PEDELEC VS. E-bikes are generally bicycles with a motor

Like a bike, but with a motor: what’s the difference between a pedelec and an e-bike? We explain what really matters. But you can bet that either bike would make your bicycle tours more enjoyable.

A bike with a motor could be either a pedelec or an e-bike. The difference lies in the details. However, this is not legally defined. More important than the difference between the two terms are technical data such as the top speed. We explain what is really important.


There is no clear legal definition of the difference between e-bikes and pedelecs. Most people understand an e-bike to be an electric bicycle, i.e. a normal bicycle, only with an auxiliary motor.

According to the most common usage of the terms, the pedelec is a subtype of e-bike. If e-bikes are generally bicycles with a motor – regardless of whether they are additionally powered by muscle power or not – then pedelecs are those that always combine both types of drive: Only when the rider starts pedaling does the motor also provide assistance. This is also known as electric pedal assistance. E-bikes whose motor sets the bike in motion even without pedaling are therefore not pedelecs.

For traffic or other safety regulations, it is not important whether you are riding an e-bike or a pedelec. What is important instead is

Type of motor installed

Maximum speed

Whether e-bike or pedelec: what is really important

From a legal perspective, an important difference is the speed at which the motor stops propelling the bike. Rather than e-bikes or pedelecs, electric bikes can be distinguished by their maximum speed: up to 25 or up to 45 kilometers per hour.

The former type of e-bike is legally treated as a bicycle:

  • Interruption of the assistance of the auxiliary motor from a speed of 25 kilometers per hour
  • Maximum rated continuous output of the motor of 250 watts
  • Decreasing pedal assistance with increasing speed
  • So you don’t need a driver’s license and there is no minimum age. However, an e-bike is still relatively dangerous for children who are still learning to ride a bike or have not been riding for long. This is because the additional acceleration makes it difficult to estimate your own speed at first. An insurance license plate is also not necessary here. Of course, you still have the option of insuring your e-bike if you wish.

Helmets are also not compulsory in this case. For safety reasons, however, all (e-)cyclists should wear one. Because it is legally considered a bicycle, you are allowed to ride such an e-bike on the cycle path.


E-bikes that still provide pedal assistance above 25 kilometers per hour are legally motor vehicles:

  • Interruption of the assistance of the auxiliary motor from a speed of 45 kilometers per hour
  • Maximum rated continuous power of the motor above 250 watts
  • No decreasing pedal assistance
  • These so-called speed pedelecs, or S-pedelecs, require their own insurance license plate and to ride them you need at least a class AM driving license. As a motor vehicle, you are generally not allowed to ride them on the cycle path, but only on the road. However, there are exceptions in some federal states. Helmets are compulsory for S-pedelecs.

Fast pedelecs (S-pedelecs) with electric pedal assistance up to 45 km/h are motor vehicles that require their own insurance license plate.

E-bikes without pedal assistance

You can also distinguish between the same two types of electric bikes that are powered solely by the motor: Those that stop at 25 kilometers per hour versus 45.

The former are usually treated as mopeds in legal terms, meaning that a helmet, driver’s license and insurance plate are required, for example.

The latter are treated as mopeds, which means that you also need a helmet, driver’s license and an insurance plate.


You should store your e-bike battery away from the sun. Just like other motors, the e-bike battery can overheat in the sun. The optimum temperature for the battery is between ten and 25 degrees Celsius. For storage, it should not even exceed 15 degrees. In summer, however, outside temperatures quickly rise above this guide value and the battery is affected all the more quickly.

High temperatures cause the internal resistance of the battery to rise. As a result, more energy is released from the battery cells in the form of heat. This in turn reduces the performance of the battery, as the energy released is not available to the motor.

Extreme heat can also damage the inside of the battery. In the worst case, a short circuit can occur.

Incidentally, batteries with a light-colored casing do not heat up as quickly as those in dark colors, as they reflect the sunlight and do not absorb it.

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