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Best electric bikes: Assisted bikes for road, gravel, commuting and more

Included in this guide:

Woman riding one of the best electric bikes along a long straight highway
(Image credit: Courtesy)

When you're looking to invest in one of the best electric bikes you can buy, the amount of choice out there can be daunting. Gone are the days when e-bikes were a rare novelty and only a small handful of household name brands actually sold them. Nowadays almost every brand you can think of is gunning for a slice of the pedal-assisted pie, and you can choose from a veritable smorgasbord of options. 

For example, if you need something you can carry upstairs or hoick over fences, you should check out the best lightweight electric bikes. Meanwhile if you're shopping on a budget you can find something in your price range by perusing the best electric bikes under £1,000 / $1,000, or the best electric bike under $2,000 / £2,000 if you have a bit more to spend. Finally, if you're not ready to invest in a new bike altogether, consider the best electric bike conversion kits to breathe new life into an old bike and give it a much-needed boost.

To help you narrow down your choices and find the right electric bike for your needs, we've rounded up our top picks of the best e-road bikes, e-hybrid bikes and e-mountain bikes, exploring their pros and cons and deconstructing all that marketing jargon you're no doubt encountering wherever you look.

Read on for our picks of the best electric bikes you can buy today, or jump ahead to find out how to choose the best electric bike for you.

Best electric road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert

One of the lightest electric bikes you can buy

Specifications
Drive System: Specialized SL 1.1
Battery capacity: 480Wh
Claimed weight: 12kg
Price: £7,499.00 / $9,000.00 / €8,499.00 / AU$12,000.00
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight +Mission control app +Future Shock
Reasons to avoid
-Battery not removable from the frame

Specialized’s Turbo Creo SL looks almost identical to a standard road bike, and thanks to the nifty SL1.1 drive system it isn't all that much heavier. Specialized worked with Brose to design its own motor, which is claimed to weigh just 1.96kg and produce 240watts of assistance. Integrated into the downtube is a 320Wh battery, which is said to weigh 1.8kg, and Specialized makes a 60Wh range extender that fits into a bottle cage should you be headed out for an epic adventure. 

Specialized has integrated its e-bike system with the Mission Control App, which allows you to run diagnostics and customize how much pedal assist is on offer.

The Turbo Creo SL Expert is the brand's second-tier model and sees a Fact11 carbon frame and the Future Shock 2.0 with tunable dampening. The frame uses thru-axles front and rear and sees Shimano Deore XT Di2/Ultegra Di2 drivetrain with an 11-42- cassette.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Trek Domane + LT

Endurance assisted platform with premium comfort

Specifications
Drive System: Fazua
Battery capacity: 250Wh
Claimed weight: 14.7kg
Price: £6,000.00 / $6,499.00 / €6,099.00 / AU$9,299.00
Reasons to buy
+Isospeed front and rear +Stable handling +Resistance free pedaling
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

For 2021 Trek’s Domane LT platform takes almost everything we love about the Trek’s endurance road bike and gives you a bit of extra oomph to get you up and climb. The frame is made from 500 Series OCLV carbon, features the brand’s IsoSpeed decoupler, clearance for up to 38c tires, and sees a nearly identical geometry to the non assisted version. 

Using a Fauza drive system, the motor can output 250w and is powered by a 250w removable battery stored in the downtube, which means you don’t have to charge your entire bike, but also that it can be replaced as the battery degrades over time.

The Domane + LT sees almost all the bells and whistles the non-pedal-assist version offers including the dual IsoSpeed decouplers although it doesn't get the downtube storage as that is where the battery is stored. 

(Image credit: Bianchi)

Bianchi E-Impulso

The best looking of the bunch

Specifications
Drive System: Ebikemotion X35+
Battery capacity: 250Wh
Claimed weight: TBC
Price: £4,599.99 / $4,240.00 / €4,335.00 / AU$6,550.00
Reasons to buy
+Nearly indistinguishable from the standard bike
Reasons to avoid
-Battery is fixed inside the downtube

The Bianchi e-Impulso takes advantage of the Ebikemotion drive system and is one of the most stealthy-looking electric bikes on the market. The power button on the top tube gives the game away; the 250Wh battery is hidden inside the downtube, and the rear hub-based motor provides up to 40Nm of torque at full bore. 

The aluminium frame is mated with a carbon fork, while the bike sees an 11-speed Ultegra drivetrain, Vision Velomann tubeless-ready wheels finished in 32mm Vittoria rubber, and Velomann finishing kit. 

