The hottest new way to get around town — or anywhere else — is on one of the best electric bikes. These battery-powered bicycles can give you an extra boost when you need it, making it easier to travel up hills and longer distances. Especially in nicer weather, they’re a great alternative to taking a car.
There are electric bikes for just about every person, from mountain bikes to commuters to large cargo bikes. And while many are still quite expensive, they’re coming down in price. What’s more, they’re all fun to ride.
What are the best electric bikes?
After riding a number of models, we think the Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus is the best electric bike for most people. Starting at $1,799, it’s not overly expensive for an ebike, and comes in both a low-step and a high-step models. We also like that it has front and rear fenders as well as a built-in bike rack. Its battery is removable, making it easier to charge.
If you live in more urban environments, you may want to check out the Charge Bikes City, which shares many of the same characteristics as the RadCity 5 Plus, but its handlebars and pedals can fold flat, making the bike easier to store if you have limited space.
If you’re shopping for an electric bike now, here are the best we’ve tested so far. Keep in mind that due to high demand, many of the best electric bikes are either on backorder or are sold out. And before you do any riding, be sure to pick up one of the best bike helmets and some of the best bike lights if you’ll be riding in the dark.
Read on for all our best electric bike picks.
The best electric bikes you can buy today
For the vast majority of riders, the Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus will be the best electric bike. It has a comfortable design, plenty of power, and a multitude of mounting points for things such as baskets and child seats. Plus, it comes with a rear rack and mudguards. Its 7-speed shifter, combined with three levels of pedal assistance and a twist throttle is more than enough to get you up even the steepest of hills.
We really enjoyed pedaling around on this bike, which is offered in both step-through and step-over models. Its battery, while not fully integrated into the downtube, provides plenty of range, and can also be used to charge your phone (with the right adapter). At a starting price of $1,999, it’s reasonably affordable, too.
Read our full Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus review.
The price of electric bikes is coming down, but many of the best electric bikes still cost more than $1,500. The Aventon Soltera is a much more modestly priced model that sacrifices little in the name of economy. In our tests, we found it very comfortable to ride, and it looks great, too.
However, the Soltera’s rear hub motor does feel a little underpowered, especially on hills, and if you want the least expensive version, you’ll have to go with a single-gear model. Still, if you’re looking for a low-cost electric bike to get you around town, this is definitely a model to consider.
Read our full Aventon Soltera electric bike review.
If you plan on commuting to work, Charge Bikes City may well be the best ebike for you. Not only does it come with features like full-fenders to keep the mud off and a rear rack for a pack or bag, but it does everything well for a very reasonable price. The Charge City has a five level power assist, as well as a full-power throttle button, should the need or hill arise. It comes with all the necessary bells and whistles a commuter is going to want, including the bell (actually a superior and very loud electronic horn).
The handle bars fold flat, for easy storage in an apartment or cubicle, and the City’s electric support is so smooth you’ll think you’re doing all the work yourself. We were able to do three days plus of typical city commuting before having to re-charge. At night, the bike’s lights sufficiently lit up the road and the throttle helped us zip around potential trouble when we felt out of gas. Founded by folks from biking icon Cannondale, Charge’s sui generis feature is that even newbies can assemble the bike right out of the box in 10 minutes or less. All you basically have to do is put the front wheel on.
Read our full Charge Bikes City review
With sleek, clean lines, the VanMoof S3 is sure to turn heads, but this electric bike is more than just looks. It has an electronic shifter that automatically changes your gears and a boost which provides you an uphill assist. Once you connect the bike to your phone via Bluetooth, you get a bunch of other features, too: You can change when the bike shifts gears, change the sound of its electronic horn, and more. Best of all, you can lock the bike using your phone, and get an alert if someone tries to make off with it.
We loved riding the VanMoof S3; it’s no speed demon, but it’s a great bike for cruising around. And you’ll look great doing it, too. An update in April 2021 now lets you use Apple’s FindMy app to locate the VanMoof S3 and X3 in case it’s ever lost or stolen.
Read our full VanMoof S3 review.
The Gazelle Ultimate C380 HMB is one of the smoothest-riding electric bikes we’ve tested. Thanks to a Gates belt drive and seamless Enviolo shifter that allows you to change gears in the middle of a hill, everything about this bike is effortless. Its low-step frame is topped with a Selle Loire Gel seat with an internal compression post to soften the ride. The aluminum frame also has an internal front fork suspension system and removable battery to keep the whole design as svelte as possible.
