Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 29th August 2017

here are many motorbikes on the market, ranging from the powerful Suzuki Hayabusa, to a reliable Lambretta. A type of vehicle that’s steadily been growing in popularity is the electric bike. But what sets them apart from motorbikes and what are the requirements for riding one? We’ve put together a helpful guide that will help you decide whether an electric bike is right for you.


What is an electric bike?

An electric bike is a bicycle that uses an electric motor. It’s very similar to a normal bicycle, but comes with a battery pack that can be recharged. The motor makes it easier for a rider because they don’t have to pedal as much. This will make it easier to cycle uphill and cycle further. What are the riding requirements?

For an e-bike to be road legal in the UK, it needs to have pedals that can propel the bike. You’ll be required to reduce the power of the motor as the bike’s speed approaches 15 mph. You can ride faster than that, but you’ll have to pedal at your own pace once you’ve hit the top legal speed for electric bikes.

14-year-olds and over can ride an e-bike without a licence, tax, insurance or lid, so long as the motor sticks to 15 mph and doesn’t put out more than 250 watts.

Outside those rules, any e-bike is treated as a normal vehicle. This means some of the most powerful e-bikes wouldn’t be legal in the UK without type approval. For those models, you’d need a licence, lid and insurance.


What batteries are used?

The battery is a critical part of an electric bike, so you’ll want to take that into consideration when you purchase the vehicle. The most common is a lithium ion battery, because they are light and pack more power into a smaller space than other battery types. A decent battery should give you an average 15 miles of cycling.


Advantages and disadvantages

Like all vehicles, an electric bike comes with pros and cons.



  • Electric bikes are cheap to run, as it only costs a few pence to fully charge the battery. You’ll save a lot of money on petrol by riding an e-bike as opposed to driving a car.
  • Owning an e-bike is less hassle than other vehicles because you don’t need a licence or specific insurance.
  • Riding an electric bike makes journeys easier compared to riding a normal bicycle. It’s easier to get up hills with the motor, so you’re more likely to use it. This will help you get fitter.
  • You could save time on your work journey, as riding an e-bike means you can use cycle lanes. By using cycle lanes, you’ll be able to avoid traffic and it cuts down travel time.
  • You’ll be able to ride for longer on an electric bike because of the motor assistance.



  • Electric bikes are usually more expensive than regular bicycles.
  • The engine, battery pack and controls add a lot of weight to the bike, making it heavy. It shouldn’t be an issue so long as the battery is charged. But if the battery is drained then it will make a difference when trying to pedal.
  • When charging the battery pack from flat, remember it can take several hours to reach full power. You’ll need to consider how long your journey will take and plan the charging time around it.
  • Where can I buy an electric bike?
  • If you’ve decided you’d like to buy an electric bike, then you’ll want to look for a specialist dealer. A specialist will explain the various bike options and give you good advice. Before you purchase the bike, it’s essential you test it.