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July 13, 2022
Updated on:
May 16, 2024

What's an e-bike, and what are the restrictions to riding one in the UK? 

Electric bikes are becoming one of the best ways for the UK to travel. As the country becomes more bikeable, with increasing cycle zones and greater car regulations, e-bikes have become a simple yet effective way to commute, see friends, or complete a variety of commercial journeys. 

E-bikes appeal to a wide range of people as they provide the simplistic nature of cycling but do not require mass outputs of energy due to the power assistance. Both traditional cyclists and motor vehicle drivers are beginning to make the conscious swap to an electric bike, here’s a few reasons why. 

E-bike rider on a Zoomo Zero.

What actually is an electric bike?

In the UK, when we say e-bike we are referring to a bicycle that is electrically power-assisted which is generated from the motor by pedaling instead of using a throttle. As you pedal, the motor will monitor your pedaling and deliver power based on the rider’s input. If you pedal faster, the motor power will increase. If you slow, the power to the motor is reduced. This gives you a very natural feel and is an intuitive experience.

Why would I ride an e-bike? 

An e-bike integrates all the best aspects of vehicles such as cars and motorbikes while simultaneously avoiding some of the key negatives.

In comparison to a car, riding an e-bike can enable a rider to cut down the amount of time spent on the road by entirely eliminating traffic jams as well as the tedious attempt to find a park in big cities. Not to mention the benefit you are doing to yourself and the environment by not using a petrol car.

As we’ll touch on later, there is significantly less paperwork involved to get up and ride in comparison to a motorbike, making e-bikes significantly more affordable than motorcycles or mopeds. 

Riding an e-bike is ultimately fun, healthy, and can save riders both time and money. And particularly across urban areas, they really are a no-brainer. 

What are the restrictions facing e-bikes in the UK? 

E-bikes have low barriers to entry, allowing a variety of UK riders to utilise their many benefits. 

You do not need a license to ride an e-bike, nor does it need to be registered, taxed or insured, saving riders from considerable financial costs. 

However there are some rules. An e-bike’s electric motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts, and should not allow the bike to travel faster than 15.5 miles per hour. Any e-bike that can be activated without pedaling also fails to meet the EAPC standards, it basically becomes a glorified scooter! 

If your e-bike goes over these limits, which is likely because it has been modified, it will need to be registered, insured, and taxed as a motor vehicle. Riders will also need to wear a helmet when riding, as well as having a regular driving license. 

Where can I ride an e-bike? 

E-bikes can be ridden on cycle paths, roads, and anywhere else that regular bikes are allowed. Like a regular bike, e-bikes must avoid pavements and other pedestrian-only zones, as well as adhering to general regulations such as staying in designating lanes and following regular road rules, such as stopping at red lights and prioritizing passengers at zebra crossings. 

How old do I need to be to ride an e-bike? 

E-bike riders in the UK must be over 14. 

Is this the same across all of the UK? 

These rules apply in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland however, riders must have a moped license to ride an e-bike, as well as having it registered, taxed and insured. 

Are there any other rules I need to be aware of? 

Other things to be aware of include ensuring your e-bike is fully functional. Your front and rear brakes must be working and in good condition, and also must have working lights (again front and rear) to ensure maximum visibility at night. And finally, e-bikes must not be ridden under the influence of alcohol or drugs! 

However, as you can see the rules surrounding riding e-bikes in the UK are very lenient. Zoomo, as well as the businesses and individuals already utilising e-bikes, see them as the vehicle of the future, providing a cheap and efficient vehicle that is contributing to the UK becoming happier, healthier, and greener.

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Zoomo logos on Zero bikes

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