UK Proposes Faster, More Powerful E-Bikes

lime e-bike

UK proposals would double e-bike motor power, allow faster throttle-controlled e-bikes in move to make category more attractive

Critics have said UK government proposals for putting more powerful, faster e-bikes on the roads would increase the risk of collisions and severe battery fires.

The government opened a consultation into the proposals late last week that runs until 25 April.

The “Smarter Regulation” policy paper sets out ways of making e-bikes more attractive so that they can “play a key role in increasing cycling levels and supporting the government’s objectives for active travel”, as well as reducing the cost of living and driving economic growth.

The proposed rules would diverge from present standards, which are in line with those of the European Union.

They would double the maximum power of e-bikes from 250 watts to 500 watts.

wexford bolt e-bike
Image credit: Bolt

Faster, more power

The proposals would also bring in pedal-less, throttle-controlled e-bikes with a maximum speed of 15.5mph instead of 3.73mph.

Pedal-controlled e-bikes can already travel up to 15.5mph, but those without pedals that can travel faster than 3.73mph are generally classified as motorcycles.

Critics said the higher-wattage e-bikes could increase the risk and severity of lithium battery fires.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Charlie Pugsley said the risk of more severe battery fires was a “significant concern”, while Electrical Safety First argued MPs should instead focus on making existing batteries safer.

The Bicycle Association argued the proposals for faster throttle-controlled e-bikes risk introducing motorcycle-style requirements such as mandatory insurance, registration and helmets, which would make “the whole category significantly less attractive for users”.

lime e-bike
Image credit: Lime


It argued that many countries have the same e-bike regulations as are currently in force in the UK and have managed to make e-bikes “highly popular and successful”.

Cycling UK said faster, heavier e-bikes making use of cycle lanes would make pedestrians and other cyclists feel unsafe, while reducing the health benefits of cycling.

“The dramatically increased power would mean faster acceleration and much heavier bikes, which we’re really concerned about,” the group said.

“We fully agree with the Government’s goal to get more people to enjoy the benefits of e-cycles, but believe the way to do that effectively is to invest in high quality infrastructure and provide financial assistance for those who need it.”