programming the Bafang BBSHD 1000 watt motor rating stamped on the bottom


Can the Bafang BBSHD 1000 watt motor be programed for street use?

By Alvin Carpenter, CEO

Island City eBikes


     It can be categorically stated that the Bafang BBSHD 1000 watt motor cannot be made street legal regardless of any reprogramming of the motor. The Bafang BBSHD motor is illegal to use anywhere in the United States, other than off road and on private property. To ignore both Federal Regulation and State Law is to do so at one’s own peril.

    Presented here is the Federal law that regulates electric bicycles: The Code of Federal Regulation:

In California we have additional laws regulating electric bikes. These laws are found in the California Vehicle Code:

   One thing in common between these two sources is that an electric bike is defined as having a motor rated no more than 750 watts. Every BBSHD has its rating stamped on the bottom. That rating is 1000 watts. You can reprogram the motor 10 amps but it will always remain a 1000 watt rated motor. There is no provision in either Federal or State law for motors that have been reprogrammed.

   Now the question is, who cares? The argument is that the police are never going to stop them, flip their bike over to check the motor rating. That may or may not be the case but that is not the problem. Riding an illegal electric bike may get you a citation, but what happens if you get in an accident while riding an electric bike that is identified within Federal law as being prohibited? Will your insurance company provide coverage?

   Every electric bike sold in California has to have presented to the buyer a single sheet of paper with the following statement printed in 14 point boldface type in capital letters (Per CVC Section 2;406):


   Call your insurance company and tell them you will be riding an electric bike that is considered by both Federal and State Law to be illegal. Inform your insurance company that the person who sold you the motor said they “made it legal” by altering the settings in the motor. Be prepared for a rude awakening. 

   If you are riding an electric bike with a 1000 watt motor chances are you will not be covered in the event of an accident by your insurance company. If you are involved in an accident while riding an electric bike that is not legal for road use and personal injury, property loss, or loss of life occurs you will not only be sued in civil court but you can also be criminally prosecuted.

   Every person we sell or install a Bafang BBSHD motor is informed of all these facts. We do not offer to street program the motor as it would still be a motor rated at 1000 watts. We are more than happy to reprogram motors to allow them to run cooler and achieve greater range per battery charge. However, no one can make a Bafang BBSHD 1000 watt motor exempt from State and Federal Regulations.

     Be informed, research the laws, avoid litigation. Many years ago a retired San Francisco police officer gave me this simple advice; “Stay out of the system.” I ask him what he meant by that and he replied. “Do everything in your power to stay out of the courtroom.” “I have seen too many good people suffer terrible consequences over something that could have been avoided.” 

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Recent Testimony:

Having decided to move from a standard bike to an electric-assist bike, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the information I was hearing from different sources. Local bike shops in Oakland were not at all prepared to help me figure out what might work. I found Al through an internet search because I wanted a local source who would be knowledgeable and would let me find the right bike for me. While he does some business over the internet, I was glad to be able to visit his garage and talk to him in person and try out a couple of bikes to find the right one. He was friendly and helpful and his prices can’t be beat. It’s a pleasure to do business with Al and I highly recommend contacting him if you are in the market for a great and reasonably priced e-bike!

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