The Gazelle has full mud guards, a metal belt guard (to keep your pants clean), kickstand, lights front and back, a rear rack with a built-in stretch bracket, and even an Axa Defender lock that immobilizes the rear wheel when you snap it shut and remove the key. But, all of this will cost you: The Gazelle Ultimate is a steep $4,800.
Read our full Gazelle Ultimate C380 HMB review.
The all-weather Biktrix Stunner X is equally at home in the mud and snow as it is on pothole-dotted city streets, keeping the rider comfortable and in control no matter the terrain or conditions. It’s got enough of a kick to get you up a gravel hill, and enough padding so that your ride doesn’t turn into a torture test.
Its Bafang 750W mid-drive motor is surprisingly powerful, and can be used in pedal-assist as well as throttle mode, for when you want to give your legs a break. While not as nimble as purpose-built electric mountain bikes, it performed admirably on mud-slicked roads. Our only real critique is that the Bafang controller was a bit difficult to master.
Read our full Biktrix Stunner X electric bike review
If you’re looking for a fat-tire electric bike that’s less than $2,000, the Aventon Aventure is hard to beat. It’s as good off-road as it is on pavement, has a beefy battery and a clear color display, as well as fenders that’ll save your clothes from getting too muddy.
The Aventure has both pedal-assist and throttle modes, and the battery and wires are neatly integrated into the frame. What’s more, the battery can be removed for charging. While not as capable as a dedicated mountain bike, the Aventure was able to get us up and over hilly terrain, though there was a minor lag in the power boost. Still, for the price, it’s a tradeoff that’s more than acceptable.
Read our full Aventon Aventure review.
The best electric bikes aren’t cheap; most models start at $1,500 and go up from there. If you’re looking for something more affordable, then the Swft Volt is worth a look. It’s reasonably powerful, has both pedal-assist and a throttle, and has enough range to get you a good distance. For better or worse, it doesn’t look like an e-bike, either.
However, this bike is not without its compromises: It only has one gear, its battery is not removable, and its display is rather basic. It also required a bit more setup than most other electric bikes we’ve tested. But, at this price, it’s a good alternative for those with a limited budget.
Read our full Swft Volt review.
The Yuba Supercargo CL can haul an astounding 500 pounds, making it one of the heftiest electric cargo bikes in its class. Yet, it offers a surprisingly stable ride, thanks to its low center of gravity. Its cargo area is very customizable, letting you convert it from a place to carry groceries to a space to tote your tots to soccer practice.
Magna hydraulic brakes and a Bosch mid-drive motor were very responsive, though the relatively small 20-inch tires and lack of suspension did make bumps feel a bit jarring. The Supercargo CL starts at around $6,000, but is incredibly customizable; you can select from a range of accessories to adapt the cargo area to suit your needs.
Read our full Yuba Supercargo CL review.
While a lot of cargo ebikes can carry kids, the Urban Arrow Family is the best electric bike for the job. We really liked its stability and the ease with which we could start this massive bike from a dead stop. This is not a small bike: it’s 9 feet long and weighs 110 pounds, which is a good thing that it also has one of the best kickstands we’ve seen yet from a bike.
The cargo area is made of thick EPP foam, which is designed to absorb impacts. The seats — there are also adjustable seatbelts — are also fairly low, which keeps the center of gravity low. As you might expect from such a large bike, its range is fairly limited — around 31 miles — but the battery is removable. Overall, it offers an incredibly smooth ride for its size.
Read our full Urban Arrow Family electric bike review.
Even mountain bikers can use a boost now and then. The Giant Trance E +1 Pro is a full-featured mountaineer that’s on the heavy side at over 50 pounds but does remarkably well getting tossed around on rocky routes. There’s no big display to tell you about power modes—just LEDs to indicate power levels. On the other hand, you should be keeping your head up looking for the next hillock so you don’t do a face plant anyway.
This best electric bike for mountain bikers includes Giant’s popular Maestro suspension package, which handles the extra weight with aplomb; and the big Shimano hydraulic disc brakes have plenty of stopping power to keep it all under control. The bike is also available in four sizes, so it should fit most riders. If you’re looking for help climbing rugged trails, this is your bike. Just don’t expect to easily pop it into the air very often.
The Gocycle G4i+ looks like something a supercar designer would build, which isn’t surprising given that it was conceived by former McLaren sports car engineer Richard Thorpe. Not only is this bike’s unique wheels-on-one-side and tapered body eye-catching, it is also able to fold up in a couple of minutes into a size small enough to get by security and into the office elevator. At 36 pounds, it’s one of the lightest folding electric bikes out there, too.
