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 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.