No segment of bicycles is growing faster than electric bikes—and that demand is good for you, the e-bike shopper. Newer brands like Aventon, Rad Power Bikes, and Ride1Up have sprung up, offering affordable options you can buy online, bolstering the higher-performance e-bikes from more established players like Specialized, Trek, and Pivot.
Designs keep improving, tech is becoming more reliable, and capabilities are expanding. Whether you purchase online or through a retailer, you can find everything from folding e-bikes, fat-tire e-bikes, electric-assist road bikes, and a sea of commuter and city electric bikes. Liberated from some of the standard bike constraints (like weight and gearing), e-bike design has exploded.
To make these reviews as helpful as possible, we focused on lower to mid-price options from brands you can purchase directly online—though we did include a couple of recommendations for more expensive e-bikes that our team of bike testers loved.
If you are looking for a higher-performance e-bike, check out Bicycling’s 2023 Bike Awards.
You’ll find 12 exceptional, award-winning bikes rigorously vetted by our editorial team.
After determining which style of bike is right for you, the next consideration is which class of e-bike best fits your needs. In the U.S., there are three classes, defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes are defined as class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while pedaling up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec,” can have up to a 750w motor (aka 1-horsepower) but can assist you up to 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without needing a license.
Class 2 models have become more popular with riders, especially at lower prices. These models have a throttle that can propel a bike up to 20 mph without needing continuous pedaling.
Some bikes blur the lines. Aventon’s popular Pace 500, for example, is technically a Class 3 e-bike in that it reaches speeds up to 28 mph, but it also has a throttle that tops out at 20 mph (the maximum legal speed for a throttle).
Torque: Measured in Newton meters (or Nm), torque is a rotational measurement of force—and the number to pay attention to when you want an idea of an e-bike motor’s output. More torque means more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. The heavier the bike, the more torque it needs. Lighter road bikes typically have 30 to 40Nm of torque, and trail and cargo models (generally) have at least 80Nm. Most commuter bikes fall somewhere in between.
Watt Hours: The size of an e-bike’s battery is measured in watt-hours (or Wh). This measurement represents the energy stored in the battery and how many watts it can deliver each hour. The higher the number, the longer the range, but the faster you go, the less range you get. So, if a 504Wh battery paired with a 500-watt motor gives you one hour of ride time at the highest assist, riding at about half that power will double your range.
Locking Battery: As electric bike options continue expanding, many brands now seamlessly integrate batteries to make the bike look sleeker (and more like a traditional non-assist bike). Most batteries lock to the bike and come with a key that lets you unlock and remove it, which serves multiple purposes: You can remove the battery and charge it off the bike, a locked battery deters (and hopefully prevents) a thief from stealing it, and an e-bike with the battery removed is safer for hauling on a bike rack and lighter for carrying up steps.
Wider Tires: Because e-bikes can maintain higher speeds for longer periods than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide better traction and the freedom to leave the pavement with little penalty, and a suspension fork will help tame some of the rougher roads you might explore. Good disc brakes are a must, too, for slowing a heavy bike at high speed. This is not a place to skimp.
Integrated Lights: Some e-bikes have an integrated lighting system that turns on when you power up the bike. While this is an awesome feature to have, it’s not a deal-breaker if your bike isn’t equipped this way. With so many great bike lights available, it’s just as easy to attach your own.
Following a dramatic increase in fires caused by the lithium-ion batteries used in electric bikes, there is a push from local officials, regulatory agencies, and advocacy groups across the U.S. for improved safety certification of e-bikes, batteries, and motor units. Recently, New York City enacted a law requiring that any e-bike sold in the city (starting September 16, 2023) “has been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2849”.
However, just because something is marketed as UL 2849 compliant, tested to UL 2849, or even “certified to UL 2849” does not mean it is UL Safety Certified. Ibrahim Jilani, UL’s Global Director of Consumer Technology notes, “Certification is always earned by a manufacturer and not a given when they undergo a product submittal. The UL Mark, or any authorized certification mark, can only be issued upon successful demonstration of meeting the requirements of the safety standard.” UL’s updated list of products Certified to UL 2849 can be found here.
Bicycling contacted many brands who informed us they are evaluating the standards and certification process. So, expect the list of Certified e-bikes to grow in the coming months. If owning a UL 2849-certified bike is important to you, ask the brand from which you purchase it for proof of certification. You can cross-reference OSHA’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories if you want to take a deep dive into the topic.
Our team of experienced bike testers evaluated each model here on its overall quality, its safety features, handling, motor, battery life, and whether the components and features added to the overall quality of the ride. We tested most of these bikes on our local roads, commuting to and from work, using them to stock up on groceries and beer, and running their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge.
