Despite what your grandfather might think, electric bikes are not a passing fad like pogs (look them up) or 3D TV (yes, that was also briefly a thing). Ebikes are the present and future of biking; they make riding easier without fully eliminating the exercise you get from pedaling. Electric bikes can augment your traditional pedal power, reducing the effort you need to apply to get from here to there. An ebike lets you scale steep hills with ease, and never leaves you in a lurch—even if you run the battery completely empty, it’s still a bike that you can pedal home the old-fashioned way. And some of the best electric bikes also include a throttle you can use to power the bike without pedaling at all, turning your bike into a completely electric vehicle for as long as you mash down on the lever.

Ready to step into the world of electric bikes? As an avid ebiker—I’ve spent time on countless ebikes and compared them side-by-side while riding all over Southern California—I am here to warn you to get ready for a little sticker shock. The least expensive ebikes start just under $1,000, which is a lot more than a traditional bike. Even so, many bikes in that price range are a study in the art of compromise. Stepping up to $2,000 buys you a lot more bike, something almost any rider can be satisfied with. Of course, if you want a truly premium experience, you can spend $4,000, $6,000 or more.

Ebikes tend to fill the same niches as traditional bikes, with models designed for roles like city commuting and mountain biking. But aside from that, you’ll see a lot of different bike designs. Some bikes feature batteries conspicuously mounted to the frame, while others hide the battery and electronics in the downtube so the bike mostly blends into the crowd. There are bikes with motors mounted mid-body and some with hub motors in the rear wheel. There are bikes with throttles and some that only offer pedal assist. Some even fold up for portability. Because there is no single best ebike—only the best bike for you—here’s a roundup of the best models to suit every kind of rider.

Best Ebike Overall

This From-The-Future Ebike Has A Built-In Security System

VanMoof electric bikes have a dedicated fanbase, and it’s easy to see why. For about $2,000—not a bargain, per se, but pretty affordable as electric bikes go—the VanMoof S3 feels like one of the most advanced, innovative and elegant bikes around. It features an automatic electronic gear shifter that’s remarkably smooth under almost all shifting conditions. The motor is very quiet, delivers a top speed of 20mph, and has a push-button turbo boost. It has a range of 37-93 miles, depending upon how you ride.

It’s also built around a very stylish frame with a completely enclosed chain. There’s a built-in headlight, hydraulic brakes and integrated battery (which is one major disadvantage—you can’t remove the battery for charging). A built-in security system immobilizes the rear wheel and activates an onboard alarm with the press of a button or from the mobile app. It even has a tracking system in case of theft. It’s not the single fastest, cheapest or most cargo-friendly option, but it does everything with enough charm to make it the best overall choice.

Best Value Electric Bike

The 700 Series Is Equipped Like A Much More Expensive Bike

There’s a difference between the best value bike and the best budget bike. To clarify, Ride1Up has a rep for selling bikes that give you more than you’d expect for its price tag. In other words, it’s not the cheapest bike you can buy, but it’s the best value. To wit, the Ride1Up 700 Series gives you a truly impressive amount of performance and features for just $1,695 (read the full review). An all-around city and commuting bike, it’s a full Class 3 ebike, which means that you can go as fast as 28mph using pedal assist or 20 mph with the throttle. It’s powered by a beefy 750-watt motor and a 48-volt battery with a capacity that should deliver somewhere between 30-50 miles of range. You get an 8-speed Shimano trigger shifter that controls the Shimano Acera derailleur and hydraulic disc brakes. Speaking of hydraulics, its hydraulic suspension is comfortable around town but also has a lockout that essentially turns it into a mountain bike, agile on steep terrain.

The frame is gorgeously sculpted with the battery sculpted into the downtube, so it scarcely looks like an ebike if you’d rather it not look like a relic from a sci-fi movie. And Ride1Up includes a few extras in the base price, like integrated front and rear lights which draw power from the battery and can be controlled from the digital display. You also get fenders and a rear rack. While it’s not the cheapest ebike you can buy, if you are choosing between this and a $1,000 budget model, just a few hundred additional bucks buys you so much more that the Ride1Up 700 Series is almost certainly the smart move.

Best Folding Electric Bike

Folds So Small It Almost Fits In A Suitcase

The RadMini sort of has it all: It’s electric, it folds, and it’s even a fat bike. But let’s start with the best feature: It can quickly and easily fold up—for carrying up stairs, storing in your cubicle at the office, or just to chain it up on the street. It doesn’t require any tools or a lot of brawn. Just activate the hinge and the whole bike folds in half, and you can optionally lower the handlebars to give the bike the smallest possible footprint. It also includes multiple safety features to prevent the hinge from accidentally unlatching when you don’t want it to.

