Thinking about getting an e-bike in Victoria? It’s a fantastic choice! Electric bikes offer so many benefits – they’re not only efficient for commuting but also eco-friendly and a whole lot of fun for exploring the outdoors.
If you also find yourself contemplating the switch to an electric bike, but are unsure about the legalities surrounding their use, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog, we’ll take you through all the essential legal aspects you need to know, from which cycles or e-bikes are legal in Victoria to the regulations that govern their usage. Let’s dive in!
Legal E-Bike Definitions
In Victoria, there are two specific definitions for e-bikes or power-assisted bicycles that must be adhered to in order for them to be considered as bicycles and ridden legally in the region.
Definition #1: Power Assisted Bicycles
A power-assisted bicycle is defined as a bicycle equipped with one or more auxiliary motors that have a combined maximum ungoverned continuous rated power output not exceeding 200 watts.
Definition #2: Electrically Power Assisted Cycle
An electrically power-assisted cycle, or EPAC, is categorized as a pedal cycle fitted with an electric motor that has a maximum continuous rated power of 250 watts. The power assistance gradually decreases as the speed of the bicycle increases and ceases entirely once a top speed of 25 kilometers per hour is reached.
It is essential to note that EPACs require the rider to pedal actively to access the electric power.
NOTE: It is worth mentioning that these power-assisted bicycles do not require registration, nor do the riders need a license to operate them legally on the roads in Victoria.
What is a Legal E-Bike in Victoria?
In Victoria, a power-assisted bicycle is essentially just like a regular pedal-powered bicycle, except it comes equipped with an extra auxiliary motor.
This motor has a maximum power output of 250 watts. The motor assistance kicks in only when the bicycle’s speed is below 25 km/h, and you’re actively pedaling. This means you have to pedal to get help from the motor; it won’t work on its own.
However, it’s good to know that the motor can operate without pedaling at speeds up to 6km/h.
What is NOT a Legal Electric Bike in Victoria?
An electric bike does not fall under the category of a bicycle if it meets the following criteria:
- The motor is not an auxiliary power source, meaning the bicycle must be capable of being manually propelled by pedals without relying on the motor’s operation.
- The motor’s power output exceeds 200 watts, regardless of whether the motor is actively in use, unless it is an EPAC.
Vehicles that fail to meet these specifications are considered motorcycles. Consequently, riders must obtain a motorcycle license and register the vehicle before using it on the road network.
Additionally, it is prohibited for motorcycles to be ridden on footpaths or bicycle paths, and riders must wear an approved motorcycle helmet.
Several examples of vehicles that are likely to be classified as motorcycles rather than ebikes include:
- Modified EPACs that produce power beyond 250 watts or exceed an assisted speed of 25 km/h.
- Motorcycle scooters with pedals, typically featuring motor vehicle attributes and not designed for easy propulsion through pedaling.
- High-powered motorized bicycles intended for off-road use, often equipped with motors surpassing 200 watts.
Legally Riding Your E-Bike in Victoria
To legally ride your e-bike, even if it is classified as a bicycle, you must meet specific criteria before starting your ride.
- Ensure your e-bike is equipped with the necessary safety equipment. This includes having at least one working brake and a bell, horn, or something similar. If you ride at night or in adverse weather conditions, you must have visible front and back lights as well as a reflector.
- Always wear a properly fitting and securely fastened helmet when riding your e-bike, along with any passengers you may carry. The helmet must meet the Australian safety standard AS/NZS2063. (Please note that under certain circumstances, your doctor has the authority to grant permission for riding without a helmet due to medical reasons. Additionally, individuals may be exempt from wearing a helmet for religious reasons if their religious headdress makes it impractical to wear one.)
To ensure your e-bike ride is legal in Victoria, it is essential to also follow these road rules enlisted in Road Safety Road Rules 2017:
- Cyclists must adhere to the same road rules as drivers, along with some additional rules specific to bicycles.
- Always face forwards and have at least one hand on the handlebars while riding your e-bike.
- Keep a safe distance between your e-bike and any traffic in front of you, ensuring you have enough space to stop safely.
- Respect give way signs and lines. If you encounter a give way line, slow down and stop if necessary to avoid collisions. Remain stationary until it’s safe to proceed. Yield to vehicles already in, entering, or approaching an intersection.
