Month: November 2019

UK Law: Are electric bikes legal?

Are electric bikes legal? Do you need a licence to ride one? Do they need to be insured? Do ebikes get taxed? These are all valid and very common questions that we receive. Many people want to buy an electric bike, but they’re worried about the legality of them. Unfortunately, these aren’t simple “yes” or “no” questions, but in this article, we hope to clear up any uncertainty.

Most electric bikes, such as our eTura and Furo X, are officially classed as Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPC) in the eyes of the government. EAPCs are legal to ride in England, Wales, and Scotland for anybody over the age of 14. Of course, being legal to use in public isn’t the same as being legal to ride without a licence or insurance – cars are legal to use on public highways for those over 17 years old, but you must have a licence, pay road tax, and be insured. In the case of EAPCs, however, you do not need a licence, to pay tax, or be insured.

You can ride electric bikes anywhere you would ride a regular pedal bike. This means they can be ridden on public highways but not pavements and must follow driving customs and road signs at all times. Riders of EAPCs must also obey the highway code and use front and rear lights when riding between sunset and sunrise. Failure to follow these rules and customs can result in serious fines.

 

 

What qualifies as an EAPC?

In order for an electric bike to qualify as an EAPC, it must meet certain criteria. Unsurprisingly, it must have pedals and the pedals must be in use for the electric motor to activate and provide assistance. If the electric motor can be activated without pedalling, for example with a throttle or switch (often called “twist & go”), then the vehicle is not an EAPC.

EAPCs must clearly display either the maximum speed of the vehicle or the battery’s voltage, and they must also display either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor. The power output of the motor cannot exceed 250 watts, and must not provide assistance when the bike is travelling at more than 25kpm (15.5mph). EAPCs may have two or more wheels, so it’s possible to have an electronically-assisted tricycle. If an electric bike does not fit these criteria, then different rules may apply to it.

 

furo x EAPC bike

 

 

Electric Bikes that are not EAPCs

An electric bike that is faster than the above specifications, i.e. it provides assistance when travelling faster than 25kph (15.5mph) then it is classed as a moped or motorcycle in the eyes on the UK government. This means it must be registered, taxed, insured, and you must have a driving licence to ride one. You’re also legally required to wear a motorcycle helmet when riding one on public roads.

If the electric bike’s motor can be activated without pedalling, it also fails to meet the EAPC standard. For instance, an electric scooter is classed as a Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV) and is therefore illegal for use on public highways and pavements in the UK. PLEVs are, however, legal in many other countries in Europe and some states in America (hence their popularity in Paris, Madrid, and San Francisco).

 

 

Exceptions to the rule

There are some bikes with a “twist & go” throttle that are exceptions to this rule. Some electric bikes, including our entire range, have a throttle that is limited to speeds of 6kph (3.7mph); the reason for this throttle is to help those who struggle to begin cycling – it helps them get going. Once 6kph is reached, the throttle will cut out unless the rider starts pedalling. These vehicles are classed as EAPCs and are fully legal to ride without a licence, tax, and insurance.

The laws surrounding personal transport can be confusing and are often changed to meet new demands and cater to new transport trends. We hope that the UK follows other countries around the world and legalises the use of PLEVs so that our electric scooter – the Fuze – can be enjoyed beyond just private land. The good news is that all of our electric bikes – the eTura, the Furo X, and the Sierra – are legal to use in the UK and Europe as if they were normal pedal bikes. Our electric bikes are capable of reaching higher speeds than the legal limit for public roads and can be modified if you wish to ride on private land or in countries with more liberal restrictions.

Are electric bikes environmentally friendly?

Yes – electric bikes offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to driving a car, motorbike, or scooter. Whether you ride a regular or folding electric bike, you’ll not only improve your physical and mental health, but you’ll also probably reduce your carbon footprint. When you arrive at the office in the morning on your electric bike, having avoided the stop and start of the morning rush hour traffic, you can be confident that you’re contributing to the protection of the environment. Here are the main reasons why electric bikes are good for the environment.

 

 

Zero emissions

Electric bikes help you to reach your destination faster than a traditional bike with the aid of a motor, powered by a lithium-ion battery. The main environmental benefit of this battery-powered propulsion is that it does not emit any harmful emissions.

Air pollution is a significant problem in many of the UK’s cities, but it’s most serious in London. Despite measures taken to help clean up the capital’s air, it’s estimated that about 2 million Londoners are living in areas with illegally high levels of toxic fumes. The most prominent is nitrous oxide, emitted mainly from diesel cars – this noxious gas is damaging to the respiratory system, and contributes to an estimated 9,400 premature deaths every year as a result of bad air quality in London.

An electric bike does not emit any fumes, so riding one will contribute to fresher air (especially in urban areas) whilst helping you to get in shape.

