Are you interested in switching out your car for a daily bike commute instead? Or maybe you want to tackle trails that are just out of reach on a standard mountain bike. An electric bike can put a little more oomph in your pedal and help you get around town faster while still giving you the option to get your legs moving and get as much of a workout as you choose. We have tested over 30 electric bikes, with options ranging from budget bikes, commuters, and folding models, to top-of-the-line electric mountain bikes with all the bells and whistles. Whatever the reason for your interest in electric bikes, we have advice and recommendations to help you choose the one that will best fit your needs, lifestyle, and budget. Our favorite models across all categories are listed below.There are many different styles of electric bikes. In this review, we include our favorite models from each category. However, if you know what type of e-bike you want, we offer more in-depth information in our category-specific reviews. We have tested versatile commuters for getting around town, more affordable e-bikes for those who are looking to stay within budget, and the top e-MTBs for tackling the trails. If you want a bike sans-motor, check out our other bike reviews.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall Electric Commuter Bike
The Ride1Up 700-Series is a sleek-looking bike with a frame-integrated battery and a built-in cargo rack over the back tire. Other baskets and rack attachments are available as add-ons if you need to maximize storage. Thanks to a combination of high-volume tires and 100mm of front suspension, it has a very smooth ride quality, and we felt comfortable frequently taking this bike on longer-distance commutes. The massive 720Wh battery means it has the juice to power through longer rides while the powerful 750W motor easily supports speeds up to 20 mph using the throttle or 28 mph with pedal assist. You can choose between a step-over or step-through style and two frame sizes, and it has highly adjustable components, so you can get the perfect fit for most riders. The comfort and convenience-oriented features on this bike make it a bit heavier, but good handling and balance make up for the extra weight. It also comes with features like a rear rack, fenders, and lights, so you'll be ready for anything.
Our least favorite part of the 700-Series was the extra time and effort we had to put into the assembly. This bike comes less assembled than others in our tests, and all the additional features take longer to put together during the initial unboxing. Since it is a one-time job, however, we wouldn't base our final purchase decision on this factor. The above-average weight of the 700-Series means it does not feel the most nimble, but we think it is easily maneuverable in most situations. Ultimately, we were impressed by this bike's power, range, comfort, smooth ride, and included features, not to mention the competitive price. We think it is perfect for around-town commutes and errand runs.
Read review: Ride1Up 700-Series
Best Budget Electric Bike
Ride1Up is great at making quality e-bikes without breaking the bank, and the Ride1Up Core-5 is no exception. This budget-friendly electric bike looks and performs like a more expensive bike thanks to its quality components and streamlined design. The battery is seamlessly incorporated into the frame, and even though it is not as large as some other models, it still offers a decent range for the size. The 750W motor supports Class 3 speeds up to 20mph using the throttle and 28 mph with pedal assist. Although it has a rigid frame, the 27.5-inch wheels roll fast with high-volume tires that help provide a damp and comfortable ride. The Core-5 has two frame options, step-over (tested here) and step-through, so each rider can choose a frame that fits their lifestyle and preference.
We understand that to keep costs down, some sacrifices have to be made. The Core-5 lacks features that come standard on many other bikes, like fenders, lights, and cargo racks. However, if any of these accessories are appealing to you, many of them are available to purchase separately, and you can customize your bike to your preferences and choose how much you would like to spend on bells and whistles. Regardless, we cannot emphasize enough how well this bike balances quality, performance, and price. If you want a quality electric bike but are experiencing some sticker shock from other models, the Core-5 is our recommendation.
Read review: Ride1Up Core-5
Best Budget City Bike
The Aventon Soltera definitely looks and feels like a city bike. With large wheels and skinny tires, there is little resistance, and it is made to ride on smooth concrete and asphalt. The Soltera can make sharp, responsive turns and has a quick and agile handling feel. While it doesn't have the most oomph in its 350W motor, it has a smooth and consistent power delivery and no problem supporting speeds up to 20 mph. The 346Wh battery is cleanly integrated into the frame providing sleek looks and decent distance range. If you happen to run out of battery away from home, this bike rides relatively well with no power at all, thanks to its lighter-weight and fast-rolling tires. That lighter weight also makes it a bit easier to load onto a bike rack or carry up or down stairs. Aventon's user interface is intuitive to use and displays enough (but not too much) information on the screen, and it gets bonus points for having a compatible app where you can easily change settings and track and share rides. Two frame sizes and two frame styles mean that most riders should be able to find a bike that fits and meets their needs. We also like that Aventon gives you the option to lower costs by getting the simpler single-speed drive train, which is perfect if you don't ride in a hilly area.
