E-bikes have certainly come a long way in the past few years, with the best electric bikes often looking more like unassisted bikes at first glance. And with their popularity skyrocketing, there's never been more choice available. From cargo to road bikes, almost everything has an electric variant these days. But how do you choose which one is right for you, and how do you know what the best options are? That's where we come in.
It’s easy to look at the prices of some electric bikes and go into a cold sweat. But like anything, there’s good value to be found for every budget, so don’t think you need to re-mortgage your house to get the best! If you are looking for a more entry-level or starter e-bike, make sure you read our guide to the best budget electric bikes.
Best electric bikes 2022
- VanMoof S3 - best urban e-bike | Buy now for £2,248 from VanMoof
- Ribble Hybrid AL e - best electric commuter | Buy now for £2,299 from Ribble Cycles
- Tern Vektron Q9 - best electric folding bike |
- Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 (2021) - best electric hybrid bike |
- Ribble CGR AL e (best electric gravel bike) | Buy now for £2,599 from Ribble Cycles
- Riese & Muller Superdelite Mountain Rohloff - best e-MTB tourer |
- Ribble Endurance SLe Di2 - best electric road bike | Buy now for £5,099 from Ribble Cycles
- LeMond Prolog - best-looking electric bike | Buy now for £4,350 from LeMond
- Tern GSD S10 - best electric cargo bike |
- Carrera Subway E - best budget e-bike | Buy now for £1,099 from Halfords
Though it’s increased in price slightly since our review, the VanMoof S3 still represents excellent value for urban riders. It comes in a futuristic style package, with plenty of integration to boot. There’s also an automatic three-speed gearbox inside the hub, making manual shifting a thing of the past.
An LED screen is hidden in the top tube, in keeping with the minimalist styling of the bike, which shows you your speed and battery level. Using the app activates all the other integration, including the kicklock, which sounds an alarm if the bike is moved. Furthermore, you can track the location of your bike if by some miracle someone does manage to get away with it. It's a bike built with the urban environment in mind and one of the most fully integrated e-bikes we've seen.
For more detail, read our review of the VanMoof S3.
The Hybrid AL e from Ribble isn’t just super sleek, it’s intuitive and excellent value for money. It uses the tried and tested MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+ which is a light setup and uses a single button of operation.
If you spend a little more you can get the ‘enthusiast’ edition, which comes with a paint matched rear rack for those who want to use pannier bags. We think it’s great for commuters because the battery can last well over 50km on a single charge, and it’s a nice lightweight bike that can genuinely go on both towpaths and tarmac.
For more detail, read our review of the Ribble Hybrid AL e.
The Q9 is a few years old now, but still a firm favourite and one of the best electric folding bikes we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. It acts as more than just a folding bike, with carrying abilities rivalling many cargo electric bikes.
It's also one of the few folding bikes to use a mid-drive motor. Tern has gone for the Bosch Active Line here, providing plenty of torque for heavy loads and a smooth, reliable transfer of power when you need it. Yes, it's pretty hefty at 22kg, but for those who want the practicalities of an electric cargo bike without one taking up the entire house, it's a fantastic offering.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern Vektron Q9.
An excellent leisure e-mountain bike, the Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 offers exceedingly good value for money. It uses Bosch’s second-highest spec motor, the Performance Line, which means you get to use the sophisticated EMTB mode.
As tester Richard explains: “Whilst it can deliver the same 340% assistance as Turbo, EMTB mode won't always do so; it automatically varies power to match the conditions, responding to various sensors within the motor that feeds back info such as wheel speed, and pedal speed."
The only trade-off is the Suntour steel sprung fork, but for the quality of components and design you get for under £2.5k, it might be something you can consider upgrading in future if you feel you need it.
For more detail, read our review of the Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 (2021).
Whether you're into gravel or not, the Ribble CGR AL e is a fantastic bike for the money, providing an intuitive and discreet option for those of us not quite ready to give up on the aesthetics of an unassisted bike. Whether you use it for tarmac or bridleways, it's a bike that will open up a world of possibilities by letting you cover more ground in a seriously fun way.
If it looks like the unassisted Ribble CGR, that's because it's built upon the same chassis. The difference is the addition of the MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+, which offers three levels of assistance in a sleek rear motor package. The assist levels are controlled via a button on the top tube, and the bike can be specced to your desired level.
For more detail, read our review of the Ribble CGR AL e (SRAM Apex 1x 650b).
The Riese and Muller Superdelite Mountain Rohloff (yes, what a mouthful), is a high-performance electric mountain bike aimed at tourers and those who like the finer things in life. It’s made to adapt to whatever terrain you throw at it, with 150mm travel in the Fox Float 36 Performance forks and 140mm in the Fox Float Performance shock.
If shredding the trails isn't your thing and you'd rather take it easy on a touring expedition, then the twin batteries with 1,125Wh capacity and 14-speed Rohloff gears with electronic shifting will surely suffice. Costly, yes, but it earned itself 9/10 from our tester Richard for a reason.
