Best Buys are selected in the table below because they work well, come from solid companies and get high marks from users. Generally, buyers can opt to assemble the bike themselves, or pay an assembly fee to their local dealer or bike shop. (Assembly usually includes installing handlebar, pedals, seat and front wheel along with tuning and adjusting.)
At the end of the day, you'll have a ton of fun riding one. “There’s that nostalgic feeling that kicks in whenever you’re on one, that feeling you got when you started riding as a kid," LaLonde says. You might have to get on one to understand, but there are few things more smile-inducing than floating up a steep hill with little effort, Mary Poppins-style.
Visually, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is stunning – a smart blend of yesteryear's style and today's technology. Pleasantly high handlebars, a sprung seat, and lovely Schwalbe Fat Frank tires make it very comfortable. Stopping is taken care of by powerful disk brakes, front and rear. Lights are included, as is a useful cargo rack. From an e-bike standpoint, the Pedego Classic City Commuter sports a reliable, hub-mounted motor driven by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery. There's a digital display with a trip computer, odometer, speedometer, pedal assist level, and battery charge information.
The Dash is an excellent, low-cost option for those looking for an intro to e-bikes kind of ride. The TranzX motor will take you up to 28mph for about 16-35 miles per charge–more if you’re conservative with the assist. The components aren’t too shabby either. Shimano M365 hydraulic disc brakes keep you safe, the Shimano Deore SGS drivetrain, and RockShox Paragon fork with 65mm of travel make it a great entry level option.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
For those looking to hit the trails instead of the pavement, Yamaha has you covered with their new YDX-TORC electric-assist bicycle, which is powered by a souped-up version of their mid drive known as the Yamaha PW-X center drive motor system, which the company claims offers the extra power needed for more adventure and exploration on the trails, including a fifth power assist setting. As a more powerful e-bike, the YDX-TORC also demands a higher price of $3,499.
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.
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