The best electric bikes of 2023
The Ride1UP Rift is an outstanding electric bicycle bike whether you’re headed to work or joyriding around town.
Offering all the basic ebike elements at a lower cost, the Ancheer Blue Spark is a great budget ebike.
The Priority Current gets up to max speed quickly and maintains that speed once it gets there.
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While electric bikes have existed in some form or another for more than a century, the modern version was properly introduced in the 1990s—to little fanfare. At the time, they were considered something of a novelty and failed to generate much interest. That changed in the 2000s, when ebikes took off in China. In the last 10 years, the rest of us have come around: There are countless ebikes now, which come in configurations to suit every rider’s needs. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the one that will put you out in front of the pack? The best electric bikes deliver power (duh), comfort, style, and Smart features, whether you’re riding for sport, for work, or simply as a way to get around.
How we selected the best electric bikes
As a lifelong outdoor and fitness enthusiast, bicycling has always been a part of my recreational repertoire. From daily commuting to work via road bike to mountain biking through the rurals of my native state of Washington, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time perched upon the pedals. When it came to electric bikes in particular, I took the testing very seriously—by which I mean I had a lot of fun riding around! At this point, I’ve ridden ebikes from an expansive range of brands both renowned and up-and-coming, have discussed the pros and cons of different options with industry experts, and have even built several of them piece by piece straight out of the box.
I’ve written about outdoor and fitness gear, including electric bikes, for publications like Popular Mechanics, Runner’s World, the Manual, Thrillist, the Daily Beast, and the Los Angeles Times. All that testing has made me an expert at recognizing genuine quality over hype. In categories where my judgment was a tie, I looked to impressions from real-world owners to verify which ebikes deliver a truly electrifying experience.
The best electric bikes: Reviews Recommendations
Our selections for the best electric bikes span a spectrum of budgets, from several hundred dollars to several thousand. We’ve included ebikes from a variety of categories that include a fairly wide range of features, so while which is right for you is determined largely by your specific needs, we think the options below cover the bases for most new and veteran riders.
Best overall: Ride1Up Rift
Why it made the cut: Ride1UP’s Rift is easy to assemble and feels smooth to ride.
- Easy to assemble
- Solid frame and overall construction
- Comfortable to ride
After a few rides I began to see Ride1UP’s Rift as wish fulfillment for anyone who’s been curious about electric bicycles. The Rift was almost fully assembled when it arrived, which is very helpful if you’ve never put together an electric bicycle. We recommend following Ride1Up’s video instructions for a step-by-step guide on what’s required to put it together. It’s possible to assemble this bicycle by yourself, but it’s far easier for two people since one can keep the Rift steady, or lift up its frame while the other attaches its front wheel. The one accessory you’ll need when assembling any eBike—beyond the correct tools—is an air compressor to fill its tires.
Once the bicycle was set up, and a helmet was firmly strapped to my head, it was time to take the Rift for a ride on the suburban streets of Long Island. The area I rode on was paved but hilly, and it gave me the chance to put this electric bicycle’s motor to the test. I started by riding around without any “pedal assistance,” to get a feel for how the Rift handled. It’s a heavy electric bicycle, but after a couple of minutes I had a good handle on how to take wide and sharper turns, or how its fat tires would handle bumps in the road, hoses, or smaller potholes.
None of these smaller obstacles posed a problem thanks to the Rift’s fat tires, though we wouldn’t recommend going over huge bumps just for fun. Ride1UP recommends checking the bicycle’s brakes several times before taking it for a ride to make sure they’re fully operational, and these small test rides gave me the opportunity to do so—though I also checked them before getting on the Rift for the first time.
All of the Rift’s pedal assistance features are accessible via a 2.2-inch color screen mounted on the left handlebar. It’s easy to check your trip time, power consumption, and pedal assistance level (between one and five) at a glance. You shouldn’t be spending a lot of time looking at the screen while riding, so we appreciate how cleanly this information is arranged. As its name suggests, pedal assistance will only kick in when you’re pedaling. The electric bicycle’s motor will kick on after a few seconds, which gives you time to adjust to the increase in speed. Settings one and two feel like a nice little push while you’re going up hills—enough of a boost to make them easier to climb while still requiring effort.
Cranking the Rift’s pedal assistance up to four or five will turn pedaling into a performative act. We were able to get up steep hills with ease, but always felt completely in control of the bicycle. Yes, the Rift can up to 28 miles per hour with pedal assistance cranked up to five, but we never felt like we were going too quickly. If you’ve never used an electric bicycle before we recommend sticking to the lower power levels to start and working your way up.
Overall, the Ride1UP Rift is a stupendously smooth ride whether you’re upgrading from a different electric bicycle or have always ridden an analog bike. It strikes the right balance between easy assembly, ease of use, comfort, and overall design.
Best electric bikes 2023 for every kind of rider
If you’re looking for the best electric bikes, there are a lot to choose from, with electric motors and batteries added to a wide range of bikes to add extra power.
Electric road bikes will come with dropped handlebars and favour low weight, whilst electric hybrid bikes will come with flat bars, wider tyres and accessories to aid commuters – such as mudguards and lights. Electric folding bikes are useful if part of your journey involves train travel or you’re short on space.
Here at Cycling Weekly, we’ve reviewed bikes from these three categories and there are links to our more detailed reviews for each bike in this guide. Our testing involves a range of routes and ride lengths and our highly experienced team of testers understands what makes a good bike and what to look for in the best electric bikes.
Electric bikes can be expensive, but there are options too if you’re looking to keep costs low with starting from around 1,000: check out the best budget electric bikes. If you’re into tinkering with your bike, you might also want to look at the best electric bike conversion kits as an alternative to buying a completely new electric bike.
Women may benefit from female specific components on the best women’s electric bikes, and if you’re venturing off-road, check out the best electric gravel bikes.
If you’re looking for the best electric mountain bike though, follow this link to head over to our sister publication MBR which specialises in mountain biking.
Here’s a quick look at our top choices from the best electric bikes, including a folding option.
The Specialized Turbo Vado is designed for fast urban riding but with its suspension fork and wider tires it can also handle rougher roads.
There’s a lot of clever tech in the aviation-inspired Gocycle G4i, with a neat folding mechanism, lightweight frame and decent mileage from its internal battery.
The Giant Fastride’s neatly integrated battery and quality spec make it a great option for the commute, with wide gear range and hydraulic disc brakes.
If your e-bike riding heads off-road, the Neo Carbon Lefty has front and rear suspension and a powerful Bosch motor to help you up the hills.
The Cento1 Hybrid takes Wilier’s race bike pedigree and inserts a rear hub motor in a stealth package that keeps the bike’s performance and doesn’t add too much weight.
The classic Brompton with the same folding mechanism, but with a front hub motor and battery housed in a neat removeable bag.
Our pick of the best electric bikes
You can trust Cycling Weekly.
Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.
Best Electric Hybrid bikes
Electric hybrid bikes are the fastest selling style. Their flat bars, usually wide tyre, and commute friendly fittings. such as mudguard mounts and rack mounts. make them extremely practical machines.
The motor can be housed in the rear hub, or at the cranks, and the torque will vary. low torque models offer a natural pedalling assistance, but high torque versions will move off the lights more quickly.
Reasons to avoid
The Ribble Hybrid AL e is a road-going hybrid bike that’s equally at home on gravel paths and trails, with a comfortable and confidence-inspiring upright riding position, so great for returning or newbie riders.
For us, we think the bike is one of the best looking hybrids we’ve ever come across, with the design hiding away the motor incredibly well, although we were a little sad that adjusting the seat post left behind scratch marks. The fully loaded package includes fenders (mudguards), lights and a rear rack making it perfect as a daily commuter or for ditching the car when going to the store, although we did find these a little rattily on test.
The Ebikemotion motor delivers its power smoothly and efficiently and offers long-range in between charges, making the Ribble far more than just an A to B bike.
Understandably it doesn’t perform in the same way as the Canyon Grail:ON in terms of fast and tight torque, but tap along and it will tick over nicely, taking the top off any strenuous rides.
With all the added extras as standard and classy looks, the Ribble Hybrid AL e is a great electric bike for the money.
Reasons to avoid
A fun ride that’s great in urban environments but also provides a confidence-inspiring ride on rougher terrain is what the Specialized Turbo Vado is all about.
If you’re after a bike that is fully integrated with lights, fenders and rack (27kg capacity) as well as security (on the App removable battery using a key), then this represents a straight forward choice. Only the weight, and to a lesser degree cost, need consideration.
We found the 70Nm/250W custom-tuned motor applies power seamlessly and powerfully as soon as you push down on the pedals. Range is excellent too. 95-130km / 60-80 miles should be easily attainable using the default settings of Sport’ and ‘50% power’. There is an Eco mode as well as Turbo, so if you’re careful you can expect much greater range.
It is a heavy machine at 60lbs/ 27kg, so not easy to lift, so anyone needing to navigate steps in or out of the bike’s storage place will need to take this into consideration, but aside from that we found the Specialized Vado Turbo to be a joy to ride.
Reasons to avoid
We absolutely loved zooming around on the speedy Ride1Up Roadster V2 with its five levels of power assist. If you’re anything like us and are more used to training and racing on standard road bikes it can easily become your guilty pleasure. it’s fantastic fun to ride.
