Is an ebike a bike or an e moped?

There are a few things called ebikes.

Legally (in the UK – maybe different in other countries, but I know the US is), an ebike is a regular bicycle with a motor of up to 250 W. It has a 250 W motor and can only assist when you are pedaling. The assist feature is important because the motor cannot be driven solely by the throttle (e-bikes manufactured before 2016 are a little different, but must be less than 200W).

Anything else is not legally an ebike – if it complies with the rules, it is legally treated as a bicycle – so it can be used on bike paths, no license is required, etc. etc.

However, there are some that call themselves ebikes and advertise that they are legal on public roads as ebikes. Many of them are lying. They look like motor scooters, but they have electric motors and pedals and throttles. These cannot be driven on public roads.

And just because the website says they are legal doesn’t help when the blue lights shine behind them because they don’t have license plates or helmets.

A legal e-bike is basically the same as a bicycle, it has a motor and a battery that helps a little when you pedal.

If it has a throttle or can go up to 30 mph, it is essentially a moped.

That said, if your e-bike looks like a bicycle but is not strictly legal because it has a dongle that can assist you up to 25 mph with the motor, the police have better things to do than stop and check all e-bikes. But don’t be surprised if the e-bike is taken away and you are charged with operating a moped without a license or insurance if you are involved in an accident while traveling at 30 mph.

But if it looks like a scooter or motorcycle, then it’s basically not an e-bike.

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