best electric bike

The best electric bikes reviewed: all you need to know about e-bikes

Electric bikes can provide the perfect answer for many cyclists - we explain how they work and pick out some of the best

What is an electric bike?

An electric bike – often know as an e-bike – is basically a motor assisted ride. For the most part, they are a combination of a conventional bike with a battery and a motor, which takes some of the effort out of pedalling.

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That’s not to say that there aren’t some weird and wacky inventions out there for those who are after an e-bike for specific style of riding, though.

Why would you buy an electric bike?

There are a whole host of reasons why you might want some pedalling assistance in your life.

Perhaps you have to travel with lots of cargo, and the added power can mean the difference between using a car or still spinning your two legs.

Or maybe you want to start commuting to work, and an electric hybrid could be a great option for helping you cover the miles, without turning up at work in a sweaty state.

You might be recovering from injury or illness and the added boost of a motor might help you get back out there again. Or it might simply be the case that you’re not as young as you once were.

Either way, there’s a lot of choice in the e-bike world, so the chances are you’ll find the option that suits you.

Read further down the page for more information on styles of electric bike and legal requirements. But first, here are five of the best…

Our pick of the best electric bikes for 2020

We’ve split our guide up into hybrid, road and folding e-bikes.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Electric hybrid bikes

Electric hybrid bikes are the most popular choice. Many riders are looking for a comfortable ride, which can handle rough roads and occasional park tracks, with an upright position owed to flat handlebars.

These bikes are usually heavier than the road style options lower down the page, with day-to-day practicality considered of greater importance than speed on the flat.

Ribble Hybrid AL e

See more: Ribble Hybrid AL e review

  • Spec – RRP: £1999, Motor/Battery: Ebikemotion X35 Smart System, Material: Aluminium frame, carbon fork, Weight: 14.61kg, Brakes: SRAM Level hydraulic disc, Gearing: SRAM NX, 42T, 11-42 cassette, Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Rigid 700x35c
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros –Stable and comfortable ride position, Ebikemotion motor is smooth and unobtrusive, Attractive looks
  • Cons – The grips

A road going hybrid bike that’s equally at home on tracks and trails, with a comfortable and confidence inspiring upright riding position.

The fully loaded package includes mudguards, lights and a rear rack making it perfect as a daily commuter or for ditching the car when going to the shops.

The Ebikemotion motor delivers its power smoothly and efficiently and offers long range in between charges.

Buy now: Ribble Hybrid AL e at Ribble Cycles for £1999

Giant FastRoad E+ Pro 2 electric bike

best electric bikes

See more: Giant FastRoad E+ electric bike review (2018 model)

  • Spec – RRP: £2749, Battery: Giant EnergyPak 375 36V Integrated Lithium-Ion, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 19kg at last test, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano 105, 50-34T, 11-32 cassette, Tyres: 32mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – slick road style hybrid with integrated battery and top end components
  • Cons – road going frame not comfortable

A road going hybrid bike with flat handlebars to promote a comfortable ride position.

The tyres provide plenty of squish and the ability to go lightly off-road – however on test we found the aluminium frame quite stiff, which will suit those used to a road bike’s feel.

There’s hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano SL shifting, with a compact chainset and wide cassette at the rear to provide plenty of gears for the hills.

Buy now at CycleStore for £2,748.99

Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0 electric bike, £2400

See more: Specialized Vado Turbo 2.0 electric bike review (2018 model)

  • Spec – RRP: £2400, Battery: 460Wh, 145km range, Material: aluminium frame, aluminium suspension fork, Weight: 23kg, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano Alivio 40T single chaingring, 11-36 rear cassette, Tyres: 47mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – versatile bike with a long lasting battery that’s easy to charge
  • Cons – heavy

A fun ride that’s great in urban environments but also provides a confidence inspiring ride on rougher terrain.

It is a heavy machine at 23kg, so not easy to transport, but aside from that we found the Specialized Vado Turbo to be a joy to ride.

