Electric bikes for adults are incredible tools that can serve as a way for riders to enjoy cycling to its fullest without limitations of age or fitness. They can also be a great environmentally-friendly replacement for a car.
With increasing numbers of people recognizing the value of electric bikes and the prices becoming more accessible, there has been an enormous increase in the demand for e-bikes worldwide. As a result, the e-bike market is expected to almost triple in value to over 90 billion from around 35 billion in 2021.
As you’ll see in our reviews below, there’s an e-bike for every type of rider and budget, from cheap folding e-bikes to high-performance gravel racers.
This article will review 15 of the best electric bikes across different budgets and disciplines and finish with a comprehensive buying guide to help you understand the various options and what would best meet your needs.
Co-op Cycles’ CTY e2.1 is a low-cost mid-drive e-bike, ideal for those who want a natural ride feel but have a limited budget.
This bike is a typical urban/commuter electric bike, equipped with all the components you need to survive in the city, including a 59-lb capacity rack, lights, fenders, and even an ABUS battery lock.
Shimano provides smooth power from its lightweight E5000 40Nm motor and 418Wh battery pack. Using the 9-speed Shimano Acera/Alivio drivetrain, you can extend the battery life up to 50 miles. Unfortunately, this battery takes over six hours to charge.
This bike’s wide 4″ Kenda Juggernaut tires and 60mm fork suspension provide grip and stability while riding on soft terrains like snow, sand, and mud or simply acting as shock absorbers on bumpy city roads.
Power comes from a 750W, 80Nm rear hub motor and a 672Wh battery which returns up to 45 miles of range when used in conjunction with the Shimano Altus drivetrain. The main issue with the RadRover 6 Plus is its high weight of 73.4 lbs.
Choose the Rad Power Bikes RadRover 6 Plus if you want a highly-capable and versatile electric bike for adventuring.
The Charge City is among the best eBikes in the commuter category thanks to its respectable range and excellent urban accessories.
The motor is a Bafang 250W hub paired with a decent 418 Wh battery, delivering max speeds of 20 mph and a range of up to 50 miles. In addition, by utilizing the 7-speed drivetrain, you can maximize your riding time.
Other notable features include fast-rolling 700C x 40 mm Goodyear Transit puncture-resistant tires, a fully equipped setup with bright front and rear lights, mechanical disc brakes, fenders, and a rear rack.
The Charge City also has a foldable handlebar that lowers the footprint of the bike, so you can easily store it even inside smaller apartments. Once folded, the bike sits flush against the wall.
The Charge City is our pick for the best value electric bike as it delivers power, range, and a premium ride feel.
Niner’s RIP e9 3-Star mountain bike is the best electric bike for enduro riding, featuring excellent electronics and premium suspension.
The platform used is a Horst-link system tuned to deliver the brand’s signature suspension kinematics. As a result, the RIP e9 feels supple and balanced and is equally at home going uphill or downhill. The suspension combines a RockShox Zeb R 160mm fork and a 150mm Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock.
Riders can rely on Bosch’s top-level Gen 4 Performance Line CX 85Nm motor to get them up any hill, no matter the gradient. In addition, a 625Wh battery will return an average range of 50 miles, plenty for a day of riding.
Niner chose a complete SRAM groupset consisting of Guide RE 200mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes and an SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. These brakes provide plenty of power, but the drivetrain isn’t very durable and loses efficiency quickly.
All things considered, you won’t get much better than the RIP e9 3-Star in this price range if you’re looking for a pure enduro electric mountain bike.
The Lectric XP 3.0 is the best folding electric bike for 2023 due to its exceptional value and functionality.
At just over $1,000, this bike isn’t going to blow you away with fancy components, but the design is robust, and it can serve a range of functions for different riders.
Firstly, the Lectric XP 3.0 comes with a sturdy folding frame that reduces to 37x18x 28″, so you can store it neatly in your trunk, at the office, or take it on public transit for your commute. In addition, it comes fully equipped with fenders, an integrated rack, lights, and a kickstand.
