We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With rechargeable battery-powered pedaling assistance, electric bicycles offer an increasingly viable alternative to fossil-fueled commuting, and e-bikes enable riders of various abilities to extend their range. But the street-legality of these hybrid machines remains a contentious issue, so be sure to check current state and local laws governing their operation before you hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric bike on Amazon.
As far as battery life goes, e-bikes get their juice from a rechargeable battery usually located on or integrated into the frame, and many are removable, so you can power up wherever it’s convenient. The length of your ride and how often you use the bike will determine how frequently you have to charge up. “An e-bike battery can last anywhere from 15 to 60 miles depending on the terrain, how much assist you select, and the rider’s weight, among other factors,” says Jonathan Weinert, North American sales and marketing manager for Bosch eBike Systems. “With a dual battery [like the one Bosch has], you can double that range [around 20 to 120 miles], so it’s very feasible to commute for a week without charging.”
E-bikes can be a useful part of cardiac rehabilitation programmes, since health professionals will often recommend a stationary bike be used in the early stages of these. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes can reduce deaths in people with coronary heart disease by around 27%; and a patient may feel safer progressing from stationary bikes to e-bikes. They require less cardiac exertion for those who have experienced heart problems.
Controllers for brushed motors: Brushed motors are also used in e-bikes but are becoming less common due to their intrinsic lower efficiency. Controllers for brushed motors however are much simpler and cheaper due to the fact they don't require hall sensor feedback and are typically designed to be open-loop controllers. Some controllers can handle multiple voltages.
The time or distance an electric bike battery will run between chargings is impossible to judge with much accuracy. There are too many variables: terrain, speed, rider weight, bike load (shopping, kids, luggage), and more. However, we can make a few generalizations about an e-bike’s recharge time and overall working life. These generalizations should be used for comparison purposes only.
Featuring Bosch’s newest CX Drive motor, the Trekking has enormous torque (that equals acceleration) compared with the rest of the bikes on test. From a standing start the Haibike reaches the 15.5mph European speed limit in seconds. Pair this with mid-sized 27.5in wheels and laid-back mountain-bike geometry, and you have a grin-inducing almost motorbike-like riding experience. This is accentuated off-road, where a rider’s lower average speed is under the motor cut-off point for more of the time, so suddenly the hefty Trekking makes complete sense.
James LaLonde, senior brand manager for Cannondale, agrees. He says their entry-level (read: good for beginners and more affordable) e-bike—the Quick Neo—has a battery life that lasts up to 70 miles. “If you ride for a full day, you may want to recharge it before you go to bed. But if you’re just commuting [a few miles], you could use it for a full week before you need to plug in. Then it’s a four-hour recharge when it’s completely dead.” (Of course, you don’t have to wait for it to get to zero if you want a shorter charge time.)
Out on the road the Soho is easy to fire up, just press the button hidden under the top tube (a nice discreet touch), you’ll then get a set of five top-tube mounted LED’s light up to give you a charge indication. First impressions were that the engagement of the motor is a little jerky in tight traffic (tested in central London) and you could find yourself pulled toward the cars you’re weaving though at slow speeds - unless you’re feathering the brakes.
Everyone seems to know a lot about Haibike’s e-MTBs, but I think their commuting and touring bikes are just as good, if a little bit underrated by the e-bike community. Another bike with the Bosch speed motor, this bike is quick and powerful. I really like the spec upgrades on this bike from the Trekking speed model in 2017. You’ve got Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Deore XT M8000 Shadow Plus drivetrain, and the headlight and taillight run off a dynamo.
Though aside from the extra battery and abundance of included accessories, Riese and Muller’s use of a Gate’s belt drive means no shifting of gears, no greasy maintenance, and much higher durability. If you have the money to spend, Riese and Muller’s Delite nuvinci is one of the best on the market and an ebike we just couldn’t get enough of during our own tests.
The bike recently took first place at the Interbike Hill Climb Challenge, a third of a mile sprint up a six per cent gradient hill. Fortune powered in front of professional riders to secure a decisive win in the first of an annual competition especially created for electric assist bikes. The race was sponsored by the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA).
It will be of little surprise to learn that the Hanebrink all-terrain vehicle was designed by six time Mountain Bike national class champion and former U.S. National Team member Dan Hanebrink. It's based on 1993's Extreme Terrain fat tire pedal bike and is made to order at the Fortune Hanebrink workshop at Big Bear Lake, California. Echoing the philosophy of many electric assist bicycle makers, Hanebrink says: "We are not trying to replace standard bicycles, we want to replace cars and trucks."
Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It's worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.