Skip to main content

As e-bikes increase in popularity around the world, it is pertinent for all European enthusiasts to know about e-bike laws in Europe!

Electric bikes provide the solution to two major problems facing humanity today: rapid urbanization and climate change. Not only do e-bikes help manage traffic congestion, they are also extremely environmentally friendly.

Different countries have different laws regarding the use of e-bikes. While some places are very lenient and welcoming, others have strict requirements. One of these is the European Union.

If you want to learn more about e-bike laws in Europe, here's your ultimate guide!

What is an electric bicycle? - The European definition

Different parts of the world not only have different e-bike laws, but also different definitions of what classifies as an e-bike. According to the European Union directive 2002/24EC, an EPAC (Electrically Pedal Assisted Cycle) must:

  • Have an auxiliary motor with a continuous output of no more than 250 watts.
  • Progressively cut motor assistance when the rider reaches a speed of 25 mph or stops pedaling.

Basically, any e-bike that fits the above description is exempt from type approval. As with all European Union directives, member countries must implement these requirements by making them part of their national legislation.

Another noteworthy detail is that in 2016, the aforementioned directive was repealed by the 168/2013 regulation.However, the changes made were not as significant, and the definition remains more or less the same.

Having covered how an e-bike is defined by the EU, it's time to jump into the different classes of e-bikes in European countries.

e-bike laws in Europe

Different classes of electric bicycles in the EU

While there may be a historical conflict over who exactly invented the first bicycle propelled by a human being, most fingers point to Europe. Many advances in the e-bike industry have been made since then, which is all the more reason to classify e-bikes into different categories.

Europe has four technical classes of e-bikes, and there are different e-bike laws in Europe related to the different categories. Let's see what they are.

First, there are the L1e-A electric cycles. These can have a maximum motor output of 1000 watts and a maximum speed of 25 mph. L1e-A vehicles have both pedaling and acceleration assist. In addition, they can have 2 to 4 wheels and are known as power cycles.

Then we have the L1e-B vehicles. The maximum power of these electric cycles is 4000 watts, while the maximum allowed speed is 45 km/h. L1e-B cycles, or mopeds, have only pedal assist and a maximum of 2 wheels.

The last two classes are L2e and L6e. The difference between L2e and L1e-B cycles is that the former can have up to 3 wheels, hence the name, three-wheeled mopeds. Similarly, L6e vehicles or light quadricycles, have 4 wheels in total. The rest of the specifications such as maximum power and maximum speed are the same.

In short, the European Union has proposed four different classes for e-bikes. These classes, therefore, have their own e-bike laws in Europe that are implemented in countries that are members of the EU.

National requirements of European countries

Here's how several European countries have set up their e-bike laws.

1. Electric bicycle laws in Belgium

Belgian legislation has two electric bicycle laws. These laws categorize the umbrella term "electric bicycle" into three additional subcategories. They are as follows.

  • All ages may ride e-bikes without a helmet, provided the maximum power rating is 250 watts and the maximum speed is 25 mph. This category is referred to simply as "e-bikes."
  • Citizens 16 years of age or older may ride "motorized bicycles" with 1000 watts of power and 25 mph maximum speed, provided they have a certificate of compliance. A helmet is not required.
  • "Speed Pedelecs" are electric bicycles with 4000 watts of maximum power and a top speed of 45 mph. They are classified as mopeds and the same requirements apply.

2. E-bike laws in Denmark

The Danish parliament has officially approved the use of speed-pedelecs on bike paths. A speed-pedelec is an e-bike with a maximum assisted speed of 45 km/h.

In July 2018, it was decided that superbike riders must only wear a helmet and must be at least 15 years of age. Additionally, license plate and license requirements are no longer in effect.

3. E-bike laws in Finland

Finnish legislation regulates the use of e-bikes by limiting the maximum speed and motor power to 25 km/h and 250 watts respectively.

Also, the motor should not replace pedaling, but only assist the rider in pedaling. In addition, there are insurance laws for motors with powers from 250 to 1000 watts.

The EU regulation classifies such high-powered bicycles as L1e-A motorized bicycles. They too must stay under 25 mph maximum speed and require insurance for use on public roads.

In addition, L1e-A class e-bikes can assist the rider without the rider having to pedal. If you have a 250 W e-bike that assists without pedaling, it will be classified as an L1e-A vehicle.

4. E-bike laws in Latvia

Latvia is exceptionally lenient with its e-bike laws. There are no major requirements, except that the e-bike must not exceed a power rating of 250 W.

Latvian road traffic law defines an e-bike as a human-powered vehicle that is assisted by an electric motor.

e-bike laws in Europe

5. E-bike laws in Norway  

Norway also does not have too many additional regulations on e-bike use. However, there are some that are important for manufacturers.

The Norwegian vehicle regulation puts e-bikes in the same category as regular bicycles. There is no licensing requirement.

The motor of an e-bike shall not exceed a power rating of 250 watts, and the assisted speed of an e-bike shall not exceed 20 mph.

Motor power should be progressively reduced as the bike reaches the prescribed maximum speed. However, once motor assistance is discontinued, the e-bike is subject only to normal speed limits.

6. E-bike laws in Sweden

Similar to other e-bike laws in Europe, Sweden applies ordinary bicycle laws to e-bikes, as long as the rated power of the motor does not exceed 250 W and the motor does not support the cyclist after reaching a speed of 25 km/h.

