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Latest EU Commission’s Decision Changed Legal Status of E-Bikes

Laws & Regulations

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Last 19 March the European Commission implemented “Decision (EU) 2019/436 on the harmonized standards for machinery drafted in support of Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.” This announcement didn’t get much attention despite the fact that it is of great importance because it determines the legal status of e-bikes.

Latest EU Commission’s Decision Changed Legal Status of E-Bikes
New, revised EN 15195 for 25km/h – 250W e-bikes is very different from ‘old’ standard. – Photo Bike Europe

What the European Commission’s 2019/436 decision boils down to is that the EN 15194:2017 safety standard for 25km/h – 250W electric bicycles is now harmonized under the Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC).

Revised EN 15194:2017 standard

That very long-awaited revised EN 15194:2017 standard was finally published in November 2017.

This revised version of the standard for 25km/h – 250W e-bikes is very different from the ‘old’ standard which was announced in April 2009. The previous standard only covered the electrical part of the concerned electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and a maximum continuous rated power of 250W.

For the mechanical part, producers were referred to the ISO 4210 standard for conventional bicycles. EN 15194:2017 covers the complete electric bicycle. This change was made because the mechanical part of an electric bicycle needs more stringent requirements than a conventional bicycle.

Harmonized under Machinery Directive

With EN 15194:2017 another essential change took place and that is harmonization under the Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC). This means that if an electric bike complies with EN 15194, it is in conformity with the Machinery Directive. This should make life for e-bike producers much easier. Whereas before they had to analyze the Machinery Directive themselves for relevant requirements, they can now rely on EN 15194:2017 for compliance with the legislation.

Legal obligation

With that however, it is important to note that in most European member states compliance with EN 15194:2017 is not a legal requirement, compliance is voluntary. But compliance of electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and maximum 250W with the Machinery Directive is a legal obligation. This means that compliance with EN 15194:2017 results in complying to the law stipulated in the Machinery Directive. It results in the fact that the importance of complying with EN 15194 has become much greater because it now means that legislation is being complied with.

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