News Article

UK Harmonises Electric Bike Law with Europe

Laws & Regulations

LONDON, UK – The UK has finally laid out in detail its proposed harmonisation legislation to bring its electric bike legislation in line with Europe. The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015 will update the UK’s original 1983 legislation, effectively scrapping the country’s unique stance on electric bike legislation from January 2016.

UK Harmonises Electric Bike Law with Europe
UK electric bike industry collective opinion bemoans, almost unanimously, the lack of the new harmonising regulation proposals to include a UK 'S-class' or speed pedelec. – Photo Susanne Brüsch

A November 2014 consultation document (available here) outlined how the UK’s own antiquated rules on motor power, throttle use, bike weight and rider age will be consigned to the legislative scrapheap. The country will fall into line with EU regulation 168/2013, so only e-bikes (pedelecs) with a maximum speed of 25 km/h and 250 Watts power will remain exempt from type approval and throttle only machines, also known as ‘twist and gos’ will need type (or individual) approval.

In reality the situation on the ground reflected the confused mix of UK and EU law that confounded many in the industry. ‘Twist and go’ machines have been available for many years in the UK.

Aligned requirements

The UK consultation also brings into line its Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 with the relevant Euro-standards. The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations include provisions specific to electric bikes on the brakes that must be fitted and on what information must be marked on the vehicle. The proposed amendments for fitted brakes substitute the latest appropriate standard (BS EN ISO 4210-2:2014). Similarly, the vehicle marking requirements are aligned with the recommendations in the current standards BS-EN 15194:2009, thus removing the need for additional information on EAPCs used on roads in GB.

Why no Speed Pedelec class for the UK?

UK electric bike industry collective opinion bemoans, almost unanimously, the lack of the new harmonising regulation proposals to include a UK ‘S-class’ or speed pedelec along with allied road traffic law requirements at a lower level than mopeds and motorcycles (currently fully enclosed helmet and quite large registration vehicle plates); a ‘red tape lite’ approach has been followed by Germany, Switzerland and more recently the Netherlands but again the UK government is still sitting on the fence as regards future legislation.

Indeed, S-pedelecs are widely available in the UK, but often marketed as ‘not for use on public roads’ or ‘for off-road use only’.  There is certainly a strong argument that specific legalisation on speedier machines would help solve the difficulties posed by those dealers who choose to sail close to the wrong side of the law with the use of dubious caveats.

More on this is in Bike Europe’s January/February print edition.