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PETE VAN NUYS, San Clemente
As the “man who rents bikes at North Beach,” I need to set the record straight about legal vs. renegade electric bikes.
Legal electric bicycles, as defined in the CA Vehicle Code (Div.1. (s) 312.5), are not “motorcycles,” but are, in essence, just bicycles that help you pedal. For brevity sake, both Class 1 and 2 e-bikes stop helping you at 20 mph; Class 3 stops helping at 28 mph. Only Class 2 can offer you a throttle option; Class 3 cannot.
Many popular “e-bikes” are not e-bikes at all. For example, a 28-mph bike with a throttle is not a Class 3 e-bike regardless of what its decal says. Nor are bikes with “mode switches,” which change their limited top speed at the riders’ will, or bikes over 750 watts.
These machines are heavier than e-bikes, often carry more than one person, and when ridden at speed may indeed feel like motorcycles to the walkers and bikers they’re slaloming around.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these out-of-category electric vehicles. They’re terrific when ridden on the street. But call ’em what you will, they’re just not “e-bikes.”