Col Williams owns FLi Distribution who distribute KTM bikes, including their eBike range into the UK bike dealer network. Like many eBike brands KTM are riding the wave of growth in the ebike market right now, but Col is so worried that the bubble is about to burst that he’s written an open letter to all eBike dealers warning them of the dangers of so called ‘dongling’ of ebikes.
Dongling is the term used for the hack that removes the UK legal requirement for all eBikes to be restricted to 25kmh. Ebikes work by adding electrical power to the riders pedaling input in order to assist the rider in propelling the bike forward – this is where the term Pedalec comes from or ‘pedal assist’. It’s the all important distinction that defines an ebike and allows it to be classified apart from other powered vehicles like mopeds. As a result of the restriction eBikes remain classified as pedal cycles and so are exempt from registration, insurance and other forms of taxation. In short it’s what stops them from being motorbikes. By law, when an ebike exceeds 25kmh (16mph) the electric motor must stop providing power to the bike. A ‘dongled’ bike removes this limit allowing the motor to continue to ‘assist’ the rider beyond the 16mph threshold.
Williams is worried that the current trend in dongling risks a blanket ban on all ebikes, both on and off road.
“Currently Pedelec electric mountain bikes benefit from the same access rights as normal bicycles, and eBike customers can ride their bikes in the forests and at trail centres all over the UK. As we’re sure you’ll appreciate “dongl’ing” these bikes removes the speed restriction and in the eyes of the law turns the bicycles into a moped, thus meaning they are not allowed to be used anywhere where there is public access (on or offroad).”
Williams accuses some dealers of selling ebikes with these ‘dongles’ supplied.
“You must appreciate that there is no where in the UK these bikes can be used legally, and therefore any dealers selling them are promoting the illegal use of eBikes, and in many cases miss-selling products to customers who don’t know the risks they are taking.”
In particular he fears for an accident involving a ‘dongled’ ebike on Forestry Commission land which he fears would lead to a blanket ban at such trail centres.
” An eBike ban at these venues would kill the offroad eBike industry before its even really got started, so it’s in all our interest to take a responsible stance to ensure the sustainable future of our industry.”
He goes on to warn of the consequences for users of riding ‘dongled’ ebikes on the road which he cites could include fines and points on licences.
You can read his open letter in full here..