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 are the Federal and State laws that regulate electric bicycles.
The Federal regulations that define and regulates electric powered bikes is found in The Code of Federal Regulation:
Title 16: Commercial Practices
PART 1512—REQUIREMENTS FOR BICYCLES
- 1512.2 Definitions.
For the purposes of this part:
(a) Bicycle means:
(1) A two-wheeled vehicle having a rear drive wheel that is solely human-powered;
(2) A two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.
In California we have additional laws regulating electric bikes. These laws are found in the California Vehicle Code:
VEHICLE CODE – VEH
DIVISION 1. WORDS AND PHRASES DEFINED [100 – 681] ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )
(a) An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.
(1) A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(2) A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(3) A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.
(b) A person riding an electric bicycle, as defined in this section, is subject to Article 4 (commencing with Section 21200) of Chapter 1 of Division 11.
(c) On and after January 1, 2017, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed, in a prominent location, to each electric bicycle. The label shall contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle, and shall be printed in Arial font in at least 9-point type.
(Added by Stats. 2015, Ch. 568, Sec. 1. (AB 1096) Effective January 1, 2016.)
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 and perhaps your bike impounded but what happens if you get in an accident while riding an eclectic 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):
“YOUR INSURANCE POLICIES MAY NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING THE USE OF THIS BICYCLE. TO DETERMINE IF COVERAGE IS PROVIDED YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY OR AGENT.”
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 motor.
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.
There is absolutely no way in the world would I put profit in front of the health and safety of anyone in the cycling community.Be informed, research the laws, avoid litigation, and may long life and good health fall upon us all.