Electric scooters have been around for some time now, but it seems that there’s still some degree of confusion about where they can be legally ridden.
While the roads are not exactly littered with these silent two-wheelers, plenty of unregistered scooters are being ridden on the public roads – without a crash helmet.
So is this legal? Here, specialist motorcycle insurance broker Bikesure gives the lowdown on whether you can ride your electric scooter on the road.
There are two main types of electric bike: an electrically assisted pedal cycle, which has pedals fitted, and the newer breed of road legal electric scooter, which has no pedals and is solely powered by an electric motor.
To all intents and purposes, these latter machines look identical in almost every respect to a standard, petrol-engined, 50cc scooter.
Let’s deal with the pedal-powered, electrically assisted bikes first.
You can legally ride one of these bikes if you are 14 or over, but for it to be classified as an “electrically assisted pedal cycle” it must meet the following electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC) rules:
1) it must have pedals that can be used to propel it
2) it cannot travel at more than 15.5mph when powered by the electric motor alone (obviously it’s OK to pedal faster than that)
3) the bike (including its battery but not the rider) must not be heavier than 40 kilograms (kg) if it’s a bicycle, or 60kg if it’s a tandem or tricycle
4) the motor has a maximum power output of 250 watts
5) the bike must have a plate showing the manufacturer, the nominal voltage of the battery, and the motor’s power output
These bikes do not need to be taxed, insured or MOTd and can be used anywhere that a standard pedal cycle is allowed, including roads and cycleways.
By contrast, the more powerful electrically powered scooters and mopeds must be treated in exactly the same way as a normal scooter or moped.
So all those people – and there are many – currently riding on public roads with no number plate, no helmet, and presumably no tax, MOT or insurance are breaking electric scooter law every time they ride on the roads.
In standard form, these scooters are classified as L1e vehicles, the same as mopeds.
They are fully road legal, but carry exactly the same requirements as any other L1e vehicle, as follows:
1) You can ride a standard electric scooter in the L1e category at the age of 16
2) If you are 16 or over, you must have a valid provisional driving licence and complete compulsory basic training (unless you obtained a full driving licence before February 1, 2001)
3) On obtaining your CBT you must display L plates (unless you obtained a full driving licence after February 1, 2001).
4) You must apply for vehicle tax, even though there is no cost for this
5) The vehicle must be type approved, registered with the DVLA and display licence plates
6) Once the vehicle is three years old, you must obtain an MOT certificate each year like any other vehicle
7) You must have valid insurance in force to ride on the road, and you must wear a helmet
8) To class as an L1e vehicle, the scooters are restricted to a maximum speed of 30mph like any other moped.
If an electric bike over 250W is intended for off-road use, then it must comply with the same rules which apply to off-road motorcycles: riders are barred from public roads, common land, paths or tracks intended for cyclists and must be registered on an agreed list for off-road competition bikes, known as the FIM competition list.
In summary, if it looks like a moped, it’s probably a moped…
Bikesure can provide competitively priced insurance for all electric scooters and more powerful electric motorcycles, including conversions and modified bikes.