“Built to be portable and highly customizable, the Stark Drive Mini e-bike will provide you with everything that you desire for your commute and everyday use. The Stark Drive Mini can easily be folded after you’ve arrived at your destination and conveniently carried into the office or classroom. The Stark Drive is also compact enough to be taken on a plane (adhering to FAA & TSA guidelines), giving you increased mobility wherever your travels take you.”
Simplicity powers the Gtech model, available in either a 20-inch “sports” crossbar frame or a 17-inch “city” step-through option. From using a carbon belt drive to a gearless system that allows a computer to adjust speed while pedaling, not only has Gtech streamlined the e-bike process, but they’ve also dropped the price to just north of $1,000. At a range of about 30 miles, this 35-pound bike offers a humble introduction to e-bikes.
Thankfully, the Pendleton Somerby is an affordable option which, though not as high performing as some pricier e-bikes, offers a chance for a beginner or less serious cyclist to venture into the electric bike world. With a classic, elegant, low step through frame, getting on is as easy as possible. This is to all intents and purposes a city bike, from its look to the mudguards and chainguards that keep your clothes pristine, and the space for a luggage rack.
Patriot DreamE has motor cut-off brake levers and lighted battery indicator on the throttle. Some electric bikes have small tires which perform best on smooth streets. The DreamE has full size, 26" wheels for a safe and comfortable ride. Patriot customers have a choice of color, frame size (standard or small), seat style (contour or velo), motor power (350 / 500 / 750 watts), and battery chemistry (LFP).
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.
The downside to this mountain-bike build and specification is obviously the weight, at 24.5kg the Trekking feels heavier than the other bikes on test, and rightly bills itself as suitable for heavier riders, too. As with the other bikes here, this is only really a problem for smaller riders, or riders needing to take the bike up or down steps regularly. With its bomb-proof build, full guards and heavy-duty rack, the Haibike is the perfect choice for a burly rider or for doomsday preppers, ready to out ride the apocalypse.
Both Vintage Electric and Optibike build more expensive electric bicycles in smaller numbers that are geared towards wealthier clientele. By focusing on what some would consider “luxury electric bicycles”, these companies might be better positioned to either absorb the cost of increased tariffs on imported parts such as electric bicycle motors, or find customers with enough expendable income that the higher prices of the final e-bikes wouldn’t be as large of a deterrent.
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.
Yes, you read that right – north of £4k for a bike. But then, this is basically the top end of the mountain e-bike market, and you do get a lot of bike for your buck: a Yamaha Lithium battery, masterful Magura brakes, mud-slaying tyres, and – my favourite flourish of all – a hydraulic seat post that you can adjust on the move (surprisingly useful when navigating tricky downhill trails, as it means you can depress the saddle out of the way with the press of a button).
Rumour has it, the Gazelle is Europe’s most popular electric bike. We can see why. Right from the off, the bike oozes comfort. Its classic Dutch sit-up-and-beg geometry combined with pedal assist makes it a smooth, comfortable, almost effortless ride. The Bosch mid-mounted motor (in the bottom bracket shell) delivers impressive, even power with four settings selectable via the left-hand handlebar mounted button and displayed on the central Intuvia LCD display.
Is it worth $1700? I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t have a lot of experience with commuter ebikes so I don’t know how it compares. I do know that most of the ebike conversions I’ve seen look like science experiments. The Buffalo could pass for a normal bike, and look a little more accessible to a first time ebike user. So, although I’m not planning on riding this, I am planning on using it. So I’ll keep it around for a while and let you guys know what I think long term.
Another independent e-bike dealership, Adam Solar Rides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is also feeling the crunch. With essentially zero low-cost electric bicycle manufacturers in the US, Adam Solar Rides imports their entire lineup of electric bicycles from abroad, mostly from China. Like many small businesses owners, they are left with questions about how exactly the unclear tariffs might affect them and other e-bike dealers.
This is the Freway Buffalo. It’s an ebike. I couldn’t say no to a free ebike to play around on, so we’re gonna have some fun with this thing for sure. It’s not a high end ebike like the Specialized Turbo Levo, but it only costs 1700 bucks whereas the Turbo Levo costs as much as a car. Although it’s marketed as a mountain bike, I’d put it in the commuter category. It’s got a big cushy seat, a really long stem, and those antler things on the handlebars. I’m not obligated to give you guys anything but the truth, so let’s put this thing together and take an objective look at it. First, let’s cruise on over to Freway’s website.
Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.
The environmental credentials of e-bikes, and electric / human powered hybrids generally, have led some municipal authorities to use them, such as Little Rock, Arkansas with their Wavecrest electric power-assisted bicycles or Cloverdale, California police with Zap e-bikes. China’s e-bike manufacturers, such as Xinri, are now partnering with universities in a bid to improve their technology in line with international environmental standards, backed by the Chinese government who is keen to improve the export potential of the Chinese manufactured e-bikes.
Electric trikes have also been produced that conform to the e-bike legislation. These have the benefit of additional low speed stability and are often favored by people with disabilities. Cargo carrying tricycles are also gaining acceptance, with a small but growing number of couriers using them for package deliveries in city centres. Latest designs of these trikes resemble a cross-between a pedal cycle and a small van.
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.)
Even though it’s a hefty amount of money to fork over upfront, LaLonde says you’ll likely save money in the long run. If you use public transportation, do the math to see how much you could save over time. If you choose an e-bike over a car, you’re foregoing auto maintenance, gas, insurance, parking fees, and potential tickets, LaLonde adds. “So while there’s sticker shock for a first-time bike buyer, it can still be cost-effective.”
If you’re looking for a premium option, this might be the bike for you. I’ve got to say that I don’t think there is a more comfortable commuter than this. Full suspension, upright positioning, and plus sized tires keep things nice and smooth. But the real reason this beast makes the list is the dual battery. Love it. The other day I realized we only had about 10% of the battery left in the charge. It was going out for a test ride, and I was like “dang gotta charge it” but then I was like “lol no I don’t 10% means there is like 15 miles left, BOOYAKASHA!”