It's a road bike at heart, but Bianchi also makes the bike with a gravel-friendly build that will also tackle the rough stuff. 

Best electric gravel bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Cannondale Topstone Neo Lefty 3

Almost full suspension gravel bike sure to polarize opinion

Specifications
Drive System: Bosch
Battery capacity: 500Wh
Claimed weight: 18kg
Price: £5,600.00 / $6,300.00 / €6,099.00 / AU$9,799.00
Reasons to buy
+Handling and grip +Torque Lefty Oliver fork
Reasons to avoid
-Ugly-Heavy

Cannondale's Topstone Neo is a spiritual descendant on steroids of the veritable Slate. Based on the chassis of the carbon Topstone, the 30mm KingPin pivot based rear suspension is matched with the Lefty Oliver single stanchion fork, offering 30mm of air-spring suspension. The Lefty is a bit of an engineering marvel, and is one of the stiffest forks on the market, and sees hydraulic damping and lockout. Suspension on a gravel bike always induces audible eye-rolls from drop bar purists, but the fact of the matter adds considerable improvements to both comfort and grip. 

In the middle of the triangles is Bosch’s Performance Line Speed motor and removable 500Wh battery. With up to 250-watts of assistance and 85nm of torque on tap, the Bosch drive unit will help you crawl up that impossibly steep fire road, while a bar-mounted Purion display keeps all the vitals at your fingertips. 

Best Electric Bike: Ribble CGR AL e

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Ribble CGR AL e

Bang for your buck Gravel e-bike

Specifications
Drive System: Ebikemotion
Battery capacity: 250Wh
Claimed weight: 13.6kg
Price: Starting from £2,399.00 / $N/A / €2,369.41 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+Alloy frame +Price +Rack and fender mounts
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed battery

Our favourite thing about Ribble is the way it sells its bikes because the Bikebuilder platform allows you to customise every component from drivetrain to wheels, tyres and touchpoints. The CGR AL e is the brand's alloy eGravel platform. The alloy frame will take both 700x35c or 650bx2in wheels and tyres with mudguards, and sees rack and fender mounts galore.

Taking advantage of the eBikemotion system, the motor is a rear hub-based, and the 250Wh battery is integrated into the downtube. This system is lightweight and doesn't change the frame's silhouette, but most of all is friction-free when the motor is not in use. The Ribble CGR AL E is also one of the most affordable eGravel bikes, with an SRAM Apex version going for $2,724 — there is a less expensive Shimano Tiagra build, but the rear derailleur is not clutched, which is a non-starter for us. 

Best Electric Bike: Canyon Grail:On EGravel

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Canyon Grail:On

Gravel e-bike from the future

Specifications
Drive System: Bosch
Battery capacity: 250Wh
Claimed weight: 17.1kg
Price: £4,999.00 / $TBC / €4,999.00 / AU$TBC
Reasons to buy
+Hoverbar +Tyre clearance +Drag free pedaling
Reasons to avoid
-Looks -Heavy

With room for 50mm tires, the eclectic hover bar, and a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, the Canyon Grail: On eGravel bike is anything but vanilla. Based around the ever successful Grail, the geometry has been tweaked ever so slightly for a more upright riding position. While Canyon’s other drop bar eBikes utilised the sleeker-looking Fauza system, the brand says it opted for the Bosch motors for the additional torque on offer, which is what you need to get up and over those steep techy features. 

With the new geometry, the wheelbase is a tad longer to increase stability and make room for mudguards and the balloon-like 50mm tires. The Grail: On CF7 sits in the middle of the pricing spectrum and comes equipped with a Shimano GRX drivetrain, an FSA carbon crankset with a 44t chainring at the front and 11-42 cassette out the back

Best electric commuter bikes

Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0

(Image credit: Specialized)

Commuter that comes with all the bells and whistles

Specifications
Drive System: Specialized SL 1.1
Battery capacity: 320Wh
Claimed weight: 14.9kg
Price: £3,000.00 / $‌3,695.00 / €3,775.00 / AU$5,705.00
Reasons to buy
+Natural ride feel+Reasonably low weight+1x drivetrain+Relaxed, upright riding position+Integrated lights
Reasons to avoid
-Can feel underpowered on particularly hilly rides

With an upright riding position, robust alloy frame, integrated lights and a lightweight design, the Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 is a great option for the everyday commuter and urban cyclist running errands by bike. The drive system is the brand's own, and sees a 400Wh battery integrated into the frame. 

