Did you know that if your bike has a maximum weight of 120 kg, you should weigh no more than 90 kg?? The topic around permissible total weight and weight release is currently hotly debated and raises many questions. We got to the bottom of this, asked bike manufacturers, experts and testing institutes and shed some light on the subject.
1. What does gross vehicle weight rating mean anyway?
The permissible total weight (zGG) of an e-mountain bike is made up of the following components:
- Weight of the rider (with shoes, clothing, helmet, etc.).)
- Weight of the bike (including all attachments u.a. also drinking bottle)
- Weight of additional luggage/backpack
The permissible total weight is often also called system weight. This is to be distinguished from the payload, i.e. the maximum weight of rider and equipment. Specialized, for example, specifies this under the name Structural Weight Limit.
Legally speaking, the lowest limit for the system weight is a standardized 120 kg. All E-Mountainbikes tested by us in this year so far move with their zGG in the range of 115 kg to 156 kg. What looks like a lot at first glance can quickly become tight if you subtract 20 kg to 25 kg for the bike: often only 100 kg are left for rider, clothing and equipment.
Example calculation for a bike with 120 kg zGG:
– 23 kg Bike
– 4 kg backpack
– 2 kg clothing, helmet, shoes
= 91 kg rider weight is the upper limit
2. Why is the zGG only now an important issue?
The history of the bike goes back more than 200 years. Less than 10 years ago, the first e-mountain bikes appeared on the market and have since developed rapidly. Today, current e-mountain bikes can ride trails, both uphill and downhill, that years ago were reserved for good enduro mountain bikes. While the first e-mountain bikes were still equipped with the usual mountain bike components, more and more "e-bike optimized" or "e-bike optimized" bikes are finding their way into the market. specially designed for the increased requirements of the E-mountain bike components the way to the bike. But beware: some components are labeled e-bikes just for marketing reasons, others were actually designed to handle the specific loads.
Fact: The e-mountain bike not only poses new challenges to development engineers, but also to the previously existing test procedures and standards that have a safety relevance. The motor assistance increases the load on the components, the additional torque and the higher weight of the E-bikes take their toll. In addition, there is the increased riding pleasure of e-mountain biking, which often results in significantly higher user behavior and longer riding distances. In sum, this significantly increases the stress on many components due to more miles, more altitude, more weight and more torque, and decreases longevity.
In the event of technical defects, it may be difficult to make warranty claims against the manufacturer if the system weight has been significantly exceeded!
3. Glossary: the most important terms explained
Product Safety Act: Product safety law forces every manufacturer to ensure that the bike is safe to use, regardless of any standard. This means for the manufacturer of an E-Mountainbike that he must test his bike harder than the standard, ISO 4210 resp. EN 15194, actually required.
The manufacturer must comply with the current state of science and technology, a general conformity with the standard does not exempt from liability claims.
Intended use – ASTM standards /ASTM categories
The term "intended use" appears in manufacturers’ warranty policies. This term excludes warranty claims if the bike is used beyond its specific purpose for which it was built and intended.
Manufacturers usually define five categories for this (from asphalt to gravity), but these allow different uses depending on the manufacturer. While z.B. one manufacturer only allows jumps up to 0.30 m high in category 3, another manufacturer allows jumps up to 0.60 m high. The same manufacturers in this example allow in category 4 for E-Mountainbikes with the purpose of use Allmountain jumps of 1.00 m resp. 1.20 m height.
These category classifications, also known as ASTM standards, also specify the maximum load (rider plus luggage) or the permissible total weight.
Trailer use and child seat approval
A look at the manufacturer’s instruction manual shows whether the e-mountain bike is suitable for a child trailer or. the attachment of a child seat is permitted. The weight of the trailer with the child must be included in the maximum system weight. It should be noted, however, that a category 4 e-mountain bike becomes a category 2 bike when used with a trailer, which is no longer suitable for rough terrain or. Bikepark may be operated.
Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC
E-mountain bikes resp. Pedelecs fall under the EU Machinery Directive, which is why the manufacturer must submit a corresponding EC Declaration of Conformity (EC stands for European Community). This is a legally binding document for the e-bike buyer, in which the manufacturer confirms compliance with the relevant regulations, which is additionally expressed by a CE mark on the bike frame.
CE marking: The CE marking is a test carried out on the manufacturer’s own responsibility, by which the manufacturer declares that his product complies with the applicable requirements set out in the EU harmonization legislation on their attachment.
4. What standards must E-MTBs meet?
To understand the challenges of discussing the zGG, you need to know the standards that apply to e-mountain bikes. Two standards apply to e-bikes, ISO 4210 and EN 15194. Virtually all frames and bike parts are tested and approved to these standards worldwide.
ISO 4210 for bicycles (valid in Europe and internationally) defines uniform test standards that describe the test setups to the industry. However, ISO 4210 assumes a max. System weight (bike + rider + payload/backpack) of 100 kg off.
In addition to ISO 4210, there is also European standard 15194 for e-bikes. This EN 15194 applies to so-called EPAC (Electric Power Assisted Cycles), which are equipped with pedals and an electric assist motor and are used on public roads. EN 15194 also specifies test superstructures, but with increased loads and a max. System weight of 120 kg, described. However, this standard refers to Road and touring bikes and should ensure that the e-drive and components meet minimum requirements and that the interaction between components works.
In plain language, this means that there are no standards and therefore no there are no standardized tests specifically for e-mountain bikes. The prescribed standardized tests according to EN15194 are not sufficient for the special loads to which an e-mountain bike is exposed. This creates this gray area that causes uncertainty and ambiguity in the marketplace. As a result, bike manufacturers must conduct their own tests to allow a higher system weight for their e-mountain bikes in good conscience. In addition, manufacturers have a so-called market monitoring obligation, d. h. they have to test their bikes according to the real loads of the actual use. It’s not enough to just approve the bike for a specific use, but the bike needs to be tested as the traffic (d. h. the normal user) also uses.
Therefore plays with all larger European E-Bike manufacturers apart from the product manager and/or. development chief, the CE officer plays an increasingly important role in the development of an e-mountain bike. For Marco Wolff-Staudacher, the CE representative at MERIDA, the addition of "E-Bike optimized" on a component and an approval for a zGG of z. B. 150 kg is a good indicator, but not sufficient to install this add-on part on a series-produced bike. Only after in-house testing or confirmation of a testing laboratory, the components are installed on its models. And in case of doubt, the CE representative also has the last word when it comes to specifying a bike. Because ultimately the manufacturer is always liable for his bike and thus for all components installed on the e-bike. We consider the practice of some manufacturers to shift the responsibility for the zGG to the component suppliers and to merely follow their recommendations to be extremely critical – especially for themselves.
What do the bike and component manufacturers say about the ZGG??
We have not only compiled the legal requirements and standards for you, but also asked various manufacturers for a statement on the system weight of e-mountain bikes. Even if, the challenge is clear, so are the approaches and views respectively. legal interpretations of the manufacturers differently. In the following you will find uncommented manufacturer statements:
Head of Engineering | Haibike
"The tests prescribed by ISO standards unfortunately lag behind reality, especially for e-bikes, which is why we at Haibike have been developing our own test together with a renowned German testing laboratory for almost 2 years, which will in future test frames and attachments up to a total weight of 150 kg, and even in five categories (from asphalt to gravity). Frames and parts should be tested more and more in the future according to these own tests. Even if our test is clearly above the ISO requirements, the ISO test remains of course, because this still represents the legal "permission" for the sale of the products on the market.
Important: To approve a bike for a higher weight, it is not enough to test only the frame! All parts that are relevant to safety (frame, fork, brakes, wheels, handlebars, stem, seatpost, saddle, cranks, pedals) must be successfully tested according to this higher weight. If even one part does not make it, this weight cannot be released for the bike.
To establish such a new test is extremely lengthy and extensive, because it requires new machines and test procedures. We have already been able to bring some suppliers for frames, parts or drive components on board, but not all. In particular, suppliers who make special parts not only for us (z. B. Forks, brakes, wheels), sometimes find it difficult to implement special tests, because these are not official ISO tests. Then they often ask themselves: "Why should we do this and invest so much money, if it is not legally necessary?"… Fortunately, however, a rethinking is slowly taking place here as well.
