One of the most common questions for Twist and Go Electric Bikes is whether they are legal to use on the road. The law covering electric bikes depends on if they fit into one of three categories, depending upon their power output (i.e., how fast they can go).
It is worth noting that this article does not cover bikes or scooters that use a throttle and therefore do not require you to pedal in order to move the bike. These are illegal, and should never be used on any public highway.
The law was not intended to prevent cyclists from upgrading to pedal-powered bikes, but rather to prevent vehicles from traveling too fast for safety reasons.
What are Twist and Go Electric Bikes?
Twist and Go Electric Bikes often create a huge amount of confusion within the UK. Most confusion arises from the fact that it is not clear which of the three categories they belong to or whether they should be considered pedelecs (i.e., bikes with assistance up to 25km/h).
The bikes do not have pedals, so they can be legally classed as motorbikes, and so they require a CBT and an MOT before they can be driven on UK roads. Bikes that don’t require you to pedal in order to be able to travel would be classified as mopeds or scooters, so they must have pedals. Many of the Twist and Go Electric Bikes are being modified in order to include pedals – so they can be legally driven on UK roads.
What are Pedelecs?
The pedelec (pedal electric cycle) is a bike that requires you to pedal in order for the motor to provide assistance. The motor assistance cuts out when you reach speeds of 25km/h for mopeds or 50km/h for e-bikes. It must therefore have pedals to be legally classed as a pedal cycle, even if it is possible to override the speed cut-off by increasing your pedaling power.
It is worth noting that this speed limit applies to the motor and not to the front wheel. If you buy a pedelec that has more power than 250 watts, and it cannot be limited to going slower than 25 km/h, then it is classified as a moped or a motorbike, depending on how powerful the engine is. It is important to note that if your pedelec has a power output above 250W you should only use it on private land or with an off-road route so that it cannot be seen by the police.
On public roads, a bike with a speed-assisted pedelec is treated as a normal pedal cycle so long as it can’t go faster than 25km/h. A pedal cycle is still classed as a pedelec if it has an electric motor that cuts off at 15.5mph or 25km/h, but it will be treated as a normal pedal bike. This means that even though it is possible to ride up to 28mph on your e-bike with pedal assistance on the flat, it is still illegal to do so.
What are E-scooters?
E-Scooters are legally classed as normal electric mopeds. This means that you need a CBT (compulsory basic training) and an MOT in order to use them on UK roads. A bike that cannot be ridden faster than 15.5mph or 25km/h would not require a CBT or MOT, but it would still be considered a moped and only allowed on routes where 70mph is permitted, e.g. motorways and A-roads.
In order for an electric scooter to be legal, it must have pedals, but if they are removed then you would not need a CBT or an MOT. This is why pedelecs are often restricted with pedals added on, like the Twist and Go Electric Bikes.
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How Twist and Go Electric Bikes work?
The electric motor is engaged when you twist or turn the grips. The grips will often fit in the same place as your normal bike shifters, for example on a mountain bike there would be a shift up and shift down for speed and grip shifting.
Motors are then activated to generate extra power to assist with pedaling, as well as to increase speeds up to 15 mph, depending on their power.
How do you know when Twist and Go Electric Bikes will turn on and off?
Electric bikes with a twist and go function use a throttle system, so basically, there is 1 button at the top which would be used to switch between modes:
- an eco mode where it only assists while pedaling and this would mean you could use it as a normal bike.
- It has a power mode where the twist grip is always engaged, giving you a maximum speed of 15mph. This mode, however, is very dangerous if you use it to cycle on a road or path with pedestrians.
Does it matter if the E-Bike has 20 Miles of Range?
You should only ride your pedelec on private land or on an off-road route if your power output is over 250W to avoid being seen by the police. This means that even though it is possible to ride up to 28mph on your e-bike with pedal assistance on the flat, it is still illegal to do so.
Pedelec bikes are treated as normal pedal cycles on public roads as long as they can’t go faster than 25 km/h. Pedelecs still have an electronic motor that switches off at 15.5mph or 25km/h, but they are treated as regular pedal bikes. This means that even though it is possible to ride up to 28mph on your e-bike with pedal assistance on the flat, it is still illegal to do so.
If you have a pedelec that falls into any of the three categories mentioned above, you need to be careful about using them on public roads.
Is Twist and Go Electric Bikes really illegal?
The only legal reasons for not being able to use a pedelec within the UK are based around the handlebars, where you are unable to fit a throttle system.
- If unable to use your hands to control braking via brakes, then you must have at least 2 braking systems fitted (for example one set of pedals and one hand brake).
- You can not have the twist throttle while cycling on paths or roads where pedestrians are present.
- It can not be use it on the road if your speed exceeds 15mph (which is very unlikely).
- You must wear a helmet, have an MOT, and ensure your bike if you use it on the road or paths that pedestrians are present.
Why is Twist and Go Electric Bikes illegal?
The reasons described above should answer this question. However, just to add some facts:
- Because of its motor assistance function, pedelecs do not meet the requirements for a bicycle.
- A pedelec can reach speeds of 30mph, which would be illegal on both paths and roads as you will not be able to stop safely at the same distance as a normal bike or car.
- As the twist throttle is capable of giving power continuously, regardless of whether you are cycling or not – this means you do not need a driver’s license, but it can be dangerous if used on a road or path with pedestrians.
- Electric bikes are always more expensive to insure than ordinary bicycles since they are considered motorbikes.
- You would need to wear a motorbike helmet if using it on the road or paths where pedestrians are present.
The guidance from the DfT regarding pedelecs is very clear:
“For the majority of e-bikes, the speed is controlled by a throttle. If you pull on the throttle, the electric motor will assist you with your legs and once you release it, the assistance will stop. It’s important to understand that providing full power all the time is not legal in the UK.”
An exception to this would be if your e-bike falls into one of the three categories below, for which you would not need to be able to use pedals.
All three bikes are treated as motorcycles under UK law and so all riders must have a CBT (compulsory basic training). They also require an MOT. It is recommended to not ride a Twist and Go Electric Bike until you are properly trained by a professional instructor, even though these bikes can go up to 28mph.
Twist and Go Electric Bikes – FAQs
Final Words – Wrapping It Up:
Pedelecs are not legal for use on paths or roads where pedestrians are present. You can use them on the road without needing a license provided your speed does not exceed 15mph, but if it has a twist throttle system (which is very common) you can not ride it on roads or paths where pedestrians are present. Also, insurance will always be more expensive as it is classed as a motorbike. Also, wearing an approved helmet and having an MOT are all requirements for riding Twist and Go Electric Bikes on the road or paths where pedestrians are present.
Please note that this guide should only be used as a guide, as laws can change without warning.