XB500 - To ride or not to ride

I bought my XB500 mid summer 2008. We all got a small raise at work, with a pretty good retro amount. Gas prices went over $4/gal and it was rough to get where i need to go. With a family depending on me, I had to get to work every day, do various errands. I remembered how I loved a moped I had many yeaars ago, found electric scooters & bikes, finally settled on the XB500. I had problems putting it together and electrical issues. I found the info & parts I needed and my son got it running. I was so excited. I used to literally have dreams of riding again, now I was doing it. I kept saying, I love this, I should have got one of these long ago.
About the XB500, It takes little electricity, gets me there cheap. I was saving 1/2 to 3/4 tank of gas/week. It's an electric BIKE. No special license or helmet. That's what they advertise. And that's how it should be. I printed out the electric bicycle law and the specs on the bike. Then I drove to work, did errands, Drove 1 mile to my daughter and grandkids. Then one day a cop drove alongside me, said, "you need to wear a helmet", and drove off. I didn't have time to explain.
A couple weeks later, driving the mile to my daughter's, a siren sounded behind me. the looked at me and my bike. I was prepared, I had the specs and laws ready. He said "Wear a helmet." I said "This is . . " He interrupted, saying louder "Wear a helmet." I tried to get more words in and said fast "This is an elect . . ." He yelled "Wear a helmet." We did that a few times, me trying to talk, him interrupting and yelling the same words over and over, then he drove off.
I had the helmet with me. I put it on and drove straight to the Police Station. I told them why I was stopped and asked to talk to somebody about it. They called this cop in his cruiser, to come in and talk to me.
Meanwhile I sat there and read a big poster on the wall in the Police Sta. showing a kid on a bike wearing a helmet, advertising that anyone under 16 has to wear a helmet on a bike, it's the law. I'm over 16.
The cop arrived and we talked about 15 min. Some points of our conversation:
I showed him the bike specs and law. He wasn't aware that electric bikes exist. He asked, does it have pedals? I showed him. He asked many questions. He wouldn't admit it is a bike. He had never seen anything like this. He asked how many CC's it is. I said "It's Electric, it's 500 Watts!" He commented that he personally doesn't like motorcycles. At one point he said, It has a motor doesn't it. I said yes. He said then you have to wear a helmet. I said not according to the Federal Bicycle law, which was still in his hand. This crazy conversation went on & on. Finally, here is the bottom line:
IT LOOKS LIKE A SCOOTER, SO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A HELMET.
IF YOU DON'T WEAR A HELMET YOU WILL KEEP GETTING STOPPED.
EVENTUALLY YOU WILL BE CITED FOR NOT WEARING A HELMET AND HAVE TO GO TO COURT.
AND AFTER ALL THAT, BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE A SCOOTER, YOU WILL KEEP GETTING STOPPED AND CITED AND GO BACK TO COURT.
Now doesn't that sound like a threat, based on the personal opinion of one cop????
All winter I thought about that. I live in a small town, full of good ol boys, and if you'r not one of them ........
I'm taking a chance. I wrote a letter to the chief of police about the incident. I was nice it this first letter. I just need the guts to send it. I will mail myself a copy first to prove what I said, in case anything happens. My kids are aware of this and have a copy of the letter. I will not talk to the police alone.
If I get no response or no satisfaction, I will send it to the Town Administrator. Finally, there are ways to make this public, which scares me because of other things I know about the Town Officials here, but I will take it one step at a time.
My mother was afraid of them. If she had issues that involved the town, she just dealt with it. She was afraid, being older and alone, they would retaliate. She thought they would vandalize my father and brother's grave. My thought is they would cut her brake line.
I would figure they would do something that could be an accident, and who would you report it to? Even if you call them, they never respond. The last few years my daughter, in a good neighborhood, has had kids just fooling around, throw things in her yard, at her house and in her pool. Cops never respond. Last week kids were making noise, woke up my daughter and her family at 2:30am. She called the cops, they never came. She sat outside waiting to see what would happen. She heard one ask, is that a real gun? Another teen said, the safety is on. She called cops again. By 4:30am they still hadn't showed up.
I need to documet this before I send the letter, in many places, for proof. Just in case.
It's only a matter of a bike helmet.