A few bikes here were not available for testing. In those cases, we relied on the expertise of our test team, interviews with product managers, and rigorous research to compare the bikes’ value and performance against similar models we have tested.
Aventon updated its outstanding Level e-bike to have a smoother ride and added visibility. A new torque sensor delivers power to the rear hub motor more evenly than the previous generation bike. The Level.2 has a more natural and intuitive feel when riding. The integrated lights and a smaller, easier-to-use display help make one of our favorite commuter e-bikes even better.
In our testing, the Level performed better than expected in every situation. The Aventon Level.2 remains the best commuter e-bike you can purchase for less than $2,000 and one of the best commuter bikes you can buy overall. The updates to the platform make an already great bike even better. Aventon still has the first-generation Level available for only $1,500.
This e-bike has everything you need for commuting or getting around town. Plus, the Level rides great and is priced right. Additionally, Aventon is currently offering $200 off pricing on a spare battery with the purchase of a Level.2. Now's the time to level up!
The CTY e1.1 from REI's Co-op Cycles house brand is one of the best deals that you can find. The Class 1 bike has a 300 lb. carrying capacity and is powered by a Bafang hub drive motor and a 450Wh battery semi-integrated into the downtube. Additionally, REI equips the e1.1 with a Shimano Altus 7-speed drivetrain and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors. Standard lights, center-mount kickstand, and Schwalbe Big Ben tires with added flat protection make this bike ideal for commuting or riding around town.
For those unsure about assembling a bike at home, the Co-op CTY can be purchased online and delivered to an REI store for assembly (or if you're buying it as a gift). Plus, for REI members, it comes with free flat tire repair and two years of free adjustments.
Get 15% off on Priority Bikes all Memorial Day weekend using the code MDW15!
Beach cruisers are part of the quintessential summer experience. Usually, beach cruisers are heavy, clunky, rust-prone, and hard to ride anywhere but on the boardwalk. Priority’s E-Coast cast those notions aside. This beach bike has everything needed for summer days at the beach (or riding around town or the campground). The E-Coast’s aluminum frame and fork will not rust like on old steel beach cruisers and the Gates belt drive never needs chain lube. 26-inch diameter x 3-inch wide tires helps the bike float over sand and soak up the cracked pavement. The 500W rear hub motor gets the E-Coast up to a 28mph top speed and hydraulic disc brakes ensure stopping power.
Aventon updated its Pace range with a new frame and fork, integrated battery, and tail lights sleekly designed into the seat stays. At $1,200, the Aventon Pace 350.2 continues to deliver an outstanding balance of price and performance, now with a fresh new look. As a Class 2 e-bike, it has a max pedal-assist speed of 20 mph with a thumb-controlled throttle. The Pace 350 rolls on 27.5 x 2.2-inch e-bike-rated tires and stops via mechanical disc brakes. A 7-speed Shimano drivetrain and five levels of pedal assist provide various options. The bike doesn’t have fenders or integrated racks, but the Pace 350 felt viable for daily commuting.
If you need a little more speed and range, check out the Aventon Pace 500.2 for $300 extra or the all-new Pace 500.3 for $500 more. It has a 28 mph top speed, hydraulic disc brakes, an adjustable stem, and an 8-speed drivetrain. Read our review of the excellent Pace 500 model below.
We're fans of the Treadwell for its clean looks and upright rider position. Not quite a hybrid (but also not a foot-forward style cruiser), Cannondale's Treadwell models are unique, practical bikes for city commuting or riding around town. The Treadwell Neo 2 improves on this by offering electric assistance without incurring a big weight penalty. This makes for a lighter and zippier riding bike at a lower price. A Class 1 rear hub motor moves the Treadwell along smoothly with up to 20 mph pedal-assisted power. The 7-speed drivetrain and a wide-range cassette help you get up longer hills, and the Maxxis 650b tires roll fast on pavement.
We named Specialized’s Globe Haul ST Bicycling’s 2023 Bike of the Year in our Spring 2023 issue. This amazing short-tail cargo bike packs 419 pounds of carrying capacity into a surprisingly compact frame. With powerful brakes, dialed geometry, and well-thought-out features, it's ready to tackle commuting, grocery getting, neighborhood errands, or getting a kid to daycare. Without active suspension, the Haul relies on massive 3.5-inch tires, which work well on all but the roughest roads. What seals the deal on the Haul is, simply put, that it’s a blast to ride, which might not strike you as earth-shattering, but many e-cargo bikes just aren’t. What makes e-cargo bikes good often comes down to their utility, and the Haul ST has that in spades. But what it does so well is simultaneously managing to be incredibly practical and irresistibly fun.
