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In recent years, electric bikes hit the market like a storm. While falling gas prices slowed the trend, people are replacing their cars for e-bikes all over the world. People are discovering that e-bikes are a great alternative to gasoline-powered cars - economically and physically. They are cheaper than owning a car, and you can customize today’s electric bikes to your specific needs and skill level.
You can find electric bicycles designed in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. You can get yourself a bike for city riding, an off-road mountain bike for hitting the trails, a road bike for your long-distance travels, and even a bike for the beach or to make deliveries. There is literally an e-bicycle for everyone and every use case. Sure, e-bikes have high, up-front, initial costs, but they are comparable to automobiles in pricing and quickly pay for themselves with their lower costs of ownership.
Now that you know there’s a ride for you no matter what you need it for, we’d love to show you the top models available in the market. Because e-bikes have different purposes and features, we have divided this list into three categories. The first will deal with mountain and rural bikes. The second list will deal with best bikes for your daily city commute. Finally, the last list will show you the best of the cheapest so you know what bike you should get if you are on a budget.
Best Electric Mountain and Road Bikes
Riding on rural mountain trails require a special ruggedness you do not need on an urban street. Electric mountain bicycles provide you this luxury, letting you enjoy the outdoors. They quickly propel you uphill even on the steepest hills. These bikes also offer the handling and control to let you ride across uneven terrain with ease, letting you through places you could not otherwise do.
1) Haibike SDURO HardNine 4
This impressive mountain bike lets you go higher, faster, and farther just like a good mountain bike should. It is the perfect example of the heavy, powerful, and built-to-last construction you expect from an MTB.
This beast of a bike supports a 350-watt Performance CX motor that runs off a 500-watt battery from Bosch. That means this baby can take you up to 70 miles before you have to recharge it ( a four-hour cruise), and you can do it by cruising at its top speed of 20 miles per hour. You also get 29-inch tires with this thing along with 180-ml hydraulic disc brakes suspended from a 100-mm front suspension fork. Plus, you get to control it all with a nine-speed shifting system from Shimano.
Beyond the basics, this e-MTB supports an LCD-readout for its current speed, battery charge, remaining range, and current pedaling mode. The dash display is conveniently located on the handle bars.
As for its handling, the SDURO takes rough terrain in stride. You’re guaranteed a smooth cruise over any obstacle, and you can get quick, energy-saving boosts every time you put it in pedal assist mode. You won’t even feel all the bumps with its excellent suspension system as well.
Overall, the SDURO HardNine will set you back for $2,600. It provides a great riding experience for one of the cheapest prices in mountain biking. This makes it the perfect ride for anyone who wants to ride the trails.
2) S-Works Specialized Turbo Levo
The Turbo line offers serious e-MTBs for serious riders. It lets you get wherever you want with minimal effort, thanks to its robust pedal assist feature. The fully-suspended Levo FSR Comp Specialized 2.1 Rx Trail-Tuned drive system packs an actual electric car motor in its frame, and its battery is no joke either. S-Works even went out of their way to incorporate this drive system into the very design of the bike itself, streamlining the entire package for optimal weight distribution. The gear box will even disengage once you reach top speed to reduce friction while going downhill. The bike also has 29-inch tires that support 2.6-inch tires. With these tires, the bike offers 150-millimeter front and rear travel that lets you shred through the wilderness with ease.
You have full control over the bike’s torque and 530W power output through the free, programmable Missoni Control app. You can even set time and distance parameters to ensure you have the power to get home. You can then just pedal and marvel at the power the motor and battery deliver to you. You could also turn off the motor once you reach the tip of a downhill route to enjoy the many jumps and obstacles that make mountain biking worth it.
3) GTECH Escent
GTECH is known for solid electric bikes, and the Escent is no different. It puts many of its mountain bike rivals to shame with its beefed-up, basic frame. It supports a 500-watt Shimano Deore drive system that automatically assists your pedaling, based on the resistance caused by hills and other road obstacles.
The Escent is also on the lighter side of the market, making it easy to carry to and from the mountain. At only 20-30 miles, it does lack the power and range offered by other models. However, it is a very durable bike for its price, and it is extremely fun to ride.
