Electric Bikes Law: A Comprehensive Legal Guide to E-Bikes in Australia (Updated for 2020)
- 28 Apr, 2020
Electric bikes are by far, one of the fastest growing markets to date. Although still considered a small market group, the number of imported e-bikes has tripled over the past three years, and e bikers are rapidly growing compared to any other segment in the bicycle market.
The surge and popularity of electric bikes is largely due to the many advantages to the consumer. It has become popular to both cycling enthusiasts and non-riders as it opens up a lot of cycling possibilities such as a practical and easy mode of transportation, a solution to ease the traffic congestion, a way to exercise, and of course, an earth-friendly solution to reduce vehicle emissions.
Ebikes vs Normal Bikes
The obvious answer lies in the word “electric” attached to it, which explains that e-bikes are “electrically powered” as compared to their counterparts, which are powered by humans driving on it. However, we still ask the question: what is the difference between these two bikes in a technical perspective?
An electric bike is composed of electric parts that are used to assist the rider in propelling the bike forward. The “drive units”, or the power output of these e-bikes should adhere to Australia’s cycling regulations. You can expect, however, to see most of these bikes are powered with 250 watts drive units in Australia.
Another difference between e-bikes from normal bikes is having a motor attached to assist in pedalling. Electric bikes with throttle-based motor systems should also adhere to the government’s road regulations. Most laws surrounding e-bikes allow only a maximum power of 200w and the speed should only be limited to 25 kph.
E-bikes that exceed these regulations are automatically categorized as motor vehicles, wherein the standard road rules apply (we will cover more about these laws on e-bikes below).
Generally, electric bike designs these days are starting to look like their traditionally pedal-powered counterparts (aside of course, of having a motor system attached to it). Probably, the huge difference is the extra heft that ebikes have as compared to their traditional counterparts. E-bikes are built with a specific frame and reinforced forks and components that can handle additional load. This means e-bikes often exceed the 18kg weight mark, and this is just only the unit weight without any other accessories attached to it such as water bottles, luggage, and other tools or accessories.
Ebikes Law in Australia
Australian’s law on ebikes states: For it (e-bikes) to be considered as a bicycle fit for the road, it should meet the requirements set up by the (state’s) law. These laws should strictly be followed and if you happen to ride an ebike that does not meet the necessary requirements, you can be charged for traffic offenses.
Australian’s law on e-bikes vary. Some states have their own set of rules and regulations for ebikers. But before worrying you any further about this, the good news is, it is considered legal to ride your e-bike in all states and roads in Australia, as long as it has been certified by the manufacturer in complying with the European standard EN15194.
And in case you are wondering whether you need a license for your e-bike, you do not need one 😊 All states in Australia agree that it is not a requirement to get a registration or to acquire a license for e-bikes.
In most cases, e-bike laws in different Australian states share similar rules and regulations (as previously explained above), with just several slight differences, particularly in the speed limit and motor capacity. You can check out below on how each state vary in implementing the law on ebikes:
Electric Bicycle Laws by State
New South Wales E-bike Law
New South Wales ebike law permits two classes of ebikes. As explained in the NSW Vehicle Standard Information (VSI) 27, you can legally ride your bike on all public roads and designated areas if your ebike falls into any of the classifications below:
- 250w pedelec bikes, with speed limited to 25km/h and is EN15194-certifed
- 200w electric bikes, with motor cutting out 25km/h. These units may be fitted with a throttle, which means no pedalling is required in initial take off.
You can read the complete NSW Vehicle Standard Information for mopeds and power-assisted pedals here.
Victoria E-bike Law
Victoria e-bike law is the same as NSW. It allows ebikes to run on motor’s maximum power of 200w. And as of September 2012, the Victorian road rules also allowed pedelec bikes on the road, which opened more options for power assisted pedal cycles under their e-bike law. And just like NSW law, the 250w pedelecs are allowed to run with a speed limit between 6km/h and 25km/h.
You can read more about the power assisted bicycles on VicRoads website here.
Queensland E-bike law
Queensland also allows two types of legal ebikes on the road:
- 270w e-bikes
- Pedelec bikes that are EN15194-certifed
As of June 2019, the Queensland Government issued new changes on the road requirements of power-assisted bikes, addressing concerns about the illegal electric moped-like bikes being hired and sold as power-assisted bikes.
The new law states that high-powered mopeds and motorcycle-like bikes don’t belong on the footpaths. Additionally, all bicycles, including the power-assisted classes, have to use pedals as the primary source of power. This makes it clear that the motor attached from these bikes should only operate when a rider pedals, with an exception of helping it run in the initial take-off with no more than 6km/h limit. In general, the motors from these ebikes should only assist the rider to pedal and must not exceed the 25km/h speed limit.
You may check the Queensland Government page for the complete bicycle road rules and safety here.
South Australia E-bike Law
South Australia’s e-bike law is similar to NSW. It is legal to ride an e-bike if the rider meets one of the following requirements:
- power-assisted bicycles using an electric motor and a power output of not exceeding to 200w. The power should be controlled by either a throttle or an accelerator
- power-assisted bicycles or pedelecs using an electric motor and a power output not exceeding the 250w of continuous power, should be EN 15194 compliant
Same general bike rules apply for ebikers on the road. You can read the complete ebike law for South Australia here.
Western Australia E-bike Law
Western Australia’s law on ebikes is the same for all cyclists. Whether you are riding a human-propelled bike or a power-assisted pedal cycles (PAPC), the speed should not exceed over the 250w power output, regardless if the power motor is running or not (for PAPCs).
For the complete rules and regulations on e-bikes in Western Australia, you can visit the Western Australia Legislation page here.
North Territory E-bike Law
The North Territory State lacks specific rules for e-bikes. The government website only has rules for cyclists. If you want to get updated on the e-bike law for this state, you can visit the official government site here.
Tasmania E-bike Law
The Tasmania state also has similar road rules to SA and NSW when it comes to ebikes. On their official government site, you are allowed to ride a power-assisted bike if you meet one of the requirements below:
- A power-assisted bike with a maximum power of 200w. The power motor may be operated by a throttle or an accelerator
- A pedelec that is EN 15194 compliant. The power output should not exceed 250w
You can read the complete Tasmania e-bike law here.
Electric Bike Fines
Since there’s a growth in the ebike market on top of the growing number of cyclists everywhere, we can say that Australia is becoming a bike-loving country. If you plan to get an ebike and use this as a mode of transportation, you better pay attention to the rules in your state to avoid breaking the law, which may come with a hefty fine.
If you want to know more information on ebike fines you may check the links from each state below:
Law on e-bikes and the future of electric bikes in Australia
Aside from some states that will still need to draft and improve their laws on e bikes, Australia has a long way to go when it comes to providing adequate infrastructure as it lacks safe cycleways, leaving inexperienced cyclists at risk.
The advances in technology has led to the growing range of ebike classifications, which offered more transportation options for everyone. Amidst being left behind by the growing advancements in technology, the Australian government is showing efforts in updating and amending their rules and regulations on road safety to better assist the growing ebike market without putting lives at risk. Let us hope that soon, there will be more developments in making the road a safer place for e-bikes.