An electric bike can be a game-changer, but until relatively recently they've been prohibitively expensive for many riders. Just a couple of years ago, it was practically impossible to get hold of one from a reputable bike builder for less than $2,000. Thankfully, the tide has now changed and there's an extensive range of budget e-bikes available much more cheaply – and we're here to help you find the right one for you.
We test a lot of electric bikes here on TechRadar, and here we've rounded up our pick of the very best budget options for a range of uses, including commuting, daily errands, and trail riding, taking into account their maximum range, build quality, components, and overall riding experience.
Of course, you can pick up an e-bike much more cheaply if you're willing to settle for an unknown brand, but that's something we'd avoid. The bikes listed here are all from manufacturers with a good track record, and solid after-sales service. Their bikes also comply with local rules and standards where they're sold, so you can be confident you won't be pulled over for riding something illegal.
Almost all of these bikes were tested in the UK, and therefore have a maximum speed of 15.5mph with the motor engaged. Versions sold in other countries (particularly the US) may have a higher top speed, which will mean higher battery usage and reduced range. Take a moment to check the specs on the retailer's site before making your final choice – and happy riding!
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 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
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
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 directly, and can be found even more cheaply at Amazon 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
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
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