The Best Electric Bikes in 2022 – E-Bike Reviews – Bicycling
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No segment of bicycles is growing faster than electric bikes—and that demand is good for you, the e-bike shopper. Newer brands like Aventon, Rad Power Bikes, Charge, and Himiway have sprung up offering affordable options you can buy online, bolstering the higher-performance e-bikes from more established players like Specialized, Trek, and Giant.
Designs keep improving, tech is becoming more reliable at all prices, and the capabilities are expanding. Whether you want to purchase online or through a retailer, you can find everything from folding e-bikes, fat-tire e-bikes, electric-assist road bikes, and a sea of commuter and city electric bikes. Liberated from some of the standard bike constraints like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded.
To make these reviews as helpful as possible, we focused on lower to mid-price options from brands you can purchase directly online—though we did include a couple of recommendations for more expensive e-bikes that our team of bike testers loved.
If you are looking for a higher-performance e-bike, or specifically want the help and service you can get from a specialty retailer, be sure to check out recommendations for our Best High-Performance E-Bikes. You’ll find 18 exceptional, award-winning bikes rigorously vetted by our editorial team.
After determining which style of bike is right for you, the next major consideration is which class of e-bike best fits your needs. In the U.S., there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes are defined as class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you’re pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec,” can also have up to a 750w motor (aka 1 horsepower), but can assist you up to 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without the need for a license.
Rare just a year ago, Class 2 models are becoming more popular, especially at lower prices. These models have a throttle that can propel a bike up to, and maintain, 20 mph without having to continuously pedal.
Some bikes blur the lines. Aventon’s popular Pace 500, for example, is technically a Class 3 e-bike in that it reaches speeds up to 28 mph, but it also has a throttle that tops out at 20 mph (the maximum legal speed for a throttle).
TORQUE: Measured in newton-meters (or Nm), torque is a rotational measurement of force—and the number to pay attention to when you want an idea of an e-bike motor’s output. More torque means more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. The heavier the bike, the more torque it needs. Lighter road bikes typically have 30 to 40Nm of torque, trail and cargo models typically have at least 80Nm, and most commuter bikes fall somewhere in between.
WATT HOURS: The size of an e-bike’s battery is measured in watt-hours (or Wh), which represents the amount of energy stored in the battery and how many watts it can deliver each hour. The higher the number, the bigger the range, but the faster you go, the less range you get. So, if a 504Wh battery paired with a 500-watt motor gives you one hour of ride time at the highest assist, riding at about half that power will double your range.
Locking Battery: As electric bike options continue to expand, brands are integrating the batteries more seamlessly, which makes the bike look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Most batteries lock to the bike and come with a key that lets you unlock and remove it, which serves multiple useful purposes: You can remove the battery and charge it off the bike, and a locked battery deters (and hopefully prevents) a thief from stealing it, and an e-bike with the battery removed is safer for hauling on a bike rack and lighter for carrying up steps.
Wider Tires: Because e-bikes are capable of maintaining greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide better traction and the freedom to leave the pavement with little penalty, and a suspension fork will help tame some of the rougher roads you might explore. Good disc brakes are a must, too, for slowing a heavy bike at high speed. This is not a place to skimp.
Integrated Lights: Some e-bikes come with an integrated lighting system that turns on when you power up the bike. While this is an awesome feature to have, it’s not a deal-breaker if your bike isn’t equipped this way. With so many great bike lights available, it’s just as easy to attach your own.
Our team of experienced bike testers evaluated each model here on its overall quality, its safety features, how well it handled, motor, battery life, and whether the components and features added to the overall quality of the ride. We tested most of these bikes on our local roads, commuting to and from work on them, using them to stock up on groceries and beer, and running their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge.
A few bikes here were not available for testing. In those cases, we relied on the expertise of our test team, interviews with product managers, and rigorous research to compare the bikes’ value and performance against similar models we have tested.
Power: 500W | Weight: 58 lb. | Top speed: 28 mph
The Aventon Level is the sleeper car of city and commuter e-bikes. Similar to a Volvo V70 R wagon, the Level is practical, and understated, but also packs a punch. The Level cuts the same profile as many other commuter-styled bikes on the market: upright geometry, full fenders, rear cargo rack, kickstand, and subdued graphics. It is not until you jump onto the bike, and give the throttle a blip, that you realize the Aventon Level has some serious muscle behind that reserved exterior.
