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.
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.
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“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.”
Ironically, not only would a US e-bike manufacturer need to import the raw materials for their frames, but they could still be subject to import tariffs that the Trump administration has placed on imported steel and aluminum from China. Thus, the e-bikes could end up even more expensive than just US-built e-bikes, as customers would also have to pay for the higher cost of the imported raw materials.
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.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
The best electric bikes for bike touring will be the ones that you feel most comfortable on. The most important thing you can do is assess your particular needs and wants and go from there. Don’t forget that it is nice to save money, but in the end you want an electric bike that is going to get you where you need to go. Comment below with questions! Happy riding!
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.