Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

A lad sitting on an "e-bike" overlooking a hillside with a path that's fading into low cloud.

When is a motorbike not a motorbike?

Why, when it’s an ‘electronically assisted pedal cycle’ of course. Or EAPC. Or e-bike.

Ah, what a glorious morning it was! Roseberry was draped in a luxurious blanket of cloud, obscuring any hint of beauty or interest. As I ascended Little Roseberry, I stumbled upon a lad indulging in a fag and soaking up the “atmosphere”. Apparently, he was riding an e-bike, but I had my doubts. He was quick to inform me that I should consult the police for confirmation. According to regulations, an EAPC must have pedals that can be used to propel it, but I must confess that I neglected to verify this detail in the heat of the moment. However, his choice of footwear — wellingtons — would have made pedalling a burdensome task. Maybe they had spd cleats.

The world of motorcycles has seen a marvellous opportunity in the electric revolution and is embracing it with open arms. The production of smaller, powerful electric trials bikes is gaining in popularity, blurring the lines with e-bikes. Perhaps intentionally so?

Last September, a manufacturer faced prosecution for producing 750W 20mph e-bikes and was ordered to recall them1Bowden, Alex. 2022. ‘Mate Bike Prosecuted for Its 750W 20mph E-Bikes and Told to Issue Recall’, Electric Bike Reviews, Buying Advice and News – Ebiketips <https://ebiketips.road.cc/content/news/mate-bike-prosecuted-for-its-750w-20mph-e-bikes-and-told-to-issue-recall-4005> [accessed 18 April 2023]. Personally, apart from being a bit chunkier, I fail to see any difference between that machine and a regular e-bike. Electric trials bikes are marketed as being lighter, less likely to break down, and offer immense torque with minimal maintenance needs than their petrol equivalents.

E-bikes are permitted on all bicycle routes as long as they have a maximum power output of 250 watts and can’t propel the bike at speeds exceeding 15½mph. Any e-bike that doesn’t comply with these regulations is considered an electric motorcycle and must be registered and taxed as such2Driver. 2019. ‘Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs) in Great Britain: Information Sheet’, GOV.UK (GOV.UK) <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrically-assisted-pedal-cycles-eapcs/electrically-assisted-pedal-cycles-eapcs-in-great-britain-information-sheet> [accessed 18 April 2023].

Like traditional bikes, e-bikes are welcome on Public Bridleways, but the landowner’s approval is required for use on private land. In this case, the lad was not on a Public Bridleway, and I’m willing to bet he didn’t have the National Trust’s blessing either.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no issues with e-bikes. In fact, I’ll probably own one myself one day when I’m no longer spry. However, I fear that inexperienced users without the necessary skills on rough terrain will push themselves too hard, leading to a disastrous accident.



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