Electric bikes; a revolution in the cycling world,
Now here in Australia the popularity of electric bikes is on the surge and Australian cities are becoming more e-bike-friendly one by one mostly because cycling on an electric bike is a perfect way to exercise, commute, socialise, work and even travel across a great country like Australia.
But here’s the thing, while riding an e-bike, you will definitely start asking yourself:
– “Can I ride my electric bike without needing a licence or registration on the road on an adventure ride in Oxley Hills, New South Wales?”,
– “Do I really need a helmet in Highfields, Queensland?”,
– “Is there such thing as an e-bike licence in Melbourne, Victoria?”,
– “How necessary is a tail light in Sydney?”,
– “Can I carry my child on my bike to West Beach, South Australia?”,
– “How much cargo can I carry on my e-bike in Perth, Western Australia?”
And a lot more questions of the same kind…
But one thing for sure is that you must not act upon your assumptions. Ignoring rules can get you in serious trouble where and when you cannot even imagine. Please note as the operator of an electric bike, you are responsible to ensure your electric bike is road legal and that you observe all traffic laws. Excuses such as ignorance about the road legality of your bike or seller not informing you about it, will not be considered valid.
So…our suggestion: Read the guide here to make sure what rules are applied in each state. Make sure what is OK in your location and what is not. Also it is essential to know what your rights are as electric bike laws are relatively new and sometimes officers might try to fine you for doing something that is legal. You don’t want to be fined or facing claims of wrongdoing for actions that are in the boundry of the law.
Remember, most e-bike rules are more or less the same all across Australia. There are a few exceptions, which we will refer to shortly.
E-bike Rules and Regulations in Australia
(Pedal Assist Electric Bike Laws Australia 2023)
Australia is one of the most e-bike friendly countries considering the city structures, specified cycling paths and all the rules and regulations that keep the cycling flow in order in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne. The bad news is Australia is one of the most conservative countries when it comes to e-bike laws. Here are the most important laws regarding an electric bike that is going to be riden on public roads:
- Continous motor power of 250W: If an ebike is operated using pedals, then the maximum continous motor power for a road legal bike in Australia is 250W. The motor power has to cut off as soon as the bike reaches the speed of 25 km / h. There is a misconception that these ebike cannot have a throttle. Actually, these bikes can be equipped with a throttle as long as the throttle max speed is locked to 6 km / h. So you can use the throttle as a start aid to get some momentum and then you need to start pedaling as the throttle will turn off as soon as the bike reaches the 6 km / h speed.
- Continuous motor power of not more than 200W: If the bike is going to be operated using a throttle without pedalling with speeds over 6 km / h, then the maximum continious output of the motor cannot exceed 200 watts, and the max assist speed is 25km/h, meaning the motor has to turn off as soon as the speed reaches 25 km / h. A 200W ebike is usually not powerful enough to even climb average hills, 200W bikes are rarely made.
What does motor’s continous power mean and how does it differ from the motor’s peak power
Continuous power of a motor is the maximum power it can generate without sustaining damage from overheating. Peak power refers to the maximum power output that a motor can produce for a short duration, typically a few seconds or less, before it exceeds its thermal limits and may sustain damage from overheating. As per the law, the motor can produce more than 250W of power (there is no limit in the law for the peak power) for a limited time (e.g. when you are climbing a hill on your electric bike). Not all 250W ebike motors have the same peak power. Some 250W electric bike motors have 30% to 50% more peak power than the entry level 250W motors. Therefore, even though both are 250W motors, one has considerably more hill climbing power than the other. It’s always recommended to check the motor’s peak power before buying your electric bike. If you purchase a 250W bicycle that has above-average peak motor power, you can comply with regulations while also having sufficient power to ascend steep hills.
Fun Fact: You can unlock your throttle if you want!
- How can I unlock my throttle?
Some ebike brands- like DiroDi- use more versatile throttle features especially for adaptability on off-road. The throttle used on these bikes can be unlocked for off-road use and assist the rider for higher speed. But once back on the road, you can lock it to the maximum speed limit of 6km/h again to be allowed on city streets.
- How fast can a road-legal electric bike go?
Now rules and speed limits aside, here we’d like to know how fast an ebike is capable of going.
