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E-bikes 'being widely used over their speed limits'

Users are not keeping to the 15.5mph law - but is it safe?

E-bikes are being widely used above their legal speed limit above the UK - and purchasers are not being told of the processes needed to ride them at their maximum speeds.

The helmet cam rider CycleGaz posted a video seven months ago of being overtaken by a cyclist who wasn’t even pedalling, and claims the other rider was going at 28mph.

The Sunday Times investigated, and found staff selling bikes capable of these speeds telling customers it was a legal ‘grey area’ whether they needed to be insured and licensed.

In fact, according to the government, in Great Britain, if you’re 14 or over you don’t need a licence to ride electric bikes that meet certain requirements, and they don’t need to be registered, taxed or insured.

But those requirements are as follows:

  •     the bike must have pedals that can be used to propel it
  •     the electric motor shouldn’t be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph
  •     the motor shouldn’t have a maximum power output of more than 250 watts

Many e-biked currently on sale can hit speeds of 30mph, and those with speed limiters are easily hacked by their owners.

Ebikes with bigger motors and capable of faster speeds are classified as mopeds and must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), taxed and insured.

The Sunday times found the retailer 50Cycles selling a range of German Kalkhoff “speed ebikes” with 350-watt motors capable of speeds of up to 28mph.

A journalist posing as a shopper however was told that it was a “grey area” and that he was only aware of two customers who had registered their ebikes with the DVLA.

Company management have since said the staff will be retrained.

James FitzGerald, the owner of Justebikes, which has stores in London, Leicester and Leiston, Suffolk, told the paper that bikes modified to go faster than 15.5mph had not been safety tested at those speeds.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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