30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

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warrah   100 W

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30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 4:35am

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Heres something for anyone in the UK frustrated by UK electric bicycle law. A couple of years ago i thought 'hey, i dont want to pay these rising fuel prices anymore, i want to be green, and i love bicycles. Lets try an electric bike'. I found a ready made one for a reasonable price. The first ride was fun. But i quickly realized i wasnt making any of my journeys faster then i used to on my regular bicycle, and i hadnt extended my range beyond what i used to do with leg power alone. It dawned on me that the 16mph speed limit in the UK effectively meant that all electric bicycle manufacturers were doing was taking the perfect concept of the bicycle and adding a load of unjustifiable weight to it. Fortunately i had 30 day money back guarantee.

In my disappointment, i drifted around the internet looking for alternative solutions, and thats when i found two important ingredients; 1. the very inspiring endless sphere forum, assisting people in the design and construction of 30mph electric bicycles (a much more realistic speed for a regular road transportation vehicle), and 2. the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval manual (MSVA). This manual details the standards and criteria to which someone living in the UK must adhere when building their own motorcycle, the goal being to pass an official examination, after which your home made vehicle can ride around just like any motorcycle with license plates and tax discs and MOTs. Phone calls to various testing stations clarified that nothing in the basic idea of a 30mph electric bicycle prevented it from passing the MSVA test. It is more a matter of the details.

The details are unfortunately extensive and technical. A 207p list of things like 'radius of curvature of bodied vehicle protrusions must be 2.5mm or greater, 7mm or greater for the ends of brake lever, 3.5mm for... etc etc', and 'mirrors must be convex, between 94mm and 150mm diameter, positioned more the 280mm from the centre line of the vehicle, etc etc.

So... Im not sure there is much point in me trying to give an overview of the details in this post. Here is a link to the manual,

http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/repository/M ... 010%20.pdf,

so anyone who is interested can get a sense of the feasibility of the 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle project. It took me 1.5 years to work through the manual and find solutions to all the problems. BUT, now that i have, i can answer any questions for anyone who wants to do the same, and im certain that will speed up the process. Most of the 1.5 years was spent on dead ends, trial and error, or just hard work that, after my first test, i had to go away and completely change.

Or, if you are just curious, you can ask about any aspect of the bicycle and i will describe it and how it related to the manuals specifications. For all the endless sphere regulars, you'll recognize the meat and bones of the bicycle, pretty basic for an ebike build: 9c 9*7 hub motor, ping 48v 20ah battery, infineon 35a 12fet controller.

Also, if anyone needed any hands on help, ive aquired a few skills during this project, like bicycle and motorcycle wheelbuilding, brazing/welding, and of course soldering. If you live anywhere near the southeast coast of england or are willing to travel there.

This post isnt very long, and i really feel i owe the endless sphere community more information then just this. I should have kept a build diary. Mark II of the bike will get its own build diary. Mark I pictured above was initially built to take two passengers, using an xtracycle. Sadly this could not pass the test for maximum weight reasons, but Mark II will... so it will be more interesting. Also, it uses a cromotor, which ive already laced for a motorcycle rim and tire. The cromotor/motorcycle rim issue deserves some attention and clarification, it is not at all straightforward, so i'll make a separate post for it. Lacing for motorcycle rims ties in with building a UK road legal 30mph ebike, as one has to use motorcycle tires... but there is one, just one model of tire that will fit a bicycle rim, so it can be alot simpler. Anyway, i'll link to that post when ive finished it.
Last edited by warrah on Sep 09 2012 4:55pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jeremy Harris   10 GW

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 4:52am

I admire your perseverance!

I took the (relatively) easy way out and decided converting a moped that was already registered would be easier. Not sure that it was by much, but it did mean that I only had DVLA to deal with and it was just an exercise in generating paper, rather than something that involved an MSVA, testing etc. It was certainly frustrating, as DVLA seemed to have a difficult time accepting that one could change the motor and fuel type so radically. Still, I ended up with a legal, tax exempt, moped in the end, although it's currently being rebuilt.