4) Mondraker e-Crusher Carbon RR+
Mondraker makes easily identifiable bikes thanks to their trademark opening between their top and down tubes. But you might find it hard recognizing the e-Crusher as an electric bike. Mondraker decided to design this mountain bike to look like any traditional bike on the market. However, this bike’s pedal assist will get you to the top of the hill twice as fast as any other bike. Otherwise, the e-Crusher is nothing special with decent torque, brakes, and downhill characteristics.
5) Cake Kalk
The Cake Kalk off-road bike respects both the environment and anyone else riding on the mountain with you. It supports silent operation and releases no emissions from its fully electric motor that requires no gear changes or clutching. It also requires very little maintenance, keeping the pressure light on your wallet.
The beauty of this is that Cake did it all without sacrificing the bike’s performance. You can easily reach 50 miles per hour with this 155-pound bike from its three different modes of operations. The Discover mode is great for new riders who just want to get their feet wet. Explore lets you experience longer, more intense rides. You can then kick the bike into Excite mode to bring out the bike’s optimum power and acceleration. All this power comes right from the included custom drivetrain and interior permanent magnet (IPM) motor.
6) Cannondale Moterra
Cannondale’s biggest and newest e-MTB is made for the outdoors. It can withstand anything nature can throw at it including steep inclines and big drops. It supports 130-milimeters of front and rear travel through its 2.8-inch tires and 27.5-inch wheels. It lets you climb higher and farther so you can shred longer without needing to carry your bike uphill. The power comes from its 250-watt motor which Cannondale placed further to the front of the bike than you typically find on e-bikes. This does optimize the weight distribution and handling.
7) Giant Road E+1
Most people call road bikes an abomination. These bikes are a hybrid of a mountain and a commuter bike, letting you ride on your own terms.
As it is a new category, you will not find many of them on the market though. Still, there are some good options out there. One of the best is the Road E+1.
The E+1 prevents muscle fatigue and injury through a robust pedal-assist feature that lets you ride longer and farther than your average traditional road bike. This lets you enjoy all your favorite scenic routes without worrying about getting there with the bike’s top assist speed of 28 miles per hour. The bike even provides three modes of power so you can vary the output to the road conditions. A four-point sensor drives the entire system seamlessly, allowing the motor to amplify your skills when you need it the most.
Plus, you get to ride in absolute comfort. The Road E+1 comes equipped with Ride Control EVO, an ergonomic command center for the entire bike. The LCD display is affixed directly to the center of the handlebars. So, the entire package is right in front of you the whole time, allowing you to maintain balance and control even at high speeds.
Besides the drive system, Giant gave the E+1 all the road bike features you expect. It has an 11-speed Shimano crankset, a lightweight, aggressively-designed, aluminum frame; cargo racks, fenders, panniers, and hydraulic disc brakes. There’s even a fast charger to keep the battery juiced and ready to go.
Best Electric Cargo Bike
While not the first reason people buy e-bikes, hauling cargo has become one of the success stories. Cargo e-bikes uses the power of their motor to help you cruise to your destination with tons of gear in tow.
1) Tern GSD
GSD means “Get Stuff Done”, and that is what this cargo bikes lets you do. The Tern GSD is powerful enough to replace your car. Yeah, you heard that right.
It has an odd shape though. While it uses 20-inch wheels to a maintain a low center of gravity, it has a short 70-inch wheelbase that makes it very maneuverable.
Despite its odd shape, it can carry over 400-pounds of load without straining through its Bosch Performance Line motor. The bike is even big enough that you can add a second battery to extend your range up to 150-miles.
Beyond the basics, the GSD also gives you ergonomic grips, front and rear lights, mudguards, puncture-resistant tires.
All these features make the Tern GSD a great cargo bike for the urban commuter. You can even compact it down to 60 percent of its size for easy storage in a car, or in small apartment by using its rear rack as a stand. Heck, you can even add two child seats to this thing for family riding, or lower the seat so your child can ride the bike.
2) Riese and Müller Load
Often called “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” this cargo e-bike from Riese & Müller lives up to the hype. The Load supports a low center of gravity from its 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels, making it easy to handle with up to 220-pounds of cargo, pets, and people. Add to that the fact that you can even buy a double child seat and a child-seat fastener for younger riders.
