Illegal “electric bicycles” are really mopeds

ebike moped

Published on 21 September 2016 by Robert Drane

According to The Times, London commuters have been riding battery-powered “bicycles” which are legally classified as mopeds.

The paper discovered that some “retailers are selling powerful electric bicycles with motors capable of breaking the regulations limiting their speed.”

The motors on electric bicycles (or ebikes for short) must stop working at 15.5mph but some “speed ebikes” can reach much higher speeds by the adjustment of limiters with readily available smartphone apps or dongles. Ebikes with motors faster and more powerful than the specified limit are classified as mopeds and must be type approved, registered with the DVLA, taxed, insured and have an MOT.

Some sellers are apparently claiming that these bikes are exempt from rules because they are intended for “off-road use”. This isn’t the case.

In March, Dave Luscombe, Project Manager for Alternative Powered Vehicles at the MCIA, said:

“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.”