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EAPC Legal information

 Electric bikes, 2016 UK legal requirements (gov.uk).
EAPCs in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) are limited to a maximum assisted speed of 15.6 mph (25 km/h), a maximum motor power of 250 W, and must have pedals that can be used for propulsion. The bike can go faster than 25 km/h, but only under power provided by the rider. Failure to comply with these rules causes the bike to be classified as a motorcycle; which requires registration, an MOT certificate, tax, insurance, an approved helmet and a driving license. Non compliance is therefore a serious offence and can lead to a heavy fine and a general driving ban.  In the event that some idiot knocks you off your bike, it might also compromise your ability to claim compensation.

Twist & Go - self-conversion type-approval exemption.
The DfT rules state that an EAPC with a Twist & Go facility, i.e., having a motorcycle-style throttle control providing the ability to move under electrical power at speeds up to 15.6 mph without pedaling, requires type approval. The reason for the requirement is that the motor does not necessarily cut off when the rider stops pedaling. This seems to cause a problem for people who want to convert existing bikes, but the link below, to an article by HelenJ on the Pedelecs website, relates to a clarification. The DfT recognises that Twist & Go is an important improvement for people with limited physical abilities, and the Type Approval requirement is strictly directed at manufacturers. If an existing bike that has already been used as a pedal cycle on public roads is converted for electrical assist, the fitting of a Twist & Go control does not constitute an offence.
Twist & Go - self conversion type approval exemption

The clarification described in the article was issued by the DfT in Jun 2016. It has, nevertheless, remained a source of controversy in some quarters.

This prompted one correspondant, who wishes to remain anonymous, to write to the DfT again on 14th Now 2019 and request a clarification on what amounts to exactly the same point. The verbatim question posed in this case was:

"There is much discussion on the various E Bike forums regarding the fitment of Twist and go throttles. It seems fairly clear that from 2016 these are not allowed on new road legal bikes (unless they’ve been individually tested and approved). E Bikes manufactured before 2016 that are fitted with full speed throttles appear to remain legal?
     There seems to be a grey area regarding legal conversion kits, which come with full speed throttles (of which there doesn’t seem to be a mention ). It’s generally bandied about, that if a road legal conversion is done by a private individual on a bicycle that was made and used before 2016, that a throttle may be fitted as long as the bike is pedal assisted as well, with a cut off at 25 kph. It would be great if possible to have a definitive answer to this question, any information that you could provide would be most appreciated."

The response from the DfT was:

"Vehicles which are powered by electric motors are considered as motor vehicles under Great Britain legislation. The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 (EAPC Regulations) introduced a new definition that allows certain types of electrically assisted cycles to fall outside the general legal scope of a motor vehicle and therefore not be subject to the same range of regulatory requirements.  The EAPC Regulations were amended in 2015; both regulations can be found at the following links:



These regulations, as amended, define an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC) as a vehicle having pedals by means of which it is capable of being propelled, fitted with an electric motor that has a maximum power which does not exceed 250 watts and which cannot propel the vehicle at more than 15.5 mph.  Machines that can travel under their own power (eg with a throttle) are included in the EAPC definition provided that they are capable of being propelled by the use of their pedals and conform to the other requirements listed in those regulations.

From 2016, a new EAPC, with for example a "Twist and Go" type throttle, that provides power when the rider is not pedalling, was required to be type-approved by the manufacturer before being placed on the market as an EAPC. This EU regulation had no effect on any bike that was already built and in use on the road, it only affects the manufacturing of brand new bikes. In our understanding it is legal to take a pre-2016, "used" bike and modify it, by adding a throttle to provide power without simultaneous pedalling above 6 km/h, as long as it remains in compliance with the key requirements of an EAPC: pedals by which the cycle can be propelled, maximum power 250W, and power cuts off automatically at 25 km/h (15.5 mph). In fact, it is permissible for private individuals to modify a newer bike that has already been in use for a period as well, on condition that this is a one-off, as by definition an individual and unique vehicle produced by a non-professional is not subject to type approval.

Please note that this email contains the views of the Department for Transport and that insofar as this letter provides an interpretation of the law, it is only a court of law that is able to give a legally definitive interpretation."

The important point here is that, by definition, a one-off vehicle [classified as a pedal bike] produced by a non-professional is not subject to Type Approval.

The Highway Code (UK).
Rules for cyclists. Sections 59 - 82.
Some of the rules are legal requirements (e.g., you MUST have efficient brakes and use lights at night, you MUST obey all traffic signs), but many are advisory (e.g., you should wear a type-approved helmet, etc.). It is however unlikely that you will win a legal dispute if you have not followed the advice given (see also: Darwin Awards).

Future legal changes
There are pressures within the EC to require e-bike users to have mandatory 3rd party (public liability) insurance. There will no doubt be much wrangling over this issue in the months and years to come; but to the author's mind this is not an entirely bad idea provided that the costs to the rider reflect the actual risks. UK rules might also diverge from EC rules at some point in the future.
     At time of writing (July 2019), public liability up to £106 + theft insurance for a low-risk region costs about £10 pcm for an e-bike valued at £1250. Inner-city dwellers will no-doubt have to pay more. Theft insurance requires the use of an approved lock.

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Last updated: 2019-11-27