E-bikes are fun, they’re useful, and they help riders cover more ground more quickly than any other kind of bike. These days, there are e-bikes for every activity, from commuting and fitness to hauling cargo, from road and gravel riding to mountain biking.
They could someday be more affordable, too, with the introduction of e-bike acts introduced into the House and Senate. The proposal, currently making it way through Congress, would offer consumers a refundable
30 15 percent tax credit on e-bike purchases up to $1,500. The credit would be allowed once every three years for individuals or twice for a joint-return couple buying two.
We’re crossing our fingers but not holding our breath. In the meantime, this guide breaks down our favorite e-bikes into a bunch of categories. But first, a quick note about "class." The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) classifies e-bikes based on the top speed at which the e-bike motor assists you and how. This classification determines if you can ride your e-bike on bike paths and in bike lanes, though e-bike laws vary by state.
Best Overall E-BikePriority Bicycles Current Priority Bicycles Read More
Best Upgrade E-BikeSpecialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon Read More
Best Budget E-BikeRadMission Electric Hybrid Bike Read More
Best Commuter E-BikeCannondale Treadwell Neo 2 Electric Bike Read More
Best Cargo E-BikeTern GSD S10 Read More
Classes of E-Bikes
Class 1 e-bikes are pedal-assist only, with a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph. Class 2 e-bikes, which carry the most restrictions, are throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph. Class 3 e-bikes are pedal-assists with a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph. They can be pedaled faster than that speed, but the extra velocity has to come from the rider's legs and/or gravity, not the bike motor.
What to Look for in an E-Bike
Belt Drive vs Chain Drive
It's all in the names: a belt drive bike is powered by a belt, and a chain drive is propelled by a... you guessed it, chain. Between the two, chain drives are more familiar and common, although belt drive bikes are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their low-maintenance requirements. Belt drives also outlast traditional chain drives, sometimes 3-5 times longer. On top of that, they're quieter and lighter than chain drives.
Being more common, it's easier to find replacement parts and servicing for chain drive bikes, but that may change as belt drives continue to gain traction.
Hub vs Mid-Drive Motor
There are three places to house a motor on an e-bike: front hub, rear hub or the mid-drive.. each with its own pros and cons. Rear and mid-drive motors are by far the most common, with mid-drives more often than not being the placement of choice for premium bikes and hub-drive motors found on more affordable options. With a mid-drive motor, you're centering most of the bike on the lower bracket portion of the bike, which helps maintain balance and stability. Because of their placement on the bike, mid-drives operate at the pedals, with the motor’s torque applied to the chain or belt, resulting in a smoother, more natural ride. This is contrasted against rear-hub motors, which apply torque directly to the wheel.
There's no getting around it: e-bikes are heavier than traditional bicycles, thanks to their motors, battery and heavier frames that can withstand the speeds and pressure of an e-bike. On average, a traditional bike weighs between 17-30 pounds, depending on the style and accessories. In comparison, on average e-bikes weigh between 40-80 pounds, without any baskets, lights, rear racks or additional accessories. The power from an e-bike offsets the weight, but if you run out of battery mid-ride, expect a heavy load riding home.
Integrated Batteries vs Removable
There are two types of batteries on e-bikes: integrated and removable. Integrated batteries offer plenty of benefits: they’re lighter, the overall bike looks sleeker and they’re great for storing your bike indoors with access to a wall outlet. Removable batteries offer the convenience of charging in a variety of locations where your bike may not fit, but they come with the cost of being bulkier and larger than their integrated counterparts. That bulk comes with a silver lining, though: a larger battery means more battery life, which means... more riding time.
How We Tested
We tested e-bikes across the continental U.S., from the laid-back city of Berkeley all the way to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. We rode commuter-style bikes down city streets, ripped single-track on gravel and MTB-style e-bikes and cruised the coast on laid-back cruisers. Despite the variety in types of bikes we rode, our team of testers kept a few core specs in mind as they tested each bike: weight, range, watt-hours (aka power) and class. Each bike was ridden with the end-user in mind and tested in the environment it was built for. And now, without further ado, here are some of the best e-bikes you can swing a leg over.
