Making safety visible. With extra power of up to 250 W at speeds of up to 25 km/h, riding is fun even uphill: and this applies even for retired people, environmentally aware housewives and indeed for anyone who wants (...)
(...) some sporty exercise and to get around quickly. To ride such a pedelec 25 there is no need for a driver’s licence and there’s no compulsory insurance: as the name suggests, the electric assist cuts out above 25 km/h. The fun factor is obvious, but when it comes to safety, matters are less clear.
With pedelecs it’s quick and easy to reach high speeds, but this also involves risks. The bike must withstand the extra stresses and be of high quality. “Pedelecs place particular demands on components such as frame, fork and handlebars, as well as on the brakes. Safe enjoyable cycling is only possible when all of these are designed to withstand the expected loads,” explains Wilhelm Sonntag, pedelec 25 expert at TÜV Rheinland.
Spoilt for Choice
The market for pedelec 25s keeps on growing. As ever more bikes come onto the market it becomes ever harder for a potential buyer to choose the right bike. So it is important to get comprehensive advice before purchase, and at least to take a test ride to check the ergonomics, and the handling under riding and braking. But it’s not so easy to check the safety. Here’s where recommendations such as the test stamps from ExtraEnergy or the GS mark have a role to play.
“A buyer can’t really tell whether a pedelec 25 is safe over the course of a test ride. This is where the GS mark can help. GS stands for Geprüfte Sicherheit in German (‘Tested Safety’) and it shows the buyer that the bike has been put thoroughly through its paces by an independent testing institute”, explains Sonntag. The GS mark isn’t a mark which gives the end user any information about the user performance of a pedelec 25, and so it gives no verdict on the range, purchase price or maintenance. The GS mark does however confirm that the product has been checked for safety by an independent third party.
In Germany, the Geräte- und Produktsicherheitsgesetz (GPSG - 'Equipment and Product Safety Law') applies to pedelec 25s. According to this, only products which do not risk the safety and health of the end user may be used in traffic. In addition, pedelec 25s fall under the Machinery Directive, on which basis pedelec 25s must be provided with the CE mark, although this is a self-certification by the manufacturer. So the CE mark does not indicate that the product has been independently tested for safety.
Torture Tests for Pedelecs 25s
Alongside the requirements of road traffic regulations regarding lights and brakes, the European standard for pedelecs 25, EN 15194:2009 describes precisely which tests a pedelec 25 must withstand in order to receive a GS mark. High average speeds, harder and more frequent braking, extra torque loads applied by the motor or steep uphill riding all add up to extra stresses. “To be confident that a pedelec 25 will withstand these loads, it has to undergo a tough testing regime. Alongside mechanical safety, electrical and chemical safety are also checked,” says Sonntag.
For checking mechanical safety the bike must, amongst other tests, withstand numerous loading cycles on a roller test stand without damage. During the test it is loaded with 120 kg total mass and it is pedalled. Frame and brakes also undergo further tests.
Alongside mechanical and electrical safety, the chemical aspects, materials and connections and their safety all pay a significant role.
|The GS Mark The GS mark has a legislative basis in § 20/21 of the German Product Safety Law (ProdsG). A precondition for its use is that a GS institution has awarded the GS mark to a manufacturer or to their accredited agent. The GS mark shows that in normal legal use or in the foreseeable application of the marked product the health of the user will not be put at risk. The GS mark is a voluntary mark, meaning that the manufacturer or their accredited agent can decide whether to apply for a GS mark to be awarded. Scope of application: According to § 20/21 ProdSG, awarding of a GS mark is possible so long as the legal provisions in § 8 ProdSG do not state otherwise. |
“We find ever more frequently that there are plasticisers to health such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in handlebar grips or gear shifters. Also, in leather items, for example saddles, we have found dangerous contaminants such as dimethyl fumarate or Chromium-6. To ensure that the end user does not come into contact with these contaminants these materials are not permitted in any components which the user touches directly. Only if this requirement is also met can the bike receive our GS mark”, explains Wilhelm Sonntag.
As well as the laboratory testing, a compulsory requirement for GS certification is inspection of the manufacturer’s production facility. “The manufacturer must be capable of producing pedelecs in production runs of consistent quality. To test this, we go to where the production takes place. Social aspects such as worker safety and the ban on child labour also play an important role here,” says Sonntag.
While the GS Mark remains valid, ongoing checking of the production facility takes place at predefined intervals. If there are changes to the product, then the manufacturer or the person bringing the product to market must inform the testing institute without delay. If this change is deemed to be safety relevant it can be added to the certification after further tests, which naturally have to be passed successfully. If these changes prove not to be GS mark compliant, then the GS certificate is withdrawn.
“Only if a pedelec 25 withstands absolutely all of the tests and the manufacturer has manufacturing quality firmly under control do we award the Gs Mark”, insists Wilhelm Sonntag.
| The Pedelec Standard: EN 15194:2009 This is actually called EN 15194:2009, Cycles - Electrically power assisted cycles - EPAC Bicycles. It applies to all pedelec 25s. It principally regulates the electrical issues on pedelec 25s, as also set out in the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EG and the EMC Directive 2004/108/EG. It refers for the mechanical tests to EN 15194: 2005, City and trekking bikes – technical safety requirements and test procedures. In the National Appendix (NA, informatively) of the German edition it is however recommended, deviating from EN 15194, that forks and frame be tested with higher test forces. |
It is a standard, not a law. The EN 15194 standard is not yet in the list of harmonised standards of the Machinery Directive. This means that conforming to the standard does not confer any assumption of conformity for the directive.
>> The CE mark for Pedelecs
>> Overview: EU Standards for Pedelecs
>> Stiftung Warentest/ADAC Pedelec Test Intransparent
Text: TÜV Rheinland, prepared within the EU GoPedelec! project: GoPedelec! Handbook (German version)
>> Go Pedelec! Handbook in Czech, Dutch, English, Hungarian, and Italian
Translation: Peter Eland (www.electricbikemag.co.uk)
Online release: Angela Budde
7 June 2013