The bike was so quiet, even on level 5, convincing onlookers that our tester had to be some kind of super Hero to ride so fast up 15 per cent climbs. The only downside. in common with other e-bikes that only assist when you’re pedalling. was where there was a requirement for a hill start, the cranks had to be turned over in order to get the motor to engage, creating a pregnant pause at the lights, before vavavooming off.
The claimed 24mph maximum assisted speed (in the US) needs input from the pedals to reach on the flats, but without a doubt it’s noticeable downhill, where other bikes, such as the Wilier Cento1Hy Ultegra Di2 e-bike auto assist would cut out and slow you down.
This extra speed also puts the bike into a class 3 e-bike, meaning that it doesn’t meet EAPC rules in the UK, but that’s by the by as US brand Ride1Up doesn’t currently ship there.
If you are in a country lucky enough to be shipped to: the US, Canada and Mexico, then it’s a great option and one that has a very high fun-to-dollar ratio.
Ride1Up is a direct-to-consumer brand. check out the Roadster V2 on its website here.
Reasons to avoid
The Canyon Precede:ON is an efficient automatic transmission city bike that performs well in multi-terrain settings whether for utility or for leisure purposes thanks to a powerful motor and control panel.
With built-in accessories such as lights, mudguards, rack and kickstand all the trappings are there to make for a comfortable ride with style straight out the box. All these add ons however do make it one of the heaviest e-bikes on the market, even heavier than the Specialized Turbo Vado.
We really loved the Canyon Grail: On and it’s great to see the Precede:ON also be kitted with the Bosch Performance Line CX motor, although ideally we would love to see a little more juice in the battery to support the other impressive spec.
With everything you need straight out the box, including navigation system and lights, it’s the easiest way to swap driving/ public transport for a bike, but it is at the higher end price tag wise. There are a couple of models to choose from, which also takes the cost down a touch, but with a six year guarantee, it could be a savvy investment.
The only other point to note is that Canyon has a direct sales model, so you’ll have to buy directly from the brand here.
Reasons to avoid
The Giant Fastroad E Pro is another road-going hybrid bike with flat handlebars to promote a comfortable ride position for even the rustiest of riders, in fact we enjoyed riding this great electric hybrid road bike so much we gave it a Cycling Weekly Editor’s Choice Award.
The tyres provide plenty of squish and the ability to go lightly off-road. However on test we found the aluminium frame and fork quite stiff, which will suit those used to a traditional road bike’s feel and riders looking for a speedy commute, but worth bearing in mind if you’re used to a softer hybrid feel.
We really liked the bike’s integration of the battery, which can often be a design factor forgotten about on hybrid bikes. We were also really impressed to see the spec on the FastRoad, with hydraulic disc brakes and quality Shimano shifting, with a compact chainset and wide range cassette at the rear to provide plenty of gears for the hills all making an appearance.
A great electric hybrid bike for a fair price that will have a lot of appeal to lots of different riders.
Reasons to avoid
With its 36V battery, which should give around 70 miles of juice, hooked up to a mid-drive motor, we found that the Volt Infinity electric bike gave a nice balanced feel to the bike.
Shimano provides the power in the form of 8-speed Alfine Di2 hub Shimano Steps, the highly regarded motor and e-bike specific groupset.
Three different assistance modes will let you get the most out of that battery and the display mounted on the front will make it easy to keep track and we loved that the torque sensor picked up when we were flagging and gave us a little boost to help us along our way.
Previously similar to the Carrera Subway E, it’s had a bit of a make over and it’s now much more visually integrated than the previous model that we tested, although it’s still without a quick release rear wheel, making investing in the best puncture-proof tyres or inner tubes a shrewd investment.
The only real downside is the one size fits all. Great if it does fit you, not so much if it doesn’t.
Best Electric Folding Bikes
Folding electric bikes are practical if you have a train journey forming part of your trip or are low on space. Being small, the battery and motor can represent a large percentage of the weight, so the FOCUS is often on reducing this as much as possible.
Mileage on folding bikes is often low, since they’re typically used to ride to and from train stations, so battery range isn’t always a major consideration.
If you are considering going for a folder, you might find our buying guide page dedicated to helping you find the best folding bikes a useful read.
Reasons to avoid
We absolutely loved the Brompton Electric bike when we took it out for a spin, finding it to be the perfect bike for commuting in traffic and then stowing well out of the way post-ride.
The brand is considered by many as the gold standard of folding bikes, and the Brompton Electric is clearly cast from the same mould.
As typical with any Brompton bike, the brand has taken full control of the engineering, so everything from frame to motor has been designed in house. Brompton however has called upon the experiences of Williams Advanced Engineering when it comes to the motor, developing a bespoke lightweight removable battery and motor.
As you would expect when a team of Formula One engineers get under the bonnet of the Brompton Electric, the small, but perfectly formed motor has excelled, delivering power smoothly, safely and exactly when you need it.
The frame is the usual Brompton high standard, and while one size, keeps the ability to choose handlebars, seatpost heights and even saddle widths. There are six speeds, giving you plenty to play with when you hit a hill.
Whatever your final set up, you can rest assured as to the bike’s foldability, which is one of the reasons why Brompton stands out from the folding bike crowd. Its folded footprint is one of the smallest out there: 565mm high x 585mm wide x 270mm long (22.2 x 23 x 10.6). This means it’s highly portable and capable of stowing in the smallest of spaces, although be warned, due to the independent motor and battery pack, you’ll find yourself with two hands full, so best to invest in a rucksack for your other belongings.
On test we felt this was an absolute dream of a bike, in fact, we went as far as calling it a transport gamechanger. If you’re worried by the 17kg-plus weight, there’s now the Brompton Electric P Line bike, which uses lighter frame materials to drop the claimed weight down to 15.6kg.
Reasons to avoid
The G4i is a solid choice for a commuter, with the option to add many accessories such as mudguards (fenders), a front and rear pannier rack, integrated lights, lock holster and a travel case.
The design folds in half, so that you can push it on its wheels rather than needing to carry it, or you can fully fold it into a compact package. There’s built-in rear suspension, concealed cabling and a fully enclosed drivetrain.
It features a discreetly integrated USB port on the handlebar, enabling owners to charge their phone or other small devices from the bike’s battery when not in use. although we found the quality of the integrated phone mount didn’t quite match that of the bike itself. The same goes for the LED display, which we found to be rather basic. although the information it provides is useful.
It’s also likely to be pretty low-maintenance given that the drivetrain is completely enclosed. This makes sense, given that commuting year round usually means cycling in the wet at some point. The G4i utilizes a Shimano Nexus 3 speed internally geared hub. With 1” of elastomer suspension and 2.35” wide tyres, it is one of the more comfortable small wheelers. Single-sided wheel attachment means you don’t even have to remove the wheel, should you puncture one of the 20” wheels.
The 500W (250W in the UK/EU) G4 electric motor and 375Wh Lithium-ion battery is claimed to provide a range of up to 80km (50mi), but the most we managed to get out of it was just 44km (27mi). To be fair, that was in one of the more ‘assisted’ modes and I always had the daytime running lights on. and the city of Bath is well known for its brutally steep hills.
The bike is available from 17.6kg / 38.8lbs. However, as the weight is centred low on the frame, this at least makes the ride more stable. The folding mechanism has been improved since previous versions and can be quickly collapsed into a small package. Gocycle says this can be done in as little as ten seconds; we found it was closer to 20.
Electric Bikes for Kids and Teens – A Buying Guide and Top Picks
Electric bikes for kids are quickly gaining in popularity, and the technology powering them continues to get better and better. From electric balance bikes for motocross kids to electric commuter bikes and e-mountain bikes, kids ebikes are an incredible tool for enabling kids to go faster and farther than their little legs can carry them on their own.
Whether you have a future bmx star, a young child tackling longer distances, a teenager commuting to work, or you’re a parent looking to replace short car trips, there’s an ebike for that! Ebikes for kids vary widely in purpose, so understanding what to look for as well as what is available is essential to finding the right bike for your child and your family.
In order to help you find the best electric bike for your needs, we’ve broken this article into four sections. The first section is a buying guide that covers everything you need to know about buying an ebike for your child, and the remaining three sections provide tips and specific bike suggestions based on the age of the rider.
While we highly recommend reading our full electric bikes for kids buying guide, here’s are some quick tips and specific bike recommendations for those TL;DR folks :-).
Quick Tips for Buying a Kids ebike
(1) Be aware of your local laws and regulations: Many areas prohibit kids from operating Class II (ebikes with throttles) as well as Class III ebikes (ebikes with a 28mph max w/wo a throttle).
(2) Look for a bike with a torque sensor: Torque sensors allow the rider to control the speed of the bike with the pedals. Without one, pedaling slower will NOT slow down the speed of the bike, which can be very confusing and dangerous for kids.
(3) Say no to the throttle: Throttles allow kids to reach high speeds quickly without pedaling and should be avoided. Throttles on essentially all ebikes, however, can be turned off or removed after purchase.
(4) Pay attention to weight: ebikes can weigh up to 60 lb. (or more!) and can be a lot for an adult, let alone a child, to handle.
(5) eBikes vs. electric balance bikes: Small electric balance bikes without pedals (such as STACYC) typically are not covered under ebike laws, but should still be used with caution.
