An electric bike – or an ebike as they’re commonly known – is a bicycle with an electric motor and battery that provides assistance as you pedal.
There are many benefits to riding an electric bike. Electric bikes make riding up hills easier and will allow most riders to travel at a higher speed over longer distances without arriving at their destination covered in sweat.
Despite common misconceptions, you can still ride an electric bike for fitness. Electric bike laws limit the power of an ebike’s motor, so you still need to pedal – there’s no twist-and-go throttle here.
There is an electric bike for every type of riding. The best electric mountain bikes will help you get to the top of the next trail so you can enjoy more descending. Electric folding bikes and electric hybrid bikes are great choices for cycling to work, and the best electric road bikes and electric gravel bikes will enable you to take on longer adventures.
Making sense of how an electric bike works and how to choose the right one for you is a daunting task. Luckily for you, BikeRadar’s team of expert testers have put in hundreds of hours riding more than 175 electric bikes across all categories.
Our testing is 100 per cent editorially independent, so you can always trust our recommendations.
In this in-depth buyer’s guide to choosing the best electric bike for any rider, we’ll talk you through the things you need to consider for each category of ebike. We also highlight the best bikes we have reviewed, as selected by BikeRadar’s expert team of tech editors, for each type of ebike, with links to our detailed buyer’s guide for each category.
We also have a general buyer’s guide to electric bike tech at the bottom of this article that answers common questions. For even more information, take a look at our ebike FAQs.
There’s a lot to cover here, so use the links below to skip to the section you need, or read on for every detail.
Best electric hybrid bikes
Like a non-assisted hybrid bike, electric hybrid bikes feature an upright riding position, flat bars and stable handling. They’re often the least expensive entry point into ebikes.
With lots of mounting points for accessories such as pannier bags and mudguards, electric hybrids are great if you’re planning to commute to work by bike, ride around town or want to go for leisurely rides on bike trails or through parks.
Electric hybrid bikes can be quite heavy because they tend to use less sophisticated motor systems and the bikes are built strongly for robustness. This is worth bearing in mind if you need to carry them up stairs.
Below is a selection of four of the very best electric hybrid bikes as tested by our senior road technical editor, Warren Rossiter. For more recommendations, check out our full roundup of the best electric hybrid bikes.
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5
- £2,499 / €2,699, as tested
- Pros: Great handling and confident off-road
- Cons: Heavy versus its rivals
The Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 is a powerful electric hybrid bike that handles and rides commendably. Our testing found the Canyon’s 100km claimed range to be true, but there’s no denying the bike is heavy at 23.5kg.
Where the Pathlite:ON 5 truly stands out is off the tarmac, where it rivals electric mountain bikes with confidence-inspiring chunky tyres and a shock-absorbing suspension fork..
Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0
- £3,900 / $4,000 / €4,100 / AU$6,900 as tested
- Pros: Impressive range and plenty of power from the motor
- Cons: Not the most competitive build for the price point
The striking Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 is ready for commuting with the range to take you well out of town, with our tester eking out an impressive 113km range.
The motor’s 70Nm torque output will be enough for serious load hauling and the spec leaves little to be desired, though the price point is a bit higher than some of its competitors.
Tern Quick Haul P9
- £3,100 / $3,299 / AU$4995 as tested
- Pros: Great fun to ride and versatile
- Cons: Official add-ons are fairly pricey
The Tern Quick Haul P9 looks like a cargo bike at first glance, but its compact design means it isn’t much longer than a typical electric hybrid.
With the option to fit a huge array of useful add-on accessories, our tester described the Quick Haul P9 as a “genuinely viable car replacement”.
- £1,998 / $2,298 / €2,198 as tested
- Pros: Neat tech integration and excellent ride quality
- Cons: Pedals are a bit slippery in the wet
The VanMoof is an affordable well-designed electric urban bike that is great for commuting. Equipped with mudguards and integrated lights, this is a bike you can ride in all conditions straight out of the box.
Best electric mountain bikes
An electric mountain bike will get you to the top quicker, particularly on technical, steeper climbs, and with more energy to enjoy the descents. Plus, getting up the ups more easily will give you extra range to explore further.