The 250w Specialized 1.2 battery, has a range of from 25 miles in ‘turbo’ mode to 93 miles in ‘economy’ mode, based on a rider weight of 15.5stone.

Buy now at the CycleStore for £2399.99

VOLT Infinity 1 electric bike, £2599

Read more: VOLT Infinity 1 review

  • Spec – RRP: £2599, Battery: 418Wh, 112km range, Shimano Steps system, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 24.2kg, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano 11 Speed Alfine Di2, Tyres: 28mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – Efficient and natural feeling Shimano steps system
  • Cons – rear wheel uses Allen key bolt

The VOLT’s 36V battery-claimed to last 70miles – is hooked up to a mid-drive motor that gives a nice balanced feel to the bike. Shimano provides the power in the form of Shimano Steps, the Japanese company’s first motor and e-bike groupset.

Usefully, 3 difference assistance modes will let you seek the most out of that battery and the display mounted on the front will make it easy to keep track.

See more: VOLT Infinity 1 for £2599

Juicy Roller electric bike £1585

Read more: Juicy Roller electric bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £1585, dependant on spec, Battery: 280-470Wh, 53 to 80km range, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 19.5kg, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano 8 Speed Acera, Tyres: 47mm
  • Review score – 8/10
  • Pros – great ride, looks nice, value for money
  • Cons – display system could do with refining

The Juicy Roller is a super sensitive and surprisingly powerful about town bike. It’s quick off the line, so much so that it kept catching us off guard.

The choice of two different sized batteries gives the choice of two different maximum ranges. The smaller, cheaper battery will give you about 33miles while the larger one should reach 50.

See more: for £1585

Ampler Curt e-bike £2599

best e-bikes 2019 electric bikes

Apler Curt e-bike

Read more: Ampler Curt e-bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £2599, Battery: 250Wh, 45 to 100km range, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 13-15kg, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano Deore, singlespeed or 10 speed, Tyres: 32mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – light for an e-bike with a responsive ride
  • Cons – battery is fixed, harder to charge

An aluminium frame with flat bars for a comfortable, upright position, and a seat tube mounted battery which is slim and unobtrusive. The bike weighs in at 15kg with 10-speed Deore gears, or 14kg if you opt for a singlespeed.

The battery itself packs 336Wh and provides 250w of assistance, lasting between 45km and 100km depending upon the mode you run on.

The disc brakes wheels are shod with 32c Continental tyres, offering plenty of comfort, and we loved the agile and nimble ride.

Buy now at Ampler Bikes for £2599

Coboc ONE Soho electric bike

Read more: Coboc ONE eCycle review 2016

  • Spec – RRP: £2999, Battery: 345Wh, 80km range, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 13.7kg, Brakes: Rim, Gearing: Singlespeed, 52T chainring 17T rear, Tyres: 28mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – light for an e-bike, simplistic, cool looking
  • Cons – power fades on hills and drops when battery is low

This is probably one of the coolest looking e-bikes out there, and it’s also great fun to ride, too.

It comes with the famous fixie style that is loved city wide but as a result it does suffer in the hills. It’d be a great choice for flat town riding, though and weighs only 11kg.

See more: Coboc ONE eCycle

Electric road bikes

A newer breed of performance focused e-bikes, these drop handlebar bikes often prioritise keeping the weight low. That’s because the UK maximum speed of 25kph will often be exceeded on the flat, so riders will want a lighter bike so it’s still fun to ride without assistance.

The power is more likely to be used on the hills, making these bikes an excellent choice for lifelong club riders who don’t want to fall behind as the road goes up.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL

Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SLRead more: Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL review

  • Spec – RRP: £10,999, Battery: 320Wh, Material: Carbon, Weight: 12.2kg, Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano Dura-Ace, 46t chainset, 11-42t cassette, Tyres: 28mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – Smooth and natural system, integration of tech and cycling and good battery life.
  • Cons – Extremely expensive, placement of ‘Turbo Connect Unit’ could be better

This is Specialized’s first venture into the world of road e-bikes and it is not a disappointing one. If you’re able to look past the eye-watering price tag and also have deep pockets, you will be getting all the pros of a road bike but with a bit of, as Specialized puts it, ‘oomph’.

