What is the best e-bike for …
Today’s e-bikes can cost less than £1,000 or more than £10,000. They come in a bewildering range of designs, from lightweight folders to behemoth-sized e-cargo models in which you can take several of your offspring with you.
Technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent decades as e-bikes have progressed from being little-known machines for ‘early adopters’ to much-sought-after examples of modern high tech. Bike tech itself has evolved hugely alongside electric motors and batteries, so that the choice of e-bikes is now truly bewildering.
To help take the guesswork out of getting the right e-bike for you here is our choice of the best out there.
This e-bike offers everything you need in a commuter that’s going to get potentially 24/7 use: an easy-to-mount frame, comfortable upright ride with mudguards, chainguard, hardwired lights, decent suspension fork and removable battery.
While the Bosch Active Line mid-drive motor is the least powerful in the Bosch range it’s still a very effective hill climber, especially as you get a decent spread of eight derailleur gears.
The £2,000 starting point means a 300Wh battery, though this is such an efficient system it may surprise you. There are 400Wh and 500Wh options if it really isn’t enough.
If you live in a particularly hilly city a more powerful motor might be in order. Canyon’s Precede:On range uses more powerful Bosch mid-drives and has a choice of frame designs and gearing.
The super-tough and low-maintenance combo of Enviolo stepless hub gears and an oil-free belt drive of the On:7 range would particularly appeal to heavy-duty users. On6 and On7 ranges also benefit from the latest smartphone connected Smart System. Precede:On models range in price from £2,399 to £3,349.
A standout budget commuter option is the Dallingridge Harlow at £1,349 – the price is particularly attractive given its generously sized 504Wh battery.
Best car replacement
So-called ‘longtail’ e-cargo bikes with smaller 20" wheels are increasingly common and are a practical choice. They enable you to carry reasonable loads – usually including one or two small children - and yet they don’t take up too much storage space.
Tern is a leading exponent of longtails and the £2,900 Tern Quick Haul D8 is one of the more affordable examples at the premium end of the range. While the 150kg load rating is akin to several ‘compact’ e-bikes, the slighter longer design of the Quick Haul accommodates more than your average compact design. For really heavy-duty carrying Tern’s GSD and HSD ranges have relative gross carrying ratings of 200kg and 170kg respectively.
The Quick Haul has several trademark Tern features including its clever ability to be stored on its rear end, the hugely strong frame design and the wonderfully wide range of carrying accessories including seats for kids large and small (with optional weatherproofing system), huge panniers and even a dog carrier.
If you want a more powerful mid-drive with a higher weight rating check out the competitively priced Trek Fetch+2 (£4,625) which packs in Bosch’s most powerful Cargo Line mid-motor and its Smart System, along with a rear rack rated at 80kg.
If you want a model that will carry everything but the kitchen sink see Riese & Muller’s Load 75 and Packster 70 lines. At the other end of the scale (£1,689), Velosta is a reasonably priced buy designed for a parent and small child.
Best for off road
Full-suspension e-mountain bikes are wonderfully effective horizon-wideners, letting those less than ultra-fit get out and explore challenging off-road terrain in relative comfort and ease. Cube is a German brand which aims to produce high-quality e-bikes at a competitive price. The Cube Stereo Hybrid 120 Pro 625 at £3,799 gives performance that punches above its price tag.
There is a powerful Bosch mid-motor, plush high-quality air full suspension and a healthily sized 625Wh battery. Cube produces myriad variants on the Stereo Hybrid, most with a higher spec than this model (with bigger batteries and pannier racks and so on), but it has all you need to get you out and about on all manner of tracks and trails, no matter the gradient.
The Ebroh Jump Carbon packs a lot of e-bike into an impressive hardtail e-MTB. There is a carbon frame, a powerful Shengyi mid-drive and a very sizeable 730Wh battery. At 22.7kg it doesn’t sound like a light e-bike but for the powerful and big-batteried spec it’s pretty impressive. Even better is the price: £2,270.
Even more of an outstanding bargain is the Calibre Kinetic (£799 with a GoOutdoors members card). It has a fairly punchy Promovec rear hub motor and 317Wh removable battery allied with 24-speed gearing and smooth efficient power delivery (I managed to get 25 miles range on pretty challenging terrain). If your off-road trips aren’t going to be too extreme in terms of track condition or very lengthy then the Calibre Kinetic may serve you well.
Best for road
Ribble is known for making excellent value but very high-spec road bikes and the Endurance SL e Sport claims to be from the ‘world’s lightest e-road bike range’. Like all the electric models, it is powered by Mahle’s lightweight rear hub X35+ motor system. The range starts at £3,299 which represents good value given you get a carbon frame, Shimano 105 2x12-speed derailleur gearing and 105 hydraulic disc brakes.
This produces a bike weighing around 12kg (lighter but pricier variants are available). Ribble’s individual online ordering system means custom colours can also be specified along with five frame sizes.
The Mahle drive system is designed to be lightweight and to give assist to road riders who already have a reasonably good level of fitness but want that little extra boost up hills while still riding a bike that feels like a non-electric bike (for example with the power turned off). Hence it has a small frame-enclosed (non-removable) 250Wh battery that can still deliver a decent range.
In contrast the Cannondale Synapse Neo 2 has an alloy frame and carbon fork combo plus a Bosch Active Line Plus mid-drive that will give more electrical assist than the Ribble and probably more range thanks to a removable 500Wh battery. It is also styled as a gravel bike – good for both tarmac and less bumpy off-road surfaces. The downside is more weight (18.5kg) and a heftier price tag (from £3,400).