- Class: 3
- Watt hours: 500
- Weight: 53 pounds
- Range: 30-60 miles
The Priority Current is a feature-packed Class 3 e-bike that offers a surprising amount of power for the price. At a hair under $3,300, the Current’s pedal assist mid-drive motor boosts your pedaling speed up to 28 mph and the Enviolo Sportive hub allows for smooth, step-less shifting so you can shift easily no matter the conditions.
The Current arrives partially assembled and putting it together is relatively simple — if you’ve ever dealt with Ikea furniture, you got this. That said, if you’d prefer to have a professional set it up, Priority partners with shops around the country for assembly. I opted to do the home build, and it took me longer to unpack the bike, its parts and its tools than it did to put it together.
The bike ships as a Class 1 bike but can be switched to a Class 3 in a few button clicks (doing so changes your top speed from 20 mph to 28 mph). Taking the Current out for a ride, I realized how intuitive the operation was. The bike’s digital display shows the 500w motor’s power level, ranging from 0 to 5. At 0, it’s just you and the bike. I found the non-powered ride to be sluggish at best due mainly to the bike’s hefty 53-pound weight. But when I switched to levels 1 and 2, I found the bike more responsive and the ride more enjoyable. It felt more like a traditional bike and was riding and responding like something that weighed far less.
When I switched to level 3, the electric motor was far more noticeable, helping to pick up speed from a stop and maintain higher speeds on flat surfaces and making inclines noticeably easier. Level 4 allows for fast cruising speeds and hill climbs, and I found it ideal for most commutes. But level 5 lets you max the bike out, which, on some climbs, is helpful, but on flat ground, can be borderline unpleasant depending on your riding surface. While the bike has cushy Goodyear Transit Tour 650B tires and a gel-padded seat, it doesn’t have any suspension, so uneven roads with cracks, bumps and filled potholes are amplified above 20mph.
The Current delivers a range of around 20 to 50 miles depending on the level of pedal assistance you use. It’s ideal for commuters looking to not break a sweat on the way to the office, people who may want to approach longer or more difficult rides with the assistance of a motor, or daily riders looking to speed up local errands and short trips. The step-through frame, though maybe not a favorite of everyone, is beneficial for all of the above cases. The bike even has integrated, automatic front and rear lights for added safety in the evenings and around traffic.
With class-leading 140NM of max torque, the Current is zippy and fun, and it appropriately stops as fast as it goes thanks to dual-piston hydraulic disc brakes. Because of the incredible value, range and intuitive usability of the Current, we think it is the best overall e-bike on the market right now. — John Zientek, Senior Editor
Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon
- Class: 3
- Watt hours: 320 plus optional 160
- Weight: 26.8 miles
- Range: 60 miles
Greg LeMond, America’s only Tour de France winner (if you don’t count Lance Armstrong or Floyd Landis), gave us one of the aptest descriptions of the difficulty of cycling, saying, “It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster.” Well, on the Specialized Turbo Creo, it is easier and you do indeed go faster. Purists may give you a rude side eye as you whizz by them, but you won’t care, you’ll be too busy grinning your face off.
If e-bikes are the smart bikes of the cycling world, the Turbo Creo is a Rhodes Scholar. When you first get the bike set up you get three perfectly-tuned power modes: Eco, Sport and Turbo. After riding all kinds of road bikes over the years and considering myself a fairly strong rider, I was curious to see how the pedal assist would affect the ride; on more commuter-style e-bikes, the power boost you get makes it feel like you’re barely riding a bicycle anymore, but on the Creo, it’s just more of a helping hand — you barely notice the Specialized Turbo motor helping you out.
My favorite power mode when testing was Eco. The sensation it gives is similar to riding in a pace line on a group ride. Rather than propelling you forward and making your pedal stroke feel awkwardly assisted, the added power just makes it feel like you’re drafting off a taller rider in front of you, even though there’s no one there. You still need to shift, climbs still feel like climbs and you’ll still be sucking wind when you get to the top, but with the Creo you just feel that you can go that much further, that much faster. — Will Porter, Commerce Writer
Rad Mission 1
- Class: 2
- Watt hours: 504
- Weight: 48 pounds
- Range: 25-45 miles
This bike stands out for a few reasons, but the biggest one has gotta be that impossibly low price tag: $1,099. So you’d be forgiven for having your doubts, but rather than half-deliver on bells and whistles offered by pricier e-bikes (including many other Rad models), the RadMission 1 focuses on doing a few things really well. The result is a smart single-speed with a 500-watt geared hub motor providing four levels of pedal-assist and throttle-driven power that pretty capably tackles rough terrain and even hills. You also get integrated lights, disc brakes and beefy, puncture-proof tires.
