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The e-bike market share was valued at $23.89 billion in 2020. That’s up from $14.4 billion in 2019. Brisk sales of e-bikes are expected to continue over the next few years. Concerns about reducing carbon emissions are one reason some people have switched gears from driving their cars to riding an e-bike because they are better for the climate than fossil-fuel-powered engines.
E-bikes also make it easier for people to ride bikes, which might be why they are becoming a popular choice among baby boomers. You can even ride them during the winter months. Their pedal-assist capabilities also make climbing hills and going long distances less of a struggle. Need to carry a load? No problem. There are cargo e-bikes designed with built-in racks, baskets, or other features that transport heavy loads a breeze.
But which e-bike is right for you? The options include critical features like lightweight batteries, quality disc brake systems, and durable frames. Many are also customizable, so you can design an e-bike that meets your needs.
Here are the best e-bikes for a range of riders:
What to Look for in a E-Bike
The electric bike market is amping up, which means there are many options to choose from. Here are some things to consider to help you narrow down your choices.
Throttle or Pedal-Assist
These are the two categories that electric bikes tend to fall into. Pedal-assist bikes have motors that kick in when you’re actively pedaling, while the models with throttles move you along even when you’re not pedaling. Pedal-assist e-bikes tend to have longer battery life (and miles) per 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.
Some e-bikes have rear hub motors. Others have mid-drive motors located in the center pedal crankshaft. Mid-drive motors tend to cost more because they offer smoother shifting and other efficiencies.
Both motor types are consequential, so looking at a battery’s range on a single charge may be a more helpful measurement. How far is your commute? How far is the ride to your child’s school or the local farmer’s market?
However, keep in mind that mileage may vary based on wind, terrain, the weight of the load, the amount of e-assist you use, and your speed during the ride.
Most bike batteries can last about 40 miles before they need to be recharged. So, if you’re going long distances, an e-bike with a removable battery might fit your needs better than one with an integrated battery. That way, you can carry a recharged battery with you on your journey, so you can swap it out when you’ve drained the other one.
Check Local E-bike Ordinances
E-bikes come in three classes:
Class 1 E-bikes that assist you while you pedal and top out about 20 mph.
Class 2 E-bikes have a throttle that assists you regardless of whether you pedal and have a top speed of 20 mph.
Class 3 E-bikes assist you while you pedal and top out about 28 mph.
Some cities and towns have banned e-bikes from city bicycle paths, so if that’s where you want to ride, you’ll want to make sure your town allows your new e-bike there.
Why Trust Treehugger?
Author Heidi Wachter has been writing about travel and adventure for over a decade. When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her riding one of her six bicycles — even in the winter.