Aventon has been on a roll, with new models and revisions to existing platforms. The brand's update to its Aventure fat tire e-bike is no exception. At first glance, there are not many big visual differences between the original Aventure and this second-generation model. However, once outside, the small changes feel huge.
Compared to the original Aventure (on sale for $1,500), the Aventure.2 rides much smoother. The new torque sensor allows more control over the acceleration of Aventure's 750W rear hub motor, making the bike's ride more intuitive. Some of our test riders found the previous model to have too much torque, particularly for lighter-weight riders or those new to e-bikes; the Aventure.2 remedied this fault.
In addition to the new torque sensor, the Aventure.2 has an updated head unit interface, integrated turn signals, front light, rear rack, and fenders. We found the Aventure.2 well-suited for commutes (especially on snowy days and gravel pathways) and off-road on doubletrack trails. The bike's weight and components limit its functionality on singletrack for more aggressive mountain bike riding.
The Co-op Cycles Generation e1.1 is an excellent bike for short trips, cities, and around-town use. It comes equipped with a rack, lights, and Schwalbe Super-Moto-X tires with puncture protection. Co-op equips the e1.1 with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes (unlike some competitors in the class) for improved stopping power and an SR suspension fork to smooth out the ride. Plus, REI provides service and warranty on Co-op bikes.
Designed with a classic moto style, Ride1Up's Cafe Cruiser has a casual ride feel. And it's also practical with a built-in rack and light. The zippy 750W motor powers the Cruiser to 28mph (20mph using the throttle) with a suspension fork and 3-inch wide tires to smooth out the ride. Ride the Cafe Cruiser to the bar, along the boardwalk, or to Sunday morning brunch. Add an optional passenger kit for $125 with a padded seat for the rack, footpegs, and wheel guards.
Unlike other electric vehicles, for bicycles, the term ‘hybrid’ refers not to the type of motor but to the style of bike. In bicycle parlance, a hybrid is a bike that combines the quick and sporty feel of a road bike with the upright riding position of a mountain bike. This makes them very popular for riders that use their bikes in various ways—from commuting to fitness to bike paths, and even light gravel roads or non-technical trails.
Trek makes some of the best hybrids on the market and its electric version is also an excellent choice. The Dual Sport+ 2 features a sleek aluminum frame that fully hides a 250Wh battery. A rigid aluminum fork helps save weight (and cuts down on maintenance) over the low-cost suspension forks often found on e-bikes in this price range. Grippy, yet fast-rolling 50mm wide tires help provide traction and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes ensure reliable stopping power.
With the Radrover 6 Plus, Rad Power has made a fat tire e-bike that is comfortable to ride on pretty much any terrain, from urban streets riddled with potholes to off-road paths with rocks or snow. Updated display and hydraulic disc brakes make the RadRover 6 Plus substantially nicer to ride than its predecessor.
The bike's extreme weight makes it feel sluggish at times. And the weight makes moving the bike up or down any stairs an issue. However, the RadRover's powerful 750w rear hub motor helps overcome increased rolling resistance and the weight of the four-inch-wide tires. The bike is available in traditional or step-through frame styles in your choice of charcoal or white color.
This Denago has all the features a rider might want for city riding or commuting. We enjoyed this bike so much that we named it ‘Best Step-Through’ in the 2023 Bicycling Bike Awards.
It's a class 3 e-bike rolling on 27.5"x2.6" tires and powered by a 500-watt rear hub motor (capable of a maximum pedal-assisted speed of 28 mph or 20 mph with throttle alone). The 45-mile range, 652 Wh battery is neatly tucked into the downtube and removable for charging. But that's only the start of what makes this bike stand out.
The Commute 1 has a hefty list of standard features. This includes a suspension fork, hydraulic disc brakes, lights, fenders, and a rack. The bike's cockpit is designed for rider comfort with a swept-back bar, adjustable stem, and ergonomic-shaped lock-on grips. We also like Denago's use of a suspension seatpost and big cushioned saddle.
Brompton’s bikes are engineering marvels. Lightweight, portable, and quintessentially British, Bromptons can be found on the streets, trains, and busses of most major global cities. The Electric C Line is the e-bike variant of the brand’s original C Line series. The 250W front-wheel drive Electric C Line is powered by an easily removable 300Wh battery to a maximum assisted speed of 15 mph. This Brompton fold down in under 30 seconds to a tidy 25.3'' x 23'' x 10.6''. Read our review of the Electric P Line (a lighter-weight version of the C Line) for more details.