Comments

reikiman's picture

I read the whole thing.. maybe there isn't a technical requirement in the law that you have to wear a helmet and the police officer is being stupid and obstinate. But it's a good idea to wear a helmet anyway.

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

Buzzer's picture

Unless you want to keep being hassled by the local police, find out your state and local motor vehicle laws and compare them to the bike's specifications and then do whatever the laws say regarding insurance, registration, safety equipment, etc. My local police and Bureau of Motor Vehicles did that, and they determined that the federal law (so often waved about by the importer) DOES NOT APPLY because the XB-600 I own can go faster than 20 mph (according to the importer's own specifications), and the pedals are OPTIONAL, DON'T NEED TO BE INSTALLED,and are NOT the PRIMARY MEANS OF POWER, which is contrary to the definition of a "bicycle". In other words, the federal law applies to "electrically assisted bicycles", and according to the importer's own specifications and product descriptions that are posted all over the internet, the XB-600 is NOT an electric bicycle. In Maine, it's a MOPED. Find out what the situation is in your area with your XB-500 by actually getting a copy of your area's motor vehicle laws and definitions. I'm sure different people will get different opinions from one state to another, and probably even within the same state due to local laws and interpretations. So find out what's applicable in the area you'll be riding in.
As far as the helmet goes, due to my work I have seen plenty of people in hospitals and health care facilities who are there because of brain damage due to head injuries from bicycle and motorcycle accidents. Many of these head bumps were relatively "minor", but enough to cause permanent brain damage. Wear a helmet, even if it's just a bicycle helmet. A motorcycle helmet, called an open-faced "half helmet", will provide even better protection. There are too many inattentive car and truck drivers out there, no matter how careful you are. A friend of ours who is an emergency room nurse shared the following hospital "joke": What's a motorcycle rider called who doesn't wear a helmet? Answer: An organ donor...

Buzzer

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

I agree with both comments I got that it's good and safe to wear a helmet. But what about my freedom to choose when I am not breaking the law? I have 2 helmets, and one I take with me at all times in case I go farther than I planned. Both time I was stopped on the 1 mile ride on rural side roads riding to my daughter's.
Here is my issue. Not that I should wear a helmet for safety, but that I presented the police with a law which they never heard of and the only response is, he personally doesn't like motorcycles, and it LOOKS like a scooter. Then the threat to harass me in the future. If they had told me, here is a law that supercedes that law, I would have been satisfied. If I found that I was wrong, I would never leave my yard without a helmet. But the police don't know the laws and they don't care to find out.
I know there are many people on bikes/motorcycles that get brain injuries on bikes and I won't be one. But the police run this town however they want, right or wrong. Example: There is a "commune" next door to me, that in itself I don't mind. It's the drinking, drugs, sewaring, partying all night, camper with people living in ti in the yard, homeless man living on the side of the road. Do the police handle that? They know about it. No, they stop me on a bike. Exmple: my daughter has mischievous kids throwing stuff at her house, knocked off a piese of siding, throwing stuff in her pool. The police never respond. She went to the sta., told them how they never cme, and the cop said "now you see why we're dinks". He admits it. Then I ask a perfectly simple question, why was I stopped, and they are a dink to me.
If they can show me a law, I will comply with it.
Thanks for your replies.