The Best Electric Bikes for Kids
This list was compiled after extensive research as well as leaning heavily on our own experience with electric bikes. Unlike our other “best” lists throughout this site, we fully admit that we have not tested or personally seen all of these bikes.
details about these specific bikes are included in the age-based sections below. Like always, any additional feedback and suggestions are welcome in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев.
|3 to 5||9 mph||799|
|5 to 7||13 mph||1,049|
|5 to 8||15.5 mph||449|
|8 to 10||18 mph||1,999|
|10 to 12||20 mph||2,599|
|8 to 12||Best all around eMTB||3,799|
|8 to 12||Ultimate eMTB for advanced riders||3,800|
|Adult||Comes with light, fenders, and rear seat||1,899|
|Adult||Peppy longtail ebike, holds two kids||2,199|
|Adult||Holds up to 4 kids!||3,999|
Electric Bikes for Kids – Table of Contents
Jump Down Menu – Click to Jump to your Desired Section
- Electric Bikes for Kids Buying Guide
- eBikes for Kids (Bikes with pedals – age 6)
- Electric Bikes for Toddlers and Preschoolers(Balance bikes – no pedals)
- Electric Cargo Bikes for Carrying Kids(Cargo-esque bikes that allow for a child seat)
eBikes for Kids Buying Guide
If you are new to ebikes, there is certainly a lot to learn! In this guide, we will be focusing on the features of ebikes that are particularly important for kids. While the specifics of battery life, battery volts, motor torque, and countless other ebike components are very important to the overall performance of the bike, they don’t necessarily affect kids more than adults, so we won’t be discussing them here.
For a more general reference about electric bikes, REI’s How to Choose an Electric Bike is a great place to start. For a deep dive into the electric systems of ebikes, ebikes.ca is a top-notch resource, while Juiced Bikes does a great job going into the specifics of batteries. Lastly, for reviews on adult ebikes (including some small enough for tweens and teens), electricbikereview.com is a great resource.
Why an ebike for kids?
Two words – distance and elevation. Electric bikes allow kids to ride their bikes for longer distances as well as tackle greater elevations gains. Based on our experiences with our own kids, ebikes can magically transform rides that were previously too hard, too long, or too boring… into exciting adventures that kids truly enjoy.
Electric bikes are very different than electric scooters. Many people balk at the idea of a child riding an electric bike as they envision kids zipping down the street without taking a single pedal stroke. While this is certainly possible, it’s not probable nor is it the purpose or design of ebikes for kids.
When given the right bike (kids don’t need a throttle!) and in the right conditions (longer rides or in hilly areas), kids can still get plenty of exercise on an ebike.
Kid-specific ebikes don’t have a throttle (more about this below) and require kids to pedal for the motor to even kick on. If they stop pedaling, the motor also stops. While many tweens and teens can technically fit on adult ebikes with throttles (Class II or III), many areas have regulations to prevent kids from riding an ebike with a throttle.
Class of eBikes
Prior to shopping for an ebike, it is important to understand the differences between the three classes of ebikes on the market. Many states do not allow kids under the age of 16 to ride a Class III ebike, while many states don’t allow anyone (even adults!) to ride Class II ebikes on bike paths and trails. Check out Bikes for People’s Electric Bike Laws to learn more about your state’s regulations.
The two main differences between the classes of ebikes are:
What is a bike throttle? A throttle is a lever or button that activates the motor of the bike without having to pedal. If a bike does not have a throttle, the motor can only be activated by pedaling the bike.
|Max mph assist||Throttle|
The motor on Class I ebikes cannot assist the rider above 20 mph max. While the rider can pedal to accelerate the bike faster than 20mph, the motor will stop providing additional assistance once 20mph is reached.
Class I ebikes also cannot have a throttle. The motor can only be activated via pedaling and the rider must continue pedaling in order for the motor to operate. Most ebikes sold in big-box stores are Class I ebikes.
All kid-specific ebikes are Class I, but for added safety, they typically have a lower speed at which the motor will stop assisting. For example, the kid-specific woom UP line maxes out at 12 mph and the Kent Torpedo at 17 mph.
Like Class I bikes, the motor on Class II can only assist up to 20 mph. The main difference is that Class II bikes have a throttle that allows the rider to turn on the motor and propel the bike forward without pedaling the bike. The rider can also choose not to use the throttle and to activate the motor via the pedals as well.
Stepping it up a notch, Class III ebikes can assist the rider up to 28 mph when pedaling, but only up to 20mph when using the optional throttle. Due to their higher speeds, Class III ebikes are the most regulated and in many areas are limited to street use only.
Ebike Sizing vs. Traditional Bike Sizing
Like regular kids bikes, ebikes for kids are sized according to wheel size. So if your child is riding a 24″ bike, they will likely fit on a 24″ kids electric bike.
Like all bikes, it is also important to take minimum and maximum seat heights into account as they can vary widely within a wheel size, depending on brand. If you aren’t sure what wheel size your child needs, be sure to check out our Kids Bikes Sizing Guide.
Currently, there are only a handful of child-specific ebikes on the market (in the US). The smallest bike we are aware of is the Kent Torpedo 20″, which has a minimum seat height of 27″ and can fit kids as young as 7. The Swagtron EB-6 20″ bike is a popular bike marketed as a kid’s bike, but it is too tall for most kids and with only 1 PAS mode, it is too fast for kids to ride safely.
Larger kids electric bikes are available from woom and Commencal, but they are designed for more aggressive trail riders, versus everyday neighborhood riders. With suspension and top-of-the-line components, these bikes are powerhouses on the trail but also come with a steep price tag that puts them out of reach for many families.
As a result, many older kids (tween and teens at least 5′ not riding on a mountain trail), will likely ride an ebike designed for an adult. Our page on Electric Bicycles for Women has many bikes small enough for a 4’11 – 5’0 kid rider.
The wheel sizes on adult electric bikes vary widely from 20″ fat tires to 700c street tires. As a result, the wheel size on adult ebikes cannot be used as an indication of the overall size of the bike.
Weight of eBikes
Ebikes are heavy! While the motor does help to compensate for the additional weight to get the bike moving, ebikes can still be significantly harder to maneuver than traditional bikes. This is especially true for tweens and teens riding adult ebikes, which can weigh up to 70 pounds.
Kid-specific ebikes tend to be a bit lighter than adult bikes, but they are in turn much more expensive. As a point of reference, the 3,750 woom 6 UP with 26″ wheels weighs 37.3 lb. while the 650 26″ Hyper MTN weighs 48 lb.
Like traditional bikes, lightweight ebikes tend to be very expensive. Don’t be surprised if entry-level ebikes don’t have their total weights listed. When researching for this article, reviews of specific bikes on YouTube and electricbikereview.com were helpful in providing information about the weight and overall size of the bike.
For adults carrying kids as passengers on an ebike, the total weight of the bike can be a lot to negotiate. Over the years, we’ve found Class II ebikes with throttles to be a gamechanger when riding with a heavy load.
Using the throttle to propel that heavy load forward from a standstill is significantly easier than attempting to do so by pedaling, even with pedal assist. Once the bike is moving, it is easy to maintain balance and momentum on the bike by pedaling and the throttle is no longer necessary.
Pedal Assist Modes (PAS)
A bike’s pedal-assist mode or PAS, determines how much “help” the motor provides while pedaling. Most ebikes have 3 to 5 pedal assist modes. The higher the pedal-assist mode, the more the motor will assist in propelling the bike forward.
The PAS modes are easily adjusted by pushing a button on the bike’s display on the handlebars, or on some bikes, the downtube. PAS modes can be changed at any time during a ride.
Pedal-assist modes work by altering the total output of the motor (watts). The higher the pedal-assist mode, the greater the percentage of output the motor will produce, and the less effort the rider has to exert on the pedals to propel the bike forward.
As a point of clarification, be aware that these percentages are the MAX percentages the motor or the rider can have on the total output (basically speed) of the bike. The bike does not need to reach “100% output” in order to move.
The % of the output from the rider, as well as the motor, can vary within the set PAS range. For example, on a bike with 3 PAS modes, in PAS 2 the motor can apply up to 80% of the output, while the rider can apply up to 20%. As a result, the higher the PAS mode, the less effect the rider’s pedaling has on the speed of the bike. In all PAS modes, however, the motor will stop providing additional assistance once the bike reaches its max MPH allowed for motor assistance.
Riding with PAS
The rider must continue to pedal at all times in all PAS modes. If the rider stops pedaling (even in PAS 5), the motor will stop providing output. The bike, however, will not stop as it will continue to coast like a traditional bike. (Note: If you are engaging the throttle on a Class II or Class III ebike, the throttle overrides the PAS and you don’t need to pedal.)
To stop the bike, the rider can stop pedaling and coast to a stop or simply apply the brakes, which automatically turns off the motor.
The “feel” of riding with PAS can vary greatly from bike to bike. Compared to higher-end ebikes, lower-end ebikes tend to be jerkier and can also limit the rider’s ability to control the speed of the bike with the pedals. These differences are the result of the bike’s ability (or inability) to regulate the rate at which the motor output is applied.
