Electric Assist Bicycles (eBikes) Policy Development

Electric Assist Bicycles (eBikes) Policy Development

Policy Statement: 

[Note: here is the final version of this policy.]

Electric assist bicycles (eBikes, Electric Bikes, or Pedelecs) are becoming popular, and have potential to increase the number of people cycling. This fulfills CAN's aim of "more people on bikes, more often". However there are potential issues with the use of eBikes that this policy addresses. The policy recommends Codes of Practice for eBike suppliers and eBike users.

Policy Priority: 
B - Medium
Release Date: 
Mon, 02/09/2015


NZTA defines a "power assisted cycle" as a bicycle that "has an auxiliary electric motor with a maximum power not exceeding 300W and is designed to be primarily propelled by the muscular energy of the rider" . The rules for standard bicycles apply to power assisted cycles. eBikes with power above the 300w level are classified as mopeds and are subject to registration etc. This Policy is concerned with electric assist bicycles (eBikes) that fulfill the NZTA definition of a power assisted cycle.In Europe, eBikes are commonly referred to as Pedelecs.

ebike: ebike 

Benefits of eBikes

  • Attract "interested but concerned" potential cyclists, overcoming doubts about physical abilities.
  • Allow existing cyclists to continue cycling despite age, health etc, and allow less able cyclists to continue riding with groups of more able friends.
  • Make cycling easier in hillier and windy areas, such as Wellington.
  • Because of their convenience, ability to carry loads, and lack of need for physical effort, eBikes provide a realistic alternative to motor cars in many situations.
  • In multilane urban roads, eBikes can be ridden at a similar speed to motor vehicles, making for safer and more confident manoevering.
  • Inbuilt power potentially leads to technological improvements compared to standard bikes, e.g. better lights, indicators, antiskid braking, etc.

Overall Policy Principle:

In general, eBikes that meet the NZTA definition for power assisted cycles should be treated in the same way as standard bikes.
eBike technology and use is evolving, and we need to ensure that regulation does not affect or inhibit innovation. A code of practice approach is preferred to regulation at this point. This policy proposes two codes of practice (Appendix): one for suppliers of eBikes, and one for users of eBikes.


Cycle facilities

eBike users are vulnerable road users and should have access to cycle facilities such as separated cycleways, and shared and off road paths. Like standard bikes, eBikes must be ridden with consideration for other users, particularly on shared paths.
Policy: eBikes should be allowed on cycle facilities, under the same conditions as standard bikes.

Training/conversion from standard bikes

eBikes are heavier, and generally have a different weight distribution compared to standard bikes.eBikes tend to be ridden slightly faster - a German study found that eBikes were on average ridden 2km/hr faster than standard bikes (Schleinitz et al 2014). A study of hospital admissions in the Netherlands (Schepers et al 2014) suggests that electric bike users have a higher crash rate than users of standard bikes, although Otte et al 2014 did not find a difference in accident rates.It would be wise for new users to have training in the different characteristics of eBikes. Lewis (2012) provides a useful checklist of skills for eBike users.
Policy: New eBike users should be encouraged to have training. Cycle training programmes could consider having specific cycling courses for eBike users, and conversion courses for riders of standard bikes who have acquired eBikes.

European standard

The EU BS EN15194 standard is an influential standard for eBikes. It has been adopted in Australia, and the report of the Cycling Safety Panel (Safer Journeys for people who cycle) suggested that the EU standard be considered for adoption in NZ.
The EU standard defines eBikes/Pedelecs as "electrically power assisted cycles of a type which have a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h, or sooner, if the cyclist stops pedalling"
The specific requirement for the user to be pedalling is intended to ensure that pedelecs are pedal assisted, rather than motorised. However in practice a 300w eBIke is very limited in speed unless assisted by pedalling.
There are three areas where the EU standard may not be appropriate for NZ conditions.

  • The 25km/hr automatic cutout may be appropriate for European conditions, where use of eBikes is likely to be on low speed streets and bike paths. However in NZ an advantage of eBikes is that they allow users to ride at slightly higher speeds, up to 30km/hr which is similar to motor traffic in multilane urban roads, and the automatic cutout may not be appropriate
  • The EN15194 definition has been interpreted to exclude hand controls (throttles). However using a hand control in conjunction with the power assist settings can be safer, more economical and more convenient than relying on the power settings alone.The lack of hand control may be less of an issue with newer eBikes with more sophisticated power controls.
  • The limit of 250W may limit the ability of eBikes to carry loads, without a significant safety benefit, compared to the current NZ standard of 300W.

