European bikes and those with a Bosch, Shimano or other center-mounted motor do not have throttles. The Department of Transport has once again tried to clarify their exact requirements for what constitutes a legal electric bike. So whether you live in Norway, where full speed throttles are legal on electric bikes, or in the UK, where throttles must be limited, our electric bikes can be quickly configured to suit.
For many cyclists, and particularly those like me who suffer from a medical condition that makes them very weak, the use of a throttle (which effectively provides the same power as the maximum level of pedal assist, but only up to 15mph) removes the danger associated with starting from a standstill or braking suddenly on a hill, if you can’t immediately put a lower gear in the gear or quickly change the level of pedal assist.
On the other hand, brothers Lyle and James Metcalfe, founders of London-based British electric bike brand Volt, said they had never heard of this margin of error. There is a lot of confusion about the rules regarding the throttle or, as bikes with it are sometimes called, “twist and go”. As mentioned above, you can still use the throttle and, in fact, this “solution” means that you can do almost nothing with the pedals while the throttle does all the work.
Are throttles on electric bikes legal in the UK?
If this is perceived as a risk, then the throttle can be disconnected and the bike is only used in its pedal assist mode. There are several types of “electric bike-like” machines which, at first glance (or even after close inspection), can be difficult to distinguish from legal electric bikes. You should also look for the CE mark on a new electric bike, which indicates that the bike has passed the standards of the relevant directive and is legal to ride in the UK. An e-bike that meets the above stipulations is classified as a bicycle under the law, and that means it is subject to the other regulations that apply to bicycles when they are sold.
Although current regulations ensure that compliant e-bike users are exempt from requirements such as driving licences, MOT and helmet requirements, as mechanically propelled vehicles, riding an e-bike can expose you to a number of traffic offences that do not apply to traditional cycling. Harmonisation with EU legislation has had a major effect on electric bikes with “twist and go” throttles that can take the bike to top speed without the need to pedal.