Know the difference between e-bikes and electric motorcycles

Following a wave of seizures and arrests across the country, Road Safety Wales would like to clarify the difference between electric bicycles, commonly known as e-bikes, and electric motorcycles, as these are vastly different modes of transport.

An e-bike is an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC) which is equipped with an electric motor to assist a rider when they are pedalling. By law it cannot propel the rider on its own - if it does, it is classed as a motorcycle or moped.

To ride an e-bike, a person must be at least 14 years old. However, you do not need a driving licence and an e-bike does not need to be registered, taxed or insured.

Teresa Ciano, Chair of Road Safety Wales, said: “An e-bike can be incredibly useful, whether they are used for local journeys in towns and cities, or venturing further afield – particularly when tackling some of the challenging hills and mountains we are famous for in Wales! As the rider is still required to pedal, the health benefits still far outweigh travelling in a vehicle and it means that cycling can be accessible to virtually all members of the community, especially with e-bikes now available to hire in several locations across the country.

“If a bike meets the EAPC requirements, it is classed in the same way as a normal pedal bike. This means it can be ridden on cycle paths and anywhere else where a pedal cycle is allowed.”

“We are just asking members of the public to make sure that they are complying with the law and not putting other road users in danger.”

It is important that riders understand that an e-bike motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph. If an e-bike motor goes faster than this, please be aware that it is not road-legal.

Although the technical requirements may sound a little complicated, be assured that reputable retailers will be able to let you know if the bike you are looking to purchase is fully road-legal.

Inspector Shane Underwood, from Gwent Police’s roads policing and specialist operations unit said: “Any electric bike that does not meet the EAPC rules is classed as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed.

“It is essential that riders have the correct driving licence and insurance to ride one and they must wear a crash helmet.

“We’re asking people to make sure that if they purchase an e-bike, it is fully road legal and we’re also reminding everyone than only people aged 14 and above are legally allowed to ride an e-bike.

“We will take robust action against anyone found to be using an e-bike which has been altered to enable the motor to go faster than 15.5mph, has a power output in excess of 250 watts or to be ridden without pedalling.”

Communities across the country have been faced with numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour and dangerous driving concerning modified e-bikes, electric motorcycles and off-road motorcycles. Road Safety Wales fully supports our Police colleagues in seizing these vehicles being ridden illegally and prosecuting riders who are putting innocent members of the public at risk.

Wednesday, 30 August 2023