Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Simon Cowell reportedly considering suing electric bike firm after breaking back

“Death trap” bike with maximum power output of 15kW would be illegal to ride on UK roads

Simon Cowell is reportedly considering suing the makers of the 'electric bike' he was riding when he broke three vertebrae in his back in a fall at his home in Malibu, California in August. Described by a former employee of the company that supplied it as a “death trap” for people who are not trained how to use it, the bike is too powerful to be legally used on UK roads.

The reality TV mogul, aged 61, needed surgery for his injuries after breaking three vertebrae in his back when he fell from the Swind EB-01 bike as he tried it out in his courtyard.

> Simon Cowell breaks back in electric bike fall

Costing £16,500 plus taxes, the bike has been developed by UK-based Swindon Powertrain, which says on its website: “Delivering a staggering 15kW of electric power, this is the most technically advanced and powerful electric bicycle on the market.”

Capable of being ridden at speeds of up to 60mph, it falls outside current rules for e-bikes in the EU and the UK, which limit maximum power output to 250 watts, and the maximum assisted speed to 25 kilometres per hour (roughly 15.5 miles per hour).

Those rules also provide that an e-bike cannot be equipped with an independently operating throttle, ie one that engages without forward movement of the pedals.

As a result, the bike that Cowell was riding would be subject in the UK to the same rules relating to registration, insurance, licensing of the rider and roadworthiness as apply to motorcycles.

Swind EB 01

The Sun reports that a former employee of Swindon Powertrain told bosses that Cowell could “break his f*cking neck” if he attempted to ride it without training beforehand.

He said: “That thing is a death trap and should never have been sold to Simon without him being taught how to use it. It’s like trying to control a wild horse rearing up.”

Cowell and his staff have reportedly tried to contact Swindon Powertrain over the incident but are said to have been “stonewalled” and are considering options including suing the company over his injuries, medical expenses and loss of earnings.

The former employee said: “I’m surprised he hasn’t sued the sh*t out of them already. I said to my boss, ‘Are you showing Simon how to use this?’ He said he was just dropping it off and I said, ‘Are you serious?’”

The bike has three power settings, referred to as ‘maps’, and it is believed that Cowell may have engaged the highest one before starting to ride.

“They knew at the factory this was extremely dangerous and it was discussed,” the former employee said. “The only way to stop the bike flipping is to put your whole body over the front wheel.

“The first thing someone with no training is going to do is squeeze that accelerator and they are going to have an accident. When I heard about the crash, I knew straight away he had been on our bike.

“I was wracked with guilt and thought I could have said more — but was worried about my job.

“I said they should change the settings so you can’t go into the highest map until it is going a certain speed — but was just told that was the way it was.”

A spokesman for Cowell said: “Simon is understandably extremely concerned for other peoples’ safety in relation to this bike. We’ve been pressing the manufacturer about this and will continue to press them, including in relation to the claims of the former member of staff.”

> Simon Cowell was riding an 'electric motorbike' at the time of his accident, clarify the Bicycle Association

In response, Swindon Powertrain said: “With any device, it is important to read the user manual before attempting to operate, acknowledged by Mr Cowell himself.

“The EB-01 user manual includes a detailed process of how to familiarise oneself with the performance features and procedures to follow.”

The company insisted that it had “acted in good faith at all times,” adding that it is “in contact with Mr Cowell’s aides to progress this.”

According to the 2019 Sunday Times Rich List, Cowell is worth £385 million, with most of his wealth coming from developing the reality TV shows X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, with the formats exported to dozens of countries around the world.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment

53 comments

Avatar
Captain Badger | 3 years ago
2 likes
Road.cc wrote:

Described by a former employee of the company that supplied it as a “death trap” for people who are not trained how to use it....

And this differs from any other motorbike how?

Avatar
David9694 replied to Captain Badger | 3 years ago
2 likes

Maybe the conventional (petrol) motorbike gives you a bit of a warning "ruum, ruum", etc?

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to David9694 | 3 years ago
1 like
David9694 wrote:

Maybe the conventional (petrol) motorbike gives you a bit of a warning "ruum, ruum", etc?

Perhaps Mr Cowell was providing that bit of functionality....

Avatar
David9694 | 3 years ago
0 likes

m'lud, in concluding the claimant's submissions, the addition of a sticker to the handlebar at less than a penny to produce saying "do not sit on this product and say 'ok, let's see what this baby can do'" would have prevented the unfortunate accident  - yet the respondent has failed to take this simple, inexpensive step.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo replied to David9694 | 3 years ago
0 likes

"In considering the evidence that the claimant may have uttered the words 'watch this', all potential liability is void and we wish you a happy Christmas."

Avatar
Rick_Rude | 3 years ago
1 like

Served him right I'm afraid. It's an electric motorbike basically. Would you get on a motorbike with zero skills or protection ? Imagine getting a CR500 and whapping it full throttle then being surprised when you wake up in traction with a tube in your knob.

