"I don't live in the past. I'm always excited by what I'm doing in the present." Sir Clive Sinclair

Author Topic: The Law & The C5  (Read 6344 times)

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Offline patbrooks

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The Law & The C5
« on: 05, April, 2014 - 11:55:04 »
The Law & The C5 to the best of our knowledge and information

The C5 and the Law as quoted from the C5 Driver Magazine 1985
New government legislation in 1983 opened the way for the C5. The law allows anyone 14 or over to drive it – with no licence, tax, compulsory insurance or helmet. And safety organisations have welcomed a new vehicle for young people.
This is assuming you have a factory standard produced C5, if it has been updated and or modified then the rules may differ, you need to ensure you still comply with the legislation which we have listed below to the best of our knowledge, please note this is as a guide only and if you are unsure then please make your own checks, we have tried to provide as much information as we can, hope this is useful.

This is from C5Alives Unofficial Service Manual created by P J Milner Sinclair vehicles, P Newman Sinclair Research & Roy Woodward Sinclair C5 Enthusiasts.

The UK does not currently enjoy the same liberal attitude to low-powered motor vehicles enjoyed by many of its European neighbours. Thus, even the lowest power mopeds require registration, road tax, insurance and a driving licence.

As a result of activity by certain interested parties, and after tests and recommendations from the UK Transport and Road Research Laboratory, a new category of electrically assisted vehicle was legally defined in August 1983. The key features were:

Two or three wheels with pedal propulsion
Maximum weight of 40 or 60 Kg, depending on vehicle configuration
Maximum motor continuously rated output, 200 or 250 Watts, depending on vehicle configuration
Maximum powered speed 15 mph (24 kph)
In addition, this class of vehicle could be driven by any one of 14 years of age and over. It did not require a licence, insurance or road tax. Furthermore no protective helmet had to be worn.

Additional Legislation
Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles regulations 1983 – (EAPC)

1. Effect of The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 – Statutory Instrument 1983 No.1168 and The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations - 1983 Statutory Instrument 1983 No. 1176 together “the Regulations”.

An Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle which complies with the technical requirements in SI 1983/1168 (an “EAPC”) is not considered to be a motor vehicle within the meaning of The Road Traffic Act 1988. An EAPC is not required to be registered, have a vehicle licence or a nil licence, pay vehicle excise duty (road tax) or be insured as a motor vehicle. An EAPC cannot be ridden by anyone under the age of 14 years.

The Regulations apply to bicycles, tandem bicycles and tricycles fitted with pedals by means of which it is capable of being propelled. If the vehicle is to be regarded as an EAPC the motor assistance must be provided by an electric motor and not by an internal combustion engine. (Which also includes adding a generator to charge the battery (ies) The electric motor must not be able to propel the machine when it is travelling at more than 15mph.

Furthermore, in order to be an EAPC within the meaning of SI 1983/1168, the vehicle must also meet the following requirements:

Maximum kerbside weight (not including rider) shall not exceed

- bicycle - 40kg
- tandem bicycle – 60kg
- tricycle – 60kg

Maximum continuous rated power output of the motor shall not exceed

- bicycle - 0,2kW
- tandem bicycle – 0,25kW
- tricycle – 0,25kW

Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983

1. The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 (SI 1983/1176) imposes construction and use requirements for pedal cycles and EAPCs.

2. The effect of the European Community Directive 2002/24/EC – the amending framework Directive for European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) of powered two and three- wheeled vehicles

European Community Directive 2002/24/EC sets out harmonised technical construction standards for powered two and three-wheeled vehicles, including quadricycles (small four wheeled vehicles of limited mass and power). It is implemented in the UK by the Motor Cycles Etc. (EC Type Approval) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/2920) as amended. The system of ECWVTA normally applies to volume produced vehicles with manufacturers issuing a Certificate of Conformity (“CoC”) in compliance with a type approved model. This provides a route for the vehicle to be registered and enter into service. An alternative approval route for vehicles is by way of the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) scheme under The Motor Cycles Etc. (Single Vehicle Approval) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1959). This scheme provides for the approval of individual vehicles on the basis of an inspection, resulting (where appropriate) in the issue of a Minister's Approval Certificate (“MAC”).

The Directive includes within its scope low powered mopeds that may also be similar in definition to EAPCs. These are vehicles with pedals and fitted with an auxiliary electric motor having a continuously rated power output not greater than 1.0kW, capable of speeds not exceeding 25km/h.

