Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.
Not all e-bikes take the form of conventional push-bikes with an incorporated motor, such as the Cytronex bicycles which use a small battery disguised as a water bottle. Some are designed to take the appearance of low capacity motorcycles, but smaller in size and consisting of an electric motor rather than a petrol engine. For example, the Sakura e-bike incorporates a 200 W motor found on standard e-bikes, but also includes plastic cladding, front and rear lights, and a speedometer. It is styled as a modern moped, and is often mistaken for one.
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.
Pedelecs are much like conventional bicycles in use and function — the electric motor only provides assistance, for example, when the rider is climbing or struggling against a headwind. Pedelecs are therefore especially useful for people in hilly areas where riding a bike would prove too strenuous for many to consider taking up cycling as a daily means of transport. They are also useful for riders who more generally need some assistance, e.g. for people with heart, leg muscle or knee joint issues.
EcoBike offers a state of the art battery and frame design, and artfully combines the highest quality parts from the most competitive manufacturers Â– Shimano, SRAM, and Cionlli, to name a few. The result is a masterpiece in convenience, reliability, and style. Combining style with functionality, EcoBike is a world-renowned designer of quality electric bicycles, sold all over Europe and North America.
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.)
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 21.8kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
All three road bikes receive their power from Yamaha’s PWSeries SE motor that comes with four levels of support: ECO+, ECO, STANDARD, and HIGH. The mid-drive motor supplies a maximum of 70 Nm (52 ft-lbs) of torque and cadence support up to 110 rpm. The motors are designed to provide assistance up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Any faster, and it’s all you providing the power.
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.
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.