Electric bike holiday gift guide – CNET
If you’re looking to treat yourself for the holidays — or treat someone else — here’s a list of electric bikes you should be looking at.
Electric bikes have been the hottest transportation trend of 2021, and there’s no sign of that slowing down in 2022. They make getting to work easier, exploring the outdoors more accessible and fun, and, of course, they help you skip getting into your car for the easy errand to get eggnog. (Did I mention I hate eggnog!?)
To start off, there are countless styles of e-bikes out there including: mopeds and motobikes, commuters, as well as on-road and off-road models. On top of that, there are hundreds of different brands on the market, which means it can be a bit overwhelming to start the shopping process. Plus, there are a lot of important specs to keep track of. There’s motor output, battery specs, charge times, frame sizing, range, weight, price and of course, cool factor to try to figure out.
And for all of you dying to jump on this bandwagon, I’ve created a list of my favorite electric bikes to date. In the list, I’ve included many different styles of bikes, including the models I think are best in their given segment.
This motorbike-style model is unlike most other e-bikes out there in that it features two batteries and two motors! One 52V, 20 Ah battery lives between the rider’s feet and another 52V, 15 Ah battery resides underneath the seat. As for motivation, the Grizzly has a pair of 1,000-watt hub motors, one in each wheel. Combined, all this yields a serious performance punch. Along with the ability to accelerate to 36 mph and an estimated range of 35 to 75 miles (depending on conditions and speed), this thing has the grunt to get up most any dirt hill. It’s guaranteed to give you a smile from ear to ear. Oh, I forgot to mention, this thing will peel out — that front tire will actually spin if you slam the throttle. This bear growls!
What I like most about the Ariel Rider Grizzly is you don’t have to be riding with both batteries at once. If you’re out and about and one battery goes to empty, you still have the second battery to get you home. The bike is a tiny bit slower with one battery in use, but it’s great to have the backup pack if you have lots of errands to run.
A few notes here before you push Ariel’s “Add to Cart” button. This motorbike-style frame is a bit smaller than your average bike, so if you’re taller than 6 feet, 8 inches, it’s not going to be a comfortable ride. Also, the Ariel rider weighs a stout 105 pounds, so if you have a second-story walkup apartment, this bike might not be for you. (Then again, maybe you can ride up those stairs? On second thought, no — don’t try that!)
The Grizzly is priced extremely well given all of its features, especially compared to models like the extremely popular Super73 RX. The Grizzly retails for $3,299, all while checking way more boxes than the RX. If you decide on the Grizzly, I’d be sure to buy the Long Seat so you can take someone on your next adventure. It’s the one thing that I wish I had.
The LeMond Prolog is one of the best-looking electric bikes on the road (even in Rosa matte-pink!). This road-style e-bike was designed by three-time Tour de France champion Greg Lemond, so you know it comes with some great, progressive features.
First off, this bike is made primarily of carbon fiber, including the frame, fork, monocoque handlebar-stem, custom fenders and seat post. In fact, you can even opt for a carbon-braided wheelset with Tune hubs as an upgrade. With all that, you get a bike that only weighs 26 pounds! You should easily be able to make it up into your second-story apartment with this bike. Next up, the Prolog has a range of 45 miles, thanks to its 36V, 250W Panasonic battery and Mahle M1 250w rear hub motor. That’s plenty of range to get you to and from work with some hills in between. The Prolog is a Class 1 e-bike, which means it’ll assist the rider while pedaling to up to 20 mph. Lastly, the bike also comes with an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain if you need help with those hills. Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifter is available as an upgrade, but ultimately, I would skip this option because I have yet to trust an electronic shifting system.
As I mentioned, the Prolog is arguably one of the best looking e-bikes on the market, mostly because it doesn’t look like an e-bike at all. It would blend in with just about any regular bike out there. The battery is nicely tucked away in the frame’s downtube, and the motor is barely visible in the rear hub. What’s also great is the LeMond is ready to go right out of the box with a set of nicely integrated front and rear lights. Most importantly, the bike comes in three different sizes so you can get the right fit. The Prolog is ready to bring some style to your commute.
With its extra-light carbon components, app integration and beautiful design, the Prolog starts at $4,500. That’s a lot, but it feels worth it because this electric bike is a stunner.
The Ultimate Gazelle C380 Plus is the e-bike you want if you’re looking for something that’s comfortable, efficient and easy to ride. This commuter-style Class 3 electric bike makes riding a cinch, thanks to its ability to assist the rider up to 28 mph, its mindless shifting via Enviolo 380 Trekking Manual and its maintenance-free Gates Belt drive.
The Ultimate C380 Plus makes cycling incredibly easy starting off with its comfortable riding position. The bike’s upright posture makes longer rides more tolerable — no more sore lower back or shoulders!