This beautiful bike gets the same FACT 11r frame as the S-Works Roubaix, which means it already has a naturally racy feel.

Specialized’s own SL1.1 motor delivers a smooth assistance to your ride and doesn’t have the usual surges of acceleration you may find in some other e-bikes. That and its impressive battery life means that you do get a truly excellent e-bike for you money… All £10,999 of it.

Buy now from CycleStore for £10,998.99

Cairn Cycles E-Adventure 1.0

Read more: Cairn Cycles E-Adventure 1.0 review

  • Spec – RRP: £2989, Motor/Battery: Fazua Evation 1.0, 250Wh battery, Material: Aluminium frame, carbon fork, Weight: 14.61kg, Brakes: SRAM Rival hydraulic disc, Gearing: SRAM Rival, 42t chainset, 10-42t cassette, Tyres: WTB Resolute 700x42c
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – Geometry and handling inspire confidence, Fazua motor system provides just enough assistance, Ability to ride without motor, Price
  • Cons – Will you ever ride without the motor/battery?

E-road bikes might not be a totally new concept but when Cairn Cycles launched the E-Adventure 1.0 a few months ago its gravel and off-road focus showed an area where electric power could have a real benefit.

Cairn Cycles is an offshoot brand from The Rider Firm and is sibling to, amongst others, Hunt Wheels. With the already established knowledge and understanding for UK riding and rider requirements gathered through its association with these other brands Cairn was able to design a bike able to tackle the terrain most of us are likely to come across.

The target was a gravel bike capable of taking on pretty rough terrain but with the versatility that if you want to use it as your daily commuter then it will do that job with aplomb.

Buy now: Cairn Cycles E-Adventure 1.0 at Cairn Cycles for £2989

Wilier Cento1Hy Ultegra Di2 e-bike

Wilier Cento1Hy Ultegra Di2 e-bike

Read more: Wilier Cento1Hy Ultegra Di2 e-bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £6000, Battery: 250Wh (can boost to 460Wh with additional battery), Material: Carbon, Weight: 8.25kg, Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic discs, Gearing: Shimano Ultegra, 50-34T chainset, 11-30T cassette, Tyres: 28mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – simple to use interface with accompanying app, road bike feel and clean looks
  • Cons – rear hub power means rear wheel can slip in the wet

The headline on this one is the weight: just 12kg for an e-road bike which provides 250 watts of power via a rear hub motor. The inbuilt battery offers 250Wh, which will provide full assistance for up to an hour, going longer if you turn the power down.

Power cuts out over 25kph, so it’s likely you’ll be riding much longer but just using the power for the likes of steep hills.

The frame and fork are carbon. As the name suggests, you get Ultegra Di2 shifting and hydraulic disc brakes, with a 50-34 compact chainset and 11-30 cassette.

Buy now: Wilier Cento1Hy Ultegra Di2 e-bike from ChainReactionCycles for £4250  

Focus Paralane2 9.8 e-bike

Focus Paralane2 9.8 e-bike

Read more: Focus Paralane 2 9.8 e-bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £4599.99, Battery: 250Wh, up to 50km range, Material: carbon, Weight: 13.2kg, Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano 105, 50-34T chainset, 11-34 cassette, Tyres: 28mm
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – motor well integrated and can switch to leg power when boost not needed
  • Cons – battery not locked into frame, rear wheel choices limited

Another of the new breed of performance focused e-road bikes, the Focus Paralane2 (that’s ‘squared’ not ‘two’) dropped in on our scales at 13.2kg in a size medium.

The 3.3kg 250Wh battery clips on to the downtube, offering 250 watts of support, for a maximum of ten hours in the lowest mode.

