E-bikes allow more people to ride more. We know e-bike users who now get to ride with faster friends and don't have to worry about keeping up, or who live in a hilly area, or who've gifted one to their parents so they can ride a charity ride together at the same pace. And of course, commuters who no longer need to use their cars every day, as well as beginners who want to build their fitness. "The e-bike offers more confidence. You can go further, and it’s easier to go over hills than on a pedal bike,” Lalonde adds.
The Liv Amiti-E+2 is a low-priced but highly versatile e-bike. It’s just as much at home on the pavement as it is on bike paths and rail trails. But don't feel constrained to groomed paths. Front suspension and 42mm-wide tires mean you can take on off-road detour on your way home from work. Speaking of work, this e-bike makes a great commuter thanks to rack and fender mounts and integrated lights for riding after dark. Internal cable routing and a nicely integrated battery make for clean lines and 9-speed shifters give you plenty of gearing options for whichever type of terrain you decide to tackle. This do-everything bike is great option if you’re riding includes a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
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.)
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.
The riding position is racy, and we suffered a numb left hand after 45 minutes of riding due to a combination of the Bullhorn bars and the narrow position adopted to cover the ‘sissy’ brakes in traffic (picking a flat bar model would be more practical for city commuting). The biggest drawback to the Soho is that on a single-speed the 15.5mph cut-off (for all e-bike motors in Europe) left us feeling like we’d been "deserted". Over the cut-off speed we found ourselves dragging that heavy back wheel with no alternate gears to reach for.
I wanted to include an electric bike that would be ideal for off-road and trail bike touring, and I think the Bulls E-Stream Evo 3 27.5 Plus is it. This hardtail mountain bike would be perfect for bike tourists going out on the trails for a few days. You could conceivably go for a few days without needing to recharge the Brose 650 watt hour battery, so even if your camping in the wilderness with nowhere to recharge for 60-100 miles you would likely be fine on battery life.
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.