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E-Bike UK Law Explained

E-Bike UK Law Explained



Electric bikes and UK law: what you need to know

Do you need a licence to ride an electric bike? What's the fastest you can go? Will I need to insure it? etc..

We break down all these questions below.

 

UK E-BIKE DEFINITIONS AND THE LAW

The UK legislation was harmonised with EU law EN15194 in April 2015, and there have been no changes thus far following Brexit. For now it's pretty clear in defining what can – and what cannot – be called an ebike.
Your steed is an "electrically assisted pedal cycle" (or EAPC, or ebike, or Pedelec) if: the bike has pedals that propel it; the electric motor won't assist you when you’re travelling more than 25 km/h (15.5mph); and the power doesn't exceed 250 watts.
The cycles that meet these requirements (which affect two-wheeled bikes but also tandems and tricycles) can be ridden on any cycle paths and anywhere else that bikes are normally allowed.
In the UK you must be over 14 years old to ride an electric bike but you don’t need a licence, nor do you need to register it or pay vehicle tax.
You may find off-road bikes that can go faster than 15.5 mph by flicking a switch, but for UK law these are not compliant with EAPC regulations for on-road use.

THE THROTTLE ‘DILEMMA’

Harmonisation with EU law has had an important effect on electric bikes with ‘twist and go’ throttles that can take the bike to full speed without any pedalling at all.

From January 1 2016, the only throttles legal within the UK’s EAPC legislation are those that assist the rider without pedalling up to a maximum speed of 6 km/h (3.7 mph) – i.e. starting assistance only.

If the rider is rolling – but not pedalling – faster than 6km/h, the throttle cuts off. If the cyclist pedals at the same time then the throttle can still assist up to the general limit of 15.5mph.

If you bought an ebike with a full-speed throttle before January 1 2016, those sold prior to this date are still considered as EAPC and do not require a registration or taxed. Practically, you could still buy one a ‘twist and go’ and not be fined, but it would have to have been produced or imported before January 1.

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