The Bosch motor drives the wheels up to 28 miles per hour of 275 perfect pedal assistance before it quits and returns the driving to your legs. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes gives you complete control of the bike while to ride in comfort from the front and rear suspension. You get all this for at least 12 hours from the two 500-watt batteries.
Best Commuter Electric Bicycles
Commuter bikes are basically the reason modern electric bicycles exist. Electric commuter bikes let you ride to work quickly without working up a sweat before you reach your destination. Many of these bikes also let you glide through town, allowing even more people to join the ever-growing ranks of e-bike riders.
1) Raleigh Redux IE
Raleigh is another traditional bike manufacturer that has jumped into the e-bike market, and they made the Redux specifically for the urban commuter. While it also doesn’t look like an e-bike, it has the speed and performance to get you to your destination quickly and effortlessly. The bike even supports wide tires for stability and traction in the harshest weather conditions.
At the bike’s center is a powerful, 250-watt Brose Centerdrive drive system that can reach to 28 miles per hour, allowing you to weave through traffic with ease. The entire system runs on a lithium-ion battery that lets you ride up to 80 miles before needing a recharge.
Raleigh managed to fit the bike’s battery in the downtube, making for a sleek and streamlined design. This design gives the bike a more traditional look and feel even with its 10-speed Shimano crankset, shifters, and built-in LCD display.
2) Raleigh Retroglide iE Step Thru
The Retroglide is Raleigh’s other e-bike offering. Designed as a beach cruiser, the Retroglide’s 350-watt motor lets you ride down the boardwalk with style, coupled with a top speed of 20 miles per hour of pedal assistance. The bike supports are backswept handlebars which let you carry cargo and still ride upright with little effort. With a range of 35 miles, you can use the bike run errands or to just cruise around town.
3) Trek CrossRip+
The CrossRip is the most utilitarian of the electric commuter bicycles. It is a full-featured bike that can haul even your largest loads. The bike’s design favors the aggressive rider with drop bar that is low enough to keep you from entering the red zone. The Bosch motor drive system produces 63 Newton-meters of torque that can easily bring you up to 28 miles per hour using the bike’s 38mm tires. These tires even have reinforced sidewalls for absorbing every bump and pothole along your route. You will find integrated lights, a kickstand, and a rear cargo rack on this baby with full-coverage fenders. Who says your daily commute can’t be fun as well as productive?
4) Civia Parkway
This 42-pound urban bike has everything you need to complete your daily route in style. It has a streamlined, Bosch Active Line silent-running, step-through motor and drive system. With this system, you can easily reach 20 miles per hour with the Parkway, and you can do it for up to 110 miles with the 400-watthour battery. Twenty-six-inch wheels with 2-inch tires support the entire bike which rides low to the ground, maintaining stability even over rough, unforgiving terrain. You even get a Shimano Sora 9-speed gear box with an 11-32 cassette system, though most drives will just be a cruise in turbo mode.
5) Specialized Women’s Turbo Vado 3.0
While most e-bikes can be used by everyone, some of them are designed for specific people. For instance, S-Works designed the Turbo Vado to meet the needs of female riders. It provides 28 miles per hour of pedal assisted speed that makes you feel invincible while zooming down the street in turbo mode. The 320-percent boost to your power output is not bad either. You also get integrated lights, fenders, a rear cargo rack, and a battery that will last for up to 75 miles.
Because it was made for women, the bike features a women-specific saddle and grips. It also has a lower standover so you can hop on the bike without swinging your leg over the back of a saddle in street clothes. Overall, this woman’s bike packs all the value, performance, and style you’d expect from an urban ride.
6) Aventon Pace 500
The Pace lets you cruise through town in style. It has a stylish aluminum frame with a sloping top tube that lets you lower the saddle so you can put both feet on the ground. You can even adjust the upright bar and stem, giving you a wide range of adjustable flexibility.
You get the industry-standard speed of 28 mph from the included hub-drive motor, 2.2-inch tires, and 27.5-inch wheels. That gives you the option of throttling away to maintain speed and momentum, without turning the crank. You also have hydraulic disk brakes to keep your speed in check for precision riding.
