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Old 07-28-14, 03:45 PM   #1
wphamilton
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Is it a loophole?

What if I had an electric bike with 1000 watt motor, with tilt switches that drop the power to max out at below 20 mph for +/- 0.5, and designed it for no human assist at and above 20 mph?

The GA code is:
The electric motor in an electric assisted bicycle shall:

A) Have a power output of not more than 1,000 watts;
(B) Be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground; and
(C) Be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device at or more than 20 miles per hour.


It doesn't explicitly prohibit speeds faster than 20 mph on downhills or uphills! If the power turns off at exactly level at 20 mph, it's clearly incapable of propelling the bike on level ground. And it only prohibits faster than 20 if human power alone is propelling it at 20. There are several ways to go faster than 20 and still comply with these three rules.

So do you think it would hold up to still classify it as an electric assisted bicycle?
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Old 07-28-14, 03:49 PM   #2
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Reading those rules I would have to assume that as long as the ground isn't perfectly level it can go as fast as you want it to go.
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Old 07-28-14, 03:56 PM   #3
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Fellow Georgian. The law means just what it says, no motor greater than 1000 watts, and a 20mph governor (be that a shut off, low gearing, or whatever). Going down hill or pedaling on you own you may go as fast as you can.

The law is not to govern speed but to determine at what point an ebike must be tagged as a moped.

If the bike has a larger than 1000 watt motor, or does not have an automatic cut off when the bike's speed reaches 20mph, then it must be tagged as a moped to be legal on Ga roads.

Last edited by Allen; 07-28-14 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 07-28-14, 04:02 PM   #4
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I wouldn't count on getting away with the 'loophole'. Courts have been known to make rulings based on their interpretation of what the intent of a law was supposed to be even when a straight forward literal reading of the law appears to say something different.

Last edited by prathmann; 07-28-14 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 07-28-14, 05:07 PM   #5
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Fellow Georgian. The law means just what it says, no motor greater than 1000 watts, and a 20mph governor (be that a shut off, low gearing, or whatever). Going down hill or pedaling on you own you may go as fast as you can.

The law is not to govern speed but to determine at what point an ebike must be tagged as a moped.

If the bike has a larger than 1000 watt motor, or does not have an automatic cut off when the bike's speed reaches 20mph, then it must be tagged as a moped to be legal on Ga roads.
I could cut if off at 20 on a level road, and cut it back on at faster than 20 if the road isn't level and speed up to 30, and still not be a moped?

ie, its not capable of propelling the bike at 20 on a level road, exactly as the law states, but IS capable of propelling it at 30 going uphill.
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Old 07-28-14, 05:47 PM   #6
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I think the "level ground" is just used so that there is a standard, probably so that a company can't use an uphill in their testing to skirt the intent of the law.
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Old 07-28-14, 07:39 PM   #7
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I could cut if off at 20 on a level road, and cut it back on at faster than 20 if the road isn't level and speed up to 30, and still not be a moped?

ie, its not capable of propelling the bike at 20 on a level road, exactly as the law states, but IS capable of propelling it at 30 going uphill.
No. The motor has to have an automatic cut off if the bike is traveling at 20mph or greater. Nothing to do with the grade of the road.

In short, you must tag an electric bike if it can go faster than 20 mph while powered by the motor.
One is allowed to have a motor that is physically capable of propelling a bike faster than 20mph, but then it must be fitted with an automatic (not user operated) kill switch, or be tagged as a moped. It is the same as the EU standard, however we are allowed a considerably larger motor. Which is a nice thing given our hills--or if you are hauling large cargo.

An electric bike is considered a bicycle if it travels at regular bike speeds. If it goes faster the powers that be rightly want it to be tagged as a moped.

An average bike commuter travels at 12-15 mph. They are giving us an extra 5mph.