BTW, I see you bike has L plates. Do you need those? I was under the impression that you could ride a moped on a car licence.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Lebowski » Aug 20 2012 5:14am

What's the vacuumcleaner hose for ? No doubt to satisfy some sort of regulation ?

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Punx0r » Aug 20 2012 5:37am

Interesting!

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 5:41am

Lebowski wrote:What's the vacuumcleaner hose for ? No doubt to satisfy some sort of regulation ?
Looks like a large diameter conduit for the wiring. Not sure whether that was required in order to meet one of the more subtle regulations, like the minimum allowable radius on anything the the testers cone or ball can contact, or whether it was just a way of keeping all the wires and connectors out of the weather (it wouldn't surprise me if there was a need for this somewhere buried in the regulations!).

Getting a bike road legal like that here is certainly not a task for those without patience, as our system simply isn't geared up well for approving one-offs. I've built a couple of kit cars and converted a moped and dealing with all the rules, regulations and paperwork is always harder work than anything else.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Alan B » Aug 20 2012 6:40am

Very interesting project!

Quite a challenge to understand all the rules and approval processes.

Looks basically like grafting moped and small motorcycle parts onto an ebike, which makes sense since they have been designed for the rules.

I wonder why the controller is so far from the motor. Looks like it could be much closer, minimizing the long conduit run. There must be a reason for that.

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warrah   100 W

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 6:41am

Lebowski wrote:What's the vacuumcleaner hose for ? No doubt to satisfy some sort of regulation ?
there are a few regulations that are more like value judgements, not at all specific, to allow the examiner to 'eyeball' the issue. Things like 'sufficient structural integrity' is not mechanically defined in the manual, nor is 'sufficient waterproofing', they are left to the examiners judgement. This meant i ended up overkilling some aspects, out of fear of the looming 'test', a stranger with hidden standards ruthlessly scrutinizing my countless hours of tinkering. My thinking was the conduit could serve as both a structural and a waterproofing measure. It also hides much of the scruffiness of multiple wires, thus increasing the force of the chick magnetic field

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by dogman dan » Aug 20 2012 6:53am

Nicely done, and likely well worth it. Some don't want to have to have insurance, but it can be a good thing when some fool steps into your path.

No doubt the wire sheath was required, perhaps the large diameter just made pulling the wire plug and all easy.

Gives it a kind of steampunk look, like the movie Brazil.

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warrah   100 W

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 7:07am

Jeremy Harris wrote:I admire your perseverance!

I took the (relatively) easy way out and decided converting a moped that was already registered would be easier. Not sure that it was by much, but it did mean that I only had DVLA to deal with and it was just an exercise in generating paper, rather than something that involved an MSVA, testing etc. It was certainly frustrating, as DVLA seemed to have a difficult time accepting that one could change the motor and fuel type so radically. Still, I ended up with a legal, tax exempt, moped in the end, although it's currently being rebuilt.

BTW, I see you bike has L plates. Do you need those? I was under the impression that you could ride a moped on a car licence.

Cool dude, that was something i thought long and hard about; bicycle into e-moped, or moped into -emoped. The key thing for me was pedals though, and i couldnt work out a way to get pedals on the moped. Can i see a picture of your moped? its very interesting.

The l plate thing... ive only ever had a provisional license.

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warrah   100 W

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 7:25am

Alan B wrote:Very interesting project!

Quite a challenge to understand all the rules and approval processes.

Looks basically like grafting moped and small motorcycle parts onto an ebike, which makes sense since they have been designed for the rules.

I wonder why the controller is so far from the motor. Looks like it could be much closer, minimizing the long conduit run. There must be a reason for that.
Thats exactly what it was, grafting motorcycle parts onto a bicycle. And that is the best way to think of it, if anyone wants to give it a go. The mounting solutions for the motorcycle parts, and the electronics for all the lights and whatnot, are the hardest parts. If you are comfortable with relay switches and circuit diagrams, then you'll be able to make the circuit for the indicators/brake light/horn/ignition.