Some ebikes will automatically apply the max motor output for every PAS (for example, ramping quickly up to 80% output at the first pedal stroke), while others will slowly ramp up the output based on the pedaling of the rider (slowly increase from 0% to 80% based how hard or fast the rider is pedaling).
A bike’s ability to quickly or slowly apply power to the bike is determined by the bike’s PAS sensor. There are two main types of sensors – a cadence sensor, and a torque sensor.
Cadence Sensors vs. Torque Sensors
While the PAS modes control the max % of output the motor will produce, the sensors on the bike determine the rate at which that max % of output is applied. There are two main types of sensors – cadence sensors, and torque sensors. While seemingly minor, these sensors can make a huge difference in how the bike reacts to the rider.
A cadence sensor detects if you are pedaling (not how fast, but whether the pedals are moving or not) while a torque sensor measures how hard you are pedaling (~how much tension is on the chain). Lower-end bikes typically have cadence sensors, but higher-end bikes have torque sensors.
While riding both bikes is the best way to “feel” the difference between the two, we’ll do our best to explain the difference and why we highly recommend bikes with torque sensors for kids.
Cadence sensors act as on and off switches for the motor. Upon sensing a forward movement on the crank arms and pedals, the cadence sensor turns the motor on. Once the motor is on, it then applies output according to the PAS mode selected. The higher the PAS mode, the more output is available from the motor.
The cadence sensor, however, does not have the ability to determine how fast or how hard you are pedaling, it just looks to see IF you are pedaling in a forward motion. On a bike with a cadence sensor, you can be pedaling in a very low gear with NO tension on the chain at all and the bike will still be propelled forward by the motor.
As a result, the benefit of cadence sensors is that very little effort from the rider is needed for the bike to function, especially at high PAS levels. But on the flip side, since the sensor cannot monitor how fast or slow the rider is pedaling, it can be very challenging, or in some cases not possible at all, for the rider to control the speed of the bike with the pedals.
Regardless of how fast or how slow the rider is pedaling on an ebike with a cadence sensor, the motor will apply the max % of input based on the selected PAS mode. For example, if your bike has 5 PAS modes and you are riding in PAS 3 (60% motor input, 40% human) the bike will automatically ramp up to 60% of its motor output once the pedals start rotating. Slowing down or speeding up your pedal strokes will not affect the amount of output the motor is providing to the bike.
You can increase the speed of the bike by pedaling hard and adding to the 60% output the motor is already providing (the 40% rider output), but you cannot decrease the output of the motor by pedaling slowly. If you are already pedaling at a slower pace (so as to not add to the motor’s output) the only way to slow the speed of the bike is to decrease the PAS mode, brake (which stops the motor), or stop pedaling (which also stops the motor).
It can therefore be very difficult to ride at a slow speed on a bike with a cadence sensor, especially at high PAS levels. Whether you are spinning in granny gear or huffing and puffing in high gear, the output of the motor will remain the same.
For young riders, the lack of ability to control the speed of the bike with their feet can be VERY confusing and potentially dangerous. As a result, we highly recommend ebikes for kids with torque sensors (explained below).
While cadence sensors act as an “ignition” switch to the motor (turning it on or off), bikes with torque sensors take it one step further and essentially turn the pedals into a “gas pedal”.
By monitoring the amount of pressure applied to the cranks and pedals, a torque sensor allows you to slowly ramp up the output of the motor by pedaling faster and decrease the output by pedaling slower in all PAS modes.
So instead of quickly ramping up to the max % output in the selected PAS mode (like on ebikes with a cadence sensor), an ebike with a torque sensor will slowly increase the output of the motor according to how much tension the rider applies to the pedals (until it hits the max PAS %).
For example, if the selected PAS has a max output of 80%, the bike will feather the motor’s output from 0% to 80% depending on the force applied to the pedals by the rider. At a slow pedal rate, the motor may only output 20%, but as the rider pedals faster, the rate will increase until it maxes out at 80%.
So while bikes with torque sensors require more effort from the rider (the rider can’t just coast – they must apply pressure to the pedals), setting the bike to a higher PAS mode still allows the rider to get plenty of assistance from the motor by pedaling harder (like you would on a traditional bike).
As a result, like a traditional bike, an ebike with a torque sensor allows the rider to always be in control of the speed of the bike via the pedals. Want to go faster? Pedal faster. Want to slow down? Pedal slower.
The downside of torque sensors is that they are much more expensive to incorporate on a bike. As a result, ebikes with torque sensors are rarely found under 1,500 and are usually closer to 2,000.
Single-speed or Geared
PAS modes on a bike do not replace the gears. Like traditional bikes, gears on a bike allow you to alter how hard the bike is to pedal. The PAS modes on the bike adjust how much additional input the motor adds to your effort.
Gears are especially important when tackling steep elevation changes or technical terrain. If a bike does not have a “granny gear” to allow you to easily start pedaling the bike, the motor can’t kick in, regardless of the PAS mode you are in. As a result, if you stop on a steep incline you may not be able to get the heavy bike started up again. (Unless you have a throttle.)
On technical terrain, this is especially important as the PAS modes can’t help you power through a particularly rough part of a trail if the bike is in too hard of a gear to pedal. On an electric bike with a torque sensor (which most e-mountain bikes do), in order to get full input from the motor in your set PAS mode, you also need to be able to pedal at a decent speed.
If technical terrain or strong elevation gains are not in your plans, then a single-speed ebike with several PAS modes should suit you just fine. Bikes with throttles also typically don’t necessarily need multiple gears as you can always rely on the throttle to power you up a hill.
Keep in mind, however, that regardless of the class of ebike, the throttle can never accelerate the bike past 20 mph. Speeds beyond 20 mph require input from the rider via the drivetrain (you gotta pedal hard!), so gears are also essential for riders aiming for higher speeds.
Motor Placement – Hub vs. Mid-drive motor
The motor on ebikes can be located in three different places, (1) within the hub of the front wheel, (2) the rear wheel, or (3) at the bike’s bottom bracket (called mid-drive motors). Rear hub motors are the most common on low to mid-range ebikes, while mid-drive motors are standard on most high-end bikes. Front hub motors are not common.
Mid-drive Motor vs. Rear Hub Motor
For basic riding on paved surfaces, rear-hub motors do just fine. Bikes with hub motors are typically much cheaper than bikes with mid-drive motors, but they can throw off the weight distribution of the bike. As a result, for more technical riding, mid-drive motors are always recommended. In addition to being centrally located on the bike, they are also placed lower, thereby helping to lower the overall center of gravity of the bike.
Another benefit of mid-drive motors is that it is much easier to repair or replace the rear tire of the bike. With a rear hub motor, removing a rear wheel is certainly possible, it just takes a lot more time and effort.
The Best Electric Bikes for Kids (with Pedals)
From 8-year-olds taking on longer distances with their parents to teens needing a budget ebike to commute to work, we’ve done hours of research to find the best electric bikes for kids. While we have not personally seen all of these bikes, we have tested four different ebikes with seven different kids on a variety of trails.
The best ride for your child really comes down to your budget and how you plan on using it. Per our explanation provided in our buying guide above, we have not included any Class III ebikes. While we do not recommend bikes with throttles for kids, we have included several Class II on this list knowing that the throttles on essentially all ebikes can be removed.
We have also not included high-end kids eMTB bikes (with the exception of the woom UP which can be used as an eMTB and a commuter). From geometry to tires, suspension and brakes, there are a lot more variables to consider when shopping for an eMTB, but the basics outlined here still certainly apply.
If you are unaware of the importance of a torque sensor, please read our section about the differences in ebikes sensors above. Essentially, without a torque sensor, the speed of the bike cannot be controlled by the pedals.
Electric Bikes for Kids Comparison
|1,899||4’11 – 5’11||44||Yes||3||7||250W|
The Best Electric Balance Bikes
While electric balance bikes should never be a replacement for a traditional balance bike, they are great fun for tiny riders, especially future motocross or riders or BMX racers. From doing laps at the track to simply riding around the campground or backyard, these electric balance bikes can help instill a passion for riding at a very young age.
STACYC electric balance bikes (owned by Harley Davidson) are by far the best quality and most popular. While other cheaper brands have hit the market, most are significantly heavier than the STACYC line and don’t offer as many speed settings.
Compared to the similarly-sized Yamaha PW50 kids motorcycle, electric balance bikes are quieter, lighter, and significantly cheaper! Like the PW50’s governor, most electric balance bikes have several speed settings to limit the top speed for new riders.
|Bikes for ages 2 – 5|
|STACYC 12eDrive||735||14″ – 16″||(3) 5, 7, 9mph||17 lb.||30 – 60 min|
|Bikes for ages 5 – 7|
|GoTrax Kids||399||19.3″ – 20.9″||(1) 15.5 mph||27 lb.||15.5 miles|
|STACYC Brushless 16eDrive||1,049||17″ – 19″||(3) 5, 7.5, 13 mph||19 lb.||30 – 60 min|
STACYC bikes are also available under several other brand names, including Harley Davidson (who purchased STACYC in 2019), KTM, GASGAS, and Husqvarna. As far as we are aware, besides aesthetics, the bikes themselves remain the same across all lines.
