Wednesday November 14, 2012
New amendments change status of 4,500 electric bicycle owners overnight
By NICHOLAS CHENG
PETALING JAYA: Powerful electric bicycles have been classified as motorcycles under the newly amended Road Transport Act 1987.
This has put their owners in a quandary because they will now have to register their vehicles and obtain a motorcycle licence if they want to continue riding them.
Dealers estimate that there are at least 15,000 bicycles equipped with an electric motor and a re-chargeable battery on the road, with about 450 sold every month.
They believe that about 30% of cyclists would be affected by the new regulations.
The amendments under Section 2 of the Act classify electric bicycles as pedal-assisted cycles which are equipped with an auxiliary motor with a maximum continuous rated power of 250W, of which the motor output must be cut off when the bike reaches a speed of 25kph.
Road Transport Department deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said that bicycles failing to comply with any of the three standards would be classified as motorised vehicles.
“They will be treated as normal motorcycles. The riders have to wear protective helmets and have the proper registration and documents. Failing to do so can incur a compound of up to RM300,” he said.
“They will have to comply with Electric Motorcycle Specifications known as MS2413,” Ismail added.
Under MS2413, electric motorcycles are classified as two-wheeled vehicles, powered by an electrical power storage (battery) and can have a maximum speed in excess of 50kph.
However, the department's automotive engineering division deputy director, Mohd Sharulnizam Sarip, clarified that bikes which have a maximum design speed of between 25kph and 50kph would also be treated as electric motorcycles.
He said the department was in talks with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Customs Department and local authorities to work out an enforcement system to regulate these bicycles.
He expects the system to be launched in January 2014.
The regulations followed a study by Miros, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, and were approved by the Cabinet in July 2011.
Miros director-general Dr Wong Shaw Voon said the study was carried out in May 2011 to determine the functional safety and maximum specifications of an electric bicycle.
“We looked at various models and how other countries regulated electric bicycles,” he said.
On the 25kph maximum speed at which the electric motor should cut off power, he said: “Our studies showed that it is the typical speed that a cyclist can achieve with a traditional bicycle under normal circumstances.
Most electric bicycles cost between RM2,500 and RM7,000, according to dealers.
Most of the bicycles are imported from China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the United States which have different laws regulating these bikes of various specifications.
It looks like a bicycle, feels like one and rides like one