Can I ride an e-bike in the UK?
Can I ride an e-bike in the UK?
It is no longer simply a matter of statistics. It is a well-known fact that e-bikes and electric scooters sales are boosting in the UK - just take a quick look around you!
The increasing popularity of electrically assisted bicycles on British roads means that the UK laws and policies surrounding them has changed significantly in the last few years and it will inevitably continue to do so with the introduction of new models. If you decide to invest your money in an e-bike, make sure you are familiar with the regulations and aware of what you need or don’t need to do before venturing into a future of cycling with some peace of mind.
Generally speaking, under current British laws, e-bikes or ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPC) as the government refers them to, are classified as standard bicycles as long as they comply with some specific parameters. This wasn’t the case for Northern Ireland but since April 2020, regulations have been updated so you don’t need a licence, pay taxes, insure or register your e-bike in order to hit the roads in the whole of the UK.
Of course, that also means that you have access to public roads, bike lanes, byways and paths as standard bikes do. The key difference from a standard bicycle is that you can only ride an e-bike on a public road if you are over 14 years of age.
To be classified as an EAPC your e-bike must meet these three criteria:
1) It must have pedals to propel its motor;
- The motor on your e-bike must generate no more than 250 watts of continuous power;
- The electrical assistance supplied by the motor must automatically cut-off when the vehicle reaches a speed of roughly 15.5 mph or 25 kmh.
As most of the new models are built for the European market, all manufacturers must meet European standards. Look out for the CE conformity label on your frame as this should show whether your model conforms to those parameters.
If an EAPC does not meet the criteria above, under current rules, it is classed as a moped or a motorbike, so you need to insure it, register it and have a driving licence to ride it. Bear in mind that many European manufacturers also produce e-bikes that can go up to 45 kmh or 28 mph. These are not illegal to drive on public roads but as mentioned earlier, you will need to treat them as mopeds, so you must get a licence, pay taxes and wear a helmet.
What if the model you want to purchase is propelled by a throttle? Well, cheer up because the UK has taken a step forward in comparison to the EU laws in this instance. In fact, in the UK throttles are generally allowed as long as your model also has a pedal assist mode and it conforms to the other EAPC standards in terms of speed and nominal wattage.
These guidelines should help you get a better understanding of the rules about the use of electric bikes but if still have doubts get in touch and our team will be happy to clarify further. Safe riding!
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Author: Giacomo Russo @ Giacomorussoimages