An affordable electric bike doesn't have to be under-powered. Here are the best options that will take the sweat out of riding without breaking the budget.
When it comes to electric bikes, 'cheap' is very much a relative measure. A typical e-bike can easily cost over $2,500 / £2,000 / AU$3,000 (prices vary depending where you live). However, it doesn't have to be that way, and there are some excellent options available if your budget doesn't stretch that far.
The most affordable electric bikes tend to be hybrids – bikes designed for everyday commuting and casual trail riding, rather than tough off-road terrain. They're a great choice for most riders, and are available in various designs and sizes, with step-through or cross-bar frames.
The bikes listed below aren't the very cheapest on the market, we've only recommended ones from well known and established manufacturers that we trust, with good records for build quality, customer service and after-sales care.
If you already have a conventional bicycle and have been thinking about replacing it with an electric bike, it's worth investigating e-bike conversion kits, which add a motor and electric drive system
These are usually fitted by professionals, but there are now some DIY kits that make the conversion simple enough to try at home. If you're interested, we'll be publishing a complete guide to these kits, their pros and cons very soon.
For us, the Raleigh Motus Crossbar strikes the ideal balance of features, power and affordability. Raleigh has been building bikes since 1885, and the Motus Crossbar combines that heritage with top-end Bosch e-bike components, and bundles it together in a surprisingly cheap package.
It's not the most stylish electric bike around, but you're getting some great components for your money, including disc brakes and a battery that'll keep you rolling for up to 80 miles in optimum conditions.
There's a huge choice of frame sizes, so you don't have to settle for something that's almost right, giving you a more comfortable ride. However, it's worth bearing in mind that not all retailers stock all color options in all sizes, and you might need to shop around to find exactly what you want.
This is a lot of e-bike for your money. The Rad Power Bikes RadMission is one of the best cheap electric bikes around, available for an introductory price of just $999 (about £800, AU$1,400) if you move quickly.
That battery pack might look a little chunky, but don't let its profile fool you; this is actually a nippy single-speed commuter bike that's ideal for urban riding. The motor is switched on and off using a discreet control panel (with LED display) on the handlebars, and a twist grip throttle allows you to call on a little more juice for hills, or to help you move off more easily at traffic lights. The battery can be charged on both 110V and 230V AC power outlets, making it suitable for use around the world.
For safety, there's an integrated brake light, and even luminous rims to ensure you're seen after dark. The RadMission is also the lightest bike in the company's lineup, making it easier to shoulder and carry.
Rad Power Bikes provides sizing charts explaining how comfortable its various models will be for different height riders, so make sure you check it out before making your choice.
British bike-maker Ribble doesn't offer many electric models, but that scarcely matters since each one can be customized and configured to suit your exact preferences. The Ribble Hybrid AL e is definitely towards the more expensive end of the 'affordable' bracket, but that's the only reason it's not ranked higher in this particular buying guide. If you can afford the outlay, it's a superb bike.
The Ribble Hybrid AL e doesn't look much like an electric bike at all, with only a power button discreetly placed on the top tube really giving the game away. You even get proper bottle cage bolts, as the battery is tucked within the top tube.
Its tech specs are impressive too, with Mahle's ebikemotion x35 drive system helping power you up climbs (check out Mahle's website for the full details), and hydraulic disc brakes providing plenty of stopping power (cheaper bikes will only offer caliper or V-brakes).
If you can open your wallet a little further, you can opt for the 'Fully Loaded' edition, which comes with mudguards, a pannier rack, a bell and Ribble's own classic saddle. Extra add-ons are also available at the checkout, and you can even pick a custom paint color if the standard blue and burnt orange don't take your fancy.
The Gtech eBike City isn't specifically marketed as a bike for older riders, but the step-through frame would definitely make it a good choice if you're perhaps not quite as limber as you once were and may struggle with a typical top tube.
Like the Gtech Sport below, this is a cheap and very cheerful city bike with a fairly limited range (around 30 miles at best) but a price that's hard to beat. The battery is easily detached with a quick-release system and charges in just three hours, so it's easy to juice up between rides.
Hit the power button, start to pedal and the motor kicks in automatically, with a choice of two cruising speeds. It's a shame that you have to hit the power button on the battery to switch between these, as new riders may struggle with balance and prefer a handlebar-mounted control.
That said, you'd be hard pressed to find a better city cruiser for the price. If the Rad Power Radmission's riding position is too aggressive, it's an excellent choice.
If you're in the market for a cheap e-bike with road stylings, the Gtech eBike Sport could fit the bill very nicely. Like the Gtech eBike City above, it's not the most powerful bike around and has a maximum range of just 30 miles, but will definitely take the sweat out of everyday commuting.
In fact, there's very little to differentiate between the two bikes, with the eBike City offering a larger frame and standard hybrid design. Again, the battery is disguised as a water bottle with a quick release for charging (taking just three hours for a full charge). At 16kg it's easy to shoulder and carry (ideal if you need to store it on a wall bracket or carry it at a railway station).
Given the choice, we'd opt for the similarly priced but more powerful Rad Bikes Radmission, but this is a worthy alternative, particularly once the Radmission's early bird offer expires and its price rises accordingly.
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