The laws and regulations surrounding electric bikes and ebikes in the UK suck, and appear to be much tighter and stringent than in other parts of the world. Since most of the laws and regulations in the UK are decided by the EU in Brussels I assume it is the European Parliament to blame, and I assume that all other EU member states have the same rules and regulations with ebikes too, although I have never looked in to this and I doubt I ever will as I have better things to with my time rather than checking out what the Germans/French/Italians/Dutch/Spanish etc. can and can’t have in the way of an electric bike.
In the UK an electric bike can only have assistance up to 15mph ( 24.14 kmh), and once this speed is exceeded the electric motor will cut out and the rider has to use leg power only, which is why the speeds reached in the following clip “How fast is the Wisper 905 electric bike” are so slow.
It is possible to have an electric bike that travels faster than 15mph in the UK but it is then treated as a moped, and as such you will need a licence and valid motor insurance to ride it on the public road. Fortunately, you don’t need a road fund licence for the electric bike because it doesn’t produce any emissions but if the UK Government ever change the rules on electric vehicles and how they are taxed (which could easily happen in the future) electric bikes with an assisted speed greater than 15mph may well have to pay a road fund licence as well.
From what I have read on US and Australian electric bike forums it seems the UK laws and regulations are very tight, and I have read that it is possible to have an electric bike that can travel at assisted speeds up to 20mph (32 kmh) before being classed as a motorized vehicle. Based on this it is easy to see the laws and regulations on electric bikes in the UK suck.
Many electric bikes in the UK are available in the US and Australia as well, which means there are many electric bikes in the UK that have been restricted to comply with UK laws and regulations. If you know where to look it is easy to find someone willing to de-restrict an ebike in the UK, however it is not legal.
I wouldn’t like to say what the chances are of being caught if you have an electric bike derestricted in the UK and take it on the public roads, however I would never recommend it. If you do get caught riding an over powered electric bike on the UK roads you can be prosecuted for riding with no insurance or MOT, both of which are serious road traffic offences with serious consequences. There is also a chance you could get busted riding without the requisite licence too. The risks of riding a de-restricted ebike in the UK far outweigh the benefits, and because of this I will stick to riding at 15mph and hope that when the UK leaves the European Union the laws and regulations on electric bikes will change to more like what happens in the US and Australia.
Electric bike video playlist that may be of interest
A relatively new eBike owner and loving the experience – I really wish I had bought an electric bike before