The differences between EAPC (e-bikes), Pedelecs, S-Pedelecs

Published: 3rd May 2022

Electric assisted bicycles come in many shapes, sizes and styles of two-wheeled machine from road bikes where at first glance you wouldn’t know it had a motor to more moped looking bicycles.

When searching for information on an e-bike the first thing you will come across are the various names by which the different styles go by. In this article, we will make this job easier for you by differentiating between the bike types, the legal requirements and what they can be used for.

The differences

Although their names may be similar, which can lead to confusion, there are a few key differences between the types of e-bikes. EAPC/Pedelecs are pedal assisted with a limited output and the motor simply boosts the user’s capabilities. This is probably what you’re thinking of when it comes to traditional e-bikes for commuting.

The S in S-Pedelecs stands for ‘speed’ and these bikes are often actually classed as mopeds. As such they follow particular rules, may be throttle-controlled and deliver power to the wheels if you’re pedalling or not. They are distinguished by their bulkier construction and because they must sport a number plate. These details very much depend on the bike brand though.

The laws

The major difference between the two styles is how they are seen in the eyes of the law.


The laws surrounding the use of pedelec bicycles is taken from the 2015 electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs) in Great Britain Act.

Although you do not need a license to ride an e-bike, there are still some government regulations to adhere to when owning one. In England, Scotland and Wales there are certain requirements that must be met. These include:

  • Riders must be over the age of 14;
  • There must be pedals to propel the bike;
  • The maximum power output must not exceed 250 watts;
  • The electric motor cannot assist pedalling over 15.5 mph;
  • The bike must display either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor
  • The bike must display the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike.

If you are purchasing an e-bike through a shop or distributor they will have these regulations engrained into them so you shouldn’t worry yourself too much. However, if you’re looking to purchase an e-bike through the internet, especially from overseas, it is vital to make sure that the bike adheres to the requirements.


Due to s-pedelecs often being classed as mopeds, more stringent rules apply:

  • If you have a full driver’s license you can ride one without a moped test. If not, you will need to undergo a moped course;
  • S-Pedelecs require a number plate;
  • Insurance is also mandatory, as is taxing and MOTs;
  • The maximum continuous output of the motor must be displayed.
  • Where permitted, they must use a bike lane and not the road.

EAPC/Pedelecs – pedal assist

Used commonly for commuting, casual city riding and more increasingly off-road tours and helping people to go on longer training rides, EAPC/pedelec’s are by far the most popular style of e-bike. Convenient and with a huge range of models available, they offer a new type of cycling freedom to both experienced cyclists and relative newcomers.

Of course, this makes them more expensive than a regular bike in many regards and although many models are getting better at weight-shaving – removing unnecessary weight to improve the ride – as the majority of pedelecs are much heavier than a standard bike. The advantages do outweigh the disadvantages though and as previous articles have shown, the benefits stretch far beyond just you not getting sweaty on the cycle to work.

S-Pedelecs – motor powered

A rarer style of e-bike, S-pedelecs are more expensive and have more restrictive ownership requirements but are faster than EAPC/pedelecs. This speed is the styles main advantage, and you almost certainly get to work quicker than before. On the other hand, the need for licences and other documentation plus the weight of the bikes will be an issue for the casual rider.

An easy way to decide which bike is best for you it to head down to your local bike shop and ask about a test ride on an e-bike. No matter which style you choose, it will start by changing your rides and save you some cash and may evolve into a pursuit of exercise that changes your life and the environment around you.

As always, we wish everyone safe travels; however, if you or any of your family or friends are involved in an accident on the roads and require legal assistance from a Top Tier Legal 500 rated law firm, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We can be contacted on 0330 058 0377 for a free, confidential conversation with a qualified, serious injury solicitor. Alternatively, please send us your contact details to, and one of our team will be in touch. All enquiries are free and confidential.