By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best e-bikes available for those who are interested in new technology combined with traditional bikes. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best electric bicycles currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
I haven't given a full benchmark on battery life as I haven't gone without pedaling just using the motor. I live in a hilly place and I need to pedal to make it up some hills. But initial impressions are good. My hilly trip to the beach with kids in tow was about 13 miles round trip and I made it down to 3 of 5 bars on the battery. The battery does go down when the motor is under stress but levels itself when back on level ground. Battery is looking 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, like Bosch’s Active Line, are nearly silent. But, generally, all four make good options. Look for motor output (in torque), which will give you an idea of total power. Just like car engines, more torque equals more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a more important figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a more accurate reflection of power (higher Wh equals bigger range).
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