We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Until recently, electric bicycles were rare oddities. Now, they're all over the place. While it's nice to have a wide range to choose from, some electric bikes can be disappointing. Costs have come down, but for the moment, we advise consumers to steer clear of cheap electric bicycles because they're not likely to fulfill expectations.
Our ratings don't cover ultra-cheap bikes, nor do they cover "extreme sports" bikes (because they are specialist equipment). In the following shortlist, we present an interesting and varied mix of quality electric bicycles. They are:
Note: The above product recommendations were updated July 2017. The products below were our original choices and have yet to be updated.
An electric bike's style and construction are two important factors to consider before making a purchase. You want a bike that will accommodate its motor without being too cumbersome; you want a bike that's stable in spite of its electronic components; you want a power pack that's well-integrated and doesn't spoil the look of the machine.
Electric bike performance is a complicated topic, and your choice will depend not just on obvious factors (wattage, motor performance, weight), but also on exactly what you want the power for. Do you want an electric bike for the occasional assistance it provides going up hills, or do you want it for more consistent support during your travels? How far do you intend to travel with your ebike -- short distances? Long road trips? Our detailed ratings help you discern which bike would give you the performance you need.
Some consumers want only the most basic of ebike features, including lights, a cargo rack/basket, water bottle holder, etc. Others focus more heavily on safety features, such as brake type. Still others are concerned with convenience and portability.
We've said that cheap electric bikes aren't worth the purchase, but that doesn't mean our final five are inordinately expensive. Indeed, each model on our shortlist is competitively priced and represents an excellent value. In this part of our ratings, we analyze just what you should expect from your investment.
In terms of appearance, the Pedego Classic Electric Bike couldn't be more different from the Prodeco. It definitely lives up to the "classic" part of its name, right down to the Schwalbe Fat Frank tires, high handlebars, and sprung saddle. We're not criticizing; the Pedego is an intelligent blend of style from a bygone era (built to last) with modern technology. It's another ebike that looks like an ordinary bike until you give it a closer inspection. The motor is in the rear hub and the battery pack is positioned in the rear as well, just like the Prodeco, but this time they've managed to sling it below the rack in order to preserve storage space. In spite of its sturdy frame and large wheels, the Pedego's weight is a competitive 57 pounds.
At first glance, the X-Treme Scooters Electric Mountain Bike looks like a lot of other mountain bikes. It's not until you examine the rear down tube that you notice the battery pack. Continuing the "off-road" theme, the frame itself is a well-built, aluminum alloy affair with hydraulic front forks. It's branded as a men's bike. We don't think the top rail is high enough to be a problem for women, but there is a ladies' version available should that be a concern. The motor sits in the rear hub, keeping the center of gravity low and aiding balance. Overall weight, including what the manufacturer calls a "lightweight" battery pack, is 52 pounds.
Just like all electronic devices, keep in mind you will have to replace the battery at some point during your bike’s lifespan.
The general appearance of the e-JOE Epik provides fairly obvious clues that it's a folding bike, but the battery pack is cleverly hidden inside the frame. Like the X-Treme -- and indeed many other electric bikes -- the motor is in the rear hub. It's easy to think that this small electric bike might not be as practical as some others, but it will happily take a rider of up to 300 pounds in spite of its own low weight (under 40 pounds). The e-JOE is a tough little beast, and it's convenient, too. Just stow it in your trunk, park on the edge of of town, and ride on in.
Our eZip Trailz Electric Bicycle is the ladies' version, but a men's version is also available. This bike is styled like a mountain bike, and while we doubt many people would take it on a rugged trail, it's designed to be comfortable and easy to ride. Like the X-Treme, there are hydraulic front forks, and the motor is in the rear hub. It's put together well and is a very popular model, but there are a couple of things that some owner weren't happy with. First was the fact that the battery pack is situated on one side; some owners felt that this affected the bike's stability. Second was the overall weight of the bike, which is around 80 pounds -- a lot heavier than some of the other top electric bikes on our shortlist.
