Whizzing down a hill with the wind in your hair is what makes the climb worthwhile. But why tire your thighs when you can ascend with electrical assistance? The best electric bikes offer freewheeling fun with less sweaty pedalling.
And if you’re looking for a two-wheeled steed to get you from A to B with a boost, this is the list you need. From city whizzers to trail blazers, we’ve tested all of the top battery-powered bicycles – enduring the saddle sores and dodgy lycra so you don’t have to.
Whether you want an effortless everyday commute or a wilder ride through the woods, you’ll find your ideal e-bike below. But power doesn’t protect you from heckling, so zoom past a peloton at your own peril.
Looking for something a little more lightweight for zipping around town? Read Stuff’s guide to the best electric scooters.
Our pick of the best electric bikes
With a former McLaren designer behind the brand, it’s little wonder that GoCycle’s pricey foldaway looks like nothing else on the road. And if you strip back the fourth iteration, you’ll find two key improvements: carbon-fibre forks and a torquier motor. Stumping up for this ‘i’ version also bags you a bigger battery, glitzy LED dash, front light bar and electronic shifting.
Acceleration from the 250W powertrain is instantaneous. It’s unnervingly silent as well, with no electrical whirring to speak of. Which means you can stealthily speed past fellow pedallers. The ride is incredibly smooth, too. Slicker tyres roll easy without sacrificing asphalt grip, even if they stop for you from tackling surfaces rougher than a well-laid gravel track.
GoCycle reckons you’ll need just 10 seconds to fold the G4i, a number that’s entirely achievable with a bit of practice. Four light modes assist with visibility during the day, with the dash display helpfully indicating which mode you’re in. GoCycle now bundles mudguards and night lights as standard – which is good, given the eye-watering price.
With materials fit for its supercar heritage, this premium steed is the ultimate urban runaround for deep-pocketed pedallers
Tech spec:Top speed: 20mph • Max range: 50 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: Yes • Gears: 3 (automatic) • Wheels: 20in • App: Yes • Weight: 17.1kg
Ribble Hybrid AL e
This Ribble is no riddle. A more affordable alternative to many of the bank-breaking ebikes in this list, it focuses on nailing the basics, without faffing with fancy extras. So there’s no suspension, no integrated computer, no lights and no extra controls: it’s a one-button operator, and all the better for it. Even the partner app isn’t strictly necessary.
This approach is reflected in how fun the Ribble is to ride without assistance. Despite its sporty stance, the AL e is a real easy rider, offering a smooth and stable feel on the road. If the way isn’t steep, you shouldn’t struggle to pedal without power. And it’s even more of a breeze with the assistance gently boosting you.
Switching between power levels takes a little practice with the single button. You’ll also need to familiarise yourself with the LED colour coding of each function to understand remaining battery life. But once you’ve got the hang, this versatile steed proves itself a fantastically accessible all-rounder.
Equipped for commuting and leisure alike, Ribble’s classy hybrid rides easy and far at a price that’s among the fairest in this list
Tech spec:Top speed: 20mph • Max range: 60 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: No • Handlebar display: No • Gears: 11 • Wheels: 700c • App: Yes • Weight: 14.5kg
Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0
Disguised as a standard hybrid, a slightly tubby down tube is the only hint that this Specialized cycle has an electric secret. Less subtle is the price tag, which requires that the Vado deliver the goods. And while it might not be obvious from a distance, that’s exactly what it does.
Upright and slightly sporty, the Vado SL 5.0 benefits from a streamlined chassis that’s relatively light at less than 15kg. Paired with a 240W motor, those factors make it a speedy steed off the line, allowing you to outgun analogue rivals at every traffic light. Racier riders can also use their thighs to power past the 15.5mph assisted limit.
Simple handlebar controls let you manage power levels, with a shortcut to maximum boost if you hit an unexpected hill. You can further tweak these modes through the Mission Control app, in case you feel the Peak Power percentage isn’t quite delivering. Integrated lights keep you seen if you’re out after dark, while Future Shock suspension reduces buzz from the road, without disconnecting you completely.
Streamlined and expensive, the heady price nets you a nippy bike that’s truly nimble around town
Tech spec:Top speed: 15mph • Max range: 80 miles • Power: 240W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: Yes • Gears: 12 • Wheels: 700c • App: Yes • Weight: 14.9kg
The best electric bikes should do two things: look the part and ride like a dream. Cowboy’s third-gen cycle does both. Virtually identical to its predecessor, the Cowboy 3’s clean lines are somehow complemented by a chunkier seat tube, courtesy of a top flattened in parallel with the frame.