Avatar
Giles Pargiter | 3 years ago
0 likes

I have heard of Simon Cowell far as I know he is a very skillfull showman.There seem to be a lot of people here who resent him and his wealth for some reason, very strange as so many must be amongst those that contribute to his wealth, judging by their knowledge of him. Even stranger that no one seems to bother about millionaire prime ministers and politicians with off shore bank accounts who want our country to be an EU. off shore tax haven. So much for bashing Simon Cowell.

As for the "E-bike" itself: Having looked at the manufacturers web site and the youtube clip mentioned. It is more powerfull than most 125cc ICE. powered MOTORBIKES. It is presumably illegal on UK. roads because it is not sufficiently well designed/made to pass construction and use regs. One would be sitting on it almost over the rear axle with one's hands almost at shoulder height, I bet the front wheel would lift just pedalling it up a slope. This poor balance coupled to marketing it, mis-leadingly as an electric bicycle is bound to lead to accidents. IMO as the former employee said "a death trap". I hope Simon sues them for all he can before someone gets killed on it.

There are way better designs of electric motorcycles out there - designed by people who know what they are doing and selling them as MOTORCYCLES.

 

Avatar
MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
5 likes

Maybe people need to be responsible for understanding what they're buying, but manufacturers also need to be responsible for the safe use of what they're selling, and that responsibility underpins consumer protection law in both the US and the UK. Careful what you wish for if it involves putting all the responsibility for safety on the buyer.

I think Cowell could have a good case here, if as the former employee of Swindon Powertrain claims, the bike's response to someone blipping the throttle is to accelerate so hard it dumps you on your back unless you adopt an unusual riding position. That's not a reasonably foreseeable risk to a non-expert, and it's a direct consequence of the manufacturer shipping the bike with a power setting they knew behaved like that, which makes them culpable in law.

All that said, it's ludicrous that this thing has pedals at all. It's clearly a motorcycle. Presumably the other issue here is that California vehicle regulation class anything with pedals and an electric motor as an e-bike for which you don't need a motorcycle licence.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
3 likes

Looking at the video further down the page, the "cyclist" beating the ducati has to pretty much ride on the top tube with his one leg stretched backwards for balance. Anything Electric has massive torque which is why the Tesla's weighing a couple of tonnes could do 0-60 in a few seconds. 

However he has already stated he didn't read the manual before getting on AND there must have been someone who knew why they were spending 16k on a bike around if he didn't buy it himself. Will be interesting either way I suppose. 

Avatar
brooksby replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
1 like
MiserableBastard wrote:

Maybe people need to be responsible for understanding what they're buying, but manufacturers also need to be responsible for the safe use of what they're selling, and that responsibility underpins consumer protection law in both the US and the UK. Careful what you wish for if it involves putting all the responsibility for safety on the buyer.

Doesn't that hold true for all those shops here in the UK selling "actually they're illegal anywhere except on private land" e-scooters, too?

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
3 likes

Caveat Emptor - a rich fool and their money are easily parted. 

Anyone who blips the throttle on a motorbike will experience exactly the same reaction, the fact that the US has chosen to allow motorbike level performance from an eBike is not the manufacturers fault.

Cowell should have RTFM.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
1 like

What has the US got to do with it? The bike was from a UK manufacturer (Swindon) and as it was ridden on private property, the legality of it was moot. The accident could just as easily have happened in the UK (providing that the constant rain didn't prevent it from working).

Yes, Cowell should have RTFM, but he didn't deserve to have a possibly life changing injury just from that. I'm certainly no fan of him and I'm pretty sure he doesn't need the money, but maybe he's performing a public service by ensuring that other people don't have similar injuries. It sounds to me like the bike should have had some kind of progressive throttle to deal with all the torque.

Avatar
Gus T | 3 years ago
3 likes

Reminds me of the old 50cc bikes produced by the Japanese, technically mo-ped but the pedals could be locked in place and used as footrests, just another way to get around the law. Hope he loses and has massive costs, I'm fed up of these self entitled cockwombles who think they know everything and then cry when they mess up.

Avatar
Bmblbzzz replied to Gus T | 3 years ago
1 like

With 15kW, this is more powerful than a 125 let alone a moped.

Avatar
Gus T replied to Bmblbzzz | 3 years ago
1 like

I was drawing a design comparison not a power comparison but in my day we didn't have the power restrictions there are now, so there were plenty of tuning kits for 50's & 125's.

Avatar
Pilot Pete | 3 years ago
4 likes

It does seem somewhat bizarre that individuals feel they can sue the manufacturer for (presumably) negligence of some sort - as in "you were negligent in not stopping me from hurting myself due to my personal arrogance and incompetence."

How is this any different from someone buying, for example, a super car capable of 0-60 in 3secs and a with a top speed of 200+mph? If they then go on to crash it (which an awful lot do as the car is well beyond their ability level) I've not heard of the car company being sued.

