Due to climate change, more and more people are going green. In the UK, especially, people are abandoning cars and opting for bikes. Subsequently, electric bikes have become more popular amongst residents.
Given this new rise of electric bikes and all their types, it is natural to wonder about the legality of these bikes. For example, you might be considering buying a new long distance electric bike, but find yourself wondering if you need a license to use it.
Well, below, you can find an answer to that question.
What Is a Long-Range Electric Bike?
The first question to ask here is what is an electric bike. This will serve as a point of entry into the discussion of long-range electric bikes and their characteristics.
Otherwise called e-bikes, electric bikes are a special kind of bicycle with an integrated electric motor to help with pedaling. This motor, powered by a rechargeable battery, is designed to sense when the rider is pedaling in order to assist, making the rider pedal easily and cover more ground in less time.
There are different kinds of electric bikes, including commuter e-bikes, mountain e-bikes, all-terrain electric bikes, and long-range electric bikes. You can likely guess the specific purpose of each from their names. For example, long-range e-bikes are specifically designed to travel long distances. They can cover much more ground than regular e-bikes, reaching up to 80 miles before powering off or needing to be recharged.
Long-range e-bike manufacturers achieve this extended range limit by installing a larger capacity lithium-ion battery than regular e-bikes, often up to near 1000 watt-hours. This adds to the bike’s overall weight, making long-range e-bikes heavier than regular e-bikes. But regardless of the weight, these bikes typically move fast and easily and are ideal for long-distance commutes.
Are Electric Bikes Legal in the UK?
Are e-bikes legal in the UK?The answer to the question of whether electric bikes are legal in the UK is a little complex. On the one hand, yes, they are legal. But on the other hand, there are certain criteria they have to meet to pass the legality test. Generally, e-bikes are classified as electronic-assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs). According to the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) rules for EAPCs, they must not discharge more than 250w of power nor provide electric assistance over 15.5mph. For example, the Himiway long range all terrain electric bike has a 250w geared hub motor with up to 15.5mph speed limit, the exact criteria for DVLA.
Please note that these regulations are subject to change, and it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest rules and guidelines in your area.
Factors Influencing the Need for a License in the UK
Although you generally do not need an electric bike license in the United Kingdom, certain factors can necessitate it. Let’s consider a few of them below.
Age of the rider
The age of the rider is a crucial factor in determining whether an e-bike requires a license in the UK. According to the regulations, a rider must be at least 14 years old to legally use an e-bike classified as an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC). This age requirement is in place to ensure that riders have a basic level of maturity and physical capability to safely operate an e-bike. the age requirement helps prevent the misuse of e-bikes by younger children who may not be aware of the risks associated with riding at higher speeds or in busy traffic conditions.
By setting a minimum age of 14 years, the UK regulations aim to strike a balance between allowing young people to enjoy the benefits of e-bikes and ensuring the safety of all road users.
Motor Power and Speed
You will be required to get a license for your long-range electric bike if its motor power output exceeds the 250w limit stipulated by the DVLA.
If your long-range electric bike meets this requirement and the other rules mentioned before (the rider being at least 14 years old and the e-bike not being able to propel itself when traveling at more than 15.5 mph or 25 km/h), it will be classified as an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC). In this case, you do not need a license to ride it.
Another factor that can make it necessary for you to get a license for your long-range e-bike is speed. According to the UK’s electric bike law, the bike’s electric motor must not be able to power over 15.5mph. This keeps riders and other road users safe, as more speed means a greater risk of accidents. As a road user, whatever your vehicle, e-bike, or moped, safety is most important.
Similarly, the DVLA stipulates that only e-bikes that can be activated by pedaling qualify as EAPCs. If your e-bike is strictly throttle-controlled (meaning it can be activated without pedaling), then you need to get a license before putting it on the road.
How to Legally Ride a Long-Range Electric Bike in the UK
So, do you have a new long-range electric bike that you are eager to put on the road? Here are a few key points to ensure you are on the side of the law.
1. Ensure Your Bike Is Classified as an EAPC
As noted above, e-bikes in the UK are typically classified as electronic-assisted pedal cycles or EAPCs and there are certain conditions that EAPCs have to meet to be legally ridden in the country. Make sure that your bike stays within these conditions.
2. Age Restrictions
There are also age restrictions to consider before putting your long-range e-bike on the road. UK e-bike laws require anyone under 14 to have a license before using an e-bike. Anything above 14 years, however, is fine.
3. Where You Can Ride
It is also important to consider where to ride before setting out with your long-range e-bike. UK laws have some restrictions on paths electric bikes are allowed to thread. For example, pedestrian zones, nature trails, and motorways are out of bounds for e-bike riders.
4. Safety Equipment
Before you set out on the road with your long-range electric bike, you should also check to see that you have the essential safety equipment. These may include a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing like padded shorts, joint pads, etc.
5. Don’t Modify Your E-bike Illegally
Also, ensure you have not illegally modified your e-bike, as this can be unsafe. Under UK law, tampering with the speed limiters, motor power, pedal assist sensors, etc, will disqualify your e-bike as an EAPC, thereby rendering it illegal to be used on the road.
It is wise to consider the legal aspect of owning and using a vehicle before putting it on the road, particularly the relatively new electric bike. Not all vehicles require a license to be used, but if your long-range e-bike does, it’s important to ride within the confines of the law. You should note all that has been discussed above; by following them, you can be sure you’re not breaking any laws while taking your long-range e-bike out for a ride.