The Mission1 is the lightest and cheapest e-bike offered by Rad Power Bikes. Although lacking in features, the Mission1 still breaks into the fun level-2 category with the 500-watt hub motor and 20 mph top speed. The single speed is geared for the higher end and getting up to speed without the assist requires some push. I like the look of the mid-step version and it’s the perfect compromise for easily mounting the bike from the front. In my testing, the battery range has been great to get a handful of 3-5 mile trips between charges.
Although the upfront price is low, you should consider what additional features you'll need. Fully kitted with a kickstand, front rack, fenders, and rear rack, I’ve invested $238 additional bucks in getting an e-bike suitable for all-season commuting and grocery halting. With a total cost of $1437, although I saved upfront, I regret not investing in one of Rad’s more premium models. — Mitch Kwitek, SEO Manager
Cannondale Treadwell Neo 2
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 250
- Weight: 33 lbs
- Range: 47 miles
When I picked up the Cannondale Treadwell Neo 2 to test, I was struck by how safe I almost instantly felt riding it home.
At a little over 33 pounds, the Treadwell Neo 2 is significantly lighter than your average e-bike (which usually weighs in at ~45lbs). At just five pounds heavier than my regular bike, it’s easy to walk around with and lift. In addition to the Treadwell Neo’s lighter weight working in its favor, the boost from the pedal assist actually seems to help the bike right itself from a slight tilt when you’re hopping on. If you wobble, the pedal assists quickly correct that too. The handlebars are set wider apart than a standard bike, also assisting with balance. The Maxxis DTR-1 tires are wider than your average commuter bike's and stand up well to potholes and manhole covers, and the Tektro mechanical disc brakes are highly responsive. All of the features add up to a stable and smooth ride that felt even safer than riding my regular bike.
With reduced worry about getting seriously maimed in city traffic, riding the Treadwell Neo 2 became fun and exciting, and the motorized aspects were a godsend in the summer heat. It uses a Hyena drive unit with a handlebar-mounted display and app controls, both of which are pretty easy to figure out. There are three levels of pedal assist, and I found that most trips I took (errands, meeting friends, gym) didn’t require me to use the higher levels. I took the e-bike over the Williamsburg bridge a few times, mostly using the lowest level, but I could see the higher levels being useful on a hotter day or on a longer, steeper bridge or hill.
Aesthetically, the Treadwell Neo 2 is not as stylized as a VanMoof, but its e-bike components are incorporated subtly, and I really like the sporty but minimal look. Combined with how quiet the hidden Hydrive motor is, people might not notice you’re riding an e-bike at all. Overall, the Cannondale Treadwell Neo 2 is understated but reliable and very fun to ride at a relatively approachable price of $1925. It’s a great choice for any city dweller interested in an e-bike, but especially to anyone with a smaller build like myself. — Sherry Wang, Art Director
Tern GSD S10 LX
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 500
- Weight: 74.03 lbs
- Range: 32-65 miles
Having put this heavy-duty hauler through its paces in New York City, we can report that its cargo capabilities are second to none. We used it to help with a weekend food drive, employing its expansively geared hub, Bosch cargo motor, three speeds of pedal-assistance, belt drive and integrated suspension to safely deliver loads of groceries all over Brooklyn. Then we packed its saddlebags full of beer for a socially distanced party in the park, where its ample, frame-based rear rack served as a de facto bar. We could have taken it much farther, too, by throwing a battery in the extra port and nearly doubling the max range to an insane 128 miles. A few other traits we love: built-in lights, disc brakes, the lock stand, the vast array of accessories and the ability to fold the handlebar down and stash the bike vertically in a corner.