This bike is not for the rider who wants to go on long relaxed cruises. A stiffer frame, narrower seat, and skinny wheels don't offer a lot of cushion in your ride, and bumps and cracks in the road are more noticeable. All of this, combined with a more engaged riding position, means this is not a relaxed cruiser kind of bike. It is zippy and tight and requires more active participation from its rider, which could be either a pro or a con depending on who you are. It has a smaller battery which translates to just an average range in our throttle-only test and is not the fastest bike out there. However, as mentioned above, it has many perks that make it city-friendly, and if you don't stray too far from home, the battery size and ride will not likely be significant issues for you. We recommend this bike for city riders who want to upgrade from their regular commuter bike to an electric-powered one without breaking the bank.
Read review: Aventon Soltera
Best Bang for Your Buck Budget Electric Bike
Miclon LNE 26
With a list price significantly less than its closest competitor, the Miclon LNE 26 is a steal. It offers basic but functional features like fenders, a rear cargo rack, and a front headlight. It has five levels of pedal assist as well as a throttle, and the 250W motor supports speeds up to 15.5 mph. Relative to other bikes with 300-400Wh battery size, the LNE uses its energy efficiently, and we were impressed with its range; it took us just over 21 miles to run the battery dead using only the throttle. The large and well-padded seat and the upright riding position are reminiscent of a beach cruiser, providing a high level of comfort. The retro-inspired style includes a step-through design that adds to this laid-back feel and is easy to mount and dismount.
With a 250W motor, the Miclon LNE 26 isn't the most powerful bike around. The top speed of 15.5 MPH is slower than average compared to other bikes we tested, and we sometimes felt bogged down even further when taking this bike uphill. The user interface is functional but very basic, and it doesn't provide much information beyond output setting and remaining battery life. We also find it difficult to read in bright sunlight, requiring shade or a cupped hand over the display to read the faint blue lights. But if you are a low and slow Sunday cruiser type of rider and don't have a large budget to work with, the Miclon is one of our favorite affordable options.
Read review: Miclon LNE 26
Best Folding Electric Bike
Lectric XP Step-Thru 2.0
The Lectric XP 2.0 is a folding electric bike that will fit in the trunk of your car, next to your office desk, or in the hall closet for storage. Despite its compact foldable design, the bike has lots of adjustability to suit a wide range of user heights. It comes equipped with user-friendly features, such as a cargo rack, fenders, and lights, as well as a comfortable seat and ergonomic hand grips. If you want some additional conveniences, Lectric sells additional accessories so you can outfit your bike to fit your usage. With a robust 500W motor, the XP 2.0 packs a lot of power in a small package and is capable of speeds up to 28 mph using pedal assist and 20 mph with the throttle. A 460Wh battery is integrated into the folding frame which provides a respectable range given its smaller capacity. With 3-inch wide knobby tires and a suspension fork, it provides a relatively smooth ride and can be used on a range of surfaces. We also love how easy this bike is to use straight out of the box. It comes almost completely assembled and takes very little time and effort to set up and start riding.
The small size and folding convenience of this bike have many advantages, but there are also some drawbacks. The smaller battery on the XP 2.0 means it has a below-average range compared to models with larger batteries. The smaller wheels and tall handlebar do make its handling feel a little nervous. However, it has a tight turn radius that makes it easier to maneuver through small spaces, and we never felt uncomfortable on this bike, even near its top speed. It becomes quite compact when folded, but despite its small size, it still weighs 61 pounds, and lifting it into a trunk or carrying it up a flight of stairs can still be a challenge. Regardless, we feel this affordable folding model is a great option for those who are short on storage or want a compact e-bike that can go everywhere with them.
