E-bikes are growing in popularity in the UK, and they are already very widely used in continental Europe. They make cycling more accessible to everyone, as e-bikes can be ridden at greater speeds and up hills with less effort. For anyone curious to know more about e-bikes, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Do you need a licence to ride an e-bike?
E-bikes which conform to the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 do not require a licence to operate under UK law. They can be ridden on roads by anyone over the age of 14, and they do not need to be registered, taxed, or insured. They can be ridden in all the same places as a standard bicycle.
The vendor should be able to confirm whether or not the bike complies with regulations. You can also check by looking for a CE kitemark, and a manufacturer’s sticker or plate which should confirm the specifications.
How fast can an e-bike go?
E-bikes are legally restricted to a maximum speed of 15.5mph. They cannot legally exceed a power output of 250 watts, so if you want to modify your bike for more power and faster speeds, you will need to register it with the DVLA and possess a driving licence, insurance, and wear a helmet that conforms to current safety standards.
What are the advantages of an e-bike?
E-bikes can level up access to cycling for people who are less physically fit or less confident about cycling in traffic. They are great for older people, or those with an injury, who find regular cycling too strenuous an activity. Even averagely fit people who are put off cycling can benefit from a little extra pedal power, especially if they live in a hilly area.
They can also save considerably on transport costs. For example, many people purchase a lightweight electric bike to commute to work, which is a brilliant alternative to crowded, expensive, and unreliable public transport. It will also get them to their workplace faster and with much less effort than a regular bike.
Can you ride e-bikes in the rain?
A popular myth is that you can’t ride an electric bicycle in wet weather, but this is nonsense. They are just as water-resistant as regular bikes. Ideally, they should be stored indoors to protect them from rust, or at least covered with a waterproof bike cover.
How far can e-bikes go?
A fully charge e-bike has a range of anything from 20 to 100 miles, depending on the model, the power modes used on the journey, and the terrain and weather conditions. You are unlikely to run out of power during an average commute.
If you are planning a very long day’s journey over hilly conditions, and use the higher power modes frequently, then you may need to consider if you can stop off at a recharging point along the way. Keeping the tyre pressure at optimum level to reduce resistance and drag will also help to preserve the battery life.