What Are the Exact UK Rules and Regulations Regarding E-Bike Throttles?May 13, 2023
While most people will tell you that e-bike twist or thumb throttles are banned in the UK that is simply not true at all. In fact, they are perfectly legal under certain restraints and conditions, but it is a little more complicated than even that and today we will explain what the true UK rules are and how to find if your throttle is legal or not…
What Are The UK Laws on E-Bike Throttles?
UK rules state that if an e-bike has a ‘twist and go’ throttle then it needs to be “type approved”. What does that mean? It means your e-bike needs to be compliment with European-type approval for certain electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC). Yes, that does mean it needs to comply with European laws that are no longer active, but we are not here for a political debate and need to pretend that these laws still apply because technically there are no UK laws regarding them!
The law that applies to us was first introduced on the 1st of January 2016 and does include anything older than this law as well. Here is the exact letter of law…
Certain electrically assisted pedal cycles are specified in GB law as not being motor vehicles and thus not subject to the requirements for registration, tax, driver licensing, compulsory insurance, helmet wearing and annual roadworthiness testing that would otherwise apply to all motorised 2 wheel vehicles. Within the GB definition of electrically assisted pedal cycle there are 2 distinct classes – cycles which can only obtain power assistance when the rider is pedalling, and those where power can be obtained even when the rider is not pedalling, often known as “Twist and go”.
Cycles where power can be obtained even when the rider is not pedalling (twist and go)
Under European law these cycles are categorised as “L1e-A” and are required to obtain EU or domestic type approval. They are not required to be registered. There is however an exemption for cycles where power is available only up to 6 kilometres per hour without pedalling, to help start-up, and these are exempt from type approval.
So you might be thinking that it can indeed have a throttle as long as it doesn’t propel the e-bike faster than 6km/h (3.7 mph), but that is not the case at all. Being limited to this speed just means they are “exempt from type approval”, but if the manufacturer gets that said approval UK EAPC law comes into effect which is any e-bike that doesn’t exceed 250 watts, or the powered speed of 15.5 miles per hour (25 kilometres per hour). Yes, this really does mean you can have a “Twist and go” up to 15.5 miles per hour (25 kilometres per hour).
What is European Type Approval?
Most 2 and 3 wheel motor vehicles are type approved before they can be sold and registered. Type approval is the process of a government appointed body (e.g. the UK government has appointed the Vehicle Certification Agency) certifying that a range of vehicles complies with relevant safety and environmental laws. It is normally obtained by the manufacturer, as only he can guarantee the conformity of every vehicle he produces. Once a vehicle range is type approved, a manufacturer issues an EC certificate of conformity (EC CoC) with each vehicle to declare that it complies with the approved specification.
So, how do you make sure your e-bike throttle is compliant with the EC certificate of conformity? If you look on the throttle itself, or in the paperwork your e-bike came with and see a little sticker or mark like the image above then yes, it is indeed compliant and you are good to go. But what if it doesn’t seem to have that mark? Well…nothing! It is not your job to ask the company who manufactured it to make sure it is compliant with the EC certificate of conformity, that is the job of the seller and while technically it makes your ‘twist and go’ throttle illegal, it is not something any police office is going to chase up.
You can double-check our homework if you want via the following links that are to the official governing sites…