Policy: The EU standard should be evaluated for NZ conditions. If the EU standard is introduced, it should only apply to new eBike sales so that users of existing eBikes are not penalised.


There are concerns about policing the 300w power limit.
It could be difficult for a police officer or ranger to determine whether an eBike motor is 300W or less. 
There is also a potential problem with "over amping" - modifying the eBike system so that a nominally 300w motor is delivering more power.

Adoption of the EU standard may simplify the identification of eBikes that conform to the standard.

Policy: The code of practice for eBike suppliers should encourage ways to make motor power obvious, e.g. a standard sticker similar to the Energy Star, and the Code of Practice for eBike users should discourage modifying the power output of an eBike.

Age restrictions

Children may have trouble safely controlling the weight and speed of an eBike. However there does not seem to be a problem currently with eBike accidents and children, and eBikes are not that attractive to children.
Policy: Code of Practice for eBike users should discourage the use of eBikes by riders under the age of 12.

Mountain biking

Riding eBikes on mountain bike routes poses a number of issues:

  • There is potential for Increased wear on tracks if power is used carelessly. 
  • The greater speed and weight of eBikes poses risks on tracks with narrow widths, steep gradients or poor sight lines. . 
  • People riding and walking in natural environments such as national parks may feel that eBikes compromise their wilderness experience. 
  • The General Policy for National Parks makes a distinction between human powered and motorised vehicles, and use of eBikes in national parks risks blurring this distinction and endangering access for mountain biking.
A wide route with low gradients and good sight lines such as the, Otago Rail Trail is appropriate for eBikes. However steep single track routes, or routes in a natural environments such as the Heaphy may not be. There is not yet a consensus in the mountain biking community regarding the appropriate use of eBikes (e.g Kennett and Flaunty 2014). At this stage it is best to suggest criteria which can be used to evaluate whether a specific route is appropriate for eBikes.
eBikes with power in excess of 300W should not be used on mountain bike trails.

Policy: In determining whether eBikes can be used on a specific route, land managers should take into account:

  • Gradient 
  • Width
  • Sight lines
  • Whether the route is in a natural environment

The Code of Practice for eBike Users should encourage the use of appropriate trails, and consideration of the safety and experience of other users.

Public transport

Currently public transport operators treat eBikes in the same way as standard bikes - for example on the Wellington rail system no issues have been raised when carrying eBikes on the train. However this is not generally explicit in the rules for bicycles on public transport.
A problem arises for cycle tourists attempting to fly to a destination with their eBike. Airline dangerous goods rules exclude lithium batteries of more than 160 watt hour capacity, and eBike batteries generally have a capacity greater than that. This means that an eBike cycletourist needs to have the battery land couriered to their destination. This restriction appears to be part of general aviation rules, and it may not be practical to get this changed.
Public transport operators should carry eBikes on the same basis as standard bikes.

Battery charging

While existing eBike batteries adequately support normal commuting, there could be demand for charging stations, or battery swap systems. Solar charging via panels embedded in bike paths may be a possibility in future.
Policy: public charging stations should be encouraged.

Appendix: Codes of practice

Code of Practice for eBike suppliers

  • The industry should develop a standard identifier (e.g. a sticker) for eBikes that meet the NZTA definition of a power assisted cycle.
  • Customers should be made aware of the requirements for registration etc for electrically powered bikes that exceed the 300W limit.
  • Purchasers of eBikes should be encouraged to undertake training in handling their eBike, and be made aware of the differences in power, speed, and handling.

Code of Practice for eBike users

  • New eBike purchasers should seek out training; or at least make themselves aware of how the power, speed and handling of the eBike differs from a standard bike.
  • When using paths shared with pedestrians or other bicycles, eBike users should behave with consideration to other users. For example, eBike users should keep to a speed not significantly greater than other users, and warn of their approach, for example by using a bell.
  • Children younger than 12 should not use eBikes
  • eBikes should not be ridden on mountain bike tracks where this is prohibited. eBike users on mountian bike tracks should be considerate of the safety and experience of other users, and should avoid damaging the track. 
  • eBikes should not be modified to deliver average power greater than 300w unless the bike is registered as a moped.




