Best electric bikes 2018: road, mountain, commuting and cheap e-bikes

We've picked the best e-bikes for you and your needs

We’ve compiled a list of the best e-bikes that you can buy right now. Whether you’re looking for an electric mountain bike, electric road bike or an electric bike to ride to work, you’ll be able to find the best one to suit your needs.

What kind of e-bikes are there?

You can now buy a motorised bike for almost any kind of riding. An electric mountain bike, for example, can power you up the hill giving you more time to enjoy the downhills and let you ride in places that you couldn’t otherwise.

For urban scenarios, everything from electric commuter bikes to assisted cargo bikes are available. These are all about practicality and utility providing an alternative to other forms of transport.

Recently, lightweight systems, such as the Fazua motor, are designed to complement rather than take over your efforts. Brands such as Lapierre and Focus are experimenting here, and we’re excited to see what kind of developments there will be in the future.

Best electric mountain bikes

An e-MTB can allow you to get out for a quick blast, propelling you uphill quickly so you can enjoy the descents. Or you can turn your focus on climbing the steepest, most technical slopes you can find. The ability to cover ground quickly also means you can go out and explore places you wouldn’t otherwise consider.

These bikes also let you ride in ways you usually couldn’t and as designs become more refined, the handling increasingly rivals that of conventional mountain bikes, leading to flat-out riding fun.

Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0

The Canyon Spectral:ON will let you surmount any slope
The Canyon Spectral:ON will let you surmount any slope

  • A bike that loves climbing steep and rugged terrain
  • Shimano STEPS E8000 motor system
  • Mismatched wheel sizes — 27.5” + tyre at the back for grip and 29” at the front for steering precision
  • Solid, dependable finishing kit

Canyon was relatively late in releasing an e-MTB, but the wait was worth it and it has taken its time to develop this seriously capable piece of kit.

The Spectral:ON is capable of thrutching its way up the steepest, most technical slopes, and doesn’t disappoint when it’s time to head down again.

Somewhat uniquely (though others are catching on to the idea), the bike features mismatched wheels, with a 27.5-inch plus tyre at the back for improved grip and a 29-inch tyre at the front for improved steering precision.

The aluminium frame is powered by a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, which we have found to deliver a very smooth and natural riding feel.

That’s coupled with competent SRAM EX e-bike specific gearing, SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors to bring the extra heft of an e-bike to a halt, and Fox suspension components.

Scott Genius eRIDE 900 

The Scott Genius eRIDE offers excellent handling in an electrified package
The Scott Genius eRIDE offers excellent handling in an electrified package

  • Shimano STEPS E8000 motor system
  • Long, low and slack geometry
  • Confidence inspiring handling and ride, one of the best we’ve ridden

We rode the Genius eRIDE 900 last year and came away very impressed by it.

Scott has fully embraced long, low and slack geometry which results in excellent handling on this bike and the non-assisted version.

Compared to the bike we rode, there are some component changes for the newest model, with a switch to SRAM Eagle gearing and a move to Schwalbe tyres. Thankfully, the supremely capable Fox Factory suspension has remained.

Crucially, Scott has addressed the only real issue we had and is now speccing 165mm (rather than 175mm) cranks. This should help ground clearance issues, and let you rail the corners even faster.

Best electric bikes for commuting 

Commuter bikes provide a prime opportunity for electrification — no one really wants to arrive at work soaked in sweat or have to change clothes for a short travelling distance.

Being able to ‘glide’ to work makes an e-commuter an attractive option, with the potential to make commuting by bike a whole lot more accessible for a whole lot more people.

Elby Bike 

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The Elby Bike is a comfortable and stately city bike with all the features you need
The Elby Bike is a comfortable and stately city bike with all the features you need

  • Fully integrated, user-friendly and intuitive design
  • Great ride quality
  • Practical mudguards and rack
  • Hydraulic disc brakes

A recent standout commuting model for us has been the Elby Bike. It’s a well-executed electric bike and perfect for those who want a stress and hassle-free ride to work.

The bike is powered by a BionX hub motor, which, uniquely provides regenerative braking to top-up battery levels as you ride. The Elby Bike has other practical features, with mudguards, racks and integrated lights as standard.

There’s something to be said for the fact that the only thing we had to worry about over several hundred kilometers of riding, was an occasional top-up of air in the tyres and keeping the battery charged.

Trek Super Commuter+ 9 

BikeRadar score4/5

The Trek Super Commuter+ is a nippy electric commuting bike
The Trek Super Commuter+ is a nippy electric commuting bike

  • Quick and sporty handling
  • Nuvinci continuously variable transmission hub gear
  • Bosch Performance CX motor
  • Integrated SuperNova lights, as well as mudguard and rack

The Trek Super Commuter+ 9 is a high-end commuting machine. While it’s an undoubtedly expensive option, it provides an excellent and engaging ride, perfect for the speedy commuter.

A unique feature is the Nuvinci continuously variable transmission hub. This doesn’t step through gears and instead allows you to sweep smoothly through its gear range. That really helps match your cadence with the power output of the Bosch Performance CX motor.

The integration of mudguards, racks and SuperNova lights is great to see and the high-volume Schwalbe Super Moto-X tyres take the sting out of the worst surfaces.

Best cheap electric bike

E-bikes are notoriously expensive — the added technology of motors, batteries, electronics and sensors all add up to increase the cost significantly. That presents a significant barrier to entry. However, there are some models that provide a cheaper option to fulfil your commuting needs.

