UK Electric Bike Laws & You
With the rise of e-mobility across the UK due to the rising cost of living, some people will be considering an electric bike to commute to work.
Despite their rapid rise in popularity, electric bikes aren't heavily regulated. Naturally, anyone considering an electric bike will question its limits and uses.
You need to be aware of only a few electric bike laws to stay on the right side when riding your e-bike. First and foremost, electric bikes are treated the same as regular bicycles in the UK.
Definition of an electric bike
The UK law on electric bikes was harmonized with the EU version under UN15194 in April 2015. This forms the legal basis of what can be called an "e-bike." In short, an e-bike is an "EAPC" (electrically assisted pedal cycle). You do not need a licence to ride one and it does not need to be registered, taxed or insured. To be considered an EAPC, an electric bike must meet the following criteria:
- It must have pedals and electric motors that work together
- The electric motor can't provide more than 250w of power
- The electric motor can only assist when the rider is pedaling – it can't propel the bike on its own
The electric bike motor
The electric motor/drive system fitted/contained within the bike must have a max power output of 250w and not be able to propel the bike while it exceeds 15.5mph.
As well as the limits on the drive system, it has to show:
- The manufacturer of the motor
- The power output
- Any visible information on the bike has to display; the voltage of the battery used/contained within it and the bike's maximum speed (assisted).
Where can I ride my e-bike?
So long as your electric bike meets the above criteria, you can ride it on all UK cycle paths, and anywhere else, bikes usually are allowed. You can't ride on pavements or bridleways.
Do I need to insure my e-bike?
Again, no law in the UK states you must have insurance to ride a bike. However, we would always recommend taking out bicycle insurance, as it will cover you for any damage to your bike or if your bike was stolen.
Do I need a license to ride my e-bike?
Electric bikes (EAPCs) are an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative means of transport for drivers. Electric bikes that meet specific technical requirements do not need to be registered, insured, or taxed; no licence is required to ride them.
Is there a minimum age to ride an e-bike in the UK?
In short, yes.
You can ride an electric bike if you are 14 or over on public access land in the United Kingdom. There is no restriction on private property.
I think my electric bike is illegal; how would I know?
Suppose your current e-bike doesn't meet the above criteria (for example, its motor exceeds the 250w limit or provides power/assistance above the 15.5mph limit). In that case, it should be registered with the DVLA and taxed and insured as a motor vehicle.
All of our e-bikes are compliant with the law.
Some e-bikes have "throttles". What are those?
Many e-bikes are pedal-assist bikes, meaning you'll only get an extra power kick when pedaling. Some bikes also come with a throttle, which offers you an extra boost with the simple push of a button when you aren't pedaling.
A twist throttle works similarly to a motorcycle's before adopting EU Harmonised Standards and introducing motor technology improvements. Starting on January 1st 2016, all bikes with a "throttle" function (whether twist or a button) must only provide power up to 6 mph; 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. 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 January 1st 2016, it's still considered an EAPC. Which doesn't require a license or to be registered.
Can I de-restrict my electric bike in any way?
Yes. Many companies or private individuals offer services to de-restrict e-bikes however there are two serious considerations.
First, you are immediately removing your compliance with the law. You will fall into the motor vehicle category unless you only use your e-bike on private land.
The second thing to remember is that if you try to fit the kit yourself, you will immediately invalidate the warranty on your new e-bike. We don't recommend making any unauthorized alterations to your new e-bike outside of regular routine maintenance or "bolt-on" upgrades. (If you would like to remove the speed restriction).