E-Bikes in the UK: Understanding the Current Legal Regulations


An investigation is underway after a 15-year-old boy riding an e-bike died after being followed by police in Salford.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said officers were following the boy on Thursday afternoon when it went through bollards that stopped the police vehicle from going any further.
The bike collided with an ambulance shortly after, and the 15-year-old died. It has been reported the ambulance was parked at the time.
A GMP spokesperson said: “In line with normal proceedings, the incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is now leading the investigation.”
The incident comes just weeks after an e-bike crash in Cardiff involving two boys being followed by police sparked riots in the city.
According to the government website, you can ride a voltaic bike if you are 14 or over, as long as it meets specific requirements.
It says to ride ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs), you don’t need a licence, and the bike doesn’t need to be registered, taxed or insured.
An EAPC must have pedals that can be elderly to propel it, it says, which means the pedals must be in motion for the electric assistance to be provided.

It must show either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor, as well as the battery’s voltage or the bike’s maximum speed.
The bike’s motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and shouldn’t be able to propel it when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph, government regulations state.
Any electric bike that doesn’t meet these rules is classified as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed, and the person riding it needs a driving licence and must wear a crash helmet.
In addition, the government website says some e-bikes must be ‘type approved’ if they can be propelled without pedalling or don’t meet EAPC rules.
The first thing to understand is what constitutes an e-bike according to the law. Even here, the law makes it quite clear as to what qualifies as an e-bike.

In the UK, an e-bike can also be called an electrically assisted pedal cycle. The bike must have pedals that the cyclist then uses to move it, while it should also clearly state the power of the motor, and the manufacturer should include this on a label on the e-bike.
Add details whereby it must indicate the battery voltage and maximum speed, and you can see how the law covers every imaginable aspect.
Oh, it doesn’t just apply to an e-bike with two wheels. A tricycle complete with a small motor also falls into this category.
But an e-bike must have some apparent specifications. Anything out with the specifications set out in the law may mean your e-bike quickly becomes classed the same as a moped.
UK laws also clearly state an upper limit regarding power and speed before an e-bike has to be registered. Also, these figures are relatively low.

The Power

In the UK, the maximum power output cannot exceed 250 watts. Anything above that turns an e-bike into something off-road and where a licence is required.
Your e-bike should also clearly state the power output of the model. This output usually involves the manufacturer including it on a label on the bike. Double-check that this is indeed the case when you purchase your e-bike.

The Speed

The other main issue is the speed aspect. Under the current laws, an e-bike cannot contain a motor that can propel the bike at a speed greater than 15.5 mph. Once again, anything above that figure means you move more into a moped, and everything changes at that stage.

Laws Regarding a Licence?

According to UK law, you do not require a licence to ride an e-bike. However, that does change when your e-bike exceeds the power and speed laws mentioned earlier.
Up to that 15.5 mph and 250 watts limit, anybody can ride an e-bike.
Once you exceed these limits, which can occur via a switch on some e-bikes to open up more power, you not only need a licence to ride one, but you fall into line with various other laws typically seen with motorcycles and mopeds.

About the author

Olivia Wilson

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