On the subject of "Intended use" and classification of bikes in ASTM categories: Here it makes a big difference whether you want to approve a trekking bike (ASTM category 1) for a higher weight or, for example, an XDURO Nduro (ASTM category 5). The type of cycles and the amplitudes or. Forces are quite different and currently, for example, there is no handlebar that could pass our 150 kg test in ASTM category 5. There is still a lot of development work to be done here in some cases.
Specifically, in the future we plan to have our bikes – especially FLYON – tested for a higher total weight according to our test specifications. This is also one reason why the FLYON models are somewhat heavier than other e-bikes. However, as you can perhaps now better understand, this still requires many tests with many individual components and will certainly have to wait a while, as much as we would like to have it now already."
CE Officer | MERIDA Bikes
"For all e-mountain bikes manufactured by Merida, the permissible total weight is currently 140 kg. As a safety buffer, however, the e-bike must always be able to withstand more than the release allows. Our goal is of course to increase this value, but this requires extensive testing, both of the individual components and of the entire e-mountain bike. At Merida, all non-Merida load-bearing components are tested again, including in the area of expected misuse. While increasing the overall weight of trekking/city pedelecs to 150 kg for the next model generation was easy to do, this is much more difficult for the e-mountain bike because of the higher loads. In the meantime, the use of the E-MTB in the bike park can also be mapped in test laboratories."
Marketing Specialist/Public Relations | DT Swiss AG
"At DT Swiss, we already reacted two years ago for the sporty e-mountain bike use with the DT Swiss HYBRID wheels. At DT Swiss, we are guided by the "state of the art" in development and exceed the prescribed standards. The HYBRID hubs z.B. are based on the legendary 240 DT hubs, but have been extensively adapted to the increased loads in E-MTB use. The hub body has a higher wall thickness, a larger housing, reinforced axles and larger spoke holes. Larger bearings, new sprockets with 24 teeth and a steel freewheel body round out the package. Thus, the HYBRID hubs withstand torques of up to 500 Nm, 25% more than classic hubs. With the exception of the carbon rim set, we were able to increase the system weight of the DT Swiss HYBRID wheels from 120 kg to 150 kg through specific adjustments. By the way, our DT Swiss F535 ONE suspension fork also has an approval up to 150 kg."
Marketing Manager | FOX
"To meet the higher demands of suspension forks for e-mountain bikes, we have developed special e-bike chassis that are available with all the technologies known from normal mountain bike forks. For the e-bike suspension forks, we have increased the wall thickness of the head tube and the stanchions, the fork crown is made of solid material. Of course, the tuning of the damping has also been adapted to the E-Mountainbikes. The special e-bike chassis is available for the 34- and 36-series, each in our various product classifications from Rhythm, through Performance and Performance Elite to Factory. We have approved our current e-bike chassis up to a system weight of 169 kg."
Sales Manager | Reverse Components
At Reverse Components, we have developed a special E-series for add-on parts for E-mountain bikes, which had to pass extensive tests in the EFBE test lab. Since the European standard 15194 prescribed for e-bikes is not sufficient for the increased operating loads of an e-mountain bike, new test standards for the e-bike attachments had to be developed by the test laboratory.
An E-Series handlebar has a different permissible system weight depending on the intended use, i.e. "Intended Use. While the handlebar, which is approved for our category 5 (… very demanding, heavily blocked and extremely steep terrain, with larger jumps at very high speeds … ) by us for a permissible total weight of 130 kg, it can be approved for use in the cross-country area up to 160 kg. The level of clearance for a max. System weight is therefore based on the intended use, which is specified in the ASTM standards. Due to our many years of experience, we have of course provided our approvals with sufficient safety reserves."