Groups audience: 


Looks good! In my view, the following statements belong in the blue box at the top (where the reader can see them straightaway!):

eBikes should be allowed on shared paths, under the same conditions as standard bikes

New eBike users should be encouraged to have training

The EU standard for maximum permissible eBike power rating should be evaluated for NZ conditions

A Code of Practice for eBike suppliers should be written, including ways to make motor power obvious, e.g. a standard sticker similar to the Energy Star

A Code of Practice for eBike users should (1) discourage the use of eBikes by riders under the age of 12, and (2) discourage modifying the power output of an eBike (etc)

Public transport operators should carry eBikes on the same basis as standard bikes.


While there is a detailed discussion of issues in the use of e-bikes on Mountain Bike tracks, there is little or nothing said for other users on shared paths.

I cycle on shared paths in the Kapiti area a lot. They tend to be gravel roads, so the issue of increased wear may apply here too. Also other users, including kids and dog-walkers are at risk from fast e-cycles, particularly as they can be so quiet -- from personal observation, their experience of the shared path could be undermined.

When/if the European standard is reviewed for NZ conditions, I hope the speeds won't be restricted even as much as the current NZ standard. On my pedal powered bike I can easily exceed 50kph when going downhill, so why should the same bike be considered unsafe at such speeds when assisted by a motor? I've ridden my ebike at up to 60kph and it seems just as safe as it was before it had a motor added.

You quote some Dutch research that states that eBike users have a higher crash rate than users of normal bikes. That is not surprising, as road safety in general is always a function of speed. Where speed increases, safety decreases. It's true for trucks, cars, bikes - anything.

As such, there are two policy components that do not appear to go well together. On the one hand, the draft policy argues that we should allow higher speeds than the EU standard before the power support cuts out. On the other hand, you say that eBikes should be allowed onto shared paths 'just like any other bicycle'.
There is, of course, a case for reducing the speed differential between bikes and cars when on the road, and that is the rationale for having the higher speeds. When speeds on shared paths increase, there is of course an increased potential for things to go wrong. This could affect other cyclists, pedestrians, or could be conflict with a driver crossing the path, e.g. at a driveway.

The question that we should ask ourselves is as follows: do the benefits on the road outweigh the disbenefits on shared pathways. I'm uncertain that being able to travel at 25 km/h or 30 km/h in traffic makes a substantial difference. On the other hand, I am sure that the additional 5 km/h would make a substantial safety difference on shared pathways. I thus conclude that the higher speed is, on balance, not justified; it should rather be avoided in my opinion.

I do not have any substantial concerns with the two other departures from the European standard.
With regards to an age restriction, I could very well accept a minimum age for the use of eBikes. To me, it would seem sensible to ask for this. Children up to the age of 10 have difficulty judging speeds and thus distances; eBikes could thus be a recipe for disaster for users that young. I believe that CAN would potentially gain more public support for an eBike policy if a minimum age limit was included.

I hope these comments are useful.

It is my opinion that eBikes/pedelecs ( not e-mopeds or  e-motorcycles) do not pose any additional issue on shared path single track mountain bike trails. There are three aspects to a mountain bike trail. It's going up, coming down and level riding. Set aside downhill. it is of no consequence because the pedal assist will not be functioning. Going uphill or on level ground a Pedelec of EU standrads ( most e-mountainbikes conform to the EU ) or of NZTA class AB provides assistance to the pedalling effort. The bike can't move unless it's being pedalled. My own experience of a year and a half of extensive single track use is that the uphill motion is more consistent, the wheels roll over the track in a smoother more constant fashion than a non assisted mountain bike and if one uses the gears correctly then the balance on tight corners is more easily maintained. Such e-mountainbikes weigh only 7 or 8 kg extra and given the large variation in rider weight on unassisted mountain bikes then the weight difference is of no consequence. There is in essence very little speed difference going uphill. The difference is that the rider on the assisted bike can maintain the speed, about 5-7 kph depending on the incline for a longer time without leg fatigue.

