What is the maximum power I can use in the EU and UK?
For electrically assisted trike a motor of continuous rating of 250w with a pedal sensor and maximum speed of 25kmh is legal without type testing.
All electric bikes with motors more powerful than 250W are required to display a tax disc, with insurance mandatory and with the vehicle registered. It needs to display a number plate and carry an MOT certificate. Any rider of such a vehicle must hold a current driving licence and keep to the laws appertaining to mopeds. Anyone found riding an electric bike with a motor more powerful than 250W rated power without the correct documentation is liable to be prosecuted by the police. The rider will be open for prosecution for driving without a licence, driving without insurance, driving an unlicensed vehicle etc. If the person riding such a vehicle has a current driving licence and is prosecuted, they will receive penalty points and may even be banned from driving any motor vehicle.
Can I ride a more powerful trike?
In the UK you can ride a twist and go trike of up to 1000w continuous with a speed cut off of 25kmh as long as it has type approval and you are over 14 years of age.
25th February, 2015 in Electric bike news
IVS (International Vehicle Standards), the DFT division responsible for vehicle safety, has today confirmed that although ‘twist and gos’ – electric bikes capable of being powered by a throttle – will require type approval from 2016, those with power cutting out at 15.5mph will “not be considered motor vehicles and will not therefore require registration, tax, insurance and rider licensing”, said a spokesman to Pedelecs this afernoon.
– cycles designed to pedal equipped with an auxiliary propulsion with the primary aim to aid pedalling and
– output of auxiliary propulsion is cut off at a vehicle speed ≤ 25km/h and
– maximum continuous rated or net power ≤ 1000w and
Type approval can either be obtained by a vehicle manufacturer approving in volume (the UK type approval authority is the Vehicle Certification Agency) or by an individual seeking a Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval, conducted by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
As part of the 6th April amends to EAPC legislation, ‘marking’ or manufacturer’s plates, will also require the plate to show the maximum assisted cut-off speed, in addition to the existing requirements of manufacturer, battery voltage and maximum continuous rated power.
IVS also clarified: “There is no change to the law with regards to age, that remains in place, no person under the age of 14 may ride an EAPC.”
What configuration is best?
This is of course a matter of personal choice, to help you decide consider the following points.
Front wheel hub motor, fairly simple to install and pulls you along the road. This is ungeared and usually set to max speed of 25kmh. You will need strong front forks and headset bearings to cope with additional loading. Main disadvantage is a lack of grip on slippery surfaces and can be a real challenge on wet hills offering limited traction, especially as you have a heavy cargo load in the rear.
Crank motors are becoming very popular with 2 wheelers, not so suited to heavy cargo trikes. The main and considerable advantage is the ability to use the gears to give you increased hill climbing ability coupled with rear wheel drive for improved traction. Main drawback is you are putting a great deal of strain through the drivetrain in terms of 9 speeds chains, derailleurs, NuVinci or geared hubs, this can lead to premature wearing and possible mechanical failure. Warranty offered on expensive crank motor kit and gearboxes are often void if used in a commercial cargo trike application.
Mid drive motor, fitted independently of the crank and gear system, usually placed under the cargo box and drives the differential directly via uprated chains. This has several advantages including improved traction through rear wheel drive, motor axle not having to supporting the weight of trike as in hub motors, various gearing options can be configured enabling improved hill climbing ability or top speed. Regenerative braking is often available in this set up. This option can be considered to be the most reliable and as such warranty in commercial cargo application is usually not a problem.
Brushed DC Motors, established, robust and simple, often internally geared and offers good torque performance though can be rather noisy. Needs attention to brushes which can be difficult to replace and often uses composite or plastic gears which will wear down quickly in a cargo trike application. A good cheap motor solution with some hill climbing ability.
DC brushless Motors, same reliability but less noise and more efficient, are becoming the industry standard. Direct drive motors do not use internal gears and as such are particularly suited to cargo trike application and can offer regeneration. Geared versions ideally need to use planetary steel gears for reliability, try to avoid plastic/composite gears.