Let’s imagine an ebike with a motor power of 250W. If you are not making much effort while pedalling and maybe even not pedalling at all, the bike can simply go as fast as 30 km/h. relatively, the max speed in an ebike with 500W motor power would be 35 to 40km/h and in bikes with power of 750W it is 40 to 50km/h. Whether the bike can go any faster than that actually depends on the motor itself.
- Can I buy a 750W ebike and limit it to 250W for road use?
If you are asking whether it is doable or not, we’d say YES. In some ebikes, like DiroDi Rover 750w, the power can be limited to 250 or 500w.
But will the bike be allowed on streets? That cannot be guaranteed! About this, the rules are not clearly stated and we suggest that you contact the … in your state of living and make sure about that.
- Can I ride an e-bike without a helmet?
One word: NO!
A secure helmet is exactly what can protect you and your passenger from head injuries and brain damages in falls and crashes. The Road Rules all over Australia clearly state that as an e-bike rider you MUST wear an approved safety helmet securely fitted and fastened.
Now you must be asking: “What is meant by an approved helmet?”
Simply, it is a helmet with a label certifying it meets the Australian standard. Helmets manufactured after 2011 must have an identifying mark showing compliance with the standard.
- Is it legal to carry a passenger on my bike?
First of all, it depends what is meant by “passenger”. If the person you carry on your bike is a child, there are options like using a child seat or attaching a cart to the end of your bike which are both common ways and depending on the kind of road you’re riding on, both can be allowed in Australia.
But when it comes to carrying an adult on the bike, it can get a bit tricky as there are many popular ways which are NOT legal anymore.
For example: Despite being considered common, carrying a passenger on the crossbar or on the rear rack of a bike is illegal and the reason is in both cases the ride can be quite unsafe and difficult to control.
Let’s say both the rear rack and the crossbar are strong enough to hold the weight without getting bent or damaged. Still, a passenger sitting on the cross bar can block your view on the road ahead of you, disturb the balance of the bike in sudden moves and make it difficult to keep control while taking turns.
And on the other hand, a passenger on the rear rack requires proper footrest or else there is no way to avoid injuries or spokes’ getting damaged. Not to mention that rear racks in most e-bikes are designed to hold carriers and loads of different kinds such as a child-seat, a picnic basket, a suitcase, etc. Anything but NOT an adult passenger!
- So, how can I carry a passenger on my bike?
The law is pretty clear on this one: If you want to carry a passenger on your ebike, you have to make sure that the bike is adapted for that purpose. If it isn’t, it’s illegal.
For example, if the bike has a saddle large enough to hold two people on it easily, it is most probably a passenger-friendly kind of bike.
In fact carrying a passenger on the saddle of a bike could be the safest and the most comfortable way provided that the saddle is in good shape. Some e-bikes are specifically designed to be fit for a second rider.
Take DiroDi Rover as an example. It is one of the e-bikes perfectly designed with a large cushioned saddle that gives a comfortable ride to both the rider and the passenger for hours!
- Extra Pedals
There are even bikes designed with two sets of pedals allowing two riders pedalling together at one time. So if your bike comes with two pairs of pedals, then, congratulations! Clearly, you are allowed to ride with another commuter on your bike.
- Should an e-bike passenger wear a helmet?
The law in Australia states that any rider on an electric bicycle, including the passenger, must wear a helmet. Helmets for both the rider and the passenger are mandatory. This is because the rider is responsible for what happens on their bike and they could get in trouble if they break the law.
If your passenger doesn’t have a helmet, you might have to take responsibility for that person’s safety when they ride with you. So if either you or your passenger are caught without helmets, it will most probably result in a fine.
- Are lights necessary for an e-bike?
There are rules for lights on e-bikes in Australia, and it’s pretty simple: You need a white front light and a red back light. Not to mention that the lights must work! Remember that a broken light is only as good as no light at all and if you are caught with lights off (when they are supposed to be on) you will be fined.
- Can I ride an electric bike without a licence in Australia?
Yes you can. You do NOT need to have a licence as long as the e-bike you’re riding is a road-legal one.
- But what is a Road-legal electric bike?
Road legal e-bikes are electric bicycles that can be used on public roads in Australia. The Australian Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) defines a road legal e-bike as any electric-powered bicycle with:
- A maximum power output of 200 watts with a throttle assisting up to 25 km/h
- A maximum power output of 250 watts with a throttle assisting up to 6 km/h
You should be aware that going slow is not the case here. What matters most is that your bike should be designed to run at these maximum speeds and power limits.