All of these requirements are described in the Swedish Vehicle Regulations.

7. E-bike Laws in Switzerland 

Switzerland, not being part of the European Union, has very different e-bike laws.

For example, Switzerland has led the way in liberating the use of high-speed e-bikes. This was done by facilitating the process of obtaining a license for e-bikes with a maximum assisted speed of over 45 km/h. This is very different from other e-bike laws in Europe and serves as an alternative to 25 km/h e-bikes.

In 2012, Switzerland updated its e-bike laws. Since then, assisted e-bikes are classified as "light electric bicycles," as long as their maximum power is less than 500 watts.

The maximum allowable speed of these bicycles is 25 mph if the rider is pedaling, while the motor alone can only assist the rider up to 20 mph.

8. Electric bicycle laws in Turkey

Although not fully present in Europe and not part of the EU, Turkey also deserves to be mentioned here because of some of its territories that are present in the European peninsula.

Turkey classifies e-bikes as ordinary bicycles, except that the e-bike motor can only have a maximum power output of 250 W and assistance is cut off at 25 km/h.

In addition, if the cyclist stops pedaling, the motor must also stop assisting him or her. There are no licensing or insurance requirements, and many Turkish cities encourage the use of e-bikes as a solution to traffic and environmental problems.

9. E-bike laws in the UK

E-bike laws in the UK are not much different from other e-bike laws in Europe. A maximum speed of 25 km/h and a motor power of 250 watts are mandatory.

Also, the maximum weight of the bike must not exceed 30 pounds. Also, you must be over 14 years old to legally ride an e-bike.

10. E-bike laws in Russia

We're covering Russia for the same reasons we covered Turkey!

Russia allows great freedom to e-bike riders. The only major restriction is that motor power stays 250 watts at maximum. 

Other than that, riders can operate their e-bikes freely on bike lanes and cycle paths. Where there are none of these two options available, you can ride on sidewalks and pedestrian paths.

11. E-bike Laws in Germany

Germany has taken several steps in the direction of enabling electric mobility over the years.

Electric bicycles fall under the category of light personal electric vehicles. These are limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph, but you can go faster if you have a helmet.

Insurance and license plates are required. The maximum motor output is 500 watts for e-bikes. Also, e-bike drivers must use bike lanes unless there are none, in which case they are allowed to ride on the roads.

12. E-bike laws in France

France sets the maximum legal assisted speed of an e-bike at 25 km/h. There is also another special category of e-bikes, called "speed pedelecs," which can reach 45 km/h.

Overall, the legal technicalities of owning and using an e-bike in France can be quite overwhelming. You also have to submit your tax clearance and make sure the manufacturer of the e-bike is in Europe.

e-bike laws in Europe

13. E-bike laws in Italy

Italy allows e-bikes to have a maximum speed of 25 km/h on main roads, while they must stay below 6 km/h on pedestrian routes. The maximum allowed motor power is 500 W.

You must be 14 years of age or older to ride an e-bike, and a helmet is required for riders between the ages of 14-18. A driver's license or insurance is not required.

14. E-bike laws in Spain

Spanish legislation, like most other countries on this list, limits the maximum speed to 25 km/h and a maximum motor power of 250 W. Cyclists cannot use their e-bikes on sidewalks, and will be subject to a fine if found doing so.

In addition, you must have a vehicle certificate that is provided to you by the manufacturer of your e-bike. A driver's license or insurance is not required.

Finally, authorities encourage the use of helmets - even though they are not mandatory. The same goes for wearing a reflective vest to protect yourself on the road.

15. Electric bicycle laws in Ireland

The Irish government has not yet officially regulated the use of e-bikes, but statements have been made by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.

The upcoming e-bike laws will likely not have any insurance or licensing requirements. However, the minimum recommended age is 16, and helmets are mandatory for people between the ages of 16-18.

In addition, riding on trails is completely prohibited and the maximum motor speed is set at 25 km/h. In short, a new legal framework is about to be established specifically to regulate the use of e-bikes and e-scooters in Ireland very soon.

16. E-bike laws in Austria

Austrian law has a special definition for pedelecs, and the same laws apply to e-bikes, as long as they fit the description. The electric motor must assist the cyclist up to a speed of 25 km/h.

Helmet and insurance are not mandatory. So, most of the e-bike laws in Europe are the same in Austria as well.

General rules for E-Bikes in Europe

After seeing how different European countries handle e-bikes, here's an overview of general good behavior for e-bike riders.

  • Stay on the right side of the road, preferably a roadway or bike lane if available.
  • In the UK or Ireland, keeping left is mandatory.
  • Use hand signals to indicate your turns to other vehicles.
  • Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
  • Use bike lanes when they are present.
  • If there aren't any, your country must have designated laws for where you should be riding instead.
  • Do not push or pull any objects with your e-bike.
  • If you are walking your e-bike on foot, you are a pedestrian.
  • This means you can use the sidewalk if necessary.

In Conclusion

In this guide, we've tried to briefly cover everything you need to know about e-bike laws in Europe - including what counts as an e-bike, what the different classes of e-bikes are, the different national requirements, and finally some provisions for good behavior.

I hope it was informative for you to read! See our range of e-bikes here.

Leave a Reply