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When does an e-bike become a moped?

2016-05-20

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) has been handling the point of electric bike regulations in an offer for more clarity in the market. Here's their take on the subject... 

Because it would seem that a bicycle... 

Sales of electric e-bikes are blasting everywhere. In China, home of numerous e-bike manufacturers, over 200 million e-bikes take to the streets every day. 

In Europe, estimates suggest around 500,000 e-bikes have now been sold and the market is developing in excess of 10% every year. Nobody has any uncertainty that in most European markets, e-bikes will be an essential part of a greener transport blend. 

The picture in the UK is pretty much as healthy, with enormous brands like Raleigh seeing e-bikes as having real appeal to all sectors of the cycle market. 

Terry Blackwood of Raleigh UK endorsed this recently in an interview with online magazine Bike Europe in saying that "Electric bikes will be the biggest development area in the immediate future in the UK market." But the development in the e-bike market is not without its challenges, and one of the key issues that the UK cycle industry is thinking about is the development in higher powered electric bikes that are technically electric mopeds or even electric motorcycles. 

Article continues below 

UK Law - keeping it simple 

In the UK, pedal cycles with electrical assistance can be legally ridden by anyone over the age of 14 with no of the regulations of a motorcycle (insurance, registration, license etc.) on the off chance that they produce close to 250 watts of power (consistently rated) which removes at 15.5mph. This yield is measured by the manufacturer as a component of the bike's compliance with CE checking requirements and the bike is labeled as needs be. More than 250 watts of consistently rated power and the electric bicycle ceases to be an electric bicycle and becomes, in the eyes of the law, an electric moped. 

Indeed, if the power is over 4kW it becomes an electric motorcycle. 

To Boldly Go - or not 

An electric moped (our e-bike with more than 250 watts of persistently rated power) is the same to its petrol powered cousin. To use it requires preparing, a driving license, L-plates, outsider insurance, a full sized number plate and a motorcycle helmet. Once you have sorted all that, you can use your electric moped out and about, and just out and about, or on private area with permission. Try not to be fooled into feeling that you will be OK go dirt road romping. You won't. You are riding an engine vehicle and are subject to the same rules as someone riding a conventional motocross bike. 

Trial parks, cycle ways, cycle trails are just for bicycles, not electric mopeds. 

To Inform or Not to Inform, That is the Question 

An understanding of the categorisation of e-bikes is basic to the future of the sector in the UK. For the dealers, not advising the customer about the true nature of what they are selling, including the law pertaining to use of the e-bikes is misselling for which there are clear penalties. What's more, not understanding the regulations is no excuse for a dealer. 

The effect for the customer is no less severe if found riding an electric moped anywhere other than on private area. Likewise with an auto, a moped is governed by the Road Traffic Act and riding an electric moped without the necessary documentation as outlined above is a breach of multiple movement laws and regulations that could lead to a conviction and penalty focuses on a driving license - potentially a driving boycott in certain circumstances! 

Clarity is the Key to Success 

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain (BA) are the two trade affiliations responsible for the developing e-bike sector. The development in the e-bike sector is conveying valuable new business opportunities to motorcycle and cycle dealers and the continued development will hinge on people in general keeping on embracing this new sector. 

Misselling by a little segment of the business, which may lead to huge legal problems for some customers, can possibly derail the e-bicycle sector and has wider ramifications for conventional cycling. 

The apparent disarray amongst both dealers and customers about what is legal and what is not has led to an agreement to encourage everyone in the sector to embrace the correct terminology when referring to e-bikes with different power yields. 

In reputation materials produced by the MCIA and the BA, the accompanying terminology will be used: 

E-bikes - a generic term referring to all electric powered 2 wheelers 

Electric bicycles - referring to e-bikes of 250W and below 

Electric mopeds - referring to e-bikes over 250W up to 4kW 

Electric motorcycles - referring to e-bikes creating 4kW or more 

Utilizing this terminology will go far to help customers and dealers understand what an electric bicycle is and what their legal commitment is when their e-bike is really a moped or motorcycle.


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