New bicycle legislation from Europe has been a long time coming. Jonathon Harker speaks with Halfords’ Chris Hall to shed light on the new regulations, and to explain how the retail giant is tackling them...

BICYCLE LEGISLATION: Setting the standard

The arrival of the new European bicycle standards have been the cause of some confusion in the cycle trade, following a protracted introduction to the trade with extended deadlines.

As BikeBiz revealed last month, Halfords is already preparing its ranges for the impending legislation changes.

Chris Hall, Halford’s head of quality assurance and product compliance shares his view: “The EU standards have long been planned to supercede the current UK-specific bicycle product safety standard BS 6102 Part 1.”

The process behind its introduction is quite complex, as Hall explains: “The mechanism for bringing the EN standards into UK law is for Parliament to revise the Pedal Bicycle Safety Regulations, removing the requirement for BS 6102 compliance. The new regulations will not refer to a specific standard, but require compliance with the EN standards under the General Product Safety Regulations – GPSR.

“The new legislation in the UK, as in most of the rest of the EU, will rely upon GPSR. In most cases these regulations require the use of the highest standards. However, in the case of bikes, the EN standards are specifically included in a list of standards required to meet GPSR, which has been published by the Commission. This in effect makes them mandatory across the EU. By using the mechanism the UK law will not have to be revised when the standards are changed. For example a new BMX EN standard is currently being drafted.”

Hall believes that the ultimate beneficiary will be consumers: “The new EN standards take forward the requirements for the safety and durability of bikes. Better braking performance of all cycles is required, varying according to each individual standard, which are each designed for specific types of bike. In the case of bikes for young children both front and rear brakes are now required. Key parts of the bike – frame, forks, drive-train, wheels and handlebar assemblies – need to withstand strength and fatigue testing, simulating very severe real-life usage.”

The standards even provide education for riders: “A more comprehensive owners manual is also required, giving clear information to the customer about their new cycle and encouraging them to look after their cycle and understand the benefits of EN-required features helping them get the most out of their purchase.”

Halfords is a keen advocate of the introduction of the standards: “As the number one UK and ROI bike retailer, Halfords is keen to adopt the most stringent quality and safety standards, and pass these benefits onto the customer. We feel we have a duty to implement the most rigorous standards on the market, even though they may not yet strictly be required by law.

“Our existing internal standards incorporate the requirements of the EN bike standards and additional requirements that we have built up with long experience of working with our network of store specialists.”

All of Halfords’ cycle range will comply with the new standards ahead of the deadline. “We began our EN development programme in 2007, beginning with our own brands, Apollo and Carrera, and kids’ bikes (less than 18-inch wheels),” says Hall. “New cycles in these ranges were fully compliant to the relevant EN standard. These were launched onto the market in 2007, when we were able to claim the first range of kids’ bikes to be fully EN compliant. Also, at least 85 per cent of our other ranges are already EN-compliant.”

Hall concludes: “Our desire to apply stringent quality and safety standards to our cycles is emphasised by Halfords’ free build and safety check, followed by a free six-week service. Ultimately, the customer receives peace-of-mind.”

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