You know the saying, “What you see is what you get?” That’s pretty much the case here: An e-bike or "pedal-assist" bike is a pedal bike with an integrated electric motor that adds power when you pedal. It's not like a motorcycle, moped, or motorbike, because it doesn't have a throttle or engine. Think of it like when you get the rocket boost in Mario Kart (except it lasts for more than three seconds).
We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
The G-10 features a top-tube mounted on-off button and ‘set’ button for one of four power modes, all linked to a Groove Go wheel mounted motor via a removable clip-lock battery stashed under the down-tube. Kalkhoff has paired this with a mid-range Shimano Tiagra 1x10 speed drive-train and effective Shimano M396 hydraulic disc brakes. A nice touch is the anti-slip ‘grip-tape’-covered flat pedals, perfect for a bike to be ridden around town without specialist shoes.
One of the biggest drawbacks to any ebike is its range — and perhaps to a larger extent, the capacity of its compatible battery. Since battery technology innovation is fairly stagnant, the German ebike company Riese and Muller decided that instead of making a bigger battery, it’d just slap a second one onto its latest release, the Delite nuvinci. Though the attachment does add more to the final price (to the tune of $823), it also increases the Delite nuvinci’s range to a whopping 130 miles — which is leaps and bounds further than any other ebike on this list.
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It really is a simple e-bike, and while I could go on about the frame (aluminium), and the weight (very light), the experience of using this bike for a few days is more interesting. While it feels like a less high-tech product than others in this list (no gears; a shorter battery life of 30 miles; two modes not three), it basically retails at half the price as those competitors – and I certainly didn't find it to be half as good.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.