Going from misplaced-looking batteries stuck onto the downtube to the sleek offerings we have today, e-bikes have come a long way in just a few years. And not just in terms of looks. The best electric bikes now provide smooth assistance and are a real asset to all types of riding.
We’ve rounded up some of the best electric bikes on the market, covering a wide range of disciplines. Whether getting the kids to school on an e-cargo bike, or extending your rides with an e-road bike, there’s something for everyone.
Best electric bikes 2023
- Ribble Hybrid AL e - best urban e-bike | Buy now for £2,499 from Ribble Cycles
- Tern Vektron Q9 - best electric folding bike | Buy now for £3,000 from Surge Bikes
- Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 - best electric hybrid bike | Buy now for £2,299 from E-Bike Shop
- Bianchi Impulso e-Road - best electric road bike | Buy now for £2,949 from Start Fitness
- Ribble CGR AL e - best electric gravel bike | Buy now from £2,899 from Ribble Cycles
- Tern GSD S10 - best electric cargo bike | Buy now for £5,099 from E-Bike Shop
- Riese & Muller Superdelite Mountain Rohloff - best e-MTB tourer | Buy now for £9,339 from Surge Bikes
- Carrera Subway E - best under £2,000 | Buy now for £989.10 from Halfords
- Vitus E-Sommet VRX - best electric mountain bike | Buy now for £4,949 at Wiggle
- Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ - best electric commuter | Buy now from £2,900 from Specialized Concept Store
A firm favourite for many electric converts, the Ribble Hybrid AL e has a refined style about it, largely thanks to the MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+ hub motor and integrated battery. It’s not the most powerful, but for urban environments it provides a lovely smooth assistance, adapting to most city hill requirements.
The Fully Loaded edition comes with a rear rack so you can carry up to 25kg of luggage, whether that be the food shop or your stuff for work. 35mm tyres provide good cushioning and inspire confidence if you want to take it off the beaten path.
For more detail, read our review of the Ribble Hybrid Al e.
If you’re after an electric folding bike that’s only selling point is that it’s portable, then this maybe isn’t the folder for you. Instead, it’s just as capable as many regular sized e-bikes, but with the added ability to fold in half.
Oneo of the few e-folders to use a mid-drive motor, it packs a decent punch. The sizeable rear rack also means accessories such as child seats are an option on the Q9 - something that not many other folders can offer.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern Vektron Q9.
Although we tested the 2021 year model, the Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 remains a solid hybrid option. More of a leisure e-MTB than your traditional hybrid, it boasts a top-end Bosch Performance Line motor, which means you get to use the sophisticated E-MTB assist mode.
It also comes with a 500Wh Bosch battery, providing plenty of range for your on- or off-road activities. It’s a burly beast in terms of weight at around 23.5kg, but with this you get 100mm forks and traditional mountain bike geometry.
For more detail, read our review of the Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 500 (2021).
We last reviewed the Impulso in 2018, when it used a Polini motor system. The current models use the well-respected MAHLE Smartbike Systems X35+ motor and integrated batteries. While this changes the bike from mid-drive to hub-driven, we’ve tested enough e-bikes (like the Ribble Endurance SL e and AL e) with that specification to believe we’d still award it a very high score.
It’s also pretty good value, and for your £3,500 you get a full Ultegra 11-speed groupset and hydraulic disc brakes. It’s now only available in celeste, so perhaps one for the traditional Bianchi fans.
For more detail, read our review of the Bianchi Impulso e-road.
Off-road.cc reviewed this bike for us back in late 2020, but it still stacks up in an ever busier e-gravel bike market. Hub-driven, yes, but our reviewer was pleased with the performance of not just the motor, but the overall package.
“Comfortable, stable and capable over very rough ground or while effortlessly eating up road miles, it adds intuitive, discreet electric assist to a fundamentally great chassis.”
Ribble no longer sells the SRAM Apex version, but you can still buy the CGR AL e with Shimano Tiagra or 105 groupsets to suit your budget.
For more detail, read off-road.cc’s review of the Ribble CGR AL e (SRAM Apex 1x 650b).
A standout favourite for good reason. When you think of an electric cargo bike, it’s likely the Tern GSD. We tested the S10 version, and if you have the money for it, it’s a worthy investment and genuine car replacement.
Not only is it powerful enough to carry 200kg of load (including the rider), its longtail design means it’s compatible with plenty of accessories, including child seats and trailers. You can essentially design this bike for your own needs, although these extras are an added cost.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern GSD S10 2021.
At just shy of £10,000, deep pockets are required for this range-topping e-MTB tourer from renowned Bavarian company, Riese & Muller. With the inclusion of Rohloff gears, maintenance is vastly reduced as the chain is replaced with a belt drive.
In the model we tested, we had twin Bosch batteries providing 1,125Wh of capacity – that’s plenty of miles for long-range touring. Whether you want to take it on-road or somewhere a bit gnarlier for your next adventure, it’s a solid option – if you can cope with the price.
For more detail, read our review of the Riese & Muller Superdelite Mountain Rohloff.
Just nudging above the £1,000 mark, the Carrera Subway E is an excellent value e-bike. Ideal for commuting or leisure, its flat bars and 1.95” tyres provide a comfortable solution. It comes with a Suntour rear-hub motor, which utilises torque sensors to provide an intuitive ride.
A reasonably sized 317Wh battery complements this with a stated 40km range, which our reviewer backed up in testing. Naturally, there are some compromises, but at this price point it’s very difficult to beat.
For more detail, read our review of the Carrera Subway E.
Our colleagues at off-road.cc gave the Vitus E-Sommet VRX a stellar review last year, enjoying its enduro capabilities and describing it as, “Unshakably confident when pushed down the most technical terrain”. This is the brand’s range topper, but for just under £5,500 you get quite a lot for your money.
Namely, a Shimano EP8 mid-drive motor and a 630Wh battery in the downtube. Utilising Trail mode means it takes control and pushes when you need it most, backing off when you don’t. It’s an aggressive e-MTB with an enjoyable ride, if you’re a rider who enjoys the gnarlier trails.
For more detail, read off-road.cc’s review of the 2022 Vitus E-Sommet VRX.
A sporty looking e-bike with more capabilities than you can shake a stick at, the Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ is a superb commuting option. Powered by Specialized’s own motor, the Specialized 1.1, which provides 35Nm of torque and only weighs 1.9kg.
Paired with a 320Wh battery and the option of a 160Wh range extender, there’s plenty of commuting (or leisure) miles to be had. So what makes it commuting friendly? There’s a kickstand, a rear rack, full-length mudguards and integrated lights to get you started.
For more detail, read our review of the Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ.
How to choose the best electric bike
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. This is what most people are referring to when they use the term 'e-bike'.
To be classed as one:
- 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 provide plenty of space for any shopping you need to do. Other, sleeker 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.
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.