#1 Ride1Up REVV 1$1,855.00100/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Ride1Up claims a maximum range of up to 60 miles.
- A tester says the REVV 1 FS feels “solid and planted”.
9 reasons not to buy
- The REVV 1’s seat can not be adjusted.
- The REVV 1 FS weighs 93 lb. The HT weighs 83 lb.
#2 Aventon Aventure$1,349.10100/100?
17 reasons to buy
- Riders find comfort in the plush Velo saddle.
- Testers report that the Aventure is stable at speed.
8 reasons not to buy
- Reviewers sought a second taillight, on the bike’s right-hand seatstay.
- Some testers are annoyed that they cannot use the throttle without pedaling.
#3 Lectric XPedition$1,399.00100/100?
12 reasons to buy
- One expert says the cadence sensor is very responsive.
- Experts appreciate the stable ride, even with a loaded rack.
9 reasons not to buy
- Riders report that the XPedition’s motor is noisy.
- The XPedition’s taillight doesn’t activate when braking.
#4 Ride1Up Rift$1,855.00100/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Testers say the Rift is comfortable to ride.
- Testers say the Rift climbs steep hills easily.
10 reasons not to buy
- One buyer received no pedals or charger and a damaged bolt.
- One reviewer cites cargo limits placed by the lack of front-end mounts.
#5 QuietKat Jeep Rubicon$6,499.0099/100?
18 reasons to buy
- An owner says that assembling the Rubicon is simple.
- The Rubicon is equipped with a big 1008 Wh battery.
5 reasons not to buy
- The Rubicon is prohibitively expensive for many aspiring e-MTBers.
- A tester says the Rubicon is difficult to pedal without assistance.
#6 Aventon Pace 500.2$1,169.1099/100?
20 reasons to buy
- At 52lb, the The Pace 500.2 is relatively light.
- The Pace 500.2 has a total weight capacity of 300lb.
4 reasons not to buy
- Neither a rack nor fenders are provided with the bike.
- Motor assistance could engage jarringly, due to the bike’s cadence sensor.
#7 Rad Power RadTrike$1,899.0099/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Testers say it fits through household doorways.
- With a low standover height, its easy to mount and dismount.
8 reasons not to buy
- The RadTrike’s top speed is 14 mph.
- At 82 lb with a steel frame, the RadTrike is heavy.
#8 Electric Bike Company Model S$2,299.0098/100?
15 reasons to buy
- The Model S can carry a maximum payload of 380lb.
- The single-speed drivetrain is simple and durable.
10 reasons not to buy
- The Model S has no bottle bosses.
- The Model S frame is one-size-fits-all.
#9 Electric Bike Company Model E$1,399.0097/100?
17 reasons to buy
- Integrated lighting is included, with dual lights at the rear.
- A steel fork dampens jounce-induced vibration over rickety roads.
9 reasons not to buy
- This bike doesn't have a rack, fenders, or bottle cage mounts.
- Customizing the Model E to your taste and needs can be pricey.
#10 Electric Bike Company Model C$2,299.0097/100?
12 reasons to buy
- The Model C supports riders up to 300lb and has a 350lb total capacity.
- Testers describe the ride feel as solid, with stable handling at high speeds.
8 reasons not to buy
- Users need a code from EBC to unlock the 28mph top speed.
- Testers say the kickstand can block the pedals when deployed.
#11 Aventon Sinch$1,399.0096/100?
13 reasons to buy
- The Sinch arrives mostly assembled.
- Owners said the Sinch’s wide Velo saddle was very comfortable.
7 reasons not to buy
- The Sinch’s M5 display unit randomly resets the odometer.
- Some riders struck their legs against the Sinch’s frame hinge.
#12 Velotric Nomad 1$1,487.0796/100?
19 reasons to buy
- The Nomad’s fit and finish impressed experts.
- Nomad frames fit riders from 5’1” to 6’9”.
6 reasons not to buy
- Racks are not included with the Nomad.
- Some testers describe Velotric’s display as ‘limited’.
#13 Heybike Cityrun$1,299.0096/100?
9 reasons to buy
- Experts and owners appreciate the easy assembly.
- Experts say the Shimano drivetrain shifts smoothly.