There is no difference between an assisted bike and a non assisted bike in track wear or erosion. the assisted pedelecs do not break traction. On The contrary the wheels roll smoothly at all times accelerating from stand still until constant motion is achieved. 

It is all about the distinction of the eBike modality.

In any attempt to restrict access of e-mountainbikes to back country and open space trails a clear distinction must be made as to what constitutes an "electric bike" that is likely to be detrimental to the enviroment and a risk to other users and what constitutes a Pedelec e-Bike, whereby the primary method of propulsion is human muscular power assisted by an electric motor within the power specifications. 

It is a matter of urgency, before the NZ e bike fleet grows too big, that the EU rules are evaluated for New Zealand in light of them having been adopted throughout the comonwealth of Australia.

In summary,  it is my opinion that the Policy needs adjustment in this respect and should be modified. Furthermore land managers risk running afoul of  indirect discrimination under the Human Rights Act should they attempt to unreasonably restrict access to riders ( arthritis etc.,)  who require the assistance of an eBike The key is the reasonableness of the restriction. For an assisted Pedelec as described above that poses no additional burden or safety risk or nuisance over and above a non assisted mountain bike then it would be almost impossible for the land manager to contest.

Steve Flaunty

Hutt City

Just two points I would like to see emphasised, firstly I feel much safer having a throttle function, even though I only ever use it at junctions. My throttle has a limited speed, but gets me away from junctions without wobble, and out of harms way just a little bit quicker.

Secondly, rider weight and hilly terrain makes 250W seem much too low. My wife and I have identically equipped 300w ebikes, but I am 40 kilos heavier (and 30cm taller), and this really slows me down on the hills compared to her. The whole idea of limiting wattage to suit the average rider in a different continent really disavantages those who are older, heavier or just less fit for some other reason.


I agree on both points. Throttles are much much safer when accelerating off the mark under load, with either a heavy cargo/utility bike or as a heavy rider (or both). Throttles also give you the ability to provide micro boosts of power whilst maintaining a consistent pedalling cadence, there are a number of situations in city traffic where this is safer.

Throttles can also be more electricity efficient, as humans we have much better algorithms for determining when power is needed and not needed, you also don't need to fumble through various levels of "pedal assist" when needing to vary your speed over inconsistent terrain or when you're biking into fluctuating head winds.

I think it's kind of weird that we'd even consider not allowing throttles on e-bikes!

Your wattage point is also totally valid. I want to see us Kiwis move from the European model, which is not suitable for our terrain, the build of our people nor our current road culture and towards the Californian one which is modern, pragmatic and forward thinking.



Thanks Philip

You're right that throttles are a good way of controlling power and I was apprehensive about this when I switched from a Chinese e-bike with a throttle, to a bike with a Bosch EU compliant motor system. However I've found that I can use the Bosch power levels in much the same way that I used the throttle. The Bosch has a nice thumb shift that makes it easy to change the power levels. I suspect that as power controllers improve, throttles will go the way of manual gears on cars.

The aim of discouraging throttles is to make it clear that the bike can't be ridden without pedalling, and that may be an acceptable compromise to ensure that eBikes can be treated as equivalent to standard bikes as far as possible.

By the way, this page was primarily used when the eBike policy was in development, and isn't getting a lot of exposure now. It would be useful to raise these issues on the CAN Facebook page.

Thanks Alastair. I'll check it out. I still believe a speed limit and class 1, 2 and 3 ebikes is more logical. Manual gears are still popular in many commercial vehicles for the control they offer, and throttles shouldn't be removed for the same reason.

i just think we need to think outside the square a bit here, e-bikes aren't quite push bikes but they're not mopeds either. If we make them safe by limiting the speed they can go but make them more useful, for more people doing more things by allowing realistic power consumption then we can start to replace more car trips with utility and ebike trips.

I'll join the Facebook discussions.

Good work by the way.


The size of motors should not be restricted to 300w as bigger motors are usefull for heavier people, big loads and are especially usefull on steep hills like we have here in Dunedin.  Engine size restrictions would not work for cars - imagine 1000cc car pulling a horse float! A 300w maximum power output won't work for ebikes if we want cycling to become more than just a recreational passtime for light weight riders carrying no loads. The present speed restriction of 35kph on ebikes is all that is required!

