Mr. Adam Englund
3373 Calle del Sur
Carlsbad, CA 92009-8616
Dear Mr. Englund:
This is in reply to your letter of November 13, 1997. I am sorry that we did not receive your original letter of October 14. Nor did we receive the product brochure that the letter mentions is enclosed. However, we are able to answer your request for an interpretation on the basis of information in your letter.
Your client, the Electric Transportation Company ("ETC"), manufactures an electric power pack, the ETC Express, that is designed for installation on bicycles. You state that the bike must be pedaled to activate the motor and that "the pedal assist system will not operate on its own, in the absence of muscular effort . . . ." You have asked for an interpretation that the ETC Express is not a "motor vehicle" or "motor vehicle equipment" for purposes of the regulations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
I am pleased to confirm your request. Because of your background in powered bicycles you are well aware that we consider a bicycle with a motor to be a "motor vehicle" if the vehicle is able to travel on level ground propelled solely by the motor, without any muscular input by the operator, for the duration of the battery charge. On the other hand, if the motor only assists the operator, and cannot propel the bicycle without the muscular input of the operator, a bicycle with this type of power assist motor is not considered a "motor vehicle" subject to our jurisdiction. It is a "bicycle," subject to the regulations of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
On the basis of your statement that "the pedal assist system will not operate on its own, in the absence of muscular effort," a bicycle equipped with the ETC Express would not be a "motorvehicle" as we have interpreted the term with respect to motorized bicycles. This means that the ETC Express would not be considered "motor vehicle equipment" either.
Acting Chief Counsel