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We have compiled the most important questions and answers about the subject of e-bikes in our FAQs for you.


What is the difference between e-bikes and Pedelecs?

Colloquially, any electrically operated or supported bicycle is called an e-bike. However, we distinguish between bicycles and motor vehicles in road traffic. Therefore, it is important to know:

Bicycles with a pedalling support at a drive output of up to 250 Watt are officially called Pedelecs. The term is short for the English "Pedal Electric Cycle" and describes the drive method of the bike, where the rider has to pedal and is only supported by the electric motor.  Pedelecs, or e-bikes of this kind, are officially deemed bicycles in road traffic. There are now also some pedelecs with higher-performance pedalling support that will allow you to reach speeds of 45 km/h. They are called S- or Speed-Pedelecs. Along with the self-running e-bikes, which are controlled by electric thrust using a turning handle like an electric mofa, these are considered motor vehicles according to the road traffic regulations (StVZO).


Is there any helmet/driving license and insurance obligation?

E-bikes with pedalling support up to 25 km/h are deemed "normal" bicycles according to the StVZO and therefore not subject to any helmet/driving license or insurance obligations. Self-running e-bikes and S-Pedelecs with speeds of up to 45 km/h are deemed motor vehicles. Such bikes must only be used with a mofa license. A Suitable protective helmet and a mofa insurance (mofa license plate) are mandatory as well. For reasons of safety, we recommend to ALWAYS wear a bicycle helmet, however.


Where may I ride my e-bike?

An e-bike with pedalling support up to 25 km/h is legally a bicycle. You therefore have to ride such e-bikes on a bicycle track where there is one. Independently running e-bikes and S-Pedelecs up to 45 km/h are considered motor vehicles and must be in the street. Exception: Bicycle paths cleared for motorised bicycles by signs, outside of built-up areas or when the motor is off.


Does the bicycle or e-bike have to meet the StVZO provisions?

Bicycles and e-bikes that are used in public streets must be equipped according to the StVZO:

  • A white headlight in front
  • A red rear light
  • A white reflector in front
  • A red reflector in the rear (no higher than 600 mm when measured from the floor)
  • A red large-area reflector (Z-rear reflector)
  • Two yellow spoke reflectors each in the running wheels or white reflecting stripes at the wheels or rims
  • Two brakes that are independent of each other
  • Two slip-proof and firmly screwed-on pedals with two yellow reflectors forward and backward each
  • One bell with a clear sound

The lighting parts (headlights, rear light and reflectors) must be approved by the Federal motor vehicle office. This can be recognised by the K-number, which must be put on the respective part (e.g.: - K123456).


What effects does weather have on e-bike operation?

The technology is generally cold-resistant. However, low temperatures reduce the performance of the batteries considerably. The range reduces a lot in low temperatures; ideally, batteries should be stored at 10-20 degrees. Much lower temperatures may damage the battery when charging it.


How should the e-bike and battery be kept in winter?

You can use your e-bike year-round. If you prefer to take a break in winter, remove the battery before storing your e-bike, wash the bike well and spray it with wax spray after drying. Ideally, it should spend the winter in a dry room at a stable temperature. Charge the batteries to 50-70 percent and store them dry and protected against frost. Take the charger out of the socket. Another piece of advice: If you make a note in your calendar to recharge the battery to 50-70 percent again in the first week of January and take the same opportunity to inflate the tyres, you can wake your e-bike from its hibernation again in time for spring!


Does interim charging harm the battery?

Thanks to modern lithium-ion technology, you no longer need to be afraid of the "memory effect". Once, incomplete charging would reduce the charging capacity. Today, experts even advise to charge up in between. This way, you can increase your range considerably within one or two hours – e.g. during the lunch break of a long e-bike tour. Don't forget to bring anadapter plug when e-biking abroad!


How can the e-bike be transported?

Generally, you can transport your e-bike like any regular bicycle. Because of the slightly higher weight, however, the roof rack on the car is not suitable for it. A rear carrier is better. Keep the battery separately in the trunk of your car while driving.


How expensive is a battery charge?

Depending on the power tariff and battery size, the costs for one battery charge are at 8-10 cents. Converted to 100 kilometres, you can ride at a cost-efficient 10 cents per 100 kilometres.


