A Regulatory Conundrum...Are both LSEBs per HR727 & 3-Class ebikes both legal for sale and use? Apparently yes...

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The only difference between the two regulations is that HR727 does not differentiate the technology utilized to generate the assist as 3-class does for an unknown reason and there is a defined motor alone power limit above 20mph instead of two different assist limits. These differences are almost certainly the result of HR727 being drafted by a PhD Electrical Engineer that understood the physics and technology while 3-class was written by industry insiders wanting market harmonization with the EU and to keep ebikes more in the recreational and leisure domain (especially the Class 1 and 2 designations). 3-class was not about improved safety or clarity as declared by People for Bikes who was being given lobby money to push the legislation.

I filed a petition for rule making decision to the CPSC to preempt the 3-class legislation due to clear interstate commerce issues if they were considered to address the same product. The CPSC does not consider them the same, so no conflict and no rule making decision made on the petition. While I thought this was a possible outcome of a conference call with the CPSC it was still not the expected outcome. They would not make a rule-making decision either way on the petition I filled because they view the "low speed electric bicycle" (LSEB) defined in HR727 as a mutually exclusive product than the 3-class ebikes defined by the states (even though the 3-class are compliant to the LSEB definition). When they made this clear I asked point blank if an LSEB is federally defined as a bike. Two representatives, including one on the general legal counsel, with the CPSC said "yes." I then said that was the actual intent of my petition as I felt that the LSEB definition controlled what was legal for 1st sale in all 50 states (as the equivalent of a bike) and that existing bike use/traffic laws applied as if a bike.

I then asked if the states could literally establish different power and assist speeds in every state (I gave examples like 10mph and 100W in one state and 15mph and 200W in another state) and it would not be viewed as an interstate commerce conflict because they were not same as an LSEB in HR727. They confirmed that to be their interpretation.

I am in contact with the lawyer that worked on HR727 with Dr. Currie for many years to wrestle "LSEB" away from the NHTSA to the CPSC and he was disappointed but understood this was their way of saying that only in court will a final outcome be established. There was a forum I read where a guy with 20 years of federal law experience said the same thing - he stated his opinion that HR727 superseded the state 3-class definitions but it was just an opinion and those that didn't agree only had an opinion. We are in discussion to push for a ticket for riding a non-class ebike in Colorado and then push this court case to a final outcome but that is not going to happen fast as we are not going to spend money on the effort. I just want to clarify the outcome with the ebike manufacturers and have them release LSEB mode ebikes in defiance of 3-class and force the states to take this on via enforcement (it's pretty obvious the states don't want to enforce the stupid sticker idea that People for Bikes came up with - more likely came from Bosch as we believe a Bosch executive brought the draft 3-class legislation to PFBs with lobby money).

Hopefully this makes sense. We are preparing a presentation that we will post on various forum to communicate this information but in MY opinion an LSEB is the same as bike so it can be ridden on any path that a bike is allowed on and it does not have to be a 3-class model ebike (that is different product which is a voluntary compliance policy as stated by PFBs and last years CPSC EV webinar - I encourage everyone to check that out if you don't believe me).

So if you owned a non-classed ebike in a state that adopted 3-class legislation that ebike did not become illegal to ride - based on the CPSC's response during the conference call a LSEB defined by HR727 can be ridden on any public infrastructure that allows bikes. Keep in mind the CPSC did not make a rule-making decision on the petition so this is their position which probably does not align with the state perception of 3-class ebikes.
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