Buzzer's picture

What I suggest you do is talk to someone at your state's Dept. of Motor Vehicles, briefly explain your problem, show them the bike (or photos) along with the product specifications and a copy of the Federal bike law, and tell them you need a copy of the state's motor vehicle laws. Get their opinion on the bike while you're talking to them. At the very least, get photocopies of the pages that apply to your XB-500 and helmet laws (Maine has no helmet law except for children). Then mark the sections that apply to your bike. Make sure you are in accordance with your state's motor vehicle laws, whatever they are, then go ahead and ride. Depending on your state, you may or may not need to wear a helmet or safety vest. You may or may not be able to ride in traffic. Maybe you'll need to stay on the right edge of the road. You may or may not need to register the bike, or have it insured. Regardless, make sure you have the motor vehicle law book, or the photocopies of the appropriate pages, with the pages marked, stored on your bike. I keep mine in the storage container with the bike's registration and insurance card. If the police stop you and you are polite and show them the laws, they may back down when they see you've already talked with the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and done your homework. So far, I've noticed that you've talked with the police, they have made a lot of "noise", but they haven't actually given you a ticket. If, as you say, the police are intent on harassing you, then they're probably going to give you a ticket at some point anyway, so go ahead and go to court with the ticket, your copies of the laws and information on your bike and let the judge decide. If the police won't listen to you, they're more likely to listen to a judge, as long as you show up and have the copies of the laws in your hands to show you are complying with whatever law the police ticketed you for violating.
Remember, that along with the Federal Bike law that X-Treme scooters makes available, they also include a disclaimer in their advertising that buyers need to check with their local laws. In Maine, two different police departments and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles were able to show me FROM THE MAINE MOTOR VEHICLES LAW BOOK why the federal bike law did not apply to my XB-600. It's because it's a MOPED, not a BICYCLE, because the pedals are NOT NEEDED to propel the XB-600. On a bicycle, pedals MUST be used to some extent to propel the bike, and on an electric bicycle, the electric motor ASSISTS the operator's use of the pedals. On a MOPED, pedals MAY (or may not) be used to propel the bike. Obviously, pedals on my XB-600 are optional. I don't use them, but I keep them stored under the seat in case an officer has a question about my bike being either a "moped" or a "motorcycle" or a "motor scooter". Other criteria that vary from state to state have to do with motor power and wheel sizes. Read everything and see what best describes your XB-500 in your state.
Regarding your other complaints about the inaction of the police, I suggest you keep a diary of specific instances (including dates and who you talked with), and if the local police chief won't do anything, then discuss the problem with your district attorney, then the state's attorney general, or the county or state police. In other words, work your way "up the chain". Make sure you keep your cool, stick to the facts, and always be polite. And try to understand that the lack of response is sometimes due to them having to deal with bigger problems that are a bigger priority at the time. In our town, a lady had scheduled a time for the police to come over and arrest her abusive boyfriend. They didn't show up at the scheduled time, because they were busy with an armed robbery. She reconciled with her boyfriend who continued to treat her poorly, so she didn't set up another time with the police. But in her mind, "the police didn't do anything". In another local drug-dealer case, police "didn't do anything" for 6 months, because they were busily working into the network of drug dealers with undercover cops. So sometimes, like the commune you described, the local police may not appear to be doing anything, but they may be working on gathering evidence for something bigger. But I am also aware that sometimes it's a "good ol' boy" problem, just as you say, which is why you may need to work your way up the chain in order to get something done.
Personally, I have my XB-600 registered and insured as a "moped", so I have a license plate on it. I keep to the right side of the road (out of traffic), wear a bright yellow safety vest or shirt, keep the lights on all the time (per Maine state law), and I wear a helmet. Police see me, sometimes follow me, but so far they've never stopped me because they see I'm doing my best to obey the applicable laws and ride safely, and they probably figure they've got more important things to do like chase drunk drivers, speeders or bank robbers. But should they decide to stop me, I'm prepared: including copies of e-mails I've exchanged with their police chiefs about the legality of me riding my XB-600.

Buzzer

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Thanks for your advice. I can see right now that your laws are much different than ours. I never heard of wearing a safety vest. And this bike requires no registration or insurance. Also, my XB500 falls in a different category than the XB600. It has less power, only 500 watts. I live where we call "on the hill", the nice part of town, and the hill is a challenge to get up at about 10 MPH. But it gets me there. I do ride on the side of the road, which the officer agreed with. It is a challenge on bridges. There is a canal and a river, and no "side of the road". Drivers are impatient, but they will have to learn to deal with it. I do wait until there is no traffic behind me before I start across, so I won't hold up too much traffic.
As for inaction of the police, I have many incidents to base this on. Recently, kids behind my daughter's house making much noise at 2:30am. She called the police, then sat outside a while. She overheard one teen "is that a real gun?" The other replied "the safety is on". She called again. No response. Next day she talked to several neighbors. They were all woke up. Nobody else called because they didn't expect the police to show up. I have many stories about this town to base my comments on. As for my neighbors, they have been there since 1994. You would think the police could put down their donuts and do something by now. I have been dealing with this for 15 years.
I will look up the local laws and contact Motor Vehicles. That's a great idea. But like I said, if I find I am breaking the law, I will comply and never leave my yard without the proper gear. But here's my point: You can have laws, and comply with laws, but if the guys with the guns and the power decide they don't like what you are doing, law or no law, they will get away with harassment. Just because the Federal Bicycle Law says you don't need a helmet, and even if that law supercedes other local laws, it doesn't mean you can buy this bike and count on your local law officials to agree with it.