Which values will tell me anything about the capacity of my battery?

The battery capacity (Wh) is made up of two values: the voltage (Volt), which is either at 26V (older models), 36V or 48V, and the Ampere hours (8 Ah, 10 Ah, 11 Ah, 12 Ah, 15 Ah, 17 Ah,...). Multiplying both values will return the energy stored in the battery, e.g. 36V x 11 Ah = 396 Wh.


Which factors are relevant for the range per battery charge?

Many factors considerably influence the battery range: in addition to the topography of your route, i.e. the share of rises and slopes, the barometric pressure as well as the total weight of the e-bike are decisive. The different drive systems usually offer different support intensities. The higher the degree of support, the higher the battery use and the shorter the reach. Other factors include the weather and the chosen gear. Recuperation solutions offer a special feature. They can recover energy to extend the range. However, this does NOT work with midengines. The information from the manufacturers is generally considered reference values only. The average reach of current battery systems is 80-100 kilometres.


How long will my battery "live"?

The lithium-ion batteries that are installed in most e-bikes today not only have a long service life, but are also more environmentally compatible and lighter in weight than their predecessors, the lead batteries. They also have a high storage capacity of up to 180 Wh/kg and the once-feared memory effect no longer occurs in the current models. Therefore, the rechargeable battery can and should be charged even if it has not been emptied all the way. The usual manufacturers state that their batteries can go through approx. 700 to 1000 complete charge cycles until it noticeably loses in power. Recharging only means half a charge cycle. At an average range of 80 kilometres per charge cycle, a rechargeable battery can therefore achieve a total range of 56,000 to 80,000 kilometres.

 


How and where can the battery be charged?

Important: use only the original charger. Usually, you can charge the battery in the bicycle. Most models also permit removing the battery from the bike to charge it separately. The optimal charging temperature is at 10-20 degrees. Generally, heated rooms are best for charging or storing batteries.


May I use my e-bike to pull children in a child trailer?

§21 para. 3 StVO states: Transporting with normal pedelecs, i.e. e-bikes with pedalling support up to 25 km/h, is permitted. Transporting children in child trailers using self-runninge-bikes and S-Pedelecs up to 45 km/h is forbidden.


Fines and punishments - Insurance license plate:

Self-running e-bikes and S-Pedelecs up to 45 km/h are deemed motor vehicles. They require a license plate and therefore mandatory insurance. If you operate a vehicle without the insurance license plate designed and installed as specified, you are committing an offense that is subject to a fine of 10 € according to the fine register. E-bikes with pedalling support up to 25 km/h do not require insurance, just like bicycles.

Fines and punishments - Profile depth:

If the profile depth in a self-running e-bike or S-Pedelec undercuts 1 millimetre, the fine due according to §36 para. 2 StVZO of up to 50 € and three points in the Central Register in Flensburg may be the consequence.

Fines and punishments - Cycling under the influence of alcohol:

E-bikes with pedalling support up to 25 km/h are considered bicycles. Therefore, you will not be punished for riding an e-bike tipsy. However, starting at a blood alcohol level of 1.6, you are "absolutely unfit to drive" and committing a crime. Cycling can be deemed an offense starting at a blood alcohol level of 0.3 already, however, if you are in an accident. In addition to a fine, you may have to subject to the medical-psychological examination (Medizinisch Psychologische Untersuchung; MPU) and you may lose your car driving license. Self-running e-bikes and S-Pedelecs with motor outputs of up to 45 km/h are deemed motor vehicles and therefore subject to the same laws as driving cars where alcohol is concerned: Ablood alcohol level of 0.5 is an offence, 1.1 is a crime.


How can the overall weight of an e-bike be reduced?

E-bikes are generally heavier than regular bicycles. This is due to the additional weight of the motor and battery, but also because of the higher forces that act on the bike as a whole, which requires reinforcements in some areas. The frame grows heavier because of this. However, just as in a "normal" bike, you can select the material to reduce weight. The same is true for your choice of components. The fewer additional parts such as suspension fork, damper, voluminous tyres, adjustment options, etc. are installed on the bike, the lower the overall weight.

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Errors, typos, delivery options and technical changes reserved. Color deviations possible. As of December 2018