If you’re thinking about getting an e-bike, you’ll need to understand the UK law for electric bikes. It’s legal to ride an e-bike in the UK without a licence, but only if it meets certain requirements: it must be pedal assist instead of ‘twist and go throttle’; and have a maximum power output of 250 watts, with a speed restriction of 15.5mph.
In this guide we share everything you need to know about the UK law for electric bicycles, including getting yours insured.
Information correct as of 10/10/2022
What is an e-bike?
An e-bike (or electric bike) is an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC), with a rechargeable battery and a motor that helps you pedal.
They’re often heavier than normal pedal cycles, but come in the same varieties – hybrid, road and folding e-bikes, or electric mountain and e-cargo bikes, including tricycles. Whichever type of e-bike you choose, it must meet the same rules and regulations to legally ride on public roads or cycle paths in the UK.
What are the UK electric bike laws?
For an electric bike to be legal in the UK, it must come with a pedal-assist motor and have a maximum power output of 250 watts. The electrical assistance must cut off when it reaches 15.5mph / 25kmph, and it cannot be ridden by anyone under the age of 14.
Do you need a licence to ride an e-bike?
As long as your e-bike meets EAPC regulations (i.e. it is an electrically assisted pedal cycle), you do not need a licence to ride it on UK roads. If you have an electric bike with a ‘twist and go’ throttle (that can be propelled without pedalling), this does not comply with EAPC rules and is considered to be a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This means it requires registration with the DVLA, including vehicle tax and insurance unless it has been ‘type approved’ by the government.
If you’re not sure whether your e-bike is subject to the Road Traffic Act, this guide on the government website covers all e-bike regulations in Great Britain.
What do we mean by the maximum 250w assistance?
Confusingly, the 250 watts of assistance refers not to the battery or motor itself, but to the maximum power output of electrical assistance that kicks in when you pedal. To comply with EAPC regulations, the assistance will cut out when it reaches 15.5mph or 25kmph.
What do we mean by “twist and go”?
An electric bike with twist and go does not need the pedals to turn in order to engage the motor, and is instead controlled by twisting a throttle, usually on the handlebars. Some twist and go e-bikes for elderly or disabled users are included in GB e-bike regulations, provided they comply with speed restrictions and maximum power motor assistance and have been type approved by the government.
What if my e-bike is twist and go or has a higher maximum output than 250w?
Under UK law, you won’t be able to legally ride a twist and go electric bike that’s not restricted to 250w power output on UK public roads, as it wouldn’t be classed as an EAPC. It would instead require vehicle tax and insurance under the Road Traffic Act, and the rider would need a driving licence and motorcycle helmet. This is the law for public roads. There are no restrictions on riding on private land with landowner’s permission, provided there is no public access.
Can you insure an e-bike under cycle insurance?
Cycle insurance is valid on e-bikes as long as they are classed as an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC), and meet all EAPC power and speed regulations set out above. Any e-bike that falls outside of these regulations will not be valid for cycle insurance.
Bikmo offers 25% discount on our insurance policies for e-bikes. Read more here.
For more information on e-bike regulations in Great Britain, visit the government website. If you’re unsure about any of the rules above in relation to your bike or in general, we’re here to help!
Contact us with the bike details at firstname.lastname@example.org.