning.
Debate around these machines, which run on a chainless system called Series Hybrid, dates back to 2018 when several German e-bike dealers were threatened with € 5,000 fines for selling a specific e-bike, which did not have a chain, as an EPAC.
Following years of campaigning by the European Union trade association for light electric vehicles, LEVA-EU, and its members, the European Commission has now ruled Series Hybrid Cycles can now be classified as EPACs across the union.
Under EU law, An EPAC is classified as a pedal assisted cycle with a maximum speed of 25km/h and a 250w power cap.
Series Hybrid machines do not have a mechanical chain, but are instead powered by energy that flows directly from a pedal generator into the motor, which sparked the concerns.
In 2018, the German approval authority Kraftfahrt Bundesambt (KBA) threatened a number of e-bike retailers with fines if they continued to market Series Hybrid bikes as EPACs.
The KBA argued that these vehicles needs L-category approval, similar to mopeds and motorbikes – the argument was supported by the German transport ministry.
Since the initial controversy, a number of new companies developed their own Series Hybrid models, particularly in the e-cargo bike market, as the chainless system reduces maintenance costs due to the fewer mechanical parts involved.
Following multiple meetings with the European Commission, LEVA-EU announced on Monday, 21st February, that the commission had now ruled that Series Hybrid systems are EPACs.
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LEVA-EU said: “This statement finally puts an end to an agony that has lasted for almost 5 years and to a problem that posed a significant threat to the development and success of electric cycles in general and electric cargo cycles in particular.
“E-cycles equipped with a SH-system enjoy the same status on the road as conventional bicycles in all EU Member States.”