Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are motor-assisted pedal cycles that look similar to conventional bicycles.
With a rechargeable battery and a motor to provide support when pedalling, electric bikes offer riders the ability to travel faster than a traditional bicycle without requiring the same level of physical exertion.
Under current law in England, Scotland and Wales, electric bikes that meet certain criteria may be used by people 14 years or older without needing a licence or insurance; however, different rules apply in Northern Ireland.
To meet the criteria, e-bikes must be classed as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). Any electric bike that does not meet the EAPC rules is classed as a motorcycle or moped and needs to be registered and taxed. You’ll need a driving licence to ride one and you must wear a crash helmet.
For more information on EAPC classification, visit https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules
If using bike modification kits, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully and use only trusted suppliers. You should never tamper with the battery. This will reduce the risk of dangerous malfunctions or accidents.
- Buy e-bikes, e-scooters and chargers and batteries from reputable retailers
- many fires involve counterfeit electrical goods. Items which don’t meet British or European standards pose a huge fire risk and while genuine chargers (or battery packs) may cost more, it’s not worth putting your life at risk and potentially destroying your home by buying a fake charger to save a few pounds
- if buying an e-bike conversion kit, purchase from a reputable seller and check that it complies with British or European standards. Take particular care if buying from online auction or fulfilment platforms. Also be aware that if buying separate components, you should check that they are compatible
- register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties – batteries are usually included in warranties. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information
- check any products you have bought are not subject to a product recall. You can do this but checking Electrical Safety First’s website or the government website.
Charging Your E-Bike
To reduce the risk of fires related to e-bikes at home, always exercise caution when charging batteries. Never attempt to modify or tamper with the battery. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Reduce the Risk of Overheating
Batteries can become warm during use, so allow them to cool before attempting to recharge. To ensure that heat can dissipate properly, batteries should only be charged on hard, flat surfaces away from flammable items such as furniture, carpets or curtains. Take care to avoid exposing batteries to extremes of temperature or charging them if they've become damaged.
Follow Instructions Carefully
When charging, always adhere to the manufacturer's instructions and never leave a battery charging unattended or charge it while you are sleeping. When it's fully charged, unplug your charger right away. Always use the correct charger for your batteries - buy replacements from reputable sellers only.
Where To Charge Your E-bike
Be mindful not to block your escape route with e-bikes when storing them; store them in an area away from paths or exits.
Prepare an escape plan with your family in case of a fire - if one does start, dial 999 immediately instead of trying to tackle it yourself.