Transport minister questioned on powerful electric bicycles

Electrical assisted bicycles are currently restricted to 25km/h before the motor stops helping the user from going faster, but it seems there is lobbying for change in Ireland.

A growing number of European and other bicycle manufacturers are creating fast electric bicycles which can reach speeds of up to 40km/h with  little effort. 

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A parliamentary question asked by Clare Daly TD (Dublin North, United Left) was told that minister has no current plan to increase the speed allowed. It is unclear who Daly was asking the question for.

Deputy Daly asked: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has considered increasing the speed limits for electric pedelecs from 15 mph (25 km/h) and increasing the engine size to above 250 watts in view of the fact that the current limits were set in 1978.”

In reply, the minister for transport, Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael), wrote: “I have no proposals at this time for amending legislation in relation to pedelecs (electrically assisted bicycles). I will however keep the matter under review.”

Electric bicycles can exceed 25 km/h if the user is pedaling hard, but it’s at that speed that the electric assistance should start to cut out. If the electric assistance continues or if the electric motor operates without the user peddling, the electric bicycle is then considered a normal mechanically propelled vehicle — which requires a licence to use, and both vehicle registration and motor tax to operate on a public road. This law is followed nearly identically across the EU Member States.

There is no “grey area” in the law, electrical bicycles which are rated over the allowed legal limits are not viewed as bicycles but should be treated as classes of electric scooters or mopeds.

In the Netherlands, the bicycle industry is lobbying the Dutch government to row back on their plans to treat faster electric bicycles as mopeds by 2017, which would require the use of motorcycle helmets. The industry argues that most fast electric bicycles won’t reach Dutch moped max speeds of 45km/h and so are not directly comparable to mopeds.

Bicycle industry news publications in recent years have reported on conflicting lobbying at EU level — with representatives of cycling and the bike industry, arguing different ways. One side says that that more electric cycles will endanger the safety of “conventional cyclists” and want the current limits to remain in place. While the other side have argued that faster electric bicycles would make longer distance commutes more attractive by bicycle and that would have environmental and congestion tackling benefits.


  1. Hi,
    Deputy Daly was asking the question for me, I emailed her asking the question specifically in the context of country roads. I asked about the motor size limit from 250w to 350w, and consequently an increase in speed if the motor was also increased from 36v to 48v.

    Most country roads have no footpath for a cycle commuter to go on, so instead the commuter has to cycle the 5 or 10 miles on the main road which could take up to an hour or more. The problem is the mile-long tailback of cars all traveling at 25kph, where its only safe to overtake periodically.

    If electric cycles were permitted to go at 45kph then many people would get to work and home again much quicker, improving everyone’s happiness.
    Of course there are many cyclists who cannot handle 45kph but nobody is asking them to go that fast, if your car goes 200kph you don’t have to travel everywhere at that speed.
    (incidentally, gloves and a strong helmet is a good idea if you’ll be going fast, especially in poor weather)

    If the 45kph limit was introduced and it meant that bikes had to be licensed, taxed, etc, then I’d be happy to stay at the 25kpm limit instead, then everyone can mind their own business, but if some busybody insists on licensing anyway, then I will ditch the electric assist and travel everywhere at 15kph in the middle of the car lane.
    I guarantee that if all cyclists were to travel in the car lanes instead of the gutter every day, it wouldn’t take long for things to change, especially if the minister for transport was stuck in traffic aswel.

    I think that anyone who has to regularly sit in a crawling commute would appreciate the higher limit, but please no licensing, they’ll be arresting kids in the park next.

  2. Reggie
    I’m sure that these vehicles are bicycles that are modified for transport purpose and are illegal use as suggested by traffic and transportation regulations. By stating the obvious does not give any explanation or suggestions of how to register these vehicles and make them legalised for road use.
    My proposal is Put them into cycles for road use and let all bicycles be tax duty registered with a levy to insurance and a number plate of identification. Some bicycles can do more than 25km/h and are road legal.
    We just want to enjoy our hobbies is it to much for the authorities.

  3. Its not about speed its about torgue,I lived in Netherland and its a flat country so torgue is not importent, Dublin its a different story, Speed limit to 25 kmh its ok. Some of the wheelchair has 350w
    So limit the speed but give the torgue so you can go up the hills,1000w is aprox 1 hors power.

  4. Interesting article from 3 years ago. Does anyone know what is happening with the last spring Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive decision by the EU Commission in the Ireland in 2019?

    News on the the Irish direction around the EU directive seems limited at best.



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