The carbon frame offers an endurance geometry, with a carbon seat post for added comfort. You get a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes and road going 28mm Continental GP 4000 S II tyres.

Buy now at Sigma Sport for £6499.99 

Bianchi Impulso e-Road

Bianchi Impulso e-Road

Read more: Bianchi Impulso e-bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £4600, Battery: 500Wh, Material: carbon, Weight: 12.89kg not including battery, Brakes: Shimano hydraulic discs, Gearing: Shimano Ultegra, 50-34T, 11-32T cassette,  Tyres: 32mm
  • Review score – 7/10
  • Pros – weighted nicely, descends well
  • Cons – heavy compared to other road going models

The Impulso e-Road is Bianchi’s take on a “normal” looking e-bike. It’s different from the Cube Agree C:62 though because it uses a Polini E-P3 motor rather than a Fazua one. It’s still integrated into the down tube, though.

It has a charging time of 4 hours and multiple different settings depending on what type of riding you want to do. It also has an Allroad brother, with a more adventure orientated design.

Buy now: Bianchi Impulso e-bike from Sigma Sport for £4050

Folding electric bikes

Folding bikes are great for commuters, who need to get the bike on a train, or anyone who wants to ride with limited storage capacity – they can be perfect accompaniments on caravan or canal boat holidays, for example.

Fitting a battery onto a e-bike is a design challenge, but it’s one that a few brands have met with expertise.

Gocycle GS folding e-bike

best electric bikes 2019

Gocycle’s design features 20 inch wheels and a rear shock. Geometry mirrors a standard bike

Read more: GoCycle GS folding e-bike bike review

  • Spec – RRP: £2499, Battery: 300Wh, up to 65km range, Material: Aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 16.5kg, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Gearing: Shimano Nexus hub gears, Tyres: 1.75″, Wheel size: 20″
  • Review score – 9/10
  • Pros – packs into own bag, nimble and comfortable
  • Cons – fold/unfold a bit tricky, bar height not adjustable

Capable of packing into a small carry case, the GoCycle is all about portability, thought its 16kg weight means you’ll be getting a bit of an arm workout if carrying it around train stations.

You get hydraulic disc brakes and 20inch wheels with 2inch tyres, which roll well and provide ample comfort.

The power comes from a motor in the front hub, which offers 250 watts of assistance, and lasts for 65km on eco mode – the 300Wh lithium battery takes around seven hours to charge.

See the GoCycle GC at GoCycle here

Tern Vektron D8 electric folding bike 

Tern Vektron D8 electric folding bike 

Tern Vektron D8 electric folding bike

  • Spec – RRP: £2299.99, Battery:  400Wh, 40 to 90km range, Material: Aluminium frame, steel fork, Weight: 22.5kg, Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes, Gearing: Shimano mix, single chainring, 11-32T cassette, Tyres: 50mm
  • Yet to be reviewed in full

Electric bikes do, indeed, come in folding bike form. The Vektron D8 by Tern features 20 inch wheels, and a 400 watt battery that can power you for 40 to 90 miles, depending how much you use it.

To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 22.5kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.

Buy now: Tern Vektron from Tern Bikes

Electric bikes: what are the options?

Electric hybrid bikes

This is the big seller for electric bikes and power assisted commuting has had a dramatic pull across Europe, when e-bikes have really come to prominence.

Scott hybrid electric bike

Electric bikes can take many forms

The benefits are clear to see: it takes less effort to ride, meaning you get less sweaty. It’s easier to haul heavy luggage around and still cycle. You can keep pace and feel more comfortable in traffic – fit them with a rack and mudguards and you’ve got a seriously practical bike.

Electric mountain bikes

Electric mountain bikes have also boomed lately. Obviously the attraction of getting to the top of the hills faster and easier is there for all to see. Similarly, that assistance can balance the drag of the knobbly tyres.

Electric road bikes

Giant's electric road bike

Giant are one company that has produced an electric road bike

Electric road bikes are still a rare sight on the roads, although a couple of big names such as Giant have produced models. For the most part, though, they’re concept bikes showing what might one day be possible with road frames, batteries and motors.

