How to Ride An E-bike Legally: E-bike Rules and Regulations in Europe

Since electric bikes are becoming one of the most important ways of commuting and getting around in the city, there is a lot of confusion about e-bike rules and regulations. And there is a lot of confusion between electric bicycles and mopeds. One of the most frequently asked questions is:” Can I ride this electric bicycle legally in Europe?”. If you have these doubts and concerns, or you can’t decide which electric bike to buy, read this article and I will tell you more about electric bicycle regulations and limits in Europe.

How to identify electric pedal-assist bicycles and electric mopeds?

Electric bikes, also called e-bikes or pedelecs (Pedal Electric Assisted Cycles), are bicycles equipped with an electric motor, a battery and other accessories. They include two categories: electric pedal-assist bicycles and electric mopeds.

Electric Pedal-assist Bicycles:

Electric pedal-assist bicycles are bikes with pedal assistance. They are equipped with a motor that starts working only when the pedals are activated, as the name implies, the motor only works to "assist" the cyclist, that’s why they are classified as cycles. This kind of e-bike does not require homologation and the payment of road tax and insurance.

Electric Mopeds:

Electric mopeds are self-operated bikes. They are equipped with a motor that operates when the pedals of the bicycle are not moving. The bikes in this category must also have a license plate and are subject to the payment of the road tax and insurance.

An electric bike with pure electric mode and pedal-assist mode will be treated as pedelecs if you only use pedal-assist mode on public roads. When it comes to city cruising, the pure electric mode is only designed for special circumstances and riding on personal territories. To meet this requirement, some ebike riders prefer to disable the pure electric mode when riding in the city. Another solution is getting an electric bike without a throttle, such as the Himo Max series.

Himo Z16 Max

Himo Z20 Max

Himo C26 Max

Himo ZB20 Max

All of the Himo Max ebikes have no throttle. They have passed the CE certification from SGS professional lab and the EN15194 standard, the pedal-assist only starts when the rider pedals. You can ride it in Europe completely legally.

What type of e-bikes can be ridden legally on public roads in Europe?

In most European countries and areas, to be considered cycles or pedal-assisted bicycles, electric bikes must comply with the requirements of the European directive 2002/24/EC, implemented in Italy in 2004.

  • The engine at rotation speed must not exceed 0.25kW(250W);
  • The assistance of the electric motor must be functional only until reaching 25 km/h;
  • When the cyclist stops pedaling the engine must stop.

This means that the engine is activated only if the cyclist pedals and it has to stop when the speed exceeds 25km/h. Furthermore, there is the possibility of riding e-bikes without the assistance of the engine. This means you can pedal like riding a regular bike, it’s all at your discretion. Therefore, as regards this category of electric bicycles, the law provides that cyclists must follow the same rules as owners of traditional bicycles.

Pedelec vs s-pedelec

Pedelec means Pedal Electric Assisted Cycles. The rated continuous power must be a maximum of 250 watts and the speed must be limited to 25 km/h . These conditions have a legal background: only under these conditions is a pedelec equated with a bicycle and is not subject to additional insurance.

S-pedelec means speed pedelec, it also provides pedal assist, the difference is that they do not switch off their motor support at 25 km/h, but at a speed of 45 km/h. This kind of electric bike is treated as an electric moped and riders have to wear a helmet, register a license and pay taxes and insurance.

Helmet and Age Requirements

Scientific studies have proven that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries by about 60% in case of a fall. Although in most European countries helmets are not required for pedelec riders, it is recommended to wear a helmet when riding an electric bike.

Another way to ensure safety is to strictly abide by the age limit. Most countries require a minimum age of 14-15 for low-power ebikes (less than 250W) while Switzerland and Belgium require an age of 16+.

Electric Bike Regulations in Different European Countries

Ebike laws in Austria

In Austria, pedelecs have to meet the following conditions:

  • The motor only switches on when the pedals are pressed.
  • The rated continuous power must be a maximum of 250 watts
  • The maximum drive power is 600 watts and the speed must be limited to 25 km/h
  • The driver must use the cycle path if it can be used.
  • Trailers can be attached to transport children (requires some conditions).

