500W motors; legalities and restrictions

Great news for high power e-bike enthusiasts in NSW: in early 2023 the state government raised the legal continuous power limit for e-bikes from 250W to 500W.
This is the first Australian state that has veered off the beaten track and amended the seemingly universally adopted law created by the European Union (EN15194), which limits the legal continuous power output of e-bikes to 250W and the maximum assisted speed to 25km/h. 

Although NSW is the first Australian state to raise the power limit, there are other states and countries that have amended the EN15194 law over the years or have never adopted this law at all. We will have a look at the differences in e-bike power output legislation between different countries. 

In the USA the laws can differ between states, but the highest legal power output nationally is 750W. In New Zealand the legal limit is 300W, which is close to the general 250W limit, but the NZ authorities have not limited the maximum assisted speed.
The UK still very strictly adheres to the original EN15194 law, limiting the legal power output to 250W and the maximum assisted speed to 25km/h.

Funnily enough, a lot of countries that fall under the European Union and their original EN15194 law, have decided to make their own amendments over the years. For instance, in Denmark the high speed pedelec has been legalised, making e-bikes that go up to 45km/h legal for use on cycle paths in combination with use of a helmet. In other European countries the high speed pedelec is legal as well, though it does require registration and certification with local authorities before it can be used legally on public roads. There has also been a separate category created for cargo e-bikes, which allows that kind of e-bike to be powered by a motor up to 1,000W. As with the high speed pedelec these cargo e-bikes do require registration and certification.

So, what do these different laws and recent changes mean for e-bike users? Based on interactions with our Australian customers, it seems that a lot of e-bike users dislike the 250W 25km/h legal limit. The recent limit increase to 500W in NSW gives hope to people in other Australian states, showing that it is possible for state governments to adjust the e-bike laws to better suit the local conditions and needs. 

For a lot of Australians it seems silly to hold on to limits that were created for EU countries, especially now a lot of those countries seem to have abandoned or adjusted that original law themselves as well. And even if your local government is maintaining the 250W 25km/h limit (for now), you can still use higher powered e-bikes legally on private property. 

Let’s hope other Australian states are inspired by the recent changes in NSW and follow suit!