Harboured inside the upright is a removable 360Wh battery, good for a claimed range of up to 44 miles. Through the 250W motor, this drives a carbon-belt transmission with a lower gear ratio that favours faster starts. Hop aboard and it’ll have you effortlessly gliding, with adaptive delivery feeding power to the rear hub as you need it.
Grippy, puncture-resistant tyres mean towpaths aren’t out of the question. And there’s no need to be home before dusk: built-in lights can be turned on with a tap. An overhauled app adds to the whole experience, home to automatic unlocking, three-pronged theft protection and a traffic-beating bike nav.
Smart, subtle and speedy, Cowboy’s third effort is a minimalist and low-maintenance ebike for urban exploring
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 44 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: No • Gears: Single speed • Wheels: 27.5in • App: Yes • Weight: 18.2kg
Ribble Endurance SL e Pro
Using the same Mahle motor and battery system as the excellent Hybrid AL, Ribble’s Endurance SL e Pro wraps it up with lashings of carbon and a helping of high-end components. The result is an 11.5kg performance package. While serious cyclists will still shudder at that number, it’s seriously light for an ebike – something which you really appreciate when you pick it up.
Carbon weight-saving, aero tech and wire-free shifting give the Endurance a sleek look. It’ll be right at home on the club scene, fooling fellow riders into thinking it’s a standard cycle. Hidden in plain sight, a small control button and marginally enlarged rear hub are the only hints at its electric status. So your peloton pals will be gobsmacked when you drop them on the first climb.
An irregular profile makes it tricky to fit accessories to the handlebars, but at least the motor will make up for any wattage lost due to drag. Sharp lines, deep wheels and stiff carbon add up to a very quick and nimble number that smashes past the 15.5mph limit as easily as the Manx Missile.
If lycra is your weekend wardrobe but hills don’t really appeal, this streamlined cycle will boost you up without advertising the assist
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 80 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: No • Handlebar display: No • Gears: 2×12 • Wheels: 700c • App: Yes • Weight: 11.5kg
Larry vs Harry Electrified Bullitt EP8
Not your standard city bike, the Bullitt embarrasses your panniers with a huge loading platform out front – ideal for ferrying people, pets, pizza or the contents of a small apartment. And the addition of an EP8 Shimano motor means it can handle all of those things with ease, provided you get used to the barge-like handling.
Coming in at a hefty 27.5kg, three degrees of battery assistance make a big difference to the Bullitt’s usability. A thumb button on the bars lets you switch settings on the fly, which is handy for blasting hills. We tried a couple of ascents without any electric help and the story was a very different, very sweaty one. In Boost mode, it almost sprints off the line, while Eco is a little bit stingy. Trail proved to be the sweet spot for power, effort and longevity, covering 40 miles and still leaving 25% in the tank.
Handling does take some adjustment. Rod steering makes it slow to turn, especially at low speeds, which can lead to a wobble-fest when starting out. But after a bit of practice, we were soon riding the Bullitt like a normal bike, even when fully loaded with Friday-night supplies.
Whether your cargo is kids or carrier bags, this boosted mover makes it easier to shift yourself and your stuff in Scandi style
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 62 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: No • Handlebar display: Yes • Gears: Optional • App: Yes • Weight: 27.5kg
A steampunk cycle with performance chops to suit its chopper styling, Rayvolt’s Torino is a beast of a machine. Reminiscent of a low-rider, its sweeping carbon steel frame, chunky tyres and hand-fashioned finishing touches ooze quality craftsmanship. And the option to specify a monstrous 1000W motor mean it can pack a matching punch.
Sauced up for optimum output, the powered rear hub adheres to EU speed limitations, offering peal assistance up to 15.5mph. But the smartphone pp allows you to ‘tinker’ with those settings: take it off road and you can rip the throttle for some proper electric performance. Hefty at 36kg, it delivers a serious amount of power to counteract the weight issue – feeling at times more like a motorbike.
Its 25-mile range does fall short of cheaper rivals, making the dual-battery upgrade well worth the extra outlay, even if the price starts to sting. But if it’s old-school street style you’re after, this thing’s packing by the bucketload.
A rip-roaring ride with style in spades, Rayvolt’s moto-bike is a big beast with performance to match
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 25 miles • Power: 200-400W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: No • Gears: Single speed • Wheels: 26in • App: Yes • Weight: 35kg
Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0
Speed isn’t the main pursuit when you’re pootling into town. Luckily, this electrified shopper aces on comfort. Big wheels are built for easy cruising, while swept bars and a relaxed position add up to a smooth cycle. And thanks to a frame-mounted basket and rear pannier attachments, it can haul a surprising amount of stuff.
