How do I insure a powerful e-bike?

500w e-bike

The quick answer is if your e-bike has a motor that’s over 250W you’ll find it impossible to find cycle insurance for it because in the eyes of the law it’s a motorcycle.

With eBay and Amazon flooded with after-market electric motor kits for bicycles, we’re hearing from an increasing number of people asking how to insure them.

Once fitted, many of these kits look indistinguishable from road-legal e-bikes with a 250w motor and limited to 15.5mph. However, they don’t conform to the legal definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC) and as such are not permitted to be used on UK roads unless they’ve been registered as an electric motorcycle.

How can the police tell if my e-bike is too powerful?

E-bikes fitted with 750W motors and above are capable of 30mph – a speed that is bound to arouse suspicion. People have been known to fit official-looking 250W stickers to their over-powered e-bikes, but the police are wise to this. When there is doubt over the power of an e-bike it can be confiscated at the roadside and sent away for testing.

Insurance for e-bikes

If the output of your electric bicycle does not exceed 250 W/15.5 mph, we’ll cover it under our cycle insurance at no additional cost.

Every cycle insurance policy of ours includes the following as standard:

• Theft, accidental damage & vandalism
• E-bike battery theft cover
• Cycle Rescue (breakdown cover for your electric bicycle and you)
• No devaluation of your bike over time
• £2m third party PLUS £20,000 personal accident cover
• Shed & garage storage
• Low standard excess of 5% (£50 minimum)

Which e-bikes are legal?

There are so many different types of e-bike on the market, it can be tricky to know which are road legal – especially with some importers claiming that speed limiters are all you need to conform with British law.

E-bike legislation varies by country so buying second-hand, or online from abroad, can lead to confusion. Here in the UK, e-bikes used anywhere other than private land must not provide powered assistance beyond 15.5 mph (25 km/h) and maximum continuous rated power up to 250W.

If your cycle has pedals and an 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 UK law it’s an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle) sometimes referred to as an e-bike, or pedelec. It’s important to remember that the 250W figure refers to the power of the motor and not the battery. If you’re unsure about the power output of the motor (it’s not always visibly marked), then make certain that motorised assistance cuts out at 15.5mph.

If the e-bike conforms to these requirements, 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, here at the ETA, we charge no extra for insuring an electric bicycle and include £2m third party cover and protection against battery theft as standard. Oh, and if you break down we’ll arrange for you and your electric bike to be taken to a repair shop, railway station or home (within a 25-mile radius).

charger speed pedelec

Speed limiters

Beware e-bikes that sold with speed limiters you can alter yourself. The fact you can restrict your e-bike to 15.5mph does not make it legal for use on British roads if the motor is rated at about 250W. Apart from anything else, you will not be able to insure this type of bike as a bicycle.

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.

RadRunner e-bike prize

 

Your e-bike in safe hands

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

Comments

  1. PAT DRIVER

    Reply

    Can you please google a Green Power Monster trike and tell me if you can insure it for me. Many thanks Pat.

  2. Chris Wolfenden

    Reply

    On all motorcycles V5 it states a motorcycle is a bicycle. Therefore a electric bicycle is still a bicycle, not a motorcycle

    • The ETA

      Reply

      It’s true that the taxation class for motorcycles is described as ‘bicycle’ but that’s unrelated to its legal categorisation

  3. Philip moisey

    Reply

    I am 72 year old it is impossible to use a 15 mile an hour ebike where I live it just full of hills I have to have one that does 25 mile an hour and buy the way racing push bikes pass me doing over 30 mile an hour this country is a joke 15 mile an hour

    • David Smith

      Reply

      It doesn’t say that e-bikes can’t go faster than 15.5mph, just that the motor cuts out at that speed. You can pedal it whatever speed you like up to the speed limit of the road.
      If you want to go electric faster, get an electric motor bike. Pretty simple really

      • Raymond Raeside

        Reply

        It’s no really that simple say for instance you are on low wages bills to pay even just getting to work can be expensive and if you can pedal a mountain bike faster than 25 mph a don’t see the problem with ebikes apart from all the kids terrorising the police in England a mean not all e bikers are armhole like them generally

      • Chris

        Reply

        Actually you aren’t restricted to the speed of the road. If you can pedal enough you can in theory legally go faster. So downhill in a 20mph zone you could legally go faster. You aren’t required by law to have a speedometer so how would you know?

    • Chris

      Reply

      The speed limit has nothing to do with the torque and sufficient assist/support to go up hills. My Turbo Levo in Turbo mode gets me up super steep inclines and even from a standing start halfway up the hill. With an instant response you barely need to turn the crank. Just make sure the gear is slack enough to turn the crank and off you go. If you want to do so faster than 15mph then buy a motorbike.

  4. Mick Thompsett

    Reply

    All you people who whinge about e.bikes not being powerful enough!! It is the law in this country that the maximum wattage is 250w and the motor cuts out at 15.5 Miles an hour !!! If the bike has an independant throttle (which means you don’t have to pedal.) it is classed as a motorcycle. It is not rocket science . If it is classed as a motor ycle it has to be registered with the DVLC and have insurance to ride on the road . What’s not to understand . I have a car ,an electric motorcycle and an e-bike . I am fed up with seeing people on illegal machines …in places they should not be ! When I bought my e motorcycle …I was not permitted to take it till it was registered with the DVLA!! Which means it has a number plate!!
    Stop the sale of illegal machines and make the retailers do the registering before completeing the sale !
    I have talked to pieple with ilegal machines and you normally get tge same answer ….well I am not hurting anyone ! No but you are breaking the law !!!!,

    • Richard

      Reply

      Nobody cares Mick.
      The law is an ass.

