back to article UK government says no to turbo e-bike

The government today confirmed that an electrically powered bicycle, may not be sold in this country because its top speed exceeds legal limits. The Turbo e-cycle's US-based creator, Specialized, was all set to peddle its first battery-equipped bike in coming months across the EU. But with a top assisted speed of 28mph, it will …

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Happy

Govt can't keep the pace?

I think our precious government is just jealous of the speed that this assisted bike would be able to port people about at. These people would not be buying petrol/diesel for cars then and the govt would be losing revenue, while people were actually getting on with things.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Govt can't keep the pace?

I also think these devices should be legal. It's like a motorbike, but less safe, right?

Anything to help the lycra-clad brigade accelerate off into the Darwin awards.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Govt can't keep the pace?

Yes its a bit like a motorbike/moped ... but the rules for electrically assisted bicycles are drawn up the way they are so that they (electrically assisted bikes) aren't the same as mopeds but are treated as bicycles so that issue of driving licenses, VED, compulsory helments, number plates etc etc aren't applicable.

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Stop

Re: Govt can't keep the pace?

I'm not so sure. At least with current bikes, the sheer effort of propelling one should in the overwhelming majority of cases get between the rider, and the number and seriousness of any potential accidents they could be involved in - because speed truly is the killer, and the multiplier of opportunities to be killed or injured. This bike would remove that vital obstacle.

By way of extending the argument, the cost will fall on the public purse, of maintaining those not killed by their accidents - including paraplegic ex-cyclists AND the pedestrians hit by the dozier else more psychopathic/supremacist among the lycra-clad. This is small-c conservatism and nanny-statism in action preventing something dangerous which the rest of us must pick up the cost of - and I agree with it.

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Stop

Re: Top speed assistance?

It would seem stupid to use the assistance to reach a higher top speed --- it means you have to peddle more when going slower (typically: uphill), and extra speed when you have to soon brake (downhill, typically).

Here in hilly Exeter I'd pay good cash for this kind of bike: a battery-charging brake to make the inevitable downhill braking less of a waste, and an assist to get up the steepest bits (with a toddler and luggage on the back).

It doesn't seem to be that difficult to limit the electric engine to sub-15mph speeds.

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Bronze badge

Re: Top speed assistance?

@ Marvin

I agreed with you until I realised the argument had a flaw - if it's easy to limit the speed, it's easy to circumvent the limitation.

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Flame

@tapeworm - Re: Govt can't keep the pace?

Most cyclists are sensible. Most own cars and pay road tax for them.

They choose instead to get some exercise, instead of getting FAT.

Cyclists have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Especially as they have paid road tax for cars they're not using.

In my experience it is retarded car drivers that make the cyclists riding environment dangerous. They think we move like snails, and also that they have right of way when the rules of the road say they don't. So they act like an impatient mentally retarded fuckwit. When challenged these car drivers express surprise at the cyclists annoyance ! Fortunately these drivers are fairly rare, but unfortunately they are out there.

Most cyclists can easily exceed the speeds quoted here for the electric bike. So, what purpose does the ban serve ?

Most road users are considerate to cyclists, and everything moves smoothly. Thank you to these people :-) !!

Lycra clad indeed. Jealous because you can't fit in any of the kit ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @tapeworm - Govt can't keep the pace?

" Lycra clad indeed. Jealous because you can't fit in any of the kit ?"

Fitting into Lyra isn't a problem. Not looking like Morph with a 'glandular condition' on the other hand...

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Re: @tapeworm - Govt can't keep the pace?

For once the phrase "Won't anyone think of the children" has a serious use on The Reg. Its not the lycra adults that are the problem, well they are when your sat behind a gaggle of them on a country road, its kids.

As its a bicycle, kids can ride it. Given that the average 17 year-old, after several lessons and even passing a test, is the most lethal thing on the planet, do you really want one of these steaming along the footpath at 28 mph under the control of a 14 year old?

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Meh

Re: Govt can't keep the pace?

They also have quadricycles, like the Aixam, restricted to 29 mph, which is basically a small car, you can drive at the age of 14 in France and some other EU countries without a driving licence. Over here even though they are low emission they are classed as a motorbike, so cost around £135 a year in VED, but are unrestricted, diesel ones do around 55mph and 80 ish mpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: - Govt can't keep the pace?

