What is the UK law on electric bikes?
In the UK, an electric bike is only road legal if the pedal-assisted power is restricted to 15.5mph, its electric motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and you must be 14 years old and over.
Some electric bikes come with a throttle, also called ‘twist and go’ or ‘walk-assist’ – in the UK these must be restricted to 3.7mph to be road legal.
Ebikes that meet all these requirements are classed as a normal pedal bike, which means they can be ridden on roads, cycle paths and anywhere else pedal bikes are normally allowed. You don’t need a licence and it doesn’t need to be registered, taxed or insured, although it’s worth considering getting your ebike insured against theft.
In addition, ebikes are subject to the usual rules that apply to regular push bikes when sold as new.
Are electric bicycles street legal?
Ebikes must conform to electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC) legislation to be street legal in the UK, ie. pedal-assisted power restricted to 15.5mph, electric motor has a maximum power output of 250w and you are 14 years old and over.
If the pedal-assisted power and electric motor exceed these restrictions, then your electric bike will need to be registered, insured and taxed as a motor vehicle, which also means you’ll need a driving licence and must wear a motorcycle helmet.
Check and maintain your ebike regularly to ensure it’s kept in a suitable working condition.
Why are ebikes limited to 15mph?
Because otherwise they would be classified as a motorcycle/moped and would need to be registered, taxed and insured. Also, you can’t ride motorcycles/mopeds on cycleways etc.
It’s extremely unwise to de-restrict your ebike even if only being ridden on private land, primarily for safety reasons but any warranty on your bike will likely become void, plus you could also cause some expensive damage to your bike.
Why are electric bikes legal but not scooters?
As things currently stand, e-scooters are classified as motor vehicles and therefore illegal to ride on the road without tax, insurance, lights and number plates. However, the Government is currently running trials with e-scooter rentals in certain areas of the country as part of their greener travel plans. It’s still illegal though to use a privately owned e-scooter within these trial areas so you must only ride a hired one. Only time will tell whether the law changes to include e-scooters in the same category as ebikes.
E-scooters can legally be ridden on private land with the landowner’s permission.
Are electric bikes worth it?
Of course, there are times when cycling is simply not a practical mode of transport for many of us but there are still plenty of reasons why electric bikes are worth it, so let’s look at just some of the great things about them…
- They help you cycle further and faster
- They help you keep fit
- They’re ideal for commuting – with all the motor vehicles clogging up our cities and towns, it can be a satisfying and liberating feeling leaving all that congestion behind
- No more struggling trying to cycle up hills or into headwinds
- They’re far cheaper to run and maintain than a car or motorcycle
- They can be an invaluable means of helping people stay independent, mobile and feeling less isolated, especially if someone is unable to drive and/or has no regular access to public transport
- They’re just a really fun, enjoyable way to get out and about
The only real downsides to ebikes are they’re heavier than a regular push bike and a bit louder, but as they’re equipped with a battery and a motor it’s hardly surprising. Replacement batteries aren’t cheap though, generally costing around £200-£400. However, when you consider the annual expense of running and maintaining a motor vehicle or using public transport, then the cost of maintaining an electric bike is very low by comparison.
With the increasing popularity of ebikes, there are now plenty to choose from; as they can differ greatly in price, quality and performance, it’s worth test riding a few within your budget so you get the right bike for your needs.
e-Ranger Electric Bikes sell a range of leisure ebikes with step-through, cross rail and folding frames, all at very reasonable prices for the quality and specification, plus they have an excellent reputation for providing great customer service. Visit their website at www.e-ranger.co.uk for details of their range.