The XP 3.0 also has powerful 180mm rotor mechanical disc brakes for all-weather stopping, 3″ puncture-resistant tires for grip and comfort on bumpy roads and gravel paths, and a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain to maximize the battery’s range.
Power comes from a 500W, 55Nm hub motor and a 500Wh battery, returning up to 45 miles of range, plenty to cover a long commute and maximize the 150-lb capacity rear rack.
Choose the Lectric XP 3.0 if you’re on a tight budget and need a folding electric bike that can do it all.
The Ride1UP 700 Series is our pick for the best cheap electric bike. Despite its low price, this bike has reliable components, a robust and durable construction, and a smooth ride quality, indicative of a higher-priced model.
The e-bike system comprises a 500W Bafang hub motor with 60Nm of torque and a 672Wh battery, returning up to 50 miles of range and max speeds of 28mph (Class 3).
Ride1UP chose components that would deliver comfort and functionality. For example, 2.4″ puncture-resistant Schwalbe tires, a 100mm travel fork, upright geometry, and plush touchpoints provide a relaxed and enjoyable ride quality. In addition, you can choose the ST model with a step-through frame and swept-back handlebars for even more comfort.
To make urban life convenient, you get a 50-lb capacity rear rack, lights, fenders, and a kickstand. The groupset consists of powerful hydraulic disc brakes and an 8-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain with trigger shifters.
The most common complaint from 700 Series owners is the difficult assembly, which may require the help of a professional.
Add the Ride1UP 700 Series to your shortlist if you want high quality at a low price.
Trek’s brand Electra are cruiser bike specialists, and the Townie Go! 7D is their most affordable model, perfect for seniors who enjoy leisurely riding and don’t need much power.
The newest update to this bike brought integrated electronics and a more refined look. The 250Wh battery is built into the downtube and provides juice for a modest Hyena 250W hub motor. This e-bike system returns ranges up to 40 miles and 20mph max speeds.
As a cruiser e-bike, the Townie Go! 7D sports mustache handlebars, 2.35″ balloon tires, a step-through frame, and an ergonomic shock-absorbent saddle. This combination ensures a smooth and relaxed ride quality, and the low weight of 47 lbs is a bonus.
Other notable components include a Shimano Tourney 7-speed drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes, which are disappointing for under $2,000. Nonetheless, the Electra Townie Go! 7D would make an excellent urban cruiser for seniors or comfort-seeking riders.
QuietKat is a hunting electric bike brand, and the Villager is their urban model with off-road attributes mixed in.
This e-bike is built around a premium 6061 aluminum frame reinforced to handle the demands of hauling cargo and tackling off-road terrain. In addition, the rear rack is integrated into the frame to maximize carrying capacity (100 lbs).
Cannondale’s Treadwell Neo 2 EQ is a solid choice for those who want the convenience of front-loaded carrying on a reliable urban setup.
The Treadwell Neo 2 EQ has a 250W, 40Nm direct-drive hub motor. A 250Wh battery supports this motor and provides up to 47 miles of range from a five-hour charge.
A reliable 8-speed MicroSHIFT drivetrain allows you to maximize the battery’s range, and you have Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc brakes to round out the groupset. Other notable components include wide 47mm Maxxis DTR-1 tires with plenty of grip and vibration dampening, fenders, lights, and a kickstand.
Don’t look past the Treadwell Neo 2 EQ if you want a fully equipped urban commuter from a big-name brand ready to go right out of the box.
Rad Power Bikes is fast becoming the leading electric bike specialist in affordable electric bikes in the United States. The RadRunner 2 is the brand’s cheapest and most functional model, labeled the ‘jack-of-all-trades.’
The RadRunner 2 is compatible with 330 unique combinations of accessories and comes with a 120-lb capacity rear rack, fenders, lights, and a dual-sided kickstand.
Unfortunately, the RadRunner only has a single-speed drivetrain, which makes it challenging to tackle steep gradients and keep pedaling. However, the benefit is that it’s more durable and easier to maintain.
Rad Power Bikes chose a large 750W motor supported by a 672Wh battery which will last between 25 and 45 miles. Control comes from Tektro mechanical discs and Kenda’s K-Rad 3.3″ tires.