DISCLAIMER: NO THIS IS NOT EVERY CYCLIST! IT'S, AS USUAL, A SMALL MINORITY THAT SPOIL IT FOR THOSE WHO DO STICK TO THE LAW!

Oh yeah you ever seen those twats on push bikes jumping red lights in the city? Luckily most of the time they stay in the road while they dodge the traffic they should have stopped for at the lights. Then there are the twats who decide to say "F**k the lights!" and do just jump up on the pavement and make everyone get out of their way while they peddle off up the road. FInally there are the cyclists that find they need to be at the other end of a one way street and simply ride down it the wrong way up on the pavement, with a big, smug "F**k you, out of my way fatties!" smile on their faces!

Yeah give these dopey twats a push bike that will do nearly 30 mph, sounds like a bloody good idea! When the Police starting nicking these selfish twats while they peddle up the pavement, then I'll be happy to let them have a faster push bike, until then at least they can only go as fast they can peddle up a pavement.

DISCLAIMER: NO THIS IS NOT EVERY CYCLIST! IT'S, AS USUAL, A SMALL MINORITY THAT SPOIL IT FOR THOSE WHO DO STICK TO THE LAW!

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Re: - Govt can't keep the pace?

That small minority tends to ride sub-£500 bikes. Anyone who goes past the grand mark tends to be a bit more sensible.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: @tapeworm - Govt can't keep the pace?

> do you really want one of these steaming along the footpath at 28 mph

No-one - absolutely no-one - is talking about permitting such things on the footpath.

Vic.

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Boffin

@Homard - "Most cyclists are sensible. "

Can I have some of what you are smoking please? From my observation, Cyclists are the _least_ responsible road users on average - worse even than those 'variable width' motorbikes - the ones that only need the width of a white line when they want to overtake, but need an entire lane to themselves if they actually get stopped at traffic lights. (Very few motorbikers have the cheek to claim that they are pedestrians by pushing their bike through a 'green man')

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Flame

Re: @tapeworm - Govt can't keep the pace?

"Cyclists have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Especially as they have paid road tax for cars they're not using."

Sorry but there is no such thing as ROAD TAX in the UK.

There is an annual VEHICLE TAX, which hasn't been linked to road mainentance since about 1937. And its a per vehicle tax, so cyclists dont have that covered just because they own a car, as the vehicle tax only covers that vehicle. But then cycles would be exempt from it probably.

However, they also dont have compulsory insurance, sometimes in the thousands of pounds, to cover their liabilty for damage to other vehicles and injury to people. Nor do they require to have ANY formal training or testing before they are let loose on the public roads. Anyone can walk into a shop, layout a wad of cash for a bike and begin riding on the road without knowing the differnce between a giveway sign and a stop sign. They also dont have to have their vehicles maintained and inspected by government testing stations every year. Nor is there a vehicle database of cycles registration marks that police or other authorities can use to identify the owner of a bike should he decide to break a law or say damage a vehicle or a person in a collision and decide to flee the scene.

Now theres no reason why cyclists should be made to at least take the theory test before being allowed to ride certain roads, for example dual carriageways certain busy commuter routes, national speed limit areas etc, to show they have the responisbility and sensibilities to do so. A yearly check to enrure their vehicle is fit to be on the road, has proper lighting etc. Mandatory laws regarding safety equipment and visibile clothing for cycling at night say. And some for of third party liability insurance to assure the rest of us that if some dozy plonk on a bike slams into the side of your car while its sitting at lights and damages it, you can at least rest in the knowledge his insurance will cover the cost to repair damages to paintwork.

Then cyclists can quite rightfully claimn to be entiled to the same rights as motorists, when they are treated the same as them in every aspect of road use, not just the bits cyclists like.

So while I agree that cyclist do have the right to be on the road, and many have the greatest of intentions at times, such as saving the enviroment (carbon footprint of their rather expensive to make lycra outfits, bikes and other equipment not withstanding) and staying fit. there are a huge number running about without any regard for fellow travellers on the road, an over inflated sense of entilement, no clue what so ever about basic road signs, ettiquete or safety or ride in low visibility without lights or proper high visibilty clothing. And are simply a danger to themeselves and other road users. And these are the ones making the rest of you look bad and annoying drivers the most.

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Vic
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Re: @Homard - "Most cyclists are sensible. "

> need an entire lane to themselves if they actually get stopped at traffic lights.

