Here we are. The year is very quickly winding down, and it can mean one thing…LISTICLES GALORE! If you look around online, you’ll find that there are many choices for electric bikes, but people always want a definitive answer, and I would love to give you one, but the thing with e-bikes is that there simply isn’t just one that will do.
There are all kinds of factors that come into play: your riding style, your riding preference, seating position, your personal style, even the size of your butt!
Think that last one doesn’t matter? Go ride a standard road bike without a gel pad or riding pants and see if you think that seats don’t matter.
The list of factors and questions to consider could go on and on. Here’s the thing though, every question doesn’t need a definitive answer. What I decided to do was to go talk to the staff at some of my favorite local bike shops, Pacific Coast Bicycles, Scooterwest and the 1 local Trek Bicycle Superstore and hear what their staff and clientele had to say.
Then I thought I would to take a few of the shop’s offerings out for a spin and give you a first hand impression of several of the electric bikes listed. Just a note, I have first hand experience with most of the bikes on this list, not all.
So, in no particular order, I now present to you what I think will be the biggest and best electric bikes of 2018!
The EcoMotion MINI Pro e-fat ($1599) is an electric bike that you may have seen around. Lots of companies are making similarly designed fold-able bikes. What makes this one stand out from the pack are the beefy Kenda 20 inch tires and the rear mounted 500 watt motor.
It is such a lite bike that those 500 watts push the bike with enough gusto that you almost feel like you are riding a small scooter. Max speed, as per current regulations maxes out at 20mph, but you can tell when riding this little monster that it would happily take you faster with a little coaxing.
The tires on the Pro E-Fat mean that you could ride it through pretty much any kind of terrain. The disc brakes mean that you won’t have to worry about slamming into walls, pedestrians parked or moving cars or anything else that dares to impede your progress. It stops on a dime.
The ride is also fairly smooth because of the fat tires, however those tires are the closest thing to a suspension this bike has, so don’t expect silky smoothness over every bump. The Pro E-Fat is a much more fun electric bike than you would expect at first glance.
It is also a practical bike. I’ve seen many in the little beach community near me with various cargo boxes and panniers fitted, so their utility factor is also very high. If you are new to electric bikes, I might take a pass on this one, because it can be a little intense but consider it for your next step in the e-bike domain.
EcoMotion is going to get a second spot on this list for their step thru framed City bike. For $1599, this is a great bike for people that are looking for a more relaxing traditional bike riding experience. Think of a nice afternoon cruising the boardwalk or a quiet backcountry road.
This electric bike would be the perfect vehicle to haul you to a picnic. The front mounted 350-watt hub motor gives plenty of power without seeming overly aggressive. You may even find yourself wanting to pedal more with this bike, but it is a joy to do so, not a chore.
I could easily see older riders and people with limited mobility enjoying the EcoMotion City simply because of the accessibility that the step through frame provides and the smooth ride courtesy of the sprung front forks and balloon cruiser tires and cruiser seat. It really makes for an enjoyable, old school ride with a modern twist.
GenZe is kind of the odd man out here. If you have ever heard of GenZe, it is probably because of their full size electric kinda funky looking “pick-up” scooter. It turns out that GenZe makes electric bikes too!
What’s up with that name? The name, GenZe is an abbreviation for Generation Zero Emissions. Since we on this site like to ride in the open air, we think that having clean air is important and are happy to deal with a company that believes that too.
GenZe doesn’t waste a lot of thought on cutesy names for their products. Their e-bike is simply called the e-bike and is available in three different sizes 16,18 and 20 inch frames.
The frame is a clean and sturdy, no frills design. It looks as though it were designed solely by an engineer that only had a straight edge ruler, but what it misses in style points it makes up for in straight forward clever simplicity. No doubt these traits can be traced back to the heavy industrial background of their parent company, Indian truck manufacturing giant, Mahindra. Despite Indian Origins, this electric bike is built in the Michigan.
This bike is not the most elegant, but I would say it is the best equipped to do general tasks. Equipped with your choice of either a 250 or 350 watt brushless rear hub motor, this bike also offers both throttle AND pedal assist. A lot of other options you’ll find out there are either/or, not both.
This bike is a workhorse and if the build quality on the one I tried is any indication it won’t leave you stranded anytime soon. The components were all high quality Shimano (7-Speed Derailleur) and the bike was a little lighter than the others on this list coming in at a mere 46lbs. It would also be a great contender for a first e-bike at a very reasonable $1599.
I’ve noticed that $1599 seems to be the price for a lot of electric bikes with Chinese Origins. It isn’t any different with the offerings from Rad Bikes, however for them, they sell factory direct to consumers.
I know that right now you are asking why a bike that is the same as many others on this list is a better deal. I’ll tell you. In this case, you may end up getting a better version of the same bike that you would get from elsewhere. There may be more bells and whistles. In this case, I am talking about the Rad Wagon extended frame cargo e-bike.