Despite that, this bike was a real pleasure to ride. Its electric shifter responded near instantly, as did the pedal assist and throttle. However, while the G4i+ has daytime running lights, you’ll have to pay extra for a legit headlight, as well as mudguards. Also, the G4i+ has a great smartphone app, but one of the flimsiest methods of holding your phone on the bike itself — a cheap solution for a bike that costs six grand.
If you’re looking for something slightly more affordable, GoCycle also sells the G4i ($4,999) and the G4 ($3,999).
Read our full GoCycle G4i+ review
If you’re looking for something more affordable than the GoCycle, the Brompton Electric H6L is the best electric folding bike. It’s also very small and compact, weighing just 34 pounds, yet its 250W motor is strong enough to get you around with plenty of zip. Its battery, which comes in a removable bag that’s also great for storing other things, provides up to 45 miles of range — a good long way.
We also like that the H6L has a second pair of tiny wheels that make it a lot easier to roll the bike around when it’s folded. Just keep in ming that this commuter-focused bike has smallish 16-inch wheels, so it’s not meant to handle rougher roads.
Read our full Brompton Electric H6L review.
What to look for when buying an electric bike
Pedal-assist or throttle?
Electric bikes tend to fall into two categories: Pedal-assist and throttle. The motor on a pedal-assist electric bike will only kick in if you’re actively pedaling, whereas a throttle electric bike will zip you along even when you’re not pedaling. Both types have their advantages: electric bikes with throttles let you kick back and enjoy the ride, but pedal-assist electric bikes will offer a longer ride on the same battery charge.
Some electric bikes offer both functions, and many let you set the level of pedal assistance if you want to get more of a workout, or want to conserve your bike’s battery.
Less expensive electric bikes traditionally use a rear hub motor. Mid-drive motors located in the center pedal crank shaft tend to be more expensive but offer better overall balance and smoother shifting.
Motors are also rated based on their power, measured in Watts. Typically, the least powerful motor will be 250 Watts, but unless you’re a very large person or planning to go up really steep hills, the motor size shouldn’t be a major determining factor for your purchase. More important, there is no industry standard for measuring Watts (is it continuous or peak and if peak, for how long?). So in general, a motor’s Watt rating isn’t a reliable indication of power.
Consider where you live. If you’re in San Francisco you’re going to want more help than if you’re cruising around Austin. Watt hours (Wh) is the most important figure for comparison—it takes into account battery output and battery life to give you a better sense of available power. Higher Wh translates into more range.
Many electric bike makers will also include an estimated range (usually about 40 miles) that you can get off a single charge. You should take this figure with a large grain of salt, as that number is usually determined under ideal circumstances: A fairly lightweight person riding on flat terrain with no wind, and at the perfect ambient temperature for the battery. Range is also dependent on the level of power assist being used, whether full-throttle has been applied and for how long, and your average speed. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Removable or built-in battery?
Most bike batteries will handle rides of about 40 miles and need to be plugged in for at least a couple of hours to get to 80 percent of capacity. So if you have a more demanding commute, consider a model that lets you swap out the battery rather than a bike with an integrated battery.
Also, if you live in a place where you can’t bring your bike inside or get close to a wall outlet (such as if you live in a walk-up apartment), definitely look for a bike with a removable battery. It will make your life a lot easier.
If you’re planning to ride your electric bike in traffic or in low-light conditions (such as dawn and dusk), it’s worth looking for an electric bike with built-in head and taillights. While increasingly common, it’s not a standard feature on all models.
Electric bike rules and regulations
There has been a lot of confusion about ebikes (pedal assist versus throttle bikes) and where you can legally ride them. Some municipalities have banned ebikes from bicycle paths, for example. Many places classify ebikes depending on whether they can go full throttle and have a maximum speed of 20 or 28 mph. There are three official classifications:
Class 1: Ebikes that only assist while you pedal, with a top speed of 20 mph.
Class 2: Ebikes with a throttle that don’t require you to pedal but have a top speed of 20 mph.
Class 3: Ebikes that only assist while you pedal, with a top speed of 28 mph.
So check your local regulations before you buy. And always wear a helmet.
How we test electric bikes
All the bicycles in this feature were road (and in some cases, off-road) tested by Tom’s Guide reviewers and staff. Day and night rides, where relevant, are also included and bikes are tested for stability, handling, and safety features (including lights, reflectors, and horns). With an increasing number of models available online only, we also take ease of assembly into account.