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Buying and selling bikes, part 1 – basic kit requirements

31 May 2011

I’ve been promising for a while now to write about the rules on buying and selling bikes.

There are quite a few rules in this context, so I’ll take it in stages over the next couple of weeks.

This post looks at the basic kit that has to be provided with a pedal cycle whenever it is sold. As far as I can see, the rules apply to both new and second-hand sales.

Once again the rules are different for e-bikes. So this post deals only with non-electric bikes. I’ll post separately on buying and selling e-bikes.

Rules applying to all sales

If you sell a bike, whether new or second-hand, you have to comply with certain basic rules about the brakes.

I wrote about the rules on bike brakes in my previous post. Generally your bike has to have two independent braking systems (one on the front wheel and one on the back), unless you ride a special kind of bike and the rules are different. See my previous post for details.

If you sell a bike which isn’t equipped with the necessary brakes (for that kind of bike), you will commit an offence and be liable to a fine of up to £1000. (PCCUR r. 12(b); RTA s. 81(5),(6); RTOA Sch 2)

So, for example, selling a fixed-wheel bike which doesn’t have a front brake is an offence. Similarly, selling a dutch-style bike with a pedal-backwards rear brake and no front brake is an offence.

As I’ve said, as far as I can see this rule applies to both new and second-hand sales. And it’s not just selling the bike which can get you in trouble – it’s also an offence to offer to sell or to supply (i.e. hand over after you’ve sold) a bike without the correct brakes. (PCCUR r. 12)

There are exemptions in some scenarios – so you won’t commit an offence if:

  • you’re selling a brakeless track bike (i.e. a bike which has no braking system and is specifically designed for off-road racing on enclosed tracks). (PCCUR r. 12(b)(ii))
  • you’re selling the bike for export. (RTA s. 81(6)(a))
  • you had reasonable grounds to believe that the bike wouldn’t be used on roads in Great Britain without the necessary adaptations to comply with the rules on brakes. (RTA s. 81(6)(b))

There’s no rule requiring the brakes to be in efficient working order when you sell a bike. But if they’re not, it would be a good idea to point out that the bike isn’t roadworthy. If you sell a second-hand bike with brakes which aren’t roadworthy, and the buyer rides the bike on the road, you might have committed the offence of causing another person to ride on the road without proper brakes – see my previous post. There’s also a possibility that you could be liable to pay damages if the buyer has an accident.

I should say that I’ve not found any recorded cases of prosecutions for the selling offence. I have heard of prosecutions for causing another person to ride without proper brakes, although not many. But enforcement is always a possibility, so the rules are worth bearing in mind. It’s also worth bearing in mind your other obligations as a seller (of new or second-hand bikes) – things like not misrepresenting the state of the bike. This post is confined to basic kit requirements; I’ll look at other aspects of selling in the future.


Photo by confidence, comely from here:

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