There should be no ‘grey areas’ when buying an electric bike
They are advising that unless you have access to private land, an e-bike over 250 watts is technically a moped and needs to comply with all the relevant rules. A rider of one of these high powered bikes needs to wear a helmet, have a license, insurance, tax, and MOT and can only use on a public road. The bike also needs to be ‘type approved’ in the same way as a regular motorcycle or moped.
There are also strict rules which apply to off-road use of bikes over 25ow, which the MCIA and BA say buyers must understand there are no ‘grey areas’ when buying an electric bike.
“Some retailers mistakenly believe ‘off-road use’ makes an e-bike exempt from any rules. This is not true. An e-bike intended for off-road use is essentially a motocross machine and must adhere to the same legal requirements. It makes no difference if you can flick a switch back to 250w or not. The higher power rating is the rating that the bike needs to be classified by.”
In order for an electric bike to enjoy the same rights as an ordinary pedal cycle, it should have working pedals, not exceed 250w and the electrical assistance should cut out when the bike reaches 15.5mph.
If meeting these requirements, they can be ridden by someone aged 14 or over, without the need for a helmet, tax, insurance, license or certificate of road worthiness and can use cycle lanes and tracks.
You can read the latest guidelines issued by the Department for Transport here.