At What Point Does an E-bike Become an E-Motorbike?January 17, 2023
While the answer to this question will change depending on what country you live in, here in the UK there is a clear line in which an e-bike becomes an e-motorbike. Today we will find out what point it does change and the crazy grey area that it leaves many e-bike riders in…
EAPC or no EAPC?
The Highway Code, road safety and vehicle rules state “These electric bikes are known as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). You do not need a licence to ride one and it does not need to be registered, taxed or insured.” and you can read up exactly what that means and the restrictions/laws that cover them here: https://www.eb-uk.co.uk/uk-e-bikes-laws-and-regulations
What so happens if your e-bike is 500w instead of 250w which is permitted? Well, the Highway Code states “Any electric bike that does not meet the EAPC rules is classed as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed. You’ll need a driving licence to ride one and you must wear a crash helmet.” – so yes, in theory, if your e-bike motor is 251w (there is no such thing, but I am using the extreme as an example) then it suddenly becomes a “motorcycle or moped”. The law bunches them together, so if your e-bike is 251w you could indeed say it becomes an e-motorbike at that point or if your thumb throttle goes to 6MPH instead of the 5MPH you are allowed. But hang on a sec, let’s take a look at what the law says about what a “moped” is…
The Highway Code states that a moped is any powered bike that has a speed range of 25 km/h (15.5MPH) to 45 km/h (27MPH) and a power output of 11 kw (Yes, that is 11,000w). The problem we e-bike riders have is that if you tried to take your 251w e-bike to a Vehicle registration place to get it approved for road use it would be underpowered and won’t be approved. Then there are the costs like road tax, insurance and MOT’s on top of that which put off people even trying to go down the legal route. Do check out this video of someone who actually did it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5ObJkZzP-A
So what is my 251w e-bike?
This is where many of our e-bikes sit. In a grey area of electric bikes, in which they are not suitable for use on the roads, but apparently too “powerful” to be allowed on the cycle paths! Here at EB-UK we have always said that the power should be “up-to” 1000w, but the speed restrictions should stay (although many people argue it should be 20MPH for road use and keeping up with the traffic). But having spoken to many police officers about this they all say the same thing “if you behave and ride in a responsible manner there is no need for a check on the power of the e-bike and you can go on your way”.
So while we always have to suggest you make sure your e-bike complies with UK law and regulations, you should be making sure that you are riding in a safe and responsible manner above all else, even if your e-bike is in the grey area.