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With expensive gas, scarce parking, and traffic, there are plenty of good reasons to ditch your car for a bike. But bikes have their downsides too — whether as commuters or weekend cruisers — leaving us sweaty, tired, and possibly late to our destination. Thankfully, there’s now a middle-ground: the best electric bikes.
After tremendous advancements over the past couple years, the best electric bikes (a.k.a. “e-bikes”) are now better than ever. They can travel up to 40 miles on a single charge and hit speeds of 28 miles per hour (all without us breaking a sweat), and their price tags are now more reasonable as well.
In other words, the best electric bikes are now a viable alternative to driving — especially for daily commuters. With the physical exertion of a light walk, e-bike riders are able to zip by traffic, park almost anywhere, and save a fortune on gas. Plus, the best electric bikes provide a lovely weekend activity to boot.
If you’re thinking of investing in an e-bike, read on. We’ve rounded up some of the best electric bikes to buy online, as well as a few key considerations to help you make the right purchase.
Electric Bike Buying Guide
Shopping for electric bikes isn’t quite the same as finding a regular bicycle. Below are some specs we looked at while choosing the best electric bikes for you.
Power: E-bike power is measured in watts, with motors ranging anywhere from 250 to 750 watts. Higher power is great (especially for heavier riders) and will provide more boost as you pedal.
If you already bike and just want minor help from a motor, a lower-wattage electric bike should be fine. Also, note that e-bikes cap their reported electric-powered speed at 28 miles per hour by law — any faster and they’d have to be classified as a moped or motorcycle. If you’re just riding a regular e-bike, you don’t need a special drivers license.
Battery: Longer battery life equals a longer range, which is always a plus. This is usually listed as a range because speed, rider weight, and terrain (i.e. uphill or downhill and street or trail) can affect a battery’s range. Typically, good e-bike batteries will get you 20 to 40 miles of range.
Style: Most customers purchase e-bikes for commuting — these kinds of bikes are described as hybrid or city models. But there are also some excellent sporty road bikes with motors, as well as electric mountain bikes. Those are bikes that take you from riding on the road to off-road adventures with ease.
Another term to keep in mind when it comes to style is “step-thru.” These kinds of bikes feature a top tube (the upper bar in the frame) that’s been lowered or removed completely for easy mounting and dismounting.
Brakes: Stopping power becomes more important with electric bikes. Look for high-quality brake systems, ideally using hydraulic technology instead of mechanical.
Size: Proper bike sizing is always key for power transfer and comfort. Be sure to check a bike’s size before buying (many bike listings will display the rider height range).
The Best Electric Bikes to Buy Right Now
Whether you’re commuting, cruising the park, or hitting the trails, electric bikes are now well worth considering. Below are some of the best electric bikes for all terrains and activities.
You can tell just by looking at the Super73-S2 that it’s not like other e-bikes. With beefy tires, a rugged, aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame, and a long seat, the S2 looks closer to a motorcycle than a bicycle. It feels more like a motorbike too, as you sit in a lower, more relaxed position. And once you’ve started up the bike, it moves with more power than others, easily hitting almost 30 miles per hour — even without the use of pedals. Lastly, 40 miles of range means you can enjoy the bike’s smooth, fun power for long rides or commutes.
In our testing, the Super73-S2 beat out other electric bikes just by feeling noticeably more sturdy, rugged, and powerful (although on paper it doesn’t seem too different than others). In other words, the S2 not only brings high-end power, but also the build quality to match that brawn. The bike does command a higher price for this unique sturdiness, but we think it’s worth it.
2. Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser
Ride1Up delivers a fantastic electric bike for a surprisingly low price, making it one of our top choices. For just under $1,600, this Cafe Cruiser gets you a powerful 750-watt motor that can reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour without pedaling, or 28 miles per hour with pedal assist (we got it up to 31 miles per hour in testing). We could feel this power at low speeds too, when blasting across busy streets or accelerating from a stop.
Motor aside, the rest of the Cafe Cruiser is equally well-designed. We rode the more laid-back step-thru model, which is made of lightweight alloy and features an integrated battery, adjustable front shocks, and a comfortable sitting position.
The Cafe Cruiser’s range is also excellent. Ride1Up says the bike will last 30 to 50 miles, and we found that to be right on the mark: Even with constant full-throttle acceleration, we clocked around 40 miles with one charge.
Overall, Ride1Up’s Cafe Cruiser is one of the best electric bikes around. It’s easy to assemble and use, and plenty of fun — whether you’re commuting or enjoying a weekend cruise.
3. Vela High-Step
This Vela High-Step is more than its good looks (and it has plenty of those). Thanks to its light frame and central, vertically-mounted battery, the Vela is the most nimble e-bike we’ve tested, making it an excellent choice for weaving through busy city streets. This agility is complemented by an incredibly smooth power delivery system — a very welcome upgrade over the jolting torque we’ve seen on some e-bikes. In short, the Vela delivers a familiar yet effortless experience: you feel like you’re riding a non-electric bike — just faster.
