By Stefan Abram
E-bikes having been surging in popularity as their prices have come down and there are now many high quality - but cheap - options that dip below the £1,000 mark.
The benefits of electric bikes are wide ranging. They open up cycling to a whole range of people who whether from injury, illness, or age would not be able to get out on a bike without some form of pedal assistance. For those with more cargo to carry, the added power can keep you out on your bike, rather than having to resort to a car.
An e-bike also benefits commuters who have too long a journey to be manageable with on a conventional bike. Even with a shorter commute, being able to cycle in without the need for a shower at the other end is a game changer for many.
How much should you spend?
Previously, e-bikes that were below £1,000 were few and far between, but now there’s an ever-growing number falling below that pivotal threshold. Like most things in life, e-bikes are subject to the law of diminishing returns: doubling the price does not double the performance.
That said, the step-up in performance from spending £2,000, as opposed to £1,000, is more significant than any other increases in price. You can expect higher tier groupsets, providing more gears and—on some models—even hydraulic disc brakes. The total weight of the bike sees stark reductions, with some only a handful of kilos heavier than a non-powered bike. And, in terms of aesthetics, some models have such cleanly integrated batteries and motors, that on first glance you might not realise they are e-bikes. For options in the sub £2,000 bracket, check out our best e-bikes page.
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How much you should spend depends on what your priorities are. If having electric assistance at the lowest possible cost is the priority—and you already have a bike—an e-bike conversion kit represents the best value. These can be found for around £450 which are no more complicated than replacing the front wheel and fitting a cadence sensor.
If you don’t already own a bike to fit a conversion kit to, there are reliable options for under £1,000. However, if you have a bit more cash to spare, there are some incredible e-bikes below £2,000 which will not leave you wanting in frame design or components.
Our pick of the best value e-bikes under £1,000
Here at Cycling Weekly we've grouped together some of the best and most affordable e-bikes on the market to make you more informed about which e-bike is best to purchase.
Carrera Crosscity Electric Bike
Comfortably coming in below £1,000, this electric folding bike is a practical choice for commuters who take multiple forms of transport. Those who are tight on space, but need some e-assistance, would also benefit from the compact size the Crosscity folds down to.
Kitted with mudguards and a pannier rack, the practical points are certainly ticked. The range provided by the 313Wh battery is a maximum of 50km and the whole bike tips the scales at 18kg. It is worth bearing in mind that the rider weight limit is 85kg plus 15kg of luggage.
Elops 900 E Step Over Classic Electric Bike
Drawing heavily from the design cues of traditional Dutch bikes, this presents a comfortable and composed option as a town bike. The battery is 418Wh and the range is up to 70km.
Fitted with mudguards, a pannier rack, a kickstand and integrated lights, there are seven derailleur gears that make up the transmission, while mechanical disc brakes offer consistent stopping power.
Coming in at 24kg, we won't file this one in our lightweight section. The added weight won’t present much of an issue when riding, but its heft might make wall mounted storage more difficult. The maximum weight for user and luggage is set at 125kg.
Carrera Crossroad Electric Bike
Dropbar e-bikes below £1000 are a rarity, but the offering from Halford’s in-house brand just nudges under the threshold. A 310Wh battery provides a maximum range of 80km.
The transmission is 9-speed with mechanical disc brakes and the tyres are a plump 32c. Weighing 19.5kg, the bike’s maximum rider weight is 120kg.
Gtech Sports Hybrid Electric Bike
A simple and fuss-free option. This paired down e-bike has only one gear driven by a carbon belt, meaning that oily or rusty chains and poorly adjusted gears will never be an issue. There are two power settings; max and eco, giving a range of about 50km and 25km, respectively.
The mechanical V-brakes are simple to maintain and the tyres measure 38mm. At 16kg, it is relatively light as far as e-bikes go. The maximum total weight is 110kg, including the bike. A step through frame is offered at the same price.
What to consider when buying an e-bike
The frame determines the style of riding the bike is suited for. Whether a bike is more road- and speed-oriented, whether it has the mounting points for a rack and panniers, or whether it folds.
These are all design elements that are intrinsic to the frame. On more aesthetic grounds, the frame will dictate whether the battery nicely integrates with the downtube, or whether it protrudes noticeably. Downtube integration is a design point that is regularly included on higher-end bikes.
In order to get the bike to hit the magic £1,000, compromises have to be made. One way brands save a significant amount of money is by going for rim brakes over disc brakes.
Although these don’t have the power or modulation of disc brakes - especially hydraulic disc brakes - they are still reliable stoppers. If the price is your main concern, being open to rim brakes will expand your choices.
Motor and capacity
In higher-end models, these tend to be mid-drive, with the motor situated around the bottom bracket. This keeps the weight low and centred in the bike and has minimal impact on its handling.
On lower-end models, you can expect to see the motor integrated into the front or rear hub as this reduces manufacturing costs. Some higher-end models also chose rear hub motors as these can be more discrete.
Put simply: the greater the battery capacity, the further you’ll be able to cycle. Although the caveat to that is that the bike will be heavier. This is a particular consequence for electric folding bikes, which often need to be carried. Greater compromises on range and weight are likely to be made in these cases.
Perhaps you know that you will be using mudguards and a pannier rack, in which case it can be cheaper and less of a hassle to buy a bike which already has these fitted.
Likewise, if you don’t think you’ll be needing those accessories, then it is likely you would be able to get a better deal on a bike without them. Careful consideration of the intended use is beneficial before committing to a model.
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