Singlespeed bikes are great because they are low maintenance, have a clean aesthetic, and typically weigh less than bikes with multiple gears and derailleurs. Ride1Up's Roadster v2 barely even looks like an e-bike, plus it features a belt drive drivetrain that doesn't need chain lube. We found the Roadster best for flatter terrain and bike lanes—the gearing makes it a little tough to get it up to speed in hilly areas. For an extra $150 you can step up to the Roadster Gravel with disc brakes, a Gates belt drive, and 42mm wide tires.
This commuter model from Velotric is one of the few e-bikes available on UL’s Certified Listing. The Discover 1 delivers style and features that are tough to beat for the price. This 500W e-bike rolls on 26" wheels with 2.5" wide tires, providing quicker acceleration and extra grip. The bike also features front and rear fenders, hydraulic disc brakes for improved stopping power, and a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain. While only offered in a single size (standard or step-through frames available), Velotric gives you five color choices (six on the step-through) from which to choose—from the bright and poppy (mango or cyan) to more neutral tones (forest, sand, or gray). Plus, save $200 at checkout when purchasing two bikes.
The Benno RemiDemi puts the fun in functionality! Not only is the bike a blast to ride, but it also carries up to 400 pounds (rider + cargo) and is built with quality components throughout. And Benno offers a selection of accessories so you can do everything from carrying a kid to daycare, grocery runs, commuting, or even carrying a surfboard.
The compact, one-size-fits-most aluminum frame and cromoly fork roll on 20”x3.6” puncture-resistant tires. At the heart of the RemiDemi is a super reliable 250W Bosch Performance series mid-drive motor powered by a 400Wh Bosch Powerpack battery. Unlike many similarly styled e-bikes, but lower-priced competitors, the RemiDemi rides smoothly and quietly.
Specialized's Turbo Vado 4.0 just feels 'right'. From the motor to the interface to the aesthetic design to the parts selection to the ride quality, the details on the Turbo Vado 4.0 have all been thoroughly thought through to perform as a seamless package. This is a rare quality that anyone—be they a lifelong cyclist or getting their first e-bike—can benefit from and enjoy.
We have ridden a lot of e-bikes over the years, and the Specialized Turbo models consistently test amongst the best in all categories. The brand puts a ton of development time into its Turbo series e-bikes by refining the motor tune and carefully selecting parts. This work pays off with best-in-class ride quality. If you have hesitated to try an e-bike because you think it won't feel like your favorite non-assist bike, try a Specialized Turbo. You'll quickly become a convert.
Specialized offers the Turbo Vado at several price levels between $3,250 and $5,500. You can purchase Turbo Vados with traditional or step-through frame styles, derailleur or internal hub drivetrain configurations, and several color offerings.
E-Trikes are making big waves since e-bike heavyweight Rad Power launched its new RadTrike model. Trikes are a great option for riders uncomfortable riding more traditional two-wheel bikes or who regularly carry items (such as groceries, beach supplies, or pets). Buzz's Cerana T features a 350-watt mid-drive motor with pedal assistance up to 20mph. The wide-profile 24" x 3.0" front tire and dual 20" rear wheels provide stability, while disc brakes help ensure controlled stops. A step-through frame (holding an integrated battery) makes it easy to get on or off the trike, and the cushy seat and upright position add to rider comfort.
A great way to explore backroads or longer routes, electric-assist road bikes have opened up road cycling to more people. Trek's 31-pound Domane+ road bike provides pedaling assistance up to 20 mph and approximately 55 miles (in Eco mode) via a 250W (40Nm) HyDrive hub motor and 250Wh internal battery. For longer rides, an optional range extender battery can double the range. The AL5 model features a Shimano 105 2x11-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. The bike comes stock with 32mm wide tires but can be fitted with tires up to 38mm for light gravel and dirt road rides.
Read our review of the lightweight, high-performance Domane+ SLR version here.
The EX-e is lighter, a lot lighter—10 or so pounds—than a full-power e-bike because it uses a less powerful motor requiring a smaller battery. That makes it appealing to riders who want an e-bike but also want the feel and handling of an unpowered e-bike. It should also interest lighter and less powerful riders put off by riding a 50-pound eMTB. As Senior Test Editor Matt Phillips discovered, being less powerful doesn’t mean less fun. The EX-e proves that the old Less Is More axiom works for e-bikes too.Looking to purchase a car? Find your match on the MSN Autos Marketplace 2023-05-31T17:02:30Z dg43tfdfdgfd