Is a backlash brewing?
The owner of Fli Distribution, the sales agent for KTM and DT Swiss, has warned that dealers who remove the speed limitations on ebikes could cause the death of the off-road ebike industry.
Ebikes are legally required to be speed limited to 15mph (25 kph) at which point the motor will no longer provide assistance. This means that off-road ebikes are not currently classed as motorised vehicles and therefore benefit from the same access rights as normal mountain bikes.
In an open letter he posted on LinkedIn, Col Williams accused a “small minority of irresponsible dealers” of fitting dongles to their bikes to overcome this speed limit therefore putting their customers, and the future of off-road ebikes, at risk. With a dongle fitted, the bikes are classed as mopeds and cannot be legally used anywhere.
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The letter claimed that customers, “do not understand the risks they are taking riding a dongle’d ebike”. It claims the risks could include: points on a license for using an uninsured, untaxed, unMOT’d vehicle; liability in the event of an accident and an impact on the industry as a whole.
The letter said: “The automatic reaction of the decision makers will be to ban all eBikes, because they can’t simply ban the illegal ones, because by definition they are already banned. A ban at Forestry Commission land and trail centres would kill the offroad eBike industry before it has even really got started, so it’s in all our interest to take a responsible stance to ensure the sustainable future of our industry.”
Williams is worried that this will also jepardise the positive effect of ebikes on many people’s lives. He wrote: “eBikes are having a huge beneficial impact on the lives of countless individuals who are enjoying the access owning an eBike brings.”
Williams finished the letter by calling on ebike brands to refuse to supply to any dealers who actively promote the use of dongles.
You can read the letter in full here