Don’t miss out on this electric utility bike if you need a cheap option for running errands or commuting.
The Level.2 by Aventon is our selection for the best electric commuter bike, thanks to its reasonable price, smooth ride quality, and solid componentry.
For the newest model, Aventon added a torque sensor to the e-bike system, resulting in a natural ride quality that cadence sensors cannot achieve. The Level.2 has a 500W motor and 672Wh combination, capable of 28mph top speeds and ranges of up to 60 miles.
Comfort comes from a suspension fork, balloon tires, and upright geometry, making this bike a joy to ride on longer commutes.
As a commuter, the Level.2 is equipped with a rear rack, lights, fenders, and a kickstand, ensuring your commutes are hassle-free. Other notable components include the 8-speed Shimano drivetrain, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, and grippy 2.1″ urban tires.
Add the Aventon Level.2 to your shortlist if you want the ultimate affordable commuter e-bike.
The Tern Quick Haul P9 Performance is a mid-range electric cargo bike that offers excellent value for money.
Firstly, you get a high-end Bosch Performance Sport 65Nm motor and 400Wh battery pack. This system will return up to 62 miles of range and hit top speeds of 28mph, with plenty of power to make the most of the 331-lb payload capacity.
As a cargo bike, the Quick Haul P9 has an extra-long rear rack (110-lb capacity) that is compatible with various accessories, including a kids’ seat.
2.1″ Schwalbe Big Apple puncture-protected tires and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes help you stay in control, even with a loaded bike. In addition, a 9-speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain offers plenty of range to tackle steeper gradients.
Overall, the Tern Quick Haul P9 has an exceptional ride quality, solid components, and a reasonable price. Choose it if you want one of the best eBikes for carrying cargo.
Cannondale’s Moterra Neo 4 is a trail/enduro eMTB designed for hard riding with a confidence-inspiring yet playful personality.
This e-bike has progressive trail geometry with a low center of gravity and a long-ish wheelbase to ensure stability at high speeds.
29er wheels, 2.6″ Maxxis tires, and 150mm of suspension in the front and rear allow you to float over chunky terrain while short chainstays keep it agile in the corners.
Unfortunately, Cannondale chose a lower-end SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain and off-brand TRP Slate G4 brakes. However, they balanced it by including Shimano’s leading STEPS EP8 mid-drive with 85Nm of torque combined with a 630Wh battery that lasts up to 75 miles.
Don’t miss out on the Moterra Neo 4 if you have a big budget and want powerful trail/enduro performance.
The Santa Cruz Skitch is an electric gravel bike built with long distances in mind and featuring endurance geometry and an incredibly lightweight design.
Most gravel bikes use slightly slacker and longer geometry to increase stability and control off-road, which is what the Skitch does as well. Therefore, it’s perfect for exploring technical gravel routes.
The carbon frame and fork complement this design with vibration-dampening properties to make long-distance gravel rides less fatiguing.
The drivetrain is SRAM’s Apex 1×12-speed, which provides unbeatable shifting quality and enough gearing to maintain a steady cadence on any gradient.
Finally, you get Fazua’s Ride 60 mid-drive e-bike system, the lightest on the market, providing a punchy 60 Nm of torque and range for many hours in the saddle.
Choose the Santa Cruz Skitch if you want premium off-road performance for all your long-distance adventures.
Choosing the best electric bike requires a basic understanding of the different designs and components and a clear idea of what you need the bike for.
Electrical components like the battery, motor, and sensors are the most important but should be taken into context with details like the frame design, geometry, weight, and tire choice.
This guide will cover the key variables to consider when searching for an electric bike.
The Different Types of Electric Bikes for Adults
Each type of traditional bike has an electric version to match it. The most common electric bikes are urban/commuter-style hybrids, but you will also find road, mountain, gravel, cargo, and hunting electric bikes.
Hybrid electric bikes – These versatile e-bikes can replace your car or as a recreational or fitness tool. Hybrids are ideal for long commutes when you want to arrive sweat-free and for general urban transport, fitness, and leisure. They vary hugely in the spec but are typically comfortable to ride and able to do various jobs.
