Electric bikes, e-bikes; no matter what you want to call them, they are nothing if not revolutionary. The first time someone decided to put an electric motor on a bike was in 1895, which was mounted on the rear hub and had a 10 volt battery. Though it wasn’t until the 21st century that the words electric and bike even came together, and the technology of today has seen electric bikes become pedal assist versions of every kind of bike, so think of them as a kind of electric hybrid.
Considered the future of cycling, electric bike sales jumped up 145 per cent in 2019 alone and if you are looking for the kind of ride that allows you to go faster and further without much effort, then they are the bike for you. Doesn’t matter if you are mountain biking or riding the roads, there are electric bikes to power every type of rider.
Why You Need An Electric Bike
To put it simply, the best electric bikes enhance the riding experience. They might look like a regular bike and ride like a regular bike, but when you push the pedals on electric bikes an electric motor engages and gives you a boost, assisting you up hills and over rough terrain without gassing yourself. Like the gears on a regular bike, you can adjust the level of pedal assist.
If you are someone who is looking for an alternative to driving your car to work and getting stuck in traffic jams, for example, electric bikes are a great commuter option, as the motor assisted ride won’t leave you sweaty even over long distances. If you enjoy more of an off road ride, electric bikes can help you power through the trails like it’s nothing.
Features Of The Best Electric Bikes
The most important feature of the best electric bikes is the motor and they can be found in different parts of the bike. A hub motor is located at the rear of the bike, usually inside the hub of the rear wheel. While the mid drive motor is found in the bottom bracket where the pedal arms attach to the frame. The hub drive motor sends power straight to the rear wheel, giving you the feeling of being pushed along. Mid drive motors are the most common and give the pedal assist a more natural feel.
To power the motor, the best electric bike has a battery that will ensure a longer ride range. The battery can often be located on the down tube of a bike frame and this is commonly a removable battery as well. On a higher end, more expensive model, the battery can also be integrated into the frame, making the bike less bulky. The battery also needs to be charged and the larger the watt capacity, the longer the battery takes to charge.
The power of the battery also determines the ride range based on their watt hours (Wh) which is a common term you will come across. This means the number of hours a battery can sustain 1 watt of power before reaching zero power. This also directly applies to the power of the motor, as a 750 watt motor paired with a common 300 Wh battery will give you a ride range of over 50 kilometres.
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We’ve curated the best electric bikes that are the best in motor, battery, and electric performance that will have you reaching top speed with as little effort as possible, so take a look below.
Setting out to break the convention that all the great bikes came from Europe, Trek was founded in 1975 and started as a friendly drink between founders Bevil Hogg and Dick Burke. They went from manufacturing their first bike out of a steel frame in a small barn in Wisconsin, to one of the best American bike manufacturers and proving the convention wrong with their innovations of the electric bike.
Only using the best e-bike motor systems, Trek’s electric bikes set a high standard for reliability and effortless performance. Every single electric bike has been put to the test at their R&D Performance Centre where they perform cutting-edge experiments on bike physics. Their range has an electric bike for all kinds of rides, including electric mountain bikes that feature a powerful electric motor and a 250 watt battery that can achieve a top speed of 20 mph and a range of up to 12 hours meaning you can bike with ease, for longer.
Not many brands get their start as a university project between two engineering students and bike enthusiasts, that goes on to attract the attention of entrepreneur, fellow bike enthusiast and future owner Felix Gauthier, but that’s exactly how Devinci was founded in 1990. Thanks to a dedicated R&D department and their Dream Lab workshop, their electric bikes come supported by advanced technologies and engineering that has resulted in a motor for every kind of ride.
If we had to pick the best of the best electric bikes from Devinci, it would have to be their electric mountain bike. Given their history with designing championship winning mountain bikes, the electric bike version takes it a step further. Featuring dual suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, and a powerful motor and battery across all of their bikes. The very best electric bike comes with the ‘GX 11S’ bike, featuring a Shimano Steps lithium battery to power a 500 watt motor.
In the business of bikes since 1974, Specialized got their start making tires for mountain bikes with the ‘Stumpjumper’ model of bike. The first electric bike Specialized developed wasn’t until 2009 with the Specialized ‘Turbo’ range that today includes an electric bike for every kind of ride. They understood that people who ride e bikes, generally ride longer and further than those riding classic bikes, which is why they developed their electric bikes to go further and faster.
There is one thing that makes these the best electric bikes in terms of speed and that is the battery and motor combination. The Specialized Turbo bikes feature a 240 watt motor that will power increased performance between 60 and 100 RPM. That achieves a high speed equivalent of two riders on the same electric bike and when you combine the 500 watt battery that boasts a range of up to 195km, you’ll be riding with effortless ease.
A product of the American Dream, Schwinn was founded in 1895 by German immigrant Ignaz Schwinn. Their first official name was ‘World Bicycles’ and made many innovative contributions to the development of bikes as a sport when in 1941, French racer Alfred Letourner set the speed record for the fastest mile on a Schwinn road bike. Today their innovations continued when the brand joined the electric bike revolution in 2019.
