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
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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.
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.
Everything you need to know about e-bike batteries [from a battery engineer]
Would you be the person taking the stairs or the escalator?
I’ll be honest. barring the one-off day that I’m feeling particularly sprightly, I would just hop on the escalator with those 30 people on the right. And I’m willing to guess that most of you would too.
What we can gauge from this picture is that most people would rather do as little work as possible to get from point A to point B. This is especially true when it comes to commuting on a bike. The picture above is analogous to the difference between a regular bike and an e-bike.
Even if we address all the concerns when it comes to biking in a city (like safe biking infrastructure), we can’t expect to change fundamental human behavior. when given the option between less work or more work to achieve the same outcome, people will more likely choose to do less work.
Since getting my e-bike, I can comfortably bike from my home in Somerville to the Seaport district in Boston. a roughly 5-mile trip. in just about 20-minutes. All of a sudden, biking 5-miles is a piece of cake. I also don’t have to spend time sitting in traffic, waiting for public transit, or worry about showing up to a meeting looking like I swam across the Charles river to get there.
The beauty of an e-bike is that it makes cycling an inclusive mode of transportation because it doesn’t discriminate by age or physical ability.
When it comes to purchasing an e-bike though, there are a plethora of options for both the bike and battery. So how do you decide which one is best for your needs? As a battery engineer who has built hundreds of batteries and logged way too many hours soldering battery packs, here are my thoughts on the most commonly asked questions when it comes to e-bike batteries.
If you’re new to battery terminology, you might want to start here: Battery terms that every e-bike owner should know.
In this post, we’ll cover the following questions:
What is the best e-bike battery?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer. There are so many variables that go into what makes a good battery and what’s best for you, may not be the best for me. Even then, a good battery can perform poorly if it’s not cared for properly.
Battery packs are made up of individual battery “cells”. Cells are classified into cylindrical cells (like your AA and AAA) and prismatic cells (like the one in your phone). Each class of battery is manufactured in a variety of form-factors (in the battery world we use this term to mean size). The most commonly used form-factor of cells in an e-bike battery pack is the 18650.
A battery pack is only as good as it’s weakest cell.
When it comes to batteries, in my experience, there is a strong correlation between price and quality. I don’t follow this rule when it comes to most things like for example, box wine (I’m just saying, there are plenty of really good box wine options these days!). When it comes to batteries though, you really don’t want to be compromising on quality because you’ll eventually end up having to pay the price.
Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing an e-bike:
Cell Manufacturers: Panasonic, LG, and Samsung have a good reputation in the battery industry for their high quality cells, so paying a premium for these cells is certainly worth it. If the e-bike you’re trying to buy doesn’t have or provide cell manufacturer information, they’re likely not going to be a reliable source anyway.
Cell Chemistry: Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries are the best option for e-bikes. Although lead-acid batteries are significantly cheaper, they’re three times as heavy as their li-ion equivalents.
Li-ion has several variants of cell chemistry. The most popular ones for e-bikes are Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO), and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP). The metrics to look for when selecting a cell chemistry are:
- Specific Energy: has an impact on the range of your battery.
- Specific Power: how the battery handles high load scenarios like going up
- a hill.
- Safety: does the chemistry have a history of high in-field failures.
There are trade-offs when choosing one chemistry over another, but as we’ve shown in the image below, NMC and LFP are both great options that both offer the best value in terms of performance, price, and safety.
Picking the right battery chemistry has to do with figuring out what matters most to you. Do you want a battery that has a longer range (higher specific energy) but doesn’t have as much power? Or do you want a battery that has a more power (higher specific power) but may not last as long?
In my opinion, the best e-bike batteries are likely going to be made from cells manufactured by Panasonic, LG, or Samsung with either LFP or NMC cell chemistry.
What is the range of an e-bike battery?
The range of a battery pack depends on the amount of energy packed inside of it and is measured in Watt-Hours (Wh). Watt?
Watt-hours are calculated by multiplying the battery capacity, in Amp-hours, by the battery Voltage, in Volts.