Electric mountain bikes – The introduction of motors to mountain bikes has opened up the sport and made it more enjoyable for those who struggle on steep climbs. Now, you can zoom back to the top to take on your favorite descent over and over. eMTBs usually have powerful mid-drive motors with lots of torque and large batteries.
Electric road bikes – All leading road bike brands are creating electric alternatives to their popular models. These bikes aren’t cheap, but they often have a natural ride feel, low weight, and tons of range. In addition, they remove the limitations of fitness and age, allowing riders to go farther and faster than ever before.
Electric gravel bikes – Like eRoad, these bikes provide that extra kick and plenty of range so you can extend your gravel rides and crush long distances without worrying about your fitness level or the difficulty of the terrain. Electric gravel bikes are also ideal for bikepacking and touring and lie between e-mountain and e-road in terms of power and range.
Cargo electric bikes – Carrying huge cargo loads across the city or taking multiple children to school on the same bicycle is made simple and sweat-free by adding an e-bike system. Cargo e-bikes are typically pricey, but they are the perfect replacement for your car.
Fat tire and hunting electric bikes – Another popular category is the all-terrain fat tire and hunting e-bikes. With powerful motors, these typically slow and heavy bikes are transformed into highly-capable machines that allow you to reach remote areas, tackle snow, sand, and mud, and ride safely and comfortably in wet weather conditions.
How Much Are Electric Bikes?
The best electric bikes in 2023 can cost anywhere from $500 to $15,000. The best electric bikes typically offer value for money, are long-lasting, and serve their intended purpose. Around 50% of the models on the market are in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, including most urban, commuter, and fitness hybrids.
Electric road, mountain, and gravel models typically cost more as they are performance-based bikes. Likewise, cargo and hunting e-bikes are pricey as they are heavy-duty machines.
Electric Bike Systems: Should I Choose a Mid-Drive or Hub-Drive Motor?
The motor is one of the most influential features of an electric bike. It works in synchrony with a controller (the brain), the battery, and sensors.
Electric bike motors are positioned in one of two locations, at the wheel hub (hub-drive) or the bottom bracket (mid-drive). Almost all hub motors are in the rear wheel’s hub, but some brands place it in the front wheel, such as Brompton or GoCycle.
Bosch mid-drive motors are the most common choice on mid-range and high-end ebikes.
Hub motors power the wheel directly, which means the drivetrain is separate from the motor. As a result, these motors are cheaper, easier to use because you don’t need to consider the gearing, and slightly lighter. However, the trade-off is they are less efficient, less powerful at a given rating, and typically not as smooth-feeling as mid-drives. Mahle’s Ebikemotion X35 is an example of a high-end hub motor.
Mid-drive motors connect directly to the drivetrain by augmenting the power you generate when turning the cranks. The best electric bikes typically have mid-drives as they are the most efficient and get more range from a smaller battery. They also produce more torque at lower power ratings, are more durable, and have a natural feeling of power transfer.
It’s worth mentioning that there is no standardization of Watt rating (power) in the e-bike industry, so a manufacturer’s specified wattage doesn’t provide a reliable indication of how the bike actually feels. In addition, look out for ‘peak’ and ‘sustained’ power ratings; sustained is the important one as the motor’s peak power output can typically only last for a few seconds.
Sensors and Torque Rating
The types of sensors used in an e-bike system will largely determine the ride quality. The most common are torque and cadence sensing.
The use of torque sensors results in the most natural transfer of power because the system monitors how much power you are generating and matches it based on the gear and assistance level you have selected. In contrast, cadence sensing is more clunky, delivering power based solely on how fast you turn the pedals.
Electric mountain bikes typically come with torque sensors and high-torque mid-drive motors that provide plenty of power and a natural ride feel.
In general, hub motors use cadence sensing. However, some models, such as the Aventon Level.2, add torque sensors to improve ride quality. All mid-drives use torque sensors combined with cadence, ensuring the smoothest transfer of power possible.
