Top 10 E-Bikes
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- What is an E-Bike?
- Why Buy an E-Bike?
- Things to Consider Before Buying an E-Bike
- Best Budget E-Bikes @ Less Than £1000
- Best Mid Range E-Bikes (£1,000 - £5,000)
- Best Top of the Range E-Bikes (£5,000+)
What is an E-Bike?
The term e-bike refers to a bicycle that has been fitted with a battery and motor to make pedalling a bit easier. E-bikes are designed to support your pedalling up to 25kmph/15.5mph, not dispense with the need to put any effort in at all.
Why Buy an E-Bike?
There are a number of reasons why you may want to purchase an e-bike. If you have a fairly long commute to work or lots to carry on your journey and would normally be tempted to take the car, train or bus rather than a conventional bike, the added boost of an e-bike may get you into the saddle for your trip instead. The additional pedal power will also help you arrive at your destination looking presentable and not a sweaty mess!
If you are a keen cyclist who is recovering from an injury or illness, an e-bike can help you get back in the saddle sooner and allow you to keep up with your fellow cyclists on rides a little bit more quickly than an unpowered bike would.
A recent study of e-bike usage conducted in Norway found that people travel twice as much on the electric bike (compared to a conventional bike), both in terms of kilometres and amount of trips.
Things to Consider Before Buying an E-Bike
Cost – A quick search of e-bikes on your favourite search engine will reveal a wide disparity in price when it comes to power assisted bicycles. You can pay anything from around £500 for a very basic model to well over £10k for a top of the range, carbon frame electric road bike. Clearly not all e-bikes are created equal and it is worth working out what features you consider to be essential and which ones you can probably do without before working out which bike works best for your budget.
Purpose - Broadly speaking, e-bikes fall into three categories; Hybrid, Road and Folding and the type that you opt for will depend on the main purpose for which you intend to use it.
Hybrid E-Bike - The most popular type of e-bike, the hybrid offers an upright riding position and favours practicality over speed. Hybrid e-bikes are usually heavier than road e-bikes.
Best For – Cyclists looking for a comfortable all-rounder that can cover a variety of terrains, from roads to park tracks.
Road E-Bike – If speed and performance are your priorities you will want to opt for a road e-bike. These usually feature drop handlebars and are lighter weight than the other options available.
Best For – Anyone who loves the thrill of speeding along/down the road but values a bit of assistance to power up steep inclines.
Folding E-Bike – Great for shorter journeys, folding e-bikes usually feature hub-mounted motors and fold down small for storage in hallways, under desks, in car boots or on luggage racks on public transport.
Best For – Commuters or leisure cyclists who travel light and regularly use the car or public transport for a portion of their journeys.
Aesthetic – E-bike designers are working hard to bring in innovations that make e-bikes easier on the eye. Just make sure you are aware of any compromises that may have had to be made to streamline the best looking bikes on the market. For example, the Ampler Stout features a battery that is hidden away in the frame, which creates a simpler visual but does mean that you can’t remove the battery for charging.
Weight – The addition of a battery and motor make e-bikes heavier than their unpowered counterparts. If you regularly need to carry your bike up flights of stairs or across stations, it may be worth looking for lighter-weight model. However, be aware of the features that may have had to be compromised to keep off the extra kgs, such as battery life (as batteries are often reduced in size to bring the weight down).
Power (watts and torque) – The majority of e-bikes have 250-350 watt motors (though many have a higher peak wattage rate that they can hit for a short period of time). However, the wattage is not the only rating you need to take into account when assessing your power requirements for your e-bike. Torque is also critical. The general definition of torque is the force on an arm at a distance from a centre of rotation. In terms of e-bikes, torque refers to the ability to rotate the rear wheel. Higher torque will rotate the wheel more easily and create more acceleration. In most e-bikes, this is measured in Newton Metres and an entry-level e-bike will offer about 50NM of torque.
Battery Range – usually between 50 and 100km, depending on the bike, the mode you ride it in, the weight you are carrying, the terrain and the conditions. It is also worth remembering that if you have a lot of accessories on your bike that are powered by its battery (such as integrated lights or an on board computer), this will chew through your battery and reduce your range.
Comfort – Remember that the effort involved in cycling from A to B may not be the only factor keeping you from choosing to cycle more often. If the saddle or riding position aren’t right for you then your new e-bike will probably be gathering dust in the garage before too long.
Once you have worked out your e-bike proprieties you can start exploring the many options available. We have picked our top 10 e-bikes to get you started. We’ve selected a few entry-level models, some mid-range machines and then pushed the boat out and found the most luxurious and technically fancy high-end e-bikes out there.
Best Budget E-Bikes @ Less Than £1000
If you opt for a budget e-bike it is worth knowing the compromises you usually have to make for the sake of your bank balance. The frame will probably be aluminium or steel (rather than carbon) and it will probably be heavier than pricier alternatives. It will most likely feature rim brakes rather than more effective hydraulic disc braking.
The motor will be situated on the front or rear hub and, whilst it may technically offer the same power as a more expensive system, it may not feed in assistance as smoothly. Entry-level e-bikes feature few extras and accessories and have a shorter battery range than most of their more costly counterparts. However, not everyone has thousands of pounds spare to invest in an electric bicycle and if you just want a machine to power you from A to B you can’t go far wrong with any of the following:
Overview – A classic-style commuting bike with an upright riding position, ideal for navigating traffic.
