eBikes Could Be Banned – Says UK Distributor

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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.

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Don’t dongle it!

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.”

Read our eBike vs Strava story here

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..

Mark Alker

Singletrack Publisher

What Mark doesn’t know about social media isn’t worth knowing and his ability to balance “The Stack” is bested only by his agility on a snowboard. Graphs are what gets his engine revving, at least they would if his car wasn’t electric, and data is what you’ll find him pouring over in the office. Mark enjoys good whisky, sci-fi and the latest Apple gadget, he is also the best boss in the world (Yes, he is paying me to write this).

Comments (9)

    Are we concerned about this? Obviously the uk dist is…

    Are we concerned?
    “dongl’ing”
    “dongle’d”
    It’s criminal!

    I’m ‘buggere’d’ if I’m ‘read’ing’ up with that without ‘grumbl’ing’. Dongled. Dongling. Put the apostrophes down and step away.

    Yay, a great time to have typos in my own post. *hmph*

    ‘Dongling’ will just go underground… the Dongles of Dongledom common are we.
    Why 16mph? that’s a snails pace when you’re in the woods

    16mph is the limit of the assistance, you can pedal as fast as you want but you can’t just hit the button and zoom off. Fairly sensible really. From a legal and safety point of view it makes a lot of sense. If you want something that goes faster with no effort get something that has rules about brakes and the rest.

    “Why 16mph? that’s a snails pace when you’re in the woods”

    Because it’s nothing to do with being in the woods. The regulations are there from a highway point of view.

    If you buy a road legal car, tune it up, remove the lights, fit slick tyres, and so on, what you have is a non-road legal car. You can’t use it on the road, but you can use it on land where you have the landowner’s permission. Same for e-bikes: if you buy one and modify it, you end up with something which isn’t road legal but (AFAICT) neither the act of modifying it nor that of using it where the relevant vehicle legislation doesn’t apply are illegal.

    I’m not sure where rights of way fit in: I would have thought that a dongled ebike would be permissible on a BOAT but not on a bridleway, but I’m not so sure on the former at least and unfortunately can’t be bothered to check the relevant legislation right now 😉

    Rode an e-bike, briefly, once (get my apology in early) the temptation to go faster would be irresistible…who wouldn’t want that? Make em so that can’t be modded.

    “Dongling is the term used for the hack that removes the UK legal requirement for all eBikes to be restricted to 25kmh.”

    You might want to rephrase that ^^^ sentence, as it suggests a dongle is a legal solution.

    I think you meant:

    “Dongling is the term used for the hack that illegally circumvents the UKs requirement for all eBikes to be restricted to 25kmh.”

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