    • Chris

      Reply

      You can legally have a grandfathered ebike with a throttle.
      And it’s only sustained 250w. My completely legal Specialized ebike can output more than 250w. But yes the law is stupid. If I can still pedal faster why not give me support through all the gears? Idiot lawmakers. Meanwhile cars can do 130mph but the limit is 70mph. Makes no sense.

  5. Gary

    Reply

    This is a way of controlling people again..nanny state.
    If poweful ebikes and scooters were legal more people would use them to go to work on and leave cars at home…but the government wants a piece of the pie…The police don’t have to time or the resources to start chasing or pulling up everyone with an ebike that might be over the power rating stipulated….just ride them and screw the puppet masters.

  6. Truth Hurts

    Reply

    I’m fine with a speed limit but a power limit so low is silly. 250watts will never climb the hill where I live. I intend using a bigger motor and a Cycle Analyst as a limiter. As a heavier, disabled rider I need the torque. I might add stabilisers and call it a disability quadricyle if they question it.
    I saw a 1000W off road scooter in town last week. Until the Police remove ALL illegal scooters, it’s ridiculous to penalise bikes.

    • Chris

      Reply

      A 250w motor can output more than 250w. Just not sustained.
      My Turbo Levo is legal with 90nm of torque and I’ve been up crazy steep hills. So steep I couldn’t pedal up then on my Turbo Levo SL. Although that might be my lack of skill/fitness.

  7. James Turner

    Reply

    So, how do I insure a powerful ebike then, as stated in the article title? I can only find third party insurance but I need it insured fully comp. It’s got a v5 and a number plate, why is this so difficult.

    • The ETA

      Reply

      Have you tried a specialist broker like Adrian Flux?

      • James Turner

        Reply

        Yep, they won’t insure it unfortunately.

    • Chris

      Reply

      If you have a reg then you should be able to insure it as a motorcycle.

      • James Turner

        Reply

        You would think so wouldn’t you. There’s one insurer offering third party only insurance. But if I can’t get the bike insured against theft it’s not really useful for anything.

  8. Simon Hopkinson

    Reply

    I have imported ebikes 15 years ago and the silly 16 mph 200 watt laws were around then, crazy we need more bike and less cars. Hard to think EU civil servants had this over the top legislation before ebikes were around. Thought we were out of EU. Ditch the old regs!

    • The ETA

      Reply

      The EU has made new provision in law for speed pedelecs – the UK considers them to be mopeds with all the additional hurdles that entails

      • Driver

        Reply

        I was talking to a gentleman in work the other day, pulled up on a Lankeleisi (similar to cyrusha komoda but bigger) He was telling me he gets 35+ mph out of his machine and passes cars now on the new 20mph roads he also says the number of angry drivers yelling out the window,honking of horns and even physically trying to ram into him as he passes. Anyway I have been thinking of purchasing one of these models most of my commute would be cycle path, crossing the occasional road , would insurance be required? This would make my commute quicker than car and journey 2 mile shorter. (Even at 15 mph it would be as quick as car but covering less distance.)

        • The ETA

          Reply

          You’re describing an electric motorcycle so you’d need to register it and buy the correct insurance. In order for an electric bicycle to be considered a bicycle in the eyes of the law it must have a motor rated at no more than 250W and a top motor-assisted speed of 15.5mph.

          • Driver

            Not a motorcycle but capable of being unlocked via phone app I believe, sold as 250w with throttle assist.

  9. Thomas jurd

    Reply

    The USA law is 750watts and = 28 mph , there seams to be no problem there .
    But in Southampton City centre you have there 15mph scooter for hire with the app .
    They rip around the paths and not on the road and nearly hitting people.
    What’s wrong with a mountain bike doing 25mph for people getting to and from work and less cars on the road =less traffic = pollution

  10. Alastair

    Reply

    The UK Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC) regulations are a huge concession, effectively classifying these low powered motorised vehicles as pedal cycles and thus removing the bureaucracy of registration, licence, compulsory insurance, annual MOT inspections etc from them. Of course, there are legal definitions of what qualifies as an exempted vehicle, but it seems to have become a case of ‘give an inch and take a mile’ as some people would want to class any electrically powered two wheel vehicle as an EAPC and claim the exemptions. Just because your motorcycle has an electric motor does not make it a pedal cycle. However, I do have some sympathy for those who want to legalise their electric mopeds / motorcycles but cannot insure them due to a reluctance of the insurers to take on the risk. Why would that be?

    • Edward Bermingham

      Reply

      Hi everyone,
      I’m 66yrs old, pensioner, but still quite fit and still driving my car. To support a green environment and have a little fun before the mobility scooter arrives in the future, l have decided to buy an electric Bumblebee Sting, 2000W Chopper Bike, for this summer, it has max speed of about 38mph and a distance range of about 40 miles. It is not pedal assisted.

      That’s great, lm looking forward to buying it…..but how do l make myself street legal ?

      Looking for advice and guidance, lm based in Liverpool, UK

      • Sean

        Reply

        In the eyes of the law, it’s a motorbike.

        U may be able to get it registered as a mobility aid, then contact DVLA to get it marked as exempt for an MOT but insurance will still be the issue there as there are no company’s that do it, but even then the police will still try to confiscate it.

  11. Sean

    Reply

    I travel around the UK, it’s literally county dependent, some country’s will stop u others don’t even care about escooters.
    IV had a 1200watt escooters for the last 4 years, if I ever do get stoped and confiscated I’ll just buy a jew one, still cheaper than buying and running a car.

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