French Government lead on e-Bike tuning with threat of €30,000 fine

The French Government has this week taken steps to legislate against e-Bike tuning beyond legal limits, or those set by the manufacturer.

The ruling now enforces that individuals, retailers or manufacturers themselves may not enhance the power of an e-Bike beyond a speed of 25kmh for regular models, or 45kmh for speed pedelecs, the latter of which require licensing, insurance and a helmet with suitable standard of protection for the vehicle.

The law now coming into force legislates that, if found to have bumped an electric bike’s capability the accused will be subject to a fine of up to €30,000, or potentially a year in jail.

The e-Bike tuning law comes on the back of a high profile case in the UK where the rider of a tuned electric bike had illegally modified the motor to enable a speed of up to 30mph.

Thomas Hanlon collided with Sakine Cihan, who later succumbed to injuries sustained in hospital. In a verdict that surprised many, the court eventually cleared Hanlon, having deemed him to not be at fault for the crash itself, deeming that whether the bike was illegal or not was not relevant to the circumstances of the crash.

European bicycle trade organisation CONEBI, in tandem with AMBE of Spain, has this week issued a detailed statement reminding those under its wing of their responsibilities to keep e-Bikes within legal limits.

“If the assisted pedaling bicycle is manipulated, by modifying the power delivery or maximum operating speed of the electric auxiliary motor, or by means of kits altering these limits (allowing speed of assistance is increased above 25km / h), the bicycle becomes immediate on a motor vehicle according to Regulation (EU) 168/2013,” reads the statement. “Once manipulated, the e-Bike becomes a motor vehicle. Completely different requirements will fall on it.”

Among changes that many users of such chipped bikes may not realise are invalidation of personal insurances, loss of manufacturer’s warranty, a potential withdrawal of a driving licence, as well as other criminal offences.

In the case of retail stores the consequences again are many fold and include ties to offences made once the modified e-Bike has left the store.

These include inciting and participating in a crime once the e-Bike is used on a public space, loss of insurance coverage for your business, as well as likely invalidation of any contracts held with brands carried and later tuned.

Manufacturers such as Bosch have taken a pro-active approach to combating tuning, with the electronics giant building in to its software systems to detect modification and immobilise the vehicle.

On the flip side of the argument, LEVA-EU has pressed the case that “brute force” legislation to outlaw such vehicles skirts the reason many are opting to use them and has in fact called for a softening of laws.

leva-eu ebike tuningImage: Bosch