Thinking about an e-bike? The world of assisted cycling is rapidly expanding, and nowadays you can get an electric version of pretty much any kind of bike. With the exception of BMX. Oh, and grass-track speedway. Anyway, here are the five best we’ve reviewed this year.
Every e-bike that we've tested on ebiketips, road.cc or off.road.cc during the past 12 months is up for consideration in this category. Just to make it clear: only bikes we've reviewed are eligible!
The genre of the bike doesn't matter here, and usefully the winners cover a broad range of categories. So whatever you’re looking for in an e-bike, there should be one to suit you below...
Moustache Friday 28.1
Moustache is a French company based in the Vosges mountains, and its e-bikes have always displayed a bit of Gallic flair. However, that’s always been backed up by solid performance, and the Friday 28.1 is no exception: it’s sporty, efficient and practical, and well worth your attention if you want something nippy to get around the city.
This Moustache looks like a pretty standard city bike – albeit a good-looking one – but there’s lots of interesting stuff going on. In place of a flexy and heavy suspension fork, Moustache has teamed up with fellow French company Baramind to produce a handlebar that includes a bit of vertical flex to stop shocks coming up from the road. It works well, and it’s an unobtrusive and clever way of dealing with the problem. As well as that, the bars are mounted on a quick-park stem that allows the handlebar to be rotated 90° at the flick of a lever – handy if you have to store your bike in the hallway or a packed shed.
The motor system is Bosch’s Active Line Plus, which is one of our favourite city motors for its useful power and near-silent operation. The Friday 28.1 is a lot of fun to ride, rolling very well on its 42mm city tyres, and you get a full complement of city kit: Moustache’s own alloy mudguards, a top-quality Pletscher kickstand and an integrated lighting system. Even then the bike tips the scales at 21kg, which is very light for a fully specced city bike like this.
Why it’s here: it’s a great combination of city practicality and innovation. Plus it’s fun to ride!
Gocycle has been making its distinctive small-wheeler for many years now, and improving it with every new model. The GX represents a big step forward: although all Gocycle models have been demountable in the past, this is the first one to be a true folding bike.
The Gocycle is the brainchild of Richard Thorpe, who previously worked for McLaren Cars, and although the design is now 10 years old it still looks bang up to date. There are a lot of proprietary parts in the Gocycle; the design uses a single-stay magnesium alloy fork and frame so that the wheels can easily be removed from one side, and the entire drivetrain is enclosed (as are the disc brakes) so the bike is very clean running.
The front hub motor is very compact and the 300Wh battery is hidden inside the frame. The GX is designed for you to use your phone as the bike display, and the app gives you the ability to tune the motor settings to your exact requirements.
The Gocycle is quick and easy to fold, and the fast-riding nature of the design and the reasonably low overall weight combine to make it a fun bike to use for mixed-mode transport. Previous incarnations of the Gocycle have felt a bit form-over-function at times, but the company has really nailed this one: it’s an excellent city companion.
Why it’s here: The GX is the Gocycle we’ve been wanting Gocycle to make for years
Ribble Endurance SLe Di2
A few years ago you’d have been laughed out of town if you’d suggested that roadies might be interested in e-bikes. But look where we are now: everyone’s making them, even dyed-in-the-wool traditional road brands like Pinarello and Colnago. And a few years ago you might have considered Ribble quite a traditional road brand, albeit at the cheaper end of the market. But the UK firm has re-invented itself and is now offering some cutting-edge models, with e-bikes central to the new range. And the Endurance SLe is a corker.
The Endurance SLe Di2 is built around a responsive carbon frame that shares a lot of its DNA with the SLR bike that Ribble’s pro team ride. It’s quite a racy position, and with the complete bike weighing in at just 11.6kg it’s perfectly rideable as a road bike even without the ebikemotion X35 motor system turned on. The X35 is one of the top choices for e-road bikes with its low 3.5kg overall system weight and simple control, as well as smartphone app integration. The 250Wh battery hidden in the down tube isn’t huge, but because you can ride without power for a lot of any ride you can still get a 100km range out of the Ribble.
We tested the £4,854 build, and for that you’re getting a carbon frame, full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, Mavic Cosmic Pro UST wheelset, carbon handlebars, Fizik Arione saddle and Vittoria Corsa G+ tyres. There are plenty of manufacturers who’d struggle to offer you that spec for that money even without a motor system, so the Ribble is excellent value. The base-level build of the bike – with the same frame and motor – is just over half the price.
Why it’s here: Great value, high build quality and an engaging ride
Carrera Subway E
Throughout the last year Halfords has been at the top of the pile when it comes to budget e-bikes. Its Carrera brand manages to shoehorn in an astonishing amount of kit for the money, and the £999 Subway E is probably the best example.
Carerra hasn’t tried to do anything particularly clever here, just spec an urban bike with the best components it can for the budget. And what a bike it has turned out. You get a very good rear hub motor with a torque sensor, a 374Wh battery for plenty of range, a 9-speed transmission to take care of the hills and hydraulic disc brakes to stop you on the way back down.
There’s no suspension fork but the units on sub-£1,000 bikes are universally awful anyway, so you’re better off trusting the big-chamber moto-style tyres to take the sting out of the rough bits. Everything else that has been omitted – mudguards, kickstand, lights – can be bought cheaply and added easily at a later date if you decide you need them, which you probably will sooner or later.
The bottom line here is that for a grand you’re getting a very capable e-bike that’s sporting equipment at least a rung above nearly all of its competitors. Everything on it should last, and Suntour’s HESC motor system is well-established and well-supported.
Why it’s here: It redefines what’s possible in a £1,000 e-bike
The Tern GSD is our cargo e-bike of the year, and also our overall winner. We’ve tested the GSD in two builds over the last two years, and one abiding feeling remains: this is the most useful and practical bike you’re ever likely to own.
The GSD is built around a long-tail frame and 20-inch wheels. The long-tail design means there’s masses of room at the back – enough for a weekly shop or two passengers – while the small wheels mean that the overall footprint of the bike is no bigger than a standard city bike. Even better than that, the GSD flips up on its end and the saddle and handlebars fold down, so it takes up barely any space at all. The ride position is highly adjustable, so anyone in the family can use it with just a few quick tweaks.
It’s easy and fun to ride – there’s no learning curve like you get with a box bike – and it’s a rare day you come across a situation or a load that the GSD won’t take in its stride. With loads of different options for carrying cargo, children and grown-ups, you can configure it exactly how you need it and it can grow with you as your family grows.
It’s a genuine car replacement, and perfect for city living. The more expensive S00 build we tested this year is great if you’re looking for a heavy-duty workhorse, but the S10 is enough bike for nearly any situation and a grand cheaper, so that’s still our favourite one and the only bike so far to have got a full five stars.
Why it wins: It’s the most useful and practical bike you’ll ever own. Every home should have one!