Are converted bikes legal?

aardvark5

Pedelecer
Jan 25, 2014
220
77
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ST3 Blurton
I'm going back 7 years to when I first tried a converted Trek bike but the shop owner who converted it made it clear that the bike wasn't legal to ride on the roads because it hadn't passed certain tests.
He put the responsibility in my hands, so worrying a bit I went to another shop and bought a Cyclotricity Stealth because he only did converted bikes.
A year later after many mechanical problems, I ended up converting two Trek bikes (250 watt) and since then have thought I've been riding illegaly.
About 3 years ago I got knocked off my bike and the Coppers took it away to be tested but were only concerned it was 250 watt and gave it back.

Anyway, was I told lies 7 years ago or was there something in what he told me?
 

vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
6,892
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Basildon
7 years ago, they were probably illegal if they were 250w because the maximum allowed at the time was 200w, though even the police were using 250w bikes then. Under today's legislation, they would have been legal. To be 100% compliant, you need a plate on the bike with the max speed, manufacturer and power, but not to have that doesn't mean it's illegal.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
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They can't test the motors continuous wattage, all they can do is check for a a rating sticker and maybe test the assisted cut off point.
 

aardvark5

Pedelecer
Jan 25, 2014
220
77
62
ST3 Blurton
I think you're missing my point.

This is regarding official off-the-shelf made eBikes that have been put through proper tests by the makers and people like us converting any bike.
The guy who told me earned a living converting bikes but before a conversion he would tell his customers that the bike wasn't really road legal so be careful, this is why I went to another shop and wasted my money on an off-the-shelf properly made eBike.
I'm not arguing that he was correct, I'm asking was he correct to tell people that converting any old bike was not legal because it hasn't gone through all the safety tests?
Over the years I have passed this information to others when I've helped them convert their bikes but was I wrong to say that?
It has just cropped up on a Facebook group so hence my question.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,505
23,332
I'm going back 7 years to when I first tried a converted Trek bike but the shop owner who converted it made it clear that the bike wasn't legal to ride on the roads because it hadn't passed certain tests.
He put the responsibility in my hands, so worrying a bit I went to another shop and bought a Cyclotricity Stealth because he only did converted bikes.
A year later after many mechanical problems, I ended up converting two Trek bikes (250 watt) and since then have thought I've been riding illegaly.
About 3 years ago I got knocked off my bike and the Coppers took it away to be tested but were only concerned it was 250 watt and gave it back.

Anyway, was I told lies 7 years ago or was there something in what he told me?
Technically all kit created e-bikes are illegal because every motorised vehicle on the roads has to have a specific approval. The only specific approval for pedelecs is solely for manufactured e-bikes.

However, it's nothing to worry about. Use this link and then scroll rightdown to the Kit Motors subject.

Afterwards see also this link for further clarification.
.
 
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aardvark5

Pedelecer
Jan 25, 2014
220
77
62
ST3 Blurton
Technically all kit created e-bikes are illegal because every motorised vehicle on the roads has to have a specific approval. The only specific approval for pedelecs is solely for manufactured e-bikes.

However, it's nothing to worry about. Use this link and then scroll rightdown to the Kit Motors subject.

Afterwards see also this link for further clarification.
.
That's the answer, much appreciated.
 
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jimriley

Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2020
126
69
Hmm, so I'm not allowed to do what I did as a lad, the Pony Express mount, using the throttle to set off. I'd better stop it then.
 
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aardvark5

Pedelecer
Jan 25, 2014
220
77
62
ST3 Blurton
Hmm, so I'm not allowed to do what I did as a lad, the Pony Express mount, using the throttle to set off. I'd better stop it then.
If I hadn't got a throttle to help me get started it's possible I could fall over.
I need both knees replacing, one got cancelled in April because of Covid, and I would find it nearly impossible to pedal from a standing start.
Once I'm on the bike I can easily get up to 20+ mph past the 15.5 mph threshold, when I get off I have to get my walking stick out :)
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,505
23,332
Hmm, so I'm not allowed to do what I did as a lad, the Pony Express mount, using the throttle to set off. I'd better stop it then.
If I hadn't got a throttle to help me get started it's possible I could fall over.
I need both knees replacing, one got cancelled in April because of Covid, and I would find it nearly impossible to pedal from a standing start.
Once I'm on the bike I can easily get up to 20+ mph past the 15.5 mph threshold, when I get off I have to get my walking stick out :)
Just carry on using your throttles to set off, no-one is going to prosecute for it, just so long as you avoid mowing people down, injuring or killing them. That does tend to annoy.
.
 

vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
6,892
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Basildon
If I hadn't got a throttle to help me get started it's possible I could fall over.
I need both knees replacing, one got cancelled in April because of Covid, and I would find it nearly impossible to pedal from a standing start.
Once I'm on the bike I can easily get up to 20+ mph past the 15.5 mph threshold, when I get off I have to get my walking stick out :)
Lets make it simple by actual case law. I have only ever been able to find one case where someone was prosecuted for riding an illegal bike that involved a woman, who rode a sit-on electric scooter, the type that you can actually scoot, not like a motor scooter.

From the court transcripts, the judge asked simple questions in line with the published law at the time:
Is it limited to 12 mph? Yes
is the motor rated at 200w or less? Yes
Does it have pedals? Yes and no.
There followed an argument about whether the scooter could be propelled on the road at a safe speed by its pedals. They decided no, so she was convicted. The pedals were two off-set bolts welded to the very small front wheel.