Torque is an important factor for electric bike motors. High torque makes it easy to get over steep climbs, accelerate quickly, and go fast up hills. For this reason, electric mountain, cargo, and some urban e-bikes will have high torque (60Nm or more). But, of course, the trade-off is a slightly unnatural feeling when you step on the pedals.
In contrast, lightweight e-Road and some electric gravel bikes purposefully use lower torque motors (35-55Nm) for the most natural ride feel possible.
Pedal Assist and Throttle
All electric bikes have a pedal assist system (PAS), but many don’t have a throttle. Pedal assistance is supplied by the motor based on the level you choose, for example, ECO mode (e-bikes typically have three to five levels).
Class 2 ebikes come with either a thumb throttle (left) or a motorcycle-style twist throttle (right).
A throttle allows the motor to supply power to operate without pedaling, comparable to a scooter or moped. Unfortunately, most electric bikes by big-name brands do not have a throttle because they are illegal in the EU and UK. However, US-based brands like Rad Power Bikes and Aventon equip their bikes with throttles.
Batteries and Range
When choosing the best electric bike for you, it’s essential to consider how you will use it. The distances you will ride, how hilly your area is, the speed you need to go at, and how much effort you will contribute all play a role in battery performance and range.
Almost all manufacturers state an estimated max range based on a ~170 lb rider cycling in ideal conditions on flat terrain. However, the actual expected range could be less than half of the max, depending on factors such as PAS level, wind, elevation, speed, rider weight, bike weight, and tires.
A semi-integrated ebike battery on a Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus.
Mid-drive motors are more efficient and will get more range than hub motors, allowing you to have a smaller battery and reduce the bike’s net weight.
In general, the more expensive an e-bike is, the higher the range, but there are plenty of exceptions, like the Charge City, which has a 50-mile range but only costs $1,799.
Another consideration for buyers is charge time, which can vary from three to eight hours for a full charge, depending on the bike. Finally, battery position and accessibility may influence your buying decision.
Frame-integrated batteries look better, are harder to steal, and have little to no impact on handling compared to externally mounted ones. While most batteries are removable, some must be changed inside the bike, making it difficult to recharge at work.
Electric Bike Laws
Each state has regulations that restrict the use of e-bikes. Although the laws differ in each state, the classification system is standard across the US and consists of three different tiers:
Class 1: Pedal assistance, 20mph max speed, 750W power limit
Class 2: Pedal assistance and throttle, 20mph max speed, 750W power limit
Class 3: Pedal assistance, optional throttle, 28mph max speed for PAS, 20mph max for throttle, 750W power limit
When choosing an electric bike, you should add the essential gear and equipment to get riding right away when the bike arrives. The equipment is the same as what you use on a traditional bike; leave the maintenance and repair of the electronics to a professional mechanic. Examples include:
Lights (most of the best electric bikes have integrated lights)
Multitool and tire levers
Hand pump and floor pump
Cycling shorts with a chamois (if you plan on riding long distances)
Cargo accessories like pannier bags or a basket
Where to Buy Electric Bikes
Electric bikes aren’t quite as widespread as traditional ones, so not all shops will carry them. However, if you live in or near a city, there will undoubtedly be an e-bike shop in the area that you can visit and test out different models to see what you like.
You can also take advantage of the test-ride services offered by direct-to-consumer brands like Rad Power Bikes, Lectric, and Wing. Alternatively, many brands provide test-ride periods upon purchase, so you can send it back free of charge if you don’t like it.
In general, you will find the best electric bike deals on the websites of direct-to-consumer brands and at online retailers like REI, Jenson USA, Evo, and Mike’s Bikes, so if you’re sure of what you like, take advantage of the cost savings you’ll find.
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About the Author
Mark is a cycling enthusiast and freelance writer specializing in travel and technology. He has traveled to 56 countries worldwide, cycling through Africa and Europe. You can contact him on Twitter @splshrollstmble. Mark is behind most of the current bicycle reviews in Bikexchange today. You can check his journeys @splashrollstumble.
Specializes in best-of reviews, bike brand reviews, bicycle reviews.