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Whether you’re a hardened, human-powered bike enthusiast or a new commuter dodging ever-increasing gas prices, it’s a fact that the best e-bikes are here to stay.
Electric-powered two-wheelers have come a long way in a really short amount of time and now offer efficient transportation over reasonable distances with longevity and durability in tow. However, as more people embrace electric biking, more companies get into the game – and that competition doesn’t always mean better bikes.
While online research is an important part of the e-bike buying process, it’s also a great idea to scout out a few bike shops and pick the brain of the staff. If the shop is anything worth its salt, someone should be ready and willing to learn about the type of riding you want to do, the distances you’ll be traveling, and your overall experience with biking. When deciding on the best e-bike for you, you’ll want to consider the preferred range of the bike and its top-speed. In some cases you can even ask a shop about the load capacity and any adds on that might help improve your experience.
It’s also a good way to start a relationship with a shop that can eventually service your bike. Most modern e-bikes require a different level of service than traditional bikes, and that means letting a qualified tech handle tune-ups and regular maintenance to keep you and your bike safe.
While the following seven bikes are not an exhaustive list of the reputable e-bikes out there, they do represent a good range of what you can buy and what you might expect to spend.
• Best commuter e-bike: Aventon Pace 350
• Best cargo e-bike: Rad Power Bikes RadWagon 4
• Best single-speed e-bike: State Bicycle Co. 6061
• Best electric road bike: Trek Domane+ AL 5
• Best electric gravel bike: Ribble CGR AL e
• Best budget electric mountain bike: Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0
• Best enthusiast e-bike: Pivot E-Vault
Best commuter e-bike
Aventon makes several sensible options for those looking for a general, no-frills commuter. The bonus with the Pace 350 is that it has a bit of oomph with a 20mph top speed and a respectable 40-mile range. It also comes in a step-through option, which is generally ideal for shorter and female-identifying riders.
Best cargo e-bike
In certain communities, ditching a second car for an e-bike is becoming more common. It makes real sense when you consider a rig like the RadWagon 4 and its 350 lb. payload capacity. You can haul kids, groceries or both with 750 watts of riding power backed up by a solid frame and specific engineering to optimize the layout of a cargo bike. As gas prices continue to skyrocket, the pocket change it costs to charge up even a larger bike like this one looks more and more appealing.
Best single-speed e-bike
There’s a lot to like about State’s first entry into the e-bike market. First, it has plenty of the brand’s classic, minimal styling (read: an e-bike that doesn’t look like one). Secondly, it comes in under 40 lbs. (for a medium frame), which is an added bonus to compensate for the single gear. Lastly, you get several customization options off the shelf (hard to find at this price point). Given State’s wide range of riding choices, this might not be the last rig you buy from them.
Best electric road bike
Trek’s flagship road bike gets a welcome electric upgrade (without the crazy price tag) while still offering some great value for the investment. The AL 5 has clearance for bigger tires when the terrain gets rocky, or for the wetter months, making this a potential one-stop bike for both gravel and road. It also has a more “endurance” fit compared to more aggressive electric road bikes, meaning you’ll enjoy more hours in the saddle with less pain and less discomfort.
Best electric gravel bike
Ribble has a long legacy in the UK and parts of Europe, but remains largely a cult favorite Stateside and elsewhere. It’s a shame because the brand makes really great bikes with a style and vibe all their own. The CGR is their fantastic flagship gravel ride, coming in a variety of electric and traditional options. (Ed note: I own a non-electric CGR and love it.) Ribble also produces many of their own components, which certainly adds to the unique appeal of these British bikes.
Best budget electric mountain bike
Mountain biking is another area with electric controversy, but the Turbo Tero 3.0 makes it quite appealing as both a route-ready rig and a potential daily commuter. Like with most of Specialized’s e-bikes, this one takes advantage of the brand’s Mission Control app, which is a center of sorts for all of your essential electric functions. The full internal wire routing gives it a touch of sleekness as well.
Best enthusiast e-bike
I tested the Pivot’s E-Vault almost a year ago and it remains one of the best bikes I’ve ridden. When you’re ready to make the leap into serious gravel riding, there probably isn’t a better option on the market. It’s an example of top-notch engineering, long-range electric riding and superior flexibility that makes it a very suitable road rider as well. It’s the most expensive bike on this list for good reason: it’s an investment rig that will only get better with time.
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