Riding an electric bike for the first time? It’s clear that there’s some obvious differences between an ebike and a standard, non-powered pedal bike, so it can be confusing as to whether or not the same laws apply.
Thankfully, an eBike is classed as a bicycle when it comes to road laws, and there’s no additional registration or costs required to use it. However, there are some additional laws that apply specifically to eBikes, with regards to the speed and power of the motor.
According to UK law, you can only ride an electric bike on public roads if you’re at least 14 years old.
250W is the maximum motor permitted on an eBike. Anything higher, and the bike would instead by classed as a moped.
15.5mph (30 km/h) is the maximum speed at which at the bike’s motor can provide electric assistance. You can travel faster than this, but only through your own pedalling power.
No, you don’t need a driving license to ride an eBike, even if you’re cycling on public roads. The only requirement for you to use an eBike on the road is that you’re at least 14 years of age.
Yes, an eBike has the same vehicle classification as a standard bike in terms of rules and regulations. However, if you illegally tune your eBike so regulations on speed and power are exceeded, your bike would actually be classed as a motorised vehicle, bringing with it additional costs and requirements.
While an electric moped and eBike are both powered by an electric motor, there’s one key difference – a moped accelerates without any work from you, while an eBike requires you to pedal.
No, an electric bike is classified the same as a standard pedal bike, meaning you don’t need to pay tax to use it on the roads. It also doesn’t need registering in the same way as other vehicles.
An eBike has automatic mechanisms to ensure that when you’re travelling above 15.5mph, the electric motor will cut out and stop providing you with additional assistance. Tuning devices are available that manipulate how the speed is read by the bike, meaning the motor continues to speed up the ride while over the legal limit. It’s a process that can be dangerous, as well as illegal when on public roads.
In a way, yes. Tuning an eBike isn’t an illegal act, but using a tuned eBike on the road is definitely against the law. You can use a tuned eBike on private property, but once you’re anywhere where the Road Traffic Act applies (such as any public road), it’s illegal to ride. Breaking this law can lead to a conviction, potentially involving a hefty fine, and in some cases even a custodial sentence. Want to know more? Read our blog on why eBike tuning is illegal and dangerous here.