9 reasons not to buy
- Two reviewers are disappointed by the motor’s top-end power.
- One expert notes a two-second delay between pedaling and motor engagement.
#14 QuietKat Apex$3,999.0095/100?
15 reasons to buy
- Reviewers say that, as a torquey hardtail, the Apex climbs well.
- The Apex can haul a 325 lb payload, including rider, game and kit.
#15 QuietKat Ranger$2,897.1695/100?
11 reasons to buy
- The Ranger has plenty of power to climb hills.
- Some buyers say their Ranger came 95% assembled.
3 reasons not to buy
- Some owners say the Ranger’s paint is powdery and scratches easily.
- The Ranger’s written instructions are minimal and difficult to follow.
#16 Electric Bike Company Model R$2,399.0095151 reviews
#17 Rambo The Bushwacker$4,299.9995106 reviews
#18 Himiway Cruiser$1,239.0095218 reviews
#19 Rad Power RadRunner 3 Plus$2,299.009516 reviews
#20 Electric Bike Company Model A$1,399.00955 reviews
#21 Ecotric Rocket$799.009483 reviews
#22 Velowave Ranger$1,234.0594165 reviews
#23 Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus$1,399.009313 reviews
#24 Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus Step-Thru$1,799.009313 reviews
#25 Denago Fat Tire$1,799.00933 reviews
#26 Rambo The Nomad$4,299.999333 reviews
#27 Aventon Aventure.2$1,799.009324 reviews
#28 Flyer M880$1,799.009312 reviews
#29 ENGWE EP-2 Pro$839.0092456 reviews
#30 Magicycle Deer$2,001.33925 reviews
#31 Addmotor M-560 P7$1,699.009217 reviews
#32 JackRabbit$999.999211 reviews
#33 Addmotor E-53 CityPro$1,299.00913 reviews
#34 Denago Commute Model 1$1,799.00914 reviews
#35 Flyer L885$1,999.00913 reviews
#36 Lectric XPremium$1,599.00915 reviews
#37 Rambo The Pursuit$2,299.999143 reviews
#38 Heybike Mars$889.0091608 reviews
#39 Rad Power RadRunner Plus$1,799.009133 reviews
#40 Velotric Discover 1$1,301.07919 reviews
#41 Aventon Sinch Step-Through$1,499.00907 reviews
#42 Rambo The Roamer$3,499.999048 reviews
#43 Rambo The Rooster$1,699.999018 reviews
#44 Aventon Sinch.2$1,499.00901 reviews
#45 Denago Folding 1$1,499.00903 reviews
#46 Magnum Metro$1,899.00905 reviews
#47 Addmotor E-43 CityPro$1,299.00893 reviews
#48 Rambo The Ryder$2,999.998920 reviews
#49 Denago City Model 1$1,299.00893 reviews
#50 DYU D3F$431.4689121 reviews
#51 Blix Dubbel$1,849.00892 reviews
#52 Magnum Payload$2,899.00893 reviews
#53 QuietKat Ibex$4,986.558910 reviews
#54 Himiway Cobra$2,339.008929 reviews
#55 Velowave Ghost$1,099.0089102 reviews
#56 Addmotor M-330 P7$2,659.058816 reviews
#57 QuietKat Warrior$2,000.008829 reviews
#58 Addmotor M-81$1,599.00881 reviews
#59 G-FORCE ZM$1,699.008822 reviews
#60 Denago City Model 2$1,399.00881 reviews
The BikeRide Guide to Choosing the Best Class 2 Electric Bike
Electric bikes use an electric motor, along with pedals and some of the gearing of a traditional bicycle. This helps riders to travel longer distances and up more hills, than would otherwise be possible with their own energy.
Electric bikes are great for anyone looking to travel further than they could on an unpowered bike. This makes ‘e-bikes’ suitable for commuters, senior cyclists, delivery workers and riders with compromised ability.
Class 2 e-bikes offer throttle-only power, which means that riders can accelerate without pedaling at all. In most nations, it’s a requirement that electric bikes are partially human-powered.
The uses for an e-bike are as varied as the uses for regular bicycles.
On Class 2 electric bikes, the motor can be activated by a throttle, without any pedal assistance.
