We know, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are some questions you might not want to ask your local shop or riding buddies. AASQ is our weekly series where we get to the bottom of your questions – serious or otherwise. Hit the link at the bottom of the post to submit your own question!

Go ahead and file this one under e-bike existentialism. One of our most prolific questioners (we see you Duytan, thanks for all the questions!), asks, “Can I remove a battery from a production e-bike, such as one with the Shimano Steps system, to ride where e-bikes are banned? How can I protect the contacts from exposure if so?”

AASQ #33: Is an E-Bike without a battery still an e-bike?

With all of the controversy surrounding e-bikes and their access to various trails, that’s an interesting question. On one hand, an e-bike without a battery is essentially just a very heavy bicycle, right? But then on the other hand, as Jonathan Weinert from Bosch pointed out – just removing the gasoline from a dirt bike doesn’t make it “non-motorized.

After reaching out to the various e-bike heads of state that we could think of for coming up with an answer, it seems that most likely the answer is no. Ultimately it’s up to the land manager’s discretion, but most that we talked to thought that most land managers would still see a battery-less e-bike as still an e-bike none the less. E-Bikes are already a hard thing for strained local park services to regulate, so it’s probably best not to complicate things with e-bikes masquerading as non-ebikes by removing certain components.

AASQ #33: Is an E-Bike without a battery still an e-bike?

However, if you want to remove the battery and ride around on the streets for some reason, Bosch mentioned that on their bikes you don’t need to protect the battery contacts unless you’re riding in very wet conditions. The battery also ins’t a structural part of the frame so you’re good to go there as well on either the standard battery or PowerTube.

Got a question of your own?  Click here to use the AASQ form, or find the link under the Contact menu header up top anytime a question pops into your mind! 

17 comments

  1. D-con on

    The gasoline analogy is spot on. Similarly if you turn it off its still motorized.

    Any vehicle with a motor needs to be treated as motorized. Just like you can’t push a bike through Wilderness, you can’t pedal a motorized bicycle on non-motorized trails

    Reply
    • Dinger on

      If you don’t pedal it doesn’t go. A pedal assist e-books cannot move under it’s own power. It’s a bicycle by federal and more and more state’s definitions.

      Reply
  2. asdfasdf on

    What about if I add sound affects to my completely non-e-bike to make it sound and look like an eBike and I’m a really fast rider??

    Reply
  3. Timmy on

    While I agree with the gasoline analogy, it isn’t really applicable here. There isn’t an alternative way to use the dirt bike, whereas a bicycle can still be pedaled without its battery.

    Reply
    • Crash Bandicoot on

      Agree with this albeit the poster below makes a good point, if we have delineated (e-bike/no e-bike trails) I could very well see people using an excuse of “well I didn’t have my battery in” etc.tough situation, I’m not explicitly against ebikes but I am concerned about the slippery slope we’d be on (e.g. people hacking or companies that flagrantly break the law (see ebikes in Manhattan) and I do think certain trails should be restricted I wonder if the mfg’s could step in and geo-fence trails that ebikes are banned and have the battery not kick in on those trails.

      Reply
      • Dinger on

        Most e-books don’t assist beyond 20mph, well within the speeds a road rider can sustain. Even so, a high-speed assist doesn’t erase a rider’s self preservation instinct. As with cars, the answer is to govern behavior. Set speed limits and use rules. If they’re being broken, give out fines.

        The offenses in Manhattan have nothing to do with whether the bike has a motor, it’s that delivery riders ride the wrong way down streets, through intersections without stopping, or on crowded sidewalks, things that are just as dangerous on regular bikes.

        Reply
  4. contrarian on

    I can understand the worry here: if someone tries to report me riding my E-Bike in an area closed to them, all I have to do is remove the battery, discard it in some bushes and claim “it wasn’t powered!” Although I’ve never heard of someone being fined for walking a bicycle on a path that is restricts bikes, which is essentially the same claim of “I wasn’t riding!”

    Reply
  5. Chris on

    If you pedal an ebike up a road that’s opened to motorized traffic, then ride down a singletrack trail, coasting down the entire trail, how is this different than a normal bicycle coasting down the trail?

    Reply
  6. Farrar Von-Stringfellow on

    Well I have a home made 1.5KW rear hub motor on my mountain bike. I live in Scotland and we are allowed legally 250W motor, top speed 15.5mph. As my hub is 6 x the legal limit for road use, one removes the battery completely and place in my ruck sack and cycle to destination (usually less than 5 miles). On arrival and off road I replace battery on bike and off I go at full speed. I have been stopped by the local police on couple of occasions, as they see the battery is totally disconnected and in ruck sack they let me on my merry way. In discussion with said police I was told that if the battery was still connected to the bike (wired up or not) then it would be different story. If the battery is still fitted to bike, it is so easy to unplug a wire and claim it wasn’t wired up, but the law will not buy that story, hence the reason the battery is in the ruck sack. Also my bike is twist and go, and it must be pedal assist only in UK.

    Reply

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