Thanks for your advice. I can see right now that your laws are much different than ours. I never heard of wearing a safety vest. And this bike requires no registration or insurance. Also, my XB500 falls in a different category than the XB600. It has less power, only 500 watts. I live where we call "on the hill", the nice part of town, and the hill is a challenge to get up at about 10 MPH. But it gets me there. I do ride on the side of the road, which the officer agreed with. It is a challenge on bridges. There is a canal and a river, and no "side of the road". Drivers are impatient, but they will have to learn to deal with it. I do wait until there is no traffic behind me before I start across, so I won't hold up too much traffic.
As for inaction of the police, I have many incidents to base this on. Recently, kids behind my daughter's house making much noise at 2:30am. She called the police, then sat outside a while. She overheard one teen "is that a real gun?" The other replied "the safety is on". She called again. No response. Next day she talked to several neighbors. They were all woke up. Nobody else called because they didn't expect the police to show up. I have many stories about this town to base my comments on. As for my neighbors, they have been there since 1994. You would think the police could put down their donuts and do something by now. I have been dealing with this for 15 years.
I will look up the local laws and contact Motor Vehicles. That's a great idea. But like I said, if I find I am breaking the law, I will comply and never leave my yard without the proper gear. But here's my point: You can have laws, and comply with laws, but if the guys with the guns and the power decide they don't like what you are doing, law or no law, they will get away with harassment. Just because the Federal Bicycle Law says you don't need a helmet, and even if that law supercedes other local laws, it doesn't mean you can buy this bike and count on your local law officials to agree with it.

Buzzer's picture

In Maine, adults don't need to wear helmets or the safety vests while riding any kind of bike. Those are not legal requirments. The reason I wear them is that when I first considered getting one of these electric bikes, I went to the local police departments first because I figured they would be the people most likely to give me the greatest hassle about the bike. So I asked them 3 questions: 1. Is this bike "street legal"? (Their answer: Yes.) 2. What laws apply and what do I need to do to ride this in town? (They photocopied the appropriate laws and highlighted the information.) 3. Do you have any other suggestions for how I can ride this bike safely? (Their suggestions: Please wear a helmet and a brightly colored safety vest. Keep to the right, out of traffic, and stay off the sidewalks.) We also discussed the federal electric bike law, and they explained why they didn't think it applied, based on the definitions. Something I'd like to point out is that EVERYONE I talked with here went out of their way to be extremely helpful. They all acknowledged this is a new "gray area" for everyone, they are all learning the terminology, and everyone wanted to "get it right" because I'm the first person in this area to get one of these. And they all wanted to "see this happen". They just want to make it safe and legal for everyone. One thing they DON'T want to see is a bunch of irresponsible or underage people rushing out to buy these things and driving all over the place without any regard to safety or legal responsibility. The police keep busy enough confiscating gas-powered skateboards from kids, who buy the things and use them on the streets and sidewalks, not realizing they're illegal in Maine. If something has a motor on it, it's a "motorized vehicle" and is subject to some kinds of laws.
The only insurance required for the XB-600 is liability insurance, although I got a comprehensive policy that covers theft, vandalism, towing and everything else for about $100 per year. Funny footnote: the policy also covers up to $3,500 worth of "accessories" I install on the bike! Like what, I don't know. Sun roof? Air conditioner? CD player? Another interesting note: There is no motor minimum power requirement for a "moped" in Maine because the minimum power would be using the foot pedals. That's a difference of opinion between the local police departments and the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which told me that the motor on a moped needs to be between 750 - 1500 watts. So their opinion is that because my bike is 600 watts, it doesn't need to be registered. They base that on the legal minimum and maximum power limits of "scooters" and "motorcycles", but as the police pointed out, it's not actually part of the legal definition of a "moped". So the town office (which can register the bike with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles) talked with the police, read the laws themselves, and went ahead and registered the bike as a "moped" because that's the category it fits under.
I made it clear to everyone from the start that I didn't care what they called it or what the legal requirements were, I just needed the information so I could make the best decision of what to get so I could go to work more cheaply. I explain all this simply to say that with the rapid changing technology, I don't think this battle is going to be over any time soon, and I prefer to pick my battles and save my energy for the really major issues. If it will make the local police happy to have me register the bike, and if they'll feel better if I wear a helmet and a florescent yellow shirt or vest, etc., then I'm happy to oblige. They gave their reasons, I think they're reasonable requests, and frankly, I've got much more important stuff to worry about.