 

 

Batteries

All of FuroSystems’ electric bikes use lithium-ion batteries. While there are legitimate concerns around the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries, they are the best option currently available. David Deak, chief technical officer of Lithium Americas and former Tesla employee sums up the situation well – “In the short term, the CO2 footprint from (lithium) hard rocks will be less than ideal – but it is still extremely important in offsetting the CO2 emissions that otherwise would come from internal combustion engines.”

While hydrogen cells might propel the bikes of the future, for the time being, lithium batteries are the most environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Our batteries are rechargeable, durable, and have a range of up to 75 km per charge, meaning you can reach your destination without breaking a sweat.

 

 

Charging an electric bike

Electric bikes need to be charged regularly to help you whizz around the city streets. Whilst you’re helping to protect the environment just by riding an electric bike, you can further improve your green credentials by making some important decisions on how to charge its battery.

Renewable energy now accounts for around 33% of the National Grid’s total output and is set to increase. Due to the growing demand for clean energy, switching suppliers to a provider of renewable energy is not as expensive as it once was. If you make the jump to a renewable energy provider, you could be powering your bike with solar, wind, hydroelectric, or tidal energy.

A useful tip is to charge your bike overnight – demand for energy generally decreases during the quiet of the night, meaning that the power supplied is usually excess power produced by the National Grid. Using this energy is more environmentally friendly and cheaper than at other times of the day.

 

 

A green ride

Riding an electric bike is an environmentally-friendly way of getting from A to B. With zero emissions and a battery that can be charged over and over again with energy from renewable sources, the electric bike will help you to reduce your carbon footprint whilst improving your fitness. FuroSystems offers a range of electric bikes to suit different needs – why not check the eTura, the world’s lightest and most compact folding e-bike, or the Sierra, our mighty electric mountain bike? We have something for everyone!

5 Benefits of electric scooters

Disclaimer: Currently, electric scooters are not legal for use on pavements and public roads in the UK (without licence and insurance). The below advice applies to cities such as Paris and Madrid where they are currently legal. We hope the UK follows suit in the near future.

Electric scooters have become a symbol of modern urban transport; they’re a common sight in big cities such as Paris, Madrid, and San Francisco. The trend looks set to move in only one direction – upwards! While we think this recent boom in popularity is excellent, we can’t deny that there are many who remain unconvinced. Do you consider yourself in this category? Perhaps we can change your mind!

 

1. Portability

Rivalled only by folding bikes, electric scooters are perhaps the most portable mode of powered personal transport. Many people would like assisted forms of transport but find them too cumbersome or too technical to be practical. Motorbikes are great, but you need a license and insurance to ride one. Push Bikes are excellent, but you’ll often need to leave it chained up outside and at risk of being stolen, and they’re too large to be considered truly portable. Electric scooters are light and fold up, allowing for easy storage and portability. You can simply pull it along much like you would a small suitcase, meaning you can take it virtually anywhere. Then, when the time comes, you simply unfold it and you’re on your way!

 

electric scooter portability

 

2. Eco-friendly

We can’t write an article about the pros of electric scooters without mentioning the environment. The era-defining geopolitical story of our time is climate change. Our collective search for more environmentally-friendly modes of transport and reduced emissions is seeing some progress, with electric scooters being one of the frontrunners so far. They only use a small amount of electricity and don’t emit any emissions, which is better for the air quality in our cities and for the lungs of their residents. As a reliable, affordable, and eco-friendly way of travelling, it doesn’t get any better than an electric scooter.

 

 

 

3. Noise pollution

Travelling around a city and silence never go hand-in-hand. Virtually any method of travelling around comes with a significant amount of noise pollution – cars, motorbikes, buses, trains – they’re all incredibly loud. Even walking can be noisy if you have hard-soled shoes on! Enter the electric scooter; a whisper-quiet mode of transport that’s the fastest and quietest way to get from A to B.

We’re sure you or someone you know has had a neighbour who works very early or very late hours, and when they arrive home late at night or early in the morning, the sound of their car or motorbike is a jarring disturbance. If they had an electric scooter, you wouldn’t hear a thing.

 

4. Balance + movement

Another struggle mankind is facing today is our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Many of us work in offices or jobs that are largely seated, and most of us will drive or take a train to and from work. Throw in modern communication technology (FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, etc) allowing us to socialise without actually going anywhere, and movement becoming less and less necessary, and people struggling to find the time to exercise. With an electric scooter, for smaller journeys that you would usually drive or use public transport, you can get your body moving. Of course, we know riding an electric scooter isn’t a replacement for a workout, but it will activate your core and improve your balance. Using a scooter is a great way of substituting a chair for something a little more active.

