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.
You know the saying, “What you see is what you get?” That’s pretty much the case here: An e-bike or "pedal-assist" bike is a pedal bike with an integrated electric motor that adds power when you pedal. It's not like a motorcycle, moped, or motorbike, because it doesn't have a throttle or engine. Think of it like when you get the rocket boost in Mario Kart (except it lasts for more than three seconds).
The high quality Drive Units from Bosch eBike Systems are the power behind your eBike – and are designed to be both functional and attractive. The gearing layout ensures optimal integration of the Drive Unit design and increased ground clearance. Light and compact: The reduced volume achieves reduced weight and a small distance between pedals, enhancing the ergonomics of your pedelec. The eBike Systems ActiveLine and Active Line Plus both received the Red Dot Award 2017 for product design.
Once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or, I dunno, an inflatable sumo wrestler costume. Whatever you like.
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the "Sweepstakes") is open only to those who sign up at the online sweepstakes page and who are at least 18+ years old at the time of entry. The sweepstakes is open to the legal residents of the Contiguous USA and Canada and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Electric Bike Technologies LLC (the "Sponsor") their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
“First, Taiwan and China have been building almost all the bikes for the entire world for the past 30-40 years. They have ecosystems and two generations of tradesmen that result in the best bikes in the world. Look at all the top brands—Giant, Specialized, Cannondale— they all make their top end bikes in China and Taiwan. Even look at the Italian brands and you’ll see they build their frames in China and Taiwan and paint them in Italy.”
Designed for urban or suburban commutes, the A2B Octave (right picture) offers lightweight aluminum construction with full suspension. Add in its comfortable,oversized seat and you have a powerful ride that's easy to handle. When you don't feel like pedaling, the A2B offers unassisted power on demand for up to 20 miles at a cruising speed of 20mph. Plus, the A2B can be easily upgraded to double its range to 40 miles with the addition of a secondary battery pack and increase its carrying capacity with the addition of baskets and rear carrier bags.