Simon Cowell Needs a Real E-Bike

After his second accident, it's time he invested in a true e-bike.

Das Spitzing Evolution S and Simon Cowell
(L) Das Spitzing Evolution S and (R) Simon Cowell.

M1 Sporttechnik / Getty Images

"America's Got Talent" judge Simon Cowell was hospitalized following a crash near his west London home, reports The Sun. According to the publication's story, titled "NOT AGAIN SIMON: Simon Cowell rushed to hospital after nearly dying following another terrifying e-bike smash":

"Cowell’s latest crash — near his home in West London — comes 18 months after he broke his back on an e-bike in Los Angeles. Last night a source said: “Simon is lucky to be alive. He was pedalling along, with his electric motor on, when the wheels suddenly went from under him after hitting a wet patch. He slipped and went flying over the handlebars into the middle of the road."

Treehugger covered Cowell's previous crash with posts titled "Simon Cowell Did Not Fall Off an E-Bike" and "Simon Cowell May Sue Electric Two-Wheeled Vehicle With Pedals Company," to make the important distinction between the high-powered electric motorcycle that he was riding and the much slower and safer vehicle defined as an e-bike. And now we have to do it again.

For the American website Electric Bike Report, Sam Gross writes: "This time, the bike Cowell crashed appears to be a bonafide e-bike. Reports say Cowell was riding a Das Spitzing Evolution S-Pedelec, a full suspension eMTB with a 500W mid-drive motor and 1050Wh battery."

But it is not a bonafide e-bike in the United Kingdom where this crash happened. In the U.S., this would be considered a type 3 e-bike, which can go up to 27 mph. But all over the European Union and in the U.K., this class does not exist. E-bikes there have a maximum nominal power of 250 watts and a maximum speed of 15.5 mph. Then it is an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle) or what I call "a bike with a boost."

According to the regulations: "Any electric bike that does not meet the EAPC rules is classed as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed. You’ll need a driving licence to ride one and you must wear a crash helmet."

In our post "Why Are E-Bike Regulations So Random?" I discussed these European rules:

"Cowell learned the hard way that there is a reason the vast majority of e-bikes in Europe have pedals you have to use, motors that are nominally 250 watts (peak power is much higher), and a top speed of 15.5 mph. These are standards developed in countries where lots of people ride bikes, and where e-bikes have to play nicely in the vast network of bike lanes. They have experience and deep knowledge, and you can go from country to country in the whole European Union and the bikes are subject to pretty much the same rules."

Once again, according to U.K. rules, Cowell wasn't riding an e-bike: He was on a moped. He was probably going too fast for the wet conditions and he legally should have been wearing a helmet. They are smart rules based on years of European experience.

Here, we got American exceptionalism where everyone knows better, and we get e-bikes that can go almost twice the European speed limit, three different classes that all look alike, and inconsistent rules all across North America, and they are all too fast.

As e-bikes keep booming, there is going to be a backlash. I recently did a presentation where I talked about my e-bike, and a member of the audience complained that he no longer felt safe in the bike lane, that the e-bikes were taking over and going way too fast, terrifying him. This is why e-bikes are limited to 15.5 mph in Europe; they are supposed to be bikes. Instead, in North America, we have them scaring cyclists off the road.

California bike rules

People for Bikes

Every time I write about this, readers complain that I am wrong—that North American trips are longer, or hills are steeper, or the people are heavier, or the European rules are silly and outdated. Fine. But 20 is plenty—28 mph is ridiculous and shouldn't be considered an e-bike. As Cowell demonstrates yet again, there are reasons that European regulations are written the way they are. And it's probably high time he invested in a true e-bike.