“During my test rides around the South Pennines – the area of that hill range with the steepest gradients of all – the Superdelite Mountain ate up every incline put in front of it, no matter how steep or difficult. The climbs were mainly of the broad but very bouldery variety, with rock steps and certainly plenty of serious gradients.”
For more detail, read our review of the Riese & Muller Superdelite Mountain Rohloff.
The Ribble Endurance Sle takes Ribble's flagship endurance race bike and gives it a literal boost. While we first reviewed it at its launch in 2019, the bike has remained much the same, and it's still excellent. It uses the same MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+ motor system as the rest of the electric Ribble range, but the groupsets you can now spec the bike with have changed to include the brand new Shimano 105 Di2.
There are other affordable options too, but the Ultegra Di2 remains a firm favourite and is great value for money on this bike. The power assist, meanwhile, is smooth, reliable and can help you climb more hills than you thought possible.
For more detail, read our review of the Ribble Endurance Sle Di2.
The Prolog is an excellent foray into the world of e-bikes from former Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond. We’ve named it the best looking because, well, look at it. It’s elegant, it’s sleek, but it also has some function under all that form.
It's not quite urban enough to be labelled as such, and its flat bars mean it's not destined to be a road bike. Instead, it's perfect for leisure riding, although nothing is stopping you from putting a rucksack on and heading to the shops with it. Powered by the MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+, it's controlled by the same subtle top tube button seen on the Ribble, and the motor is powerful enough to give a helping hand up all but the steepest of hills.
For more detail, read our review of the LeMond Prolog.
The Tern GSD is a firm favourite at ebiketips, with plenty of cargo carrying space and an easily-adjustable load carrier. Carrying people and/or packages is easy, and while it’s costly, this build rather than the LX, for example, is the one we’d go for.
The latest edition can now handle a combined rider and cargo weight of 200kg, with integrated footrails on the new frame to make carrying passengers even easier. There’s lots of accessories you can buy to build the bike up to how you like it. It’s the epitome of what a viable alternative to a motor vehicle can look like.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern GSD S10 2021.
When it comes to electric bikes around the £1,000 mark, you often have to make compromises in quality and longevity. The Carrera Subway E, however, is a great example of not having to spend a fortune to get something that’s got a decent spec and it's fun to ride.
The Suntour HESC rear hub motor isn’t new, but it’s rated at 50Nm, which is plenty for an urban bike. For your money you also get hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors, and over 40km of range on one charge.
For more detail, read our review of the Carrera Subway E.
How to choose the best electric bikes
What is an electric bike?
While an electric bike could technically be any sort of two-wheeler, the image that usually comes to mind is that of an ‘electrically-assisted pedal cycle’, or EAPC. If you’ve seen an e-bike before you’ve probably seen the acronym before. Essentially, it means in the eyes of the UK law it’s classed as an electric bike, and thus:
- Any motorised assistance must only work when you turn the pedals
- The assistance is limited to a maximum speed of 15.5mph and after this, it cuts off
- The maximum continuous rated power of the motor must not exceed 250W
So what does this mean? It means an EAPC is not subject to taxation or insurance and doesn't need to be registered. Thus, it is not classed as a motor vehicle, just a regular bicycle! The only difference is you need to be over 14 to ride one.
Is an electric bike worth it?
This depends entirely on your situation, but an electric bike can be a great addition for any rider. We'd like to think the stigma of only older people riding e-bikes has gone by now, as electric bikes can open so many other doors.
They can be car replacements – think cargo bikes, excellent bits of kit that can fit children on for the school run and then plenty of space for any shopping you need to do. Other more sleek bikes can provide people who might otherwise not be able to ride with the opportunity to do so, by keeping their heart rate lower. Additionally, you can ride further and faster with an electric bike, thus giving you more freedom on the bike.
They can be a significant investment, however, so you must assess your needs and get a bike that can meet them rather than going entirely on looks or price.
Which is the best electric bike to buy?
The best electric bike to buy is the one that will fit your needs and keep you within budget. Although the cost might be daunting if you're eligible for any cycle-to-work schemes they can often help make the purchase a bit more affordable.
If you’re wanting to ride at bike parks, then an electric road bike isn’t going to make sense, so make sure you look at the right sort of category of bikes and if possible, go for some test rides. If you need help understanding the basics, consider reading our beginner's guide to electric bikes (+ video) article.
Furthermore, the best bike for you might not be the same for your friend. Consider the type of riding you'll be doing and your budget, then build on it from there. We have plenty of buyers guides for you to scour to give you an idea of the best-rated bikes, but nothing will replace going for a test ride before parting with any cash.
What kind of motors do electric bikes use?
There are two main kinds of motors on electric bikes: hub motors and mid-drive motors. Hub motors are positioned within one of the wheel hubs, and mid-drive motors are located at the cranks where you pedal.
There’s nothing to say one is always going to be better than the other, but broadly speaking mid-motors tend to deliver more torque, which is what allows you to set off from standing easier and tackle steeper hills. They are also likely to be more expensive than hub motors.