BikeHub.co.uk, the website of the UK bicycle levy, is owned by the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders. In an introductory article about electric bikes on that website, the Bicycle Association's expert on rules and regulations makes it clear that throttle-controlled e-bikes shouldn't be sold by bona fide UK suppliers and bike shops, citing EU rules.
However, many suppliers, a UK electric bike trade organisation and a Brussels-based two wheel retail association disagree with the BA's expert, citing EU rules.
The BA's expert is Alan Cater, who has spent many years sat on EU tech committees on behalf of the Bicycle Association.
In his expert opinion, throttle-controlled e-bikes – so-called 'twist and go' bikes – exist in a grey area, legally speaking, so it would be best for them not to be sold in the UK.
Cater has no such problems with pedal-assist e-bikes, the sort that give a boost to pedalling, also known as pedelecs.
According to Cater, the UK's Department for Transport is said to be close to harmonisation with EU electric bike regulations and, in future, all e-bikes sold in the UK will likely be pedal-assist only.
Organisations such as BEBA – the British Electric Bicycle Association dispute Cater's view and so does ETRA, the European Two Wheel Retailers' Association, which represents motorcycle and bicycle retailers across Europe (but not the UK). Some e-bike companies – those which sell throttle-controlled bicycles – also dispute Cater's view.
All of the sides in this dispute over what is a legal e-bike for resale in the UK have been given space on BikeBiz.com to air their views.