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UK Electric Bike Laws (as of December 2018)
In April 2015 the UK Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPC) legislation was brought into line with the EU law EN15194, which means that it could possibly change after Brexit. But for now it’s pretty clear in defining what can, and what cannot, be called an electric bike.
The minimum age for using an electric bike is 14 years of age. The maximum permissible power output is 250w. The bike must have pedals and throttles are only allowed for start-up assistance up to 6km/h or 3.7mph (throttles that go up to 15mph are allowed on electric bikes purchased before January 1 2016) The electric pedal assist must cut-off at 15.5mph (25km/h).
Before you buy a conversion kit, you need to think about the law and how it could potentially effect you.
The law is very clear on the above, and while the police do not have the resources or necessarily the inclination to stop and test every electric bike they see. If you do find yourself on the wrong side of the law, while riding an illegal electric bike, consider the following sobering facts:
- Any illegal electric bike would come under the umbrella of the Road Traffic Act.
- Your bike would be confiscated
- It is likely that you would be prosecuted and fined for no insurance, tax, MOT and using an unregistered vehicle. If you have a driving license there is a good chance you may either lose it, or end up with a lot of points.
- If you are disqualified from driving you could be charged with driving while disqualified and receive an extension to your ban or a custodial sentence.
- If you were riding home from the pub after a few drinks you would be charged with drink driving, even worse, if you were to fatally injure someone then you could potentially be facing up to 14 years in Prison.
You can find out more on UK electric bike laws here.
Before you buy a conversion kit, you need to think about the law and how it could potentially effect you. If you are going to be using your bike on private land then fair enough, but there is often a misconception that as long as you ride off-road it is okay. This assumption is incorrect, it is illegal to ride a higher powered electric bike anywhere that the general public has access to, in the same way it would illegal to ride an unregistered motocross bike in the same areas.
There are also some companies that sell, for example 1000w hub motor kits, with a 250w limiting plug on the controller. This in itself is not sufficient, in the eyes of the law as the bike can easily be unrestricted in a matter of seconds.
If you do want to use a high performance electric bike on the road, you will need to get your bike type approved by the DVLA, it will be subject to the same rules as a moped. It will need to be registered, have a number plate, be MOT’d, taxed and insured. You would also be required to wear a proper motorcycle helmet and you would not be able to use cycle paths.
This law throws up a lot of obstacles for people wanting to enjoy the benefits of cycling without putting strain on their joints and muscles. I have come across a lot of people who feel that 250w is not enough power to assist them comfortably. This is especially true when there are health issues involved. Maybe it is time for the government to re-think the law by increasing the available power a little but keeping the speed limit the same. With a lot of modern ebikes that use torque sensing pedal assist, you still have to apply a certain degree of force to the pedals to get assistance. If for example you have a dodgy knee or suffer from arthritis, this may prove to much.
I think, as time goes on, there will inevitably be an incident involving an illegal electric bike, and the media frenzy that will follow will force the government to take action.
Ride safe! and please feel free to leave your comments below.