Updated March 2022
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Buying guide for Best motorized bicycles

Believe it or not, motorized bicycles have been around for well over a century. Predating the first automobile by decades, motorized bicycles have evergreen appeal due to their low-profile, low-maintenance, and low-cost operation compared to cars. Their extended range offers riders invaluable freedom and convenience, opening the door to new job opportunities, personal connections, or just a relaxing jaunt around town. Motorized bikes certainly make conquering those steep inclines a bit easier, too.

Motorized bicycles come in several types, ranging from electric pedal bicycles to gas-powered, trail-conquering mini bikes. Thanks to advancements in electric motors and battery technology, though, electric models have rocketed to the forefront in recent years.

Survey the market and you’ll find there’s a motorized bicycle for nearly every need. While the abundance of choice is nice, it can make it difficult to choose the right model. We’re here to break down the differences between models, answer popular questions, offer helpful tips, and hopefully put you on the right path to choosing the perfect motorized bike. Don’t forget to check out our product picks for the best motorized bicycles as well.

Just like with cars and motorcycles, motorized bicycles can have completely different driving styles. One example of this is the throttle. Some models use basic lever throttles or buttons that are not too different from lawn mower controls. Others utilize motorcycle-style twist throttles for precise acceleration and control.

Gas vs. electric motorized bicycles

When it comes to motorized bicycles, you have two main choices: gas or electric.

Gas motorized bicycles

Gas models, like motorcycles and cars, use fuel and oil to run. They typically have excellent range and are quick to replenish because they don’t have to be hooked to a charger for hours. They tend to be quite powerful as well and are the go-to option for rugged use. They do require regular maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, and their internal combustion engines produce exhaust.

Gas pros

  • Low initial cost
  • Long range
  • High speed
  • Rugged
  • Fast refueling

Gas cons

  • Loud
  • Hot
  • Requires maintenance
  • Exhaust limits access to some areas

Electric motorized bicycles

Electric models, by contrast, are much simpler to operate and maintain. They don’t require oil or fuel, reducing the number of service points to the brakes, tires, and drive chain. They are limited by the life of their batteries, of course, but electric bicycle batteries can last between three and five years if properly maintained and require little attention in the meantime. Electric models are often preferred for casual street use. However, they may be quite heavy due to the battery.

Electric pros

  • Quiet
  • Low maintenance
  • Can be charged at almost any outlet
  • Produces little heat
  • Produces no exhaust

Electric cons

  • Heavy
  • Can be expensive
  • Long recharge times
  • May be less powerful than gas models
Did You Know?
Electric motorized bicycles often utilize a technology called regenerative braking. Commonly used on hybrid electric vehicles and even race cars, regenerative brakes harvest heat energy created by braking and funnel it back into the battery. This can extend battery life and vehicle range.

Key considerations


The size of a motorized bicycle is perhaps the most important consideration to make before buying. A bike that’s too small won’t be stable to ride, while one that’s too large may be heavy and impractical. Ideally, the perfect size is a motorized bike that you can ride on comfortably but still move and store without help. Keep in mind that larger bikes have a heftier curb weight, which comes into play if you aim to pedal unassisted.


The power of a motorized bicycle determines how fast it will accelerate, how well it can transport cargo, and what speed it tops out at. The average electric bike features a top speed of around 10 or 15 mph, but gas-powered models can reach much higher speeds.

Consider your primary use here. Do you want a trail-conquering, high-speed bike that can be used to haul groceries, tools, or other items? A gas bike could be best for you. If you’re in the market for a casual cruiser, however, electric might be up your alley.


Motorized bicycle range is determined by the size of the fuel tank or battery and the efficiency of the motor. However, electric model range can fluctuate noticeably with temperature changes or accessory use. If range is a concern for you, consider a model with pedals. These bikes can be pedaled just like regular bicycles, albeit with a bit of extra weight.



Electric bikes are extremely popular with city commuters due to their low-maintenance, indoor-friendly designs, but some models take it even further. Select bicycles are designed to be folded, allowing them to be stored neatly under a desk, stashed away in an office, or even carried on trains or buses. Foldability doesn’t always equate to low weight, though, so confirm your chosen model’s weight before purchasing.

Trip computer

Trip computers are fantastic additions to any motorized bicycle. Depending on the model, they can display speed, distance traveled, mileage, remaining battery power, ambient temperatures, and other helpful data. They’re extremely convenient, but they can also help you plan your trips by logging real-world mileage. Trip computers are available on gas and electric models but are more common on the latter.


