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Electric bikes

An electric bike, or motor-assisted cycle, is a two- or three-wheeled cycle with a seat, pedals and an electric motor (up to 500 watts). A motor assisted cycle (MAC) cannot be gas-powered.

Cycles without attached pedals

Gas-powered cycles and electric cycles without attached pedals do not qualify as an electric motor-assisted cycle and will not pass a provincial motor vehicle inspection that would enable them to meet registration, licensing and insurance requirements for on-road use.

Rules of the road

To operate a motor-assisted cycle (MAC), you must be 16 or older and wear a bicycle helmet.

You don't need a drivers licence or need to register, licence and/or insure your MAC, but you are subject to the same rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle. You also must follow bicycle safety rules.

Different rules for electric bikes and mopeds/scooters

Some motor-assisted cycles look a lot like mopeds and scooters (also known as limited-speed motorcycles—LSMs). However, the rules for operating MACs and LSMs aren't the same.

Make sure you're riding legally. Check the table below to see which rules apply to you.

Note: Motor assisted cycles must be powered by electricity. If your bicycle has a gas engine attached, it will not be considered a motor assisted cycle.

See low powered vehicles (PDF) for more information.

  Motor assisted cycles Limited speed motorcycles
Description Combine bicycle pedal power with electric motor assistance.

To qualify, must be a Motor Assisted Cycle as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act and meet Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation criteria.

Are low-powered motorcycles (that is, mopeds and scooters). LSMs rely on motor power and are generally not equipped with bicycle-style pedals.

To qualify, must be a Limited Speed Motorcycle as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

Power Electric motor of 500 watts or less
bicycle-style pedals for manual propulsion.
Gas engine 50 cc or less
electric motor less than 1,500 watts.
Maximum speed 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. 70 km/h on level ground.
Vehicle registration, licensing and insurance None required. (Insurance may be available under a homeowner's policy.) An LSM must be registered, licensed and insured as a motor vehicle.
Driver  No driver’s licence is needed.
You must be at least 16 years old.
You must have a driver’s licence; however, you can not operate on a learner’s licence other than a Class 6 or 8 motorcycle learner’s licence.
Helmet  Must wear a bike helmet. Must wear a motorcycle helmet.
Rules of the road Subject to the same rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle, such as obeying all traffic lights and control devices.

As well, bicycle safety rules should be followed.

See Section 183 of the Motor Vehicle Act: Rights and duties of operator of cycle.external link
Subject to the same rights and duties of a motor vehicle, such as obeying all traffic lights and control devices.

In some areas, highway use is restricted. For details, please contact your local police.
Manufacturer's label As a condition of initial sale, all commercially manufactured MACs must have a label stating that the vehicle is a “power-assisted bicycle." As a condition of initial sale, all commercially manufactured LSMs must bear a permanently affixed compliance label. On this, or on another separate label, a statement must appear that the use of the vehicle may be restricted by provincial authorities to certain roads.

  • To qualify as a MAC, certain conditions must be met. For example:

    • The electric motor must be 500 watts or less and be capable of propelling the cycle no faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling.
    • The vehicle must be equipped with a mechanism that either:
      1. allows the driver to turn the motor on and off, or
      2. prevents the motor from turning on or engaging before the MAC attains a speed of 3 km/h
    • The motor must disengage when the operator:
      1. stops pedalling, or
      2. releases the accelerator or
      3. applies a brake.
    • The motor cannot be gas-powered.
    • The motor must be capable of being propelled by muscular power using the pedals, but it is not necessary to always be pedalling
    • The vehicle must meet any other conditions in the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulationsexternal link (B.C. Reg 151/2002).