The peril associated with superfast e-bikes boils down to a simple truth – speed is a significant threat. This is a fundamental principle of physics that underscores the danger of high speeds.
The kinetic energy of a moving object escalates in direct proportion to the square of its speed. To illustrate, a bike traveling at 30mph inflicts four times the damage of a bike at 15mph, and at 60mph (attainable by some illegal e-bikes), the energy impact is sixteen times that of a quarter of the speed.
Considering that superfast e-bikes often carry large, heavy battery packs for an extended range, the increased mass adds to the kinetic energy and force in a collision. The consequences of a high-speed impact are far more severe than one might initially realize.
Excessive speed not only heightens the danger during a crash but significantly increases the likelihood of one occurring. The rider, along with others nearby, has less reaction time, and there’s often a lack of awareness about the extended braking distances that come with higher speeds.
A specific concern with superfast e-bikes is that other road users may assume a conventional, slower biking speed. This misconception is particularly problematic when a fast e-bike is approaching head-on, leading individuals to underestimate the time it takes to reach them—a recipe for disaster.
A quick internet search reveals documented cases of superfast e-bikes being involved in serious and fatal incidents, even in regions where e-bike adoption is still in its early stages.
If not addressed earnestly now, this issue could leave behind a trail of destruction in the future. Additionally, there’s the risk of component failure if the bike isn’t designed to withstand the forces exerted by superfast motors.
This explains why many jurisdictions impose higher standards for non-electric components, such as frame strength and rims, on speed pedelecs limited to 28 mph. The increased strength is essential to withstand the potential forces involved at higher speeds.
What are the Broader Issues Caused by Superfast E-bikes?
Even if you happen to be in a collision with an illegal e-bike and escape serious injury, the aftermath could involve severe consequences if authorities become aware, as outlined on Bosch’s website.
There’s also a broader concern that numerous incidents, regardless of their severity, involving superfast e-bikes(vetanya.com) could unfairly tarnish the entire industry, including those responsibly operating within the legal framework.
As illustrated in a Telegraph article, instances of excessive behavior on e-bikes can lead to a strong backlash in popular recreational cycling areas.
On a national scale, an uptick in such incidents might fuel calls for mandatory insurance, licensing, helmet requirements, and potentially even bans on e-bikes from shared cycle paths.
This is not an argument for prohibiting fast electric vehicles. Faster electric vehicles certainly have their place, but they need to be well-regulated.
Traditionally, the space between bicycles (and now e-bikes) and motor cars was occupied by mopeds and motorcycles. The surge in electric vehicle technology, partly driven by the e-bike boom and advancements in electric motor systems, has opened up significant potential for the development of vehicles that bridge this gap, contributing to a more convenient and eco-friendly transport future.
Speed pedelecs serve as an example; in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, where thoughtful regulations have been recently introduced, sales in this ‘faster than traditional e-bike’ sector are gaining momentum.
However, electric vehicles that fall outside the legal definition of e-bikes should refrain from labeling themselves as such. Prospective buyers of such vehicles should be cognizant of the potential harm they could pose—not only to themselves but also to other road users and the reputation of legal e-bikes, along with the countless individuals who ride them.
Stay tuned for further updates and reviews on e-bikes, and thank you for reading!