Strictly speaking, the 300W isn't a limit, it's simply the definition of a pedal assisted cycle. Beyond that, the motor becomes the main motive power and it has to be registered as a moped.

The 300w limit isn't logical for New Zealand cities like Welligton and Dunedin. Following cycle philosophy established in the Low Countries of Europe will inhibit the kinds of enterprise and personal use we want to encourage here. We would be much better off following the California model with a speed limit and a nominal power limit (500w or 750w, I can't remember). Plus California recognises 3 classes of e-bikes with varying restrictions. Still a simple model but with enough variance to not stifle innovation.

In a nutshell the current mindset relegates ebikes to the territory of commuter use for people who aren't really big and are carrying no serious loads. Large people and commercial operators are shut out.

The intention is that eBikes should be power assist rather than powered - as the NZTA definition has it, the primary power comes from the muscular power of the rider. Above 300w, it becomes harder to argue that this is true. It could be we should also have the European class of S-Pedlecs - eBikes with more power and speed, but with some requirements for equipment and registration.

Thanks for responding Alastair. I think this definition is too restrictive. A speed limit and nominal wattage that accomodates our steep terrain and high winds and allows for large riders and heavy loads on these terrains is much more logical.

A 300w limit, which is more than most cyclists except for the most fit will be providing anyway (therefore invalidating the "muscular power of the rider" angle), is simply too low and like I said relegates e-bikes to moderate sized people with light bikes without heavy loads and not on super steep gradients.


Policy with respect to Mountain Biking.


Policy: eBikes are appropriate on wide tracks with low gradients based on 4wd routes or rail trails (e.g. Otago Rail Trail) but not on single track (e.g. most Makara Peak trails), or in natural environments (e.g. Heaphy). The Code of Practice for eBike Users should encourage the use of appropriate trails.


In my opinion this policy is too narrow. The starting point should be:

A power assisted cycle( Primarily human muscular energy, augmented up to 300 Watts, in the EU 250Watts) should be afforded all the rights of access as that of a pedal powered mountain bike. There is no difference in social, physical or ecological impact over and above a conventional pedal cycle mountain bike. They are equal in law and in conservation.

I posted earlier on this comments section and since then have had a chance to reflect further on the policy and arrive at a modified approach to that I have articulated below.

It appears from the research that I have done that the full impact of the existing laws, and they are many and varied, needs some analysis. This is technology that is emerging and refining at a relatively fast rate and it appears that land managers of public open spaces may not have grasped the full consequences of the various barriers to access cropping up across the country. I am going to use the term Pedelec for simplicity where the meaning is a power assisted cycle in NZ law, that is primarily propelled by human muscular energy and augmented assistance up to 300Watts. (No throttles at all)

All government bodies ( administering public land) regardless if they are local or central government or boards or trusts vested with the responsibility,  have to follow the law and cannot arbitrarily make up rules. If their principal Acts ( Reserves Act, Conservation Act, etc.,) are silent on interpretation then they must borrow interpretations from associated Acts. In the case of the Reserves Act 1977 and the Conservation Act 1986 there is no interpretation of a motorized vehicle. They have to borrow that from the Land Transport Act and the associated Road User Rules. In fact the Conservation Act expressly refers to the Land Transport Act for interpretation of a vehicle.

So the Conservation Act sets itself a precedent. The law is clear in that a power assisted cycle is not a motor vehicle and there was a Gazette notice in 2013 just to clear things up in case there was any doubt.

In the absence of express wording in either the Reserves Act 1977 or the Conservation Act  1987, a Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) should be consistent with the Conservation Amendment Act 1990 Section 17D, (5 ) in that it should not derogate any provision in any other Act.  For example, when called upon to interpret definitions of bicycles, cycles and motor ( motorized) vehicles.

So what it says is:

Where a land manager offers access to a portion of its land that is prohibited to motor ( motorized) vehicles but accessible by cycles then it means exactly that. A cycle as defined by the law because it is the Transport Act ( and the Gazette notice) that decides a power assisted cycle is a “cycle” for the purposes of the cycle track.

