The bike for Easier Riders
Thanks to Blair Richards for a good article in The Mercury on 24 February about our e-bike rally on 22 Feb.
As she reports, electric bikes are starting to take off in Tasmania. Alan Whykes estimated that, based on sales, there are at least 500 people using e-bikes in the Hobart area. At least five Tasmanian bicycle retailers sell electric bikes. Mark Bowden, of BikeRide, noted that e-bikes have become very popular in Europe, encouraging major bicycle manufacturers to invest in the technology and produce better bikes and batteries.
Some high-powered models are becoming available. Prospective purchasers should check whether they can be legally used as bicycles on the roads, bikepaths and footpaths. Check out the legal definitions of electric bikes here: http://www.biketas.org.au/about_ebikes.
For example: "Bicycle" means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be propelled primarily by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor).... Bicycles may be fitted with an auxiliary source of power provided the motor is not capable of generating a power output of more than 200 watts. If the motor is not the auxiliary source of power, or the motor’s power output exceeds 200 watts, then the bicycle is a motor vehicle.
This has implications for where you can legally ride your high powered bike and for your insurance cover. If it is a motor vehicle, you may not ride it on bikepaths or footpaths. If you ride it on the roads, you will need to register it as a motorbike and wear a motorbike helmet. Also your bicycle insurance cover will not be valid if you should have an accident while riding it.
Some time in March 2014, the Legislative Council will approve amendments to the Tasmanian Road Rules to enable use of motors providing up to 250W of auxiliary power.