Cycling can be a good way to commute in many areas of the United Kingdom, especially in towns with narrow streets. Taking a spin to the market on a nice day can also be a pleasant way to get your weekend chores done. There are many types of bicycles from which to choose, including e-bikes.
What’s an E-Bike?
Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are becoming more popular in the UK and other places around the world. An e-bike has a small motor mounted to the frame of the bicycle to assist riders in covering the kilometres that they need to cycle. Even if you only commute a short way on your bicycle, an e-bike can help you get up inclines or carry the groceries from the market so that you don’t wear out your legs.
By law, the definition of an e-bike is an electric bicycle that is mainly propelled by pedals, the motor doesn’t go over 25 km/h, and it doesn’t exceed 250 watts. As long as an electric two-wheel bicycle, a tricycle, or a tandem bicycle meets these requirements, then a rider can take it on bicycle paths and in other places where regular bicycles can be ridden.
Some e-bikes have a throttle that brings them up to a speed of six km/h. However, if the rider is also pedalling, then it is legal for e-bikes in Hull to be moving up to 25 km/h. Since this law went into effect on January 1, 2016, any e-bikes bought before then with full-speed throttles are still allowed to be considered e-bikes by law.
More Powerful E-Bikes
If you have an e-bike that doesn’t meet the legal definition because it has a more powerful engine than 250 watts or can assist you by going faster than 25 km/h, then it will require a driver’s licence to operate. It will also need to be registered, you must have insurance, and it will also be taxed as a motor vehicle. In addition, a rider needs to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Also, you won’t be able to take cycle paths or ride anywhere else where legal e-bikes can go. Most manufacturers of e-bikes make all their models with small engines with a maximum power output of 250 watts so they will comply with both UK and EU regulations. This includes both bikes made for street riding and mountain biking.
Even though an e-bike that travels 25 km/h or under doesn’t require a licence or registration, the rider must be at least 14 years old. However, if you hire an e-bike or take yours on holiday in the EU, there is no minimum age restriction in most countries for riding one. You should check the local laws for riding e-bikes in the areas where you will be travelling to avoid being fined.
The laws could change as some companies are making e-bikes that are more powerful than those with 250-watt motors. Whether you are commuting to work or enjoying a weekend ride, an e-bike can be a fun and convenient way to travel.