France does not like the idea of people modding their e-bikes. They must have hated hot rods back in the day. The country has just introduced a law that could see “offenders” hit with a maximum fine of €30,000 (US$34,000), and up to a year in jail. And they could have their driving license suspended for up to three years. Does that seem harsh to anyone else?
There are no caveats or loopholes, either. If you do anything to tune your e-bike for more speed or power, you could feel the wrath of this new law, known as French statutory provision L317-1. The rules also apply to importers, distributors and dealers.
E-bike speeds are subject to regulation throughout the EU, but the top speed limit for e-bike power in France is 25 km/h (15.5mph), which is fairly slow, even compared to pedal bikes. So riders are modifying their wheels, either by changing display settings or making modifications to hardware like speed sensors. Typically, e-bikes come with two settings for European and US markets. As US regulations permit speeds up to 32 km/h, it’s not unusual for European riders to tweak their settings for extra power.
E-bikes are popular in France, but riders don’t always use helmets, so naturally, higher-speed crashes are more dangerous. E-bikes and scooters have proven to be a hazard for pedestrians in the country as well. I say let people do what they want and live with the consequences.