When it comes to electric bicycles, some countries are stricter than others when it comes to regulating their performance. In the U.S., electric bicycle regulation is rather lax, for now. Over in Europe and certain countries in Asia, however, electric bikes are limited to 250 watts, and tampering or modifying them to produce more power comes with some serious legal consequences.
Indeed, it's human nature to customize and modify our stuff, and electric bicycles are no different. A quick trip to YouTube makes it clear as day that people have been boosting e-bikes since the day they were invented. With more and more people doing this, manufacturers are starting to speak up against it, with Shimano, the biggest cycling OEM in the world, taking a definitive stance against tampering with its systems.
Shimano recently released a statement condemning the tampering of its e-bike systems to produce more power or increase their assisted top speed. It states that tampering with Shimano electric bike systems will automatically result in warranty rejection, as well as a myriad of other potential legal repercussions. The manufacturer highlights that all electric bikes that run Shimano e-bike systems are ensured to comply with regional electric bicycle standards in order to guarantee safety, reliability, and overall quality.
On top of all that, Shimano has also announced that its new STEPS system is equipped with a sensor that can detect tampering. The sensor will then trigger an error warning code on the display, after which, the system will automatically go into Safe Mode. In order to resolve the error, the bike will have to be brought to an authorized Shimano service center for inspection and repair.
With all that on the table, nothing's really stopping tech savvy individuals from tampering with these e-bike systems, as issues of this matter are akin to playing cat and mouse. However, some areas in Europe have incredibly hefty penalties for folks operating tampered e-bikes tweaked to produce more power or run at higher speeds. For example, in France, offenders can receive a penalty of up to one year imprisonment, and a 30,000-Euro (about $32,500 USD) fine. Yikes.