On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.
There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
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I picked this bike because it’s definitely one of the lowest cost 28mph bikes out there that is still high quality. Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes keep you good and safe. The geometry provides a comfortable ride. Personally, I don’t always think a suspension fork is totally necessary since they are less efficient. If you’ve got a pretty smooth road to ride this is a great option.
At speed the E proved a stable and neutral ride, the motor engaged in good time and there was a reasonable amount of assist (the amount of motor assist is adjustable via a Bluetooth app up to 25kmph or 15.5mph). Charging of the in-hub battery is possible via a neat hollow charging bolt on the drive-side of the rear wheel. The Cooper E is one for retro-futurists and people who want others to say, "No way that’s an electric bike!"
Unlike most e-bikes, the Brompton's battery is integrated into a bag that sits on the front of the bike. While that detracts slightly from the classic, streamlined design, it's handy as it can be unclipped for charging or riding as a regular bike – it's probably one of the easiest to ride without battery assistance thanks to its weight. The battery also powers two lights for safe commuting.
For many bikes, battery range is more important that total power (because they're all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist kicking in anywhere from 25 percent of you pedal power to 200 percent boost. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you'll be using your bike for long commutes.