Despite the modest folding frame, the bike is sturdy and the ride is comfortable. You get a beefy 750-watt motor that offers a max speed of 20mpg and a 45-mile range with 7 speeds to choose from. The bike can carry up to 275 pounds, which should give you a little extra cargo capacity. You also get a backlit LCD display that indicates speed, pedal assist level and more, along with a half-twist throttle and both front and rear LED lighting.

Best Budget Electric Bike

Affordable, Folding, Class 3 And Easily Upgradeable

Electric bike prices tend to bottom out around $1,000—it just isn’t practical to make an ebike for much less. Lectric’s XP 2.0 might be among the cheapest bikes you can buy (it lists for $1100, but seems to be permanently on sale for $1000), but it’s so thoughtfully designed that it’s a genuinely good choice for city riders on a budget, not some sort of reluctant consolation prize.

The Lectric XP 2.0 is powered by a 500-watt rear hub motor with a 48-volt battery that can get you as much as 45 miles on a single charge. It’s a Class 3 bike that tops out at 28mph on pedal assist and 20mph with the throttle. It has integrated lights, fenders, 3-inch fat tires and—surprisingly—even a hydraulic suspension. Of course, we’ve buried the lede: This is a foldable bike, easily folding to about half its normal size thanks to a locking hinge in the middle of the frame.

Of course, no $1000 bike is going to be perfect; at 64 pounds, it’s a little heavy. The twist throttle isn’t nearly as convenient as a lever and the mechanical disc brakes lack the power of hydraulics. But the price is copmpelling, and Lectric has mostly made the right choices about how to balance cost against performance. There are even inexpensive upgrade kits to add a more comfy suspension seat post and both front and rear cargo baskets.

Best Cargo Electric Bike

Ready For Anything, Including A Pair Of Baby Seats

An electric bike might not let you sell the SUV, but you might be surprised by just how much cargo your e-bike can carry. Of course, to really bring home the groceries or make a run to the FedEx center, you’ll probably need more than a commuter bike with a basket hanging off the handlebars. There are some bikes that really lean into cargo, and the RadWagon 4 is one of the best. Not only is it on the cheaper end of the cargo bike spectrum, but it is powerful—the bike is built on a 750-watt motor—and has a range of about 45 miles. In addition to the usual pedal assist, there’s a throttle for unassisted power.

The frame is designed from the ground up for carrying capacity. The RadWagon can support 350 pounds and the back end modularly supports a pair of baby seats, a cargo pad, side saddles, delivery boxes and more. If you need to haul stuff, this bike is up to the challenge.

Best City Commuter Bike

An All-Around Thoughtful Design For City Dwellers

With three Charge models to choose from, the Charge City is good at exactly what the name suggests—your all-around-town daily commute or a quick trip to the grocery store. A 50-mile range is enough to get you through a full day of getting to work and errands, and the locking, removable battery is easy to disengage and carry to the office or your apartment for charging. That’s not its only concession to city living; the handlebars also fold easily for storage and there’s a small rack in back for a very modest amount of storage.

While the 250-watt motor can propel you up to 20mph with five levels of pedal assist, there’s a throttle for unpedaled propulsion as well. Don’t want to pedal? Just push the throttle (though that’ll run the battery down pretty quickly). New owners will be especially pleased with the way it arrives: mostly assembled so you can be riding about 15 minutes after hauling the box in off the porch.

Best Hybrid Commuter-Offroad Bike

One Of The Most Luxe Rides You Can Buy

Bluejay is a small female-owned electric bike brand which made a splash with its first model, the Bluejay Premiere Edition. The new Bluejay Sport is clearly an evolution of that first bike, but the Sport Edition has a more traditional diamond frame with a decidedly beefier, more capable motor, a higher top speed, and is engineered both for city commuting and off-road adventures.

The Sport is a joy to ride (read the full review). The ride is smooth and quiet, and the bike itself has a fun, vintage look about it. It’s a Class 3 bike with a top speed of 28 mph thanks to a beefy 500 watt Bafang electric motor. It delivers a full five levels of pedal assist, though it has no throttle for pedal-free propulsion. You’ll get a very respectable 75-mile maximum range on a single charge under ideal conditions, and you can carry the battery into your home to charge it up (using a key to unlock it) or just plug in inside the garage or wherever you leave the bike.

The Sport is smartly designed—it looks like Bluejay made an effort to come up with a design approach that will save you on maintenance costs, and includes extras (baskets and lights) that you often have to pay extra for on other ebikes. The nearly $4,000 price tag may rightly give you pause, but by almost every measure, it’s money well spent. 

Fastest Electric Bike

This 200-Mile Range Is Longer Than Most Electric Cars

Not everyone needs a bike like the Delfast TOP 3.0, which is a good thing considering the price. The real appeal of Delfast’s formidable TOP 3.0—for a certain kind of rider—is that it looks, feels and performs more like an electric motorcycle than a traditional e-bike. It has a massive 200-mile range, which is the longest range we have seen in a bike and rivals that of most electric cars. But it also has a top speed of 50mph, well outside the norm for any e-bike.

