LEVA-EU explains why BAGB – MCIA statement on electric mountain bikes is incorrect

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LEVA-EU explains why BAGB – MCIA statement on electric mountain bikes is incorrect

The European side of LEVA, the Light Electric Vehicle Association, meaning electric bicycles etc, sent me this press release. It seeks to clarify a statement by "the UK trade associations BAGB and MCIA" concerning off-road electric mountain bikes. Apparently they're worried because those bikes are not regulated as are on-road electric bicycles.

There is an earlier related press release at: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/14316-europe-avere-warns-illegal-electric-bicycles-new-type-approval-enters-force-1-st-january

LEVA-EU explains why BAGB – MCIA statement on electric mountain bikes is incorrect

In a press release of 17 May, the UK trade associations BAGB and MCIA express their concerns about information on electric mountain bikes published by Bike Europe. The associations state: “This (information) notes that electric bikes intended for off-road use can avoid the requirement to be type approved before sale, even if they fall outside the strict limits on continuous rated power (250 W) and motor cutout speed (25 km/h) for an electric bike in the UK to be treated in law as a bicycle, not a motorbike.”

The full statement is here: http://www.bicycleassociation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Off-road-e-bikes-type-approval-MCIA-BA-PR-17-May-2017.pdf

Unfortunately, the BAGB and MCIA have it wrong, whilst the information published by Bike Europe is correct.

Electric bikes intended for off-road use can most certainly “avoid to be type-approved before sale”. As a matter of fact, they are explicitly excluded from European type-approval. This doesn’t mean that they can be categorized as a bicycle, but they cannot be categorized as a moped or a motorcycle either. They fall into a legal void and that is exactly the root of the problem.

Article 2(g) of Regulation 168/2013 stipulates the exclusion from type-approval of “(g) vehicles primarily intended for off-road use and designed to travel on unpaved surfaces”. If you are using your vehicle on-road, claiming to be on your way for use off-road, who is going to contest the fact that you are using your vehicle primarily “on unpaved surfaces”? The lack of any further technical specifications creates the opportunity to easily categorize an electric bike as intended for off-road use, thus avoiding compliance with the expensive type-approval or any other technical rules for that matter.

In 2012, as the European Commission was still drafting Regulation 168/2013 on type-approval, the European Twowheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA) officially pointed out the loophole to the European Commission, Parliament and Council. ETRA proposed to amend the exclusion, by adding that the exclusion did not apply to L1 and L3 vehicles. This proposal was opposed by a few organisations among which CONEBI, still COLIBI and COLIPED at the time. They did not agree with the conclusion that the draft created a loophole.

In the meantime, we have been notified of dealers who sell electric bikes that are not type-approved and who make their customers sign a paper, which states that the vehicle is not for use on public roads. This shows that the loophole is being used.

LEVA-EU believes that Article 2(g) does create a problem and therefore needs amending either by replacing the word “primarily” by “exclusively” or by specifying that the exclusion does not apply to L1 and L3-category vehicles.


The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) represents the strategic interests of light electric vehicle retailers, dealers, distributors, manufacturers and suppliers to promote the development, sale, and use of LEVs worldwide. LEVA-EU works for light electric vehicles in the European Union.

For further details, please contact LEV-EU Manager, Annick Roetynck, tel. +32 9 233 60 05, email leva-eu [at] telenet.be https://leva-eu.com/ - twitter @levaeurope

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