Elsewhere in Europe, where legislators have embraced a new breed of electric bicycle known as a speed pedelecs, bike builders are becoming ever more creative with the tech.
As with other bikes in its class, the Rayvolt Bike Cruzer is capable of speeds of up to 30 mph. It has most of its functions controlled via an app and costs from 2,400 Euros.
Rayvolt makes much of its environmental policy: “Our products are clean in every way from the manufacturing process using 100% solar energy to build the bikes and banning all polluting materials such as PVC, which is the common plastic used in most bike parts, and Cadmium, which is a very polluting chemical used in many batteries. We use Lithium on all our batteries as it is the best clean energy available today for performance application. Lithium is a natural resource that is 100% recyclable.”
The Rayvolt has competition for the title of coolest electric bicycle. Evoking the elegant lines of the board track racing motorcycles of the early twentieth century, the Vintage E-tracker looks quite unlike any other electric bike on the market. Housed within a cast aluminium case, the battery evokes the lines of an internal combustion engine.
As standard the £4,995 Vintage e-tracker bike come with a throttle that allows you to control the level of assistance that is fed from the motor to the wheels. In order for the bike to be road legal in Britain you select the pedal assistance mode. An off-road mode allows the bike to reach speeds of up to 32 mph.
The British government has a blind spot where electric vehicles are concerned. The £5,000 grant towards plug-in electric cars costing over £20,000 was launched to great fanfare, but a more significant step towards personal electric transport could have been made had the initiative included electric bicycles and mopeds – not least because such vehicles are more affordable to buy and far less reliant on recharging infrastructure.
Under current British law, if an electric bicycle (pedelec) is capable of more than 15.5 mph it is considered a moped. Most fit cyclists on a moderately lightweight bicycle would be capable of prolonged speeds of 16 mph or over, but if that speed is even partially sustained by an electric motor, the law requires the same lights, paperwork and number plate as a moped.
While the uptake of electric cars remains painfully slow, the popularity of the 30 mph speed pedelec in continental Europe is soaring. Sales in Holland increased by over 30 per cent last year alone.
One such speed pedelec is the Stromer ST2, a 30 mph- bicycle that allows you to control three levels of assistance from the electric motor as well as the degree of regenerative braking. Thanks to an efficient motor and a battery capacity of 983 watt-hours, the ST2 can cover up to 180 kilometres before it needs to be recharged.
With a price tag of around £6,000 the Swiss-made Stromer ST2 is the Rolex of the fast pedelecs world.
As the speed pedelecs market grows, so too does the range of bike styles on offer. High-speed electric bikes are now available as town bikes, MTBs, folders and adventure tourers. The Riese & Müller Charger GX offers assistance of up to 275 per cent at a speed of up to 45 km/h. And even when walking the bike when its racks are laden with panniers, the Charger GX helps with an assisted ‘pushing mode’.
How is European law on speed pedelecs changing?
There are two categories of electric bicycle in type-approval L1e-A is for powered cycles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h and maximum 1 kW of power. L1e-B includes speed pedelecs with maximum 45 km/h and 4 kW.
Cycle insurance for electric bicycles
Should the law in Britain change in line with Europe to accommodate the speed pedelec, the insurance industry will be quick to offer cover. For the time being, electric bicycle insurance is limited to those with a 250 W motor and an assisted top speed of 15.5 mph. Such cover is available from the ETA, recently voted Britain’s most ethical insurance company by The Good Shopping Guide.
The policy covers electric bicycles as standard and includes a breakdown service for your bike and you that will take you up to 25 miles if you suffer a mechanical problem or puncture. Your battery is covered against theft as standard. ETA cycle insurance has a low standard excess of 5% (minimum £25) and prides itself on a genuine new-for-old policy. Unlike other providers who devalue bikes, however old your bicycle, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model.
Every cycle insurance policy you buy helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future.
Protection for you and your bike
ETA Cycle Insurance never devalues your bike, doesn’t charge extra for things like third party liability, personal accident or friends and family cover, and has a sympathetic policy on storage in sheds and garages.
For over 27 years we have been providing straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance and in 2017 we were voted Britain’s most ethical insurer.
Find out more about why we are different. Get an instant quote or call our friendly team on 0333 000 1234.