Gas Generator for Electric Motor

Question

Troy asked: Do the same electric bicycle laws in Florida still apply if I use a gasoline motor as a generator to power the electric assist motor instead of a battery?

Answer

Your situation is not specifically addressed by the statute.  Since the power is generated on the bike by a gas motor, I believe that it would not fit the statutory definition of bicycle.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which a person may ride ….

You may want to check DMV procedure RS 68 that applies to gas motors on bicycles to see if it answers your question more definitively.

http://www3.flhsmv.gov/dmv/Proc/RS/RS-68.pdf

Posted in Ask Geo, Bicycle Equipment, Motorized Bicycles, Program Updates
7 comments on “Gas Generator for Electric Motor
  1. HarryB says:

    Troy,

    The motorized bicycle as defined in § 316.003(3), FLa. Stat. requires that it can be propelled by a human being and an “electric helper motor”. It does not, however, define the motor (what is the difference between an “electric helper motor” and an “electric motor”?), nor does it specify the source of the motor’s power.

    If the device you describe has an “electric helper motor” that propels it in a manner similar to conventional motorized bicycles (no clutch or other mechanism by which the electric motor can be physically disconnected from the power-drive system), I believe it meets the definition of motorized bicycle.

    If the Legislature had wanted to limit motorized bicycles to only those powered by batteries, it should have noted that restriction. I submit this is a case of the principal, “Everything which is not forbidden is allowed.”

  2. randall tomlinson says:

    in my opinion, since electric motors are allowed, and the power source is a battery, then, the way the battery is charged is not of concern. since the gas generator is not attached mechanically to the drive of the bicycle, it can not be considered a moped or motorcycle, not even a gas powered vehicle. the electric motor still requires a battery, as the load on the motor will exceed the power output of most any generator you could conventionally mount, unless on a trailer, and the weight then becomes a factor. the generator would not even have to be run constantly, only as needed to charge the battery. i have thought about this myself. although, i am looking into what i see people doing, by mounting weed eater engines on bicycles. i have also seen powered trailers pushing a bicycle. this makes me wonder if this could be a way around the ridiculous laws about motorized bicycles. it is not attached to the drive train of the bicycle. it can not change it to a moped or motorcycle designation. i don’t think there are any laws about motorized trailers. you could reverse the trailer and have it pull the bicycle. get even more technical and set up wireless controls, as in remote control configurations. i’m looking at every angle i can come up with, because, i believe putting these kinds of rules and regulations on such things, suppresses the abilities and explorations of the mind of both kids and adults. when i was a kid, you could do all kinds of things such as this. now, if you try and invent, make something better or be self reliant, self sufficient, without government say so, you become a criminal. i say, go for it and see what happens. don’t go asking authority the questions. they will do every thing possible, even lie, to steer you away from beating the system at their own game. if i had the way right now, i would do it and if pulled over, explain, that even under their own definition of motorized bicycles, this set up does not fall under their guidelines. it is not attached to the drive system of the bicycle.
    now, the question is, are or are not, battery powered bicycles allowed on the sidewalks and roadways of the state of florida? how the batteries are charged does not have anything to do with the statutes or laws or regulations.
    sorry, i’m a bit of a rebel. think about the government suppression of learning. how do you think this very site would be today, without the ingenuity of bill gates and what’s his name? what about the wright brothers and airplanes? i’m against government regulation like this. without the young minds exploring, this country dies. ingenuity starts in the back yards and homes of ordinary people, both old and young. risks are what you take sometimes, but, mistakes are learned by at least trying. succeeding are mistakes learned.

  3. HarryB says:

    randall,

    You wrote: “i have also seen powered trailers pushing a bicycle. this makes me wonder if this could be a way around the ridiculous laws about motorized bicycles. it is not attached to the drive train of the bicycle… i don’t think there are any laws about motorized trailers.”

    Whether or not the laws regarding motorized bicycles are ridiculous is beside the point of this discussion. There are laws in place that regulate bicycles with motors, and we have an obligation to comply with the laws whether we like them or not. However, we are free to attempt to change those laws through the legislative or judicial process.

    There is at least one company that sells a trailer that is propelled by a battery powered electric motor, and the first one I saw (and heard—it was loud) was in 2012 as I recall. At that time I wondered whether or not their use was legal on shared-use paths and sidewalks, and my research led me to conclude that § 316.1995(1), Fla. Stat. addressed this bicycle/trailer/motor combination and forbids their operation on non-motorized facilities when the motor was providing any amount of propulsion.

    The company, however, claimed that they could be legally operated anywhere in the United States a bicycle could, including bike paths; and a prominent bicycle website that ran a review of (essentially an infomercial for) the trailer implied the same—the reviewer even test rode it on a well known shared-use path. I wrote both of them stating that I believed they were forbidden by Florida law as well as the laws in some other states from being operated on shared-use paths and sidewalks.

    Soon thereafter the reviewer removed the name of the trail upon which he tested the device and added a disclaimer at the end of the article to check local laws. The company also changed the wording on its website, but to this day their disclaimer appears to be an attempt to dodge the question rather than answer it.

    You wrote: “now, the question is, are or are not, battery powered bicycles allowed on the sidewalks and roadways of the state of florida?”

    This question has been asked and answered repeatedly on this site: When motorized bicycles as defined in § 316.003(3) are operated on roadways they are regulated in the same manner as human powered bicycles with two exceptions dealing with the age of the rider or passenger. But § 316.1995(1) forbids their operation on bicycle paths or sidewalks unless they are propelled solely by human power.

    • randall tomlinson says:

      harry b.
      the actual question was if a generator could be used. i simply put in my opinion on other stuff. you seem to have become irate at my OPINIONS. ok, whatever, sor-RY. i see no issue with a generator being used on a bicycle when it is being used as a battery charger. it’s not attached to the drive train of the bicycle. so, what’s the issue with this?

      • HarryB says:

        randall,

        You wrote: “i see no issue with a generator being used on a bicycle when it is being used as a battery charger. it’s not attached to the drive train of the bicycle. so, what’s the issue with this?”

        Because I disagreed with the answer Geo gave the OP, I provided him with my opinion, namely that the device he described (using a gasoline motor as a generator to power the electric motor attached to a bicycle) meets the statutory definition of motorized bicycle, and is not forbidden by the statutes. Your opinion seems to be the same as mine, so I think we’re on the same page.

  4. Special X says:

    Honestly, adding a gas generator to power the batteries is MORE expensive in the long run, then just using a big battery. The added cost of the gas generator AND the gas would be adding more cost (and weight) to the system than just a big battery would.
    Even a gas powered bike (neglecting the electric motor) is more expensive after 6 months of use. My large battery on my Ebike gives me a 100 mile range (more than most gas bikes have) and costs only .45 cents to “refuel”.
    Most gas bikes have a 60 mile range and costs at least $2.00 to refuel. (60 miles cost me about .30 cents).
    If you do 60 miles a day.. That means A savings of $1.70 a day. That’s $51 a month and $300 in 6 months and $600 in a year. (The added cost of a big enough battery for a 100 mile range)

    • Special X says:

      AND if you are thinking of adding that ADDITIONAL weight and complexity to the system,
      (The gas generator AND batteries and electric motor) the cost goes UP..
      Just get a large enough battery to get you where you need to go and back.
      You’ll save yourself money, time, complexity, etc) AND you’ll be completely legal with no worries.
      Stop trying to “fight the system”.. You CAN beat them at their own game AND do it legally!!! How’s that for beating them at their own game!
      LOL

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