Buzzer

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Just because there is a federal law that you think applies, it might not if your state or county or town has other laws, policies, or interpretations. In spite of what the X-Treme website might state or imply, the federal law is not supreme.

In CA, if the pedals are not attached and functional, it is not a moped. Having them under the seat is not legally significant.

Often state laws give local authorities a lot of latitude (usually to be more strict) where safety issues are concerned.

If you are mad at the local police and feel like "taking them on", that is your choice, but not one without significant (high) risks. Maybe you should re-evaluate ALL of the related safety risks, and wear your helmet?

As long as you are riding where there are cars, it is not "bright" to ride without a good protective helmet ... unless you feel that you have nothing to protect, AND you have good unlimited lifetime medical insurance.

You did not mention your state (or town), I believe.

What should one say to a man with a gun (and, like "007", with the permission to use it)?

Perhaps "Yes, sir", might be best?

In any case, for yourself and for your family, please try to make careful choices, and pick battles you have a chance of winning.

Good luck.

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

Buzzer's picture

I think the issue of the pedals is an excellent example of law variations from state to state. In Maine, the law says that with a "moped" the operator "may" use pedals, so I keep them stored under the seat so I "may" use them, should I want. The law, as currently written, doesn't say anything about the pedals needing to be installed on the bike. It remains to be seen whether or not I'll get stopped regarding the "pedal issue", but plenty of the local police have seen me on the bike and left me alone, so I'm not too worried about it.

Buzzer

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Right, I meant to use that tiny detail as an example of different laws.

Here, "bike" paths, as another example, are regulated significantly at the local level, as are scateboards, not to mention rules for powered scateboards.

When I get my Aptera, I intend to set up "educational" visits to the local police, and possibly the CHP, if they would like it.

For example, how should they switch off the "gas" at an accident scene, deal with one-occupant in the carpool lanes, or arrange for towing with one of these 3-wheeled "motorcycles".

Your example of trying to create a win-win situation (that you seem to have achieved) is excellent.

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

Medotcom, Knowing from experience just how bad your situation is, might I suggest you add something to your riding equipment?

Buy yourself one of THESE - http://cgi.ebay.com/4GB-Spy-Pen-Camcorder-Video-Recorder-Camera-DV-640x480_W0QQitemZ350218755105QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item518aaa1c21&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A15|66%3A4|39%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A200 - and make sure it is recording any time you leave the house. Trust me on this, it has already saved me from two false complaints made against me by friends of the corrupt police chief. If you keep having problems, send copies of the video to the FBI at the least.

Buzzer's picture

To: MeDotCom

Let us know what happens with you and the local police regarding your XB-500 and their harassment over you wearing a helmet.

Buzzer

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

A full helmet can be as little as $50 ... see some of the less expensive models of the Hawk line.
I bought 5 sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) from the www.LeatherUp.com site so my riders could be legal, and much safer. The smallest heads need smaller than the XS, and the largest heads need larger than the XL, but these 5 helmets say that they cover the 53 to 61 cm range (53-54, 55-56, 57-58, 59-60, and 61).

For me, I bought the more expensive SHOEI helmet (XL) to get one that fit my head well. It is larger than the Hawk XL, and larger than some brands XXL models. It took some looking and trying-on to find one that fit my head's shape (longer front-to-back).

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

knabo's picture

Do you wear shoes while you ride? Do you wear a jacket? I just am wondering if you wear that safety gear why is your head less important?

Luther Burrell, Mesa, Arizona, USA
Rides: ZuumCraft from zuumcraft.com
Previous Rides: Blue Vectrix Maxi scooter


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