Many of the best Class 2 electric bikes also have a pedal-assist function.
Electric assistance is limited to 20mph. Any further acceleration past this speed, will be due to the rider’s own effort. Like Class 1 e-bikes, Class 2 e-bikes are permitted to be ridden in the same areas as regular push-bikes (streets, bike lanes and multiple-use bike paths).
Class 2 e-bikes are less common outside of the U.S. and China, where they are more highly regulated.
Class 2 e-bikes offer a throttle-only option; activated by a trigger, button or grip-twist handle. Using a throttle, you can activate the motor without pedaling. This is useful when taking off from a dead stop at traffic lights.
Working the throttle without pedal assistance will drain an e-bike’s battery fairly quickly.
In addition to an independently-operated throttle, most Class 2 e-bikes also feature multiple levels of pedal assist. The motor kicks in when you begin pedaling.
In many countries, only ‘purely pedal assist’ e-bikes can be ridden without a license or registration. In the United States, these are categorized as ‘Class 1’ and ‘Class 3’ e-bikes.
On the best electric bikes, pedal assist operates intuitively. It should allow you to maintain a desired level of input and fitness, according to the level of assistance that you choose.
Most e-bikes have 3 to 5 levels of pedal assist available. They’ll also give you the option of disabling the motor. With no throttle or pedal assistance, your e-bike acts like a regular (but heavy) push-bike.
Commuters and Urban / City Bikes
The most popular types of e-bike are commuter and urban bikes. Many riders are looking for an e-bike that can get them to work over long distances without working up a sweat.
You’ll want all the features that you would seek in a pedal-powered commuter, plus a moderately powered motor and battery capacity (unless you are commuting exceptionally long distances).
Tough U-locks and a removable battery are essential if you are locking up your e-bike in a public area.
Folding e-bikes are also popular as commuters. They suit a multi-modal work commute that also involves using a train, bus, car or ferry.
For some riders, they can be used in conjunction with travel, to suit being transported by car or stored in a mobile home or boat. A folder may suit you if you live in an apartment.
A good folding bike is small, light and often used for shorter distances. This means that you can get away with a less powerful motor and a battery of moderate capacity. These factors help to lower the overall weight of an electric folding bike.
Electric Mountain Bikes – ‘E-MTBs’
Electric mountain bikes (e-MTBs) are available in both hardtail (front-suspension) and full-suspension varieties. They are ideal for avoiding exhaustion on all-day rides, by hauling riders to the top of downhill runs.
For more details, please refer to our guide to choosing and buying an electric mountain bike.
Fat Tire E-Bikes
Hauling heavy tires through snow, mud or sand can get tiring and limit rides to shorter distances.
The extra boost from a pedal-assist system can allow riders to carry more and ride further. A powerful motor and high capacity battery are important here.
But electric fat bikes are not just a niche choice.
Many first-time e-bike buyers head straight for a bad-ass, do-anything, monster-truck look and floaty ride style.
This can only be provided by a big bike with balloon tires. There are many models to choose from, in all price ranges.
A recent sector of e-biking has appeared with the emergence of e-Gravel bikes. You’ll be looking for all the usual gravel bike bike features available in your price range, plus a few specific to the electric bike world.
Gravel is more of a performance sector. High-speeds, long distances and efficiency are priorities. As such, you might look to light-weight builds with high-capacity batteries.
Electric cargo bikes offer an exciting alternative to the family car. Some families have even sold their second or only vehicle after purchasing a versatile cargo e-bike. High quality specimens can be configured to carry two children, in conjunction with a load of groceries.
For anyone employed in the delivery business, electric bikes provide a cheap means of transporting cargo, especially in urban areas. Running costs are low. Also, an electric bike can easily wend its way through heavy traffic and won’t need a parking spot when it reaches its destination.
Electric cargo bikes are usually quite heavy. In conjunction with the big loads that they’re expected to lug, the drain on batteries can be considerable. Look for a high capacity battery or a dual-battery system. You’ll also need a reasonably powerful motor and a system that expresses considerable torque.
Rehab and Limited Ability
For whatever reason, you may have a limited ability to cycle. This could be due to age, injury or a physical disability. E-bikes can be a great way to supplement or rebuild strength.
