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UK Laws for Electric Motorbikes: What Licence Do I Need? What Tax and Insurance to Pay?

UK Laws for Electric Motorbikes: What Licence Do I Need? What Tax and Insurance to Pay?

Electric motorcycles are fast becoming a popular alternative to ICE (internal combustion engine) motorcycles, and for good reason. They’re better for the environment, quiet, affordable - and the Government is beginning to crack down on petrol and diesel vehicles. There’s never been a better time to pick up your first electric bike, but it’s important you’re clued up on the laws and regulations first.

Which licence you need will change depending on which electric motorcycle you choose and will inform what you buy. It can be complicated - and to make matters worse, new electric bikes requiring new kinds of legislation are popping up all the time.

So we’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand electric motorbike law in the UK, and know which licence you’ll need to ride. 

Which licence do I need to ride an electric motorcycle?

Which licence you need to ride an electric motorcycle depends on the legal classification of the bike. The table below probably won’t make much sense to you yet - but it will serve as a useful reference tool as you learn more.

It describes which licence you’ll need to hold to ride any specific electric motorbike.

Electric Bike Class

Licence

PLEV
-
EPAC
14 y/o 
L1e-B
AM (CBT) 16 y/o
L3e-A1
A1 17 y/o
L3e-A2
A2 19 y/o
Unrestricted
A

Below, we’ll explain each subdivision of electric bike class, and let you know which licence you’ll need to ride it. Then, we’ll go in-depth on each of these licences, and explain how exactly you can acquire them.

Electric Moped UK Law

Electric motorbikes come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller, pedal-assisted electric bicycles usually don’t require you to hold a licence to ride them - they’re treated similarly to regular bicycles. You can learn more about them further on in our guide.

For now, we’ll focus on the electric bikes that do require licensing - the more powerful bikes you’ll want if you aim to be out on the roads.

L1e-B Electric Motorbikes and Mopeds

The first category of electric bikes that require licensing to ride are L1e-B motorbikes: generally speaking, mopeds and scooters that don’t cross a certain power threshold. These are ideal for zooming around cities or for short commutes, and are a great place to start if you’ve never ridden a two-wheeler before.

As long as the electric scooter or moped cannot go faster than 28mph, it’s classified as a L1e-B vehicle. L1e-B bikes are governed by rules very similar to traditional 50cc motorcycles.

To ride an L1e-B electric moped or scooter, you must:

  • Hold a CBT
  • 16 years +
  • Alternatively, if your driving licence was issued before 2001, you probably have an AM or P stamp, which automatically qualifies you to ride. But check first!

If a CBT is all you hold, you must use L-plates, and must not take passengers - more on this when we go deep into the licences later.

Stag Recommends: We stock a number of electric bikes suitable for those with this level of qualification. Anything from a retro style scooter - Artisan EV2000 - to a dual sport thrill machine - Talaria Sting (road legal) - can be found on our website.

As the required qualifications suggest, L1e-B classified vehicles are fairly simple to get on the road. But for those who want to make bikes their primary form of transport, a little more power will likely be desirable.

What licence do I need for an electric motorbike?

Electric motorbikes more powerful than the L1e-B class fall within the L3e-A1 class. L3e-A1 motorbikes fall into one of three subdivisions, each requiring a different level of proficiency, experience, qualifications and licensing - meaning which licence you will need to ride will depend on which subdivision your bike sits within. It can seem a little complicated, but don’t worry - we’re here to break it down.

It’s worth noting holders of a full motorcycle licence can ride any of these subdivisions without restriction.

L3e-A1 11kW Electric Motorbikes

Electric motorbikes in this category - the next step up from L3e-B - are vehicles with power no more than 11kW. They’re legislated very similarly to combustion engine counterparts that have a power of 125cc or below.

To ride an L3e-A1 bike, you must:

  • Hold a CBT 
  • Must be aged 17 or above
  • Alternatively, if your driving licence was issued before 2001, you probably have an AM or P stamp, which automatically qualifies you to ride. But check first!

Again, you must use L-plates, and must not take passengers!

Stag Recommends: This is a popular category for electric manufacturers and we stock a number of electric bikes suitable for those with this level of qualification. Riders after a reliable and stylish motorcycle might be interested in The Horwin CR6 or CR6 Pro but we also offer Horwin’s Scooter equivalent, the EK3, which makes an incredible transport companion for hectic UK Roads. 