For its part, Delfast says the bike is equally adept as an off-road and city commuter. It has built-in side mirrors, an LED headlamp, double-disc hydraulic brakes and an integrated color display for showing trip and performance data along with navigation thanks to the built-in GPS. It’s upgradeable with a number of options and accessories, including several different cargo options.

Best Electric Mountain Bike

Pricey, But Equipped With Smarts For Regulating Your Battery

Here’s an electric bike that both looks and feels like a mountain bike; there’s no question it’s equipped for dirt trails and varying terrain. Perhaps one of the nicest compliments one can pay a bike like this is that it feels like an ordinary bike on the trail—you don’t sense the extra weight or the technology within. The fairly modest 250-watt motor assists the pedals smoothly, allowing you to pedal up to 20mph with assistance. If you hit the speed limit, the motor disengages smoothly, so you can keep pedaling without any abrupt shifts in power.

Specialized includes a cool feature it calls Smart Control. You can use smart control to regulate the motor so it reserves the desired battery capacity throughout the ride. Or there’s Shuttle Mode, which delivers max power to minimize the effort you have to put into pedaling. The battery can be removed for easy charging, and the top tube has a small display that indicates battery remaining. You can also use a mobile app that connects to the bike via Bluetooth and integrates with apps like Strava.

Best Lightweight Electric Bike

A Single-Speed Class 1 Featherweight Bike

The Propella SS is a single-minded ebike: It strives to be the lightest electric bike you can own. Sure, there are lighter ebikes out there, but you can buy a cheap car for about the same amount of money. The Propella, though? Just a tick over a grand gets you an ebike that weighs just 35 pounds—about half the weight of many of the other bikes on this list.

Of course, when the scale is the prize, a few other features get deprioritized. The SS is a Class 1 bike with a top speed of about 18.5 mph. It’s also a single speed bike (that’s what the “SS” stands for, in fact) so you won’t be doing any shifting for terrain—you’ll depend entirely on pedal assist. Speaking of pedal assist, you get a range of about 35 miles, and there’s no throttle to tear through your battery. There are no lights or fenders, but remember what you’re paying for here: A bike you can probably carry with one hand.

What are the advantages of an electric bike?

An electric bike adds an electric motor to a traditional bicycle frame to assist your pedaling, so it delivers more propulsion than what your legs can provide. That means it takes less effort for you to get from Point A to Point B—and that’s especially important for hilly terrain, because an ebike can make a steep hill no harder than level ground. Some ebikes even include a throttle so you don’t need to pedal at all, at least for short distances. Bottom line: electric bikes require less effort and often can get you where you’re going faster.

Can an electric bike go uphill?

Absolutely—any good ebike will be able to propel you uphill with less effort and more quickly than if you pedaled all on your own. Most electric bikes provide multiple power levels; you might ride at a 1 or 2 on level ground, but to comfortably pedal up a steep hill, you might increase that to a 4 or 5. This electric power setting is different than the bike’s mechanical gearing.

Do you still get exercise on an electric bike?

In general, yes, though it depends. If you’re using your ebike in its pedal assist mode, it is augmenting your leg power with additional electric propulsion. And in that situation, you’re in control of how much exercise you get. With the bike at its lowest power setting, you’ll have to do the most work. Increasing the power level means you will need to add less and less pedaling power to reach the same speed.

If your ebike has a throttle, you can stop pedaling entirely and just depress the throttle to let the bike to all the work. You won’t get any exercise this way, and it’ll run the bike’s battery down relatively quickly.

It’s also worth noting that if the battery dies during your ride or if you turn off the electric system manually, the ebike becomes a traditional bike, which you have to pedal to move with no electric assist. Want exercise? Turn off the bike and pedal it yourself.

Can you ride an electric bike if the battery has died?

Yes, that’s one of the great advantages of an ebike—you can ride it whether you’re using electric power or not. You can use pedal assist to add power to your pedaling, stop pedaling and go on throttle alone (if you have a Class 2 or Class 3 bike) or just pedal like an old-fashioned bike.

How fast does an electric bike go without pedaling?

This depends on the bike and the “class” that it falls into. Most bikes are limited to a top speed of 20mph on level ground. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If you have a Class 1 ebike, the electric motor has a top speed of 20mph but only works when you’re actually pedaling—it’s not allowed to include a throttle to move the bike without pedaling.
  • Class 2 ebikes contain a throttle that can propel the bike at up to 20mph even when you’re not pedaling—and can go up to 20mph with pedal assist.
  • Class 3 bikes are a little confusing. They all have a top speed of 28 mph, but not all Class 3 bikes have a throttle. Depending upon the state they’re sold in, some Class 3 throttles top out at 20 mph even if the bike can reach 28 mph when using pedal assist.

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