There is no "grey area" when it comes electric bike type approval, warn BA and MIA

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain and the Motorcycle Industry Association have warned their markets that there’s no such thing as ‘grey area’ when it comes to classifying electric bikes and mopeds.

With both organisations taking queries from retailers, the pair have collaborated to issue a very clear statement on the type approval regulations in place. (Rules covering the UK and the rest of Europe are to fall in line.)

Retailers in particular are reminded that bikes with various settings must be classified by the highest output and in the organisation’s domestic territory that must not exceed 250W or 15.5mph if considered an electric bike.

Speed pedelecs, which seem to be driving many of the questions, are now available from specialist brands such as Kalkhoff, among many others. Furthermore, some electric bikes are able to be de-restricted with ‘dongles’, which are increasingly available online.

The statement reads:

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.

Steve Garidis, Operations Director of the BA, added: “The vast majority of the industry understands its obligations and is highly professional in the way it sells electric bicycles, but it’s vital all sellers understand there is really no ‘grey area’ when it comes to when an electric bicycle must be treated as a moped. ‘Speed pedelecs’ for example, a category of faster e-bike becoming popular in Germany and other countries, are categorised as mopeds in the UK. They have motors more powerful than 250W and offer power assist to a higher speed than 25km/h (15.5mph). Unlike in Germany, there are no regulations which exempt speed pedelecs from any of the standard moped requirements in the UK, so the machine must be type approved, registered, taxed, insured; the rider must have a suitable licence and wear a full motorbike helmet, and be over 16.”

Further to that, Dave Luscombe, MCIA’s Project Manager for Alternative Powered Vehicles, explained the situation for off-road use:

“Telling someone they are ‘okay on private land’ is seriously misleading, unless you make them understand they probably need to own the land themselves. High powered off-road electric bikes currently fall within rules meant for off-road motorcycle sport. That means they can’t access areas where, for example, motocross machines are barred. They can’t use public roads, common land or any trails or paths intended for bicycles and the bike must be registered on the FIM competition list, which is a list agreed by all EU manufacturers for bikes used in off-road sport. Dealers must make the restricted access very clear to people who may believe they can use cycle trails.”

In other electric bike news:

The world’s largest supplier of hire bicycles has now introduced an e-bike to its portolfio. Cities such as London are out to tender for just such a thing.

Dutch researchers say they have a viable solar panel powered e-bike almost ready for production.