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New Swiss E-Bike Rules

© Doris Reichel

This spring (2012), after much consultation, the Swiss Federal Council has finally decided on the new rules for electric bikes. Biggest change is the admission of twice as powerful motors in both classes: 500 W instead of the current 250 Watt for 'light mopeds' (25 km/h = equivalent to bicycles) and 1,000 instead of 500 W at 'other motor bikes'.

Admission of children trailers
Most of the further changes also affect the fast class that is now limited to 45 km/h. An appreciated facilitation is the admission of children trailers in this class. Undenied is the helmet and rearview mirror duty. But rather a chicane is that electric tandems are only allowed to transport people with disabilities anymore. No real sense can be seen behind the required minimum wheel diameter of 0.5 meters (a 20-inch balloon tire just about meets with this rule).

In the slow class of electric bicycles, there are only two notable changes: positive, that they may in future be equipped with a sliding support up to 20 km/h. Negative, that now 14-16-year-old need a moped license.

Unique in Europe
This new Swiss legislation is significantly more liberal than, say, the one in Germany. The approval for 1000 W motors is unique in Europe but is certainly not just explained by pointing at the steep Swiss mountains. Rather with the pioneer role Swiss brands had; Dolphin and Flyer in fact initiated fast class of speed pedelecs in the nineties.

With Stromer, Speedped and Tour de Suisse more ground-breaking products have recently been added. While the sales of fast speed pedelecs accounts in Switzerland for over 20 Percent of the total e-bike market, they remain in Germany on a low single-digit range.

Also the Swiss manufacturers, in general flexible, were somewhat surprised that the rules were changed in the middle of the season, in part, on 1 May and the other part as of 1 July, 2012. Thomas Binggeli of Stromer / BMC: "For us, the short period is a big burden. We have a lead time of nine months to produce new engines. Thus it was impossible to make the necessary adjustments in four to six weeks." Kurt Schär of Flyer: "We felt involved too little in the revision process. For example, as the new 500 Watt limit for electric bicycles was never mentioned, we didn’t had time to provide for such a model when the new regulation came into force."

Source: (Tuesday, July 10, 2012 by Peter Hummel)

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17. March 2012

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