Recent improvements in eMTB performance mean handling is approaching that of the best mountain bikes without a motor, providing heaps of flat-out riding fun.
But, nevertheless, the extra weight can make handling more tricky on particularly technical sections, so it’s a good idea to ease off a bit until you’ve got the feel of the bike
Nukeproof Megawatt 297 Factory
- £7,000 / €8,200 as tested
- Pros: A comfortable and efficient climber that offers a good balance of motor power and range
- Cons: Low bottom bracket height results in regular pedal strikes
The Nukeproof Megawatt 297 is an exceptionally good bike that won our inaugural eMTB Bike of the Year title for 2022. The top-drawer spec leaves little to be desired and the geometry is absolutely sorted, offering a fun and stable ride paired with super-smooth rear suspension.
The E Sommet VRX from sister brand, Vitus, offers a very similar ride quality, and is well worth considering if you don’t mind missing out on shop-bought aftersales service.
Marin Alpine Trail E2
- £5,695 / €6,199 / $5,999 as tested
- Pros: A capable, fun and comfortable bike with a great spec
- Cons: The cockpit is a bit cluttered and rowdier riders will benefit from a rear tyre upgrade
The Marin Alpine Trail E2 is a classy, comfortable full-suspension electric mountain bike boosted by the Shimano EP8 motor. Additional Shimano parts, such as the drivetrain, round off a quality build for the money. The alloy frame has 150mm of travel.
Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo
- £13,000 / $15,000 / €13,999 / AU$24,200 as tested
- Pros: Amazing handling and virtually un-upgradable spec
- Cons: Eyewatering price tag and lightweight trail tyres aren’t appropriate for the bike
The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo excels on the trails thanks to its brilliant frame, motor and battery range. The powerful Brose motor dispenses assistance smoothly. There’s 150mm of suspension travel and tunable geometry.
The bike is so good that senior technical editor, Alex Evans, described it as “the best bike I’ve ridden to date, full stop”. In the months since then, the only bike that has come close to knocking the S-Works Turbo Levo off the top spot is the Whyte E-160 RSX. Praise indeed!
Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 AXS
- £14,350 / $14,000 as tested
- Pros: Excellent geometry and natural feel to the motor
- Cons: Jaw-dropping price, thin tyres and light shock tune
The Trek Fuel EXe offers a slightly different take to the other eMTBs featured here. The lightweight TQ motor offers near-silent operation and subtle assistance, giving a more natural overall ride feel. Motor aside, the spec of the bike is about as good as it gets and the geometry is absolutely sorted too.
Best electric road bikes
If you enjoy road cycling, but want a bit of help to keep your speed up or to get you up hills, an electric road bike could be the right choice for you.
Most e-road bikes use lightweight motor systems that provide less power than the motors used on electric hybrid or mountain bikes. This means they’re typically a bit lighter too, with the very lightest models tipping the scales at around 11kg.
However, with many road riders achieving speeds on the flat of 15mph or above, you may feel that you’re carrying dead weight around with the motor cutting out at that top-assisted speed.
These are three of the very best electric road bikes that senior road technical editor Warren Rossiter has tested to date.
Scott Addict eRide Premium
- £8,349 / $9,299 as tested
- Pros: Great looks, top-spec build and lovely handling
- Cons: Non-removable battery
The Scott Addict eRide Premium has similar geometry to the Scott Addict RC Disc and the same carbon frame. The result is a possible sub-11kg build powered by the consistent ebikemotion rear-hub motor.
Neatly concealed in the down tube, the battery managed 100km and 2,000m elevation in testing. The 2022 version of the bike has been renamed as the Scott Addict eRide Ultimate.
Trek Domane+ LT 7
- £7,800 / $9,200 / €7,999 as tested
- Pros: Very comfortable and the Fazua motor provides unobtrusive assistance
- Cons: High price and no down-tube cover for use without the motor
The Trek Domane+ LT 7 is lightweight at just 13.8kg. The removable Fazua battery and motor system means you can ride the bike in an unassisted guise that doesn’t feel a million miles apart from the non-motorised Domane.
