UK e-bike law is outlined by EN15194 Standard, which is used across Europe.
What does UK law outlined by EN15194 say about ebikes?
According to EU regulation EN15194, an e-bike (or Pedelec) or also known as electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs) are defined by having pedals to move the bike and a motor to assist with pedalling up to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph (or 25.5 km/h). After this limit, the motor will automatically cut-off and stop assisting to reduce speed. No one stops you to pedal as fast as you want after this on your own thou.
EN15194 banned full-throttles (also known as twist-and-go throttle) from e-bikes. This throttle is a switch that allows the motor to power the ebike without any pedalling involved. The law although allows a full-throttle (without pedalling) of up to 3.7 mph (6 km/h) for a starting-assist, but after that, you’ll need to start turning the pedals to activate the motor.
Although EU EN15194 law is mirrored in UK, there are a few differences & amendments going across different countries. In the UK, for instance, e-bikes can’t be ridden by anyone younger than 14 years old. Also, since full-throttle (or twist-and-go) was ubiquitous before the 2015, any bike with a full-throttle made before 2016 is still legal in UK.
Ebike categories : Standard pedelecs VS Speed Pedelecs
Standard Pedelecs (Standard Ebike) - conform with EN15194 regulation, that is a max 250w ebike which is pedal assist with top speed of 15.5 mph (25.5 km/h) & not throttle based (with small exception for bikes made before 2016). Standard ebikes or pedelecs dominates majority of the marketplace and are straightforward to own as it is simply classed same as a normal push bike. These pedelecs are also 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.
Speed Pedelecs or Speed Ebike – bikes with more powerful motors than 250W and greater than 15.5mph assisted speed. Owning these gets way more complicated as technically such e-bikes are considered as motor vehicles. Law and requirements vary country by country for speed ebikes as there are no specific EU regulation binding all the countries. In UK speed ebikes are classified into 2 types:
L1e-A, OR “ Powered cycles” - motors up to 1Kw and speeds up to 25km/h,
L1e-B, “OR Two-wheel mopeds” - motors up to 4Kw and speeds up to 45km/h
Nevertheless, whatever category your speed ebike would fall into, in UK it requires registration, insurance, tax and motorcycle helmet. Registration alone will require a “Certificate of Conformity” which if you can’t obtain from the seller or manufacturer , it has to be gained from DVSA by passing vehicle approval test. Keep in mind, that S-Pedelecs are classed as motor vehicles, it consequentially cannot be driven on cycle paths or cycle lanes. As the law stand now, all these requirements are definitely taking the fun out of owning a speed electric bicycle.
Riding “Speed electric bike” which is over 250w on roads?
Under current law regulations, if you are riding your speed ebike on the road it is the same as riding a motorbike, therefore legally you need to have correct paperwork. You can be for prosecuted for driving without a licence, driving without insurance & driving an unlicensed vehicle.
Where can you ride standard electric bike conforming with EN15194?
E-bikes can be ridden anywhere where a traditional bicycle would. Riding ebikes on standard bikes on sidewalks is against the law. Remember that in UK you must ride on the left-hand side of the roadway and NOT against the traffic flow.
Riding your ebike & drinking Alcohol?
There is no legal limit for the alcohol volume accepted when riding a bike and nothing will happen to your driver’s license, that is because standard EAPAC ebike is not classed as motor vehicle. However, according to the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to ride a bike when you are unfit to do so as a result of being intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Therefore, while there is no legal alcohol limit, the police can still decide you are not able to ride safely and fine you.
The maximum penalty for cycling whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is a £1,000, which is also the case for careless or inconsiderate cycling. However, if your case is considered as “dangerous cycling” the fine can be up to 2500£. The scenario would become even more grim if your cycling would cause bodily harm to a person, as under Criminal Justice Act 1948 in the worst case you face imprisonment up to 2 years.
Riding ebike and using your mobile phone?
In effect, cyclists are exempt from this sensible law, as 250W EAPAC ebikes are not considered as motor vehicles. Having said that, in the eyes of the law enforcement officer, you riding on electric bicycle and browsing your phone could be still considered as careless or dangerous cycling.
E-bike rules from Highway code & Law
- Brakes – Your ebike MUST have two functioning brakes – 1 for front wheel and 1 for back wheel.
- Lights - Between sunset and sunrise, you MUST use Front and Back lights. If you are cycling during daytime that’s not required.
- Red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors is also a MUST between sunset and sunrise, but again as with the lights if you are cycling during daytime that’s not required.
- Bell - Not required by law while cycling.
- Helmet- Not required by law when cycling; however, please remember that this will be the only thing protecting your precious head in case of unplanned accident. Despite the law it is strongly advised by Highway Code for cyclists to wear a safe and well-fitting helmet.
Disclaimer. Nothing on this site constitutes legal advice or gives rise to a solicitor/client relationship. The below information is for entertainment and educational purposes only.