The motorcycle parts do not necessarily need to be small. The front headlamp for instance is a 7", where 5" is more the standard for motorcycles. I choose 7" because i thought it might help me be seen by car drivers

As for the controller, there are pros to having it closer to the motor, and the first incarnations of the bike focused on that, but then i discovered one by one that the brake lights, ignition, and regen switch would have to work with the controller and the handlebar controls, which would mean that the conduit would be just as long, except more messy (brake lights, ignition and regen switch = lots of wires, whereas motor wire = one fat one)

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Jeremy Harris   10 GW

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 7:35am

warrah wrote: Can i see a picture of your moped? its very interesting.
Here's a link to the thread with one or two photos, none of it finished though, as it ended up so ugly with the battery packs hanging off it all over that I couldn't bring myself to take a photo of it: http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewto ... D50#p66109

It's currently in bits again, as I'm hoping to use two smaller motors and leave a lot more room in the frame for batteries.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by knoxie » Aug 20 2012 9:20am

Crikey Thats a First!

Never seen that done in the UK before and fair play for doing so too, if it were me though It would have to be the cromotor in there to make all the hassle worthwhile a 9C with a 3 position power switch and a 250W sticker is all you need in the UK and as long as you keep peddling nobody is going to ever bother you, if being insured is your main concern you can still get liability insurance on your ebike anyway.

Get the cromotor on there and make it worth the weight of that headlight!
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 9:50am

I've seen it done here with a stinky two stroke kit: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pattl ... rc0497.htm

Interestingly there is a seller of those stinky kits here that's a bit disingenuous with their advertising (and they knock ebikes, too): http://www.transformercycles.com/

Their website is a masterpiece of deception, designed to make you believe that you can legally just bolt one of these smelly things on and be legal. The disclaimer about needing to jump through hoops to get them road registered is cleverly buried and worded in a way that makes it sound easy..............
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Spacey » Aug 20 2012 11:13am

Holy crap, hats off to you for getting your ebike registered.

I Think I will get my canondale full suspension down hill frame registered with mot etc.....

How much do the tests cost, I live in southwest England btw.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by dogman dan » Aug 20 2012 11:35am

Well, now that you have a vin number, you pretty much have no limits to upgrading power or speed eh? That's very cool.

Seriously, even if you swapped all the stuff to a different bike frame, who's gonna know? Skys the limit for you now, and the real reason it was a smart thing to do.

Or are your actually still "moped" and speed limited.

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 11:51am

dogman wrote:Well, now that you have a vin number, you pretty much have no limits to upgrading power or speed eh? That's very cool.

Seriously, even if you swapped all the stuff to a different bike frame, who's gonna know? Skys the limit for you now, and the real reason it was a smart thing to do.

Or are your actually still "moped" and speed limited.
It'll still be moped and speed and weight limited, because of the category it's in, so although having a VIN does open it up for some mods, it won't allow anything that increases the speed or weight over the moped limit, unfortunately. As here insurance is dependent on the vehicle being in the right category and compliant with the regulations for that category, mods could render the insurance void, which isn't nice.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 2:39pm

Jeremy Harris wrote:
dogman wrote:Well, now that you have a vin number, you pretty much have no limits to upgrading power or speed eh? That's very cool.

Seriously, even if you swapped all the stuff to a different bike frame, who's gonna know? Skys the limit for you now, and the real reason it was a smart thing to do.

Or are your actually still "moped" and speed limited.
It'll still be moped and speed and weight limited, because of the category it's in, so although having a VIN does open it up for some mods, it won't allow anything that increases the speed or weight over the moped limit, unfortunately. As here insurance is dependent on the vehicle being in the right category and compliant with the regulations for that category, mods could render the insurance void, which isn't nice.
jeremy is right, but i cant deny that i have been thinking just like dogman was thinking. Now that ive got the VIN number and the MSVA certificate, i could port them over to the 72v cromotor build, which would only do 6mph above the moped catagory, not something i would be busted for (the MSVA examiner doesnt even test the maximum design speed). Or, alternatively, depending on how broke i am at the time, i might get the cromotor build registered anew as a 'motorcycle' instead of a moped, and then sell the 9c bike to someone who doesnt have the time for all that work. The criteria for the motorcycle category is only slightly different, infact i built most of the bike in the picture to the manuals motorcycle specifications, just to see if i could, and the only reason it was registered in the moped category was because of the 1.5 kw max power. As a small example of the difference between the categories, mopeds do not legally need indicators (crazy!) but motorcycles do. Of course i wanted indicators.