Marketing Manager | MAXXIS
"Every MAXXIS mountain bike tire is approved for a load of 90 kg and thus also for e-biking (support up to 25 km/h). The higher system weight and the additional torque of the motor in E-MTB lead to higher flexing work in the carcass of normal tires and can promote punctures in the tire and cause a spongier ride feeling. We therefore recommend reinforced carcasses for E-MTB use.
To get a more stable and puncture-resistant tire specifically for E-MTB, MAXXIS has reinforced the well-known EXO carcass with an additional bead-to-bead puncture protection layer. With this new carcass technology "EXO+" is the tire only about 10% heavier than with EXO carcass. EXO+ has a more than 50% better puncture protection than EXO and feels much more stable on the trail. For extremely tough applications, there are also the DD and downhill carcasses at MAXXIS, which are also suitable for E-MTBs, since stability (and also weight) are even higher."
Founder of the DIN EN ISO 17025 accredited test laboratory velotech.de GmbH and publicly appointed and sworn expert for electric bicycles
"E-mountain bike manufacturers have a duty to monitor the market, d. h. they have to look how their products are actually used by the bikers. They can therefore not rely on the rather low requirements of ISO 4210 or. Withdraw EN 15194 for their product tests. While the standards only prescribe the test of the individual bicycle components, which refers to 120 kg, we test the e-bike in our test laboratory in Schweinfurt not only in parts, but also as a whole."
The reason for the uncertainty and ambiguity in the market is clear: for E-MTBs there is currently no standard in the world that actually meets the higher loads that an E-MTB is exposed to. For this reason, manufacturers and testing institutes are currently developing their own tests that are based on the real intended use. However, a uniform standard unfortunately does not yet exist. There is still a lot of work to be done, as GVW approvals of just 120 kg make clear – according to this, some manufacturers should not even sell bikes in size XL with a clear conscience.
Regardless of the legal discussion about the permissible total weight, however, one should leave the church in the village and check which problems actually arise in reality – we are only aware of a few cases to date! However, when it comes to warranty and guarantee claims in the event of technical defects, the zGG again becomes very relevant in practice.
The good news: Since the bike manufacturers are liable for their product, many now include a larger buffer in the permissible total weight in order to provide the best possible protection. After all, the weakest part on the e-mountain bike limits the permissible total weight, which quickly becomes confusing with a large product range with many different components. This problem has probably been recognized by all manufacturers in the meantime, which is why a higher system weight is to be expected in the next few years.
What do you think of the discussion about the zGG? Have you had problems with the durability of safety-related components so far? Write us your experiences to [email protected]
This article is from E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #017
The E-MOUNTAINBIKE magazine is published in German and English in digital app format. Download the app for iOS or Android now and read all articles on your tablet or smartphone. Free of charge!
Did you like this article? Then we would be very happy if you also support us as a supporter with a monthly contribution. As an E-MOUNTAINBIKE supporter you ensure a sustainable future for high-quality bike journalism and make sure that e-mountain biking continues to have a free and freely accessible leading medium! Become a supporter now!
Text: Manne Schmitt Photos: E-MOUNTAINBIKE team
Recommended for you
Nothing for losers anymore: How gravel biking and a new trekking bike generation are revolutionizing trekking
Innovations 2022 – what awaits us! The tops and flops of the e-mountain bike industry in the coming year
Out Now! ENDURO issue #050 – Pull it through!
16.251 readers have spoken – The most exciting findings of the E-MOUNTAINBIKE reader survey 2021
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS – What the Gravity helmet can do at a hammer price?
Speeddating – The limit is you
About the author
As the proud daddy of Robin and Max-Philip, Manne is the man of the first hour and the "gray eminence" in the editorial team. He won his first bike race when he was in elementary school at the school festival. After less successful attempts in soccer, he found his passion for biking via endurance sports (marathon) in 1989! Racing still haunts him, nobody in the team knows the EWS pros better than Manne. As a former chief analyst for a state agency, he knows how to research properly and find exclusive news that no one else has. As an authorized signatory, he successfully supports his sons in their daily lives – viva la familia!
Become an E-MOUNTAINBIKE supporter and let’s shape the bike scene together and make E-MOUNTAINBIKE(n) even better! Are you in? Become a supporter now!