Electric Bike Laws
Due to the motor on an electric bike, there are laws in place to ensure they're safely used on cycle paths. We've put together everything you need to know to be road safe before purchasing your first electric bike.
Electric Bike Laws & Regulations
All Raleigh ebikes meet EAPC requirements, this means they are classed as regular push bikes. You can treat it just like a regular bike, you’re able to ride it on cycle paths, roads and any other places that regular bikes are allowed.
You do need to be 14 years old or over to ride an ebike. However, you don’t need a licence nor does it need to be registered, taxed or insured. These rules apply to England, Scotland and Wales.
What is an EAPC?
EAPC is an acronym for ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ – also another way of saying electric bike, meaning: it has pedals which propel it, the power can reach up to a maximum continuous rate of 250 watts and the motor won’t assist you if you’re travelling faster than 15.5mph.
However, to class as an EAPC, an ebike must meet certain requirements, as outlined below, to be road worthy.
Are electric bikes legal in the UK?
Yes, electric bikes are legal in the UK, however, they must be engineered to meet several rules to ensure it is road safe to ride.
All Raleigh electric bikes (ebikes) meet EAPC requirements, which means they are classed as regular push bikes. You can treat them just like a regular bike: you’re able to ride it on cycle paths, roads and any other places that regular bikes are allowed.
Do you have to pedal an electric bike?
Yes, an electric bike in the UK must be pedalled by a rider. This will activate the electric assistance motor and give you a boost to ride on gradients. Plus, the fun part of cycling and to reap the benefits is to pedal, and in particular, uphill!
How to check your ebike for roadworthiness and safety
If you’ve purchased an electric bike, you’ll need to check it meets the criteria of the ‘Construction & Use’ regulations to ensure your bike is roadworthy and safe.
Check your ebike meets the following requirements:
- Visible plate. Firstly, your bike model needs a visible sticker, also known as a plate, which must display the manufacturer's name and power output, the battery’s voltage and the maximum speed of the bike, amongst other things.
- Power ‘off’ button. Secondly, the engineering of your bike should allow it to default to ‘off’, meaning that the rider has to physically turn the bike on to start the power assistance.
- Check the pedals. The bike must be able to perform without electric assistance, and the pedals must work and propel forward.
- The battery must not leak. Look for any signs of the battery leaking as this can be dangerous and potentially cause a fire.
- The power doesn’t exceed the regulations. The electric motor on the bike must have a maximum continuous power output of no more than 250 watts* and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph.
- Otherwise, the bike is classed as a motorcycle. The brakes must also be compliant with BS EN 15194, paragraph 4.6.8 of the British / European / International standards.
- As with any bike, if you’re riding during a sunset or when it’s dark, it should be fitted with reflectors, on the front, back, the side, and with lights that meet the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations for bicycles.
Luckily all Raleigh ebikes are built to meet EAPC standards, so you don’t need to worry about getting it approved under the European approval scheme (ECWVTA), or registering, taxing or insuring it!
What age can you ride an electric bike?
You must be 14 years old and over to ride an ebike, as long as you ride them on the road and not on the pavement. If your child is under 14, it is illegal for them to ride an electric bike and they would be breaking the law, even if the battery is switched off! There are, however, no age restrictions to ride an ebike in Europe. If your children plan to cycle on an ebike abroad, check the local laws before allowing them to ride.
Do I need a licence to ride an EAPC?
No, you don’t need a licence for an electric bike. Anyone over the age of 14 can ride one, and as long as the bike cannot exceed all EAPC rules. You don’t need a licence nor does it need to be registered, taxed or insured like you would a motorcycle or electric moped. These rules apply to England, Scotland and Wales.
If your bike is classed as a motor vehicle, you’ll need to apply for vehicle approval from either the manufacturer or importer and ensure that your driving licence is valid for the class of vehicle.
Are electric bike laws different in Northern Ireland?
Not any more! On the 13th May 2020, e-bike laws changed, meaning that it’s now legal to ride an electric bike in Northern Ireland without a moped licence, registration, tax, or insurance. The changes were made since N.I were accused of ‘missing out on an e-bike’ revolution, and that the law was outdated.
Can you ride an electric bike on the pavement?
As with a normal bike, you should not ride it on the pavement. An electric bike can be ridden anywhere you would normally ride a non-electric bike, such as cycle paths and routes.
What to do if you’re breaking electric bike laws
If any bike doesn’t meet the EAPC regulations, then it is classed as a motorcycle, moped or speed pedelec and will need to be registered and taxed as a motor vehicle, and approved by the DVLA. You’ll need to possess a full driving licence and while riding it, to wear a legally certified crash helmet. Legally registered bikes or vehicles also can’t be ridden on your everyday cycle areas, such as purpose-made cycle paths.
‘Twist and go’ electric bike law throttle vs powered assistance
With electric bikes that have a twist and go throttle (usually those that help assist elderly and disabled users), this means that the rider can accelerate and gain full speed without pedalling, whereas powered assistance enables the rider to roll without pedalling up to 6 km/h. If it exceeds this speed, the throttle cuts off - classed as ‘starting assistance’. To reach the full 15.5mph, the rider has to keep pedalling, whereas with a twist and go throttle, the cyclist can reach the maximum speed without pedalling at all.
Riders with a twist and go throttle were in some way affected on 1st January 2016, where under the UK’s EAPC legislation for an ebike to be legal, the throttle has to be engineered using starting assistance so that if the speed goes over 6 km/h, the throttle is designed to cut off. As long as you have a pedal-assist mode, the bike will pass regulations.
The good news is that for ebikes purchased before the legislation came in, they are still recognised as EAPC and roadworthy, and do not need to be registered or taxed. Since the rule came in, you can still buy a bike with a twist and go throttle, however, you must be able to prove it was manufactured and imported before January 1st 2016.
Could ebike law change?
On the 6th of April 2015, 250W electric bikes were made legal in line with EU law EN15194 to use in the UK without the need to register them, have a licence or insurance. However, since leaving the EU on the 31st January, with the regulations set under European law, UK law could change.
Do electric bikes need insurance?
No, you don’t need insurance to ride an electric bike. However, in 2018, another potential change arose for electric bike riders where the European Commission released a statement suggesting to change the Motor Insurance Directive and to make third party insurance compulsory for all cyclists. Although in January 2019, the European Parliament announced that “they have decided not to continue with the rule” over fear that the “use and sales of ebikes would suffer”.
Where can I find more information on electric bike laws?
If you have any more questions about electric bike laws, send your thoughts over to our specialist team who will be more than happy to answer any concerns. Use either our Live Chat service which you can find in the bottom right of your screen or simply email us or, if you would prefer to hear a friendly voice at the end of the telephone, call us on 01773 532691.
Alternatively, take a look at the official ebike rules and regulations on the gov.uk website.
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