Depending on your intended use, you’ll have different requirements concerning motor wattage, battery capacity, torque, build and configuration.
For some, a retro-styled e-bike is the way to go. If this is the direction you’re heading, then performance and speed probably aren’t your top priorities.
On your old-school roller, you can get away with a moderately-powered motor expressing average torque.
Even so, some of these frames are large and heavy. So you’ll need at least enough battery and ‘oomph’ to reach optimum cruising speeds.
Electric Road Bikes
Electric road bikes allow riders to ride for longer at faster speeds. They assist less-able or older riders to maintain pace with their riding group.
Most electric road cyclists prefer to pedal actively throughout a ride. For this reason, most road e-bikes are Class 1 electric bikes, being configured to rely on active pedal-assist. Throttles are not common.
Most of these bikes are lightweight and are equipped with streamlined motors and batteries that are smaller than those found on other electric bikes.
Because e-Road bikes are so lightweight, the decrease in motor size and battery capacity does not necessarily translate to less power or battery range.
|Most electric road bikes are Class 1 e-bikes|
Sometimes, approaching the world of e-bikes can be daunting. Even if you are a clued-up cyclist and bike aficionado, the additional knowledge needed to make a discerning e-bike purchase can be bewildering. But it needn’t be. You don’t have to be an electrical or electronics engineer, but it’s handy to have a few terms under your belt.
Watt Hours (Wh)
On your e-bike, ‘Watt hours’ is a measure of available energy. This is probably the most important measurement to look for in your e-bike specs. It will be abbreviated as ‘Wh’ and is the most reliable measurement of your bike’s battery capacity.
In gas-guzzling terminology, think of it as the size of your fuel tank. In simple terms, the higher the number of Watt hours, the more range that is available to you. The amount of energy that your battery has available is known as its ‘capacity’.
Watt hours can be calculated if you have access to the voltage and amp hour figures for a bike’s battery. It’s a simple calculation.
- 24V x 20Ah __= 480Wh
- 36V x 10Ah __= 360Wh
- 36V x 11Ah __= 396Wh (≈ ‘400wh’)
- 48V x 17.5Ah = 840Wh
So what does it mean, this term ‘Watt hours’ ? A ‘Watt’ is a unit of power. ‘Watt hours’ is a measurement of power used over a period of time and represents a measure of ‘energy’.
In terms of what you need to know, regarding your e-bike purchase:
A 250Wh battery can deliver:
- 250 watts for 1 hour
- 500 watts for 30 minutes
- 125 watts for 2 hours
How does this translate to your ride? If you are really working the throttle at its limit, your battery will last half the time that it would if you were running the battery at half of its capacity. Simply put, if you lay off the juice and contribute some pedal power, your battery lasts longer.
A bigger battery will take you further, but can add considerable weight.
“But how far?”, I hear you ask.
This varies according to a number of factors, including:
- Bike weight
- Rider weight
- Rider input (pedal power)
- Wind speed (and direction) – this can dramatically affect energy consumption
One expert puts it like this:
“On a lightweight electric bike, on typical fairly flat roads, not much wind or none at all, while barely pedaling… not working up a sweat, on pumped tires, typical 200lb or less rider, expect burn rates of 17 watt hours per mile on average… It can be much more or much less depending on countless factors but this is a realistic number to start with.”10
Therefore, as this same expert goes on to say, “A 36V 10Ah battery pack with 360Wh of capacity would… in theory provide 22 miles (36km) of range, from a full 100% charge.”
These calculations are much more straightforward if you pay attention to the kilometer figures in the calculations (and convert them to miles). From this info, you can easily work out what battery would be suitable for you. Is your commute longer or shorter than 22 miles, return? If so, and you were using the battery mentioned above, you wouldn’t have to charge at your destination.
In reference to an e-bike’s battery and on manufacturer’s specifications, ‘Amp hours’ should always be listed.
For the buyer of a new bike, Amp hours is useful in calculating Watt hours.
This is done by using the aforementioned formula:
Voltage x Amp Hours = Watt Hours
Amp hours will almost always be within the range of 8Ah to 28Ah.
