UK Electric Bike Law

Electricbikelaw

In general:

EAPCs – Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles

The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles – EAPC – (Amendment) Regulations 2015 states that electric bikes that have powered assistance to a maximum of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) using a motor of no more than 250 Watts (maximum continuous rated power output) are considered bicycles and known as EAPCs, or electrically assisted pedal cycles.

Therefore type approval is not required. Pedelecs can be used legally without registration, road tax, a driving licence, insurance or the use of a crash helmet. They can be cycled on a cycle path and the rider must obey the laws appertaining to a standard pedal driven bicycle.

Specifically:

To remain exempt from motor vehicle legislation, an electric bicycle must be fitted with pedals capable of propelling the bike and comply with the following:

Power and Speed

Maximum (continuous) rated motor power 250W: EN15194 regulations require an electric bike to be capable of delivering 250 watts continuously without the motor being damaged (e.g. overheating).
Maximum speed with power assistance 25kmh (15.5mph in the UK)

Throttle control

‘Twist and gos’ – electric bikes manufactured with the capability of being powered by a throttle alone – will require type approval from January 2016. It is considered likely that larger manufacturers will type approve ‘’twist and gos’ before retailing. Where the power of ‘twist and gos’ cuts out at 15.5mph, they will not be considered motor vehicles in the eyes of the law and will not therefore require registration, tax, insurance and rider licensing. The new law will NOT be backdated so any bikes bought prior to January 2016 will not be affected as ‘grandfather rights’ apply. (This is entirely separate to ‘walk assist mode’ throttles that power the bike to a 6kmh top limit i.e. walking speed, to help you push the bike along, which are not affected by this law update.)

Trikes and Quadricycles

EAPCs are permitted to have more than 3 wheels (with no weight restriction).

Plating

As of 6th April 2015, manufacturer’s plates should show the maximum assisted cut­-off speed, in addition to the previous requirements of manufacturer name, battery voltage and maximum continuous rated power.

Cycle standards

All pedelecs must comply with existing pedal cycle standards. The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 updated British Standard braking requirements to the 2014 BS EN Standard.

EN15194 safety standard

The official safety standard for pedelecs in force across Europe is EN15194, deeming the e-bike to be safe and fit for purpose. EN 15194 only concerns the electric part of the vehicle, whereas for the bicycle part EN 14764 applies.

All bikes that have passed testing will be issued with a certificate of compliance from the testing house.

Legal age

A rider must be 14 years old to ride an electric bike in the UK. In most European countries there is no lower age limit so anyone can legally ride a pedelec on public roads or where the public have access.

High power e-bikes / Speed pedelecs

Nearly all electric bicycles sold in the UK have 250W (max continuous rated) motors and conform to both EU regulations and UK EAPC law.

Some electric bikes are currently sold in the UK with motors that continuously deliver power of more than 250W however. These bikes do not comply with either the EU or UK law appertaining to EAPCs. They are considered motor vehicles under law and require type approval.

All electric bikes with motors more powerful than 250W are required to display a tax disc, with insurance mandatory and with the vehicle registered. It needs to display a number plate and carry an MOT certificate. Any rider of such a vehicle must hold a current driving licence and keep to the laws appertaining to mopeds. Anyone found riding an electric bike with a motor more powerful than 250W rated power without the correct documentation is liable to be prosecuted by the police. The rider will be open for prosecution for driving without a licence, driving without insurance, driving an unlicensed vehicle etc. If the person riding such a vehicle has a current driving licence and is prosecuted, they will receive penalty points and may even be banned from driving any motor vehicle.

Derestriction, ‘off-road’ switches or modes and dongles

The Department of Transport say that electric bikes fitted with off-road switches or modes, that enable a bike’s motor to continue assisting to speeds beyond 15.5mph, do not comply with UK EAPC law. The term ‘off-road’ suggests that these bikes can be ridden on parkland, forests or other places away from main roads, which isn’t accurate. E-bikes with increased motor power (continuous rated power above 250w) or increased speed (with motor assistance not cutting out at 15.5mph) cannot be used legally as bicycles anywhere on land accessible by the public; when riding on private land you would need permission from the landowner.

 

 

Potted history:

Until the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015 revision came into force on 6th April 2015, the rules governing the maximum motor power allowed were hazy to say the least. UK law did not coincide with European law. In Europe 250W (rated) motors were permitted, whereas in the UK we were restricted to 200W, resulting in motor output being a very grey area. (Although the general understanding was that no prosecutions of anyone riding a 250W motored electric bike took place in the UK due to the motor size prior to April 2015). The Department for Transport had always maintained that the UK would eventually align with European law in permitting 250W motors however. The cut-off speed for powered assistance was 15mph. Furthermore there were weight restrictions, with maximum weight allowed of 40kg for a tandem or 60kg for a tricycle.

Accuracy of interpretation: We endeavor to ensure that our interpretation of the law is up to date and accurate. However we cannot accept liability for any information that may be inaccurate.

 

Further reading:

Updates to E-bike law announced


‘Twist and gos’ to require type approval, but not helmets, insurance or tax

Electric bikes: A quick introduction to e-bikes, how much to spend & where to buy

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