The American-made Prodeco V3 Phantom X2 Electric Bicycle is a contemporary design that may not appeal to traditionalists, but we think the slightly aggressive stance is very smart. It's also clever; we doubt that you'd be able to tell this is a folding electric bike just by looking at it. It's not as light as the e-JOE, but the aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame helps restrict weight to a reasonable 58 pounds. This weight includes the hub-mounted motor and battery pack. There are also telescopic front forks. Many owners rave about how well-made this ebike is, though a few were disappointed that the positioning of the battery takes away valuable storage space.
If you don’t bike because your area is hilly or windy, then an e-bike might be perfect for option to get you pedaling.
The rightly popular Shimano seven-speed gear set makes another appearance on the Pedego Classic Electric Bike, which has a 400-watt motor powered by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery. Clearly not a sporting ebike, speed is nevertheless a maximum of 20 mph and range is 15 to 30 miles. This bike offers three drive modes: full electric power, pedal-assist, and pedal only. There's a handlebar throttle for speed control and a small control screen to quickly engage or disengage assisted pedaling. Five different levels of pedaling assist are available, depending on how energetic you are feeling! Full battery charge should be achieved in four to five hours. The manufacturer doesn't supply maximum rider weights for the Pedego Classic City Commuter, but it's safe to assume that its specs are similar to those of our other electric bicycle finalists.
When it comes to electric bike terminology, motor and battery capacities quoted in watts, amps, and volts can be difficult to translate into real world applications. Our ratings are designed to help potential buyers make sense of the terms.
The motor in the X-Treme Scooters Electric Mountain Bike is rated at 300 watts and is powered by seven individual 3.6-volt batteries (in a single sealed unit) that produce 56 amps. In real-world terms, the claim is that they will produce a top speed of 20 mph (through a seven-speed Shimano gear set) and a maximum distance of 15 to 20 miles. The manufacturer also says that maximum rider weight is 350 pounds. Those figures are reasonably impressive, but it's vital to understand that the manufacturer is not saying a 350 pound person can ride this bike for 25 miles at 20 mph. Each spec figure is a maximum; averages will be considerably lower. This isn't a matter of X-Treme Scooters massaging the figures. All electric bicycle makers state performance rates this way. Of course, if the battery runs flat, you can always pedal! Recharging the X-Treme bike takes around 4 hours. Power is controlled by a variable speed throttle that is mounted on the handlebar, much like on a motorcycle. Riders can set the bike to full electric power or power-assisted pedaling, or they can turn the electric system off completely when they want a bit of exercise.
Electric bikes tend to be much heavier than manual bikes, so don’t plan on traveling with it much if you don’t need to.
For a small, folding ebike, the e-JOE Epik's carrying capacity of 300 pounds is pretty impressive. Combine this with a 350-watt motor driven by a 36-volt, 9-amp hour battery and you've got as much as 30 miles of range at up to 20 mph. Like the X-Treme, the e-JOE provides a seven-speed Shimano gear set to make the most of the available power. The e-JOE also boasts similar modes of power assistance, with speed managed through a handlebar-mounted thumb control. Full charge should be achieved in around four hours.
With a 450-watt motor, 24-volt battery, and seven Shimano speeds that are geared for a top rate of 15 mph and a range of 15 to 22 miles, the eZip Trailz Electric Bicycle takes a slightly more sedate approach than the other bikes on our shortlist. There are two power modes: TAG (Twist and Go) for all-electric drive and PAS (Pedal Assisted Throttle). We think this is more like a standard bicycle with electrical assistance than a ground-up ebike. Judging from owner comments, however, this model certainly appeals to many. Maximum rider weight is 240 pounds. We were unable to find a charge time for the battery, but "overnight" is often quoted by users.
