The popularity of electric bikes has been on an upward trajectory for much of the past decade. With the continual advancement of e-bike technology and design, their performance has improved and as such the market of potential customers has grown. However, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began electric bike popularity has accelerated quicker than ever. As a result, more people are wondering where to buy an electric bike, and if it's possible to buy an electric bike online.
If you're one of them, you're not alone. The demand for electric bikes has increased rapidly and, as a result, millions of new cyclists are wondering how and where to find one. In conjunction with the increase in demand, factories were closing causing delays, and while many are now operational again, COVID-safe protocols mean many are operating at a reduced capacity and are struggling to meet the demand.
In response to the surge in demand and reduction in supply, there have also been countless startup businesses looking to fill the gap to capture some of the market share. Many of these businesses are genuinely good places to buy an electric bike but with such an abundance of options, it can be hard to decipher between what's hot and what's not, especially if you're new to the scene.
In 'normal' times, the answer to 'where to buy an electric bike' would be very similar to buying a normal bike, but in the warped reality in which we currently reside, the bike-buying landscape is a little more complex. Like normal bikes, demand for e-bikes is high and supply is low, but with electric bikes, the potential for things to go wrong is greater, and the average price is higher, meaning it's even more important to do your research and find the best electric bikes for you.
There are things you can do to speed up the e-bike buying process. To counteract the shortage in supply, being more flexible with your wishlist will help you find a bike more quickly that meets your needs, wants and expectations.
To ensure you get a bike that you know will stand the test of time and won't fail after two weeks, don't take a risk on an unknown brand. Of course, this is easier said than done if you're new to cycling as all brands will likely be unknown, but you can quickly learn a household brand name by Googling the brand, looking for review sites like TrustPilot, checking out the brand's history, and seeing if they are recommended in our own buyer's guides. Also, be sure to check out the warranty on offer with any potential purchase, and ask your friends.
If you're shopping online, stick to the reputable retailers (we've rounded up the best below) and avoid crowdfunding sites, especially if you're new to cycling.
Another step in the direction of e-bike buying brilliance is arming yourself with knowledge of the options of where you can actually buy an electric bike, because the more places you know to look, the faster you'll find the right e-bike for you.
To try and ease the process, we've highlighted the best e-bike buying methods and we've rounded up a selection of online retailers that currently have electric bikes in stock so that you have a quick hitlist of places to look.
Buy an electric bike online for complete convenience and comprehensive choice
If you want to buy an electric bike online, there is an almost endless list of websites that make it possible. This might sound like a great thing at first, but in reality, the abundance of choice can become a minefield and quickly lead to the wrong choice being made.
Without the guidance of a knowledgeable sales assistant, it's all too easy to be tempted into buying something totally unsuitable for your needs, and with the often high-price associated with e-bikes, a cheap one can be hard to ignore, however unsuitable it may be. But remember, spending half as much money doesn't represent doubly good value if it never gets used.
Our recommendation is sticking to the 'highway'; the mainstream websites that have a good reputation that they will want to uphold. They will only ever sell products that are of genuinely good quality, built to the necessary safety standards, and within the law.
In the list below, we've rounded up our pick of the mainstream retailers that currently have electric bikes in stock.
Where to buy an electric bike online
USA only: Competitive Cyclist (opens in new tab) is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and despite the worldwide bike shortage, they've still got a few bikes in stock, across both road and mountain categories.
USA only: Jenson USA (opens in new tab) is another USA-based retailer that covers electric bikes for road, mountain and commuter use. The commuter offering is limited, but it does currently have one of our best lightweight electric bikes (opens in new tab) for sale - the Gain M30 from Orbea.
USA only: REI (opens in new tab) is an outdoors retailer based in the USA, and its electric bike section is well stocked with everything from road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel, commuter, folding and even a couple of cargo bikes.
USA only: Backcountry (opens in new tab) is connected to Competitive Cyclist, so many of the same products are on offer across both sites, but it's always worth checking both sites as there are occasionally site-wide discounts that can help you save money.
UK only: Sigma Sports (opens in new tab) is a multisport retailer that focuses primarily on cycling. It currently has electric bikes ranging from folding electric Bromptons to electric trail mountain bikes and everything in between.