Electric Cargo Bikes for Hauling Kids
From quick drop-offs at a friend’s house to skipping the pick-up lane after school, electric cargo bikes are a fun and fast way to get around the neighborhood! With the flexibility to hold everything from toddlers in child bike seats to a full-grown adult, your family is sure to get many years of use from an electric family bike.
There are many different types of electric cargo bikes (or trikes!) to consider. In addition to the information covered in our buying guide above, there are a lot of variables to consider. For an in-depth dive into the specifics of cargo bikes for families, we highly recommend checking out Bike Shop Girl’s Cargo Bike buying guide.
When it comes to your budget, higher-end bikes are typically lighter, offer better speed control via a torque sensor, as well as increased durability from the drivetrain and electronics. If your planned trips are within a few miles around your neighborhood, however, don’t be afraid to go for a lower-end cargo bike, such as the RadRunner Plus shown above. Although heavy and not as fine-tuned as other bikes, it works great for quick trips and after 100s of miles, we have no complaints!
|Bikes for 1 Child|
|RadRunner Plus||1,899||74.3||No||45 Mi.|
|Aventon Abound||2,199||81||Yes||up to 50 Mi.|
|Bikes for 2 Kids|
|RadWagon 4||1,899||76.7||No||45 Mi.|
|Aventon Abound||2,199||81||Yes||up to 50 Mi.|
|Xtracycle Swoop||4,999||62.9||Yes||up to 60 Mi.|
|Tricycles for 2 Kids|
|Ferla Family Bike||3,999||130||No||25 Mi.|
|Bunch Coupe||6,999||132||No||75 Mi.|
All bikes listed, except the Bunch Coupe, have a throttle
Natalie has basically been obsessed with kids’ bikes since 2010 when her oldest of three kids began riding a balance bike. After trying to convince everyone she knew about how amazing balance bikes are, she began Two Wheeling Tots. As a certified secondary science teacher, she loves digging deep into the why and how of kids biking. With her in-depth knowledge of the kids’ bike world, she has consulted with many top brands as well as contributed to articles at NY Strategist, the Today Show, and more.
Here’s the best electric bicycle gear I’ve been testing all summer
Wouldn’t it be nice if all you needed for a great ride was an electric bicycle and a smile on your face?
While those two things are often enough for me, there’s some excellent gear out there that can make e-bike rides even better, whether you ride for pleasure or commuting.
As an electric bicycle enthusiast and journalist, I get to put my hands (and other body parts) on more gear than the average rider.
Sometimes I buy gear after carefully reading pages and pages of reviews and reactions. Sometimes companies send out new gear for me to test out, sight unseen and going in fresh.
Either way, inevitably, some of it turns out to be awesome stuff, while the rest is left in the junk pile. In this article, I’ve listed only the best gear I’ve tested this summer. All of the stuff that didn’t seem useful or worth the price to me didn’t make the cut.
Note: For the gear below, unless I say I bought it, then assume it was a media sample provided for evaluation.
Out of all the gear I use, a helmet is the only thing I consistently use 100% of the time. Over my more than decade of riding motorized bicycles, I’ve inadvertently crash-tested more helmets than I can count on one hand. I was grateful for each one, and every crash reinforced my desire to never ride an e-bike without a helmet.
Bern Brentwood 2.0
I love Bern’s Brentwood 2.0 helmet for a few reasons. Instead of the uncomfortable plastic ratchet that most helmets use in the back to adjust the size, Bern’s has a stretchy elastic Band at the back of your head. Not only does that make it more comfortable, but it means that I don’t have to keep readjusting it after my wife steals my helmet. And she steals it a lot — we both love it and I probably need to just get a second one for her.
I also really like the soft visor. It’s effective for keeping the sun out of your eyes at any decent angle, yet isn’t rigid and thus breakable like the visor on many other helmets. It’s also great for tossing in a bag because it takes up less space.
Triple 8 skateboarding helmet
Look, I’m going to be honest here. I bought Triple 8’s skateboard helmet almost purely for the look.
I needed a helmet for my review videos that didn’t look too big or too bulky or too nerdy or too anything. Basically, I needed a helmet that did its job but didn’t get in the way or stand out.
I’ve been using it for over a year, and despite buying it purely on looks, I’ve found it to be a great helmet as well. I worry it doesn’t have the same protection as the Bern Brentwood 2.0 helmet above, but it’s also nearly half the price, and so it’s good for anyone on a budget. If you’re looking for a helmet with a classic skate look but that doesn’t come with a bulbous profile, this is a great option.
See the Triple 8 helmet in action in one of my review videos below.
Sena R1 Bluetooth intercom helmet
The last helmet I’ll recommend is the Sena R1 Bluetooth intercom helmet. I first used this one on a group ride testing out the Yamaha Wabash electric gravel bike. We were around seven or eight journalists, and the Bluetooth intercom system meant we could all keep in touch during the ride.
While we mostly used it for cracking jokes about one another, it was actually handy for logistics. When someone would be too far off for shouting or even on the other side of a hill, we could still keep in touch. The microphone is built into the forehead area, and there are two speakers over the ears.
You can even pair it to your phone to listen to GPS directions or music. In fact, that’s what I use it for the most now. While it’s super helpful for group rides, I’m usually riding by myself anyways. With the Sena R1 helmet, I can keep my phone in my. yet still get GPS turn-by-turn directions delivered straight to my ears.
In fact, I loved the Sena R1 bicycle helmet so much that I went back to Sena for intercom systems for motorcycle helmets for my wife and me. We’re currently testing out the Sena 30K and the Sena 10C Pro, both of which are turning out to be awesome Bluetooth communication devices for motorcycling. I’ll have more on those in the motorcycle gear article, coming soon to an Electrek homepage near you.
If you want to see some action shots of the Sena R1 helmet, check it out in my Yamaha Wabash e-bike review below.
Terrano XT Cycling Bluetooth Headset
If you want to be able to communicate with your riding partner but don’t want to be locked into a specific helmet, the Terrano XT is what you want. This little sucker is magical. I got one for my wife and me for our rides, and it’s awesome to not have to shout. Especially since my wife has this fun little habit of not wanting to ride directly next to me because she thinks I’m going to take her out in an accident.
Basically, you slap this sucker on the side of any helmet, then plug in the two speaker units that connect to the inside of the helmet but hang outside the helmet so they don’t get in your way. Then you just pair it to your phone, and you’re off. When I’m riding alone I will mostly use it for GPS directions from my phone so that I don’t have to put my phone on my handlebars. It’s also great for listening to music or taking phone calls while riding.
But the real magic is using it like an intercom when your partner or buddies have a unit of their own. The transmission is crystal clear as long as you don’t have a large land mass between you two. But if someone goes over a hill and down the other side, the transmission can get spotty. Basically, keep it in line of sight and you’ll be golden. If your buddy is a half mile away, you’d probably do better to just call him on the phone. But a few hundred yards away? It will feel like he’s right next to you.
The little unit weighs almost nothing and doesn’t get in the way. It’s waterproof so you don’t have to worry about a quick rain shower. And it’s got a quick release, so you don’t always have to leave it on your helmet. If you just want to let your helmet hang on your handlebars while you run inside, simply pop it off and stick the little unit in your It’s like two inches long and barely noticeable.
I definitely recommend a cycling Bluetooth headset if you frequently get annoyed at not being able to communicate with your riding partner, especially when you’re in the back and want your voice heard up front. It’s a game changer to stop relying on hand signals or pedaling like mad to catch up and yell.
If helmets are my most important gear on an e-bike, good locks might just be second most important, in my opinion. And because no single lock is 100% theft-proof, I usually use two different styles of locks together. So check out the different types of locks I’ve been impressed with this summer.
I’ve been testing two different U-locks from Abus: the Ultra Mini 410 (green) and the U-lock 440 Alarm (red). The Ultra Mini 410 is a cute little 5.5-inch U-lock that packs away small yet still inspires confidence in me. It’s got a 12 mm shackle and so it should stand up to a spirited attack for a decent amount of time.
Of course this isn’t a lock to use by itself in a tough neighborhood, but for a lightweight second lock, it’s a great addition. And at just 35 for a German-made lock, it sure beats buying some cheap imported junk lock.
The Abus 440 Alarm also has a 12 mm shackle, so it’s not going to last any longer against an attack, but it will make a heck of a lot more noise. It also has a longer shackle, which means you can lock more of the bike to more things. With the Ultra Mini 410, I was usually just locking a wheel to the frame or a wheel to a parking meter if I could get the perfect angle. But with the 440’s larger 9-inch-long shackle, I could lock larger frame sections or the wheel and frame together. And that alarm? It’s really freakin‘ loud. If someone is trying to get away with a quiet attack like a car jack, they’ll have a rude awakening.
Lightweight Ottolock Hexband bicycle lock
I love lightweight locks, especially since I like to use more than one lock at once. And the Ottolock Hexband is the epitome of a lightweight lock.
It’s made from a steel Band reinforced with Kevlar, weighing in at only 250g, or about a half pound. That’s for the 30-inch model, which I have. But there’s a longer 60-inch model that still weighs less than a pound.
It uses a three-digit combination, which I guess someone could crack with enough time, but again, this shouldn’t be your only lock, except for short duration stops.
The Ottolock Hexband also rolls up into a tight package and has a little silicone holder on it to keep it tightly spooled. I just can’t believe how light it is while still feeling fairly robust.