Providing the Level’s muscle is a rear hub motor, which puts out 500 watts of sustained, and 750 watts at peak power. Feeding the motor is a 672-watt-hour lithium-ion rechargeable battery, housed cleanly inside the bike’s downtube. The 8-speed Shimano drivetrain clicks through gears effortlessly, the SR Suntour fork soaks up cracks in the pavement well, and the e-bike rated 27.5- x 2.2-inch Kenda tires rolled smoothly and without additional noise.
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Power: 80Nm | Weight: 74 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
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With the Radrover 6 Plus, Rad Power has made a fat tire e-bike that is comfortable to ride on pretty much any terrain, from urban streets riddled with potholes to off-road paths riddled with rocks or snow. Updated display and hydraulic disc brakes make the RadRover 6 Plus substantially nicer to ride than its predecessor.
The bike’s extreme weight can make it feel sluggish at times and this makes getting the bike up or down any kind of stairs an issue. However, the RadRover’s powerful 750w rear hub motor helps overcome increased rolling resistance and the weight of the four-inch-wide tires. The bike is available in traditional or step-through frame styles in your choice of charcoal or white color.
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Power: 40Nm | Weight: 35 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
We’re fans of the Treadwell for its clean looks and upright rider position. Not quite a hybrid, but also not a foot-forward style cruiser, Cannondale’s Treadwell models are unique, practical bikes for city commuting or riding around town. The Treadwell Neo 2 eschews some of the bulkier features—suspension fork, rack, and fenders—found on many other bikes in the category. This makes for a lighter and zippier riding bike at a lower price. A Class 1 rear hub motor moves the Treadwell along smoothly with up to 20 mph of pedal-assisted power. The 7-speed drivetrain and a wide-range cassette help you get up longer hills and the Maxxis 650b tires roll fast on pavement. The Treadwell can be purchased in a step-through (mixte) or traditional frame style.
Power: 50Nm | Weight: 49.4 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
One of the least expensive e-bikes on our list, the RadMission is a city bike that could easily double as a short-haul commuter. For $1,199, you get a stripped-down single-speed that moves along at 20 mph with a throttle to help you get up to speed or up punchy hills. The 27.5 x 1.95-inch-wide Kenda Kontact tires are just wide enough to feel speedy and provide comfort on pavement and bumpy bike paths. Aside from integrated lights and a bell, the RadMission remains fairly simple. Its hub motor drive unit delivers 50Nm of torque and has a 504Wh removable battery. It can be hard starting out from a stop with this singlespeed, but RadPower provides a throttle to get you going, which is convenient if you have a coffee in one hand.
Power: 350W | Weight: 49 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
Aventon recently updated its already outstanding Pace range with a brand new frame and fork, integrated battery, and tail lights sleekly designed into the seat stays. At $1,399, the Aventon Pace 350 continues to deliver an outstanding balance of price and performance, now with a fresh new look. As a Class 2 e-bike, it has a max pedal-assist speed of 20 mph along with a thumb-controlled throttle. The Pace 350 rolls on 27.5 x 2.2-inch e-bikes rated tires and stops via mechanical disc brakes. A 7-speed Shimano drivetrain and five levels of pedal assist provide you with various options. The bike doesn’t get fenders or integrated racks, but the Pace 350 felt viable for daily commuting.
If you need a little more speed and range, check out the Aventon Pace 500 for $300 more. It has a 28 mph top speed, hydraulic disc brakes, adjustable stem, and an 8-speed drivetrain. Read our review of the excellent new Pace 500 model below.
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Power: 50Nm | Weight: 73 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
The sharply-priced Flyer Bikes’ L885 longtail-style cargo bike is a great option for carrying smaller kids or running errands around town. Cargo e-bikes are a great way to reduce the use of cars for short trips but the high price of some cargo bikes puts them out of reach for many riders.
From the legendary brand Radio Flyer—of little red wagon fame—the $2,000 Flyer L885 isn’t some watered-down cargo bike. You get a 500W rear hub motor, 720Wh integrated battery, 3″ wide puncture-resistant tires, lights, and fenders. With a 400 lb. payload capacity, the L885 can easily carry an adult, two kids, and practically anything else you can haul. Accessories are available to customize the bike to your family’s needs. Our favorites are the Kid & Cargo Carrier and optional extended range battery.