The Vela’s range is solid too (40 miles), though top speed is somewhat limited, compared to competitors, at 20 miles-per-hour. But, when you’re zipping through urban areas, 20mph feels plenty fast, making the Vela our top choice for any city commuter.
4. Velotric Nomad 1
If you’re looking for a comfy cruiser that can tackle dirt and sand just as easily as concrete, check out this Nomad 1 from Velotric. With extra-beefy tires, soft (adjustable) suspension, and a rugged frame, the Nomad 1 delivers an experience that’s somewhat similar to the Super73 above — only the Nomad 1 costs half the price. But the bike’s specs are much better than its price would suggest: You get up to 55 miles of range, hydraulic brakes, and a Shimano 8-speed. In our testing, the bike was also very quick: It’ll jump up to around 25 miles per hour effortlessly, and can even breach 30 with some intense pedaling.
5. Lectric XP 2.0
Although e-bikes can get pricey, you don’t need to empty the piggy bank to get a fun e-bike. Case in point is Lectric’s line of affordable, folding e-bikes, such as this XP 2.0. For less than $1,000, the XP brings an 850-watt motor joined to a reliable battery that can run for up to 45 miles. On the road, fat tires and adjustable front fork suspension provide plenty of comfort, whether you’re commuting or getting in a pleasure cruise.
But one of the best features of the Lectric XP is its folding design. This lets you break down the bike to fit in just about any trunk or medium-sized cabinet, making storage and transportation extremely easy. This is also great for safety purposes: Just fold up the bike and bring it into the office, restaurant, or store instead of locking it outside.
5. Charge Comfort
Range is a big deal with electric bikes (you don’t want to run out of juice mid-commute), making this bike from Charge very attractive. With a whopping 50 miles of range, it’s one of the longest-lasting bikes in our roundup. But it’s also designed to keep you comfortable throughout those 50-odd miles with a comfortable saddle and an easy step-thru frame.
The large battery is located under a handy cargo rack with a 44-pound weight capacity. Other convenience-minded features include automatic tire pressure sensors, puncture-resistant tires, and lights on the front and rear. Best of all, when you’re not using the Charge bike, it features fold-flat handlebars and foldable pedals for space-saving storage against a wall.
In terms of performance, the Charge Comfort is geared more towards leisure cruises with a top speed of 20 miles per hour using electric assist. Still, thanks to its durable tires and front suspension, the bike can tackle gravel, bumps, and even flat trails with ease.
6. Schwinn Coston CE
BEST STEP-THRU ELECTRIC BIKE
Pleasure cruises and relaxed commutes are some of the best uses for an electric bike. This Schwinn Coston CE is geared towards those kinds of rides with a relaxed step-thru frame (for easy mounting and dismounting), a comfortable padded seat, and a 35-mile range on one charge.
Like a few other e-bikes on our list, you can use a throttle to control the motor as well as pedal assist. That means you can stop pedaling completely and still cruise at a good clip (the top speed is 20 miles per hour). Another great feature with the Coston is its charging time, which takes just four hours to go from empty to fully juiced.
If you’re looking for a smooth cruise, or you have a relatively flat, relaxed commute, this is a great choice.
7. Amalfi Coastal in Matte Black
If you want something close to a road bike but not quite as aggressive, check out this Amalfi Coastal e-bike. Featuring a streamlined frame with a barely-noticeable motor, the bike is well-designed for maneuvering through traffic or cruising in protected bike lanes. The battery can carry you as far as 25 miles and takes as little as two hours to charge.
The bike’s non-electric components are just as solid. Instead of a chain drive, it uses a long-lasting carbon belt (that won’t rub lubrication on your pants). Other performance-driven features include effective hydraulic disc brakes, an internal gear hub, and a CST gear shifter.
8. RadRover 6 Plus Step-Thru
The beefy tires and rugged front shocks on this RadRover 6 Plus from Rad Power Bikes should give you an idea of its formidable performance. Using a robust 750-watt motor, the bike is especially capable of climbing steep hills and powering through gnarly trails. Stopping power is equally good thanks to a hydraulic braking system.
The motor can go as far as 45 miles on one charge, making it one of the longest-range bikes in our roundup. Because the RadRover 6 Plus is a step-thru bike, it’s also easy to get on and off, and it fits riders from five-foot-two to six-foot-two. It’s a tough bike overall, and the long-range battery makes it even more attractive.
9. Haibike Allmtn 3
Most mountain bikers have those rides when we just want to reach the top and enjoy a downhill run. This Haibike Allmtn 3 lets you do that better than any non-electric mountain bike. It features a Bosch motor that puts out 75Nm of torque for smooth climbs up steep trails and a top speed of 20 miles per hour. All in all, this can transform tough uphill slogs into breezy jaunts.
Once you’re ready to head back down, the Allmtn is very well-prepared. A 150-millimeter rear shock and 160-millimeter Yari fork combine for a cushy full-suspension system, while four-piston hydraulic Shimano brakes let you stop on a dime.