This is essential. It's how motorcyclists are taught to behave.

The dangerous point for a motorcyclist is when a car is alongside. If the car moves over, the bike goes under its wheels.

On the move, a motorcyclist may opt to overtake - at this point, he is in control of his position, and can get through the threat zone as quickly as he sees fit. He can choose the amount of clearance he wants for optimum safety.

Once stationary, a car alongside becomes a real threat; if the car gets to the corner without the motorcycle being fully clear, a very dangerous accident is likely to occur. And you can't even hang back and let the car go - a significant number will just turn into you anyway, and the car behind is far too likely just to drive straight through you.

So we have the situation where a motorcyclist is forced to take the whole of the lane. It's no great imposition for the cars behind, but the alternative is truly dangerous.

Vic.

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Pint

Re: @tapeworm - Govt can't keep the pace?

I agree with many of your points, particularly cyclists not obeying the rules of the road, not being visible , not having lights, etc. I class the people who fit in these categories as idiots, not cyclists.

Regarding insurance, I'm not sure you understand that real cyclists don't want to bump into you in the first place :-) !! One bump, even if it doesn't hurt you will write off a carbon fibre bike. The idiots without lights, etc as above that don't care won't get insurance. If I damage your car I'll pay for it, if I'm in the wrong.

To fit with your being a pedant, I pay vehicle tax (until recently known as road tax :-)) to allow me to use my car on the road. Whilst your comment is correct, since I am the sole driver of my car, when I'm using my bike, by simple logic I can't be using my car. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions ! Add to the argument that electric cars are road tax and London congestion charge exempt. Where do you want to go from here ? Riding my bike my 'carbon footprint' is lower than an electric car, and as I'm smaller on the road I cause less congestion. Can I have a rebate ? Perhaps that would cover the cost of the insurance you insist I should have ?

My wife and I are both sensible cyclists. Well maintained bikes and all the right gear. Between us 4 near misses in the last 2 weeks due to fuckwitted car drivers. Are you really sure you know where the issue lies ??

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Windows

Re: @Homard - "Most cyclists are sensible. "

"but need an entire lane to themselves if they actually get stopped at traffic lights"

We fuc*king do, so some prat in a lorry has a vague chance of seeing us, between episodes of Angry Birds or the girlfriend on his mobile.

Fuc'k me sideways, Dave, can you even ride a bike? Believe me, in traffic, it's not fun!

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Silver badge

I could buy ten cars for that.

Seriously.

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those desperate to own a Turbo will have to travel to the continent to do so

Presumably once bought on the continent it would be tricky to enforce any kind of ban if imported into the UK?

Form an orderly queue in Calais bike shops please?

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Re: those desperate to own a Turbo will have to travel to the continent to do so

it's still illegal to actually go over 15mph on a battery assisted cycle, and if you don't pedal it's classed as a moped and you need a license for it.

Of course you can import one for off road purposes...

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Silver badge

Re: those desperate to own a Turbo will have to travel to the continent to do so

You can drive it here, but you would need the appropriate class of motorbike licence, road tax and insurance in order to do so. Finding someone to insure it could be difficult.

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Silver badge

Re: those desperate to own a Turbo will have to travel to the continent to do so

alternatively, there is nothing to stop you using it on your own land, or a private track with the owner's permission.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

15mph?

What are they thinking, I can go faster than that on my pedal powered bike.

Shame about the price, seems like a pretty neat idea, beats an electric car for sure

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Thumb Up

Re: 15mph?

Yup. I grew up in Lancashire where even fat lads can exceed the speed limit down the right hill.

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WTF?

Re: 15mph?

Damn right - i *average* 12mph through traffic to work and back every day. On my old (slightly better geared) bike I used to regularly set off the SLOW DOWN- 30MPH sign on Ferme Park Road on my way home.

15mph? Really??

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Mushroom

"I used to regularly set off the SLOW DOWN- 30MPH sign...."

Which is why cycles need number plates, and cyclists insurance and cycling licences, so they can be bought to account for dangerously flouting the law, just like motorised road users.

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Law
Stop

Re: "I used to regularly set off the SLOW DOWN- 30MPH sign...."

The second they smooth over the hole ridden gutters, replace the missing grids, add bike lanes to every road - I'd happily pay for a numberplate. Right now I'm taking all the risk cycling in Manchester traffic, with very little incentive from the government to leave the car at home (other than increasing fuel duty every year).