Given how it looks, you might expect the Prodeco V3 Phantom X2 Folding Electric Bicycle to have decent performance specs. It doesn't disappoint. Although top speed is a fairly average 20 mph, owners tell us that acceleration is rapid. The 500-watt direct drive motor and 38-volt, 12-amp hour battery yields anywhere between 28 and 38 miles of range. To help deliver that power, there's an eight-speed derailleur gear system matched to an eight-speed twist shifter on the handlebars. (This can be disengaged for normal pedaling.) Potential buyers should be aware that this bike features no "half-way" assisted pedaling mode; it's either on or off. Considering the size of the battery, a charging time of five to six hours seems perfectly acceptable.
Since e-bikes are substantially more expensive than regular bikes, we strongly recommend getting insurance for your new set of wheels.
The Pedego Classic Electric Bike relies on disk brakes for stopping. Like the Prodeco, the battery is mounted behind the rider. Unlike the Prodeco, this particular battery pack is fitted below the cargo rack, preserving storage space. Another clever little touch: the seat lifts up to reveal a small amount of additional storage space underneath. We think the Pedego's digital display is outstanding. It tells you how much battery charge remains, the power level you are using, the wattage output, your speed, your trip mileage, and total distance traveled. It even has back-lighting so you can see it in the dark!
Anyone who has gone storming down a hill on an ordinary bicycle -- and then tried to stop quickly -- will appreciate the disk brakes fitted on the front and rear of the X-Treme Scooters Electric Mountain Bike. While the bike is not overloaded with other features, there's nothing missing that really ought to be there. It has an LED headlight, a bell, a tool kit, and a very handy cargo rack. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there's a battery charge indicator --although if you're planning on going anywhere near its distance limit, it's best to ensure you have as close to a full charge as possible before departing. (This advice applies to any ebike.)
The average bike speed is around 10 m.p.h., which is adequate considering most cars average about 20 m.p.h. When driving around town.
The e-JOE Epik Folding Electric Bike makes do with traditional rim brakes, and although some might prefer disks, it's a system that has proven itself to be perfectly adequate on bicycles for many years. Given the e-JOE's relatively light weight, these should actually be more than adequate -- especially since brake application automatically cuts the motor. There are LED lights on the front and back, a rear rack, and tires that are designed to be puncture-resistant. To control the electrical side of things, there's a display with functions for turning the motor on and off, switching between throttle and pedal assistance, selecting the amount of pedaling assistance, and letting you know how much battery charge is left.
Like the e-JOE, the eZip Trailz Electric Bicycle relies on rim brakes for stopping. As we've already seen, however, this isn't the fastest of ebikes, so that shouldn't be a problem. In terms of other features, you get the cargo rack that the battery is mounted on, but that's about it. Given that other, cheaper models offer a variety of extras, we found this a little surprising. However, it doesn't seem to impact consumers, most of whom are very pleased with their purchase.
It's no surprise, given its racy styling, that the Prodeco V3 Phantom X2 Folding Electric Bicycle benefits from disk brakes. There's also a battery level indicator on the handlebar next to the throttle (but it only displays power in increments of full, half or empty). We've already mentioned how the battery position prohibits use of a rear rack, and while we've heard that the manufacturer is working on a solution, there isn't one available yet. You don't get lights with this bike, and some other "little extras" are left off of the package as well, but Prodeco is keen to focus on what they claim is a superior battery, saying that it is more durable and handles high temperatures better than its competitors. Coming from southern Florida, we suppose this manufacturer ought to know about extreme heat!
E-bikes are also a great option if you like to trailer your kids around for long periods of time.
If you like the traditional look of the Pedego Classic Electric Bike, you'll need to find $2595 — which is a fair bit more than any of the other ebikes in our ratings, but still considerably less than many competitors. What you get for your money is an electric bicycle with an exceptional design. Owner impressions are always important to us — even the negative ones — and we assign a lot of weight to them. The problem with the Pedego? There are no negative comments. Everyone loves it.