Voltage relates to the entire system on an e-bike. Voltage pushes the flow of energy and generally relates to speed. The higher the voltage, the faster your e-bike can go. A 36V system won’t necessarily use a battery that’s exactly 36V, but it will be close.
Usually, new e-bike systems sit between 24V and 48V. There are also 52V options.
To simplify, torque describes the amount of power available to you at lower revolutions (RPMs). In straightforward on-road terms, the benefits are two-fold. A motor with higher torque will give you more power from a dead stop. It will also help you climb hills at a faster speed, for a longer period of time.
Torque is measured in ‘Newton Meters’ and you’ll see it listed in e-bike specs, using the abbreviation ‘Nm’. Lighter bikes require less torque, so 40 to 50Nm should be plenty, while e-mountain and cargo bikes need more torque to overcome heavier loads and troublesome terrain. Expect figures up to and beyond 75Nm.
|This mid-drive motor claims up to 160Nm of torque|
We’ve discussed how technical factors relate to range, but what should you expect when you’re shopping around? If you are consulting a seller about your needs, they should be able to give you advice based on a few factors. It’s a good idea to either consult an expert (who can give you trusted advice), or use the information available (to assess the specifications listed for new e-bikes).
The reason for this, is that some vendors and manufacturers may overstate range expectations.
Using either of these methods, an expert or yourself should assess your needs based on:
- Your genre and style of riding (commuting, mountain bike, gravel, cargo etc)
- The amount of pedaling you’ll contribute vs. the amount of pedal-assist that you’ll require
- Your own weight
The average range of an e-bike, using moderate levels of assist, is around 20 to 35 miles. Do you need more than this in a day? For most riders’ commuting needs, this is ample.
For bigger cargo needs, you may need more power and a bigger battery. Previously, we mentioned how range is affected by a number of factors including; wind, elevation, pedal effort and the combined weight of you and your cargo.
Your range is also influenced by how you use the motor. A lot of stop-starting and throttling will tear through juice in a rapid fashion.
The resistance of muddy, slippery or snowy surfaces will require more effort from your battery to overcome.
One of the factors that is mostly outside of the rider’s control, is the outside temperature. Both extremes of weather can lead to deficits in battery capacity. First in the short-term, then eventually degrading the capacity on a long-term basis.
Now that you get the basics, let’s look at the important components that make up an e-bike.
The battery-pack you see on e-bikes looks like a singular unit. It usually takes the appearance of a long, black box.
Within this ‘battery pack’, a number of smaller battery units are connected together in succession (as a pack).
Once you’ve got the basic technical factors sorted, you can understand your battery needs. The experts advise to seek out a battery that offers slightly longer range than what you’ll usually need. This will cover you when you inevitably get lost on a lonely, unlit highway, far from home.
Many first-timers aim for a huge battery, in an effort to cover the longest possible ride. The problem here is that large batteries add considerable weight. This extra weight slows you down and requires more power to overcome, creating a Catch 22 situation. In any event, ‘slightly more than what’s needed’ is a good yardstick.
Some bikes come pre-configured to accept a dual-battery setup. This means that you can keep weight down and use a single battery on less-demanding trips, while having the option to slot in a second battery on epic quests and trips to the lumber yard. A second battery means double the range, but double the weight.
Many bikes come with a lockable battery. You will be provided with a key that allows you to lock your battery pack to your bike’s frame.
Almost all modern battery packs are removable. This allows you to charge the battery wherever a convenient outlet is located.
Just as importantly, it allows you to remove the pack to prevent theft. But if you’re just spending two minutes to dash into the bodega for a loaf of bread, it could be more convenient to lock the pack and leave it where it is.
Most batteries are expected to last for 300 to 1000 charge ‘cycles’ or for around 3 to 5 years. After this period, your battery will not last as long as it did when box-fresh. It’s natural for battery life to reduce over time.
Most major brands give their batteries a 2-year warranty.
|Temperature extremes can be detrimental to battery capacity|
Experts advise e-bikers to seek a battery that has a two year warranty, at minimum. Other factors that affect battery life include:
- Use with heavy cargo loads
- Exposure to extremes of temperature
- Frequency of charging
(a battery should be charged at least every three months)
It’s a good idea to make every effort to prolong your battery’s life, as they can cost from a few hundred to as much as $1500 to replace.