- Class: 1
- Watt hour: 504
- Weight: 46.3 lbs
- Range: 37-93 miles
If you don’t have a lot of experience with e-bikes, what better way is there to start than trying the Tesla of e-bikes, the VanMoof X3? With an integrated battery and unique frame, it's the most style-forward bike on this list. The X3 is the more compact version of the S3 model and accommodates a wide range of ride heights (anywhere from five feet to 6'5" riders). VanMoof employs an automatic e-shifter that swaps between four gears, topping out at 20 mph. The design is so straightforward and comfortable that I almost forgot I was riding a 45-pound-bike.
I tested the X3 around Santa Monica's pier and hillier roads, and despite the lack of suspension, had a smooth and secure ride thanks to its hydraulic brake system. There's a turbo boost button on the right handlebar that helps give an extra kick on steeper inclines, while the button on the left handlebar operates an electronic bell. The X3 has a range that falls anywhere between 37-93 miles, depending on the assist level you use. It charges up to 50 percent in 80 minutes but takes four hours to charge fully.
VanMoof's phone app comes with a lot of bells and whistles —you can set up the alarm system, track where your bike is, turn the lights on and off, and much more, all from your smartphone. On top of tracking capabilities, all of the bike's parts are custom to VanMoof — making it much harder for strangers to take apart and steal. (Customers are given a custom tool with their bike for maintenance and repairs.)
My only complaint is that VanMoof is lacking in the accessory department. I wish they sold something to help mount my phone to the bike to use for GPS. Also, the X-shaped holder in the front is too large to securely carry most water bottles. Even so, you couldn't ask for a more stylish, urban commuter bike. — Emily Chang, Production Designer
Charge City Electric Bike
- Class: 2
- Watt hours: 250
- Weight: 45 lbs
- Range: 50 miles
This affordable urban e-bike scores a lot of points for its user-friendly nature. Five levels of assistance are available via pedal and throttle, controlled and monitored by a built-in handlebar display. Also built-in: full-length fenders, integrated lights, a rear rack and tire air pressure sensors that change color to let you know when they need air. But we're burying the lead. What makes this bike really stand out is some clever design — flip a lever to rotate the handlebar stem 90 degrees, then fold up the pedals and you can easily stash this rig where no bike has been stashed before.
Electra Cruiser Go!
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 250
- Weight: 44-46 lbs
- Range: 40 miles
Some e-bikes have such cleverly hidden batteries and motors you'd never guess they were e-bikes, but these streamlined rides are often quite pricey or only available oversees. Not so the Electra Cruiser Go! though: this sub-$2,000 cruiser holds its own against its more technical counterparts and looks good doing it. With a 350-watt geared hub motor and a battery integrated into the downtube, the Cruiser Go! would be hard to pick out of a lineup of standard beach cruisers — until the 20 mph of pedal assistance kicks in.
I rode mine around the beaches of Southern California and found the Cruiser Go! to be a comfortable and capable ride if a little squishy compared to my gravel bike. I only used the motor on hills and when I wanted a little extra boost, the Cruiser Go!'s design makes it comfortable to ride sans power. I activated the Class-1 motor when I wanted to power up hills, and this negated any pain points associated with heavy, single-speed cruisers of the past.
The only drawback to the Cruiser Go! was the sound of the motor — it's definitely louder than other e-bikes I've tested, and I found I couldn't quite tune it out as much as I hoped. But, if you pop a portable speaker into Electra's Plasket Basket (sold separately) and throw on some cruisey tunes, this becomes a non-issue. — Hayley Helms, Associate Editor
Serial 1 Mosh/Cty
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 529
- Weight: 48.4 lbs
- Range: 35-105 miles
When we heard a Harley-Davidson spinoff was making e-bikes, we may have raised an eyebrow or two. But we got to test-ride this urban ripper last fall, and wow, is it a blast. A sturdy aluminum frame with internally routed cables, seamless Gates Carbon belt drive (not unlike Priority's Current), four power-assist levels and beefy 2.8-inch Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires let you zip straightaways, shred potholes and hop curbs with equal aplomb. There's also built-in lighting (headlamp, LED tail light and brake lights) and responsive disc brakes that make it easy to stop for tacos.
Yamaha Wabash RT
- Class: 3
- Watt hours: 500
- Weight: L: 46.7 M: 46.4, S: 46.2 (lbs.)
