PedElecs, body language, and Energy Slaves

I’m no expert when it comes to the nuances of e-bikes but I thought I had learned in the pages of bikeportland that by statute ebikes sold in the US (Oregon) were required to (in some way) couple the throttle to the pedaling action; in other words that unlike a motorcycle/an electric vehicle you couldn’t sit back and let the throttle do (all) the work for you. But it seems I misunderstood, because of late I’ve come upon people whose body language leaves no doubt about the fact that while they are sitting on a bike the forward motion is entirely unrelated to their metabolism. When you get closer of course all becomes clear: an e-machine.
When you’ve unconsciously always coupled the sight of someone on a bike with the physical effort we all know so well it can be disorienting at first to realize the two are not necessarily coupled anymore.

Did I misunderstand? Or are these bikes I’m seeing operated in this manner hacked somehow?

1 Like

People do illegal conversions to their bikes all the time. My favorite is the gasoline motor add-ons. Must be fun to ride what sounds and smells like a weed-whacker.

Here’s a reply from the City of Eugene, Bike/Ped Coordinator regarding throttles: “Oregon doesn’t have the three class system like you described. Below are state laws and links that I use for e-bikes. Ray Thomas does offer his opinion about throttles:
One of our ATC members (Steve Abbott) has been working on financial incentives e-bike purchases and has talked with EWEB, state legislators, and Congressman DeFazio. I sent him the information about the e-bike webinar.”
801.258 “Electric assisted bicycle.” “Electric assisted bicycle” means a vehicle that:

  (1) Is designed to be operated on the ground on wheels;

  (2) Has a seat or saddle for use of the rider;

  (3) Is designed to travel with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground;

  (4) Has both fully operative pedals for human propulsion and an electric motor; and

  (5) Is equipped with an electric motor that:

  (a) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts; and

  (b) Is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground. [1997 c.400 §2; 1999 c.59 §233]

814.405 Status of electric assisted bicycle. An electric assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle, for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when otherwise specifically provided by statute. [1997 c.400 §4]

1 Like

It has been my experience that ebike riders pretty much ride to the electronically controlled limit but that’s not all. It’s not just that they can go nearly 20 mph regardless of conditions but they can also out accelerate you from stops at lights and at crossings. For me, it’s pretty taxing trying to keep up with an ebike rider in city traffic.

I’m fine with this. What I have a problem with is cargo ebike riders because their extra size and weight make for hazardous conditions on trails like the Springwater at ebike limited speeds. Yes, you can go 20 mph, but you’re not riding a 20 lb road bike or even a 40 lb commuter. Cargo ebikes can exceed 100 lbs, plus whatever you put in the thing, and be twice as long as regular bikes! That’s a lot to stop for single, typically tiny, front wheel!

I have a Super73 RX which can use pedals or throttle. It’s nice to have the option.

1 Like

Thank you, RichardHughes. A very helpful document. I found this paragraph in its pages, which answers my question:

NOTE: The Oregon definition calls this an “electric- assisted bicycle,” which suggests, in e-bike parlance, that it’s a pedelec1. However, the definition itself doesn’t say it can’t be a “throttle-controlled” e-bike2, as long as it won’t go faster than 20 mph and has a 1000 watt motor or smaller. Oregon courts read statutes literally when they can, so it’s likely that either a pedelec or a throttle bike can be an “e-bike” under Oregon law.