Read review: Lectric XP 2.0
Best Electric City Bike
Juiced CrossCurrent S2
If you are a city commuter and need a little more pep in your pedal to keep up with stop-and-go traffic, the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 is a great option. With a powerful 750W motor and a 28 mph top pedal-assisted speed, this bike is excellent for people who want to get places in a hurry, keep up with traffic, and maybe even cruise past any jams on the way. This bike has a smooth power delivery and gliding takeoff thanks to combined cadence and torque sensors. The 673Wh battery provides an excellent range that should be more than enough to get you across town and back again. The large wheels, good suspension, and sharp handling provide excellent stability and predictable turns in almost any situation, reinforcing its performance tailored to city riding. Juiced offers this bike in multiple frame sizes to allow nearly any sized rider to find a great fit.
The features that make this bike so zippy and responsive make it a little less comfortable than some other options. The city bike style includes lower, flat handlebars and a more aggressive riding position that may not be ideal for everyone. This is in contrast to the more upright cruiser bikes that earn higher marks for comfort. Unless you are used to riding in a more aggressive position, this is not the type of bike you would want to take out for a leisurely afternoon cruise; this bike is meant to take you places. As long as you know what you're getting into, the CrossSCurrent S2 is a perfect option for riders looking to shift their daily commute from car to bike without losing any time.
Read review: Juiced CrossCurrent S2
Best Electric Cargo Bike
Rad Power RadWagon 4
The Rad Power RadWagon 4 is the ultimate cargo bike and is just about the closest you can get to a car replacement without adding gasoline. A wide selection of aftermarket accessories makes this bike fully customizable. Adding additional kids' seats, cargo racks, or baskets, allows you to tailor the cargo capacity to your specific needs and lifestyle, whether you are hauling kids, groceries, coolers, or whatever else you need for the day. The RadWagon 4 has a robust 750W motor that easily supports its top pedal assist and throttle speed of 20 mph, even with a large and heavy load, and the 672Wh battery and above-average range mean fewer charging sessions. A stable, 2-footed kickstand allows you to confidently park the bike with a well-balanced load without fear of tipping. With a huge range of fit adjustability and a casual, upright seated position, it is also quite comfortable. To top it all off, this bike is loaded with user-friendly features like fenders, lights, and a USB port where you can charge your phone on the go using energy from the bike's battery.
The fact that this bike has the potential to replace your car is enticing, but at times it also kind of feels like… a car. It is one of the heaviest and longest e-bikes we have tried and is definitely not something will want to carry up and down stairs or load into a vehicle, plus it takes up quite a bit of storage space. It is more of a garage-to-street kind of bike. The extra-long wheelbase feels super stable, but it makes for a bit clunkier handling and wider turns overall. Putting the bike together is not too complicated, but it is more involved than some other models, and you may find it helpful to have how-to videos pulled up on your phone before assembly. If all of this seems manageable, and the hauling capacity is something you would use regularly, then the Rad Power RadWagon 4 is an excellent choice.
Read review: Rad Power RadWagon 4
Best Fat Tire Electric Bike
Aventon Aventure Step-Through
We like the idea of the Aventon Aventure Step-Through for riders that don't want to limit themselves to paved surfaces. The 4" wide tires and great front suspension expand this bike's capabilities to perform well on a wide variety of surfaces, including gravel roads and mellow trails and make it impressively stable and smooth. It is one of the most powerful bikes we tested with a 750W motor that is capable of speeds up to 28 mph using pedal assist with a 720Wh battery that provides a respectable distance range. The frame-integrated battery, quality components, and clean design make this a sleek-looking bike, and it comes in two frame sizes and step-through (which we tested) and step-over frame styles to suit a range of user heights and preferences. It also comes with a great display and controls, front and rear fenders, lights, and is compatible with front and rear racks (sold separately) so you can be ready for any adventure.
One of the most significant downsides of the Aventure is the weight. At 73 pounds, it is simply a big, bulky bike that isn't very easy to transport. It is a little too heavy for most bike racks, and it can be a challenge to load into the back of a truck or move up a flight of stairs. While the 4-inch wide knobby tires are great for tackling a wider range of surfaces, we found that they feel a bit draggy on the pavement and make the handling feel a little more sluggish as a result. Beyond those concerns, we feel it is a great option for riders who want fewer limitations on where their electric bike can take them.
