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).
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.
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.