UK only: Cyclestore (opens in new tab) is a small UK retailer with a big collection of electric bikes. There are options from loads of reputable brands like Specialized, Cannondale, Kona and more.
UK only: Evans cycles (opens in new tab) is one of the longest-serving bike retailers in the UK with stores around the country. It has a reputation to uphold and will do so with high levels of customer service, therefore, should your bike ever have an issue, you can be sure they'll look after you.
UK only: Tredz (opens in new tab) is a UK retailer with over 200 electric bikes on its website, catering to all cycling disciplines. There are three stores in the south of Wales, or they will deliver around the UK for a fee.
UK only: Rutland Cycling (opens in new tab) is one of the best-stocked electric bike retailers in the UK. With stores around the UK and a long-serving reputation, you can be sure to trust the bike and the customer service will be solid.
UK only: Hargroves Cycles (opens in new tab) is well stocked with electric bikes, and has options covering all disciplines, including road, gravel, commuting and mountain biking use.
UK only: Leisure Lakes (opens in new tab) is another UK retailer with plenty of stock. It's also one of very few that currently have the Brompton electric folding bike available.
Europe: Pure Electric (opens in new tab) is based in the UK, but it has stores elsewhere across Europe. As its name suggests, it's a retailer dedicated to electric bikes and as such its stockholding is rich in choice.
Vastly cheaper, but a potential minefield if you're new to cycling
The list of potential places to buy second-hand goods online is enormous, from popular outlets such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace to lesser-known cycling-specific outlets like The Pro's Closet, Bikesoup, and so on. However, with the enormity of the opportunity comes an increase in risk, so if you go this route it's important that you know how to buy a used bike.
If you know what you're looking for, these second-hand marketplaces can be the best place to shop by far, but if you don't, they can quickly lead to disappointment, and possibly worse.
The biggest concern in any online marketplace is criminals and scammers, and if you're not careful with how you pay, you could quickly fall victim to a scam. But in the more common instance where the seller is genuine, the ever-present issue when shopping second hand is the unknown quality of the product you are buying, and the lack of any warranty support if things go wrong. This rings truer than ever with electric bikes, as you cannot simply take the motor or battery apart to check its condition.
Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, and this degradation can be accelerated with more frequent use and poor care. When it comes to buying second-hand, assess the bike's overall health to try and gauge how much use it has had.
Also, try to gauge the seller. While not directly relevant to the bike, you can usually get a feeling for how likely they are to have looked after the bike that you're about to buy. Did they arrive in a car that's not been cleaned in years? If so, there's a good chance their bike has lived a similarly maltreated life. Are they knowledgeable in electric bike care and maintenance, or do they seem laissez-faire about the whole process? There will be hundreds of subtle clues you can take from the seller which helps, but most importantly, don't feel pressured to buy. That way, you'll be empowered to walk away if you don't feel confident in the purchase.
So if you're going to shop second-hand online, ensure you do your research and your due diligence, only pay using a protected method, and if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also, never meet a stranger with large wads of cash in your pocket unless you're 100 per cent confident they're legitimate, and even then, meet somewhere public and take a friend.
The Pro's Closet (opens in new tab) is an online bike marketplace in the USA that does things a little differently. By acting as the intermediary between sellers and buyers, The Pro's Closet ensures that all second-hand bikes are inspected, serviced and then sold at a fair price, removing all concerns about the bike's condition as well as any concern around scammers.
It covers bikes of all disciplines for all ages at the full spectrum of budgets, and will even allow you to trade in your old bike.
You'll pay a little more than if you bought the bike directly from a seller, but still much less than if the bike was new. In our opinion, it's worth it given the risk of scams, or of buying a faulty bike is completely removed.
Your local bike shop
Our recommended place for new cyclists to buy an electric bike
When it comes to making a high-value purchase, it's always wise to get advice from an expert, especially if your own knowledge is limited. Therefore, when buying an electric bike, it makes sense to use the staff members within your local bike shop(s) to gain as much advice as possible.
However, simply going into a bike shop and browsing by yourself is unlikely to provide much more information that you couldn't have gathered online. With this in mind, the best way to shop is to speak to the sales staff, explain your needs, and heed their advice.