Can you cut through it with a big pair of bolt cutters? Probably. But it’d take a while, and those Kevlar fibers are going to be super annoying to get through, even if the steel won’t put up as much of a fight.
So this one definitely goes on my list of great e-bike locks, especially as a lightweight secondary lock.
OnGuard Mastiff 6 foot chain
You know how sometimes you just want a big effin chunk of steel between thieves and your bike? Yeah, me too. That’s why I bought the OnGuard Mastiff Quad Chain Lock. At around 10 lbs (4.5 kg), it’s not lightweight. And it sure isn’t easily portable. But it’s going to take a good long while to get through that massive chain.
I basically use this one as my home-base lock. When I need to leave one of my bikes outside overnight, this is the main lock that goes on.
Plus, it’s sturdy enough that I also use it for my electric scooters and motorcycles, in a pinch. When you’re borrowing a five-figure electric motorcycle from the company for a review, you really don’t want it walking away on your watch.
Storage and cargo
If you’re like me and you use electric bicycles as car replacements, then cargo space suddenly becomes very important. From groceries to hardware-store runs, I carry just about everything on my e-bikes. And so the following pieces of gear have proven to be super useful to me.
Ortlieb Bikepacking gear
Bikepacking gear is meant for people who want to go on long rides, perhaps multi-day camping trips, and need to carry everything on their bikes while they do it.
I’ve found that it works equally well in the city, too, where I use bikepacking gear to carry necessities both big and small.
Ortlieb’s bikepacking gear has been super useful in the city so far, where I’ve been using it for most of my everyday utility tasks. I currently have the Accessory Pack Handlebar Bag, Frame-Pack TopTube, Saddle Bag, E-Mate Pannier for e-bikes, and the Cockpit Pack.
Out of all of the bags, the E-Mate Pannier is by far the largest. It also has a space for an e-bike battery built right into it, which is great for carrying a spare. But because I don’t always have a spare battery with me, the ability for the battery compartment to fold flat is awesome. That way I can still stuff it full of groceries when I need to.
The Handlebar Bag and Frame-Pack TopTube are both great for medium-sized items. The TopTube pack actually fits more than it would appear, and I’m always surprised when I can keep stuffing more into it. Also, just look at that zipper. You could tow a truck with that zipper.
The Saddle Bag and the Cockpit Pack are both on the small side, but they are just as high quality as the rest. So if you need a smaller bag but don’t want to just find the cheapest thing on Amazon, these are both great quality options.
Apidura Bikepacking gear
I’ve got the Expedition Handlebar Pack (14L), Expedition Saddle Pack (14L), and the Expedition Top Tube Pack (0.5 L) from Apidura. The quality is phenomenal and the gear is beyond useful, it’s a lifesaver sometimes when I need to shove more stuff on my bike than my backpack will fit.
That little half liter top tube pack might not sound like much space, but it’s convenient for stashing little things like sunglasses, keys, wallet, some fruit or other snacks, etc.
The saddle pack and handlebar pack are much bigger and fit my groceries or other large objects. I’ve taken packages to the post office with them and generally hauled all sorts of weird stuff. And because the handlebar bag actually opens at both ends, you can get away with carrying some odd-shaped or bulky items that don’t even fit inside the pack. I’m not sure you’re supposed to be riding around with an umbrella or 2-by-4 hanging out of there, but I won’t tell if you won’t.
The Expedition series is fully welded and uses a proprietary material from Apidura that keeps it nice and waterproof. This kind of storage has been super helpful when using e-bikes as a main source of transportation.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to add some extra hauling ability to an e-bike is simply tossing on a backpack.
evoc FR Trail E-Ride 20L backpack
I think it’s so cool that there are electric bicycle-centric products coming out these days that are designed specifically for electric bike riders like us.
The evoc FR Trail E-Ride backpack is designed with a spare battery compartment. Just like the Ortlieb pannier above, the spare battery compartment collapses down when not in use, which means you’ve still got all of the available space in the bag for stashing other things. But because you might not want a big, heavy battery smacking you in the back throughout your ride, the FR Trail E-Ride also includes a LITESHIELD back protector. It absorbs shock from normal use and also keeps that battery out of your shoulder blades.
The bag is really well ventilated, comes with a helmet holder, and has a pile of different-sized s. It even has specific s labeled for e-bike parts like a removable display. Everything I want in an e-bike backpack, and nothing I don’t!
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR 20 100 ounce Hydration Pack
The thing I love about CamelBak backpacks is that you don’t just get a hydration back, you usually get a really good bag as well. The bags aren’t too big, but they offer enough space for daily use, especially considering you’ve got a huge 3L water reservoir in there.
The new design of the CamelBak reservoir in the H.A.W.G LR 20 100 ounce hydration pack puts it down in the small of your back, not up on your shoulder blades like my older CamelBaks that I bought years ago. Not only is the new design more comfortable, but it means the bag gives you even more storage for the rest of your gear.
The double-cinching waist belt compresses the pack to reduce fatigue from weight hanging too far out from your bag and gets the weight down onto your hips.
This one has been such a winner in my book that I find myself taking it on much more than bike rides now. It’s my new go-to day hike bag as well.
By the way, I should also mention that I’ve also enjoyed another piece of CamelBak gear, the Podium Dirt Series water bottle. Sometimes I don’t need a huge 3L CamelBak reservoir, and so just having the bottle is a nice change, especially on those in-between rides that are too long to not bring water but too short to fill up the CamelBak reservoir. It’s rugged and I don’t feel like the cap is going to break off, which is how I’ve destroyed a number of other bottles that I accidentally drop while e-biking.
Clothes make the man, right? While I’ll often hop on my e-bike in whatever I happen to have on, the right clothes can make the difference for certain rides.
Cycorld biking shorts
Alright, it’s time to fess up again. I originally bought these because I was doing an early media ride, didn’t have a pair of biking shorts, and they were a combination of cheapest-on-Amazon and didn’t-make-me-look-like-one-of-those-lycra-spandex-dudes. So basically, they checked both of my boxes.
When I got them they even came with a pair of padded undies, which was a nice addition.
My favorite thing about these shorts is that they give you lots of space for your stuff in four different s, yet hold it all in tight to your legs so it doesn’t bounce around while riding. Yes, they are a bit stretchy, but they certainly aren’t normal lycra bike shorts. And they are long enough that I can wear them casually and not feel silly. If anything, they’re a bit too long since they hang below my knees when I’m not riding. But that’s my single gripe about them.
(Oh and in case you were wondering about those blue gloves, they didn’t make the cut. We don’t talk about those.)
Sherpa Adventure Gear pants and rain jacket
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean I can be in a tank top and shorts all the time. I still need pants that are comfortable to ride in during the cool nights, especially when I’m letting the e-bike’s motor do most of the work. If I’m not generating my own muscle heat, things can get chilly. And the Sherpa Gurkhali pants have been great for that.
They’re made of Dyneema to keep them strong, yet they feel as comfortable as pajama pants. They’re loose enough that I can pedal freely yet tight enough to still look nice. My wife even lets me wear them when we go out on dates, so that should tell you something right there.
Somehow they give me all of the practicality of jeans, with reinforced stitching and five- design, yet they just feel so light and comfy. Again, this is another piece of my e-bike gear that I routinely take on other outdoor trips like hikes.
Speaking of light, Sherpa’s Assar 2.5 layer waterproof jacket falls into the same category. I don’t know how it can be this light, but I almost feel like the thing is going to float away. And yet it’s totally waterproof, which is perfect for unexpected summer showers. It stuffs down into one of its front s and takes up almost no space when I’m not using it, yet unfolds in seconds into a lightweight, waterproof jacket. It’s crazy that I can carry my rain jacket in my front. but I’m loving it!
And if I could digress for a second here to talk about the social responsibility of the company without getting too hippy dippy… please spare me a minute. Sherpa Adventure Gear was founded by a Sherpa as a form of living memorial for those that work on Mount Everest. Their goal is to provide economic and social stability to the people of Nepal through steady employment, quality working conditions, and educational opportunities for future generations. And I think that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
SAXX performance underwear
This one gets a bit personal, but hang in there with me.
Look, men have all been there. Long rides can get a bit, errr, uncomfortable down there.
But I found some underwear that makes it a lot better.
SAXX boxers have what they call their trademarked “Ballpark Pouch,” which induced the vomit emoji in a friend of mine when I jokingly sent her a picture of the box of my new drawers.
I’m not going to model these for you, I’ll let you go to the site and check them out yourself. Suffice it to say that this is the most I would ever spend on underwear, but it’s totally worth it if your boys are in need of some extra comfort on a long ride. OK, enough said.
Adidas Wandertag lightweight jacket
The Adidas Wandertag jacket is the other lightweight summer jacket I’ve been testing. It’s not quite as lightweight as the Sherpa jacket above, but that actually makes it a bit better suited for cooler evenings.
The Wandertag jacket is a bit more substantial. That means I will probably be able to get more use out of it into the fall as well. And while I’m in Tel Aviv over the winter, it will probably even be enough for the occasional rainstorms, since the weather doesn’t get that cold.
And if I’m being honest, I also like that the branding isn’t too heavy. I don’t really want a 14-inch Adidas logo across the chest of my jacket. Sorry, Adidas.
