"Bargain Buys" Most electric bikes priced less than $600 at big box retailers and on-line are aimed at the kid/teen/toy market. They generally lack the performance and durability that people want and expect. Also, parts and service can be problematic with both big box retailers and on-line vendors. We urge you to invest in a quality e-bike, preferably from a local dealer, that will serve you (and others) for many years. Remember, if it's poorly constructed and you can't get repair parts, it will likely become land-fill material. Save, beg, or borrow the money to get a quality bike or kit.
All Kalkhoff bikes come with lots of extras: hub or motor powered front and rear lights, bells, fenders, chain guards and racks. Some include a built-in quick-lock or a rack-mounted pump. There are a number of features available for the discerning cyclist, whether it's the Magura hydraulic brakes, the B&M super-bright hub-powered headlight, the top-of-the-line Shimano internal hub or derailleurs or the three-layer powder-coated paint process.
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.
Known for not only their powerful line of mountain bikes and specialty bikes—cruisers to fat—Bulls also has a versatile line of urban models. The Cross E Wave comes as one of their more affordable options at roughly $2,800, but at 20 mph can still range for up to 134 in optimal conditions with everything you’d expect (fenders, lock, lights and adjustability). The entire family of Bulls e-bikes has specifications built for any scenario.
E-bikes are one of the latest ways technology is infiltrating the fitness market. Although they may seem techy and confusing at first, they really are just regular bicycles with a little extra boost. To test one, ask your local bike shop to demo a model they have available (pro tip: If a bike shop won't let you demo, don't shop there). Just getting on one will definitely help you understand how an e-bike works and how one might work for your lifestyle and goals.
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.)
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.