This is what will happen if you get prosecuted, and these are the rules below that they'll apply, so the judge will ask similar questions to determine the legality:

An EAPC must have pedals that can be used to propel it.
It must show either:
  • the power output
  • the manufacturer of the motor
It must also show either:
  • the battery’s voltage
  • the maximum speed of the bike
Its electric motor:
  • must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
  • should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph

Note that there is nothing about throttles not being allowed.

Technically, nearly all OEM electric bikes would fail on the power requirement, since most are in the range 300w to 500w max output power; however, that's a mistake on the government website. it should say "rated power", not "maximum output power", but you'd have to convince the judge on that.

If you want to research that case, it's Winter v Director of Public Prosecutions 2002.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,505
23,332
Note that there is nothing about throttles not being allowed.
That's because that case law and the Judge's error are historic from when the law was very different. To be a legal pedelec within case law today it has to comply with the exemption from being a motor vehicle in the Two and Three Wheeled Motor Vehicles Regulation 168/2013, now also wholly UK law in the Great Repeal Bill of 2019.

That exemption (h) requires that no power can be applied without first pedalling and continuing to pedal for assist power to continue. Therefore a throttle which acts in all circumstances is illegal.

Nor can a Walk Assist throttle be used for setting off, since that can only be used as a pedestrian. Case law has ruled that a pedestrian with a bicycle but aboard the bike in any way, including scooting it with a foot on a pedal, is not a pedestrian, as ruled by Waller L J in the Court of Appeal, (Crank v Brooks [1980] RTR 441).

There is of course nothing illegal in a throttle which regulates the amount of available power while pedalling.
 
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Bonzo Banana

Pedelecer
Sep 29, 2019
79
37
I don't think the law is particularly good in this instance and most of the companies providing ebike systems operate outside it. I think the EU law states continous power should be 250W or less but many of the motors will happily work at 400W without problems on mid-drive ebikes in fact the same motors may be sold as higher wattage in some countries. Peak power can go above 700W there seems as many grey areas with pre-configured ebikes as kits. You'd think being limited to up to 15.5mph while pedalling assistance would be enough, easy for the police to check and wouldn't be detrimental to heavy riders, disabled riders or tandems etc. They could set a weight limit that is realistic and that is it. Just three checks; pedal assist, speed and weight. Maybe another factor they should add is acceleration speed so it isn't excessive and would be safe for ebikes sharing paths with pedestrians. Again would be simple for the police to check, whether a ebike could travel a certain short distance in too short a time. The police and courts aren't really setup to deal with electrical specifications. Hopefully we can make a UK specific ebike law that shares more with the US than the EU, I feel like the sensible place for the law to be is somewhere in the middle.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,505
23,332
I don't think the law is particularly good in this instance and most of the companies providing ebike systems operate outside it. I think the EU law states continous power should be 250W or less but many of the motors will happily work at 400W without problems on mid-drive ebikes in fact the same motors may be sold as higher wattage in some countries. Peak power can go above 700W there seems as many grey areas with pre-configured ebikes as kits. You'd think being limited to up to 15.5mph while pedalling assistance would be enough, easy for the police to check and wouldn't be detrimental to heavy riders, disabled riders or tandems etc. They could set a weight limit that is realistic and that is it. Just three checks; pedal assist, speed and weight. Maybe another factor they should add is acceleration speed so it isn't excessive and would be safe for ebikes sharing paths with pedestrians. Again would be simple for the police to check, whether a ebike could travel a certain short distance in too short a time. The police and courts aren't really setup to deal with electrical specifications. Hopefully we can make a UK specific ebike law that shares more with the US than the EU, I feel like the sensible place for the law to be is somewhere in the middle.
Some of this already exists in the EU law we apply.

The EU and UK technical standards are set out in EN15194. That does not set a maximum power of 250 watts, it merely requires that a compliant motor can supply 250 watts continuously without technical failure. As you can see, that is widely misunderstood and misinterpreted.

Also EN15194 includes an optional acceleration test of power.

All weight limits were removed by the 2015 amendment to EAPC law since they were unhelpful and obstructive to transport development, so I don't see those returning anytime.

In any case I don't see us changing the law and such a change wouldn't bring the desired result since our market is too small. The e-bike makers would continue to make EU style bikes with some concession to the USA market and just ignore us. Other countries who've tried to make their own different law have found the same.
.
 
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Edward Elizabeth

Pedelecer
Aug 10, 2020
63
84
Central England
They can't test the motors continuous wattage, all they can do is check for a a rating sticker and maybe test the assisted cut off point.
As a technical exercise it's not terribly difficult to do. However, unless someone has been badly hurt or killed then I doubt they'd go to the effort and expense.

Or they could just email the manufacturer of the motor and ask them, which costs nothing.
 

vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
6,892
2,651
Basildon
I think the EU law states continous power should be 250W or less but many of the motors will happily work at 400W without problems on mid-drive ebikes in fact the same motors may be sold as higher wattage in some countries. Peak power can go above 700W there seems as many grey areas with pre-configured ebikes as kits.
Your thinking is not correct. There is no limit on continuous power. It's the rated power that's limited by the regulation, and there's no regulation nor test for how the rated power should be determined, except to determine that the motor hasn't been over-rated.