There is a provision in some principal Acts to interpret within the context of the purpose of that Act. For example, a power assisted cycle may be interpreted by the Land Transport Act as being suited for the use on highways roads etc., and might not suit the context of Conservation (s.6 of the Conservation Act is such a provision or s.57 of the Reserves Act 1977).  It might exceed acceptable limits of social, physical or ecological impacts. (Cessford.G; 2002) .However it has to be shown that there is good reason to adopt this alternative interpretation and in the case of the Pedelec there are no features or attributes over and above a pedal cycle that could justify this.  Therefore a government agency such as DOC can’t just arbitrarily make up rules. It has to follow the process as set out by the legislation. 

In order to test this it would probably take a prosecution and a defended hearing to clear it up or a statement from the Ombudsman’s office. The first is really not desirable and the second might take a long time. But I think it needs to be cleared up in order to save tourism from what will be certain negative consequences.

So to summarize it is my opinion, and I am sure this will be shared by many who take the time to consider the issue in depth and weigh up the elements that support Pedelec use on all public land where there are tracks trails and paths, and then balance this against whatever social, physical and ecological consequences there could be. In the context of the Pedelec , they will find there are none. Layered over the top of that is the consideration of what the law allows. It could well be that there is no need for a policy in the first place. The legislation when correctly applied could settle the matter once and for all.

At stake is the negative social impact on a rapidly aging population, one third over 55 in 5 years time, and enormous cycling tourism potential. Prohibiting e bikes on many of our natural surface trails (much of the NZCT) is a sure fire way to divert the future wave of cycle tourists to other destinations. It is a very competitive tourist market worth billions of dollars throughout the developed world. 


Conservation Amendment Act 1990


Conservation Act 1987


Land Transport Act


Land Transport Amendment Act 2005


Reserves Act 1977


Road User Rule 2004


NZTA vehicle classification


Gazette  Power Assisted Cycles 2013


Cessford.G  2002


Population prediction



Steve Flaunty

Lower Hutt 5010

Thanks for that research, Steve

The problem with that interpretation may be that when land managers are considering whether to grant access to conventional bikes, they may be more reluctant to grant access, if they know that eBikes will be automatically included.


Hi Allistair

Thanks for your response to my post here.

You have distilled the issue down to it’s outstanding feature. Hence the urgency for educating and informing the stakeholders.I totally agree that this is where the concern lies amongst the established MTB fraternity and the land management group. It highlights the importance of information and education to show equivalence, in all respects, of pedal powered and pedelec mountain bikes.

The open spaces that will be most at risk if such a scenario emerged, as you describe, would be those tracks and trails that are shared usage and started their life as a walking track. The NZCT and mountain bike parks would obviously not be affected. It would be nonsensical to ban all cycles from those areas. The scenario would only eventuate if land managers were firmly of the opinion that ebikes would have a physical and/or ecological impact.

Despite all of this I believe it is essential that the law first and foremost is being applied correctly (I'm not sure if it is or not) and we don’t end up with land managers arbitrarily making up rules. The body of legislation I have alluded to above is there for a reason and it is the prerogative of the land manager to ensure fairness and equality in it’s application. In the context of cycle tracks and cycles the reasons for exclusion of one modality over another need to be justified and spelt out in clear words. They should be based on physical and practical reasons, not emotive ones and they should not derogate from any provisions within the principal Act.

What would remain is the question of distinguishing the Pedelec from the others. But that could be quite simply addressed and there are several solutions that spring to mind. To me, provided it had the co- operation of all the stakeholders, would be to have a web based permit application centrally administered, probably by an independent body such as CAN. A user would simply fill out a web form, make a declarartion their bike conforms, state it’s frame number,  and electronically send off the form. A small fee could be charged for administration and a self adhesive label sent in return linked to the permit number and the bikes frame number, a unique identifier. 


Interesting idea, Steve. I'd thought of a sticker system administered by the retailers.

Last Friday 15th May DOC announced a reversal in their earlier stance on the prohibition of e-Bikes on the Central Otago Rail Trail. They have acknowledged that the Land Transport Act does indeed influence their revised policy and have accepted that power assisted cycles less than 300 Watts, and by default, primarily propelled by human muscular energy, are a cycle and are not a motor (motorized) vehicle.


In earlier personal correspondence with DOC they had stated, at least one conservancy did, that the Land Transport Act did not influence the administration of the trail and that DOC set it’s policy around the Reserves Act and the Conservation Act. Both of these pieces of legislation are silent on the interpretation of both a motor vehicle and a cycle so, in lieu of just making it up they have to borrow interpretations from the Land Transport Act.

