If you need to travel a reasonably long distance to school or to a job but you’re not old enough to ride a motorbike, an electric bike could be the way to go. You can ride an electric bike from age 14.
The electric bikes that meet this regulation is called an electrically assisted pedal cycle, or EAPC, and it can be a two-wheeled bike, tandem or tricycle.
There are some limitations, though – don’t expect that you can buy something like this Stealth with 4.5kW and a 50mph top speed. In the UK EAPCs are limited to 200W for a bicycle or 250W for a tandem or tricycle. This is less than countries such as New Zealand which allows up to 300W, and Germany and Switzerland which have another class of electric bikes capable of up to 30mph which has less stringent laws than mopeds. For the moment you’ll have to put up with the maximum 15mph top speed of the electric motor (you can pedal harder to go faster if you want).
The bike must have pedals, must not be heavier than 40kg for a bike or 60kg for a tandem, and must have a plate showing the manufacturer, nominal voltage of the battery and the motor’s power output.
You can ride an EAPC anywhere you can ride a normal pedal cycle with no restrictions around being registered or taxed, or the rider having to wear a helmet or have insurance. When riding on the road, use high visibility clothing, and wear a helmet and other protective equipment. Stay well to the left unless it’s dangerous to do so (e.g. there are drains, slippery leaves, deep puddles, etc).
If you do want something more powerful it will be limited to off-road use, and by off-road we don’t mean on the footpath because riding on the footpath is against the law.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.