FYI - I'm also a driver, I just cycle for cost/exercise reasons 4 days a week, about 16 miles a day.

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Silver badge

Re: 15mph?

I used to easily overtake cars coming down the A537 (Cat and Fiddle) into Macclesfield. I scared myself quite a few times.

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Stop

No More Regulation ! (Re: "I used to regularly set off the SLOW DOWN- 30MPH sign....")

We have too much regulation already. Compulsory insurance feeds an industry of insurance companies, ambulance chasing lawyers, insurance databases, etc. and we the law abiding get royally fleeced. Compulsory third party insurance is only of use to the third party when the first party is actually insured - uninsured driver = no pay out.

So let's turn it round - get rid of compulsory insurance, insure yourself against getting run over/into if you wish. Insure yourself against getting sued by someone you ran over if you wish, but not if you don't. Result - insurance premiums drop dramatically due to lower demand, lawyers starve, road accident victims are no more or less maimed than before. Maybe we can put the lawyers' fees saved into a crash victims payout pot?

Wishful thinking I know when we have a parliament stuffed with lawyers, and an insurance industry big enough to buy them all, even at £250k a pop - but let's not inflict these requirements on cyclists eh? Let's just be glad that they are still a little bit more free than the rest of us.

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Re: 15mph?

I've been commuting 16 miles a day for the past few years on an ebike compliant with the usual ebike regulations* (i.e. assist limited to 25kph or about 15.5mph). 15mph doesn't sound a lot but it makes a hell of a difference to my average speed when compared to a non ebike. It feels safer as it is easier to keep up with traffic. Gets me up the long steep hills with only a little more effort than riding on the flat. Gets me to work without arriving soaked in sweat. Keeps my speed reasonable when cycling into a headwind and saves me about £2k a year in fuel costs (ebike costs about 10p a day to fuel, and has very few other associated costs).

Ebikes can be purchased in the UK from about £400 for a basic bike with low range. Midrange bikes start at around £700.

*The UK ebike regulations are a bit of a mess as the UK gov messed up implementing the EU directives and forgot to cancel the UK legislation so ebikes with throttles are legal in the UK at the moment, though technically the motors should be limited to 15mph and 200W continuous power rather than the EU 25kph and 250W - but then the power restrictions are largely notional as most 250W motors are capable of upwards 1KW for short periods anyway). The Super Ebike (The s-class ebikes not allowed in the UK as the UK gov declined to implement that part of the regulation) class requires registration, insurance and if I recall correctly a motorbike helmet, and are restricted to 45kph and 500W.

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Re: "I used to regularly set off the SLOW DOWN- 30MPH sign...."

On the off chance you aren't just joking might I suggest you try learning about the law. Speed limits apply to motor vehicles. Bicycles do not, last time I heard, fall into this category.

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Pint

In my youth, I was once cautioned for doing 60mph+ going down hill. These days I'm lucky if I can cart my bulk at much faster than a walk.

I blame it on the beer.

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Anonymous Coward

"In my youth, I was once cautioned for doing 60mph+ going down hill"

Many years ago went to an exhibition on Sir Malcolm Campbell and Bluebird which related an episode from his youth when he was stopped by a Policeman going at high speed downhill on a bike (possibly repeatedly to see how fast he could go) and got hauled up before a magistrate who let him off with a stern lecture and an instruction to "forget about this obesssion with speed that you seem to have"

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Pint

"Pedalling furiously" is the actual offence and was probably signed into law by Noah.

When I was at Poly, a mate got done. He might have got away with a ticking off, but for two important things:

1) He was shitfaced.

2) On being told what his offence was, he countered with the fact that he wasn't pedalling at all, merely freewheeling.

There's only one thing the plod hate more than a smartarse and that's a pissed smartarse.

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Rob

RE: In my youth

I used to work for a factory bakery and had to be at work for 6am, I used to cycle but my mate had a 125 motorbike, as it was quiet I used to hold on his arm and get propelled to work a lot quicker, although being a lot older now and have a greater sense of danger, I realise I wrong that could have all gone. My pothole avoidance skills are still finely tuned ;-)

(Obviously being young and stupid at the time it was a laugh)

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Silly regulations killing an exciting technology field dead.

If you go to China, you'll see E-bikes all over the place, ridden by people young and old, and being sold dirt cheap.