Range is also impressive, with our tester clocking up over 100km with 2,000m+ of climbing.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Neo 2
- £5,000 / $6,500 as tested
- Pros: Great handling and impressive range
- Cons: The tyres would benefit from an upgrade
The Cannondale SuperSix EVO Neo 2 is yet another electric road bike modelled on an acclaimed unassisted bike, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO. The Mahle ebikemotion motor-equipped Neo 2 blends a racer’s looks and crispness with fantastic range.
Best electric gravel bikes
Electric gravel bikes mix the racy ride position and range of an electric road bike with a tamed-down version of the off-road capability of an eMTB – the same winning combination that makes the best gravel bikes so popular.
Electric gravel bikes tend to feature more powerful motors than e-road bikes, with some even including the same motors seen on electric mountain bikes. They also tend to feature lots of useful mounts for accessories and tons of tyre clearance for chunky gravel tyres, making them a very versatile option.
This is a selection of the very best electric gravel bikes, once again ridden, reviewed and rated by our senior technical editor, Warren Rossiter.
GT Grade Amp
- £2,900 / €3,200 as tested
- Pros: Great build, motor system and responsive ride quality
- Cons: Quite a firm ride
The GT Grade Amp features an aluminium frameset and is powered by the Mahle ebikemotion rear-hub motor system. The geometry is the same as the non-powered GT Grade Carbon, which also scored well on test.
The frame is a little too stiff on rough terrain, but the 42mm WTB Resolute gravel tyres help soak up any big bumps.
Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon 1 Lefty
- £8,000 / $9,500 / €8,999 as tested
- Pros: Hugely competent off-road and a heap of fun
- Cons: A dropper post would make sense for a bike of this ilk (and price)
Offering 30mm of suspension front and rear, the Topstone Neo is a tremendously comfortable and capable gravel bike that is loads of fun to ride on singletrack trails.
The top-tier SRAM eTap AXS mullet gearing gives ample range for steep climbs and the Bosch motor has loads of power on tap.
If you’re after a slightly less punchy electric gravel bike, the Mahle ebikemotion-powered Topstone Neo SL could be worth a look.
Cairn BRAVe 1.0
- £2,789 / $3,632 / €3,334 as tested
- Pros: Great off-road handling that verges on eMTB-like capability
- Cons: Shifting between power modes is a bit clunky
The Cairn BRAVe 1.0 is a long, slack and low electric gravel bike that, at a passing glance, looks a whole lot like an eMTB.
The bike is powered by a Shimano Steps E7000 and features massive (for a gravel bike) 2.35in-wide tyres. Our tester described it as a genre-defying bike that is best-suited to rugged off-road riding.
Best electric folding bikes
If you want to cycle to work or are just pressed for space to store your ride, a compact electric folding bike could be the answer.
Folding ebikes often have the battery hidden in their frames, or they may come with a removable battery to make carrying them on and off public transport a bit easier.
A removable battery also means you can take it somewhere where it’s easier to charge (at your desk, for example, if you use the bike to ride to work).
But the extra weight of the motor and battery means carrying a folding ebike on and off public transport, and up and down stairs will be harder. The available range can be quite limited in some models too.
For more product recommendations, check out our roundup of the best folding electric bikes.
- £3,999 as tested
While pricey, the GoCycle G4 is a folder, commuter and electric bike in one. The ride and handling are far more assured than most folding bikes on- and off-road, thanks to the meaty tyres.
- £1,300 as tested
The singlespeed MiRider One is an affordable, practical electric folding bike with a 50km range. The bike’s brakes are good and the motor supplies enough boost on inclines.
What to look for when buying an electric bike
Electric bike motor positions explained
Electric bikes motors are located in one of three places: in the middle of the bike, in the rear hub or in the front hub.
Many systems will have mid-mounted motors that sit at the bottom bracket and power the ebike through the chain. It’s a good position for the motor because it puts the extra mass low down and centrally in the frame where it won’t affect the bike’s stability and handling.
The rear-wheel hub is also a popular place to put the motor. Again, it’s low down and since a lot of the rider’s weight is on the back wheel, handling and road grip are not too adversely affected by the extra weight and power.
