Which electric bike is best?
In recent years, the popularity of electric bikes has skyrocketed. Often marketed as e-bikes, these bikes usually let the rider choose between manual pedaling and letting the built-in motor do the heavy lifting for you.
Commuting with an electric bike is cheaper, healthier and more eco-friendly than driving a car. When shopping for an e-bike, you’ll need to think about the motor, battery life and details such as size and portability. If you want a versatile bike from a legendary manufacturer, the Schwinn Coston Electric Hybrid Bike is the recommended pick.
What to know before you buy an electric bike
Reasons to use an electric bike
Until recently, electric bikes were a novelty, but the technology has advanced to the point that e-bikes are more accessible than ever before. Because you can choose whether or not to use the motor, electric bikes are a great choice for people with limited lung capacity or riders trying to build up to independent cycling. If a flat trail suddenly gets steeper, for instance, you can turn on the motor for a little extra help.
Using an electric bike instead of a car is good for the environment too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average vehicle releases about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Commuting to work with an electric bike instead of a car — even just once or twice a week — could reduce your annual carbon footprint considerably.
There are three main types of electric motors found on e-bikes. They are usually integrated so seamlessly into the frame of the bike that you may not even notice them, but knowing their differences can make shopping easier.
- Brush: These motors are affordable but heavy, and the e-bikes that use them are often louder than their brushless counterparts.
- Brushless: Brushless motors are lightweight, powerful and expensive, but they often make up for the cost in durability and lifespan. Brushless motors are swiftly becoming the most popular motor type.
- Friction drive: Just as the name suggests, these motors work by rubbing against the tire and creating friction. Friction drive motors are lightweight, affordable and can be installed on nonelectric bicycles, but they break easily and eventually wear down your tires.
What to look for in a quality electric bike
The vast majority of electric bikes are powered by lithium-ion batteries because they’re efficient and long-lasting. Certain high-end bikes use batteries with unfamiliar names such as lithium-ion polymer and lithium manganese. Both of these battery types are lightweight and extremely powerful, but you can expect a higher price tag.
Many electric bikes offer assisted pedaling. This means that some pedaling is required, but the motor kicks in when it detects an incline or fatigue in your performance. Most bikes with assisted pedaling let you adjust the amount of assistance that the motor provides.
Although they’re becoming lighter, some electric bikes can still be quite heavy due to the battery and other electrical components. If you regularly carry your bike up stairs or lift it into your car, check its weight before purchasing. Some electric bikes are even foldable to make transportation easier.
Some high-end electric bikes have a feature called regenerative braking. These e-bikes feed energy back into the battery every time you hit the brakes, thereby reducing the need for constant recharging.
How much you can expect to spend on an electric bike
The cost of an electric bike can vary dramatically based on the type you choose. While you can find e-bikes outside of this range, a solid commuter bike with a brushless motor is usually around $800-$1,800.
Electric bike FAQ
Are there electric bikes for kids?
A. Yes! E-bikes for kids are smaller, cheaper and slower than their adult counterparts. Keep in mind that there may be laws in your area about children operating electric vehicles, even bikes.
Do electric bikes require a license?
A. Although it depends on your location, most places in the United States don’t require a license to operate an electric bike as long as it meets certain guidelines. That being said, check local regulations before purchasing an electric bike.
What are the best electric bikes to buy?
Top electric bike
What you need to know: This electric bike has a stylish design with an aluminum frame and a powerful brushless motor.
What you’ll love: Backed by a leading bicycle manufacturer, this e-bike has an efficient battery that can last up to 45 miles on a single charge. The brushless motor delivers a top speed of 20 miles per hour.
What you should consider: At 75 pounds, this Schwinn model is a bit heavier than other electric bikes.
Top electric bike for money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly electric bike has a removable battery and large tires for rough terrain.
What you’ll love: This e-bike has four modes, including assisted pedaling and full electric modes. The digital control interface can display cycling information and even charge your phone. This bike has a top speed of over 23 miles per hour.
What you should consider: This e-bike may be too big for people who aren’t particularly tall.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This electric mountain bike has a long-lasting battery and top speeds of 25 miles per hour.
What you’ll love: This e-bike has a battery that lasts up to 35 miles and is equipped with adjustable suspensions so it can handle nearly any terrain. The assisted pedaling feature also has five modes so you can adjust the difficulty of your ride.
What you should consider: There have been several complaints about the braking system malfunctioning.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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