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Wurly » Aug 20 2012 2:58pm

Funny, not long ago i was asking if anyone had put a ebike through the MSVA test.
Congratulations, well done. I dig the front light.
I have many questions but first.
I've heard how difficult it is to get cars throught the test, i'm gussing the MSVA is a fair bit easier. The testers seem to get wrapped up in small technicalities like making sure you can't scratch yourself on a sharp edged bolt rather than looking at structural loading of assemblies/bearings/welding etc.
Which leads me to my questions, didn't they question the lack of suspension with carrying that weight? i'm using a 48V 15Ah ping and they are pretty heavy. I'm guessing that moped doesn't need it, but motor cycle does?
And how many times did you have to return for a retest?

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 2:59pm

Spacey wrote:Holy crap, hats off to you for getting your ebike registered.

I Think I will get my canondale full suspension down hill frame registered with mot etc.....

How much do the tests cost, I live in southwest England btw.

hey buddy, the motorcycle single vehicle approval test costs £70, £15 for a retest (no one has ever passed first time apparently). To register a vehicle for the first time, it costs £55 pounds. Pretty meaty costs, but the whole endeavor was always worth it for me. The police have in the past stopped and fined people riding illegal e-bikes, and how likely an occurrence this is was never a relevant factor for me, because more importantly i wanted to ride my build with *complete* confidence. Its a psychological thing.

i actually got a laminated certificate to carry around with me in all weather, for the specific purpose of explaining my bizarre appearance to fine hungry policemen. An unexpected perk of the build; when the cops scan my license plate, the manufacterer and model of the bike comes up on their dashboard computer system. I had to make up names for these two fields, could have been anything i wanted, as offensive as i liked, were i so mischievously inclined. 'Warrah' is the manufacterer, 'ectopiste migratorius' is the model.

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Jeremy Harris » Aug 20 2012 3:04pm

warrah wrote: I had to make up names for these two fields, could have been anything i wanted, as offensive as i liked, were i so mischievously inclined. 'Warrah' is the manufacterer, 'ectopiste migratorius' is the model.
Love it!

If you'd used a Flying Pigeon bike as the basis it'd have been even more appropriate.
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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by warrah » Aug 20 2012 3:13pm

Wurly wrote:Funny, not long ago i was asking if anyone had put a ebike through the MSVA test.
Congratulations, well done. I dig the front light.
I have many questions but first.
I've heard how difficult it is to get cars throught the test, i'm gussing the MSVA is a fair bit easier. The testers seem to get wrapped up in small technicalities like making sure you can't scratch yourself on a sharp edged bolt rather than looking at structural loading of assemblies/bearings/welding etc.
Which leads me to my questions, didn't they question the lack of suspension with carrying that weight? i'm using a 48V 15Ah ping and they are pretty heavy. I'm guessing that moped doesn't need it, but motor cycle does?
And how many times did you have to return for a retest?

Yeh you got it in a nutshell, they are very wrapped up in small technicalities, but in my opinion the manuals lack of explicit specifications for 'structural integrity' and 'waterproof' is a wonderful thing indeed. If there were any specifications they may easily exclude the very notion of using a bicycle frame for a motorized vehicle, for example if the manual said 'make sure axle bolts are m16', then no m14 motors could pass. Similarly, you would think that the waterproofing criteria might be prohibitively stringent for electric vehicles, but luckily it is really only a matter of the tester checking that no wires might potentially chafe, and that grommets are used when cables enter enclosures. So yeh, no suspension needed for the extra weight. The motorcycle tires do most of that work. Consider hardtail harley davisons, no suspension, massive weight, all the work done by tires.

i passed on my second test. Second test is much shorter then first, as it only checks the things that failed first time round

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by Sancho's Horse » Aug 20 2012 9:14pm

Does anybody know if there are any posts on getting American registration?

Congratulations, btw. Important step in moving the whole thing forward.

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Re: 30mph UK road legal electric bicycle

Post by oatnet » Aug 21 2012 6:43pm

Great job, very inspiring. :D

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