Are motorised push bikes legal?
Yes, but only when they are built to specific, safe specifications.
I often roll my eyes when a motorised push bike glides past, but I’ll be the first to admit that it does look kind of fun - and after a long day, it might be an easier alternative to commuting home on a regular, physically demanding bicycle.
It’s not all fun and games though, as there are many different kinds of motorised push bikes and some are incredibly unsafe. According to New South Wales’ Centre for Road Safety, three people died using petrol-powered bicycles in 2013. As a result, a ban on all petrol-powered bikes was announced in NSW in 2014 and clear outlines for what kinds of motorised bikes are considered safe and unsafe (and thus, legal and illegal) were issued. Check out this video showing the shockingly different distances it takes to brake for different kinds of motorised push bikes, and read on for more state-specific information on what flies and what doesn’t when it comes to motorised push bikes.
As a general guide, if you want to ride a motorised push bike in NSW, you’ll need to invest in either a complying 250 watt pedalec, or a 200 watt power-assisted pedal bicycle that has an electric motor. If you’re serious about this, check out the vehicle standards information for these kinds of bikes in NSW.
Pedalec and power-assisted bicycles are terms you’ll hear a lot if you look into motorised push bikes. According to VicRoads, in Victoria pedalecs were made legal in 2012 to encourage more people, including those who may struggle to ride unassisted bikes for more than short distances, to use bikes with auxiliary motors. Auxiliary is the key term here: all power-assisted bikes that are legal are ones that basically use a small electric motor for just a little bit of extra support. For a clear breakdown of the difference between power-assisted bicycles and motorbikes (for which you will need a licence and registration), check out VicRoads info.
South Australia’s government provides a very similar guide with almost identical rule explanations, as does the Queensland government’s information on the topic, alongside Access Canberra’s information and the Northern Territory’s information bulletin on the topic. The Western Australian government is less forthcoming with information, but their website echoes the stances of other states.
This article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local road authority to verify the information written here is suitable to your situation before purchasing or using a bike or motorcycle.