What are the risks ?

Driving faster on an e-bike or electric scooter is tempting! However, unbridling your transportation machine is a very bad idea. We explain why, as well as the many risks involved.

Source: Dall-E by Frandroid

Electrically assisted bicycles and electric scooters have now become an integral part of the urban landscape. Ideal for daily travel, these new machines are governed by a legislative framework intended to be particularly strict regarding maximum speed.

However, some users have fun unleashing their VAE or motorized transport vehicle (EDPM). What do they incur under the law? What are the risks inherent in unclamping an electric bike or scooter? Decryption.

The legal framework for electric bicycles and scooters

Electrically assisted bicycles (VAE)

To travel by electric bike in France, it is necessary to have a vehicle that complies with the applicable regulations. Without a registration plate like mopeds and speedbikes, the VAE must comply with French and European standards NF EN 15194+A1 in order to obtain approval. On this subject, here are the points on which the electrically assisted cycle must comply:

  • Electric assistance must only be effective when the cyclist activates the pedals; only start-up assistance limited to 6 km/h can be active without the user having to pedal;
  • The engine must turn off at the latest when the cyclist reaches a speed of 25 km/h;
  • The motor power cannot exceed 250 watts.
Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid

These three points must be respected. Otherwise, the VAE could legally be considered as a moped, or rather as a speedbike, a machine governed by numerous rules (license plate, approved helmet and gloves, rear-view mirror, ban on riding on cycle paths, etc. .)

The following three conditions are also required to validate the approval of an VAE:

  • The motors must be compatible on the electromagnetic aspect;
  • The charger must meet current safety standards;
  • The VAE battery must be recyclable and lead-free.
Mustache J.on Automatic
Source: Mustache Bikes

An approved electrically assisted bicycle must also display the words “Complies with safety requirements” on its frame in a visible, legible and indelible manner. Certain obligations apply to all bicycles, whether classic or electric:

  • The bike must be assembled and the mechanics must be prepared for sale;
  • The cycle must be provided with non-digital instructions;
  • It is obligatory to provide with the bicycle lighting devices (such as a lamp to attach to the handlebars) and signaling devices (such as a reflector which reflects a light Source);
  • The bicycle must be equipped with two braking systems independent of each other and installed on each wheel;
  • Any purchase of a bicycle (new or used) is subject to mandatory marking against theft.

Electric scooters

As with the electrically assisted bicycle, the electric scooter is strictly regulated by law. The machine must notably meet these two criteria in order to obtain the precious key to approval for public roads:

  • The electric scooter, regardless of the power of its engine, cannot under any circumstances exceed the threshold of 25 km/h;
  • The machine must be “single-seater”. In other words, it cannot be designed to carry two people;
  • The scooter must be marked with the “CE” symbol signifying its conformity with the European market. On the other hand, no other marking is imposed, contrary to the legislation relating to electric bicycles.
Xiaomi Electric Scooter 4 Lite 2nd Gen
Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid

Unblocking an electric scooter or bike: the legal risks

Unlocking your scooter or electric bike to go faster on the roads is a bad idea. Aside from potentially more serious injuries caused by a fall at excessive speed, unbridling your vehicle can have serious legal consequences.

When an EDPM is unrestricted, it is no longer considered to be approved for driving on public roads. For cycling, he switches category – towards speedbike – and must therefore respect new rules.

Source: Frandroid

Also, in the event of an accident, the user’s insurance is entitled not to cover repair of the damage caused. This point means that the costs incurred in repairing a car whose bodywork has been damaged by a collision will be the responsibility of the individual who has unrestrained his EDPM or his bicycle. Worse still, in the event of an accident involving an injured pedestrian, the insurance of the driver of the unrestrained vehicle will not be required to compensate the victim, placing the blame on the unrestrained vehicle.

Let us also remember that the user who unlocks their e-bike or electric scooter runs a criminal risk. In France, an unrestrained electric bike is considered an unapproved motorcycle. Forgetting to declare the modification of the original VAE is subject to a fine of 750 euros. Failure to register the new machine results in a penalty of 7,500 euros. Driving without insurance is punishable by a fine of 1,500 euros.

Furthermore, selling or renting an unbridled electric bike – therefore an unapproved motorcycle – is punishable by a fine of 7,500 euros for individuals and a fine of 30,000 euros plus two years in prison for professionals.

Physical and mechanical risks linked to unclamping

Whether it is an electrically assisted bicycle or an electric scooter, unleashing your engine is not free from physical risks. Without drawing a picture: if a fall can already cause significant injuries at 25 km/h, what about at 40 km/h? At 50 km/h and more? Given the center of gravity, driving an electric scooter at (very) high speed can easily prove dangerous.

The same goes for electric bikes, some parts of which are not necessarily designed to withstand high speeds over the long term. We are thinking in particular of the essential components of the VAE such as the chain, the wheels or the fork, located on the front line facing the shocks linked to greater speed. To these elements, let us add the damage inflicted on the battery and the motor which can suffer premature aging in the event of unclamping.

Electric scooter and speed – Illustrative image. // Source: Pure Electric

Unlocking your e-bike or electric scooter certainly saves time on journeys, but at what cost? The dangers of unclamping do not only concern the driver, but also pedestrians, other individuals who also drive an EDPM, cyclists, motorists, motorcyclists, etc.

It is important to keep in mind that in the event of an accident, the insurance company may refuse to compensate the parties concerned. In such a situation, it is up to the driver of the e-bike or unbridled electric scooter to bear the costs (financial as well as legislative).


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