 

 

5. Safety

Every mode of transport comes with an element of risk. When you travel any faster than walking pace, your risk of having an accident increases – even something as simple as tripping or bumping into someone whilst jogging. Compared with other personal modes of transport, such as cycling, roller skating, or using hoverboards, scooters are potentially the safer option. For one, you can simply step off if you see an imminent collision occurring. This is something you can’t do with bikes or roller skates, and you have immediate access to the brakes, which hoverboards lack. Electric scooters are fast enough to be useful and fun to ride, but give you enough control that you feel safe and secure while riding.

It’s probably not surprising, but we can’t speak highly enough of electric scooters! Our very own electric scooter – the Fuze – is a powerful example of how good they can be. With a range of up to 55km, extremely effective Electronic Regenerative Braking, and a top speed of 40km/h, the Fuze is one of the fastest and most exciting ways to get around town. Don’t believe us? Check out our reviews from satisfied customers!

5 Advantages of folding bikes

Folding bikes as we know them have been around since the early 1980s and have steadily grown in popularity ever since. They’re a common sight in most big cities and have become a popular option for commuters. Being able to fold your bike into the size of a large backpack makes for an extremely versatile mode of transport, allowing you to enjoy all the benefits of riding a bike without the drawbacks surrounding its bulk. If we could summarise folding bikes in one word it would be ‘practical’. Here are just some of the advantages of folding bikes over traditional bikes.

 

1. Easy to transport

Aside from being excellent modes of transport themselves, folding bikes are very easy to transport themselves. A folding bike can be taken with you virtually wherever you go; they fit comfortably on buses and trains and can fit neatly into even the smallest of car boots. It makes cycling a viable option every day!

Their ability to be transported easily also makes them ideal for commuters. It’s common for commuters who live in the suburbs of a city to drive to their nearest train station and take the train into the city, leaving their car by the station all day for them to pick up on their journey home. This can be a costly endeavour. As well as a season ticket, you’ll have to pay for fuel, parking fees, and potentially leave your bike at risk all day (depending on the security of the car park you choose). With a folding bike, you can cycle to your closest station and taking your bike with you. You’ll avoid these costs and the risk to your car and reap the health benefits of cycling every morning and evening. What better way to start your day with than with a bike ride?

 

 

 

2. Easy storage

An obvious advantage of a folding bike is that it takes up far less space than a traditional bike. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a huge house and maybe a shed or garage, storing a traditional bike can be a problem. It’s too cumbersome for most people to carry upstairs in an apartment building and simply takes up too much space in modern inner-city flats. A folding bike can easily be carried and slotted away, even in the smallest of domiciles. Slide it under your bed or keep it at the bottom of your wardrobe and you’d never know you had a fully-functioning bike in your home!

Their small footprint also makes them ideal for being stored at your place of work. Unless your workplace has space to store bikes or a dedicated bike shed of some kind, cycling to work is pretty much ruled-out for you. A folding bike removes this problem altogether; it’s small enough to store under your desk or leave in the cloakroom.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Security

Being compact and easy to carry with you means folding bikes are rarely left in a place where they’re at risk of being stolen. There’s no need to leave it chained up outside the office all day or tied to a lamppost when you meet a friend at the cinema or for coffee. You won’t have to constantly worry if your bike will still be when you go to ride it home.

A folding bike removes this worry; when you head to a coffee shop or the cinema, simply fold the bike and place it under your seat just like you would with a large backpack. On top of this, folding bikes are generally less of a target for bike thieves since they’re so niche.

 

4. Environmental benefits

The above factors mean that folding bikes are likely to be used very often – more often than traditional bikes, at least. For this reason, they further reduce a rider’s use of fossil fuels. As we’ve mentioned, situations, where you’d usually like to cycle but having a full-sized bike, is impractical, such as when going to the train station on your commute, you’d usually take a car. However, when you own a folding bike, you can use it in this exact situation instead of taking a car. So while a folding bike is inherently no more environmentally friendly than a regular bike, the fact that it’s so versatile means you’re going to use it more often and rely less on fossil fuels. Not only is it good for your health, but it’s also good for the Earth’s.

 

 

5. Strong second-hand folding bikes resale market

For many, a big drawback of traditional bikes, and several other forms of personal transport for that matter, is the rate at which they depreciate. Traditional bikes can lose up to half of their value after just one year! However, folding bikes tend to depreciate far less, so you can buy a folding buy with the confidence that if you’d like to sell it in a few years, you won’t make much of a loss. Also, since folding bikes tend to come with a slightly higher price tag than other bikes, buying second-hand is a very popular option.

Here at Furo Systems, we believe that folding bikes will continue to grow in popularity. We also love electric bikes, which is why we developed the eTura and the Furo X. The eTura is the world’s lightest electric folding bike, weighing just 12kgs thanks to its carbon fibre body. Our Furo X is one of the world’s most powerful electric folding bikes and dubbed “bloody fantastic” to ride by T3 magazine. Make the city your playground and never have a bad commute again.

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