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MCIA warns over pedelec pitfalls

The MCIA has issued guidance to its members and their customers on the potential pitfalls of selling pedelecs.

“Electric bicycles are growing in popularity and the technology is making them more attractive and choice is growing,” the association observed. “However, while the opportunities are significant, so are the potential pitfalls for those who may not be aware of all of the rules around e-bikes, or who choose to try to ‘navigate’ a route around them.

“We offer the following guidance for our members and their customers.”

In simple terms, a UK legal electric bicycle must be:


  • Of no more than 250w of power that is used to assist the pedalling
  • Have power that reduces progressively and cuts out at 25Kph
  • Have a frame stamp, plate or sticker with a ‘CE’ mark and the manufacturer’s name amongst other information.


A bicycle which is all of the above can be sold as such, with no need for helmets, insurance, number plates or licence.  It’s a BICYCLE.

However, there are many more electric “bikes” out there that are not, in the eyes of the law, bikes.  They are MOTORCYCLES.  And to add confusion to the market, most of these are IDENTICAL to their legal cousins.

The most common of these have higher powered motors – 500w typically – and will travel via pedal assistance up to 45Kph.  Others will have throttles as well as pedals.

In simple terms, if it is not as above (250w, pedal assisted up to 25Kph) then in the eyes of the law it is an L-category moped and must be sold as such.

To be used anywhere (and don’t be fooled by the ‘private land’ trick – other than a back garden or a field there is nowhere that is legally ‘private land’), on or off road, the rider must have:

·         A motorcycle helmet

·         Third party insurance

·         A licence and CBT

·         A full sized motorcycle number plate

·         Potentially L-plates

Sellers must be aware that selling an L-cat bike as a bicycle is illegal, mis-selling at best, and getting a  customer to sign a disclaimer  is worthless. 

If you have any queries or need further information please contact Dave Luscombe 07831 225798, [email protected]




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