The 8 Best E-Bikes of 2021

Put the pedal to the metal with this sustainable form of commuting.

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The Rundown
You can customize the RadRunner to fit your needs with up to 330 accessory combinations.
It works well for those looking to get around town on a simple, well-made e-bike at a cheap price point.
The Model X electrifies classic cruiser stylings for riders from 5 foot 2 inches to 6 foot 10 inches tall.
The City e-bike was designed for city living — and storing — from the minds of cycling stalwarts Cannondale and Schwinn.
The Turbo Levo Comp appeals to anyone who likes to tackle challenging terrain but wants a boost while doing so.
Fast and sturdy might be the best way to describe the GSD S00 LX, which has a range of custom options.
Are you looking at an e-bike for the long haul? Then the Scrambler might be your new favorite road trip buddy.
Meet the Bunch Bikes Original Cargo Bike! It’s a roomy addition to any fleet.

The e-bike market share was valued at $23.89 billion in 2020. That’s up from $14.4 billion in 2019. Brisk sales of e-bikes are expected to continue over the next few years. Concerns about reducing carbon emissions are one reason some people have switched gears from driving their cars to riding an e-bike because they are better for the climate than fossil-fuel-powered engines.

E-bikes also make it easier for people to ride bikes, which might be why they are becoming a popular choice among baby boomers. You can even ride them during the winter months. Their pedal-assist capabilities also make climbing hills and going long distances less of a struggle. Need to carry a load? No problem. There are cargo e-bikes designed with built-in racks, baskets, or other features that transport heavy loads a breeze.

But which e-bike is right for you? The options include critical features like lightweight batteries, quality disc brake systems, and durable frames. Many are also customizable, so you can design an e-bike that meets your needs.

Here are the best e-bikes for a range of riders:

Best Overall: RadRunner 1 Electric Utility Bike

RadRunner 1 Electric Utility Bike

Average Miles Per Charge: 45+ | Bike Weight: 65 pounds | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 48 Volts 

This electric bike is ranked best overall because of its practical design and affordability. The RadRunner is both comfortable to ride and helpful in hauling just about anything, with an integrated rear rack. The bike’s 750-watt motor helps you move cargo and tackle any hill in your path, and the bike can travel over 45 miles per charge.

The Seattle-based company ships its bikes directly to consumers. The company also developed a custom hub-motor drivetrain with multiple vendors. You can customize the RadRunner to fit your needs with up to 330 accessory combinations.

What Testers Say

"Despite the bike's weight, it doesn't feel heavy when riding. It turns quickly and easily, brakes effectively, and feels generally nimble." ~ Katherine Martinko, Treehugger Senior Writer

Best Budget: Aventon Pace 350 Step-Through Ebike

Aventon Pace 350 Step-Through Ebike

Average Miles Per Charge: 25 to 40 | Bike Weight: 46 pounds | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 36 Volts 

Budget-friendly e-bikes often skimp on quality to keep prices low. But the Aventon Pace includes tires by Kenda, disc brakes by Tektro, and a Shimano drivetrain. It reaches up to 20 miles per hour, and five levels of e-assist provide plenty of pedaling options. The bike is available in two sizes, so you can pick based on your height.

It’s a bare-bones offering — sans integrated lights and fenders. Yet, it will work fine for those looking to get around town on a simple, well-made e-bike at a cheap price point.

Will e-bikes cheat you out of your workout?

A study recently found that e-bike riders get as much exercise as those who ride non-electrified bicycles, which may be a blow to those who consider them “cheating.”

Best Cruiser: Electric Bike Co. Model X

Electric Bike Co. Model X

Average Miles Per Charge: Up to 160 | Bike Weight: 53 pounds | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 48 Volts

The Model X electrifies classic cruiser stylings for riders from 5 foot 2 inches to 6 foot 10 inches tall. Plus, it's completely customizable and arrives fully built to your specs for color, handlebar grips, front basket, rear rack, and more.

It comes with a thumb throttle, rear hub motor, and anti-theft alarm. The maximum speed is 25 miles per hour. Springing for a battery upgrade will allow you to cover up to 160 miles on a charge. There's also an optional GPS tracker. The disc brake system with sensor control ensures you can stop the aluminum-stainless steel safely.

Best for Urban Commuting: Charge City Electric Bike

Charge City Electric Bike

Average Miles Per Charge: 50 | Bike Weight: 45 pounds | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 418 Wh 

The City e-bike was designed for city living — and storing — from the minds of cycling stalwarts Cannondale and Schwinn.

The tough Goodyear tires, five levels of pedal assist, and push-button throttle take the sweat out of traveling to work or running errands. When you’re done, the lightweight frame and foldable handlebars make it easy to put away.

Best for Mountain Trails: Specialized Turbo Levo Comp

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp

Average Miles Per Charge: 30 to 40 | Bike Weight: 46 pounds | Motor Location: Mid-drive | Battery: 700 Wh

The best of the higher-end electric mountain bikes, the Turbo Levo Comp FSR, will appeal to anyone who likes to tackle challenging terrain but wants a boost while doing so. With a battery that's integrated into the frame, it’s got the suspension and geometry you’d expect from a non-electric mountain bike, so you may not know that you’re on an e-bike except when you get a boost going up hills.

