The European Commission has published a statement on the legality of chainless Series Hybrid e-bikes, confirming they fall under the same category as traditional e-bikes.
Debate around these machines dates back to 2018, when several German e-bike dealers were threatened with fines for selling a specific chainless e-bike and advertising it as an electrically powered assisted cycle (EPAC), in other words a conventional e-bike.
Following years of campaigning by the EU trade association for light electric vehicles, LEVA-EU, the European Commission announced in February that Series Hybrid cycles could be sold as EPACs.
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 instead are powered by energy flowing directly from a pedal generator into the motor.
In 2018, the German approval authority Kraftfahrt Bundesambt (KBA) threatened a number of retailers with fines if they continued to market Series Hybrid bikes as EPACs.
The KBA argued that these bikes needed L-category approval, similar to motorbikes and mopeds, and the KBA’s view was backed by the German transport ministry.
In its latest statement on the topic, the EU Commission published a statement confirming that Hybrid Series bikes are EPACs.
The statement reads: “The exemption under Article 2.2(h) of Regulation (EU) 168/2013 applies to pedal cycles with pedal assistance, equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of less than or equal to 250 W, for which the motor cuts off when the cyclist stops pedalling and otherwise progressively reduces and finally cuts off before it reaches 25 km/h. The auxiliary function of the motor is to be interpreted that the vehicle should not be propelled only by the motor. In addition, the motor should provide assistance only as long as the cyclist pedals continuously.
“The type-approval legislation is technology neutral. Therefore, the fact whether the vehicle has a chain or not, is irrelevant for determining if the vehicle concerned falls under the exemption in Article 2.2(h) of Regulation (EU) 168/2013.”
This means that any Series Hybrid system, which cuts the motor off at 25km/h and has a maximum continuous rated power of 250w, is granted the same legal status as any other EPAC.