Read review: Aventon Aventure Step-Through
Best Overall Electric Mountain Bike
Specialized Turbo Levo Comp
Specialized found the perfect balance of power vs. natural handling in the Turbo Levo Comp e-mountain bike. Full power e-bikes are heavier no matter what, but the Levo has smooth power delivery (an improvement over the abrupt power cutoff of older versions), is well balanced, and handles the most like a "regular trail bike" out of any of the models we tested. The latest Turbo Full Power 2.2 motor system is well refined and boasts a whopping 90Nm of torque, more than enough power to propel you up hills that would be unconquerable on a standard bike. Mixed wheel sizes and highly adjustable geometry also make the Levo Comp one of the most customizable options available; several minor adjustments make a huge difference and allow you to tailor the bike to different riding styles and terrain quickly and easily. The Levo also ranks near the top of the group for range. We felt confident going on longer rides without running the risk of being stuck miles from the trailhead with a 50lb bike and no power.
While this is undoubtedly one of our favorite electric bikes to take out on the trail, there are a few areas where the Levo was not the top performer. The SRAM Code R hydraulic disc brakes that come on this bike are far from our favorite and the non-e-bike specific Fox 36 Rhythm fork also leaves a bit to be desired. There is also no digital display screen on this bike. The only information immediately available to the rider are the LEDs found on the frame's top tube that show the current support setting and remaining battery life. If you value having lots of information available at a glance, more expensive versions of the Levo come with a digital display, or you can purchase one as a separate accessory. However, we wouldn't let either of these drawbacks deter you from the Turbo Levo Comp, and we recommend it to anyone looking for a refined and highly adjustable electric mountain bike.
Read review: Specialized Turbo Levo Comp
Best Electric Mountain Bike for Range
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8
The Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8 is one of the top-performing electric mountain bikes we tested. It manages to be more affordable while offering a quality carbon frame and a mostly excellent component specification thanks to Canyon's direct-to-consumer sales model. At nearly 52 lbs, the Spectral:ON falls in the typical weight range as far as e-MTBs go, yet it handles well and feels balanced on both the climbs and the descents, thanks to the low center of gravity and thoughtful weight distribution. The geometry of the bike is certainly trail-oriented, and it is clear that Canyon intended this bike to be geared more towards all-around riding, but we were impressed when it handled steep drops like a champ. Shimano's trusty EP8 drive unit handles the power delivery with up to 85Nm of torque and three customizable support settings. Perhaps one of the most differentiating characteristics of the Spectral:ON is the extensive range; this bike lasted miles beyond the closest competitor in our range test thanks to the huge capacity 900Wh battery.
Unfortunately, all of that battery power has to be stored somewhere. Canyon did a great job keeping the weight low, but the bulge created at the bottom of the bike's frame reduces clearance and is especially risky when riding more technical terrain or if the suspension is ever maxed out. Speaking of suspension, the components on the Spectral:ON work fine, but have limited adjustability and the non-e-bike specific fork could feel a little flexy under braking. Lastly, we recommend running beefier tires, but luckily this is not a very expensive upgrade. Overall, our complaints about the Canyon Spectral:ON are minor, and we feel it is an excellent option for those who tackle long rides and want a well-balanced trail eMTB that comes at a very competitive price.
Read review: Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8
Best Bang for Your Buck Electric Mountain Bike
Commencal Meta Power TR Ride
The Commencal Meta Power TR Ride is considerably less expensive than most other e-MTBs, but it performs above its price range in our option. The popular long and slack geometry makes it stable at high speeds, and the bike's length makes it great for rolling down steep drops. A steeper seat tube angle helps the bike feel more responsive during the climbs. Overall, Commencal found a happy medium, and we felt comfortable riding this bike on almost any type of terrain. The Meta Power TR has the powerful and customizable Shimano EP8 drive unit and one of our favorite display and control systems. All the buttons are easy and intuitive to reach while riding, and the display is located front and center on the handlebar in a position that is easy to read at a glance.
Unfortunately, this Commencal bike is only equipped with a 630Wh battery. It has a shorter range than our other favorite e-MTBs, but at just over 26 miles during our throttle-only test, it can probably handle most rides, provided you're willing to put in a bit more pedal power. The lower price of this bike means some sacrifices had to be made to the build, and we found this particularly noticeable in the suspension, which we felt could be improved. However, it didn't detract from the overall experience of the bike, and some riders may find it worth the tradeoff. As with many bikes with more aggressive frame geometry, the length of the Meta Power TR might be trickier to manage on tight switchbacks or at slower speeds, but it still handles better than you would expect. Thanks to the consumer-direct approach and lower-end components, Commencal made a bike that is within reach of those with a tighter budget. While some things could be improved, we think it hits the perfect middle ground for a (more) affordable e-MTB.