As with anything, the quality of the advice offered will depend on the knowledge and experience of the advisor in question. Be prepared to do your own research too, and utilise as many bike shops as you have access to. Remember, there's no time limit on buying your electric bike, so go at a pace that suits you.
Some shops will also operate a website, which could enable you to see what's available in-store before you make the journey. Larger stores - such as Evans Cycles in the UK - operate a highly connected eCommerce business that allows you to buy online and collect in-store, allowing the convenience of online shopping without the worry of having to build the bike yourself.
The other benefits to buying in person are the relationships you can build with the staff at your local bike shop. They are likely keen cyclists themselves with years of experience. There will no doubt be mountain bikers, road racers, audaxers bikepackers, and others who simply enjoy the convenience of two wheels. So when you inevitably have a question about good routes to ride, ways to save battery life, the safest places to lock it up and the easiest way to lift it onto your bike rack, they'll probably have the answers.
Furthermore, if you're new to cycling or you're in need of some accessories alongside your new bike, there's every chance they'll do you a deal.
Great if you have your eye on a specific brand
If you know the brand - or specific model - of electric bike you're after, a great way to shop is to go direct to the brand that makes it.
The benefits of buying directly from the manufacturer are that they typically have stock before shops or online retailers, and typically have a better spread of sizes and colours. However, the downside is that previous-model-year bikes and discounts are almost impossible to find, as their usual tactic is to sell those onto retail stores in bulk so they can focus on the current crop.
Sadly, not all brands make this option available, some simply don't offer direct sales of their bikes and will direct you to a page on which you can find your local dealer.
For those that do, the exact process will differ depending on the brand in question. Some will offer delivery direct to your door, while others will deliver to your local bike shop so that it can be built up by a professional mechanic. Brands such as Canyon are only available direct, and Specialized recently made headlines when it opened up direct-to-consumer eCommerce, even offering a 'white glove' delivery service that will have a Specialized mechanic deliver the bike to your door, build it and set it up just for you.
Worldwide: Trek Bikes (opens in new tab) is a worldwide bicycle manufacturer catering to everyone from first-time amateurs to WorldTour professionals. Their website allows bikes to be ordered direct, and they'll happily deliver it to your local Trek dealer where it can be built up by a professional. Their range of electric bikes covers all categories from road to mountain, with hybrids well covered too.
Worldwide: Ribble Cycles (opens in new tab) allows riders to customise each electric bike purchase by amending the spec and colour. Its selection of e-bikes covers road, gravel, hybrids and more.
Worldwide: Specialized (opens in new tab) will offer one of three choices. Either it will deliver the bike to you in a box for you to build yourself. It will deliver it to your local store, where the mechanic will build it, or it will offer a 'white glove' service in which a mechanic will turn up with the bike, answer any questions you may have, and set it up just for you.
Worldwide: Canyon (opens in new tab) is one of the most popular direct to consumer cycling brands, only selling to its customers via its own website. This approach means Canyon can offer extremely competitive pricing, but it does mean you can't easily test ride the bike before you buy.
Similar to leasing in the car industry, bicycle subscription schemes allow you to pay monthly to lease the bike of your choice. There are plenty of benefits to these subscriptions, not least the lack of upfront cost, but many also include maintenance as part of the deal, and some also supply locks, helmets, and even insurance as part of the monthly fee.
Of course, the monthly fee never stops and you never actually own the bike, so one of the downsides is that there's no opportunity to recoup the expenditure when you no longer need the bike.
If you only need a bike for a few months, then this avenue could actually be more cost-effective than buying something new then selling it second-hand at a reduced price.
Most schemes include a provision for the normal wear and tear of a bike, but beware that anything beyond reasonable wear is likely to cost extra when the bike is eventually returned. The terms and conditions of each subscription scheme will differ, and we recommend reading the small print if you're considering going down this route.
Popular electric bike subscription providers include Dance (opens in new tab), Hurrecane (opens in new tab), Dash (opens in new tab), Revel (opens in new tab), RidePanda (opens in new tab) and Zoomo (opens in new tab).
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.