Investing in one of the best cheap e-bikes is going to be a great money saver over the long term, if you're using an electric bike for commuting. With fuel costs and train prices high, powered cycling is looking like an economic, healthy way to commute – and if you charge it at work, you won't even need to pay for the electricity to power it! Many cyclists will need a shower once they arrive at work or look rumpled for the rest of the day, but thanks to the electric bike’s assisted modes, you're unlikely to even break a sweat.
Cycling with the best electric bikes is also an environmentally-friendly way to get you from A to B without pumping out harmful emissions, with the electrical assistance helping you get further and faster than a conventional bike. While riding a bike, whether it's to work, or on the weekends for fun, you'll also be getting some exercise into your week, even though an electric bike is less strenuous to operate than a normal bike.
When we say "cheap" in electric bike terms we mean relatively so, as it's not worth sacrificing quality for a couple hundred dollars or pounds shaved. Many entry-level and most folding bikes are quite affordable compared to high-powered, high-performance powered bikes from brands like Specialized, but it's worth taking your time, doing your research and perhaps even saving up. As it’s a powered vehicle that will be on the roads, presumably in traffic, take as much care as you would buying a car or conventional motorcycle, as many electric bikes are classed as such – a motorized cycle intended for road use.
Before you make a purchase, one thing to check is the maximum speed of the bike in relation to your area's legal regulations. The below bikes all have a maximum speed of 15.5mph with the motor engaged, which is the maximum speed e-bikes are allowed to go on UK roads. However, in the US, e-bike legislation is very different, with Class 3 e-bikes reaching up to 28mph.
If an e-bike isn’t quite right for you and you want something more compact, check out our guide to the best folding e-bikes, while one of the best electric scooters is also an efficient way to get around cities.
The best cheap e-bikes for 2023
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The extra engineering involved in building a folding e-bike usually results in a much higher price tag (see the current lineup of electric Bromptons for example), but British company MiRider has managed to produce a compact, commuter-friendly model that feels robust to ride, packs down in seconds, and costs less than most non-folders. It's a real achievement, and the MiRider One is a real pleasure to ride.
Batteries and folding bikes are a winning partnership, particularly if you're a commuter. Not only can you reach the office without breaking a sweat, once you're there your bike can tuck away neatly under your desk. Although it has the small wheels you'd expect from a compact bike, the motor means hills are still a breeze and you won't have to sacrifice speed for convenience.
It's not the cheapest in this roundup of budget e-bikes, but if you're looking for a folding model, you won't find a better one for the price.
Read our full MiRider One review
E-bikes built for off-roading are typically costlier than their road-based counterparts, but not the E-Trends Trekker. It's just £1,199 (about $1,600 / AU$2,200 when bought from E-Trends (opens in new tab) directly, and can be found even more cheaply at Amazon (opens in new tab) in the UK.
E-Trends might not be a household name, but it's an established and well-rated bike builder with a sound reputation – and the Trekker reflects that. It feels reassuringly sturdy when tackling rough terrain. Its front suspension fork does a good job soaking up the bumps, and adds surprisingly little to the bike's overall weight. At 22kg it's around average for an electric bike, and much lighter than many e-MTBs.
The main thing to bear in mind is that its 30-mile maximum range is based on ideal riding conditions. Taking it off the beaten path onto rough routes and powering up hills will drain the battery much more quickly, so it's important to plan your ride in advance and be mindful of when you're employing the motor so you don't find yourself facing a steep hill under your own steam at the end of a ride.
Read our full E-Trends Trekker review
Practicality is the name of the game for Rad Power, whether it's building sturdy cargo bikes for heaving groceries around town, or no-frills hybrids like the RadMission One. There's no setup necessary apart from charging the battery, so you can just plug it in for a few hours then start riding immediately.
It offers simple controls that are easily operate with your thumb mid-ride, a twist-action booster to help you move away quickly at intersections, integrated lights, a 250W motor, and Tektro disc brakes to provide ample stopping power. That's impressive for a bike that costs a mere €1,099 in Europe and $1,099 in the US (about £1,000 / AU$1,800).
Rad Power Bikes cites a maximum range of 45+ miles under ideal conditions, which is very respectable for a budget e-bike, and matched our experience during testing.
There are a few limitations, but nothing that's a deal-breaker. The external battery isn't particularly elegant, but it had the advantage of being easily detached for charging. Similarly, although there's only one frame size, it's available as either a step-over or step-through model, making it accessible to a wider range of riders.
Read our full Rad Power RadMission 1 review
The latest e-bike from UK retailer Halfords has an understated look, and could easily be mistaken for a regular push-bike at first glance. It's also one of the cheapest bikes in this guide, starting at just £1,000 (about $1,400 / AU$1,800) for the basic spec.