Plus, this bike costs only $1400! That means you get one powerful, stylish, and affordable commuter bike that feels nice on the pavement, while giving you the flexibility to go off-road.
Click here to check out prices for the Aventon Pace 500.
7) Priority Embark
47-millimeter WTB gumwall tires are the key feature of the Embark. This urban bike can reach up to 20 miles per hour on its 650-pound wheels with the power coming straight from Gates Carbon Drive belt and Enviolo Trekking hub. Combined with the Bosch mid-drive motor and 400Wh battery, this bike can easily add 380 percent more power to your stride. Heck, you can keep your top speed for 50 miles with this beast.
Priority put a lot of polish into the system as well with a clean and quiet belt drive system that requires no maintenance. You even get integrated lights and fenders to protect you from road spray.
8) Trek Domane+
Trek put a motor on their Domane line of bikes to create their Domane+ like of e-bikes. Because of this, you get everything you expect from Trek’s urban bikes including isoSpeed technology and the reliable comfort and functions. Perfect for anyone recovering from an injury, the Domane+ features a 500Wh Powertube battery driving a Bosch Performance Line Speed motor that lets you reach 28 miles per hour of assisted speed. But you will not notice them just by looking at the bike. Trek integrated everything into the sleek design of the down tube. The battery is even powerful enough to power the integrated lights, to create one sweet ride.
8) Gazelle CityZen T10 HMB Speed
Some makers make commuter bikes to fill a quota. Gazelle makes commuter bikes so you can ride to work in style. The CityZen T10 is one such bike. With this e-bike, you no longer have to worry about the steep inclines along your route. The bike can easily get up any hill with is powerful Bosch motor and drivetrain. It even has Eco, Tour, Range Sport, and Turbo assist modes to let you customize your ride through town for up to 85 miles on its Bosch integrated Lithium-ion battery.
Gazzele packed the battery into downtube to keep the entire frame streamlined and smooth. The matte black-painted frame also supports a classic, step-through design, giving the whole bike a classic look complete with pannier racks, fenders, and integrated lights.
Overall, the CityZen is a sweet ride. You get the standard 28 mph. So, you can get up hills quickly and easily, while the suspension fork lets you ride along in comfort like you would on a mountain bike.
9) Trek Super Commuter+ 9
Because Trek knows you, they created this interesting beast of an urban bike. The Super Commuter lets you ride like a superhero with its unusual speed.
Priced at $5,200, this e-bike has it all. At its heart is a powerful, 250-watt Bosch Performance CX motor that can get you to 28 mph in no time. This power passes through the Nuvinci continuously variable transmission hub that lets you smoothly sweep between gears to create excellent and engaging commutes through town. You will be zipping through traffic on the burly Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires that stand 2.4-inches wide to keep you secure even on rough terrain. This high-end commuter even boasts Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes for fast braking, even on icy surfaces.
To complete the package, Trek finished off the Super Commuter with SuperNova lights, fenders, a side-view mirror, and a cargo rack.
Best Inexpensive E-bikes
Electric bicycles are expensive. You pay a premium to have all that technology bolted to your ride. While all the electronics, motors, sensors, and batteries make e-biking an absolute pleasure, they also create a barrier to entry. Fortunately, the following models offer cheaper options if you want to start riding on a budget.
1) Espin Sport
E-bikes are often expensive for beginners. Because of this, manufacturers have built bikes such as the Espin Sport. You won’t get the all the bells and whistles, but this bike can get your feet wet in the world of e-bike riding.
At only $1,588, the Epsin is still an investment, but it gives you that no-nonsense, blue-collar aesthetic you love. It has a 20-inch traditional diamond frame that durable enough to haul up to 55 pounds of groceries, kids, and other cargo. It is the perfect ride if you just want something for your daily computer to work, store, or short weekend getaway.
At its center is a 350-watt motor powered by a battery that can go up to 50 miles before needing a recharge. Fortunately, you only need about five hours to completely fill the battery. You can even remove the battery so you can charge it at home or in your office. Plus, you get to control it all from a center-mounted, backlit LCD hub display which shows all the usual indicators - battery life included.