Best for value
The B-Twin Original 920E costs just £699.99 (discounted to this at the time of writing). For this you get a rear hub motor powered by a reasonably sized 418Wh battery and, incredibly at this price, front and rear suspension.
We’re not talking super plush e-MTB-style suspension, but still it means a more enjoyable ride than an e-bike with just front suspension, making it ideal for all-surface leisure rides on railpaths and the like. It will handle moderately long and difficult rides just as well as far pricier e-bikes.
Perhaps the only compromise is the non-removable battery. Still, it remains a great ride and absolutely outstanding value.
Retrofit kits can be a very economical way to bring an old non-electric bike back into use. Many are undoubtedly a cheap option and UK-designed kits like Swytch and Boost have made a point of being truly affordable electric choices.
Another UK-designed (and largely manufactured) offering, Cytronex, is pricier but great value as it offers superb quality in a lightweight front hub motor format.
Cytronex can be bought from just under £1,000 and is especially suited to reasonably light and fast bikes. It’s also available in Brompton-compatible format and the battery is small enough to be legally allowed on airline flights.
Top of the range
This is probably the most reassuringly capable e-bike I have ever ridden. Starting at £9,399 it’s certainly at the pinnacle in terms of price but also in performance terms too.
It is the ultimate go anywhere, do anything escape from reality e-bike. You get Bosch’s most powerful mid-drive, a huge 1125Wh dual battery to keep you riding all day over any terrain in comfortable full-suspension style and there are rack-carrying optional add-ons front and rear for that ultimate e-bike camping trip.
I’ve plumped for the very expensive option of the Rohloff E14 electronically shifting hub gears with belt drive as this fit-and-forget, virtually indestructible gearing will take up any gradient. If you can stay on the bike up the hill this combination of gearing and motor will power you up there.
There are also very powerful LED lights with a full beam motorbike style switch for the front light and wide profile off-road tyres.
Moustache’s Friday 27 FS Speed Dual is a £7,299 speed pedelec so it’s capable of 28mph assisted speeds. If you can negotiate all the red tape hurdles (registration as a road vehicle in the UK, insurance and – down the line – an MOT certificate) then it combines the best e-bike tech there is with high-speed ability.
There is a huge capacity 1125Wh battery, GPS navigation system integrated into a Nyon console and Schwalbe Super Moto-X large volume tires among many other premium features.
Best for comfort
Yamaha’s e-fat bike is made for comfort and easy, stable riding. Large-volume four-inch-wide tyres and front suspension are at the heart of its sumptuously easy ride which is surprisingly fast and free rolling.
The funky spaceframe is a piece of e-bike art in itself, as well as managing to keep the weight of the whole ensemble down to 35kg – not unreasonably heavy for an electric fat bike with a 630Wh battery and fairly powerful 75Nm Yamaha PW-S2 mid-drive. I would wager that the £2,900 price tag is likely to hold its value well; this is a landmark design with electric drive technology from one of the world’s mega-corporations that needs no introduction.
More than that it’s pure, easy-going fun to ride whether it’s on tarmac or unsurfaced leisure trails. Optional front and rear carrying accessories plus hardwired powerful lighting and funky-looking mudguards mean this is not a style over substance e-bike, but something that has both in spades.
ICE is a UK-based recumbent trike manufacturer and all its models come in electric versions courtesy of a powerful Shimano EP8 mid-motor. Recumbent trikes are unrivalled comfort machines; who wouldn’t want a large, comfy laidback chair-style seat to sink into, along with an electric motor to help you on your way?
Although the company produces heavy-duty and even fat-tyre models, the Adventure model in its electric incarnation is one of the best all-rounder electric recumbent choices out there. Not only does the frame fold for easier transportation, it also has full LED lighting and a capacious rear pannier rack system.
Best for fitting in a car boot
Brompton Electric C Line/Electric P Line
Brompton is the definition of a compact folder, its quick tri-fold producing a securely locked-together package that measures around 60x60x28cm in a matter of seconds. If you don’t have the biggest car boot and will be popping an e-folder in and out of it regularly then an electric Brompton will make light work of the whole affair.
They come in two versions and both use Brompton’s own drive system that consists of a front hub motor and a quick-remove front battery. The Electric C Line is the heavier of the two at 17.4kg; the Electric P Line (pictured) weighs in at 15.6kg (or 15.9kg if you add in a rack).
These are high-quality machines with price tags to match: £2,995, £3,695 and £3,785 respectively. The good news is that the battery pops off at the push of a button and will lighten the load by some 2.6kg.
The P Line is lighter compared to the C Line mainly by using a titanium rather than a steel rear frame and also by using four derailleur gears instead of six hub gears.
The lower-priced Mirider One (£1,595) may not be quite as compact to fold as a Brompton, the magnesium-framed, UK-assembled machine producing a 67x66x43cm package, and it’s heavier too at 17.65kg. But it’s arguably a more fun ride, with its high-torque rear hub motor which includes the option of a throttle when pedalling making it great for nipping through busy traffic and hill climbing.
Both the above options have 16" wheels which some may find a little lively. Raleigh’s Stow-E-Way has more reassuring 20” wheels with chunky tyres and costs only £1,199. The downsides are a large 89x66x45cm fold that weighs 20.15kg.