Motor Classification


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7:02 AM
Jul 13, 2020
I've always thought that e-motor wattage was classified by the maximum that a motor can sustain constantly without overheating. Of course, they can accept more for short periods and some may be overrated or underrated by manufacturers. In CA, as well as much of the US AFAIK, this is 750w. Does anyone know of a different method of classification in any other state? Please note: this does not relate to anything about where they can be ridden legally, just how they are classified.
The EU regs say "maximum continuous rated power", CA regs say "less than 750w" without a mention of how that is determined. Most people infer it's nominal, but your guess is as good as mine. And once you get into the flexibility in labeling and how much voltage you're sending through it, who knows?

If CA turns into Australia where the cops can dyno your bike and give you a $5,000 ticket if you're over the limit, it'd be vital to know. Until then it seems to be the honor system
Harry, thanks for the interesting response. "Fortunately" there's enough crime in CA to keep the gendarmes busy and few enough e-bikes that they would be like locating hen's teeth. As you know a motor rated at 750w with a 10 amp controller and 36V battery wouldn't catch a 500w motor with a 30 amp controller and 52V battery. Sometimes it seems like a speed limit is the more easily measured parameter.
The 750w "limit" is just a fig-leaf that allows the sale of overpowered motors and bikes to two different groups of buyers: those who do not care a bit about legalities and intend to ride anything they want wherever they want and those who are naive about the whole thing and who assume that "they couldn't sell it, if it wasn't legal". It looks like the business plan is to flood the market with motors and systems of well over 750w in order to maximize profit and sales and the future backlash or reaction be damned. I could be convinced otherwise if there was any evidence that the major importers participated in any legislative or lobbying efforts at any governmental level. Or if there had been any sort of trade association formed to speak out in behalf of this new industry. Despite a bit of lip service on the various sales sites and forums there has been no evidence of any actions taken on that front at all, which leads me to believe the long term plan is to make as much money as possible for as long as allowed while putting back into the sport as little as possible.

The OEMs who are busy making and selling Bosch Bikes and their like are well lawyered up and have formed or have joined a number of trade and lobbying groups, essentially putting a bit of their money down as an investment in the future of ebiking. Could this be because it is not as easy and cheap to open or to close up a bricks and mortar business as opposed to an Internet sales outlet and the R&D necessary to bring a fully developed and fully legal product to market is hugely expensive? Perhaps that is what has forced them to look to the long term? Whatever the reason, there has been much more evidence of good corporate citizenship shown by the more traditional parts of this burgeoning industry than by the DIY side which seem to operating with a boom and then bust, gold rush mentality.
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The OEM guys selling the same bikes as pedelecs in the EU are under strict restrictions to be able to prove that what they are selling conforms and penalties if they can't. So far, they are the same bikes as here just with different controller parameters. So for sure, they have a lot at risk and are lawyered up.

The kit bike guys like you said, are small fry in comparison and are figuring it out as they go. There really aren't significant any fines or penalties for selling anything that doesn't conform and they are trying to make a buck selling what people want to buy. I don't know if they would have any liability in a lawsuit if a lawyer figured out what had been sold as legal, actually wasn't. I'm sure it will come up at some point.

And the chinese could care less, they'll tell you what you need to hear.

Speed limits are the most rational way to control speed, since there is zero enforcement either way, it doesn't really matter. Almost all trails already have speed limits in their code already. In my talks with my local parks dept, they did tell me that there are power limits placed on vehicles to limit their liablility in an accident. A speed limit isn't as effective at that.