Last edited by Allen; 07-28-14 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 07-28-14, 07:49 PM   #8
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No. The motor has to have an automatic cut off if the bike is traveling at 20mph or greater. Nothing to do with the grade of the road.
But it is what it says. That's likely the intent, much as thermionic says, but not the literal phrasing of the law. It literally says "on level ground".

On a downhill grade, it does not have a 20mph cuttoff, ostensibly because a bike could simply coast at greater speeds - it has everything to do with grade. But it also does not exclude uphill, which is a flaw in the law as written.

So the question is, how far can you take a literal reading of the law? Courts only interpret intent when the literal reading of the law is ambiguous, as the literal law is presumed to be the intent regardless of how much sense it makes - it seems pretty clearly written in this case, not ambiguous.

Any lawyers to chime in here?
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Old 07-28-14, 07:57 PM   #9
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There is nothing ambiguous about the wording. You have to have a kill switch for the motor that activates at 20 mph.
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Old 07-28-14, 08:02 PM   #10
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There is nothing ambiguous about the wording. You have to have a kill switch for the motor that activates at 20 mph.
At 20mph on level ground, to be precise. I agree, it doesn't seem ambiguous

(B) Be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground;
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Old 07-28-14, 08:06 PM   #11
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Level ground. A 2 watt motor can propel a bike faster than 20mph if you are rolling down Brasstown Bald. A thousand watt motor is going to have difficulty pushing you faster than 20 mph up Brasstown Bald.

The reason the law says level ground is because that is a non ambiguous standard.
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Old 07-28-14, 08:12 PM   #12
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At 20mph on level ground, to be precise. I agree, it doesn't seem ambiguous

(B) Be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground;
That means the motor has to be either too weak to propel one faster, or be fitted with an automatic kill switch (not user controlled) that prevents the motor from operating beyond 20mph. The key word here is incapable, not level ground.
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Old 07-28-14, 08:20 PM   #13
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Level ground. A 2 watt motor can propel a bike faster than 20mph if you are rolling down Brasstown Bald. A thousand watt motor is going to have difficulty pushing you faster than 20 mph up Brasstown Bald.

The reason the law says level ground is because that is a non ambiguous standard.
There is a misunderstanding here. I'm not asking what the law says, or why, nor how e-bikes are designed in order to comply. I think I'm pretty clear on those questions.

I'm asking a more legal question. The law evidently doesn't prohibit a bike that could go 25 mph uphill, even it intended to.

A 50 pound bike could easily go 28-30 up a 4% grade with 1000 watts. It has a cutoff on level ground +/- .5 degrees, and disengages a pedal clutch at 19. Now regarding the statute:

It's not more than 1000 watts so it complies with A.

There is a cutoff acting on level ground that turns the motor off at 20 (since I installed one), so it complies with B

Human power alone was not used to reach 20 mph (since I engage pedal clutch somewhere below 20) so it complies with C.

So, in a literal legal sense, how does my 30 mph bike not comply with the code?
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Old 07-28-14, 08:27 PM   #14
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That means the motor has to be either too weak to propel one faster, or be fitted with an automatic kill switch (not user controlled) that prevents the motor from operating beyond 20mph. The key word here is incapable, not level ground.
The statute should include on level ground, "and downhill, and uphill" to have that meaning. Taken literally it only applies to level ground. I'm addressing the plain language of the statute, without interjecting additional constraints, regardless of how reasonable they may be.
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Old 07-28-14, 08:37 PM   #15
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I think the loophole is that most people can pedal faster on level ground and certainly go faster down hill, so, all you need to say in court is that you were pedaling... And that is why you could go faster...
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Old 07-28-14, 08:51 PM   #16
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I think the loophole is that most people can pedal faster on level ground and certainly go faster down hill, so, all you need to say in court is that you were pedaling... And that is why you could go faster...
So I'm overthinking this?
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Old 07-29-14, 08:42 AM   #17
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So I'm overthinking this?
Yes, I think so, As long as you are pedaling adding to the speed of the bike it seems legit to me... JMO
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