Two thirds would take up electric bicycle grant

Piaggio Wi-Bike

Two-thirds of us would consider buying e-bikes if helped by a subsidy scheme, according to a recent study.

The research by Bosch comes ahead of a proposed subsidy for electric bicycles, or pedelecs as they are sometimes called, of as much a third. France is planning a similar scheme to boost sales of electric bikes.

The study polled over 2,000 people across the the country including non-cyclists. Of those who had already bought an electric bicycle, 81% felt it was a good investment.

Commenting on the new research, Tamara Winograd at Bosch said: “It’s encouraging to see the rapid development of e-Biking as a sustainable and enjoyable travel option and these findings confirm what we’ve been seeing over the past year, as more people discover the benefits of e-mobility.”

Electric bicycles, speed pedelecs and the law

Electric bicycles, sometimes referred to as pedelecs, must not provide powered assistance beyond 15.5 mph (25 km/h) and maximum continuous rated power up to 250 W

If your cycle has pedals that propel it and an the electric motor of no more than 250 watts that cuts out once you’re travelling more than 15.5mph (25 km/h) then in the eyes of the law it’s an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle) sometimes referred to as an e-bike, or pedelec

This means that you can ride it on the road or any cycle paths – anywhere a conventional bicycle can be used. It also means you won’t find it any trouble to insure. For example, the ETA charges no extra for insuring an electric bicycle and includes third party cover and protection against battery theft as standard. Oh, and if you break down they’ll arrange for you and your electric bike to be taken to a repair shop, railway station or home.

charger speed pedelec

Who is allowed to ride an electric bike in the UK?

You don’t need a licence, vehicle tax or insurance to ride an electric bicycle but must be over 14 years old.

Electric bicycle law in Northern Ireland

To legally ride an electric bike in Northern Ireland you’ll need to wear an approved motorbike helmet, display the registration mark on the back of the bike (DVLA will send this to you once the bike is registered) have insurance. Cycle Insurance from the ETA will cover this.
Remember that in Northern Ireland, you cannot ride your electric bike on cycle paths.

Speed Pedelecs

If your electric bicycle is equipped with a motor that’s more powerful than 250W, or if it assists you when you’re riding more than 15.5 mph – in the eyes of the law it’s a motorcycle and as such needs to be registered, insured and taxed. You’ll also need the appropriate driving licence and helmet approved for motorbike use. These so-called speed pedelecs have been given their own type approval in Europe so that they can be ridden like bicycles subject to certain conditions but no such provision exists here in the UK.

These other kind of bikes (also called speed pedelecs) cannot be ridden on cycle paths and must be approved by the DVLA. So while it’s easy to de-restrict an e-bike to get the motor assisting you with higher speeds, it is not very wise to do so, both for regulatory and safety reasons.

My electric bicycle has a throttle – is it legal?

Since January 1 2016, the only throttles legal on new bikes are those that provide starting assistance ie. assist the rider without pedalling up to a maximum speed of 3.7 mph. At that speed, the throttle cuts off.  If the cyclist pedals at the same time, the throttle can still assist up to the 15.5mph limit.

Bikes sold before January 1 2016 may have a full-speed throttle (you don’t need to pedal at all to reach the 15.5mph limit) but are considered legal due to having been sold before the law changed.

Ethical electric bicycle insurance

ETA cycle policy covers electric bike insurance as standard – that means you enjoy all the usual benefits such as protection against theft and damage, no devaluation of your bike (no matter its age), third party cover and cycle rescue. On top of all that, we’ll cover your bike’s battery against theft.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. Little wonder The Good Shopping Guide has judged us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.



  1. Jackson


    And of course in the long-term, all the benefits that people, cities, businesses and our planet gain as a result of more people riding bikes all still stand. Biking helps people to be healthier and happier. Biking helps make our communities more liveable and it brings a host of benefits to businesses – from healthier staff, fewer sick days, and increased productivity. E-bike might be great for most people.

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