Overall the Espin gives you all the features you want in an e-bike but without the high costs. You won’t be able to use it for your really long trips, but it has enough features to get you through your daily commute. It even has LED headlights so you can ride it at night.
2) Tuesday August Live! LS
While some budget e-bikes skimp on features to keep their pricing moderate, the August Live does not. This low-cost bike packs a lot under its $1,399 price tag. It might not have all that bunch of shiny gadgets, integrated lights, or a LCD display, but it has a decent 250-watt motor that can get you to your destination without issues, even on hilly terrain. Beyond the motor, this fun cruiser has a chopper-style handlebar with a trendy paint job that will turn heads as you cruise down bike paths and boardwalks.
What is an Electric Bicycle?
An Electric bicycle, or e-bike, is basically a normal conventional bicycle with a battery and electric motor attached to it. The motor helps you pedal the bike, making riding the bike easier and more efficient. A good e-bike will help you deliver heavy cargo without a vehicle, commute for miles with little effort, or make you mobile if you are recovering from injury or illness.
The Different Types/Classes of E-Bikes
While e-bikes are just modified conventional bikes, you can find a wide variety of shapes and features in the e-bike market. There is a bike style for every type of rider and scenario. You can power up a steep hill with an electric mountain bicycle so you can enjoy the ride downhill, or to reach places you otherwise could not. You can zoom off to work in an instant or deliver cargo without worrying about traffic. You can even find lightweight bikes that will compliment your riding skills instead of replacing them.
Therefore, you must first figure out what you want in an electric bicycle before you go out to buy one, and that means you must decide on a class as well as the style.
In the U.S., electric bikes come in three different classes based on the style of motor, with most bikes falling under either Class 1 or Class 3.
- Class 1 – Manual bikes with motors that can produce speeds up to 20 mph
- Class 2 – Automatic bikes. You can use the throttle to ride these bikes without pedaling.
- Class 3 – Also called speed pedelec, these manual bikes have motors that can produce speeds up to 28 mph.
You can ride any class e-bike without a license in most states and cities. You can even ride them on most bike lanes, streets, and paths. Most riders prefer Class 1 and 3 bikes because they reach greater distances and still let the rider pedal.
What to Look for in an Electric Bike?
So, what else should you want in an electric bicycle? Generally, you want features that help you ride the bike.
People cycle for many reasons. They do it because it is free. They do it for their health. Plus, bikes are often faster than cars and public transit. While you can do it all with an electric bike, each model does them in different ways. Some manufacturers put the motor on the rear wheel to provide extra power directly to your pedaling. Others choose to place the motor directly around the cranks to provide even more power. Some of the newer, more premium models place the motor on the front wheel to make your ride feel more natural.
Before we begin, you must understand that e-bikes are heavy and are limited to only 15.5 mph. They could break down if you try to push your bike beyond its limit. This does not mean you can’t go faster than 15.5 mph with an e-bike. You can go as fast as you can go with your legs. You will just need more effort to go over that limit with an e-bike. Therefore, you want a bike that will do this gradually until you get used to it. This power curve will raise the price of your bike, but the features attached will justify the worth.
This is because manufacturers design their electric bicycles to let their motors do most of the work. You are only meant to pedal gently. Fortunately, most people will rarely reach 15.5 mph under normal riding.
Selecting Motors and Batteries
Because you are meant to let the motor do most of the work, you want an e-bike with a suitably-powered motor and battery. E-bike batteries and motors come from several major manufacturers such as Yamaha, Bosch, Brose, Shimano, and a few others. A few of these model combinations offer more reliable torque. Some offer silent operations. You may also find a few that are less reliable and powerful. Still, you’d do yourself a whole world of good to go with one of the four top brands.
As with car engines, you want an electric bicycle motor that has the torque output you need. Motor output is directly linked to a bike’s overall power. So, you definitely want a bike with a strong enough motor to give you the pedal boost you want and need.
With that in mind, you might want to look at the watt-hour rating as well. The watt-hour rating combines the motor’s output with the output of the battery to give you a better, more accurate way to assess the bike’s total power output.