Let’s assume that, on average, 1-mile requires about 25Wh of energy. So a 14Ah, 36V battery should get you about 25-miles per charge.
Keep in mind that the weight of the rider, outside temperature conditions, and the amount of pedaling will make a significant difference in range.
A word of caution: the range that e-bike manufacturers provide should be taken with a grain of salt. That number is generated from tests that are run in perfectly tailored lab conditions. Do you charge any of your electronics in an incubation chamber set at 28° C with a lab-grade charger that applies the perfect current while charging? Yeah, I don’t either. And so, We should assume that the manufacture-specified range is delivered only if the battery is charged and discharged under ideal conditions i.e. not real world conditions.
For a more realistic estimate, shave off 15% of the manufacturer specified range and assume this padded number to be your real range.
If you’re looking for a longer range, choose a battery that has higher capacity (Ah). If you’re looking for more power, choose a battery that has higher voltage (V). Learn more why voltage and capacity matter.
What is the lifespan of an e-bike battery?
There are several factors that affect the lifetime of a battery such as:
- environmental conditions: temperature during charging discharging
- charging rate: how fast or slow your battery is charged
- charging voltage: what voltage the battery is charged to
- depth of discharge (DoD): what voltage the battery is discharged to
The list above isn’t exhaustive but, in general, batteries decay as a function of time in the charged state. Period.
Day 1: You get your new e-bike and charge it up to 100% and go on a bike ride. When you come home, you charge the bike back up to 100% and you’re excited to ride it again soon.
Day 2. 364: Life get’s in the way and you still haven’t been out on your bike since that first ride.
Day 365: One year later, it’s the perfect day for a bike ride and you finally have some time on your hands. You head to your basement, unlock your bike, and excitedly turn it on. 80% charge. What? You clearly remember charging your bike to 100% last year before moving it to the basement!
The truth is, we can’t beat thermodynamics. I’ll say it again: batteries decay as a function of time in the charged state.
Now, because you left your battery at 100% for a whole year in a basement with no temperature control, you inadvertently caused your battery to lose a certain amount of irreversible capacity. Your range will be ~20% lower and you’ll likely have to replace your battery sooner than you expected. The table below shows you how much recoverable capacity exists in a battery after storing it at different temperatures and different charge states for 1-year.
This is why a lot of electronics come with batteries that are only partially charged. to help slow down this decay. That being said, it’s hard to track how long e-bikes and their batteries have been sitting in warehouses before being delivered to your door so you could get a battery that has been decaying for a year or two.
Manufacturers also tend to overrate their batteries and will make claims about certain batteries having a lifetime of at least 1,000 cycles. Show.me.the.data.
The lifetime of a lithium-ion battery is described as the number of cycles until the capacity (Ah) drops below 80% of it’s initial capacity. In general, this is roughly 250-400 cycles (depending on battery chemistry and other factors) which amounts to roughly 1.5 to 2 years if you charge discharge daily and care for your battery properly.
How to charge your e-bike battery to make it last longer
- The thing that will kill your battery faster than anything else is leaving it charged at elevated temperatures. If it’s 80 degrees outside and you have your e-bike fully charged, move it indoors where it’s cooler and try to drain the battery as soon as possible.
- Charge your battery at room temperature as often as possible.
- When sourcing an e-bike battery charger, the slower the charge rate the better. For example, if you have a 2-Amp charger, and your battery is a 14 Ah battery pack, you are charging at 14 Ah / 2-Amps = 7-hours. This is a nice, slow charge which will certainly improve the longevity of your battery pack. Avoid charging at rates that are faster than 2-hours for a full charge.
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the best battery for you e-bike, and there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. But if I were buying an e-bike battery today, here’s what I’d do: LFP or NMC, slow charge, avoid storing or charging in hotter temperatures, and leave the battery at around 30% charge if you don’t plan on using it for a while.
Have questions? We’d love to help. You can get in touch using the contact form or find us on @somerville_ev
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