Power: 80Nm | Weight: 65 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
The singlespeed RadRunner 2 is designed to haul cargo while being nimble enough to outrun your deadlines. The step-through, moped-style frame has mounts for front and rear racks (whose options include baskets, bags, insulated bags, platforms, panniers, and more), and you can also opt to buy a center console to add a third storage option (the battery is mounted behind the seat tube to free up space for it). A double kickstand keeps it upright so you can load all that cargo without fear of the bike tipping over, and there’s an integrated taillight that lights up when you hit the brakes.
Beneath all this utility is a solid e-bike, too. The 750-watt rear-hub motor has enough torque to take you and all your stuff up hills and across level pavement at a comfortable 20 mph, and the wide 20-inch Kenda K-Rad tires balloon out over rough pavement and rocks, allowing you to take the RadRunner 2 (and whatever you choose to put on it) almost anywhere. If you live in a hillier area, opt for the RadRunner Plus model with a 7-speed drivetrain for $1,899.
Power: 45NM | Weight: 45 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
One of the lower-priced e-bikes we’ve tested, the City is a smartly equipped commuter. This Class 2 e-bike has a hub motor, five levels of pedal assist, and a throttle. But it also comes with fenders, a rear rack, and running lights (nice additions at this price). Anyone with space issues will appreciate the folding pedals and handlebar (a flip of a lever at the stem rotates it 90 degrees). The Charge is available with a low-step or standard frame and comes in four pleasing colors (red, blue, silver, and turquoise), and in one size only (it fits riders from 5-foot-1 to 6 feet).
Power: 60NmW | Weight: 53 lb. | Top speed: 25 mph
The Model X feels like a higher-quality product than the price indicates. It’s assembled in the U.S., and the attention to detail is immediately evident; the bike makes almost no noise while in motion, save the subtle whir from the rear hub motor. The Schwalbe Fat Frank tires, aluminum frame, and steel fork combine to deliver a smooth ride, and the comfortable saddle and retro handlebar put you in a relaxed position while the e-assist does most of the work. Its 500-watt motor peaks at 1,500 watts for quick bursts of power, making the Model X sporty enough for most. Pedal-assist maxes out at 28 mph, and you get a throttle, as well.
The model shown here starts at $1,949 but can be upgraded (at a cost) to include things like a front basket that houses one or two batteries, a rear rack, custom frame colors, suspension seatpost, GPS tracker, and more.
Power: 350W | Weight: 41 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
This affordable singlespeed model from Aventon delivers simplicity and style that is tough to beat. The bike also comes as a 7-speed geared option, but we like the easy maintenance and convenience of this one-speeder. Simply push the throttle to get started and the brushless hub motor kicks in, assisting you more gently as you start pedaling. There are disc brakes (on the 7-speed) or rim brakes (on the singlespeed) and integrated headlight and taillights.
The battery is hidden in the bike’s frame, a surprising feature compared to the bolt-on vibe of many bikes in this price range. Best for smoother roads and bike paths, the Soltera delivers the most essential features a city rider needs in a strikingly light 41-pound package.
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Power: 80NM | Weight: 73 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
A $2,000, fully loaded e-cargo bike seemed too good to be true, so we borrowed the RadWagon from Rad Power Bikes to see if it could stand up to competitors that cost thousands more. In short: it does. A 750-watt direct-drive hub motor provides powerful pedal assist at a much quieter hum than the mid-drive motors used on most e-cargo bikes; its only disadvantage is there’s not quite as much torque, but you’ll only notice that on steep hills.
A throttle lets you ride the bike like a scooter, and we had no problems with the 7-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain or the Tektro mechanical disc brakes. Lights, fenders, and a kickstand are standard. Despite its length, the RadWagon isn’t difficult to maneuver: We thrashed it around an abandoned golf car path and didn’t scrape the rear foot platforms against the ground—a good sign for low-speed handling. It’s a lot easier to charge $5,000 or more for an e-cargo bike when you market it as a car replacement, but the RadWagon proves you can render your car mostly obsolete for the price of an e-bike, not another car.