L3e-A2 35kW Electric Motorbikes

These electric motorbikes are those with power up to 35kW. This category is far less restrictive than L3e-A1, and the kinds of rides you can buy and take on the road are much more diverse. The power-to-weight ratio must not exceed 0.2kW/kg.

To ride an L3e-A2 bike, you must:

  • Hold an A2 Licence (or above)
  • Must be 19 or above

Riders with this license are allowed to carry a passenger and ride without L plates.

Stag Recommends: for a long time, this area of the market has belonged to Zero Motorcycles, and rightfully so – they offer some incredible, well-built machines that suit a wide range of riders. However, this may soon change. Stag are very excited about a killer alternative about to hit the UK – keep an eye out on our socials for announcements. 

Unrestricted

To ride any electric motorbike you please - as long as it’s properly insured and is fully road legal, of course - you’ll need to:

  • Hold an A Licence

A Licences require a lot of work to acquire and are easier to get if you’ve already earned your A2 Licence - but more on that later.

It’s complicated

It’s important to understand that this is a basic overview of how each electric bike is categorised.

The most crucial thing is that your vehicle does not exceed the limits the licence you hold certifies you to ride. This can be achieved by restricting your bike’s output or other means - if you’re unsure, we can help point you in the right direction.

Ultimately however it’s the rider’s responsibility to ensure what they’re riding is within the legal limits. There’s no document that can be provided by a dealership or garage to prove the power output of your electric bike, so make sure you know exactly what you’re riding, and that you have the correct licence to do so.

 

Electric Motorbike UK Law and Licensing

So, we understand that to ride an electric motorbike with any given power output, you’ll need the corresponding licence. Unlike when earning your driving licence, there’s no one-size-fits-all test to take. Instead, there are several stages to holding a motorbike licence before you can ride without restriction, and it’s important to understand each step in detail.

CBT

  • A CBT, or compulsory basic training, is the baseline for all prospective motorcycle riders. It’s a short course, not a test you can pass or fail.
  • Once you’ve completed your CBT, you can ride a moped - or any L1e-B electric vehicle.
  • Your CBT certificate remains valid for two years. If you don’t earn a further licence during that time, you’ll have to re-do your CBT.
  • You must always wear L-plates when riding a motorcycle with only a CBT and you may not take passengers.

Here’s a quirk: as mentioned briefly above, for those with licences issued before 2001, it’s probable you hold either a P or AM stamp. This allows you to ride a moped without holding a CBT first.

Licences

You can earn full motorbike licences using either progressive or direct routes.

These are fairly self explanatory - the progressive routes offer lower barriers of entry for those with experience, meaning you can ‘progress’ from one licence to the next and earn freedom on the roads at a younger age.

The direct route is for those who’d like to skip the years of experience and earn one of the full licences without having the prerequisites for the progressive route; the requirements tend to be steeper.

Although these licences are the same as those required to ride regular ICE motorcycles, we’ll talk in terms of electric motorcycles only - to keep things simple.

A1 Licence

An A1 Licence will allow you to ride any A1-legal (L3e-A1) electric motorbike, as well as on motorways and with a passenger.

To earn yours, you’ll need:

  • To be at least 17
  • A valid CBT
  • To pass a motorcycle hazard and perception theory test
  • To pass a Module 1 Practical (off public roads)
  • To pass a Module 2 Practical (on public roads)

With full training, an A1 Licence can cost up to £1200 to earn - so make sure it’s right for you before you commit to it.

A2 Licence

An A2 Licence is the next step, and can be earned either progressively (for those with an A1 Licence) or directly (for those without).

An A2 Licence allows you to ride L3e-A2 electric motorcycles.

To earn an A2, you’ll need:

  • Progressive
    • To be at least 19
    • To have held an A1 Licence for two years
    • To pass a further set of Module 1 & 2 practical tests
  • Direct
    • To be at least 19
    • A valid CBT
    • A valid theory test
    • To pass a Module 1 Practical (off public roads)
    • To pass a Module 2 Practical (on public roads)

An A2 Licence costs similarly to an A1 Licence, but you’ll find being able to ride L3e-A2 motorbikes much less restrictive.