And you also want a bike with a battery with the range to last through any trail you might want to take your bike down. All that power is nothing if you can’t get a cool ride out of it. Fortunately, most e-bikes offer three to five load levels to let you regulate your overall range. You can set your bike anywhere from 25 percent power boost all the way up to 200 percent.
You may also want a bike with a fast recharging battery if you plan to ride your bike on long commutes.
While all e-bikes have a motor and a battery, a few models offer other features as well. Some manufacturers incorporate streamlining in order to reduce drag. Others look like traditional bikes. Some e-bikes come with battery security features that will help keep your bike safe if you park it outside. Therefore, you want to ensure that not only does your e-bike have the features you want and plan to use, but is light enough for you to carry if needed. This is because most e-bike accessories will add significant weight to your bike.
You always want a bike with good and reliable control mechanisms. E-bikes let you travel faster and longer than a traditional bike. So, you want one with wider tires to provide enough traction and some bump absorption. Good strong brakes will be necessary as well. Good, high-quality brakes will let you control your deceleration, ensuring that you are always as safe as you can be while riding.
Upcoming E-bike Trends and the Future
The rise of e-bikes gave use rides for every cyclist. The e-bike collection we listed above is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what’s out there. You can find bikes for commuters, pedelecs, e-MTBs, and cargo e-bikes to name a few. The diversity of options should continue to rise as people all over the world discover how great electric cycles can be.
This rise in e-bike development is not just in the number of models available to you. Manufacturers are looking for ways they can innovate their product lines to make them more comfortable, beautiful, and diverse.
Here is a list of upcoming innovations in the market you may want to include in your considerations when choosing your e-bike.
Lighter, More Beautiful Bikes
E-bikes are expensive. This is nothing new, but a huge chunk of the price comes from the materials used to make them. To help lower the price and get more people to buy them, manufacturers are looking for ways to make their bikes lighter and more aesthetically pleasing. Newer e-bikes comes with aluminum or carbon frames that can lower the weight of the bike down to about 30 pounds. You will see more makers integrate their batteries into the frame as well. Sometimes, you may not even notice the battery or motor with how integrated they are into the frame.
More Bike Varieties
Manufacturers are looking to see what other types of traditional, manually-powered vehicles they can convert to electric. Soon, you may see every sort of e-bike, e-trike, and e-scooter in your local bike stores. You will also see more innovative way to power them as well.
For instance, one hot trend in e-bikes is to have a vintage leather look and feel that make your ride appear as a motorcycle. That way you can ride around town without people even knowing you are riding a bicycle. Another trend is to use solar-powered batteries.
Extra Batteries to Extend Travel Range
E-bikes will always use a battery for power, and companies will always look for ways to get more power out of one. This is nothing new, and it follows the same trend as in other electric vehicles. However, one recent innovation is to use multiple batteries on a single bike.
For instance, Haibike lets you add a second battery to the down tube to double your travel range with an additional kilowatt of power. Bosch has even invented a system that will seamlessly switch between batteries automatically.
By letting you add extra batteries, manufacturers hope to get more range out of their bikes without having to switch to heavier batteries or motors. Some riders even envision carrying these extra batteries along with them as they do with water bottles today.
All e-bikes today use a manual transmission. That means you must physically switch a lever to change gears while riding. Brose, Bosch, and Continental want to change that. All three companies are developing automatic drive trains that will switch gears for you as you pedal. This innovation may open the door for other automobile features to enter the market as well.
Shared Economy, Renting, and Leasing
To combat the high cost of ownership, it’s quite common seeing e-bikes offered on a rental basis. Many travel destinations already offer e-bikes you can lease during your stay, and more locations may soon follow them into this new shared economy. Even a few sporting goods associations and universities are getting into the mix. Plus, some companies already give their employees e-bikes so they can quickly travel between company location.
E-bikes are here to stay. With these new innovations and more still to come, you can be assured that your perfect ride is out there. You might have to shop around, but you can ditch your old bike for a cool, trendy electric one if you just take a few precautions. I hope this list above helps you along your journey. While it does not list every bike on the market, these few bikes offer everything e-bike riders want when they cycle through town.
Get out there and drive!