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

man with ebike mountain view

Published: 3rd May 2022

Electric-assisted bicycles come in many shapes, sizes and styles, from road bikes which at first glance you wouldn’t know had a motor on board, to the more moped-looking two-wheeled machines that you might see around town.

When searching for information on e-bikes, likely the first thing you will come across are the various names by which the different styles go by. In this article, we will help you differentiate between the types of e-bike, the legal requirements and what each 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 (from pedal electric) are pedal assisted with a limited output and the motor simply boosts the user’s capabilities. This is probably what comes to mind when you think of traditional e-bikes, the kind often used for commuting.

The S in s-pedelecs stands for ‘speed’ and these bikes are often actually classed as mopeds. As such, they come with and follow particular rules, they may be throttle-controlled and can deliver power to the wheels whether you’re pedalling or not. Visually, they are distinguished by their bulkier construction and compulsory number plate. While the road and safety rules are consistent across the board, some of the details where aesthetics and performance are concerned will depend on the bike brand.

couple with ebikes in mountains

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 requirements and regulations that owners must meet and adhere to in England, Scotland and Wales. 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 via the internet, especially from overseas, it is vital to make sure that the bike adheres to the requirements.

ebike handlebars closeup


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;
  • In the EU, the maximum output is 4000 watts with pedal-assist up to 28mph;
  • Push assistance without pedalling is 6kph;
  • Where permitted, they must be used a bike lane and not the road;
  • Many countries prohibit the use of child seats.
ebike wide shot

EAPC/Pedelecs – pedal assist

Used commonly for commuting, casual city riding and increasingly off-road tours, bikepacking and helping people to go on longer training rides, EAPC/pedelecs 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, and although many models are getting better at weight-shaving, the majority of pedelecs are much heavier than a standard bike. The advantages do outweigh the disadvantages though, and as previous articles have explained, the benefits stretch far beyond just you not getting sweaty on the cycle to work.

closeup of ebike pedal

S-Pedelecs – motor powered

A more rare 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 style’s main advantage - it’s in the name - and you almost certainly get to work quicker than before. On the other hand, the need for licences and other documentation, not to mention the weight of the bikes, may be an issue for the casual rider.

An easy way to decide which bike is best for you is to head down to your local bike shop, pick the brain of an expert, and even ask about a test ride. No matter which style you choose, you’ll find your riding will change in no time and once you’ve recovered from the initial expenditure, you’ll also start to save some cash. You never know, it may even 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 enquiry@seriouslaw.co.uk, and one of our team will be in touch. All enquiries are free and confidential.