This bike features a rear mounted 750-watt hub motor powered by a Panasonic Lithium Battery. That combo will assure that your bike is never lacking in capacity to pull you and your stuff up any hill with ease (350 lbs. max). This is one of the few bikes on this list that features brake regen, so if you find yourself on a long downhill, you can potentially expand your range by utilizing this feature.
On cargo bikes, top speed is never really a concern, but this one is also limited to 20 mph with a range of about 20-40 miles on battery only mode. The integrated headlight will come in handy if you happen to find yourself out after dark.
Remember those extras I was talking about? One of my favorites is on this cargo hauler, a dual leg spring-loaded kickstand. It makes balancing your load that much easier. The 180mm mechanical brakes are also strong enough to stop the heavier loads that one would expect to see on this kind of bicycle.
There’s No School Like the Old School
Unlike the e-bike scenes in Asia and Europe, the American scene has very deep DIY and custom shop roots in North America. Which is great, if you like to tinker or don’t mind being an early adopter of certain technologies.
But what if you are just a regular person with a wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket and you don’t want to be bothered with trying to work out the intricacies of a 72-volt system? Don’t worry, the old tried and true manufacturers of the past are still here to fill your needs.
First up is Schwinn
I lied. Currently there are no offerings from the company whose name is almost synonymous with bikes. According to their website they will have an entirely new line of electric bikes available this fall, so be sure to check back on their site, it should be exciting!
Unlike Schwinn, the famous UK bicycle manufacturer Raleigh is all in on electric transportation. So much so that they’ve set up a completely separate site just for e-bikes.
The Raleigh Tokul IE Diamond Frame should have a different name to better describe its aggressive looks and specs. Something like Trail Beast or the Offroad Rager! (Call me Raleigh, I’ve got a million ideas!)
This aluminum alloy hard-tail construction promises a memorable ride, but the fun is to be found in the 350watt Bosch CX mid-drive electric assist motor system. For $2999 it will make ascending any trail a breeze.
Pedego is currently the largest and most well-known e-bike brand in the United States. This Irvine based company has a version of most of the bikes mentioned so far on this list, albeit at a higher price point. Like many of the other bikes, they are made in China, however, Pedego has an eye for quality and it shows. The one e-bike that stands out for me in this collection is the Adult Electric Tricycle.
One of the best things that e-biking offers is accessibility. Even with the ubiquitous power assist, sometimes a third wheel is still the solution. This electric trike has a 250-watt motor paired with three speeds and an 11 mph top speed.
You won’t go anywhere fast, but you will go comfortably because this is the only bike on the list that also has a back rest. The size and stability of this bike opens a world of possibilities for those that would choose to ride it.
If you are a serious rider, but also feel the need to challenge the occasional trail or dirt path Trek has the bike for you with the Supercommuter + 8S ($4999.99).
This bike in Viper red is stunning in every way. The three speed modes and 11 speeds will have you feel like you are flying. Paired with the Bosch Performance Speed 350 watt motor, you will find yourself hitting the 28mph top speed before you know it.
The only complaint I have for this piece of bicycle dream-made-real is that, unless you are a person that rides standing on the pedals almost exclusively, the lack of suspension makes the ride on the standard bike seat a little rough for any commute over a couple of miles. As with many of the other, lower priced electric bikes, the only suspension to speak of is in the fat tires. Otherwise this bike is poetry in motion.
This isn’t actually a brand. What it is though is the source of a lot of Chinese made electric bikes with quality that ranges from spectacular to devastatingly dangerous. People go for bikes from Alibaba because of the great variety and low cost. At best what you can expect to receive with your order is a great bike that works as advertised. At worst you may get a bike that may or may not work, that will certainly arrive unassembled and may or may not actually include quality batteries or assembly instructions in English if there are any at all.
If you know what you are doing, and enjoy the process, go for it. If you want some level of customer service or just someone to go to with questions don’t buy from this site. What you should do though no matter which bike you decide on is to find your local bike shop and spend a little time getting to know them and letting them help you get to know your new ride.
Ridiculous and Lust-worthy
Taking the top spot for the most ridiculous and possibly one of the most beautiful bikes that I’ve ever seen is the Ono Archot e6.0 ($Price$: You don’t want to know).
Were the four horsemen of the apocalypse suddenly to have a change in heart about their mounts, this is what they would choose. Just look at it!
It looks like it would be powered by the souls of Lemmy Kilmister, orphans and damned souls of the innocent, rather than just plain old electricity!
This 6000 W 72 volt creation is built in Belgrade, Serbia and will top out at 80km/h, (that’s 49.7 mph for us dirty colonials!). Built from top notch components, this e-bike is guaranteed to leave pretty much anyone who dares ride it breathless, if it doesn’t try to kill them first. I need this in my life, or even afterlife.