- Range: ~60 miles
The revamped Wabash RT is a solidly-built, dependable gravel e-bike with the smoothest power assist I've tested yet. Yamaha introduced a prototype for electric bikes back in the late 80s, where their popularity stayed mostly relegated to their Japanese market before making its way to U.S. shores after the turn of the century. Today's Wabash RT, upgraded from previous models, is lighter, more user-friendly and fun to ride.
The dropper post (with 40-60mm of travel) is a welcome upgrade to Yamaha's newest version of its gravel-focused e-bike, although I found myself having a hard time deploying it. My thought is that it just needs a little breaking in to loosen up, but it could also be due to my not having enough mass to smash the post down when desired.
The flared, gravel-specific handlebars and fork rack and fender mounts came in clutch on a four-day bikepacking trip I took with the bike, and the 500 Wh battery held onto life without a charge, even with 2,000-foot elevation gains. The integrated rear hub speed sensor accurately measures power output and pedal cadence and helps adjust motor input to deliver the smoothest assist I've experienced on an e-bike: I equate it to the feeling of having a powerful wind at my back, accentuating my own output. With 28mph top speeds, and bombing hills, I easily pushed the bike past 31mph and felt steady and secure.
Another significant upgrade to the bike is the increased utilization of the Quad Sensor System, via the all-new Automatic riding mode, which allows the motor to respond to the output of the rider, switching modes dependent on effort and terrain. I used the Automatic mode on busy streets, getting to and fro trails; having one less thing to focus on kept me safer and able to focus on traffic hazards rather than my bike's power levels.
At just over four grand, the Wabash RT certainly isn't cheap, and for that pricepoint, I was hoping for some more premium components (particularly the wheels), but that's easy to overlook once you get on one of these bikes and experience just how fun and capable the ride is. — Hayley Helms, Associate Editor
Marin Alpine Trail E2 Mountain E-Bike
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 250
- Weight: 54 lbs
- Range: N/A
Rocking a mullet design — 29-inch wheel up front and 27.5-er in back — Marin’s first foray into eMTBs is a lovable joyride. We dig its style so much that it also cracked our best e-mountain bikes list as the best mullet e-bike, and it's one of the more affordable options too. While a bit sluggish on flats, it's rowdy on descents. Great dampers and high-performance components make it a fully capable whip that’s functional on a wide variety of trails. Only knock? The handlebars are a bit cluttered, especially for smaller riders.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Alloy 50
- Class: 1
- Watt hours: 672
- Weight: N/A
- Range: N/A
With the same geometry and suspension as the non-assist version, the alloy-frame Powerplay feels like any other mountain bike — albeit a heavier one. The custom and compact Dyname 3.0 motor has tons of torque for acceleration even on the steepest climbs. Rocky Mountain integrated a generous lithium-ion battery into the frame and skipped the LCD display, instead using lights to tell riders what mode they’re in and how much battery remains. Pair the bike with the companion app for more control and information. Short chainstays, 150mm of rear travel and 160mm up front make this a great bike for getting in big mountain laps when the lifts are closed.
Super73 RX Mojave
- Class: 2
- Watt hours: 960
- Weight: 80 lbs
- Range: 40+ miles of range at 20mph under Class-2 throttle-only operation; 75+ miles* of range using Class-1 pedal-assist mode.
Is this e-bike heavy? Sure. Is it kind of small for a full-grown adult? Yeah, kind of. Is it fun? Hell yeah.
Super73's e-bikes are insanely popular for a reason: they're fun to ride, they're good for young adults who want some autonomy and for lack of a better term, they rip. If you live in Southern California, you're probably familiar with the hordes of kids, sometimes in groups of 10 or more, cruising the bike lane: two kids to a bike, surfboards strapped onto surf racks and smiles on all faces as they enjoy total freedom. Super73's RX Mojave model is the beefed-up, off-road version of its classic e-bike and features the brand's powerful R-series drive system, four-piston brakes and a fully adjustable suspension system, as well as an integrated LED headlight, a Speedster low-profile seat and GRZLY all-terrain tires.
The Super73 RX Mojave comes pre-programmed in the Class-2 mode, which allows for throttle operation and pedal-assist riding up to 20mph, but you can also access Class-1 and Class-3 modes, as well as Off-Road mode to reach speeds of 28mph. This little mini-moto, badass e-bike is going to knock your socks off.