The C380 Plus comes with a mid-drive Bosch Performance motor. Mid-drive motors are more powerful than hub motors at the expense of being slightly noisier. Not a big deal, overall. The Bosch motor helps rider achieve a speed of 28 mph and is great when you’re up against city traffic or if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. Tucked in the frame’s downtube is a 500 Wh battery enabling up to 42 miles of range. Also, the pack is removable if you want to leave your bike outside while you take the battery inside to charge.
When it comes to shifting, things couldn’t be easier with the Enviolo 380 Trekking Manual. Much like the system on a Lyft rideshare bike, the Enviolo is a stepless shifting system, unlike the traditional cassette, chain and derailleur on most bikes. The Enviolo’s continuously variable planetary setup is similar to the continuously variable transmission (CVT) in many modern cars, because the ratio can fluctuate within a range rather than having to jump through a limited number of fixed gears. At the twist of the shifter at the right grip, you change the ratio for the optimum pedaling. This design is easy to use and it’s not as temperamental as a traditional 10-speed. You can change gears at a stop, while freewheeling, and under load when going uphill, all with the system working seamlessly behind the scenes.
Lastly, there’s the Gates Belt Drive. If you have tried to maintain a bike chain, you know how miserable it can be. The cleaning, lubricating and/or replacing of a chain is not a fun project, and can be a pricey maintenance job at your local bike shop. On the C380 Plus, you’ll never have to worry about doing any of that because the Gates Belt is maintenance-free forever. That’s pretty nice.
All-in, the bike weighs 62.3 pounds and is ready to go out of the box, including front and rear lighting and AXA Defender Ring lock. The latter is not a perfect system, though, because it only locks the rear wheel. I would recommend purchasing a U-Lock on top of the AXA for maximum security.
All said and done, the Gazelle Ultimate C380 Plus costs $4,749, but I would definitely look into adding baskets so you can carry some groceries or your pup. Be sure to check out my video on the Gazelle C380 Plus.
See that dirt pile? You can jump that. See that ledge? Totally droppable. The Sur-Ron Light Bee is an all-terrain monster. Whether you’re planning to get up into the hills or looking to get playful in the streets, the Light Bee is for channeling your inner Evel Knievel.
The Light Bee has the DNA of a downhill mountain bike mixed with an off-road motorcycle. The front and rear of the bike look like a standard mountain bike, albeit rocking wider, more aggressive 70/100-19 tires. Helping with impacts, up front you’ll find an RST Killah fork with 8 inches of travel, and in the rear, there’s a DNM TR link-style suspension providing 3.4 inches of travel.
At the rider’s feet, you’ll find a pair of foot pegs. No pedaling here, folks. Instead, the throttle is a twist grip, so a flick of your right wrist should get you going pretty quickly.
Between the rider’s legs, much like on a gas dirt bike, you’ll find the battery (where a fuel tank normally would be) and below, the motor sits near the foot pegs. The removable battery is a massive 60V/32A lithium-ion pack. The mid-drive, Sur-Ron-designed motor delivers a peak output of 6,000W along with a massive 29 pound-feet of torque!
The Light Bee also features a FOC Sine Wave Controller unit that learns and continuously analyzes your daily riding style to help make the bike’s powertrain more compatible with your riding habits. Altogether, the Light Bee claims a top speed of 47 mph and a range of 20 to 60 miles.
The Light Bee weighs in at 123 pounds. Pretty hefty, but the central position of the battery and motor should help with maneuverability, including getting that front wheel up in the air. Yeah!
Lastly, the bike comes with two ride modes, Sport and Eco. What’s really cool is that, in Sport mode you have automatic regenerative braking, which helps recover kinetic energy, adding juice back into the battery. Also, the Light Bee comes with an LCD speedometer and LED lights front and rear.
All said and done, the Sur-Ron Light Bee comes in at $4,100. Hope you like to get dirty, you filthy animal.
The Mosh CTY electric bike comes from Serial 1, a spinoff from legendary motorcycle company Harley-Davidson. Hear me out, though, because this thing doesn’t look or sound anything like a Harley.
The Mosh CTY is an adventurous commuter e-bike. This single-speeder is happy to do wheelies and pop off curbs, thanks to its 2.8-inch Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires. The Mosh also has a mid-drive Brose S Mag motor, and the battery is centered in the frame to aid maneuverability.
The Brose motor assists the rider up to 20 mph (Class 1), delivering up to 66 pound-feet of torque via maintenance-free Gates Belt Drive. The bike is powered by a 529-wH battery pack that is nicely integrated into the frame. All combined, the Mosh CTY has an estimated range of 35 to 105 miles. That’s a broad range that varies significantly based on factors including terrain and rider weight.
The Mosh CTY has a wonderfully modern look to it. I especially enjoy the Vans-like blue checkerboard pattern scattered around the aluminum frame, and the clean, simple look of being a single speed. Altogether, the bike weighs as little as 48.3 pounds, making it neither the lightest nor heaviest bike in the rack. This bike comes in three sizes so you can get the right fit for you. That’s important!