Read review: Commencal Meta Power TR Ride
Why You Should Trust Us
Bike testers here at GearLab started with mountain bikes in 2017 and have since branched out to include more than ten different bike categories. We added increasingly popular electric bikes to our lineup in 2019. We have tested more than 45 models across various categories and are continually keeping an eye out for the latest and greatest e-bikes to test and compare. With a grand total of more than 1,000 bikes and bike-related products, we really have had a little taste of it all.
Our testing process varies depending on what style of e-bike we are testing, but some of the most important metrics include ride quality, range, user interface, and power output. We go into the finer details for specific categories, evaluating downhill and climbing performance for mountain bikes, carrying capacity for cargo bikes, and folded size for folding e-bikes. In addition to miles of methodical testing on and off the pavement, we load, fold, pop wheelies, and drop into steep lines on these bikes. We ride each one long enough to become familiar with it and find its best and worst features.
We have been testing different styles of bikes since 2017, but our team of bike experts has been riding for much longer. It is led by Senior Review Editor and long-time Tahoe resident Jeremy Benson, who has been riding bikes for more than 30 years and has authored a book on bike trails in and around the Lake Tahoe basin; Mountain Bike Tahoe. Contributing to our testing with their extensive bike knowledge are gear testing expert turned bike shop owner Pat Donahue with 20+ years of bike-obsessed experience, Joshua Hutchens who is a lifelong mountain biker filling rolls, from bike mechanic to guide, to racer, to casual rider and everything in between. Kyle Smaine is a South Lake Tahoe native and has had access to some of the area's best bike trails from a young age.
How to Buy an Electric Bike
Deciding that you want an electric bike over an analog is the first step, and you may think it will be easy to choose a model from there. However, almost every bicycle out there has its e-bike equivalent these days. With so many options, it can be difficult to make a wise decision, but it is possible! Some questions can help to narrow down the categories so that, in the end, you are riding the bike that fits your needs best.
Where Do You Want To Ride?
Your lifestyle, location, and budget are probably the three most influential factors when deciding which e-bike will suit you, so you have to ask yourself: Where do I want to ride? The answer to this question will help you narrow down the enormous amount of choices and select an electric bike from the category that will work best for you. For example, if you want to rip around on mountain trails, an e-MTB is the obvious choice. If you live in the city and want to bike-commute to the office every day, a sleek and zippy electric commuter or city bike will be your best bet. To enjoy weekend cruises to the park or beach, you may opt for a bike that prioritizes comfort and cost. If you have kids, pets, or other precious cargo to haul, you'll probably select something from the e-cargo bike category. Different classes of bikes will also dictate where you can ride. State, local, and regional regulations vary, so it is best to check if your bike is within the regulations of your area.
Classes of Electric Bikes
The 3-class system is becoming widely accepted as a way to regulate e-bike use, but laws and regulations vary by state and even by country. With some of the more powerful bikes riding the border between moped and e-bike, a bike's power and speed capabilities determine where you can legally ride them. Some bikes can switch modes so you can ride them anywhere without limitations. Regardless of class, most e-bikes are limited to a motor with one horsepower (750W) or less.
Electric bikes that fall into Class 1 are pedal-assist only, which means that power is only delivered when the rider is moving the pedals, and most of the time, there is no throttle on the handlebar. If there is one, it offers an extra power boost, but it only works when the rider is pedaling. Motors on class 1 bikes support top pedal-assisted speeds up to 20mph, and they are typically allowed in bike lanes and multi-use trails, essentially anywhere a regular bike can go. Nearly all electric mountain bikes fall into this category.
Class 2 e-bikes also have a top motor speed of 20mph (although it is possible to ride them faster if your legs are strong enough). The main difference between classes 1 and 2 is that class 2 bikes have a throttle, usually a thumb paddle or twist grip on the handlebar, that will propel the bike forward without any help from pedaling input from the rider, putting them more on par with electric scooters. Like class 1, they also have a pedal assist option with different levels of power depending on your preference. E-bikes that fall into the class 2 category are usually allowed in bike lanes and multi-use paths, but there are exceptions in certain states.