However, there are certain vehicles in this category which may be regarded as EAPCs and are exempt from both ECWVTA and MSVA. These are cycles with pedal assistance and an electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power output of not more than 0,25kW where the electrical assistance is cut off when the machine reaches a speed of 25km/h or where the cyclist stops pedalling. The exemption applies to two, three and four wheeled vehicles. Exempt EAPCs do not need a CoC or a MAC.

A vehicle is not exempt from ECWVTA or MSVA if it is fitted with pedals and a motor that can provide power assistance at any time without the rider pedalling (see also section 3 below).

However, if such vehicle (i.e. one which is able to provide power assistance without the rider pedalling) is

an EAPC, our understanding is that the appropriate authorities (i.e. Trading Standards) are unlikely to take action to prevent the sale of these vehicles simply on the ground that they have neither a CoC or MAC. But they must conform to the appropriate safety and construction and use Regulations/Directives cited in this fact sheet. Nevertheless, if you are a dealer intending to supply such vehicles elsewhere in the European Community or the European Economic Area, it may be advisable to consider obtaining ECWVTA.

3. Vehicles outside the requirements of The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983

Any vehicle outside the scope of The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 due to the motor power output, speed up to which power can be provided, weight, or that do not have pedals by means of which the machine can be propelled, are considered to be motor vehicles. They will need to be registered, licensed and taxed, insured and the rider will need an appropriate driving licence and wear a motorcycle safety helmet.

Four wheeled vehicles and vehicles propelled by an internal combustion engine are also considered to be motor vehicles.

Machines resembling a child’s scooter but which are fitted with either an electric motor or an internal combustion engine, have been determined by two High Court judgements to be motor vehicles within the meaning of The Road Traffic Act 1988.

4. Other legislation
EAPCs may also need to comply with the Electrical Equipment designed for use within certain Voltage Limits Directive 73/23/EEC (as amended) (commonly known as the Low Voltage Directive) and the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive 89/336/EEC (as amended). Confirmation should be sought via the Department of Trade and Industry (Local Authorities Co-Ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS i.e. Trading Standards).

5. Access to the Regulations and Directives
(a) The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 – Statutory Instrument (SI 1983 No.1168) and The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 - Statutory Instrument (SI 1983 No. 1176) are available from The Stationery Office (See below).
(b) Directive 2002/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 March 2002 relating to the
type-approval of two or three-wheel motor vehicles is also available from The Stationery Office and is

published on the EUR-Lex European Legislation website:

With so many subjects containing so much legislation, combined with the complexity of it all, I'm really not at all surprised that the average police officer may struggle with understanding the legalities for the use of the C5.

It really is a legal minefield, this is an extract of a forum post which is from a source that the Police refer to;

 Whether a pedal vehicle with an electric motor should be regarded as a pedal cycle or a motor vehicle (as per section 185 RTA 1988) depends on it's primary method of propulsion. In Winter v DPP 2002 the Court considered the nature of a 'City bug', a scooter type device with an electric motor and pedals on the front wheel (fitted to try and get round the above British regulations).
The American version of the City Bug (was) without the pedals
The vehicle was shown to be primarily intended for use with a motor. Using the pedals was difficult and precarious. It could not be used safely on the roads by pedal power alone. The vehicle was deemed to be a motor vehicle not a pedal cycle. Also see the document relating to the meaning of a motor vehicle and / or DPP v Saddington 2000 for a similar decision regarding Go-ped type powered scooters.
A pedal cycle with a built in electric motor to assist on hills was marketed by Sir Clive Sinclair in the 1990's as a 'Zike'. This was held to be a  pedal cycle. The question as to whether Sir Clive's ill-fated electric 'C5' machine was a pedal cycle is less clear. It is considered more likely that it would now be regarded as a motor vehicle because the pedals were intended to assist the electric motor rather than the other way round.
If there is some doubt in the future it is suggested that a look at the marketing literature produced by a manufacturer may assist and of course if need be a statement may always be obtained from them. However, the matter will ultimately be a decision for the courts.

This suggests it would probably be difficult to remanufacture a standard C5 and get it past today’s rules

In short, our understanding is that the C5 was constructed to fit within the relevant 1983 legislation and that subsequent amendments are not enforced retrospectively i.e. as in present legal requirements such as seatbelts don’t apply to vintage cars, this means brand new electrically assisted bikes have to adhere to tougher rules than older stuff.

You may or may not be aware that if you hit a pedestrian on a zebra crossing you are into some seriously problems, if they are riding a bike they are not protected in law in the same degree as a pedestrian is, so be careful if crossing on a Zebra crossing when riding in a C5. Due to being classed as a bike/trike the oncoming drivers are not compelled to stop for you even if you have a wheel on the crossing.