The proposed UK ban on petrol and diesel engines was originally set for 2040. Clarity was sought on motorbikes and eventually the government said they were not included. The ban has now been pulled forward to 2035 but it is has not been stated if motorcycles are still excluded.
Making alternative (electric) technology work on motorcycles is challenging but it has started. BMW has had a powerful electric scooter available for some time. Electric mopeds and low power scooters have started to appear. More traditional style, electric motorcycles with quite good range have been introduced by Zero, Energica and even Harley-Davidson.
So what can you legally ride under current UK licence regulations? We are not covering PLEVs (look like big kiddies scooters with a motor), electric bicycles or Speed Pedelecs here. This article compares the electric equivalent of a petrol engine moped or motorcycle.
Given an electric moped or motorcycle doesn’t have a CC capacity then it is all based on the power of the bike.
- The moped equivalent with electric power is up to 4kW power and a maximum speed of 28mph.
- This is your only option if you are aged 16. You will need a provisional category AM licence, a valid Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate that lasts 2 years and L plates.
- If your are 17 or over, hold a car licence obtained after 1st Feb 2001 you will need to successfully complete one CBT and then can ride the electric moped for the lifetime of your car licence. No L plates required
- If your are 17 or over, hold a car licence obtained before 1st Feb 2001 you can already ride an electric moped in this category on your car licence (but it is well worth doing a CBT, you will learn a lot)
- If the electric bike is 4-11kW power and less than 0.1kW per kg power to weight ratio, you require a provisional category A1 licence, a valid CBT certificate that lasts 2 years and L plates.
- If the electric bike is 11-35kW and less than 0.2kW per kg power to weight ratio, you need a full category A2 bike licence obtained by holding a valid CBT and motorbike theory certificate and then passing the DVSA mod 1 and mod 2 tests
- If the bike is over 35kW then you need a full category A bike licence obtained by holding a valid CBT and motorbike theory certificate and then passing the DVSA mod 1 and mod 2 tests.
Let’s hope the technology advances and a few words of advice from 3CMT
- The power to weight ratio for the A1 and A2 categories needs to be checked per bike. Some bikes may meet the overall power limit but be greater than the power to weight ratio limit.
- From bike reviews the throttle response on an electric bike makes for some very quick acceleration.
- And related to that there is no clutch and gears. So anyone familiar with a normal geared bike needs to adapt to using the rear brake as a power release control and for slow riding control like all twist and go bikes.