There are three versions of the Carrera Impel. The im-1 (which lacks gears and relies entirely on its motor to help tackle hills, and the im-2 (which has both gears and a choice of assistance settings) both have a top range of 50 miles, which is better than many bikes costing twice as much. That includes our current top-rated e-bike, the Cowboy 4, which maxes out at 43.5 miles.
The Carrera Impel im-3 has a beefier battery and is capable of running for up to 75 miles, though it's also the most expensive of the three.
When we tested the im-2, we were impressed by its low weight, which makes it easy to lift and carry without breaking a sweat, and the upright riding position provided by its hybrid geometry, which is great for visibility in traffic. It's comfortable, even for longer rides, and although it's not supplied with panniers, there's plenty of space for fitting some and turning it into a practical, convenient everyday workhorse for regular shopping and errands. Its Tektro brakes are excellent as well, performing well in wet conditions.
The main downside is that it's available in the UK only at the time of writing, and isn't likely to be available on US shores any time soon.
Read our full Halfords Carrera Impel im-2 review
Pure Electric is one of the biggest retailers of electric bikes and scooters in the UK, but the Flux One is its first foray into bike building. It's an impressive debut, and the result is a stylish bike that looks much more expensive than its modest price tag of £999 (about $1,400 / AU$1,900) would suggest.
In fact, its design is reminiscent of the Cowboy 4, our current top-rated electric bike, with smooth lines and a carbon belt drive system that helps keep maintenance to a minimum (no need to spend time oiling or tensioning a chain). It's fun to ride as well, with a comfortable, relatively upright riding position, dependable brakes, and easily operated power controls. It's light and well-balanced enough to carry on your shoulder as well, which is a rare bonus.
The downside is its range, which at just 25 miles in ideal conditions means it's more a bike for short city hops than weekend riding. We also found switching between power modes a little jarring at times, but this was a minor grumble. It's still a very good e-bike for the price, but given the choice we'd opt for the Rad Power RadMission 1 instead.
Read our full Pure Flux One review
If you're on a tight budget, the E-Trends Fly is an excellent option, available for around £699 in the UK, although I've seen it go as low as £449 on sale. That's around $550 in the US and AU900 in Australia. The ride is comfortable, and the throttle is easily accessible with just a touch of your thumb. There's also a pushing mode, which gives you a little help from the battery when you need to hop off and wheel it along the sidewalk for a stretch.
The design is a little out of sync with its contemporaries and it uses V-brakes rather than discs, which don't have as much stopping power due to the smaller surface area, although our reviewer didn't have a problem during testing. It's also undeniably heavy, which could be an issue if you need a folding e-bike you can carry onto trains and up stairs easily.
Nevertheless, a great budget buy if you're looking for a folding commuter.
Read our full E-Trends Fly review
How to choose the best cheap e-bike for you
Choosing the best cheap e-bike might be a little trickier than simply going with the best e-bike money can buy. After all, you're looking at the cheap options because you're on a budget, and e-bikes aren't going to be cheap. So, temper your expectations, and be prepared to be a little flexible in terms of price range.
That's especially because you shouldn't compromise on what you need just to save a lot of money, specifically if you're planning on utilizing that e-bike for your daily commutes or your weekend trips down rugged roads. Quality, performance, and features are still top priority.
Things like the motor for power, battery for range, and torque for hill climbing are important considerations. If you're spending money on a cheap e-bike that won't give you the power and range you need, you're basically throwing money away. You're better off holding off on that purchase until you can afford a better-performing e-bike.
Also take a look at the motor placement and its pedal assist, as well as the weight and, if you're short on space, its foldability. Of course, the type of e-bike and the design matter as well.
How we test the best cheap e-bikes
To give you a full rundown of how each cheap e-bike we test rides on the road, we always use it in real-world conditions. That's the best way to find out how it performs in day-to-day life.
By that, we mean putting them through their paces on a range of terrains and gradients. During this process, we test everything, from its full range of power settings to its extra features and custom settings.
For example, if one of those features is a navigation system, then we'll also use it to plot and ride several routes as well as compare its GPS tracking with the tracking for a top-end sports watch. If it comes with a mobile app, we take a look at that app's capabilities, ease of use, and any hidden surprises like a subscription fee.
We then compare its performance or power, features, and everything else with its price. A cheap e-bike won't necessarily mean bargain-basement. After all, e-bikes at this point are never going to be dirt cheap. What we're looking for instead are those that are not just affordably-price, but are a great value for your money.
Of course, we recommend that you test-ride any bike you're considering before you commit. But, our buying guide on the best cheap e-bikes should set you off to a good start.