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Power: 65Nm | Weight: 54.6 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
Nothing about this thoughtfully designed and equipped model looks or feels cheap. There’s a sleek, 500Wh battery in the down tube, a ring lock on the rear wheel, reliable hydraulic disc brakes, an adjustable dynamo-powered headlight, and a taillight cleverly integrated into the rear rack. Looks aside, a bike has to ride well, too—and the C380 does. Powered by a Bosch Performance Line 3.0 mid-drive motor, the bike steadily hums along paved and unpaved surfaces at up to 20 mph, and its low step-through frame is pleasantly stable and balanced. Busy people will love the low-maintenance belt drive and Enviolo Trekking Manual stepless gear system, which has all the gearing you want for typical urban—and suburban—hills.
Add in comfort touches, like ergo leather grips, a squishy Selle Royal saddle, and a bit of suspension in the steerer tube and seatpost, and the C380 is a smart choice for riders who want an upscale downtown e-bike—and who want to feel good about their investment.
Power: 90Nm | Weight: 50 lb. | Top speed: 28 mph
Mid-drive motor-equipped e-bikes usually outperform hub motor bikes in our testing. Mid-drive motors have more consistent power transfer and an intuitive pedaling feel. The central placement of the motor helps to balance the weight of the bike front-to-back, making them easier to ride and control. Plus, they are easier to service as the rear wheel can be removed like a non-assist bike. The biggest downside of mid-drive motor e-bikes: The price; they often cost double the price of equivalently equipped hub motor bikes.
Ride1Up, however, built the Prodigy ST with the great Brose mid-drive motor, a smart component package, rack, fenders, and lights for less than many hub-drive bikes. The class-3 Prodigy has pedaling assistance up to 28 mph, stops via Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors, and helps you get up hills thanks to a 9-speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain. Ride1Up offers the Prodigy in step-through (ST) or traditional double-diamond (XR) frame styles. A more rugged, mountain bike-styled model (XC) with knobby tires and suspension fork costs an additional $100.
Power: 60Nm | Weight: 63.8 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty bike just for this purpose, the One has you covered. With the One’s max load rating of 77 pounds (but no more than 55 pounds on one rack), we routinely carried large amounts of gear using a combo of the front and rear baskets. An optional platform rack can be used for transporting large or irregularly shaped items.
The One’s feature set is optimized for commuting and utility. A Gates belt drive and five-speed internally geared hub are low maintenance and provide reliable performance. Integrated head- and taillights allow you to see, and be seen while riding. Full-wrap fenders keep you clean of road spray. And the integrated Abus wheel lock is handy for quick errands and keeps anyone from easily riding off with the bike; we recommend a heavy-duty lock when leaving the bike anywhere for an extended period of time, or if locking it up out of sight.
The Shimano Steps E6100 motor has an intuitive feel, with pedal assist up to 20 mph. Motor settings can be controlled via the display screen or with a phone app, where you can also update firmware and adjust riding modes and max assist speed. For example, you can switch from Natural to Sportive mode for a little more torque when starting or on hills. We found this especially useful when hauling around heavier loads.
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Power: 85Nm | Weight: 49 lb. | Top speed: 15.5 mph
From suspension to geometry, to assist system, the newly updated Santa Cruz Heckler is a masterpiece of an e-trail bike. Updates for 2022 include a longer range 720Wh battery, adjustable geometry, and new lower-priced models like this $8,750 model. This bike just plain works; with suspension performance and handling ideal for all-around trail riding. The Heckler rides predictably and surefooted on challenging and fast terrain. It has quick enough handling to respond when the trail suddenly made an awkward turn and with precision to confidently ride fins and ridges barely wider than the bike’s 2.4″ wide Maxxis tires.
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Power: 35Nm | Weight: 27 lb. | Top speed: 28 mph
The Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL carbon e-road bike weighs around 27 pounds—half the weight of many e-bikes—and therefore feels more like a zippy, responsive road machine than anything else we’ve tested. For its owners, it also makes every ride a no-drop ride: Its magnesium-cased SL 1.1 mid-motor puts out up to 240 watts of assistance, which cuts out at 28 mph, and the 320Wh internal battery offers up to 80 miles of range. That’s enough speed and range for spirited group rides with the fastest of the pack.
A 160Wh Range Extender—included with S-Works models—fits into the seat tube bottle cage and adds up to 40 more miles of range. This version, at that price, isn’t for most riders. Less expensive options start at $4,500 for the aluminum-framed SL Comp E5.
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