It was a bit of an outlier: Northern Ireland’s ebike legislation used to require you to register, license and insure your bike, display a registration plate, wear a motorcycle helmet and hold a driving licence, treating an electric bike like a moped or motorcycle.
As of 13 May 2020, that’s all gone and any ebike (or Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle, to give it its technical name) that you need to pedal, and which has a power output of 250 watts or less, and a maximum assisted speed limited to 25kph/15.5mph, is now exempt from these requirements.
You still need to be at least 14 years old to ride an ebike in Northern Ireland and the NI Government suggests that electric bike riders should consider buying insurance for their machine that includes cover against third-party liability.
In line with the law in the rest of the UK and the EU, if your electric bike doesn’t require you to pedal, has a motor more powerful than 250 watts, a throttle lever or isn’t regulated to 25kph, you’ll still need to register, tax and insure it, and wear a motorcycle-type helmet to ride it.
The change in legislation brings Northern Ireland in step with the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and pretty much everywhere else in the world, and should be a boon to the Northern Irish ebike market.
BikeRadar’s take | It’s been a long time coming
With electric bike use burgeoning globally and cycling being seen as a key mobility solution to avoid public transport during the current coronavirus pandemic, as well as an opportunity to increase green travel, removing barriers to ebike use and increasing consistency with other jurisdictions is a sensible – and long overdue – step for Northern Ireland.