Class 3 bikes take it up a notch with a higher speed limit. These bikes have both a throttle and pedal assist, with the throttle limited to 20 mph and the pedal assist up to 28 mph. If your legs can push one of these heavy bikes faster than 28mph, kudos to you, but you won't get any help from the motor after 28 mph. These electric bikes are commonly equipped with a speedometer and a throttle, although not always. These bikes have more restrictions regarding who can ride them and where. You may be required to wear a helmet, and in many states, anyone under a certain age is not allowed to ride a class 3 e-bike (usually between 15-16 years) unless they are a passenger, and they are not always allowed on bike paths. However, it is ultimately up to the discretion of the local government, so be sure to check regulations before heading out.
Types of E-bikes
Whatever your preferred riding style, there is probably an e-bike version to fit, and if you can't find one, it's probably in the making. As electric bikes become more popular, many people are adopting the term "analog" bike to differentiate between motorized versions and traditional bicycles. While many of the features found on particular styles of e-bikes are the same in the analog world, a few motor or battery-specific details are different. We go over all of this below.
Cruiser Electric Bikes
Cruiser e-bikes prioritize comfort, convenience, and ease of use. They have a more relaxed and upright riding position and are made for long and slow outings down the neighborhood bike path or on the side street that leads to the beach. These typically have a very user-friendly interface and have the option for a step-through frame design to make mounting and dismounting easier for most people. Wider tires make them best suited for rides on the pavement. They may not be as powerful or speedy as some other models, but they provide a boost to your pedaling efforts and are fun and comfortable to ride.
City/Commuter Electric Bikes
Commuter bikes are purpose-built and can potentially replace cars for some riders. They often have quick power output and may operate at higher speeds to keep up with city traffic. Depending on your commute length, you may want to look for a commuter bike with a larger battery to boost the range you are able to travel. Many include features like headlights, tail lights, and brake lights for enhanced visibility on the road or in an urban environment, and other features like fenders or small racks over the rear wheel add protection from road spray and provide a place to transport some cargo.
Folding Electric Bikes
As the name suggests, these bikes are designed to fold down to minimize size and maximize portability. Folding electric bikes are aimed at riders with limited storage space or who may need to fit their bike into a vehicle rather than on a bike rack. They are also perfect for those who would prefer to bring their brand new e-bike inside rather than leave it chained to the bike rack outside (it's a significant investment, we get it). People who travel with their bikes frequently, RVers, city dwellers, and office workers are the most likely to benefit from this style of bike as the smaller collapsed size takes up significantly less space than non-folding models. One of the downsides to this style of e-bike is that they typically have smaller diameter wheels, tall handlebars, and geometries dictated by their folding designs that can result in slightly less stable handling.
Cargo Electic Bikes
In our opinion, cargo bikes are more likely to replace a car for most people than any other style of bike. Add a motor to this style of bike, and you're that much closer to living car-free. Often these bikes are extra long to accommodate a larger rear cargo rack or have a bucket/wheelbarrow style cargo space either in the front or rear of the rider. A dual kickstand is also a common feature to help support eh added length and heavier weight. Most brands that produce cargo bikes also sell various accessories to tailor the storage/cargo space to your needs. Items like front/rear baskets, bike trailer attachments, child seats, and mounts for pannier bags can add space and cargo-carrying capability. This larger hauling capacity and extended length can mean trickier handling and a much heavier bike all around. These models are not very portable, and they are best suited to those who can ride out straight from the garage.
Fat Tire Electric Bikes
Fat tire electric bikes feature extra wide and often knobby tires, much like their analog counterparts. The higher volume of the tires increases the contact patch so they float better over soft conditions like sand and snow, and they also dampen the ride enough that these bikes often don't have a separate suspension system. Tires can range from 3.7" to 5.2" wide, compared to the 1.75" to 2.21" width found on most standard bikes, increasing traction and stability and making them suitable over a much wider range of surfaces. Because of the larger tire size, analog fat tire bikes tend to move slowly and steadily, so adding a powerful motor helps to propel you through varying terrain and surface conditions more quickly.