The 250-watt motor is aided by an app that lets riders choose levels of assistance while riding. You can either adjust the battery life to last a ride or map a route based on its range before starting. It's available in four different size options.

Best Cargo: Tern GSD S00 Electric Bike

Tern GSD S00 Electric Bike

Average Miles Per Charge: 31 - 63 | Bike Weight: 77 pounds | Motor Location: Mid-drive | Battery: 500 Wh 

Fast and sturdy might be the best way to describe the GSD S00 LX. It can carry up to 440 pounds. The heavy-duty frame is integrated with a rear rack, disc brakes, and a dual-battery system (500 or 1000-Watts). The battery is removable, and the bike is made with recycled materials.

It is on the pricier side, but you can also trick out your ride with cushier seating, all-weather covering, and sidekick bars for passengers to hold on to. That’s right. This e-bike can easily be a bicycle built for two adults. That means you can experience date night like never before.

Best for Long Distances: Juiced Bikes Scrambler

Juiced Bikes Scrambler

Average Miles Per Charge: 45+ | Bike Weight: 71.5 pounds for the Camp, 78 pounds for the City | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 52 Volts

Are you looking at an e-bike for the long haul? Then the Scrambler might be your new favorite road trip buddy. It is available in two models — the Camp and the City. The Camp is equipped with knobby tires so you can roll off-road over rugged terrain. The City model has street tires for galivanting through urban sprawl.

Both are equipped with a 750-Watt motor, so you have plenty of juice to cruise up to 28 mph. It also covers up to 45 miles on a single charge. (Bump up the HyperScrambler2 and cover up to 100+ miles).

Best Splurge: Bunch The Original Electric Cargo Bike

Bunch The Original Electric Cargo Bike

Average Miles Per Charge: 25 to 35 | Bike Weight: 152 | Motor Location: Rear hub | Battery: 48 Volts

Are you itching to leave the car behind but need to take the kids to school, grab groceries, or gather supplies for a home improvement project? Meet the Bunch Bikes Original Cargo Bike! It’s a roomy addition to any fleet. Dog lovers can even upgrade to the K9 and never leave their best friend behind again.

It comes with a 48-volt battery with Samsung technology that will carry you up to 35 miles per charge. The 500-watt motor makes it easy to haul big loads, however, the bike itself is heavier than many of the other e-bikes on this list. The Tektro front and rear hydraulic disc brakes will ensure you can stop, and it has built-in tail lights for safety.

Final Verdict

Our top pick of E-bike is a staff favorite: The RoadRunner 1 Electric Utility Bike (view at Rad Power Bikes). But if you want a tricked-out cargo bike that can carry big loads, consider The Original Bunch (view on BunchBike.com). 

What to Look for in a E-Bike

The electric bike market is amping up, which means there are many options to choose from. Here are some things to consider to help you narrow down your choices.

Throttle or Pedal-Assist

These are the two categories that electric bikes tend to fall into. Pedal-assist bikes have motors that kick in when you’re actively pedaling, while the models with throttles move you along even when you’re not pedaling. Pedal-assist e-bikes tend to have longer battery life (and miles) per charge.

Some electric bikes offer both functions, and many let you set the level of pedal assistance if you want to get more of a workout or want to conserve your bike's battery. 

Motor Type

Some e-bikes have rear hub motors. Others have mid-drive motors located in the center pedal crankshaft. Mid-drive motors tend to cost more because they offer smoother shifting and other efficiencies.

Battery

Both motor types are consequential, so looking at a battery’s range on a single charge may be a more helpful measurement. How far is your commute? How far is the ride to your child’s school or the local farmer’s market?

However, keep in mind that mileage may vary based on wind, terrain, the weight of the load, the amount of e-assist you use, and your speed during the ride.

Most bike batteries can last about 40 miles before they need to be recharged. So, if you’re going long distances, an e-bike with a removable battery might fit your needs better than one with an integrated battery. That way, you can carry a recharged battery with you on your journey, so you can swap it out when you’ve drained the other one.

Check Local E-bike Ordinances

E-bikes come in three classes:

Class 1 E-bikes that assist you while you pedal and top out about 20 mph.

Class 2 E-bikes have a throttle that assists you regardless of whether you pedal and have a top speed of 20 mph.

Class 3 E-bikes assist you while you pedal and top out about 28 mph.

Some cities and towns have banned e-bikes from city bicycle paths, so if that’s where you want to ride, you’ll want to make sure your town allows your new e-bike there.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Author Heidi Wachter has been writing about travel and adventure for over a decade. When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her riding one of her six bicycles — even in the winter.

View Article Sources
  1. Castro, Alberto, et al. "Physical Activity of Electric Bicycle Users Compared to Conventional Bicycle Users and Non-Cyclists: Insights Based on Health and Transport Data From an Online Survey in Seven European Cities." Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, vol. 1, 2019, pp. 100017. doi:10.1016/j.trip.2019.100017