Delivering extra power to every pedal, Schwinn’s best electric bikes will help you ride further, take on bigger hills and enjoy your ride even more. Though no matter what kind of e bike you are riding, their bikes come with alloy or aluminium frame support. If you are looking for a bike designed for commuters and weekend explorers, the ‘Vantage FXe’ electric bike comes with a Bosch Performance Line mid drive motor, hydraulic disc brakes, electric battery and an 11-speed drivetrain that offers multiple levels of pedal assist.
There are many stories about how Cannondale got their name, one is being named after a train station in the brand’s local Connecticut town, another claims that while an employee was ordering telephone service, he was required to give the name of his company and just happened to be looking at a rusty cannon inscribed with ‘Dale’. One thing that is known however, are their bikes and they’ve been making some of the most technologically advanced bikes since 1971, entering the electric bike market in 2011.
With electric bikes being the latest innovation for bikes, Cannondale have labelled the range of their best electric bikes as ‘Neo’ meaning new. Their road bike, mountain bike, cruiser bike models have all been given the e bike treatment, so the best has been made even better. The ‘Topstone Neo Carbon 3’ electric bike is a great to go anywhere, ride of any kind of bike, with a Bosch Performance Line motor, wide range 500 watt battery and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
Founded by skateboarding legend Rob Roskopp, Santa Cruz is a go to brand for all your off road bike needs. Born around the time mountain biking began to be considered a sport in 1994, they have been responsible for some of the sport’s most iconic, championship-winning bikes including their very first bike, the ‘Tazmon’, which included a single-pivot dual suspension fork that was a first for the time. They’ve continued their contribution to the bike world when they manufactured their first e-bike in 2020.
To create the best electric mountain bike, Santa Cruz wanted to bring a whole new feel to a ride on the trails with the very best in pedal assist technology. The ‘Bullet MX Carbon’ electric bike exemplifies this, with a powerful Shimano E7000 motor, 650 watt battery and fat tires that makes for an aggressive mountain machine built for the steepest downhills.
An acronym for the ‘Bicycle Manufacturing Company’, BMC was founded in 1994 out of Grenchen, Switzerland. Though it wasn’t until 2001 that the brand grew from their niche beginnings of developing a bike for the average enthusiast to developing bikes for the best cyclists in the world, when they shifted their focus to engineering and design. Their bikes have been seen in the Tour de France leading Cadell Evans to his first championship, and they were all created in their Impac R&D lab.
BMC ventured into electric bikes in 2019 and now have an e-bike for every type of ride, whether it’s the speed of a race bike or the active lifestyle that a road bike gives you. The ‘Alpenchallenge AMP City’ electric bike features a centre mounted battery, 600 watt Shimano motor and rounded out by a full carbon frame and integrated lights.
Founded in 1885, Bianchi is one of the oldest bike brands still operating today. The founder, Eduardo Bianchi was only 21 years old when he started manufacturing bikes out of his little shop in Milan and could be considered an engineering prodigy when he reduced the diameter of the front wheel and lowered the height of the pedals, which set the new standard for bikes that is still followed today. Oh, and he also invented the front brake system, so Bianchi is a bike brand that has changed the way bikes are ridden for over 125 years.
Their best electric bikes are built to take you further than you thought possible that at first glance, don’t appear to look like an electric bike. Their e bikes maintain their sleek and graceful look by proportioning the battery with the frame and using a rear hub motor to shed any excess bulk. One of the best among them, the ‘Aria Ultegra’ electric bike features a powerful motor and a 250 watt battery that even includes a visual battery life indicator along the handlebars.
One of the pioneers of the development of electric bikes, Haibike was founded in 1995 in the German city of Schweinfurt. They are the first bike brand to manufacture electric bikes as early as 2010, earlier than any other bike brand, and that model was an electric mountain bike. They have since dedicated themselves to creating the best electric bikes and have contributed innovations such as the first e bikes to have electric suspension control and the ‘SkidPlate’, an impact-resistant plastic that protects the motor mounted underneath the frame.
All of their electric bikes champion their term, ‘ePerformance’, which defines their focus on creating sporty, performance-oriented electric bikes. The defining features of an ‘ePerformance’ electric bike include an integrated battery and electric front suspension. The ‘Trekking S 10’ electric bike is a great commuter bike with it’s Bosh Performance mid drive motor that supports speeds of up to 45km/h and a 625 watt battery to ensure a smooth ride.
Founded by Pietro Dal Molin in 1906, Wilier is one of the oldest manufacturers of bikes based in Rossano Veneto, Italy. The name actually originates from the phrase ‘Viva l’Italia liberata e redenta’ by taking the first letters of each word, and turning the ‘V’ into a ‘W’. This was born out of the brands contribution to cycling in post war Italy and their desire to bring together a then fragmented nation, doing what they do best, make bikes. Today, they have added electric bikes to their range and as recently as 2020, already picking up a Design & Innovation Award.
To earn such an award, their best electric bikes have integrated the power of a pedal assist motor with the minimalist look and lightweight feel of non e bikes. The ‘Cento1HY Ultegra’ electric bike was their first and is one of the lightest e bikes weighing in at just 11.9 kgs. It also features an impressive drivetrain, with a carbon monocoque frame, hydraulic disc brakes, internal hub motor and a long battery life.