E-bikes: What are the current laws in the UK?

E-bike battery in the heat of the sun
Are e-bikes legal in the UK and where can you ride them? (Stock image: Getty) (deepblue4you via Getty Images)

An investigation is underway after a 15-year-old boy who was riding an e-bike died after being followed by police in Salford.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said officers were following the boy on Thursday afternoon when it went through bollards that stopped the police vehicle from going any further.

The bike collided with an ambulance shortly after, and the 15-year-old died. It has been reported the ambulance was parked at the time.

A GMP spokesperson said: "In line with normal proceedings, the incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, who are now leading the investigation."

The incident comes just weeks after an e-bike crash in Cardiff involving two boys who were being followed by police sparked riots in the city.

Are e-bikes legal on UK roads?

According to the government website, you can ride an electric bike if you are 14 or over, as long as it meets certain requirements.

It says to ride ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs) you don't need a licence and the bike doesn't need to be registered, taxed or insured.

An EAPC must have pedals that can be used to propel it, it says, which means the pedals must be in motion for the electric assistance to be provided.

It must show either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor, as well as either the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike.

Watch: Police force refers itself to watchdog as CCTV footage shows van following e-bike before crash

The bike's motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and shouldn't be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph, government regulations state.

Any electric bike that doesn't meet these rules is classed as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed, and the person riding it needs a driving licence and must wear a crash helmet.

In addition, the government website says some e-bikes must be 'type approved' - this is if they can be propelled without pedalling, or if they don't meet EAPC rules.

If a bike has been type approved, it will have a plate showing its type approval number, and this should have been done by the manufacturer or importer before someone buys the bike.

Where can you ride an e-bike?

If a bike meets the EAPC requirements it is classed as a normal pedal bike, the government website says.

This means you can ride it on private and public property, including cycle paths and anywhere that a standard bicycle is allowed.

Modern electric rental bikes lined up during charging on a sunny day, identified by number, brick building in background.
Electric bikes are growing in popularity - both to own and rent. (Stock image: Getty) (aire images via Getty Images)

What is the legal speed limit for electric bikes in the UK?

E-bikes are subject to the same rules as bikes, and technically road speed limits don't apply to bicycles.

This means that in theory there is no speed limit for e-bikes in the UK. However, the electric assistance has to cut off at 15.5mph, so beyond that you can only go as fast as you can pedal.

Are there different levels of power for e-bikes?

There are different options for power when it comes to e-bikes - including 250 watts, 350 watts, 500 watts, and 750 watts.

However, in the UK only 250 watt e-bikes are permitted, so more powerful e-bikes would not be legal.