Difference between ebikes and electric motorbikes

Confused by ebikes and electric bikes? So are many! Let us clear things up…

What’s the difference between ebikes and electric motorbikes?

Right, so first thing’s first, ebikes and electric motorcycles are two completely different types of vehicle, with different rules and definitions within UK law. The main difference is an ebike has peddles and an electric motorbike does not.

An e-bike is defined as: “a bike that can be powered by electricity as well as propelled by pedals.”

An electric motorbike is defined as: “a motorbike that runs on electricity instead of petrol.”

The confusion between these two, two-wheeled machines stems from the fact that they’re both referred to as ‘bikes’ – motorbikes are called bikes and bicycles are called bikes. So it’s not a new blurred line…

Electric motorbikes are, wait for it… motorbikes

An electric motorbike is basically a motorbike powered by a battery instead of petrol – therefore riders of electric motorbikes have to follow all the laws and rules of motorbikes, which includes having the appropriate licence, the motorbike must be registered to be used on the road and have a number plate; and of course, you must have insurance and wear an approved helmet. 

There is no peddling involved on an electric motorbike, you couldn’t if you wanted to as there are no peddles.

Dress for the slide not the ride

There is much more legislation for electric motorbikes than ebikes, simply because there is so much more power in an electric motorcycle.

If you’ve opted for an electric motorbike you’ll want to opt for the protective gear that (sensible) motorcyclists use such as boots that support you ankle, gloves, and a protective jacket and trousers- there’s a well-known saying of “dress for the slide not the ride.”

difference between ebikes and electric motorbikes

Ebikes are bicycles and push bikes

An ebike is basically a regular bicycle with an electric-powered motor to help you whilst you peddle. The ebike road legal top speed without peddling is just 15.5mph but would be more with your leg power. If you have an ebike that goes on public road above 15.5mph without peddling, then it’s illegal in the UK.

Just like a normal push bike / bicycle, ebikes can be ridden by anyone without training, a licence, registering it for the road or insurance. Check out our full guide to ebikes here.

Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs)

Ebikes are known as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ or if that’s too much of a mouthful for you, EAPCs for short. An EAPCs must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and cannot be propelled faster than 15.5mph without peddling. 

If these two conditions are not met, then your ebike is no longer an EAPC and instead it’s classed as a motorbike or moped and therefore all of those previously mentioned conditions of electric bike insurance, helmets, reg plates etc apply, so it’s very important that you get them right. 

If you’re using a 750w ebike on the road in the UK, you may think that no would know and perhaps you’re right.

The problem comes that if you have an accident and even worse, if that accident is your fault and someone else is injured then it is found that you are illegally using a 750w ebike on the road, then you could be in serious trouble – so check your ebike complies with the laws of the country you’re riding it in. Read our UK ebike law guide here.

Himiway ebike

Check out all of our ebike guides…