Chargers & Charging
Manufacturers will often state how long it takes to fully charge the battery on an e-bike model. This information can be invaluable. If you’re someone who has a long commute, you might need to charge-up for a few hours at your destination. Or, you might not have this opportunity.
Charging times vary according to the capacity of your battery and the amperage of your charger. 2-amp and 3-amp chargers are common stock options that are often sold with new e-bikes.
If your e-bike comes with a 4-amp charger, you’re in luck. This is considered to be a ‘fast charger’.
It’s possible to charge a battery at either a fast or slow rate, though persistent ultra-fast-charging will lessen the life of your battery.
This device is the brain of your e-bike. It’s connected to your bike’s battery, motor and throttle. It controls the movement of power from the battery to the motor, by pulsing on and off very quickly. This function is known as ‘Pulse Width Modulation’ (PWM).
It prevents excess stress and overheating of your battery, as well as ensuring that your motor doesn’t overheat. What this means, is that you can’t instantly slam the throttle from a dead stop to full bore.
The controller sets a limit of how many Amps are allowed to flow to the motor. This is known as the controller’s ‘maximum amp rating’.
The ‘maximum amp rating’ can radically affect how much power is available to you.
Many sellers will advertise their e-bike models according to the motor’s wattage. Mostly, you’ll see 250, 350, 500 and 750-watt e-bikes. At first, this may come across as a straightforward way to determine the power of your desired e-bike. However, wattage means very little on its own. It’s important to take into account your battery’s voltage and the maximum current (in amps), that your e-bike’s controller can handle.
An e-bike with a 36-volt battery and a 15-amp controller is capable of putting out 540 watts at peak power. 36 x 15 = 540. This is the case, even if it’s advertised as having a ‘250 watt’ motor. So you might be getting more power than you originally expected.
The intricacies of e-bike power ratings can become very detailed. You can find resources online to satisfy your deepest level of curiosity. For now, let’s go into the other characteristics of e-bike motors.
There are two main types of e-bike motor, each being positioned differently on your new e-bike. They both have benefits and drawbacks.
Hub motors are situated within the hub of an e-bike’s rear or front wheel. On new e-bikes, rear hub-driven motors are common. They are the most affordable option available. Front-driven hub motors are becoming less popular and are usually found on electric conversions of standard bicycles.
There are two main types of hub motor:
- Direct Drive
Geared hub motors use internal nylon gears to reduce the motor’s output to optimal speed and efficiency. This makes them more complicated but lighter than direct drive systems.
They offer more torque and are a bit noisier than direct drive systems, which are simpler, more reliable and more powerful. But they’re heavier and larger than geared options, resulting in more demand on your battery.
|A geared hub motor|
- Hub motors are usually the cheaper option
- As a reliable, self-contained system, it requires minimal maintenance
- If your chain breaks, you can ride home solely on the power of the electric hub
- If your hub motor fails, you can pedal home using your bike’s drivetrain
- Hub motors put less stress on the bike’s other gearing components
Things to Consider
- Hub-driven systems can overheat on long, steep climbs
- They’re heavier than mid-drive options
- Tire changes can be complicated, involving disconnecting motor wires
- Direct-drive motors don’t have any internal gears
- Geared hub motors have a single gear ratio
- Having a heavy hub motor on the rear or front wheel can imbalance an e-bike
- Spokes are more likely to break, due to the weight of the hub in the wheel
- The width of a hub motor may limit cassette gears to seven speeds
- Tire widths are limited by the rim that’s attached to the hub motor
- Hub motor cadence sensors may result in lurchy or awkward motor timing
Rear wheel hub motors may place too much weight at the rear of your e-bike.
Front hub driven systems have decreased in popularity. With minimal weight on the front-end of most bikes, riders can easily spin-out under torque, on wet and slippery surfaces. This has led to a number of wipe-outs.
Mid-drive motors are situated between the cranks of your e-bike. These motors require a specific kind of frame, that accommodates a motor in place of a regular bike’s bottom bracket. What’s the skinny?
