As of Thursday, April 26, 2012, Electric bikes with a motor output of up to 500 watts and pedal assistance of up to 25 kilometers will now be classified as bicycles instead of mopeds in Switzerland.
The move is a win for the European Two Wheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA), which has been lobbying the European Parliament to loosen restrictions in order to open up the market to more e-bikes. Currently, European legislation limits power output to a maximum of 250 watts for a pedelec to still be considered a bicycle.
Vehicles with a motor output between 500 and 1,000 watts and/or assistance up to 45 kilometers per hour (28-MPH) are considered an S-Pedelec, and carry more stringent and expensive regulations before they can be sold in shops. In many countries, riders must also have a license, insurance, and wear a helmet to drive an S-Pedelec (S = Schnell, meaning “Fast”).
Austria is the only other EU country that has relaxed the EU requirements. There, electric bikes with a speed limit of 20 miles per hour (32 kph) and a motor output up to 600 watts are still considered bicycles.