Over here you have to pay over £1000 at the very least for something that can go 15mph at the very most (and it has to be pedal assisted). All thanks to UK regulations.

It's a shame because this is a very clean and cheap way to quickly transport people around cities that's been killed in the UK.

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Silver badge

Re: Silly regulations killing an exciting technology field dead.

Hmm, really? I don't think I saw any e-bikes* when I recently spent a month in Shanghai. They seemed mostly to be 2 stroke flymos disassembled and attached to a bicycle, with some versions more refined than others.

* An e-bike being an electric motor and big battery pack.

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Re: Silly regulations killing an exciting technology field dead.

Yes - really.

I was there 2 years ago, guangzhou and nanning, and they were omnipresent.

Is there the possibility that they have been banned in central shanghai?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silly regulations killing an exciting technology field dead.

Last i heard Xi'an has banned petrol bikes, they were all electric last time I was there.. although 15mph is what a car does in the streets of Xi'an....

Shanghai, wouldn't know, only saw the airport and hotelll

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WTF?

Re: Silly regulations killing an exciting technology field dead.

I was also scratching my head at this article because when I was living in Kunming (SW China),

E-bikes were a common form of transport - especially because Kunming has dedicated cycle lanes.

In between regulation and poor infrastructure (whilst I applaud the desire for more people to use their bikes, there is NO way I use my mountain-bike during rush-hour in London. Strictly weekend pleasure / masochistic cycling across NW London), this concept is dead. Sadly, no surprise. After reading more news reports on the state of the nuclear industry, and the lack of any coherent plan to meet our energy needs in 2020 (or whenever most will be decommissioned) - let alone any emissions targets - is it any wonder that when a potential option appears (emission free inter-city transport), it's strangled at birth.

I'm not a car lover by any means - as I would love to see more no car zones in London, but with ever- increasing transport costs without any apparent benefit to the commuter, what incentive is there for people to give up their cars?

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Anonymous Coward

They are probably too worried that people would actually buy them to commute and they would lose all that fuel revenue.

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I can do double that on the push bike! As for the price, I only paid £500 for my car so that's definitely out! (infact, both bikes, car and all vehicles I've owned previous don't come to that price, or even half)

Surely it's a small demographic of people that interested in cycling they're willing to pay £4.5k for a bike but not that into cycling that they're too physically unfit to propel themselves?

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Paris Hilton

28mph

even 28mph is not particularly fast.

I can maintain that pace on my road bike for a mile or so.

Those that ride the Tour de France maintain almost that as an average.

Why not allow the allow the bike?

Fools. Although part of me does think that if you get on a bike you should bloody well pedal it yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Think e-bikes are actually a very good idea - sure this one is costly but it would open it up for more / cheaper models. I'm sure people would be much happier biking to work if the electric motor could take some of the effort out of it (some not all) - i.e. give you a boost on hills etc.

So much for the government being 'green' - yet you can go out and buy a petrol powered moped (for less) that will go just as fast / faster and anyone with a car license can drive one (if I remember correctly).

I'd be much happier with an e-bike you just plug in for pennies.

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Anonymous Coward

"Think e-bikes are actually a very good idea - sure this one is costly but it would open it up for more / cheaper models."

Be careful what you wish for. The first result of the introduction of the rules allowing electrically assisted bikes about 30 years ago (they were totally illegal before then) was the Sinclair C5!

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Anonymous Coward

"I could buy ten cars for that."

Ten clapped out rust buckets that would be better scrapped than on the road.

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Anonymous Coward

Well maybe they'll be wreckers if you tried to buy 10, but you could certainly buy 4 or 5 good ones for approx £1k each.

My current car cost me about half what that bike goes for, and I've owned it for 6 years and driven 60,000 miles in that time. Let me down once when the after market alarm went wrong, so I can't really blame the old bus for that.

Green credentials? Well it's an old "pre common rail" diesel, so 2nd hand veggie oil works as fuel.

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Happy

"Green credentials?"

Well, preventing a load of energy and raw materials being used to build a new one by getting the most out of an existing one beats out the veg oil use by several orders of magnitude eco-wise.

It's just like recycling, only without the effort.

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Boffin

Bar room lawyers assemble!

OK: so what if you sold it as a "scooter" rather than as a peddle bike?

Would that change the regulations / requirments at all?

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