Pros – reliable 8-speed Shimano gearing system, 317Wh battery provides a decent range, reasonably lightweight (22kg)
Cons – basic v-brake system
Rating – 7/10
Overview – You may know Gtech for its vacuum cleaners, but it turns out that they are also pretty good at making affordable e-bikes. This single-speed model features a bottle-style battery that can be removed easily for charging. The range is between 30 and 50km, depending on how much effort you want to put into pedalling. This e-bike offers two assistance levels and an on board computer calculates how much assistance is required.
Pros – Easy to use, low maintenance, good VFM components
Cons – Basic v-brakes that don’t stand the test of time.
Rating – 8/10
Overview – It seems like cheating to list three budget e-bikes that do not even give you enough change from a grand for you to buy a refreshing pint after your first ride! With this in mind we have chosen the Halfords Assist e-bike, which is one of the cheapest on the market.
Pros – price, lightweight (18kg), good storage options, 250 watts of assistance (i.e. enough oomph to get you up the majority of urban hills on a shopping trip or commute), walk assist mode, quick battery charging time, easily adjustable saddle
Cons – it ain’t that pretty, despite looking like a folding bike it does not fold, external wiring, no gears, struggles to maintain a decent pace on hills, no suspension, not a good choice for tall people
Rating – 6/10
Best Mid Range E-Bikes (£1,000 - £5,000)
For all but the most demanding cycling enthusiasts, a mid-range budget will get you a pretty decent e-bike. The problem is that, once you have a bit more money at your disposal, you also have a longer list of competing features and extras that you somehow have to navigate to find the right e-bike for you. These four are a good place to start your search.
Overview – Combining the features of a high-level racing bike with a lightweight assistance system, this carbon frame, Italian designed road e-bike gives a real boost of power to help get you up steep climbs. This makes it the perfect choice for those who love getting out on the road with their friends but struggle to keep up for the longer/steeper ascents. The Cento1 Hybrid has an 11-speed gearing system and hydraulic disc brakes - both made by Shimano - and weighs less than 12kgs, which is pretty impressive for an e-bike.
Pros – Aesthetic, lightweight, good supporting software
Cons – Pedals are extra, high torque assist may not be to every cyclist’s liking,
Rating - 9/10
Overview – If you want to cut a dash as you glide around town, the unconventional design of the Torino E-Bike by Rayvolt may well appeal. Perfect for commuters who do not need to lug this 35kg beast across station concourses, the standard Torino comes with a 48V 504Wh battery pack, which offers a range of up to 25 miles. If you think you may require a greater range you can upgrade to a more powerful 48V 936Wh battery and travel up to 50 miles. If you are looking for an even more eye-catching retro e-bike, try the Torino’s big brother, the Cruzer.
Pros – Smooth power transfer, retro aesthetic
Cons – No Suspension, heavy, ride settings can only be changed via the app
Rating – 7/10
Overview – If your main priorities are storability and portability, you can’t go far wrong with the Gocycle GX Folding E-Bike. Not only does it fold down really small, the design also hides away all the oily, messy parts inside the frame. This means that you don’t mark your clothing when carrying it and makes the bike virtually maintenance free. It does weigh 16kg though, so it doubles as an arm work out if you have to carry it for any significant distance.
Pros – Folds down small, low maintenance, comfortable, hydraulic disk brakes, 65km range in eco mode.
Cons – Quite difficult to fold down, fixed bar height, heavy to carry longer distances
Rating – 8/10
Overview – British e-bike masters, Volt, specialise in designing and making a variety of machines to suit a range of needs. The Pulse model is a great all-round hybrid that features puncture-resistant tyres, a 60-mile battery range and five different levels of pedal assistance. It is a comfortable and manoeuvrable machine that offers a lot for its (relatively) low price tag.
Pros – Disc brakes, option to upgrade to a bigger battery with 80-mile range, build quality, Dutch town bike aesthetic
Cons – Heavy, steering can be twitchy at times
Rating – 9/10
Best Top of the Range E-Bikes (£5,000+)
Overview – If you are one of the few people in the market for a lightweight mid-drive leisure/commuter e-bike and will predominantly be using it on flat, multi-terrain trips, you may well be prepared to pay good money for one that offers the battery range of the Alpenchallenge AMP Road E-Bike. This Swiss-made e-bike sports one of the most powerful motors available.
Pros – Extra long range (150 – 200 miles), minimalist aesthetic, ease of use, power, lightweight frame (though powerful battery adds to the over all weight)
Cons – Price, not great on hills due to low torque motor unit
Rating – 7/10
Overview – If money is no object and e-mountain biking is your passion, this marriage of a slick carbon frame and excellent Shimano drive unit (which adds 70NM of torque to your own efforts) could be your next bike. It offers 12 smooth-shifting gears and weighs in at 22kg, which is pretty good for an e-mountain bike.
The steep seat angle allows you to tackle the kind of inclines that regular mountain bikers may struggle with, but should be child’s play with your Shimano-assisted power boost. A single charge should see you through all but the toughest day’s riding (and you have the spare battery available if you need it).
Pros – Top end components, spare 500W battery provided, balanced handling, excellent drive unit
Cons – Price, rear suspension is lacking for tougher trails,
Rating – 8/10
Overview – Sometimes called ‘the Tesla of e-bikes’, the Stromer ST5 is a premium E-bike, born of a desire to never cut a corner. Quiet, quick and at the forefront of e-bike technology, this triumph of European engineering is hand-built in Switzerland. It was designed as an alternative to a car for short journeys and can reach a top speed of 28mph. It also boasts a touch screen with GPS tracking and anti-theft software, which at this price you may well need!
Pros – Power, comfort, excellent drivetrain, responsive pedal assist, premium hydraulic brakes, great supporting software, mid-ride solar recharging
Cons – Heavy (33kg), price
Rating – 9/10