Commuting by bicycle, though laudable, can be hard work. So it makes sense to supplement your human pedal power with a little electrical help, especially if you have a hilly route to the office or no desire to arrive to a meeting in any kind of a sweat. This is where the ever-growing market of electric bikes comes in. Fortunately, gone are the days of the hugely expensive, unreliable first versions, which were never taken seriously anyway. Now the choice is vast, the prices are reasonable (on the whole) and performance and range has in general been greatly increased. Here, we takes a look at six of the best e-bikes available right now, each being the ideal option for a specific kind of commute. You may also be interested in our guide to the best folding bikes.
Certainly not for the entry-level e-bike buyer, those who need to strap cargo to their back now have a new option with the Riese & Muller Load option, with full cargo space on the front of the bike. While over $6,000, the full-suspension bike has adjustability to allow for differing loads. Safety features include LED headlights and premium components abound.
Kalkhoff's electric-assist bicycles start with the same high-quality, sleekly designed bikes that Kalkhoff has been developing for 90 years. A state-of-the-art, brushless, centrally-located motor provides a smooth, predictable power-assist directly to the drive train. Kalkhoff e-bikes come fully-equipped with a variety of features to ensure that your commute, shopping trip, or outing is safe, comfortable and fun.
If you’re looking for an electric bike with a sporty assist that is effective above a "pootling" speed, this is your bike. The only downsides to all that connectivity? We experienced some random light flashing and occasional beeping on the stationary bike, as well as confusion with the bike not switching on occasionally. In some ways the connectivity is just a little too clever (read complicated) for its own good.
"What? That’s an e-bike?" tended to be the first reaction we got to the Cooper. There’s very little (bar the oversized rear hub) that says e-bike on the ‘E’ at all. Cooper have taken a traditional gauge Reynolds 520 steel frame and dressed it with a practical mix of (surprisingly effective) Tektro caliper brakes, Sturmey Archer crank and chainring and topped it off with Brooks Cambium C17 All-weather saddle. They’ve then paired it with a Zehus All-in -One electric hub, so there’s no leads, no external battery, not even an on and off switch.
BULLS never ceases to amaze. This full-suspension fat bike is fitted with a Bosch mid-drive motor for enhanced hill climbing. The 4-inch wide Schwalbe Jumbo Jim Snakeskin tires are genuinely monstrous. It's exquisitely designed and equipped with all the best components. As with all BULLS ebikes, the Monster E FS comes with a 2-year warranty and 5-years on the frame.
While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
Controllers for brushless motors: E-bikes require high initial torque and therefore models that use brushless motors typically have Hall sensor commutation for speed and angle measurement. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. The controllers generally allow input by means of potentiometer or Hall Effect twist grip (or thumb-operated lever throttle), closed-loop speed control for precise speed regulation, protection logic for over-voltage, over-current and thermal protection. Bikes with a pedal assist function typically have a disc on the crank shaft featuring a ring of magnets coupled with a Hall sensor giving rise to a series of pulses, the frequency of which is proportional to pedaling speed. The controller uses pulse width modulation to regulate the power to the motor. Sometimes support is provided for regenerative braking but infrequent braking and the low mass of bicycles limits recovered energy. An implementation is described in an application note for a 200 W, 24 V Brushless DC (BLDC) motor.
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.
In terms of design, the attention to detail is just exquisite. The extra long fenders ensure you’re not going to get wet going through puddles. The cafe lock is hidden well enough to not ruin the look. I do kind of wish that the battery and fork could be that lovely green color, but we can’t have it all folks. For you green haters, it does come in white and black too. There’s also an option for this cute little front carrier if you want to put a bouquet and a baguette in it.
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.”
Those buyers aren’t likely to get a major workout. Researchers from the University of Tennessee found in a study of walkers, ebike riders and traditional bike riders that those who completed a 4.43-kilometer hilly route on an ebike used 22 percent less energy than traditional bikers and 64 percent less than walkers, most likely because the ebikers got to the finish line faster than the others. But perks included higher levels of enjoyment and no need for a shower when they were done.
Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes, have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains. The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines created 18650 battery packs are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.
Have to give a shout out to a Bulls Brose option. They were the first manufacturers I saw integrate the battery into the frame really well, and they’ve continued to improve upon that design. As I mentioned above, I love the wave frame. Super easy to get on and off and it’s got a cool look as well. If you’re not a fan, this bike does come in both a Diamond and step-thru frame.
Prices have rarely been this low, with perhaps only the Xiaomi Himo electric bike that we covered costing less, at $261. Of course that e-bike is only available in China for now, unlike the Stark Drive Mini that can ship to the US, albeit for an extra $200 shipping fee. (Spoiler alert: I was able to procure a Xiaomi Himo via a friend in China, and assuming I can get it into the country, we’ll have that review coming up.)
The Gazelle was made for city commutes - the riding position is relaxed yet so upright, you can look around, over car roofs and feel confident even in heavy traffic. The Orange is no fly-weight, though. With its rudimentary suspension fork, Post Moderne suspension seat-post, rack-mounted battery and "built for comfort" wheels, it’s 24.4kg weight (plus battery) excludes it from being regularly carried up-stairs or into flats for commuters who don’t have street-level entry or a bike store.
Electric Bike Conversion Kit Systems Now Available from one of USA’s Leading IBD Distributors Philadelphia, PA: Electric Bike Technologies USA, a manufacturer specializing in affordable high-quality electric bicycle conversion kits, announced that their EBikeKit ™ and E-TrikeKit™ systems are now available via J&B Importers. With J&B’s extensive network of authorized dealers, the conversion kit products will now be readily available throughout the country at most local bicycle shops. Of the...
Tackle your daily commute with ease or go for a weekend cruise in style with the Gazelle CityZen T10 e-bike. And don’t worry about those thigh-burning hills; the Bosch motor offers four assist levels—Eco, Tour, Range Sport, Turbo—making hills a breeze and the Lithium-Ion battery provides a range of up to 85 miles in Eco mode. The bike is one of the first to use Bosch's new integrated battery, which is concealed in the downtube. The matte black paint and classic, step-through design give a classic look while fenders, pannier racks, and integrated lights add practical functionality. The bike is easy to maneuver in city streets, but still has assist up to 28mph so you can cover a lot of miles and power up steep hills. There's a suspension fork too. It's not at the level of something you'd find on a mountain bike (or even some better e-bikes) but it takes the edge of some potholes and curbs.