Three levels of assistance can be selected with a button-press on the down tube, but you’ll need the top mode more often than not: the Como’s 21kg weight makes it slightly sluggish from a standstill. That said, flicking down the gears soon becomes second nature – and once you embrace the laid-back nature of the boost, it’s a joy to set off on some errands.
Stepper gradients require more effort than other ebikes, but the Como crushes wannabe hills. With full-length mudguards, internal gearing and a belt drive, it’s all set up for hassle-free journeys. It’s even got a handle for carrying it up steps, provided you’ve got the requisite muscle.
A turbocharged town bike built for comfortable cruising, Specialized’s shopper makes everyday pootling effortless
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 62 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: Yes • Gears: 8 • Wheels: 27.5in • App: Yes • Weight: 20.5kg
Momentum Transend E+
A simple solution for boosted commuting, the Transend E+ deliberately sticks to the essentials. So there’s no LCD display, no suspension and no mudguards as standard. Instead, you get a straightforward ebike designed with minimal maintenance in mind.
With a 500Wh battery bolted into its chunky mid-frame, the Transend E+ can deliver assistance for more than 100 miles – depending on how much help you’re after. A hidden hub means there’s no rattle as you ride, while grippy, chunky tyres mask the little hum emitted from the motor, as well as absorbing bumps in the road.
Twist-shifting between gears doesn’t result in instantaneous changes, and there is a slight lurch when the electric power kicks in after a half rotation. You don’t get full beans until you pick up speed, but when you do, the top assist level demands very little effort if you don’t fancy a sweaty commute.
One of the few extra features is ANT+ support, which lets you connect to Momentum’s app for data beyond what the control unit’s basic LEDs can indicate.
With everything you need and nothing you don’t, the Transend E+ is a pared-back commuter bike for leisurely assisted riding
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 105 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Optional • Handlebar display: Optional • Gears: 7 • Wheels: 27.5in • App: Yes • Weight: 21.8kg
Lightweight and styled with a hint of the avant-garde, this electric vélo is the pinnacle of cycle chic. Its unique design, courtesy of French designer Ora Ito, places a removable horseshoe battery below the saddle, from where it protrudes like two metallic baguettes. The u-shaped cell also bears a pair of taillights, with complementary indicators where end stops would be – all controlled via buttons that flank a 2.4in touchscreen on the bars.
Hip enough for Parisian streets, the Rapide’s slender aluminium frame also helps to counteract the weight of all the built-in tech. Light enough at 17kg, range and required effort depend on which of the three assist modes you choose. Fly Dry promises an easy 44 miles, while Fly Eco gives a lower boost for longer. Fly Fast thrusts you up hills, devouring cell capacity faster.
In any setting, the Rapid is a smooth and responsive steed. And while its lack of suspension means casual riders shouldn’t take on cobbles, the ride is broadly comfortable. Less appealing is the app experience, with the anti-theft alarm proving particularly frenzied. Receiving multiple alerts for stealing our own review sample is one thing; listening to the alarm slowly rise in volume when we’re standing right next to it is another horror entirely.
Packing more tech than an issue of Stuff Magazine, this designer ebike isn’t perfect, but it wins points for street style and serious smarts
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 55 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: Yes • Gears: Single speed • Wheels: 700c • App: Yes • Weight: 16.8kg
Brompton Electric C Line Explore
Generally spotted in the vicinity of stations, Brompton bikes fold down small enough to fit under your desk. Designed for quick, easy commuting, the addition of an electric motor only improves the recipe. And while the battery makes the C Line Explore a weightier thing to lug up the office stairs, you can remove it for recharging at reception.
A 250W motor in the front hub provides assistance while you pedal, giving a boost up to the legal limit of 15.5mph. Thrust settings can be adjusted through the Brompton app, while six gear speeds offer welcome flexibility when you’re going it alone – which you’ll only need to do if your route to work takes you beyond the 45-mile range.
On the go, small wheels mean its not top for rougher roads, but it’s otherwise a lot of fun to ride. Steering can feel jittery if you’re switching from a standard bike, but the low, weighty frame gives a reassuring sense of stability that you soon get used to. Once you reach your destination, folding the Electric C Line Explore is as swift and simple as with a regular Brompton, only with the added step of removing the 2.9kg battery pack.
Fun, folding and electrified, this battery-powered Brompton is perfect for city cyclists who have limited space to stash an ebike
Tech spec:Top speed: 15.5mph • Max range: 45 miles • Power: 250W • Lights: Yes • Handlebar display: No • Gears: 6 • Wheels: 16in • App: Yes • Weight: 17.4kg