- A central location leads to even weight distribution on your e-bike
- They are typically lighter and smaller than a hub motor of comparable power
- Direct pedaling input leads to more range, especially across climbs
- Tire changes are unaffected by mid-drive motors
- A torque sensor accurately meters out assistance according to pedal power
- Riders generally report a smoother ride quality
- Tackles steeper hills for longer than a hub motor of similar power
- More open to different set-ups that use standardized bike components
Things to Consider
- They’re usually the more expensive option
- These motors depend on more rider input, through pedal-power
- Mid-drives wear harder on chains and cassettes
- They are more complex and require more maintenance than hub motors
- Most brands don’t offer repair options outside of warranties
|A mid-drive motor on an electric mountain bike|
Choosing a Motor
Hub-Driven Motors offer maximum assistance for less pedal effort. This suits senior riders or those with a disability, as well as anyone seeking physical rehabilitation for an injury.
But they’re also great for anyone who’s a less-experienced or less-frequent cyclist. If you’re a new rider or returning to cycling, a hub-driven e-bike may be for you.
Mid-Drive Motors suit riders who want a boost, but who still want to stay fit. They are the preferred option for experienced cyclists. Riders who know how to change gears will be able to attain an efficient ride and extend the life of a mid-drive e-bike.
- Direct-drive hub motors have less torque than geared hub motors
- Geared hub motors are the choice for more torque, from a hub-driven option
- Mid-drive motors in low gear, can climb steeper hills for longer than a similarly powered hub motor
There’s nothing unique about e-bike brakes. But with consistently high speeds and extra weight (compared to a regular push-bike), you’ll be seeking ample stopping power.
Almost all e-bikes use disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are reliable and easily adjusted. Hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful but may require professional adjustment and repair.
Some cheaper e-bikes come fitted with rim brakes, usually as V-brakes. You may also find drum brakes on a rear wheel, sometimes used in combination with a front wheel rim brake. Be wary of the increased stopping distance and foresight that these brakes will require.
|A hydraulic disc brake and rear hub motor|
Electric bikes are heavier than their pedal-powered counterparts. That’s just a fact. Maybe one day, this won’t be true. But for now, it’s unavoidable. A motor, battery and cabling all add up to decent heft.
Eventually, most e-bikers run into the unexpected situation where they run out of battery. It’s important to consider how heavy an e-bike is to pedal unpowered. Some e-bikes are relatively easy to propel on flat ground, without juice. Others can be a real slog.
There is another situation where the weight of your bike can have heavy implications.
If you live in an apartment or walk-up, carrying some e-bikes can be almost impossible. Others aren’t too much of a problem.
Here’s a rough idea of e-bike weight ranges:
Commuter, City and Hybrid Bikes commonly sit somewhere between 33lb and 55lb, but can get as heavy as 100lb. ‘Moped-style’ e-bikes can reach 120lb.
Full-Suspension e-Mountain-Bikes: Lighter, more expensive models can be as svelte as 37lb, which aids maneuverability on technical trails and jumps. Full-suspension fat bikes can weigh up to 100lb.
Retro-style e-Bikes may have large, sweeping frames. They suit a casual riding style that isn’t radically affected by extra bulk. They often weigh between 55lb and 65lb.
E-Road Bikes are the lightest of all, with an overall weight as low as 19lb. Most sit somewhere between 28lb and 31lb. These trim figures are reflected in the high prices of these bikes.
Electric cargo bikes present the heaviest options, weighing in above 70lb. But these rigs may be capable of carrying as much as 440lb in extra baggage.
$500 to $700
At this price, expect e-bikes with a hub-driven motor in a configuration that may be similar to an e-bike conversion. You can source bikes at this price from big-box retailers. Componentry and gearing will be similar to the level of a low-cost big-box bike. Some folding e-bikes come in at this price range.
Most bikes in this range are urban commuters or present as ‘mountain bike-style’. Some will have mechanical disc brakes. Others are set up with rim brakes (V-brakes) or even drum brakes. Heavier aluminum and steel frames can be expected.
On low cost bikes, front suspension is not unheard of. At this price, it can offer limited benefits and durability. It’s possible that cheap suspension will only add complexity and weight, without real benefits. 36V motors are affordable in this price range.
