Is it worth the hassle to own a speed pedelec in the UK like this gorgeous top of the range Stromer ST5?

grey Stromer ST5 stromer st5 speed pedelecside profile

A quick reminder for newbies to eBikes.  A Class 1 eBike or standard ebike (known as a pedelec) is a bicycle that uses a battery and a motor to assist you only whilst pedaling. The motor is limited to 250 watts and can assist you up to a maximum speed of 15.5mph (25km/h) when it will then cut out. A standard eBike is treated in law as a regular bicycle.

A speed pedelec or s-pedelec or “fast ebike” is a Class 3 bicycle that also uses a battery and a motor to assist you only whilst pedaling. However it is not limited to a 250 watt motor and can reach a maximum speed of 28mph (45km/h). Once it reaches the maximum speed the motor will cut off.

As there is no specific category for speed pedelecs within the DVLA rules, s-pedelecs are treated in law as light mopeds. This means the following. You need to have:

Paperwork for you and your speed pedelec

  1. Drivers licence – full driving licence obtained before 2001. 

    If you passed your driving test after 2001 you will also have to complete a motorbike Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course which you have to pay for.

  2. Certificate of Conformity (COC) that conforms to 168/2013 EU regulations
  3. The following forms need to be completed for the DVLA  
    • V267 new vehicle import pack (“declaration of newness”)  
    • V55/4 licence application for new vehicle and registration declaration
    • The bike needs to be registered with the DVLA under the classification “Type approval classification L1e Light Moped” which you pay for
  4. If you don’t have a CoC the eBike may have to be tested under the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval scheme (MSVA)  Approval and registration can take up to six weeks.

Additional Costs for the Road

  1. Apply for road tax – which is currently exempt.
  2. Insurance which is quite difficult to obtain and can be more expensive than insuring an actual moped.
  3. Need to get a yearly MOT after the first 3 years even though garages aren’t really equipped to check out bikes
  4. Must wear a certified moped or motorbike helmet even though there are helmets specifically designed, manufactured and certified NTA 8776 for speed pedelecs. The only one that would be acceptable in the UK is the Cratoni Vigor helmet which is certified as both a speed pedelec and moped helmet available from Amazon. Of course there’s nothing to stop you wearing an NTA 8776 helmet on a standard eBike.
stromer st5 speed pedelec

Additional eBike Requirements

The bike itself must have the following
  1. Rear number plate on the bike
  2. A brake light
  3. A headlamp
  4. A wing mirror
  5. A horn

Even though a speed pedelec looks and rides like a bicycle, you’re not legally allowed to ride them in parks, shared paths or use the cycle lanes. You have to stick to the national speed limit. Super fit cyclists on regular bicycles or standard eBikes can exceed the speed limit especially downhill with impunity – but hey.

With increasing speed limitations around UK cities especially in London of  just 20mph it can be a challenge to even make use of the extra 13mph on an s-pedelec.

Conclusion

So is it worth the hassle of all that paperwork, the extra few thousand for the bike itself – because let’s face it good eBikes are expensive anyway and s-pedelecs are even more expensive – just to eke out an extra 4.5mph in 20mph zones and an extra 13mph on less speed restricted roads with all the risks of competing with cars, trucks and buses?

Who knows? Maybe if I had a spare £10,000 for the Stromer ST5 and lived in the countryside I might convince myself that the hassle is well worth it. But for a complete beginner to eBikes? Not so sure!

Maybe that’s why there’s been such an upsurge in DIY ebikes on both sides of the Atlantic. Many riders are now building and converting their bikes to powerful eBikes and just not bothering to register them with the authorities. And so long as they ride them with consideration to other road users, who can blame them? But at least wear a proper eBike helmet.

For DIY guides on building your own eBike have a look at the eBike Conversions for Beginners series in the box below.

eBike Conversions for Beginners series

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