That’s a question our Crooze team is asked a lot! The short answer? Yes, you can. However, illegally increasing the speed of your eBike is not a move we recommend. Let’s take a look at why.
Pedal-assisted eBike speed laws in Australia
In Australia, each state and territory regulates its own traffic laws about eBikes.
When it comes to speed most follow the European laws for pedal-assisted (also called pedelec) eBikes. This law states that the motor must not exceed 250w and must not assist pedalling past the speed of 25km/h. This is known as the Pedelec standard.
To comply with this law, most pedal-assisted eBikes sold in Australia only provide electric motorised assistance while you’re physically pumping the pedals. The help of the motor cuts out once you hit 25km per hour. This doesn’t mean some bikes aren’t actually capable of higher speeds though - more on that soon.
If you want your eBike to go faster, you’re not alone! Many riders are frustrated by the current maximum speed laws around electric bikes in Australia and are petitioning for change. The 45km/h Speed Pedelec Electric Bikes for Australia petition was introduced to lobby for change. It recommends allowing speed pedelec bikes to operate up to 45km/hr with a nominal motor power of 350W.
The petition points to some key arguments on why the legal speed of pedal-assisted eBikes should be increased, including:
- 25km per hour can be too slow when travelling in a lane with other vehicles and may put drivers/riders at risk.
- A higher speed limit can encourage more people to use bikes to ride longer distances / work commutes. This could result in the more widespread adoption of electric bikes and play a role in reducing traffic congestion while promoting healthier, more active lifestyles in the community.
As at September 2020, no changes have been made to Australian law to accommodate a higher speed.
How you can make your eBike go faster
Riders can increase the speed of their bikes with a few different tactics.
Swapping the battery
The speed of your eBike is dependent on the battery voltage so swapping to a battery with higher voltage is one way to go faster. For example, increasing from a 36v to a 48v battery.
Before making a change, make sure your bike can actually handle a higher voltage - otherwise, you risk damaging your controller. You can find out the voltage capacity by checking the controller (it should be stated there) or contacting the manufacturer.
Keep in mind, swapping the battery is more difficult for an off-the-shelf eBike as these batteries are usually contained in a custom housing.
An off-the-shelf, road-legal eBike in Australia has a 250 watt motor to assist you to reach speeds of up to 25km/h. It deactivates beyond 25km/h to prevent exceeding the limit but this doesn’t mean the motor isn’t capable of going faster.
Tuning (also known as chipping) involves disassembling the electronics of your bike or using a device known as a “tuning dongle” to increase its maximum speed. Essentially, tuning manipulates the signal of the current speed allowing you to surpass the legal 25km/h limit.
Why we don’t recommend increasing eBike speed
You put yourself at risk legally
Once the speed of your eBike exceeds the legal limit of 25km/h you’re no longer riding an electric bicycle in the eyes of the law. You’re operating a road vehicle which is considered the equivalent to riding a moped or motorcycle.
This means you must comply with different legal requirements for various states and territories when travelling on public roads - including licencing and registration. If you’re pulled up by police on an eBike at illegal speeds, you risk fines and penalties as an unlicensed, unregistered driver.
Insurance and warranty issues
You’ll run into big problems with insurance too. If you have an accident, you’ll be considered as riding an unregistered road vehicle which won’t be covered by eBike insurance.
Your eBike warranty will also be void. If a manufacturer detects the use of a tuning device - and most can - or other modification they won’t repair it under warranty.
Long term damage to your bike
Tuning might seem like a handy, harmless fix but it can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your eBike due to the increased load on the system. Riding at faster speeds than it can handle will cause overload and wear the drivetrain out faster.
Your battery will drain quicker during a ride and the increased heat of riding at speeds it wasn’t designed to handle will kill the battery quicker too. This all adds up to increased maintenance and cost to replace parts.
You can hurt yourself or someone else
Last but definitely not least is increased risk of injury when you make your eBike go faster than legal limits. People have been injured, and even killed, in accidents involving eBikes that have been illegally modified. Don’t put yourself or someone else at risk!
Is 25km/hr fast enough?
While some eBike riders continue to lobby for changes to the Australian law around the 25km/h limit, this speed is probably fast enough for many people. One of the arguments for increasing the speed limit is some cyclists on regular bikes can reach speeds of 30km per hour - surpassing the eBike anyway.
However, if an eBike is your initial experience with biking or your not the uber-fit racing type, you’ll find 25km/h enough to reduce your journey time. You’ll still get where you need to be quicker and with less effort.
It’s less risky than powering along at a fast speed too. If you fall off your bike at 25km an hour, the chance of serious injury is reduced - provided you’re wearing a helmet!
Be advised that all of the above information serves as a guide only to the Australian laws for electric bikes and electric scooters. It is subject to alterations to Australia’s legislation. We recommend you do your own research into the laws and regulations applicable to your locality and vehicle.