Ebikes

The Best Electric Bikes in 2022 for Commuting, Exploration and Fitness

It’s no wonder that the best electric bikes are selling so well; they make riding easier without eliminating the exercise you get from pedaling. By applying electric power to the challenge of pedaling, ebikes shave away the hardest, most onerous part of riding, allowing you to enjoy the experience even more. Need proof? Just try scaling a steep hill with and without an electric bike and you’ll be a convert. And some of the best electric bikes give you the option of riding with pedal assist, or to let the bike’s motor take over and provide 100% of the power.

Which electric bike should you get? Well, many of the best ebikes tend to fill the same niches as traditional bikes. There are models for commuting, mountain biking and off-road adventuring. You’ll also find premium models with a luxury feel as well as relatively inexpensive, sub-$1000 bikes. Some electric bikes look like sci-fi gadgets with large batteries mounted to the frame, while others hide the battery and electronics so the bike mostly blends into the crowd. Which kind of bike do you want? There is no single best ebike, so here’s a roundup of the best models to suit every kind of rider.

Best Ebike Overall

VanMoof S3

 

VanMoof electric bikes have a dedicated fanbase, and it’s easy to see why. For about $2,000—not a bargain, per se, but pretty affordable as electric bikes go—the VanMoof S3 feels like one of the most advanced, innovative and elegant bikes around. It features an automatic electronic gear shifter that’s remarkably smooth under almost all shifting conditions. The motor is very quiet, delivers a top speed of 20mph, and has a push-button turbo boost. It has a range of 37-93 miles, depending upon how you ride.

It’s also built around a very stylish frame with a completely enclosed chain. There’s a built-in headlight, hydraulic brakes and integrated battery (which is one major disadvantage—you can’t remove the battery for charging). A built-in security system immobilizes the rear wheel and activates an onboard alarm with the press of a button or from the mobile app. It even has a tracking system in case of theft. It’s not the single fastest, cheapest or most cargo-friendly option, but it does everything with enough charm to make it the best overall choice.


Best Folding Electric Bike

RadMini 4 Electric Folding Fat Bike

The RadMini sort of has it all: It’s electric, it folds, and it’s even a fat bike. But let’s start with the best feature: It can quickly and easily fold up—for carrying up stairs, storing in your cubicle at the office, or just to chain it up on the street. It doesn’t require any tools or a lot of brawn. Just activate the hinge and the whole bike folds in half, and you can optionally lower the handlebars to give the bike the smallest possible footprint. It also includes multiple safety features to prevent the hinge from accidentally unlatching when you don’t want it to.

Despite the modest folding frame, the bike is sturdy and the ride is comfortable. You get a beefy 750-watt motor that offers a max speed of 20mpg and a 45-mile range with 7 speeds to choose from. The bike can carry up to 275 pounds, which should give you a little extra cargo capacity. You also get a backlit LCD display that indicates speed, pedal assist level and more, along with a half-twist throttle and both front and rear LED lighting.


Best Cargo Electric Bike

RadWagon 4

An electric bike might not let you sell the SUV, but you might be surprised by just how much cargo your e-bike can carry. Of course, to really bring home the groceries or make a run to the FedEx center, you’ll probably need more than a commuter bike with a basket hanging off the handlebars. There are some bikes that really lean into cargo, and the RadWagon 4 is one of the best. Not only is it on the cheaper end of the cargo bike spectrum, but it is powerful—the bike is built on a 750-watt motor—and has a range of about 45 miles. In addition to the usual pedal assist, there’s a throttle for unassisted power.

The frame is designed from the ground up for carrying capacity. The RadWagon can support 350 pounds and the back end modularly supports a pair of baby seats, a cargo pad, side saddles, delivery boxes and more. If you need to haul stuff, this bike is up to the challenge.


Best City Commuter Bike

Charge City

With three Charge models to choose from, the Charge City is good at exactly what the name suggests—your all-around-town daily commute or a quick trip to the grocery store. A 50-mile range is enough to get you through a full day of getting to work and errands, and the locking, removable battery is easy to disengage and carry to the office or your apartment for charging. That’s not its only concession to city living; the handlebars also fold easily for storage and there’s a small rack in back for a very modest amount of storage.

While the 250-watt motor can propel you up to 20mph with five levels of pedal assist, there’s a throttle for unpedaled propulsion as well. Don’t want to pedal? Just push the throttle (though that’ll run the battery down pretty quickly). New owners will be especially pleased with the way it arrives: mostly assembled so you can be riding about 15 minutes after hauling the box in off the porch.


Best Hybrid Commuter-Offroad Bike

Bluejay Sport

Bluejay is a small female-owned electric bike brand which made a splash with its first model, the Bluejay Premiere Edition. The new Bluejay Sport is clearly an evolution of that first bike, but the Sport Edition has a more traditional diamond frame with a decidedly beefier, more capable motor, a higher top speed, and is engineered both for city commuting and off-road adventures.

The Sport is a joy to ride. The ride is smooth and quiet, and the bike itself has a fun, vintage look about it. It’s a Class 3 bike with a top speed of 28 mph thanks to a beefy 500 watt Bafang electric motor. It delivers a full five levels of pedal assist, though it has no throttle for pedal-free propulsion. You’ll get a very respectable 75-mile maximum range on a single charge under ideal conditions, and you can carry the battery into your home to charge it up (using a key to unlock it) or just plug in inside the garage or wherever you leave the bike.