Motorized bicycle storage can range from a classic wire rack to water bottle holders to enclosed, lockable, weather-resistant compartments. These may be located under the seat or at the rear of the bike.

Consider a motorized bike’s riding position before buying, particularly if you have back issues. A lower, more compact riding position may increase the risk of soreness and discomfort on long trips, while an upright “Dutch style” could be more comfortable. However, if you aim to use your bike for short, casual trips, riding position is less of a concern.


Motorized bicycle prices

Inexpensive: Entry-level motorized bicycles start at around $400. Both electric and gas-powered models are available at this price point. Electric bikes will have relatively short ranges, with top speeds around 10 mph. Gas-powered equivalents will mostly be constrained to kid-friendly mini dirt bikes. However, conversion kits for traditional bicycles are available for a few hundred dollars.

Mid-range: Step up to approximately $800 and you’ll enjoy electric bicycles with longer ranges, more speed, and additional features, like removable batteries, distinct drive modes, and off-road capabilities. On the gas-powered side of things, this price range contains smaller but still adult-friendly dirt bikes and bicycles with conservative engine sizes.

Expensive: At $1,000 and above, you’ll enjoy top-tier motorized bicycles with healthy engine sizes, long ranges, and innovative features, including trip computers and clever storage. There are outliers that can cost thousands – such as full-size dirt bikes and high-performance boutique electrics – but the majority of premium motorized bicycles can be obtained for around $1,000.

Did You Know?
Electric bicycles typically utilize lithium-ion batteries, which are more powerful and efficient than older nickel-cadmium units. However, you may find lithium-ion polymer batteries, lithium-manganese batteries, and lithium-cobalt batteries in some models. Each version has its own advantages, like higher temperature stability and safety.


  • We recommend taking a safety course before taking your motorized bicycle out on the road. While this may not be required in your area, professional instruction will help you get used to your new vehicle, while also teaching helpful traffic and safety tips.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Statistics show they reduce fatal head injuries by 65%. Other helpful safety equipment includes sunglasses, visors, gloves, and knee and elbow pads.
  • Resist the urge to text, browse your phone, or wear headphones while riding motorized bicycles. Doing so can drastically cut down on your situational awareness and could potentially cause an accident.
  • In terms of maintenance, treat your motorized bicycle like a car. Periodically check tire wear and inflation levels as well as the condition of the lights and brakes. For gas-powered models, check the oil and filters regularly. For electric models, store bikes in a cool, dry place.
  • Motorized bicycles are far less visible on the road than cars or even motorcycles. With this in mind, give extra room to nearby vehicles and always utilize your lights and signals when applicable.
Pre-made motorized bicycles are very popular due to their convenience, but conversion kits are available for the DIY-minded. These kits typically include a motor, fuel tank, drive chain, connecting lines, and all the fasteners you’ll need. Simply supply the bike, set aside some time for assembly, and you’ll be on the road before you know it.


Q. Are motorized bicycles safe for children?

A. Motorized bicycles are larger, heavier, and faster than traditional bicycles, which raises safety concerns. Safety equipment like helmets, pads, closed-toed shoes and gloves are even more important with higher speeds, especially if bikes are taken on the road.

Laws and regulations may differ from place to place, but the decision to allow your child to ride a motorized bicycle is a personal one. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 16 should not ride on motorized bikes.

Q. Can I take my motorized bicycle off-road?

A. As with a traditional bicycle, the answer depends on what model you have. Motorized bicycles geared toward off-road use typically have larger tires and suspension systems to deal with uneven terrain, along with reinforced exteriors to brush off shrubs and other obstructions.

There are plenty of gas-powered motorized bicycles that are more than comfortable off-road, with some falling into the mini bike and dirt bike categories. Electric motorized bicycles do exist for off-road use, but they’re far less common.

Q. How are motorized bicycles registered and licensed?

A. Regulations regarding motorized bicycles – both gas and electric – vary from location to location. In some places, motorized bicycles can be ridden on standard bicycle paths, but in others, they cannot. Some locations may even require a license or insurance for motorized bikes, so make sure to check your local laws and regulations.

For the purposes of licensing and registration, motorized bicycles could be legally defined as motor vehicles, motorbikes, mopeds, or even hybrid vehicles. If you’re unsure about yours, consult the manufacturer and then check your local laws.

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