The riding regulations for pedelecs:

  • The minimum age for use is 12 years unaccompanied, unless you have purchased a cycling license
  • You don't need a driver's license
  • No helmet obligation - a helmet does not have to be worn (but is recommended)
  • No separate insurance is required (liability is recommended, however)
  • All bike paths may be used and, as with a conventional bike, riding on the sidewalk is prohibited
  • Child trailers are allowed, as with bicycles (provided the above aspects are met)
  • Child seats are permitted as long as the child is not older than eight years
  • Equipment regulations like conventional bicycles (headlights, rear lights, bells, reflectors and reflectors on spokes and pedals)
  • Approval is not necessary, but all pedelecs sold in the EU require an EU declaration of conformity including CE marking - you should pay attention to this or ask the e-bike dealer
  • The alcohol limit is 0.8

Electric bike laws in Belgium

In Belgium, the ebike regulations are quite relaxed. Three types of ebikes are allowed:

250W ebikes: speed limited to 25 km/h, suitable for all ages with no helmet requirement.

1000W ebikes: speed limited to 25 km/h but now classified as “motorized-bikes”, rider age of 16 required alongside a conformity certificate. No helmet is required.

4000W ebikes: classified as “speed pedelecs”, be classed as mopeds; Riders have to abide by moped regulations.

Ebike laws in France

In France, there are three main rules for all electric bikes:

  • The nominal power of the motor must not exceed 250 Watts. Once the ebike exceeds this speed limit, they are officially considered a speed bike.
  • The pedal assistance must be cut off above 25km/h
  • The pedal assistance must only be triggered if the cyclist is pedaling and must imperatively be cut off when the pedaling stops.

Speed bikes (speed over 25km/h) must be subject to these regulations:

  • Speedlimited to 45 km/h
  • Require an AM licensethat riders must present tax clearance and confirm that the manufacturer is located within Europe.

It is worth mentioning that France has severe penalties for non-compliance with the regulations on electric bicycles, those who modify or tweak their electric bicycles to reach higher speeds will face fines of up to €30,000.

Ebike Laws in Germany

In Germany, pedelecs have to meet the following conditions:

  • The motor assistance works only when pedaling and speed not exceed 25km/h
  • Ebikes with a rated continuous motor output of 250W are considered as bicycles
  • Does not require a permit, a helmet or a driver’s license
  • Ebikes with a start-up aid up to 6km/h are also considered bicycles
  • All pedelecs sold in the EU require an EU declaration of conformity including the CE mark

Speed pedelecs have to meet these conditions

  • The maximum speed of motor assistance is 45km/h, if exceeded, the motor has to stop.
  • The minimum ageof the rider is 15 or 16 years old
  • A driving license and helmet are required
  • Liability insurance including license plate required
  • Alcohol limit is 5 per thousand

Ebike Laws in Italy

Just like other European countries, Italy also consider low-speed ebikes as cycles, they have to meet these conditions:

  • The maximum continuous rated power is 0.25kW(250W)
  • The motor assistance is progressively reduced and finally interrupted when the vehicle reaches 25 km/h or earlier if the cyclist stops riding

For these pedal-assist bicycles, there are no special requirements such as a licence or helmet.

For the electric bikes with motor works even without pedaling, you need a helmet, insurance, license plate, AM license and driving license, therefore the same requirements as for a scooter.

Ebike Laws in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, pedelecs must meet the following conditions

  • The electric motor of the bicycle has a maximum power of 250W
  • The pedal assistance stops at 25km/h
  • You have to pedal to move forward

Rules for pedelecs

  • No driver’s license or helmet required
  • No third-party liability insurance (WA insurance) required
  • No license plate required
  • There is no minimum age.
  • You must drive on the mandatory cycle path or the bicycle/moped path.

EU-required Electric Bike Certifications

To ensure safety and protect the rights and interests of consumers, ebikes need to pass some certifications including UN38.3, UL, FCC, ROHS, CE, etc. Among them, CE certification is a mandatory standard for products sold in the European market. The CE certification means the products have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements. When ebikes are transported to the EU, the customs will check the CE certification along with the products for customs clearance. Electric bicycles without CE certifications will be immediately revoked, or prohibited from being sold in the market.

All the BuyBestGear products have passed the CE certification, they are stocked in European local warehouses and will arrive at your house 7-9 days after being dispatched. If you have more questions or concerns, please contact us by sending an email to support@buybestgear.com.


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