- Can I use my motorcycle licence to ride a non-legal electric bike?
No you can’t. Your motorcycle licence can work only for motorcycles, not e-bikes. Simply put: what makes your ride legal is not the licence in your hand but the bike itself. In order to be allowed on public roads of Australia, your ride should meet the standards of a road-legal vehicle. So before you buy any electric bike, make sure it will be allowed on the kind of terrain you are planning to ride on.
- Do police check electric bikes?
Not really! You might have seen cyclists with under-equipped bikes, cycling on footpaths, riding on high speed, using the throttle without pedalling and doing a lot more against the law, while they were able to neatly get away with it without being noticed by police.
Of course, regulations regarding e-bike riding have been officially approved by the government but unfortunately, these rules are not being actively enforced. But trust us… it is never worth the danger and trouble that ignoring rules can cause for you.
- What will the police check on my e-bike?
If the police check your e-bike, what matters to them is the label on your bike. Commonly, an e-bike comes with a label on it provided by the manufacturer. Whether you buy an e-bike online or in a shop, you must look for this piece of sticker on your bike frame. The label shows information about the manufacturer, importer, bike model, max speed and motor power.
In simple words, this label is a mark promising that the e-bike has been tested and it meets Australian standards.
The information on the label can be vital so if the police notices your bike does not have the label on it, they may decide that the bike should be moved to a laboratory to be tested on the precision of max speed and power. That happens mostly in case of an accident or any other situation in which you need to prove the road-legality of your bike.
General Cycling Rules in Australia
We just had an overview on power assisted bicycles laws in Australia. Now, some rules for electric bikes are basically the same as for non-electric ones. That means you should still obey road signs and signals and keep an eye out for pedestrians. And there’s more to that, so let’s read on:
Hand Signals – Make sure you can use hand signals properly to let other vehicles know you’re taking a turn, slowing down, giving way or stopping. Just be sure to use signals which are standard and defined.
Cycling Abreast – You and your cycling partner can be riding only 1.5 metres apart from each other and not more or else you cannot ride abreast. Remember that more than two bikes cannot be side-by-side unless the third rider intends on overtaking the other two.
Bus Lanes – E-bikes and bicycles can run on bus lanes or tram lanes but you need to be extra cautious not to try to overtake the bus or tram while it is trying to merge back into traffic from a full stop.
- Am I allowed to get on footpaths with my e-bike?
As an electric bike rider, you are absolutely not allowed to get on footpaths and the rule applies to all Australian states and cities. Always remember, footpaths can cause a lot of risks for you and pedestrians so it is strongly advised that you stay away from footpaths just to be on the safe side and keep away from trouble.
Shared Paths – However, in some states like NSW, you might find shared paths which can be used by both pedestrians and bike riders. But it is important that you and your bike keep to the left and give way to walking people.
Bicycle Lanes – Here in Australia, you can find bike lanes in almost every state and locality. So it would be wise to stay in the bike lane as long as the lane stretches. Try not to get on the road with other cars and vehicles if a bike lane is available. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to know that any vehicles rather than bikes cannot use your bike lane for more than 50 metres.
Traffic Light – Never assume that red traffic light is for cars and bigger vehicles only. Always stop at a red light unless there is a bicycle traffic light which is green. If for any reason you run the red light, you can be fined up to $300.
E-bike Rules in Australian States
(States of Australia law electric bike regulation)
As mentioned, e-bike rules can be more or less the same in every state of Australia. However, some cities and states have more traffic than others, so there may be additional rules for electric bike riders. For example, in a city like Perth, Western Australia, you may feel more confident and safer to use a shared path with cars and pedestrians than in a densely populated city like Melbourne.
The rules mentioned above are like more than %95 of what you are supposed to know. But if you are in a populated state of Australia such as New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland, we suggest that you read the guide below. Some of these rules might have already been pointed out, but we will refresh your memory just to remind how important they are:
- What are E-bike riding rules in Victoria, Australia?