But the company managed to restrain themselves and just put a small logo on the shoulder, which I can live with.
DU/ER Midweight Denim jeans (straight cut)
I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, and this might be a bit personal, but I tend to wear out the crotch of jeans. I don’t know how, but I always seem to end up wearing a hole right in the crotch where the stitching comes together. I suspect it’s from my bike saddle, as I can’t explain it otherwise. And while I normally wouldn’t care, my wife hates it.
So that’s why I want to recommend the DU/ER Midweight Denim jeans. As I’ve found in my testing, these are the best jeans I’ve ever had for e-bike riding because they are so robust. I’ve worn them waaaay too much this summer, and they show absolutely zero signs of wear.
And most importantly for me, the crotch is reinforced with an extra gusset of fabric, as you can see in the photos. Instead of coming together in a single weak spot at the bottom, an extra triangle of material is added to spread out the high stress joint at the bottom into two lower stress locations.
These have pretty much turned into my cycling AND work jeans, since they seem to stand up to everything. I’d say I’ll absolutely buy another pair when these wear out, but I honestly don’t see them needing to be replaced for many years to come.
UnderArmour Getaway Polarized sunglasses
I went through multiple pairs of sunglasses this summer, ultimately landing on just two that I could truly recommend.
I love these UA Getaway Polarized sunglasses. I’m not an elite athlete and don’t need crazy, aerodynamic sports glasses. I just wanted something that’s going to keep the sun out of my eyes, and bonus points if it makes me look like a badass.
These UA specs give me that Tom Cruise in Top Gun look and actually work well, too. Plus, they’re comfortable. What more can I ask for in a pair of sunglasses?
Julbo Arise sunglasses with Reactiv lenses
As I mentioned, I only found two pairs of sunglasses that I would put my name behind. These Julbo Arise sunglasses with Reactiv lenses are the second pair.
Unlike the aviator-style UA sunglasses above, these Julbo Arise sunglasses are definitely more sport-oriented. I take these in two cases: 1) when I’m doing a more intense ride, and 2) when I’m out anytime around dusk or dawn.
The reason for the second case is that these sunglasses have the absolutely coolest lenses I’ve ever tried. The Reactiv lenses change darkness depending on the ambient light. They are dark in the middle of the day, just like you’d want. Then they lighten as the sun starts to set. That lets the proper amount of light in and preserves your eye protection even when there’s less light.
It’s approaching dusk here and the lenses are already lightening.
When I’m riding fast e-bikes, the last thing I want is a bug or dust in my eye. But when the sun starts going down, I used to lose my sunglass/eye protection. Not anymore, thanks to these bad boys!
I definitely recommend these for outdoors folks that do a lot day-into-night activities. I even use them for running now and love it.
Here’s all of the rest of the odds and ends that I’ve made use of over the summer and found to be high-enough quality to recommend.
SILCA Tredici bike multi-tool
Technically referred to as the SILCA Tredici Italian army knife, this bike multi-tool is seriously tough and doesn’t break the bank.
I’ve had so many cheap bike multi-tools that come with various e-bikes or in grab bags, and they always seem to fail me when I need them most.
So finally I decided I wanted a bit better of a tool that I can rely on. The SILCA Tredici is exactly that. It’s a hardcore bike multi-tool that you can crank on without feeling like it’s going to break apart.
The one thing I’d change is to perhaps make the hex wrenches a tad longer, but the shortness is actually a design feature that increases the strength by reducing the lever arm.
Knog Cobber and pwr commuter LED lights
These have been my favorite lights that I’ve tested so far. The Knog Cobber is a great set for anyone that wants to finally buy their last set of bike lights.
For the longest time I was buying a couple sets of cheap bike lights per season as they would inevitably break. Add in all the battery swaps, and the damn things cost me a fortune in both money and aggravation. That has made the Knog Cobber bike set a godsend. They have a really wide beam angle and are USB rechargeable (no more freakin’ AAAs). I wish the battery lasted longer, as I usually get about four to six hours out of them before they need to be recharged. But that’s often a week, depending on my riding schedule, so I consider that pretty good for rechargeable lights that are this bright.
Speaking of brightness, we’re talking 320 lumens up front and 170 in the back. That’s plenty to be seen and actually does a decent job of lighting up the road in areas where street lights are sparse.
I’ve also been testing out the pwr commuter, which is a combination front bike light and USB power bank charger. At 450 lumens, this one is incredibly bright and has a nice spread-out beam in an elliptical pattern. I’ve used the power-bank part of it in a pinch to charge up my phone on long rides when GPS has worn down my battery. Don’t expect to get a full phone charge out of it most of the time, but it’s great in a pinch!
Knog Oi bell
While I’m on the subject of Knog, you’ll definitely want to check out the Knog Oi bell. I’ve been testing the Luxe model in silver finish, though all of the models come in a few sizes to fit different bar sizes.
There are two things I love about it: 1) It has a slim profile so it takes up almost no room on the bars, and 2) it sounds beautiful. (Alright, there are technically three things, because I also like the way it looks.) In fact, it looks so good that I’m almost worried it’s going to get jacked. But again, it’s small enough that I think most people won’t even see it tucked into a busy handlebar set.
So there you have it. It’s been many, many hours of testing to get to this point, but these have been my favorite pieces of gear I’ve used this summer for all of my e-biking trips.
There’s surely some awesome stuff out there that I don’t know about yet, though, so please let me know what I should pick up to test out next in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below!
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Why You Should Buy an E-bike Instead of an Electric Vehicle
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Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused oil to shoot up, electric vehicles were having a moment. The ad lineup for the Super Bowl is a reasonable barometer of automakers’ priorities, and for the 2022 game, six companies, from Chevy to newcomer Polestar, ran commercials featuring electric vehicles (up from just one last year).
Of note for outdoorsy folks, the lineup is clearly shifting from dainty Priuses (Prii?) and Leafs (Leaves?) to brawny electrified Silverados and Cybertrucks. From the new Ford F-150 Lightning to Rivian’s R1T—which will feature a perfectly ’grammable camp kitchen made in collaboration with Snow Peak—the auto industry is getting very close to offering EVs that are every bit as camping-trip-worthy, ski- vacation-worthy, and generally adventure-worthy as their internal-combustion-powered cousins.
So you might be tempted to upgrade: If you could have all the utility your current rig offers, free of both the cost and guilt of fossil fuels, what’s not to love, right?
Aside from availability (that electric Silverado is planned for 2024, for instance), there’s another reason to slow-roll your enthusiasm. While EVs are better choices than internal-combustion (ICE) cars and trucks on some measures, they still come with big costs, literal and figurative. I’m here to make a different argument: Whatever your goal—to save money, the planet, or your sanity and health—the EV that will change your life isn’t a car, truck, or SUV. It’s an e-bike.
I can hear the guffaws and but-but-buts already.
“I can’t go skiing with an e-bike!”
“That cargo bike won’t fit a fifth of my car-camping gear.”
We can “what if” all kinds of specific scenarios for which an e-bike doesn’t work. And if you need a new vehicle to replace that beloved early-aughts Tacoma with 300k on the odometer and enough rust that you can almost see through the floorboards, by all means, make your next four-wheel vehicle an electric. What I’m advocating here is not a Cortés-burned-his-ships moment where you forgo four-wheel transportation entirely. I’m saying keep your old car; get an e-bike, and use it to replace car trips. I’m saying that I want that stat about the typical car sitting parked 95 percent of the time to go up even more. I’m saying that even for skiers, car-campers, and contractors some of the time, this works because an e-bike, especially today’s cargo variety, is actually far more capable for your daily use than it seems.
Americans like SUVs and trucks because they’re rugged, capable, and versatile. They can haul lots of stuff, and you can mod them or add accessories to make a sweet overlanding/car-camping rig. But as Strategic Vision’s annual survey of 250,000 vehicle owners notes, roughly a third of pickup truck owners haul something in the bed of their truck once a year or less. Sure, car camping relies on a car. How many days a year do you camp, really? The rest of the time, that devotion to maximum utility means we’re severely over-gunned, using a 4,000-pound vehicle mostly for trips of less than six miles: to inefficiently ferry one person to and from work, schlep 50 pounds of food home from the local grocery store, or drive a handful of miles to the trailhead for a run. That’s all stuff an e-bike can handle with ease. And camping, when you get right down to it.
With our actual, daily use in mind rather than our imagined #livingmybestlife version, comparing four wheels (ICE or EV) to two, an e-bike comes out clearly on top on almost every measure. And people are noticing. The last two years, e-bikes have outsold EVs in the U.S. Recent research shows there’s significant public interest in mode-switching to bikes if cities have safe infrastructure; some 70 percent of people in the 50 largest metro regions in the U.S. say they would like to ride more, but don’t because of concerns about safety in traffic. That’s not just recreational riding: a recent McKinsey survey found 32 percent of Americans would prefer to commute by bike.
All of that says that the smartest play—for your wallet, for the planet, and for your health and happiness—isn’t to swap your gas guzzler for an EV, but to keep your current vehicle and buy an e-bike to use as a second (or first!) vehicle for all the stuff for which it’s a far better choice than a car.