List price for this X-Treme Scooters Mountain Bike is $849, which is more than reasonable for a quality electric bicycle. Some assembly is required, and the instructions have been criticized as being poor, but it's not a complex job. (If you choose, there are YouTube videos you can follow.) Component quality and bike sturdiness, on the other hand, have been widely praised. All electric bikes are a little heavy, but most people who buy the X-Treme find it to be a practical and enjoyable electric bicycle that does what it's supposed to do.
While there are many DIY bike kits on the market now, it’s always a safer bet to buy one that is a dedicated electric bike. If the kit doesn’t work, you won’t be able to use the resources of a e-bike manufacturer to get it fixed.
The e-JOE Epik costs $1549. For such a clever, convenient folding bicycle, that's not a bad price. What you get for your money may not be the most stylish ebike around, but it's well-made and surprisingly powerful. It's also the lightest of our final five, and as such, it's quite practical to fold it and put it in the trunk or stow it in a small trailer. This bike is very convenient if you're off for the weekend somewhere and don't want to keep using the car for short trips.
You'll pay $599 for the eZip Trailz Electric Bicycle, and whether you purchase a woman's or man's bike, both are designed for a fairly sedate kind of powered cycling. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just a different approach. Judging from the plethora of positive owner comments, it's a very popular approach! There are those who don't like the battery being on one side, and the Currie eZip's overall weight gets a few negative comments -- and yet, others feel that the added bulk makes the bike more sturdy and secure. Overall, the majority of owners find this ebike to be a good value when compared to similar models from other manufacturers.
The sporty Prodeco V3 Phantom X2 Folding Electric Bicycle costs $1599, which is by no means expensive when you consider its quality and complexity. Although limited to 20 mph, it's arguably the most powerful ebike on our shortlist. Under the right conditions, the range approaches 40 miles! The fact that you can fold it and put it in your trunk is a real bonus (although weighing in at 58 pounds, this bike is no lightweight). Our research uncovered one or two complaints, most of which had to do with battery position and rare component failures. Under warranty, these should be fixed. Even those who weren't 100 percent happy with the Prodeco admit that it's a good deal for the money. Most satisfied owners -- and there are plenty of them -- are delighted with their purchase and would recommend the Prodeco to others.
It was a tough contest, but our Best of the Best contender is Pedego Classic City Commuter Electric Bike.
Visually, this bike is stunning -- a smart blend of yesteryear's style and today's technology. It looks comfortable to ride and, according to owners, it is. Owners also tell us that it's built very well. This doesn't surprise us, considering Pedego's stellar reputation for manufacturing quality and attentive customer support.
From a cycling point of view, this bike delivers a well-padded, sprung saddle, pleasantly high handlebars, renowned Shimano gears, and those lovely Schwalbe Fat Frank tires. (For additional safety, the tires come with reflective side-walls!) The bike also boasts disk brakes in the front and rear, lights in the front and rear, and a useful cargo rack.
From an ebike standpoint, the Pedego Classic City Commuter sports a reliable, hub-mounted motor that is driven by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery. In full-electric mode, turning the handlebar throttle will take you up to 20 mph for a distance of anywhere from 15 to 30 miles, depending on rider weight and the terrain you're covering. If you want to go further or need a little exercise, you have two options: power-assisted pedaling or unassisted, "unplugged" use. To keep you fully informed, there's a digital display with a trip computer, odometer, speedometer, pedal assist level, and battery charge information.
A final word: we simply could not ignore the numerous compliments heaped onto this bike by owners. Seldom do we come a cross a product so universally praised. This bike certainly costs a pretty penny -- $2595, to be exact -- but comments like "Everything I hoped for!" and "Outstanding!" tell us that it's money well spent.
Visually, the Pedego Classic City Commuter Electric Bike is stunning — a smart blend of yesteryear's style and today's technology.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.