Electric bikes, or ebikes as they’re commonly known, are a really popular option to provide a bit of extra support on your ride. An electric bike will help keep your speed up on the flat and give you the extra push you need to get up any hills on your way.
As more and more people take to ebikes, prices are coming down and manufacturers are adding new models to their ranges, with updated features such as lighter motors and improved battery ranges.
We’re constantly adding to our collection of electric bike reviews here at BikeRadar, so if you’ve got a type of ebike or a specific ebike model in mind, you’ll probably find a review here.
But if you’re still not certain what you’re looking for in your new ebike, read on for our full run-down of electric bike types, to find the right one for you.
We’ll go through the different types of ebike, what they’re good for, and point you to our buyer’s guides and top reviews for each category.
The range of ebike options mirrors the range of non-motorised bikes available, so it’s also worth reading our best bike buyer’s guide, for more advice on how to choose the right bike for your needs.
Electric bike basics
First, let’s start with the basics, what is an electric bike? An electric bike is a pedal cycle with an electric motor and battery that provide assistance as you pedal.
To qualify as an electric bike, you have to pedal for the motor to kick in. If there’s a bar-mounted “throttle” or twist grip to control the power, the bike will legally be considered a moped. That means it won’t qualify for tax- and registration-free ownership, at least in the UK and EU.
Likewise, according to electric bike laws, motorised support is only allowed up to 15mph/25kph in the UK, EU and Australia, above which the motor will cut out and any additional speed will have to be the result of your own effort.
But you’re in luck if you’re reading this and riding in the US, where your motor can keep on pushing up to 20mph.
Take a look at our ebike FAQs for the answers to common electric bike questions.
The best electric bikes in 2022 for all riders
Best electric road bikes
If you enjoy riding on roads, but want a bit of help to keep your speed up or to get you up hills, there are a number of electric road bikes out there from well-known brands.
Many motors and batteries can be unobtrusive, too, so it’s less than obvious that you’re riding an ebike. Fazua, Mahle ebikemotion and Bosch are motor systems to look out for.
You may not be adding a lot of extra weight either because the lightest road ebikes are touching 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.
It will conserve battery, though, and with careful use you can get significantly more mileage out of an ebike system than the typical 75km quoted range, so more ambitious, longer excursions will be within reach.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in riding a wider range of terrain, there are an increasing number of electric gravel bike options out there. With wider gravel bike tyres and more grip, they’ll help you tackle the rough stuff.
Pros: Fast for road riding and lightweight (for an electric bike)
Cons: Extra weight for no gain if you’re riding over 15mph
Scott Addict eRide Premium
- £8,349 / $9,299 as tested, now £8,999
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 has been renamed the Scott Addict eRide Ultimate.
Bianchi Aria E-Road
- £4,500 / $6,500 as tested
The Bianchi Aria E-Road is barely distinguishable from its purely pedal-powered sibling, the Bianchi Aria. The rear-hub motor and the battery’s position in the down tube preserve road-bike style without detriment to handling or ride quality.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Neo 2
- £5,000 / $6,500 as tested, now £7,000 (Neo 2 no longer available in United States)
The Cannondale SuperSix EVO Neo 2 is yet another electric road bike modelled on an acclaimed unassisted bike, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO.
Therefore, the Mahle ebikemotion motor-equipped Neo 2 blends a racer’s looks and crispness with fantastic range.
- Check out our full list of the best electric road bikes
Best electric mountain bikes
For some mountain bikers, the allure of that extra push up hills is hard to beat.
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 e-MTB performance mean handling is approaching that of the best mountain bikes without a motor for 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.
Pros: Getting to the top is a lot easier
Cons: Extra weight can affect handling
Marin Alpine Trail E2
- £5,695 / €6,199 / $5,999 as tested
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
The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo excels on the trails thanks to brilliant frame, motor and battery range. The powerful Brose motor dispenses assistance smoothly. There’s 150mm of suspension travel and tunable geometry.
Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV
- £10,499 / €11,699 / $11,499 as tested
The Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV is a rapid electric mountain bike with 170mm travel. The Shimano EP8 motor and carbon frame help it soar up climbs. The Bullit proves competent on most downhills, save the most technical.
- Check out our list of the best electric mountain bikes
Best electric hybrid bikes
Electric hybrid bikes will have flat bars and stable handling. They’re often the least expensive ebikes and provide a good entry point if you want to go electric.
With their upright position, 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.
But they’re often at the heavier end of the ebike spectrum because motor systems tend to be less sophisticated and the bikes are built strongly for robustness. So, if you need to carry them up stairs or over obstacles, it might be an effort – and they can be awkward to store.
As well as general-use hybrid ebikes, there are specialist models designed for carrying cargo or for shopping.
Pros: Easy riding position and versatility
Cons: Often heavy and cumbersome for storage
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5
- £2,499 as tested
The Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 is powerful, and heavy with it, yet handles and rides commendably. Range matches Canyon’s claimed 100km. Where the Pathlite:ON 5 truly stands out is off tarmac, where it rivals electric mountain bikes.
Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0
- £2,600 / €2,999 / $3,500 as tested
The striking Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 is ready for commuting with the range to take you well out of town. The motor’s 35Nm torque output isn’t huge but the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 is relatively svelte and power assistance doesn’t surge.
- Check out our list of the best electric hybrid bikes
Best electric folding bikes
If you want to commute or are just pressed for space to store your ride, a compact electric folding bike could be the answer. The motor means that longer bike commutes are easier and more comfortable than with a non-assisted folding bike.
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 that 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 mean that carrying a folding ebike on and off public transport and up and down stairs will be harder, and the available range can be quite limited in some models.
Pros: Ideal for a longer commute, can be taken on public transport
Cons: Can be heavy to carry on and off public transport and may have limited range
- £3,999 as tested
While pricey, the GoCycle G4 is a folder, commuter and electric bike at once. 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. Brakes are good and the motor supplies enough boost on inclines.
- Check out our list of the best electric folding bikes
What to look for when buying an electric bike
Electric bikes have their motors mounted 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 normal 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.
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 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
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 the 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.