For Saving Money
One big aspect that attracts people to EVs is the prospect of saving money on things like fuel and maintenance. Fuel costs to drive an ICE vehicle 10,000 miles a year (about 700-1600) are roughly two to four times the cost to charge an EV for the same amount of driving, according to AAA’s 2021 Driving Costs study. Gas has gotten more expensive in 2022: 1,840 for the average vehicle studied, which widens the gap further. You can estimate your specific costs in AAA’s new Ownership Costs calculator.
But for e-bikes, costs are dramatically lower than either ICE or electric vehicles, thanks in part to the relatively tiny batteries and the fact that e-bikes’ hybrid power source (electric and human) makes them highly efficient. In the heaviest use-case scenario—riding so much that you fully drain the 500 watt-hour battery 365 days a year, and living in the priciest state in the US for electricity costs (Hawaii)—the cost to ride an e-bike would be a little over 50 per year. Half that use, at national average electricity costs, your annual fueling cost would be 10, or about 2.5 percent of the cost of EV charging.
What about other costs, like registration, insurance, and depreciation? Factor in those and you can expect an EV to cost you about 7,500 per year (2,500 without estimated depreciation), says AAA. That’s about mid-pack measured against various ICE vehicle styles. So unless you’re stepping down from a full-size ICE pickup or SUV, you won’t actually save much, if any, money switching to an EV.
There isn’t a single great resource for ownership cost of bicycles; estimates range from as low as 100 to more than 800. Both are wrong, in my view; the lower estimate doesn’t realistically cover maintenance costs, while the higher one attempts to account for fueling in terms of extra calories for the rider. But bikes are already among the most efficient means of transportation ever created, and a lightweight electric motor means you’ll burn fewer calories to ride, not more (although the difference isn’t as large as you’d think). In short, the extra calories burned by pedaling are a rounding error in the scheme of your normal diet.
Maintenance? Riding a few thousand miles a year, figure you’ll go through two tires (the priciest e-bike tires are about 80 each) and two chains (60 per chain for a high-quality e-bike specific model). Add another 50 for labor for all that. Annual complete tuneup? About 100. Miscellaneous repairs like a flat tire or brake adjustment? Another 50 to 70.
So your total cost to operate an e-bike, including charging, would be around 500 a year. That’s about 2,000 less than it costs to operate an EV, and closer to 6,000 less if you factor in squishy costs like depreciation, for both an EV and a bike. You’re not saving the full 2,000, however. Since you kept your current car, you’ll still have a lot of those costs.
If you drive 10,000 miles a year normally and cut that by a third with your e-bike, you’ll save about 225-525 on gas at 4/gallon. Maintenance savings are harder to directly measure, but figure you’ll save 25 to 50 percent there too (another 200 to 400, ballpark). If you can get your car mileage under 5,000 a year, you (modestly) lower your insurance costs by switching to a low-miles plan. All told, you’ll save 400 to 900 a year just by replacing a third or so of your car miles with bike miles. Drive less, save more. And you still have a car.
For Fighting Climate Change
Transportation is—narrowly—the biggest single source of carbon emissions in the U.S. And cutting miles by switching to a bike is also the most effective way to cut your carbon output from transportation. That’s because any vehicle has a total carbon footprint broken down into two parts: creating it (production phase) and operating it (use phase). The figure that captures both of those is called a Life Cycle Assessment.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is usually expressed in terms of grams of carbon dioxide produced per mile driven, which spreads the carbon produced in making the product over its estimated lifespan. According to Tesla’s 2020 Impact Report, a grid-charged Model 3 in the U.S. has an LCA of 180g/mile, assuming it lasts about 200,000 miles with only minor repairs (aka it doesn’t need a new battery pack). It’s worth noting that figure is for a sedan; an E-SUV or truck would have a higher per-mile cost. That figure jumps around depending on how it’s charged. In Europe, says Tesla, the Model 3’s LCA drops to around 120g/mile thanks to electricity production that relies more on renewables and nuclear than our domestic power supply, while in China’s coal-and-gas-heavy grid it’s over 300g/mile.
In any case, using the U.S. figures, that means a Model 3, in its lifetime, will produce 36,000kg, or almost 40 tons, of carbon dioxide emissions. (A typical ICE vehicle creates about 66 tons of CO2 over the same lifespan.) For an EV, by far the biggest chunk of carbon emissions comes from creating it. Your current vehicle, of course, already exists; the carbon emissions from creating it are already a sunk cost. Just riding a bike rather than driving lowers both the carbon emissions from the car’s use phase, and negates the massive carbon emissions that would come from buying a new EV. This is basically Patagonia’s “Buy Less” campaign at a scale that dwarfs trying to get another ski season out of those shell pants.
What about bikes, though? They have a carbon cost too, right? Last year, as part of its sustainability initiatives, bike brand Trek published a detailed look at the carbon footprint of its products. Trek’s average bike requires 174kg of CO2 to produce. The only e-bike included in the analysis—the full-suspension Rail mountain bike series—is a decent proxy for cargo bikes in its aluminum-framed versions, and requires 190 to 240kg of CO2 to produce.
Factor in charging costs (it takes two to three percent of the energy needed to charge a standard EV), and an e-bike ridden 2,000 miles a year has an LCA of about 10-15g/mile if it lasts 10 years on the original battery, frame, and motor. That’s 12 to 18 times more efficient than a Tesla on a per-mile basis, literally an order of magnitude smaller than for even an EV charged completely via renewable energy. Doubt my math? This new study shows very close results.
As the energy grid (hopefully) shifts away from fossil fuel sources toward more renewables, that will drop the total carbon cost of all electric transportation. If that doesn’t happen, or happens slowly, electrification still helps, but at a substantially lower level. One new study estimates that, if the current fossil fuel-heavy grid doesn’t shift more toward renewables, half of all the benefits of increasing EV use will be negated by increased emissions from rising electricity use, which makes carbon-efficient transport like bikes even more important.
None of this, by the way, addresses the carbon footprint of infrastructure, and last time we checked electric cars weren’t any smaller or lighter than ICE cars. The carbon cost to produce a single parking space (176kg) is slightly less than what Trek emits making the average e-bike. Bikes still need lanes and parking too, of course, but far less; you can park five to 10 bikes in a single car space, for instance.
For A Better Life
When it comes to capability, a car or truck seems like the clear winner, right? And in some situations—really bad weather, when you need to carry a lot of stuff, or if you’re headed out of the city and into the wilderness—they’re absolutely preferred.
But bikes, especially the cargo variety, are surprisingly versatile, since car trips are often single-occupant (40 percent) and short-distance (60 percent of trips are under six miles), carrying small cargo loads like groceries or none at all. Even compact cargo bikes can haul at least 350 pounds including the rider. Urban Arrow’s acclaimed Family frontloader model has 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the box: plenty spacious enough for a Costco run. Need to ferry people around as well? Whether longtail, compact, or frontloader style, most cargo bikes can also carry two to three people (two adults or an adult and two kids). And check out the hashtag #carryshitolympics for inspiration on all the stuff you can realistically carry on a bike.
Other benefits? You get free VIP parking everywhere you go. You’re never stuck in traffic. Commuting or erranding by bike means you get exercise while getting stuff done, creating more free time to spend with family, friends, or doing things you love. And cargo bike converts can all tell some variation of how riding has helped deepen their interactions and adventures with their family, how the kids never get bored and love taking “the big bike” instead of the car.
That extra life satisfaction might be one of the biggest dividends of mode-switching, although it’s hard to measure. But it’s not the only quality-of-life metric. Riding instead of driving actively makes your city a more pleasant place to live, for everyone.
That’s because electric vehicles sidestep only one small part of what makes personal car ownership such a stubborn problem for cities. They may run on electricity, but they’re still cars, and you don’t fix car problems with a different kind of car. A new analysis from Germany estimates that the average person’s lifetime cost of car ownership is between 600,000 and 1 million. Roughly a third of that is what economists call externalities: costs paid by other people, in the form of time lost to traffic congestion, higher mortality from particulate and noise pollution, and the effects of climate change.
EVs are absolutely a vital part of fighting climate change, and will play an essential role in greening our transportation system. But they are not, in themselves, a fix. As Peter Norton, professor at the University of Virginia and author of “Fighting Traffic” says, an EV is an improvement on cars “like a filter is an improvement on a cigarette.”
All this time, we’ve been talking about e-bikes, which raises the question: Why couldn’t you just do this with regular, pedal-only bikes? You can, of course. But the addition of lightweight electric motor-assist is the secret sauce that transforms the e-bike experience for utility riding.
E-bikes simply change the geometry and geography of a city. They shrink distances and flatten hills. The motor boost of two to three times your normal power output turns errands and hauling even heavy cargo from an arduous grind that only the most committed (and fit) environmental activist would consider into an enjoyable enterprise accessible even to people trying to change a sedentary lifestyle. They’re horizon-expanders, daily adventure-enablers, and conversation-starters—say, when rolling past the line of cars at school to pick up your kids. E-bikes, along with other forms of micromobility and a sustained investment in transit, are the keystones to healthy, carbon-neutral transportation in cities, ending dependence on fossil fuels and depriving autocratic regimes of the engine of their repression.
If any of what I’ve talked about matters to you, then keep your car for as long as you can. Just drive it less, and replace those miles with an e-bike. Try it for three months. I doubt you’ll go back.