I have no idea, but suspect the instruction manual for said bike has warnings and disclaimers all over it - Jesus, every bloody item you buy has pages and pages of warnings and 'donts', such as "This toaster is not designed to be used in the bath". Surely these are all written as some sort of legal mitigation should an incompetent user use the item out with its design parameters? 

So with that in mind one can only assume that the manufacturer puts warnings about the power and acelleration of this machine in the handbook alongside recommendations of suitable training and tuition before using it? If so, I guess Cowell is just using his privileged position to recover his self imposed losses and to gain some more publicity?

PP

Avatar
PRSboy replied to Pilot Pete | 3 years ago
1 like

I think there was an action against Porsche, after an owner killed himself on a race circuit in a Carrera GT.  Paul Walker's family were also suing Porsche after he died in a CGT, not sure what came of the cases.

 

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Pilot Pete | 3 years ago
5 likes

Warning on a packet of peanuts "May contain nuts."

There's no level of warnings that can cope with the sheer unbeatable human stupidity.

Avatar
Jetmans Dad replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
5 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Warning on a packet of peanuts "May contain nuts."

There's no level of warnings that can cope with the sheer unbeatable human stupidity.

Yeah ... but you do understand that the peanuts themselves are not "nuts", which is why a peanut allergy is a different beast to a nut allergy, hence the warning that there may be nut contamination in a packet of peanuts processed in the same facility as actual nuts?

Right?

Avatar
arowland replied to Jetmans Dad | 3 years ago
1 like
Jetmans Dad wrote:

...  a peanut allergy is a different beast to a nut allergy...

Thank you for explaining that. I had always wondered why people with a nut allergy reacted badly to eating a legume just because it had 'nut' in the name. I used to wonder whether French people were immune (cacahouète) but Germans also suffered (Ednuss) -- now I know. Two different allergies. Surprising the number of people who say nut allergy when they mean peanut allergy though.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to arowland | 3 years ago
0 likes
arowland wrote:
Jetmans Dad wrote:

...  a peanut allergy is a different beast to a nut allergy...

Thank you for explaining that. I had always wondered why people with a nut allergy reacted badly to eating a legume just because it had 'nut' in the name. I used to wonder whether French people were immune (cacahouète) but Germans also suffered (Ednuss) -- now I know. Two different allergies. Surprising the number of people who say nut allergy when they mean peanut allergy though.

The whole nut classification is ridiculously confusing.

Real nuts are things like acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans etc.

Meanwhile, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, coconuts etc. are not nuts.

Avatar
brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
arowland wrote:
Jetmans Dad wrote:

...  a peanut allergy is a different beast to a nut allergy...

Thank you for explaining that. I had always wondered why people with a nut allergy reacted badly to eating a legume just because it had 'nut' in the name. I used to wonder whether French people were immune (cacahouète) but Germans also suffered (Ednuss) -- now I know. Two different allergies. Surprising the number of people who say nut allergy when they mean peanut allergy though.

The whole nut classification is ridiculously confusing.

Real nuts are things like acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans etc.

Meanwhile, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, coconuts etc. are not nuts.

Brazil nuts are seeds, I think?

(does anyone else remember the 'list of nuts' sequence from the film 'Best in Show', by the Spinal Tap people?)

Avatar
Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
1 like

Have you been listening to 'The Unbelieveable Truth' ?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p044c670

 

Also

Richard Osman - Nuts

- The Dutch call peanut butter, "pindakaas", which literally translates as, "peanut cheese". Found by Susan.

- Some members of the Irish Church used to believe that geese were nuts that grew on trees. It was believed the geese developed inside nutshells on the side of trees along seashores, then the nuts fell into the sea and became shellfish, and finally the geese hatched from barnacles. This was believed until the end of the 18th century, and in County Kerry people believed you could eat geese on a Friday as they believed they were fish. Found by David.

- In the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, instead of using CGI director Tim Burton had a team of eight handlers train 40 squirrels over 10 months to crack nuts for the movie. Found by Susan.

- When you make butter out of nuts you call it, "nutter". Successfully smuggled.

- Leonardo da Vinci invented a horse-powered nutcracker. Successfully smuggled.

 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
0 likes

No, should I have been? Is there going to be a test?

Avatar
Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
1 like

David Mitchell does a big rant about it - see my edited post

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
1 like

.

Avatar
Miller | 3 years ago
2 likes

Well, it's an electric motorbike, isn't it. There's only a vestigial connection to cycling but that in itself could be dangerous if it associates this machine with the safety of unpowered cycling. Because this thing looks massively dangerous for an inexperienced and/or unsuspecting rider. On t'other hand, if you know what you're doing, it does look like fun.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

Hasn't he had much publicity lately?

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

Did you forget you had posted this yesterday as well?

I reckong helmets needed to protect short term memory in cyclists. yes

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
2 likes
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

Did you forget you had posted this yesterday as well?

I reckong helmets needed to protect short term memory in cyclists. yes

Well, I thought it was worth repeating.  yes

More water with the home made wine perhaps; Apple and Pear, very, very good; 14% no less.

Pages

Latest Comments