A precedent has been set by DOC and it remains to be seen if this will apply to other DOC conservancies that administer cycle trails. The Timber Trail near Te Kuiti is one that immediately springs to mind. This latest policy reversal should be useful for land managers throughout New Zealand who are looking for some clarity in applying the rules because they are all bound by the same patchwork of legislation. In a nutshell it boils down to two requirements;

1)    less than 300 Watts

2)   primarily propelled by human muscular energy. (exact wording of the rule)


The sharp observer will discern that throttle bikes have a problem. If it can go forward without having to turn the pedals regardless of whether it has both pedelec and throttle functions, then it sits outside the law. You need to register it, license it annually ,carry a number plate, fit lights, brake lights etc.,  and it becomes a moped.  Stay well away from DOC cycle trails.

That's good news. The Otago Rail Trail is certainly one where eBikes are appropriate, with good gradients, width and sight lines.

I was Mountain biking back in the early 1990's, We faught hard to establish and protect the access rights of Mountainbikers against a ground swell of anti MTB feeling. Various factions were deciding how to approch this. Most saw us as a threat to the way things are, something to be stamped out. Mountain bike use was considered incompatable with all walking tracks and it was impossible to see how shared use could work.

A generation later it seems the same fight is about to be repeated, only this time is cyclists against cyclists.

To all those who believe EBikes should not be allowed on single track, DOC land, National parks etc, consider this - when you a a fat middle aged exec working 80 hours a week with no time to keep fit, when you are 60, 70 or 80 and your mind is willing but body not capable - do you want to reflect on your choices today and regret them? Why are you so sure theres no place for EBikes in your world?

I am not saying there are no problems. I am not suggesting all tracks are suible for EBikes. I am saying the blanket ban of the policy is nothing more than the same unfounded, self serving, eletist discrimination we faught against  20 years ago. Had we lost that fight 20 years ago, the policy would be not be needed- as all MTBs would have been religated to 4x4 tracks, forestry roads and pine forests.


Thanks for that perspective, Matt. As you say eBikes may not be appropriate on all tracks, we have to come up with criteria (eg gradients, sight lines, etc) to decide what tracks are appropriate.

For the record, I am a 66 year old living with cancer and the side effects of drugs, which is why I got an eBike. I'm reconciled to the idea that on the eBike I won't necessarily do all the rides that I used to, instead doing more road and 4wd, for example.

As a full-time electric bike user of 6 years, I am greatly concerned that CAN is considering adopting the EU 250watt power limit for NZ electric bikes. 

Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I no longer drive a car.  Rain, hail, or shine, I get a week’s worth of groceries (15+ kg) in 4x saddlebags on my hub-motor electric bike. 

To get my groceries, I go down one side of a hill road and up the other.  With a 250 watt hub motor going downhill I pickup speed, exceed the 25kph limit, and the motor releases.  There is a considerable lag before the bike slows down and the motor kicks back in.  By that time, my speed has reduced so much that I am groaning up the other side of the hill at 10-12kph with a heavy load on board, and very little torque from the small 250w hub motor which is running slowly.

In stark contrast, a 300watt motor already has more torque (than the 250w) to climb the hill, and without the 25kph speed restriction enables me to comfortably cruise up the hill at 20kph (better speed up the hill also gives the 300w motor higher torque).

 For people like myself with disability from age, illness, or injury, a 300watt hub motor works well, wheras a 250watt one does not work.

Not everyone can afford $3,500+ for a high-torque mid-motor Electric bike that is great at climbing hills (as the motor runs through the bike gears).

NZ bike shops and NZ cyclists have strongly embraced the NZ 300 watt power limit for electric bikes, which has been the law for a good many years, and is working well. 

Reducing the NZ 300watt limit to 250watts will effectively kill the NZ Electric bike industry, and penalize both the shops and electric bike owners, who have chosen to conform to the 300watt law.  This goes directly against CANs policy of "More people cycling more often"

The 250 watt NZ limit may suit young fit, and able bodied riders, but very few of those people actually ride electric bikes!

I strongly urge CAN to support the continuation of the NZ 300 Watt power limit for NZ  Electric bikes, for people who really need electric bikes: - those with disability from age, illness, or injury.