A Licence

The A Licence - sometimes called DAS or Direct Access Course - is the full, unrestricted motorbike licence and will allow you to ride any electric motorbike that’s currently road legal.

To earn your full licence, you’ll need:

  • Progressive
    • To be at least 21
    • To have held an A2 Licence for two years
    • To pass a further set of Module 1 & 2 practical tests
  • Direct
    • To be at least 24
    • A valid CBT
    • A valid theory test
    • To pass a Module 1 Practical (off public roads)
    • To pass a Module 2 Practical (on public roads)

Going from zero to a full licence can be very expensive and time consuming, so make sure you do your research on schools and courses before diving in!

What about Tax?

Tax on all electric motorcycles is free!

But remember, even though it costs nothing - it still needs to be done. So don’t forget. 

here is a link to tax your vehicle on the gov website

Are there any electric bikes that don’t require a licence?

You won’t need a licence to ride an electric bicycle classed as either an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle) or a PLEV (personal light electric vehicle).

EPAC

You may ride your EAPC anywhere you could a regular bicycle - including cycle paths. You must be older than 14, however.

To be classed as an EAPC, an electric bike must:

  • Have pedals that are used to propel it
  • Have an electric motor capable of power output no larger than 250 watts, and that cannot propel it when it’s moving faster than 15.5mph

PLEV

PLEV’s are slightly different. While generally smaller and slower than EPACs, these machines are currently restricted to private land. However, there are now many UK cities that offer e-scooter rental. Rented scooters need to remain within the rental catchment and riders must hold a valid driver’s licence (provisional is fine).    

PLEVS include:

  • eScooters 
  • Segways
  • Onewheels
  • Hoverboards
  • Electric Skateboards

FAQ's

Is it legal to ride electric scooters in the UK?

it is legal to ride eScooters in the UK but riders must abide to usage restrictions. Rental eScooters can be ridden by provisional drivers license holders in designated urban areas. Privately owned eScooters must be ridden on private land.

Can I ride an electric motorcycle on a car license?

Provided your full drivers license was acquired before February 1st 2001, you can ride L1E or L3E classified electric motorcycles. Please refer to the article for more information. 

Are the motorcycle tests different for electric motorcycles?

While some companies do offer specialised training programs on electric motorcycles, the learning principles and process is the same as standard motorcycle testing.  

Do I need a license to ride an electric motorcycle?

You do not need a license to experience an electric motorcycle. There are many great electric motorcycle options that are designed to be used and enjoyed off-road (at designated riding areas or on private land with the land owners permission). 

Are there any government grants when buying an electric motorcycle?

Yes! The government offers up to £500 off the purchase price of new electric motorcycles. Read more about the grant here

Is MOT testing different for electric motorcycles?

MOT testing on Electric Motorcycles is generally no different to tests on conventional motorcycles.

Are eBikes that exceed the EPAC limits legal?

It is legal to ride an eBike that exceeds EPAC limits provided it is registered and treated as a moped. The LMX 64-H is a fantastic eBike that exceeds EPAC limits, but registered with a number plate for road use. 

Do I need to wear a cash helmet on an electric motorcycle?

It is a legal requirement to wear a certified crash helmet that meets British safety standards while riding an electric motorcycle.

How can I make sure I have the appropriate license to ride my electric motorcycle?

Similarly to conventional motorcycles, you will need to ensure you have the appropriate license to ride certain categories of electric motorcycles. Please refer to the guide for more details. If you have any doubts over your licensing requirements then please contact us

How can I make sure my electric motorcycle is road legal?

You need to make sure that your motorcycle: is properly certified for use on the road, has an up to date MOT, is insured and registered and has not been modified beyond any legal limitations. If you have any doubts over the legality of your motorcycle then please contact us


Still confused? Let us know. 

Legislation on electric transport can be a minefield. With the rapid rate of development in what is still new technology, sometimes the laws can lag behind or change at a moment’s notice. 

That’s where we come in. Stag is at the cutting-edge of the electric vehicle industry, and we’re ready and waiting to clear up any lingering confusion. Whether you’re after your first electric motorbike or looking for an upgrade, feel free to reach out - we can help. 

You can reach us here

See you out on the roads!

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