The state of Victoria has a reputation for being e-bike-friendly in Australia, and now that electric bikes are becoming more popular, it’s only going to get better. But there are rules for cyclists of course. Let’s see what these rules are:
- Lights are necessary:
In Victoria your e-bike must have necessary lights that make you seen at night or low-vision conditions. These lights are: A white light on the front, a red light on the back and a red reflector on the back. Besides, your both front and tail lights must be clearly visible from a distance of 200 metres.
- Can I use my phone while cycling?
Remember that you cannot use your phone’s GPS while riding unless you are using a GPS holder attached to your bike. Making or receiving phone calls for a minute or two is fine but other functions such as video calls, texting and etc. are prohibited. If you are caught with your phone in hand while cycling you may be fined more than $400!
- Should I wear a cycling helmet in Victoria?
Just like other states, in Victoria also riders must wear proper helmets when riding on roads, bike paths or shared walkways. Helmets need to be securely fastened and fitted and have a mark of compliance with the Australian Standard, AS/NZS2063. Being caught without a helmet in the state of Victoria you might get fined around $300.
- Can two cyclists ride together in streets in Victoria?
Keep in mind that you and your cycling buddy can ride next to each other provided that you two are not more than 1.5 metres apart. More important than that, do not ride next to more than one other cyclist (unless overtaking).
Here is the link for you if you want to know more about the amount of Fines and other rules in state of Victoria
- What are cycling rules in Queensland?
In Queensland also, electric bikes are an interesting alternative for urban mobility and e-bike laws in this state are pretty simple to follow once you’re aware of them. Most of the rules in Queensland are more or less similar to the rules practised in other Australian states and as a Queenslander, you may already be familiar with these rules. Still, we’ll walk you through some of the important ones:
- Carrying a passenger on your e-bike would be allowed only if your bike is designed for that purpose.
- Helmets are mandatory unless you have a physical issue or condition that makes it impossible for you to keep a helmet on. Even in that case, a doctor’s certificate is needed and you should carry it with you while riding.
- You can ride your e-bike on special-purpose lanes such as cycling lanes, bus lanes, tram lanes, etc. However, you need to be carefully riding on the left side of the lane giving way to buses and other vehicles and not try to overtake.
- You must be over 16 to operate an electric bike in Queensland. Riders aged 16 and under are not allowed to ride without supervision.
Of course, there are a lot more rules in Queensland you should know of before getting your e-bike on roads. For example: just like other states in Australia, in Queensland also, your bike should be equipped with a functioning white front light and a red tail light and a bell or horn.
Overall, if you want to know the rules in detail and make sure you will not be in trouble riding an e-bike in Queensland, check the link below to know the rules from top to bottom.
Cycling Rules and regulation in Queensland:
- E-bike and cycling rules in New South Wales (NSW)
Most of all, Electric bikes have been growing in popularity in Sydney and Melbourne over the past few years. Also, the rules of the road in these two cities are pretty similar to other major cities across the world.
If you’re planning on cruising around town on an electric bike in NSW especially in Sydney you need to consider that the cycling traffic in Sydney is a bit denser than in most other cities. So, in order to avoid accidents, it is suggested that you take extra precaution. Here is what you need to keep in mind to stay safe:
Stay on bike lanes and paths in Sydney unless you are sure that the path is safe enough.
Throughout the city, there are designated bike lanes and paths marked by blue or green signage with white bicycle symbols. You must use these lanes and it is illegal to ride your electric bike in designated pedestrian areas. Also remember that as a cyclist you cannot ride on any part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge other than the cycle way.
As I mentioned above, most rules and regulations in different states of Australia are similarly practised. So in order to save your time, only a few of the most important notes were listed above. But still, if you want to know about the rules of every state in detail you can simply use the links below to read on:
– Western Australia https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/activetransport/cycling.asp
– Northern Territory https://nt.gov.au/driving/safety/bicycle-safety
– South Australia https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/driving-and-transport/cycling/cyclist-road-rules-and-safety
– Queensland https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/wheeled-devices/bicycle
– Tasmania https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/transport-new/road_safety_and_rules
– Victoria https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/a-to-z-of-road-rules/bicycles
All being said, remember that these rules are meant to keep you and others safe on the road. Being on an electric ride is the greatest bliss but no matter how badly you might want to get somewhere on your cool e-bike, you’d better not put yourself or other people at risk. Not to mention that most rules are there to keep your bike intact and protect it from serious damage. So, keep safe, stay cool !