This bike is priced at $3,800. It might also be worth checking out Serial 1’s other model, the Rush CTY Speed. It’s a bit faster and more commuter-centric. You can read a more in-depth review of both bikes here: Serial 1: Riding Harley-Davidson’s new Rush CTY Speed and Mosh CTY e-bikes
If you’re looking to both commute and joyride on the beach, the Rad Rover 6 Plus might be for you. Not only is it versatile, it’s cheap without looking like it.
What I like most about the RadRover 6 Plus is its appearance. Considering its price, you wouldn’t think an e-bike could look this good — usually you have to pay top dollar for that sorta thing. The RadRover’s overall geometry, semi-integrated 672-Wh battery and the squared-off edges of its 6061 aluminum frame make for a sturdy-looking electric bike. Battery placement and integration is usually a make-or-break design element for me, and here, the pack is no means an eyesore. I also enjoy the charcoal paint with its splashes of orange on the frame and wheels. This Rad Power bike has a sleek, somewhat modern look. A set of beefy, Kenda Juggernaut 26×4 tires really help finish off the look properly. Altogether, the bike weighs 74.3 pounds.
Let’s get into some of the details. The RadRover 6 Plus is a Class 2 e-bike, meaning it should get you to 20 mph with either its half-twist throttle or pedal assist. Naturally, you can definitely go faster if you want. Powering the RadRover 6 Plus is the 750W brushless geared hub motor. To help with pedal-assist and those not-so-fun hills, the bike comes with 7-speed Shimano Altus derailleur.
To monitor your ride, you’ll find a backlit LCD centered on the handle bars. On the screen, you can view the charge indicator, speedometer, odometer, trip odometer, pedal-assist level, clock, and more. To turn on the bike, change the bike’s pedal-assistant level, view the battery’s state of charge and turn on the lights, you use an easy-to-see remote on the left grip.
Making aggressive terrain more manageable and comfortable, besides those fat tires, the RadRover 6 Plus is equipped with a RST spring fork featuring 2.4 inches of travel, along with a lockout and preload adjustment. And to keep you clean, the bike comes with front and rear fenders.
Finally, the RadRover 6 Plus’ biggest selling point might be its price: $1,999. If you decide to go with this bike, I would also recommend looking at the company’s accessories. Notable options include a rear rack, large front basket and USB charging port.
The Gocycle G4i looks like it’s right out of a Star Trek movie. With its sleek carbon frame, magnesium five-spoke mags and foldable construction, you seriously feel like you’re riding the future.
Generally speaking, there’s nothing better than a product designed from the ground up. Most e-bikes today are slapped together from third-party components, but not the G4i. This bike comes the mind of Richard Thorpe, previously a design engineer at exotic car company McLaren, and he designed every inch of the G4i, a fact you can feel at the bars. The bike is comfortable and easy to ride, with the possible exception of its throttle being located on the left side rather than on the right, which is pretty unconventional. You can read more about that in my G4i Review.
This commuter-centric electric e-bike folds in under 25 seconds and weighs 37 pounds, roughly half the weight of your average e-bike. That makes this model a potentially excellent choice for someone who rides the train or needs to store their bike in the office.
The G4i is a Class 2 e-bike, meaning it can provide electric pedal assist up to 20 mph, and it has a throttle if you’re not up for pedaling. Powering you to the office is a removable 375-Wh (10.4Ah) lithium-ion battery pack that sends juice to a front hub motor good for 500W of power. Altogether, you’ll get an estimated range of up to 50 miles, but that’s dependent on lots of factors, including the rider’s weight and output, not to mention terrain.
Also noteworthy is the G4i’s Electronic Predictive Shifting system. This tech senses a rider’s speed and positions the gearing in the right spot for optimum pedaling, not unlike the automatic transmission in most automobiles.
In between the throttle and electronic shifter on the bars, you’ll find a simple LED dash. The readout displays the bike’s battery level, gear position, light status and speed with red and blue dots. It’s very futuristic looking. Below the LED dash on the right side is a USB port, great if your phone is running low on battery. It’s only a 1-amp port, though, so you’re not getting too much juice.
The G4i also comes with GocycleConnect, an iOS- and Android-compatible app that connects the bike to your phone via Bluetooth. The app allows you to control the bike’s trio of ride modes (City, Eco and On-Demand) and even create your own custom ride mode. You can also view information on the battery level, trip distance, equivalent MPG, calories burned, average speed, odometer and average watts.
Great design and foldable ease comes at a price. The G4i is priced from $4,999. There’s also the even-pricier G4i Plus, which adds lighter carbon wheels for $5,999.
The Serial 1 Mosh CTY at rest.
And there you have it. Some of my favorite electric bikes I’ve tested this year. Any of the rides mentioned here are great e-bike options. I’m looking forward to seeing you out on the streets… or dirt!
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