Gtech eBike Sports 

BikeRadar score4/5

The Gtech is a top pick under £1000
The Gtech is a top pick under £1000

  • Simple but effective design
  • Belt-drive
  • Reasonable 16kg weight
  • Removable battery unit

Gtech — yes, the brand of vacuum cleaner fame — rightly decided to keep things simple with its first e-bike offering. That should make it an attractive option for those who are getting back into cycling or want a cheap entry into the e-bike market.

That simplicity means Gtech has got it right with the details that matter. There are no glaring inconsistencies or problems with the handling or spec and the bike has proved reliable during the extensive time we’ve spent testing it.

Best electric folding bike

Folding bikes can provide the ultimate commuting practicality, allowing you to use multi-modal transport if your commute is longer than you can comfortably cycle

That compact size also helps with storage. Add a motor and you’ve got a really practical commuting solution.

Brompton Electric 

The Brompton Electric folds just as small as the original
The Brompton Electric folds just as small as the original

  • Same, classic and charming (unpowered) Brompton handling
  • Folds up just as neatly as the original non-electric Brompton
  • Removable, shoulder bag style battery
  • Front wheel motor effectively makes it an all-wheel-drive vehicle

The Brompton Electric bike has been long anticipated and in development for some time. The wait seems to have been worth it.

The Brompton Electric keeps everything that made the original, unpowered version such a successful bike — indeed, the frame is identical aside from additional holes to route electrics and it still rolls on nimble and durable 16-inch wheels.

That results in an incredibly smooth, power-assisted ride that works with you rather than against you. The front-hub based motor and ‘luggage-mounted’ battery do add weight, but it still folds up just as small as the original (with the bag removed).

Best electric cargo bike

An obvious area of potential for e-bikes is to help with hauling cargo — add the power of a motor to your spindly legs and you’ll be able cruise along carrying tens of kilograms of gear.

This is an application that we are quite excited about and one where we feel e-bikes have real potential as a widely-adopted e-mobility solution.

Tern GSD

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The Tern GSD could be the cargo transporting, car replacing e-bike for you
The Tern GSD could be the cargo transporting, car replacing e-bike for you

  • One-size-fits-all, easy to ride small wheeler
  • 181kg carrying capacity
  • Bosch Performance Line motor
  • Can take two batteries to extend range

The Tern GSD could legitimately replace your car for most of your daily needs. It’s an unashamedly practical machine that, despite its odd shape and huge 181 kg load capacity, still handles very well.

Powered by a Bosch Performance Line motor, there’s more than enough oomph to get you (and your cargo) moving. You can even fit a second battery to extend the range if required.

The bike is full of practical details and comes with mudguards, lights, ergonomic grips, puncture resistant tyres and other features that just make life easier.

Orbea Katu-E 30 

The Orbea E-Katu is a dinky, versatile utility bike
The Orbea E-Katu is a dinky, versatile utility bike

  • Diminutively sized, urban utility bike
  • Durable 20-inch wheels
  • Quirky yet practical urban grocery-go-getter

The Orbea Katu-E is a diminutively sized cargo bike that convinced us with its quirky looks, good handling and versatile practicality.

The move to the reliable and powerful Bosch Active Line motor and internal gear hub for 2019 will only make this a more practical machine, with fit and forget use becoming of an urban utility machine.

Best electric road bike

Though some people will decry an e-road bike as an abomination, we’re a little more open-minded. Whether you turn it to commuting, or use it to keep up on group rides, an e-road bike can provide a versatile way to enjoy riding on your own terms.

This is a fairly new category, but there are manufacturers offering a range of interesting options. That’s especially the case with lightweight e-bikes that aim to complement, rather than take over your riding, with a smaller motor and less battery capacity.

Orbea Gain D20 

The Orbea Gain is an e-road bike with a hub-based X35 motor
The Orbea Gain is an e-road bike with a hub-based X35 motor

  • E-bike packaged with road bike looks
  • X35 hub-based motor
  • ‘Enough Power’ concept provides smooth and well-moderated assistance

When it was announced, the Orbea Gain was one of a host of refined looking e-road bikes that eschewed the bulky e-bike looks in favour of something more streamlined.

The Orbea Gain is powered by a hub-based ebikemotion X35 motor, which is designed to complement rather than take-over your riding — it’s designed to take the sting out of efforts but not replace them entirely.

The lighter weight of the system means that the Gain handles much more like a traditional road bike, resulting in a well-mannered system.

We rode the Gain D10 last year. The updated D20 is effectively the same aside from some small finishing kit changes. There are also significantly more affordable options available, starting at just £1,799.

Focus Paralane² 9.8 

The Focus Paralane uses a lightweight, removable Fazua motor
The Focus Paralane uses a lightweight, removable Fazua motor

  • Modular Fazua motor can be removed
  • Lightweight e-bike at 13kg (or 10kg with the motor removed and replaced with a battery)
  • Clearances for large tyres
  • Resistance free riding above motor assistance limit

The Focus Paralane2 was born out of the prototype Project Y, which makes use of the unique, removable Fazua motor. This minimal motor/battery system only weighs 3.5kg, making the complete Paralane2 the lightest e-bike on the market at 13kg.

Remove the Fazua system and attach the included cover and the complete bike weighs in at around 10kg. This effectively makes it a normal bike, with minimal resistance from the gearbox buried in the bottom bracket.

The USP for the Paralane2 is that the motor is designed to work in tandem with you. You’re not expected to use it all the time, but when you do it provides a helping hand to push you up that killer slope.

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