The mid-drive drive unit system makes the bike a 1x system, but that simplifies shifting, and coming with the 10-speed 11-42 cassette, can mountain goat up many a city climb. Rolling on 700c wheels, the 38mm Specialized Pathfinder Sport tyres will take the sting out of curbs and potholes. When you need to drop the anchors, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and 160mm rotors will stop on a dime. 

Best Electric Bike: Cube Kathmandu Hybrid Pro 625

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Cube Kathmandu Hybrid Pro 625

Ideal for carrying heavy gear

Specifications
Drive System: Bosch
Battery capacity: 625Wh
Claimed weight: 25.9kg
Price: £3,099.00 / $TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC
Reasons to buy
+Integrated rack+Expandably battery capacity+Bosch Gen 4 drive unit
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

Available in standard, drop top tube and step through versions, the Cube Kathmandu Hybrid Pro is a commuter bike built for riders of all shapes and sizes. Using Bosch’s fourth-generation GX drive unit and Cube’s Modular Battery system, the Kathmandu hides the battery behind an easy-access cover on the down tube, which not only protects it from the elements but also leaves space should you want to slot in a bigger cell. 

Instead of the typical bolt-on racks you find on most commuter bikes; Cube has opted to make the Integrated Carrier 2.0 over the rear wheel a permanent fixture of the bike. This provides a more stable platform for whatever you may be carrying, and makes for a clean, integrated look. At the front, the bike sees a tapered head tube and 100mm SR Suntour fork. The cables are routed internally, and shifting duties are looked after by a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain. 

Best Electric Bike: Brompton Electric

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Brompton Electric

Pedal assisted folder

Specifications
Drive System: Brompton
Battery capacity: 300Wh
Claimed weight: 11.6kg
Price: £3,020.00 / $4,050.00 / €3,730.00 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+Weight +Compact & foldable+Removable battery
Reasons to avoid
-Front-wheel drive systems can get squirrely

Whether you live in a small apartment, using multiple forms of transport on your commute, or your destination doesn’t have secure bike storage, a folding bike might just be your best option. Brompton has long been the gold standard in folding bikes, and its electric version takes the origami bike you know and love, and adds pedal assist. The bike still gets the M-type handlebar, Sturmey Archer wide range gear hub, and even the rear damper to improve ride comfort. 

Using a 250-watt front hub-based motors and a handlebar-mounted 300Wh removable battery pack, that Brompton says has enough juice for between 30km and 70km, and takes four hours to recharge. What’s most surprising is Brompton says the bike only weighs 11.6kg, which is on par with some non-pedal assist folders

Best electric mountain bikes

Whyte E-150 S 29er V1

(Image credit: Whyte)

Whyte E-150 S

A very sweet-handling chariot

Specifications
Drive System: Bosch Performance Line CX
Battery capacity: 625Wh
Claimed weight: TBC
Price: £4,750.00 / €5,700.00 / $6,000.00 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding handling+Bosch overdrive +Shimano components
Reasons to avoid
-Brakes pushed to the limit

Our testers over on our sister site Bike Perfect were really impressed by the Whyte E-150 S, finding its handling to be outstanding, thanks to the well-performing Bosch drive system and a great suite of components from Shimano. Its low centre of gravity and balance of agility and stability make it a champion on the turns too.

It comes with a 140mm RockShox Deluxe Select + RT shock paired with a 150mm RockShox Yari RC fork, while Shimano's Deore groupset handles the braking and shifting.

Orbea Rise M20 electric mountain bike

(Image credit: Orbea)

Orbea Rise M20

A sleek-looking trail bike

Specifications
Drive System: Shimano EP8
Battery capacity: 360Wh
Claimed weight: 16.5kg
Price: £5,600.00 / €6,300.00 / $7,000.00 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+Great look+Nice spec list+Lightweight for MTB
Reasons to avoid
-No Display

Looking at the Orbea Rise, it's surprising how much it looks like a regular trail bike. That's thanks to the hidden Shimano EP8 motor, integrated into the lower portion of the frame. Alongside its powerhouse and battery, you get Shimano supplied SLX drivetrain components and M6100 disc brakes.

In terms of suspension, the Rise M20 comes equipped with Fox Float Performance suspension, with 140mm in the front and rear. 

