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Electric Bikes – Differences and the Law

Electrical bikes (or Extra Light Vehicles – under 40 kg) can be divided in 2 categories.

E-bikes are bikes with a motor in the front or rear wheel that can cause the bike to move without the rider using the pedals.

Pedelecs are bikes with a motor in the front or rear wheel that  only cause the bike to move when the rider is pedalling.


When is an electric bike considered to be a bicycle and when a moped, according to relevant legislation?

According to article 1h of the EU Directive 2002/24/CE with regards to the legislation for homologation of vehicles with 2 or 3 wheels, this Directive does NOT apply to ´electric bikes that have an auxiliary motor of max. 0,25kW, of which power gradually decreases and finally is interrupted when the bike reaches a speed of 25 km/hr, or before that if the cyclists stops pedalling´. As a result of this, electric bikes or ´pedelecs´ that meet these specifics, should be considered as ordinary bicycles re legislation.

Several cases of riders of pedelecs being mistaken for E-bikes and consequently fined heavily for not having insurance etc. have been published in the media. Would recommend to print the first two pages of the EU Directive as linked to above, to have handy to show a guardia when stopped. And demonstrate that the electric motor of your bike doesn´t work if the pedals are not moved. If they are still not convinced after that and proceed to sanction you, said pages plus information from the manufacturer about the workings of the motor should suffice to appeal the fine.

So E-bikes, of which the auxiliary motor makes the bike move without having to move the pedals and any bikes that exceed speeds of 25 km/hr or of which the motor doesn´t automatically disconnect at 25km/hr,  are considered conventional mopeds and thus should be homologated as such and meet reglamentary obligations, like insurance, matriculation, register for road tax, wear helmet, minimum age and licence to ride it etc.

Further info from 2019.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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