Electric Mountain Bikes
E-mountain bikes are built for off-road use and are equipped to handle steep ups and downs, just like their analog mountain bike cousins. They are often some of the priciest options available, but they are built with quality components like rugged suspension systems, light(er) weight frames, beefy tires, and frame geometry that make them well-suited to riding rougher trails. The motors on e-MTBs are typically regulated to class 1, with multiple pedal-assist levels and top supported speeds of 20 mph. We recommend gearing up with the proper protective gear like a well fitted helmet and sturdy knee pads.
Electric Road Bike
As with traditional road bikes (and gravel bikes too), their motorized counterparts have sporty forward-leaning geometry, narrow tires, and lightweight frames, all with performance and efficiency in mind. Keeping that in mind, many analog road bikes can exceed the 20mph power cutoff of e-bike motors when on the flats and downhills. E-road bikes are inevitably heavier due to the battery and motor, so you may end up hauling dead weight through these sections of your ride. However, if you ride in an area with lots of hills, many riders will probably appreciate a little pedal assist every now and then. Fancy carbon frames and sport-specific builds can often make them pricier than other categories of e-bikes.
What Else to Consider
Now that we've covered the main groups of e-bikes, you've probably had a chance to narrow down your top picks. When it comes down to the finalists in your list, these features and specs can help you narrow your choices even further.
Motor and Battery Specs
Most e-bikes have a range that falls between 20-30 miles. Battery size and motor power will determine the approximate range, but additional factors like rider weight, terrain, and the amount of pedal assistance or throttle used will play a major role as well. Not surprisingly, a little leg power from the rider can add many miles to a bike's range. Batteries are measured in Watt-hours, and the higher the Wh number, the more power storage and longer the range, but this also means increased weight and size, making for a heavier bike.
You also have a few different options when it comes to motor size and placement. Most electric bikes have motors that vary in size between 250W and 750W. Larger motors typically produce more torque, are faster to accelerate, and can more easily support higher speeds. Hub-drive motors are located in the center of one of the wheels (typically the rear wheel) and transfer power directly to the wheel where it is mounted. These are more affordable, easier to maintain, and do not add as much wear and tear to bike components. However, they are less efficient because they only have one gear ratio, and they make it more difficult to change or repair tires. Mid-drive motors are located in the center of the bike, usually around the pedal crank, and deliver power to the wheel through the chain. These are generally more expensive, but they are typically more refined, use the bike's gears to maximize efficiency, and they better balance the weight of the motor. Mid-drive motors are typically found on more expensive electric bikes.
Pedal-assisted power delivery options include a torque sensor or a cadence sensor. Torque sensors measure how hard you are pedaling using a strain gauge and deliver the appropriate amount of power for the rider's chosen setting. While usually a bit more expensive, torque sensors can often feel more intuitive and natural because they adjust quickly to the rider's movements, providing more power when you pedal harder and less power when the pedals slow down.
Cadence sensors work more like an on/off switch. When you begin to pedal, the motor provides power, but the output usually needs to be manually adjusted using the controls on the handlebar. Some cadence sensors are a bit "smarter" in that they can count pedal rotations (but still do not sense how hard you are pedaling) to adjust power output automatically. This type of system is usually more affordable.
Features and Accessories
The last things to consider are ease of use features and included accessories vs. accessories that come as a separate purchase. The user interface varies from bike to bike, some showing minimal information like battery level and power setting, while others include info like speed and other stats about your ride. Some models have an app so you can track your ride and adjust settings on your smartphone.
While almost always available as aftermarket accessories, included perks like a headlight, tail light, fenders, and cargo racks are always nice. Most bikes these days have a removable battery, which makes charging as simple as carrying the battery to the nearest outlet rather than having to haul the entire bike over. It could also be considered an additional security measure.
With such a wide variety of electric bikes available, there is sure to be a perfect model for you, but the sheer number of options can be overwhelming to choose between if you are new to the market. It is essential first to evaluate your lifestyle and do your research so you can make an informed decision; luckily, we put in the hours of research to help lighten the load. Hopefully, we have brought you closer to your dream bike so that you can spend less time in front of a screen and more time enjoying your electric bike. Happy riding.
— Jeremy Benson
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