Why are the electric bicycles of this famous brand sold in France on the verge of legalization

Why are the electric bicycles of this famous brand sold in France on the verge of legalization

According to the Dutch media Brite, Super73 electric bikes are simply illegal. Multiple assistance modes available through the mobile app allow you to travel at speeds of 35 or even 45 km/h. Which would put them in the family of fast bikes, governed by strict rules. We have reached out to a specialist lawyer to try to clarify this matter.

Source: Vander Films

American brand Super73 is famous for its electric bicycles called Fatbikes, which feature huge wheels and a vintage style. The problem: Its VAEs are likely illegal in France and Europe. This issue was highlighted by the Dutch website shiningwhich is considered reliable.

When testing the Super73 model, shining I realized that it was possible to unleash the bike’s speed through a simple assistance mode to be selected in the brand’s mobile app. Easy as pie. The tested product offered a total of four assistance modes:

  • Mode 1: Electric assistance limited to 25 km/h;
  • Mode 2: Electric assistance up to 35 km/h;
  • Mode 3: Electric assistance up to 45 km/h;
  • Mode 4: Boost mode, with accelerator capable of reaching speeds of over 50 km/h.

Illegal media?

The media shining I contacted the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) in the Netherlands, which indicated that an electric bike whose speed exceeds 25 km/h with assistance belongs to the category of speed bikes, which is subject to the scooter regulations. This is exactly the case in France.

Of course, the Super73’s cycles are configured by default to Mode 1. But the problem is that they were designed to assume and deliver speeds that beat the standards of electric bikes with Modes 2, 3 and 4. In this case, they are considered speed bikes and must comply with appropriate legislation.

As a reminder, a fast bike means insurance, a license plate, approved gloves and helmets, a ban on riding on bike paths or a requirement to have a dipped headlight and rear brake light.

When selecting modes 2, 3 or 4, the application displays a small message stating that the mentioned modes are prohibited on public roads in the European Union. By the way, the user will be solely responsible for compliance with local laws. Here, Super73 makes it the user’s responsibility to protect themselves. It is up to him not to break the laws, by limiting himself to Mode 1 on public roads. Once he’s traveling on a private road, he’s free to activate modes 2, 3 or 4. Well, why not.

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Cowboy and VanMoof cases

The problem is that it is impossible – especially for law enforcement agencies – to verify on a case-by-case basis who is respecting this rule. The violations could then multiply, as was likely the case with Cowboy’s clients at the time. Until 2020, the Belgian company offered an off-road mode (which removed the harness software) on its Cowboy 1 and Cowboy 2, before removing it in Europe upon the release of the Cowboy 3 for safety and insurance reasons.

In the FAQ“, Cowboy also advised owners of Cowboy 1 or 2 to permanently delete this function.” To avoid any misunderstanding with the police in case the bike is checked For those who wish, off-road mode is only allowed to be used on private land.

Off-road cowboy fashion
Source: Cowboy

In November 2020, VanMoof also reversed course by removing the “USA” parameter, which allowed the brand’s electric bikes to go up to 32 km/h thanks to the assist. the reason ? The police stopped a very large number of German agents because their pace was considered too high and allowed by the aforementioned method. ” We will make a change on November 17 to avoid any discussion about compliance with these laws“, The group’s leader wrotecarlier relations.

Super73 is surprised by ILT’s statements

For its part, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) considers this type of alert – the famous in-app message – to be insufficient. The organization explains its observations toshining :

If the manufacturer allows the end user of the vehicle to adjust the pedal assist speed in an accessible manner, which does not involve any physical modification of the vehicle, such that the drive system continues to provide assistance at a given time and at a given time at a speed greater than 25 km/h, then the vehicle is Its definition is not an electrically assisted bicycle, but a moped.

Dutch media also contacted Super73 Europe, which said:He was surprised by the government inspection statements“.ILT has already analyzed the case of Super73, without any warning or fine.

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Super Adventure Series 73 (3)
Source: Super 73

However, Super73 admits that it is relatively easy to unlock its electric bikes from the app, and would like to address this. “We are working on it, and modifications are coming. But as with any software modification, it requires a lot of worksaid Nico Danan, CEO of Super73 in Europe.

By going to European site From Super73, it’s clear that the brand is relatively conservative about non-lockable modes. On the other hand, the Cruise agent, which distributes the brand’s bikes in France, is very clear: The SUPER73 – S2 has been highlighted on the site It takes advantage of all of these modes at speeds greater than 25 km/h.

Answers from a specialized lawyer

The product page actually specifies that only special methods are allowed with modes 2, 3, and 4. It is also referred to as: “To activate driving modes 2 to 3, the driver must open the Super73 app, accept the terms and conditions and activate the desired driving mode which will unlock additional power and speed ».

Here, the process of unlocking your electric bike is explained very clearly. Furthermore, the page specifies: “All our Super73 models are delivered as Electrically Assisted Bicycles (EPBs) that comply with European regulations and do not require a driving license or registration. Speed ​​is limited to 25 km/h with a continuous 250 watt motorThis clip is quite paradoxical, as it is quite possible to exceed 25 km/h using a simple mode available from the app.

Super Adventure Series 73 (3)
Source: Super 73

We reached out to lawyer Jean-Baptiste Le Dal, JD, specialist in automobile and mobility law, and author of the EDPM legal guide, to try to clarify this situation. The concerned party”He gets the idea, but from a legal standpoint, it’s a bit borderline“, he is telling us. “Suppose this is not the primary spirit of the texts. The limit that can be raised by 25 km/h on a whim seems restrictive to me. The problem is that we have no evidence that a person actually travels on public roads with a machine whose speed is limited to 25 km/h.“, he continued.

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As for the responsibility of the user and the manufacturer, Maître Le Dall believes that both parties are responsible. “An electric biker is not supposed to unleash his machine on public roads. But on the other hand, the manufacturer marketing the product must adhere to the regulations. If we say that it is presented as a VAE, and that in fact it does not have one, then we have difficulties regarding that“.

Super73 plays by the rules of the game

And let us continue:Next, we can imagine machines theoretically designed for special paths“In our opinion, Super73 plays very well with this legal spin.”You can do anything, but in practice, you have to be able to control. And the chances of law enforcement controlling everything are not clear», concludes the person concerned.

According to the brand we contacted, “Super73 VAEs are legal and compliant with European EPAC regulations“. She also points out that the Dutch mediashiningThe SUPER73 didn’t mention ZG, the only special model for the mobile app… and thus the unblockable modes. also. However, it is entirely possible to order another Fatbike from the brand, as we saw during the purchase simulation. Delivery costs to Paris are, for example, €25 for the SUPER73 – S2 mentioned above.

Source: Super 73

Super73 is clearly somehow playing with the rules of the game by selling electric bikes that are configured like this, but can be unlocked using a simple mode available from the mobile app. It then transfers its responsibility as manufacturer to the user, simply reminding him of the rules that should not be violated. The user is then free to respect it on public roads. While these powerful assistance modes should not be offered by default.

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