The price savings you receive from online retailers are due to the fact that many of these manufacturers don’t have to pay for a ‘middleman’ or storefront. Your e-bike will be partially assembled for packaging and transport. Keep in mind that any warranty that’s offered may be contingent on having your e-bike professionally assembled by your local bike mechanic.
After-market servicing and parts may or may not be locally available.
$700 to $1400
Motors at this price range are mostly hub-driven. Frames are usually mid-range aluminum.
Componentry may be similar to that found on a $250 to $500 pedal-powered bike. Most bikes in this range are commuters and city bikes.
$1400 to $2500
In this arena, quality shoots up a notch. Known brand-name mid-drive systems enter the fray, including Bosch and Shimano. Frames may be of a lighter, higher-quality aluminum construction.
Handy extras include racks, mudguards and lights that are integrated into the bike’s electrical system. Many of these bikes are still urban/city/commuter types but some lower-end and flat-bar road bikes also become available.
A few mid-range, hardtail e-MTBs can also be found. Hydraulic disc brakes are now common.
$2500 to $3500
In this range, your dollar gets you a more powerful mid-drive motor and a higher-capacity battery.
Hydraulic disc brakes should be standard. Integrated lights and accessories can be expected, while name-brand components are a given.
At the least, frames should be high-quality aluminum.
$3500 to $10000 and Beyond…
In this corner, we have full-suspension electric mountain bikes, high-end commuters, performance e-Gravel, drop-bar e-Road bikes and reliable cargo machines.
Components are lightweight, high quality and durable. Racing rigs are fast and light, with concealed batteries and inconspicuous motors. Many are made from carbon fiber.
Motors will be powerful and batteries are high capacity. Some options come ready-built to incorporate a second battery in a dual setup.
It pays to consider the inclusion of extras and integrated accessories as part of the cost of your new e-bike.
Some e-bikes come fitted with front and rear lights. The best systems are connected to your e-bike’s battery and can be operated from a switch on the handlebar.
Other e-bikes are equipped with fenders and racks. A chainguard may be integrated into the design of your e-bike. It’s a sure way to keep your clothes grease-free on commutes.
In the United States, electric bike laws vary massively from state to state. In many areas, electric bikes are classed into three categories. This affects where you can ride your chosen e-bike and how fast you can ride it.
Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes can not be operated by a throttle without applying pedal-power. This feature is reserved exclusively for Class 2 e-bikes.
All classes are limited to a motor size of 750 Watts.
It’s best to check your local laws before purchasing an electric bike. This is especially true when you are ordering a bike online, as it may be tuned to match the laws of another state or country.
E-bikes are not illegal and you needn’t fear that you’re flouting the law by buying and owning one. Local governments and authorities are also users of electric bikes.
In the last decade, cyclists have realized that e-bikes are a great way to ride for longer distances and at higher speeds. Electric bikes allow many cyclists to make that long-distance commute to work, while leaving their car in the garage.
In times past, e-bikes were sometimes seen as exclusive to a less-able or less-motivated rider base. Some competitive cyclists looked down on them. This is no longer the case. They even have their own dedicated professional racing events.
In recent years, e-bikes have revealed themselves as one of the fastest-growing transport solutions in built-up metropolitan areas, worldwide.
Whatever your reason for choosing to go electric; shop around, choose wisely and ride on!
- See our guide to Electric Bikes in all classes.
- Have questions about which bike to choose? Ask in our Forum.
- Want to win a bike instead of buying one? See our bike Giveaway.
- Find out more about BikeRide.
- Energuide.be, How Long Does the Battery of My Electric Bike Last?
- Micah Toll, Electric Bicycle Hub Motors vs. Mid-Drive Motors
- Jim Turner, What Is Torque in an Electric Bike?
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Monthly Update
- Micah Toll, The Myth of Ebike Wattage
- Electric Bike Review, What Are Electric Bike Classes and Why Do They Matter?
- Transportation Insight for Vibrant Communities, Electric Bicycle Laws by State
- NITC, Regulations of E-Bikes in North America
- NCSL, State Electric Bicycle Laws | A Legislative Primer
- Gaston Daigle, Electric Bike Batteries Explained
- Reece Stevenson, Electric Bike Batteries & Motors – Everything You Need to Know
- Juiced Bikes, Electric Bike Range Test