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Buying and selling bikes, part 2 – kit requirements for new bikes

8 June 2011

Last week I wrote about the basic kit rules which apply to sales of all bikes – new and second-hand.

In addition to the basic rules, there are more detailed kit rules which apply to sales of new bikes. So if you’re selling a new bike, you’ll need to comply with the basic rules, and also provide the extra kit required by the detailed rules.

And if you’re buying a new bike, the additional rules tell you what kit you can expect to receive.

The rules are quite complicated. I’ve summarised them as best I can.

When do the detailed kit rules apply?

The rules about additional kit only apply to two-wheeled pedal bikes for adults, when they are sold new and in the course of a business. (Consumer Protection Act 1987, s. 46(5))

So the additional rules don’t apply to sales of the following:

  • Bikes with more than two wheels – for example tricycles. (Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/198) r. 2)
  • Children’s bikes –the additional kit rules don’t apply if the top of the saddle is lower than 635mm from the ground (when the bike is upright, the saddle is raised to the fullest extent compatible with safety and the tyres are fully inflated). As I’ve said before, this rule might mean that some recumbent bikes fall outside the rules too. (PBSR r. 3(1)(a), 3(2))
  • Brakeless track bikes (i.e. bikes with no brakes which are specifically designed for off-road racing on enclosed tracks) (PBSR r. 3(1)(c))
  • Bespoke competition bikes (PBSR r. 3(1)(d))
  • Bikes which the seller believes will not be used in the UK (PBSR r. 3(1)(e))
  • E-bikes (PBSR r. 2)
  • Second-hand bikes – i.e. bikes which have been previously supplied and used (other than for the purpose of testing) on or off road. It’s not entirely clear whether re-built bicycles (for example with some used parts and some new parts) count as second-hand, or might count as new (in which case the additional kit requirements would apply). It might be a matter of degree – depending on how much of the bicycle has been pre-used. (PBSR r. 3(1)(b))

Assembled bikes

The additional rules apply when a normal adult bicycle is supplied new.

When one of these bikes is supplied assembled, the rules are as follows:

  • The bike has to be fitted with a bell of a category intended for use on bicycles. (PBSR r. 4(3))
  • If the bike has hand-operated brakes (see my earlier post for braking requirements), it has to be set up so that the right brake operates on the front wheel, and the left brake operates on the rear wheel. (PBSR r. 4(4))
  • The bike has to have reflective material or a wide-angle reflector (in any colour) in the front wheel, so that light is capable of being reflected to both sides of the bicycle (PBSR r. 4(5), (8), (9))
  • Similarly the bike has to have reflective material or a wide-angle reflector (in any colour) in the rear wheel, again so that light is capable of being reflected to both sides of the bicycle, unless this is impossible due to the design or equipment of the bicycle – in which case the reflector may be fitted to the frame. (PBSR r. 4(6), (7))
  • The bike has to be fitted with a white front reflector or a white (or yellow) front lamp, a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors (two on each pedal). (PBSR r. 4(10), (11), (12))

Unassembled bikes

If you’re supplying a new bike with unassembled parts, the rules are slightly different.

First, you need to provide:

  • A list of readily available standard tools required to assemble the parts correctly. (PBSR r. 5(2)(a))
  • Any special or non-standard tools required for assembly (here a list is not sufficient – you have to provide the non-standard tools themselves). (PBSR r. 5(2)(b))
  • A set of instructions containing information on the correct assembly and subsequent adjustments of any parts supplied unassembled. (PBSR r. 5(3))

Secondly, the bike has to be capable of being assembled and adjusted in accordance with the instructions so as to comply with the kit rules which apply to assembled bikes. (PBSR r. 5(4))

In other words, you need to provide all the necessary kit, plus the necessary instructions (and a tools list and any non-standard tools) so that the buyer can turn the bike into a fully compliant assembled bike – with the necessary bell, reflectors and brake alignment, as I’ve described above.

So you can supply a bike as parts, so long as you supply the necessary parts to mean it can be assembled to comply with the kit rules for assembled bikes.

But what about if you’re just selling bike parts, and not a complete bike?

You will have to comply with the regulations in full if you supply a “substantially complete vehicle, even if one or more parts are not supplied”. (PBSR r. 2)

So if you’re selling just a frame, forks and wheels, you’re probably not caught by the rules – because you’re probably not supplying a substantially complete vehicle.

But if you’re selling a bike without pedals, that probably is a substantially complete vehicle, so the rules probably do apply. In that case it’s difficult to see how you can comply with the requirement for pedal reflectors – so you might inadvertently break the rules.

Offering for supply etc

The rules prohibit the supply of a new bike which does not have all the kit set out above. Supply seems to mean handing over the bike to the customer (as distinct from making an agreement to sell it).

But the rules also prohibit offering or agreeing to supply a bike, or exposing or possessing a bike for supply (for example by putting it in a shop window), when the requirements aren’t satisfied – unless you have measures in place to ensure that when the actual supply happens, the requirements are satisfied. (PBSR r. 4(1), (17), (18), 5(1), (5), (6))

So, for example, if you have a bike shop and display a new fixed-wheel bike for sale without reflectors, you will be exposing it for supply and breaking the rules unless you have measures in place to make sure that when you hand over the bike to the customer, it comes with all the necessary kit.


If you break the additional kit rules, there are two main possible consequences.

First, you’re likely to have committed an offence, which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a £5000 fine. A prosecution is only possible if the proceedings are brought within 12 months of the offence. (CPA s. 12(1), (5); PBSR r. 6(2))

Secondly, you can be sued for damages by anyone who is affected by your breach of the requirements. Obviously the buyer is the person most likely to be affected in this way. If the buyer had to buy reflectors separately because you didn’t include them, they could (for example) sue for the extra cost they incurred. Or they might be able to sue for consequential losses – for example fines they incurred for not having the necessary reflectors when they used their bike on the road. I’m not aware of any court actions of this nature having been brought, but it is at least a possibility. (CPA s. 41(1))

Finally, if you’re buying a new bike, you should be aware that the kit rules for supplying new bikes aren’t the same as the rules for using the bike on the road.

So once you’ve bought the bike, you’re free to switch around the brakes, take off the bell, and take off the side reflectors (for example). Or if you buy the bike unassembled, you don’t necessarily need to fit all the kit which has to come with it.

In order to ride the bike lawfully on the road, all you need to comply with are the basic rules for use on the road (on things like brakes and lights and reflectors) – see my earlier posts for details.


Photo by loop_oh from here:

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