Electric bicycles and mopeds: there are no 'grey areas'

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The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain (BA) have issued a joint statement today voicing their concern that some sellers are unaware of (or ignoring) the rules surrounding high powered electric bicycles.

Both associations are fielding enquiries regarding the exploitation of a 'grey area', whereby high powered bikes are bought for 'off-road use', in the mistaken belief that this makes them exempt from existing rules.  

In order for an electric bike to enjoy the same rights as an ordinary pedal cycle, it should have working pedals, not exceed 250 Watts and the electrical assistance should cut out when the bike reaches 15.5mph.  

In the UK, an electric bike over 250W is legally classified as a moped if it is to be ridden on the road.  Mopeds must be 'type approved'*, registered, taxed, insured and have an MOT.  The rider must have the appropriate licence/training and wear a helmet.  
If an electric bike over 250W is intended for off-road use in the UK, then it must comply with the same rules which apply to off-road motorcycles.  That means riders are barred from using public roads, common land, paths or tracks intended for cyclists and must be registered on an agreed list for off-road competition bikes, known as the FIM competition list, or be EC Type Examined.

MCIA and BA would also remind anyone who owns or is selling an e-bike that it makes no difference if the machine has a switch to flick between a higher and lower power setting. The higher power rating is the rating that the bike needs to be classified by.

This is also the subject for Stevie Muir's column in Motorcycle Trader, which you can read here.

For further comment see the full release here. ​