Finally, the motor may be in the front hub. It’s a slightly trickier position because the motor unit can affect steering and generally there’s not as much weight on the front wheel, so grip may be impacted. It’s often used for folding ebikes and sometimes for hybrids.
As well as ready-built ebikes, you can buy kits to convert a non-assisted bike to an ebike. There are kits that use a motor in each of these positions. We’ve got a round-up of the most popular ebike conversion kits.
Electric bike batteries explained
An electric bike will be powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Like the batteries in other electric vehicles, they’re used for their low weight and performance, along with rapid recharging – typically charging to full capacity in a few hours.
In general, the more expensive the ebike, the larger the battery capacity, so the mileage you can get between charges increases.
There’s a range of battery shapes, sizes and positions. Bolted to the top of the down tube is a popular option, but some ebikes will have their batteries hidden within the down tube or sometimes the seat tube, making for a more elegant (and invariably more expensive) solution.
Bottle-cage batteries are another way to disguise the battery and are often used for a back-up battery to increase range.
The batteries themselves can normally be charged from a standard wall plug, either in situ on the bike via a port or with the battery itself removed from the bike. It’s very common to see removable battery packs that are secured with a key.
Electric bike range explained
How far you can ride before your battery gives up is unlikely to be an issue for most ebike riders – it’s more a question of how often you can ride before you need to recharge it.
Range is very dependent on your riding style, and where and how you ride, as well as being dependent on the battery capacity. Some ebikes will have multiple batteries that might eke out 100 miles or more from a charge, whereas others, particularly folding ebikes designed for easier carrying and folding and for shorter city rides, may have a range of 20 miles or less.
There will be multiple assistance levels that you can tailor to your needs and select between as you ride. Select an eco or low assist mode and you will need to put in more effort, but your battery will last longer.
On the other hand, a higher assist setting is useful to get you up hills and to accelerate more easily in stop-start conditions, but will drain your battery significantly faster.
You can usually switch the motor off entirely to conserve battery, and with most systems there won’t be any additional drag, although you still have the extra weight of the motor and battery.
To control the motor’s output, an ebike will have a range of sensors. First, there’ll be a speed sensor, so that assistance cuts out at the legal maximum speed.
To match the assistance level to your pedalling input and make sure that an ebike won’t run away with you, there’ll be cadence and torque sensors too.
More sophisticated systems may add more sensors; to control its output in Smart Assist mode, the Giant Trance E + 1 electric mountain bike uses five sensors in all.
There’ll be some sort of display of battery and assistance level, along with buttons to select the assistance mode. The display is often a bar-mounted LED unit that might also give you speed, distance and range info.
More minimalist displays are often used on racier road ebikes though, with the front of the top tube being a popular position.
Many ebikes will also come with a companion smartphone app. Functionality varies, but more sophisticated apps will give you battery status info, enable you to tailor assistance levels and may include some GPS-based route planning and navigation, as well as ride sharing.
Electric bike jargon buster
How much additional assistance your motor gives you as you ride. Most ebikes will have multiple levels to switch between as you ride, depending on the terrain (and your energy levels). Some will be able to automatically switch support level up and down, depending on where you’re riding or to conserve your battery levels. More power means less range.
Short for Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle, this is the official legal term often used by the UK government to describe ebikes.
Output for an ebike motor is typically measured in watts. That’s a measure of the maximum power it can produce.
Ebike battery capacity is measured in watt hours – or, in other words, how many watts a battery can put out and for how long. So if a 250-watt motor was fed by a 250Wh battery and run at full power, the battery would drain in an hour. In practice, your motor doesn’t run at full power much of the time, so your battery will last longer than this.
For eMTBs, in particular, torque is also an important figure. It measures how much turning force a motor will put in, something that helps add to your own effort especially when climbing hills.
Pedelec (pedal electric cycle)
Another synonym for an electric bike.
If you’re going to have to push your ebike, a walk mode will use the motor to move the bike along with you. Since ebikes tend to be heavy, it’s useful if you need to push your machine any distance.