What does the law say about electric bikes?

Electric bikes are not just disguised motorbikes or scooters, and there are some very key differences between the two. For starters, an e-bike can only assist its rider, its motor cannot be the sole source of power for the bike. To clarify, an electric bike can only assist a rider up to 25kmh (that’s roughly 15.5mph).

Similarly, the motor inside the bike can only be a maximum of 250w and cannot be operated by a throttle like you’d find on a motorbike. Which, sadly, does mean you’ll have to use your legs!

What to look for in an electric bike

What are the different types of electric bikes?

Most e-bikes come in the form of a Pedelec or pedal-assist, which monitors the input of a rider and assists as much as possible (up to that limit of (25kmh).

Less common are Twist-n-Go models, which allow riders to operate the input of the motor from a switch (or even a throttle).

Where should the motor be placed?

There are really only two options for e-bike motor placement: either on the front wheel or on the frame.

A hub mounted motor

A hub mounted motor

Typically, you’re more likely to find a hub mounted motor on cheaper e-bikes. While they do have the advantage of being perhaps a little bit more quiet, they often can’t handle the hills quite as well.

Spend a little more and you’re far more likely to get a frame mounted motor, also know as mid-drive motors. There are quite a few benefits to this type.

For starters, the weight distribution of the motor is much better. Instead of sitting on the front, it’s now centred around the bottom bracket, which makes the bike more stable – a key consideration for both road and mountain bikes.

A bosch motor placed around a bottom bracket

Most motors are now placed around the bottom bracket for a better distribution of weight

Other benefits include the fact that frame based motors can use the cranks to monitor your own power output and meter their’s accordingly. This can give a much more natural feel to your ride.

They’re also more efficient as they power the chain rather than moving the wheel forward.

What about batteries?

Another consideration worth thinking about is electric bike batteries.

Of course, no battery will last for ever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some serious mileage out of whichever comes on your bike.

Here a 9ah battery is hidden in the seat

You’ll find battery capacity measured in both watts (watt hours, WH) or amps (amp hours, AH). Typically, an e-bike’s battery capacity usually lies between 7-10ah.

What type of batteries are common? Well, Lithium ion batteries are becoming popular the world over so it’s no surprise to see them specced on e-bikes, too. Typically, you should get around 800 charge cycles from a battery before it bites the dust.

You can also probably expect anywhere between 25 and 75 miles of run time on a full charge. Naturally, the more assistance the bike gives, the more power it will draw from the battery.

What components should you expect?

E-bikes are starting to spawn a whole new world of components, the most notable of which are obviously the battery and motors.

Here, it’s very much a case that you get what you pay for, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for big household names like Bosch. Shimano are increasingly involving themselves in the world of assisted pedalling, too.

A hydraulic disc brake

Expect your electric bike to come with disc brakes

Your e-bike will likely come specced with some form of hydraulic disc brakes. The added speeds will definitely warrant the added stopping power, as will the extra weight the battery and motor add to the bike.

In terms of motors, the big names are Yamaha, Bosch and Shimano. Shimano Steps was the first e-bike specific groupset from the Japanese giant and it features a mid-drive electric motor, as well as integrated electric shifters and a torque sensor to smooth out the ride a little.

A bosch motor

Bosch has really embraced the e-bike market

Bosch has really embraced the electric bike market and their range of motors offer a variety of power assistance depending on how much you’re will to spend.

More expensive models will provide 300% support compared to your pedalling. Their less expensive offerings will give out 225% support.

Like normal bikes, electric bikes can come geared or single speed, with many brands offering the best drive chains on their top models.

Most electric road bikes will come with a normal groupset

Elsewhere, tyres tend to be fatter, even on the road bike options you can expect up to 32mm of rubber to be specced. The extra rubber helps absorb the impacts of the heavier frame as well as provide more grip and stopping power to balance the extra weight and speed.