- Always give way to pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into, regardless of pedestrian lights. When turning right, use your right arm to signal your intention. For left turns, signaling is optional but recommended.
- Respect the posted speed limit for e-bikes. In areas shared with pedestrians and marked by a shared zone sign, the speed limit is 10 km per hour.
Guidelines for Safe E-Bike Riding
- Riding Two Abreast:
- Cyclists can ride side by side (‘riding two abreast’) on single-lane roads, but not more than two riders alongside each other, unless a third rider is overtaking.
- On multi-lane roads without a designated bike lane, cyclists should not ride more than two abreast in each marked lane, unless overtaking.
- When riding two abreast, cyclists should maintain a distance of no more than 1.5 meters between each other.
- Cyclists should consider other road users and, if needed, switch to single file to allow drivers to overtake safely.
- Responsible Phone Usage:
- The use of mobile phones while riding is generally prohibited, with exceptions for making or receiving phone calls and using audio/music functions, but only if:
- The phone is securely placed in a commercially designed holder fixed to the bicycle, or
- The rider can operate the phone without touching any part of it, and the phone is not resting on any part of the rider’s body but can be kept in a pocket.
- The use of a phone as a navigational device or GPS is only allowed if it is securely placed in a commercially designed holder fixed to the bicycle. All other functions, such as video calls, texting, and emailing, are strictly prohibited.
- Safety Tips for Heavy Traffic:
- Wear bright clothing and activate flashing lights to increase visibility in heavy traffic.
- Avoid riding in drivers’ blind spots to ensure they can see you clearly.
- Maintain a straight line as much as possible and refrain from weaving in and out of traffic.
- Use clear hand signals when changing lanes or making turns to communicate your intentions effectively.
Best E-Bikes in Victoria That Are Legal to Ride
Engwe C20 Pro
Equipped with a robust 250W motor and a long-lasting 36V 19.2Ah (691Wh) lithium battery, the Engwe C20 PRO provides a thrilling ride, allowing you to reach speeds of up to 15.5mph (25km/h) and cover distances of up to 65 miles (105km) on a single charge. It’s a reliable companion for both urban commutes and adventurous journeys.
The 7-speed Shimano gear shift system ensures you have precise control over your ride, adapting to various terrains effortlessly. Plus, safety is prioritized with the integrated tail light and front light, offering enhanced visibility during nighttime rides, providing peace of mind while cycling in low-light conditions.
Convenience is also a key aspect of the Engwe C20 PRO’s design. Its compact folding size makes it easy to carry and store, especially for city dwellers with limited space.
- Speed: 15.5mph (25km/h)
- Motor: 250W
- Battery: 36V 19.2Ah (691Wh)
- Range: Up to 65 miles (105km)
The Engwe C20 comes equipped with a powerful 250W Bafang motor, ensuring smooth cruising on various terrains, including hills with gradients of up to 20°.
The bike’s 36V 10.4Ah detachable lithium-ion battery offers an impressive maximum mileage of 80km on a single charge, making it suitable for daily city commutes and more extended rides.
Riders can enjoy the flexibility of the Shimano 7-speed drivetrain and three riding modes, allowing them to customize their riding style and adapt to different road conditions. Additionally, the bike also features a reliable dual disc brake system and an integrated front lamp to enhance visibility during low-light conditions or at night.
Comfort is not compromised, thanks to the inclusion of a comfortable saddle and a front suspension fork, which work together to provide a smoother and more enjoyable ride.
- Speed: 15.5mph (25km/h)
- Motor: 250W
- Battery: 36V 10.4Ah (374Wh)
- Range: Up to 50 miles (80km)
To Sum Up
Before you invest in an electric bike, it’s crucial to ensure that it meets the necessary legal requirements to be classified as a bicycle in Victoria. Understanding the specific definitions for power-assisted bicycles and electrically power-assisted cycles will help you make an informed and lawful choice.
However, the responsibility doesn’t end with the purchase. To truly enjoy your e-bike commute and make the most of this eco-friendly and efficient mode of transportation, it’s essential to stay informed about any regulatory updates and diligently follow the riding guidelines. This includes equipping your bike with the required safety gear, wearing a properly fitting helmet, and adhering to the road rules applicable to bicycles. Stay legal, stay safe, and ride in peace!