E-bikes or electric bikes have exploded in popularity over recent years. The option of assisted pedalling opens cycling up to a whole new audience, and we are seeing everything from slick commuters and long-travel enduro e-MTBs to haul-everything assisted cargo bikes and electric road bikes. E-bikes come in so many guises, including folding bikes, fat bikes, trikes and cruisers - there’s just so much to choose from! That’s why we’ve rounded up our pick of the best e-bikes here.
In the US, rules for e-bikes vary from state to state; 30 states classify e-bikes as ordinary bicycles, while the remaining 20 label e-bikes as mopeds, scooters or something else altogether.
Federal law defines an electric bicycle as 'a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20mph.'
It's worth noting this statute defines the maximum assisted speed of the bike when being only powered by the motor, not when it's being pedalled. To make things more confusing, state regulations can supersede the federal statute.
The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association has proposed a three-class system which divides electric bikes up based on their maximum assisted speed:
Class 1: the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedalling and cuts out a 20mph
Class 2: the motor can contribute regardless of pedalling but is governed to 20mph
Class 3: the motor provides assistance when the rider is pedalling but cuts out at 28mph and must be equipped with a speedometer.
For all three classes, the motor can only put out a max of 750 watts, and the class needs to be clearly labelled. This system also defines where the bikes can be ridden; class 1 and 2 are permitted anywhere bikes are allowed, while class 3 can be ridden on roads and bike lanes but not multi-use paths, and may be subject to minimum user age and helmet requirements.
So far, 22 states have legislation creating a class system and our friends over at People for Bikes have put together a full state by state run down.
A powerful folding bike with a throttle for easy movement
If you’re looking for an e-bike that doesn’t take up too much space, can be taken on public transport, and stored neatly under a desk when you get to work, then a folding e-bike like this Swagtron Swagcycle EB-7 Elite is an excellent choice. With its 16-inch wheels, it folds away into a compact package that can be stored conveniently away. It’s also an excellent choice for households who share a bike, since it’s incredibly easy to adjust the height and setup.
It has a removable 5.2Ah battery which can recharge in around 3-4 hours, and you can easily buy a spare one if you need it. It’s capable of going up to 15.5 miles on a single charge, which is ideal for anyone just needing something to go around town with. The motor comes with three ride options, including a throttle so you can rest your legs when you’re too tired.
For comfort, the EB-7 Elite has a coil shock with adjustable preload to provide comfort and suspension at the rear. You’ll be much more comfortable when you hit rough and uneven roads thanks to this. Meanwhile, disc brakes with ‘Autoguard’ technology cut out the motor when the brakes are engaged, to aid smooth and stable braking.
Hit the trails hard and make the most of the descents
If you want to get the most out of your local mountain bike trails, you can let rip with this e-mountain bike from Accolmile. With its 27.5-inch wheels and full-suspension setup, you can roll over most trail features and have a lot of fun at the same time.
The 750W motor is fully integrated into the frame so you won’t stand out as an e-biker if you don’t want to. Combined with 9 Shimano gears, it quietly powers you up most climbs, and when you really need to rest you can engage the throttle and let the bike do the work for you.
The 12.8Ah battery is long-lasting, and seamlessly integrated into the downtube. It can be charged whilst on the bike, or you can remove it and charge it indoors. A spare is also available to buy if you wish to have two on rotation so you’re never caught out without any juice.
Perfect for transporting groceries and goods around
This step-through bike is perfect for anyone with mobility issues, as you don’t need to swing your leg high to mount it. Combined with 26-inch wheels, it’s also a great option for shorter riders. It’s a great bike for carrying things around, including loading up on groceries, thanks to the basket at the front and the rear pannier rack which you can attach bags to.
The front suspension fork dampens vibrations from the road, making it more comfortable for your hands, wrists and arms, while the V-brakes offer decent stopping power and easy maintenance.
The 6-speed drivetrain is adequate to get you up most hills, while the 10Ah battery can cover up to 28 miles on a single charge, making this bike a good choice for commuting and local shopping. The 250W motor comes with two ride modes: the first is pedal assist, and the second is throttle, so you can let the bike do the work for you. This is handy if you get a long way from home and run out of steam.
Electric fat tire bike ideal for riding on sand and snow
If you’re looking for something that can take you almost anywhere, this fat full-suspension e-mountain bike from Accolmile fits the bill perfectly. With hefty 26x4inch tires, this bike is at home as much on snow and sand as it is on trails and the road, and will roll over pretty much anything with ease.
The powerful and quiet 1000W Bafang mid-drive motor helps keep the overall weight of the bike down, and balanced. Meanwhile the long-lasting 12.8Ah battery is seamlessly integrated into the downtube, and removable if you want to charge it off the bike. A spare is also available to buy if you wish to have two on rotation so you’re never caught out without any juice.
It has 9 gears, hydraulic disc brakes for expert stopping power, an anti-theft alarm, and two riding modes: electric assist, and pure electric, which uses a throttle to power you along without the need to pedal.
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