The Sport is smartly designed—it looks like Bluejay made an effort to come up with a design approach that will save you on maintenance costs, and includes extras (baskets and lights) that you often have to pay extra for on other ebikes. The nearly $4,000 price tag may rightly give you pause, but by almost every measure, it’s money well spent.


Fastest Electric Bike

Delfast TOP 3.0

Not everyone needs a bike like the Delfast TOP 3.0, which is a good thing considering the price. The real appeal of Delfast’s formidable TOP 3.0—for a certain kind of rider—is that it looks, feels and performs more like an electric motorcycle than a traditional e-bike. It has a massive 200-mile range, which is the longest range we have seen in a bike and rivals that of most electric cars. But it also has a top speed of 50mph, well outside the norm for any e-bike.

For its part, Delfast says the bike is equally adept as an off-road and city commuter. It has built-in side mirrors, an LED headlamp, double-disc hydraulic brakes and an integrated color display for showing trip and performance data along with navigation thanks to the built-in GPS. It’s upgradeable with a number of options and accessories, including several different cargo options.


Best Electric Mountain Bike

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp

Here’s an electric bike that both looks and feels like a mountain bike; there’s no question it’s equipped for dirt trails and varying terrain. Perhaps one of the nicest compliments one can pay a bike like this is that it feels like an ordinary bike on the trail—you don’t sense the extra weight or the technology within. The fairly modest 250-watt motor assists the pedals smoothly, allowing you to pedal up to 20mph with assistance. If you hit the speed limit, the motor disengages smoothly, so you can keep pedaling without any abrupt shifts in power.

Specialized includes a cool feature it calls Smart Control. You can use smart control to regulate the motor so it reserves the desired battery capacity throughout the ride. Or there’s Shuttle Mode, which delivers max power to minimize the effort you have to put into pedaling. The battery can be removed for easy charging, and the top tube has a small display that indicates battery remaining. You can also use a mobile app that connects to the bike via Bluetooth and integrates with apps like Strava.


Best Off-Road Electric Bike

Scrambler Electric Adventure Motor Bike

The Scrambler Electric Adventure Motor Bike has a sense of fun and playfulness that is often lacking in many bikes these days. This bike isn’t designed for a commute—though I don’t doubt you could use it that way. Instead, it’s an “adventure bike” equipped with a beefy 750 watt motor, hydraulic disc brakes and knobby tires; it’s fluent both on- and off-road, and the sort of bike you take out of town on the weekend.

It seats two—up close and personally—with a long 24-inch padded seat and high handlebars. If you do plan to bring a passenger, keep in mind that the bike has a 275-pound limit. You get seven gears of pedal-assist with a top speed of 28mph, and a range of bout 45 miles on a charge.


Best Value Electric Bike

Sondors X

There are at least two reasons to love the Sonders X. Not only is it one of the most affordable name-brand electric bikes available, but it’s a fat bike designed to handle off-roading with the same stability and performance as ordinary thin-tired bikes on pavement. The price is especially notable; by the time you get to about a thousand dollars, most electric bikes start to make serious compromises, but the Sondors X is a solidly built bike that rides great. This is a bike you can take anywhere, and it is rugged enough to take all the riding abuse you throw at it.

Under the hood you get a powerful 500-watt motor that can get you to 20mph and a removable battery that is good for a range of about 40-60 miles. You can cycle through seven levels of pedal assist, but there’s also a throttle that’ll drive the bike with no pedaling at all.


What are the advantages of an electric bike?

An electric bike, quite simply, uses an electric motor to assist your pedaling, so it delivers additional propulsion than what your legs can provide. That means it takes less effort for you to get from Point A to Point B—and that’s especially important for hilly terrain, because an ebike can make a steep hill no harder than level ground. Bottom line: electric bikes require less effort and often can get you where you’re going faster.

Can an electric bike go uphill?

Absolutely—any good ebike will be able to propel you uphill with less effort and more quickly than if you pedaled all on your own. Most electric bikes provide multiple power levels; you might ride at a 1 or 2 on level ground, but to comfortably pedal up a steep hill, you might increase that to a 4 or 5. This electric power setting is different than the bike’s mechanical gearing.

Do you still get exercise on an electric bike?

In general, yes, though it depends. If you’re using your ebike in its pedal assist mode, it is augmenting your leg power with additional electric propulsion. And in that situation, you’re in control of how much exercise your get. With the bike at its lowest power setting, you’ll have to do the most work. Increasing the power level means you will need to add less and less pedaling power to reach the same speed.

If your ebike has a throttle, you can stop pedaling entirely and just depress the throttle to let the bike to all the work. You won’t get any exercise this way, and it’ll run the bike’s battery down relatively quickly.

It’s also worth noting that if the battery dies during your ride or if you turn off the electric system manually, the ebike becomes a traditional bike, which you have to pedal to move with no electric assist. Want exercise? Turn off the bike and pedal it yourself.

How fast does an electric bike go without pedaling?

This depends on the bike and the “class” that it falls into. Most bikes are limited to a top speed of 20mph on level ground. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If you have a Class 1 ebike, the electric motor only works when you’re actually pedaling—it’s not allowed to include a throttle to move the bike without pedaling.
  • Class 2 ebikes contain a throttle that can propel the bike at up to 20mph even when you’re not pedaling.
  • Class 3 bikes are a little confusing. They all have a top speed of 28 mph, but not all Class 3 bikes have a throttle. And depending upon the state they’re sold in, some Class 3 throttles top out at 20 mph even if the bike can reach 28 mph using pedal assist.

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