When it comes to e-mountain bikes, the Orbea Rise M20 is undeniably a looker, and could well be the best looking e-MTB on this list. You'll have fun fooling other riders on the trails too, who probably won't spot that you're getting a boost.

Best Electric Bike: Trek Rail

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Trek Rail 7

Rides lighter than it is

Specifications
Drive System: Bosch
Battery capacity: 625Wh
Claimed weight: : 23.7kg
Price: £5,500.00 / $6,499.99 / €5,999.00 / AU$9,499.99
Reasons to buy
+RE:aktive suspension+Short chainstays +Updated Geometry
Reasons to avoid
-RIB Battery

Trek’s Rail is the successor to the Powerfly eMTB, and it's shorter, lighter, and more powerful. Many of these upgrades are thanks to the new Gen 4 Bosch Performance Line CX drive units, which are more compact, allowing Trek to chop serious yardage out of the chainstays. The battery has also received an upgrade with a 625Wh group stored in the Trek’s Removable Integrated Battery (RIB) side access system. 

Arguably the most significant advantage to the new Gen 4 motors is they allow for a standard crank and chainring, meaning there is considerably less friction to overcome when the motor is not engaged. With 150mm of travel at the back, the rear shock sees the brands RE:aktiv with thru shaft shock, which allows for improved small bump sensitivity without sacrificing mid-stroke support. To balance out the squish, Trek supplies a 160mm RockShox Lyrik fork.

How to choose the best electric bike for you

Are there e-bike restrictions?

Regardless of whether your electric bike has a Shimano, Bosch, Fauza, or any other drive system, it will be limited to comply with regional laws and restrictions. This will affect the maximum wattage, pedal-assist speed, and the need for licensing and insurance.

These vary depending on whereabouts in the world you reside and ride your bike, so here are the key things you need to know about regional restrictions in the UK and US:

UK

In the UK, eBikes are classed as regular non-pedal assist bikes provided the motor cuts out a 25kph, does not generate more than 250-watts of assistance, and does not kick in until the bike is already in motion. Riders must also be at least 14-years old. If your bike meets these criteria, you can legally ride it anywhere a bike can be ridden. 

If your eBike doesn’t meet these standards, it will need to be registered and insured as a motor vehicle, and you will need a license and a helmet.

USA

The US is one of the more difficult countries to navigate eBike regulations because the rules will vary depending on what state you live in, and even then, the laws are written in legal-ese that just about require a member of your local bar association to translate.

According to federal legislation enacted by congress in 2002, an eBike is defined as, “A two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), 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 20 mph.”

Unfortunately, state laws surrounding eBikes often supersede this legislation. Currently, 33 states have statutes that define an eBike in some manner while the rest lack a specific definition, and may lump them in with another vehicle class. To make things even more confusing, in states like Mississippi there is no mention of eBikes in the wording of the laws, but a general opinion issued by the Attorney General says an electric bicycle should be classified as a regular bike. Thirteen states have taken up the three-tiered system outlined by The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association 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.

Regardless of class, the motor can only generate a maximum of 750-watts, and the class must be labelled clearly. 

In the 17 states that lump eBikes in with other classes of vehicles, licensing and registration may be required to operate an eBike. 

If your head is spinning trying to keep these rules straight, our friends over at People for Bikes have a handy state by state guide. 

Australia

Australians love simplicity and that is why eBikes are split into throttle operated and non-throttle operated. Throttle operated eBikes must be limited to 200-watts and 25kph, while pedal assist can provide up to 250-watts of assistance but is limited to the same speed limit. In keeping with this simplicity, anything that doesn’t abide by the above is considered a motorbike by law, and must be licensed and insured. 

Which motor and battery do I need?

The best e-bike motors can be located in several areas of the bike, depending on which brand and model you opt for, and generally consist of a front-drive, mid-drive or rear-drive motor system, located in the front hub, bottom bracket and rear hub respectively.

While any of the three options will serve you fine, the motor system location will often have an impact on the handling of your bike, so it's worth considering whether or not you would have a preference. 

Generally, a mid-drive motor system is the best of the three, as it spreads the weight more evenly throughout the bike. Since the motor and battery are the heaviest parts, it's better to have that heft closer to the ground and between the wheels, so as not to throw off your centre of gravity.

Batteries on the other hand are described in Wh (watt-hours), which takes into account both their output and capacity. The larger the number, the further your battery will take you on a single charge, and the heavier it will be.

Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike