If you’re here reading this then you might be asking yourself, just what is an eBike, and what makes it different to a regular bicycle, or even an electric motorbike? As a UK electric bike company, we wanted to provide the low down to what’s what.

eBikes are generally a bicycle which has electrical assist technology integrated either directly at the rear wheel, or through the pedal crank and a small onboard battery pack to provide power. The powertrain on these bikes typically consists of a brushless electric motor, a lithium-ion battery pack, a motor controller unit, a throttle, and on higher end models, a dashboard type display.

With lithium battery technology becoming lighter, replacing the heavy lead-acid based hardware in older models, they are becoming increasingly popular. Battery packs can be removed and charged, or changed while on the bike, depending on the model. Along with the electronics required being cheap and easily accessible, this has allowed the eBike to flourish.

Scotland are ramping up their plans to increase active travel in the 2020’s by making an extra £700,000 available to fund an interest-free loan scheme for the purchase of e-bikes. The money will be allocated to fund an interest-free loan scheme, whereby Scots can purchase an e-bike worth up to £6,000 with a four-year repayment period on the loan.

Cities such as Sheffield has an eBike loan scheme in progress, Sheffield CycleBoost, where people can get a free loan of an eBike, in a bid to reduce congestion, air quality, and increase efficiency in getting around cities such as Sheffield.

There are, of course, electric motorcycles too, with manufacturers such as Zero, KTM, and Vespa all producing products for the ever growing market. The technology used in eBikes is essentially a scaled down version of that used in a full-size electric motorcycle. So, if an eBike has all the ingredients of an electric motorbike, does that make it a motorcycle and not a bicycle?

To check if a machine is an eBike or an electric motorcycle, the list of what’s covered by the government grant towards plug-in vehicles is a good starting point. If it is qualified on the list for the grant of up to £1,500, then it is officially a motorcycle. But what if it isn’t lucky enough to be on the list? Let’s have a look at the powered two-wheeler (PTW) test for a quick-fire quiz on the eligibility of the machine to be a motorcycle:

  • Does it have two wheels? Yes
  • Does it have onboard propulsion? Yes
  • Does it need licensing for road use? Yes
  • Does it need to be insured? Yes
  • Does it meet construction and use regulations? Yes
  • Does it require the user to be licensed to use it? Yes
  • Does it require legally appropriate clothing? Yes
  • Does it need registration to use? Yes

The products manufactured by the previously mentioned manufacturers easily meet every requirement on the list, and there is no denying that they are motorcycles.

But how do eBikes fare on the same test?

  • Does it have two wheels? Yes
  • Does it have onboard propulsion? Yes
  • Does it need licensing for road use? No
  • Does it need to be insured? No
  • Does it meet construction and use regulations? Yes
  • Does it require the user to be licensed to use it? No
  • Does it require legally appropriate clothing? No
  • Does it need registration to use? No

They fail the PTW test, so they are not motorcycles, but neither are they ordinary bicycles. The government has given eBikes a new category – Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC). However, a machine only qualifies as an EAPC if it can meet strict regulations. It must not be power assisted over 15.5mph, and not have a power assist over 250W.

What about machines that exceed those regulations? This leaves us in a bit of a grey area. If a machine is able to travel faster than 70km/h with a range approaching 60 miles in ideal conditions and has a structure closer to a beefed-up bicycle without pedals than a textbook motorcycle, it isn’t road legal.

If you’re seeking an electric commuter bike in the UK or one of the many other styles of eBike, then get in contact today, or visit us to see the range.

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