With the rise of e-mobility across the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's only a matter of time before the inevitable happens. Here's how to stay on the right side of UK eBike law on your new eBike.
Naturally, anyone thinking about buying an eBike will question their limits and uses. Do I need a license to ride an eBike? How fast can I go on my new eBike? What is the maximum power eBike I can buy in the UK and still comply with eBike law?
Thankfully, despite their rapid rise in popularity, eBikes aren’t heavily regulated at all and are very accessible.
First, lets define an “eBike”.
The UK law on eBikes (like most) was harmonised with the EU version under UN15194 in April 2015 and this forms the legal basis of what can be called an “eBike”.
In short, an eBike is an “EAPC” (electrically assisted pedal cycle). To be considered an EAPC, it must have pedals as its primary method of propulsion.
The electric motor/drive system fitted/contained within the bike must;
Have a maximum power output of 250 Watts
Not be able to propel the bike while its exceeding 15.5mph
As well as the limits on the drive system, it has to show;
The manufacturer of the motor
The power output
Anywhere visible on the bike it also has to display;
The voltage of the battery used/contained within it
The maximum speed (assisted) of the bike
Where can I use my eBike?
So long as your eBike meets the above criteria, you can ride it on all UK cycle paths and anywhere else bikes are normally allowed.
Is there a minimum age to ride an eBike in the UK?
Yes. In order to ride an eBike on public access land in the UK you must be over 14 years old. On private land there is no restriction.
Do I need a license to ride my eBike?
No! In the UK, so long as you and your eBike meet all of the above criteria, no license is required.
I already have an eBike and I think it breaks the rules.
All of our eBikes are compliant with the law. If your current eBike doesn’t meet the above criteria (for example its motor exceeds the 250W limit or it provides power/assistance above the 15.5mph limit) it should be/you will need to register it with the DVLA and it will need to be taxed and insured as a motor vehicle. You’ll also need to wear a full motorcycle helmet while riding it.
This type of eBike (often referred to as a “pedelec”) also can't be ridden on cycle paths (because of its classification as a full “motor vehicle”) and you’ll need to apply for “Individual Vehicle Approval” from the DVLA which is similar to an MOT before you can register, tax and insure it.
Some eBikes have “throttles”, what’s the deal with those?
Before advancements in motor technology and the introduction of the EU Harmonised Standards, some eBikes had a twist throttle that works the same way as a motorcycle.
Starting on January 1st 2016, all bikes with a “throttle” function (whether twist or button) must only provide power up to 6mph, IE, its only function is to get you moving. After this it should cut off and you will need to pedal (with motor assistance) up to 15.5mph at which point the motor should again, cease assistance.
If you bought or now own a bike with a throttle from before this date, don’t worry. As long as it was manufactured before 1st January 2016, its still considered an EAPC and doesn’t require a license/registration with the DVLA.
Can I “de-restrict” my eBike?
Yes. Many companies/private individuals offer services to de-restrict eBikes however there are two serious considerations to make. Firstly, you are immediately removing your compliance with the law and you will fall into the motor vehicle category unless only using your eBike on private land. The second is that if fitting it yourself, you will immediately invalidate your factory warranty. We really do not recommend making any unauthorised alterations to your new eBike* outside of normal routine maintenance or “bolt on” upgrades.