The super smart Cowboy 4 is our new top-rated e-bike – and here's why

Man standing with Cowboy 4 electric bike
The Cowboy 4 gets TechRadar's seal of approval (Image credit: Joseph Delves)

The Cowboy 4 has just taken the top spot in our roundup of the best e-bikes of 2021, and for good reason. It shows the true potential of electric bikes, and demonstrates just how easy, accessible and fun they can make cycling.

The Cowboy 4 (available to pre-order now) is as simple to use as possible, with no power buttons, assistance level settings, or even gears to worry about. Just begin pedalling and the motor will kick in automatically, adjusting the amount of assistance in response to your efforts. If you're cruising on the flat then the bike will only give you a little extra help, but if you're pushing up a hill then it'll help you glide to the summit.

Cowboy 4 bikes in step-over and step-through variations

The Cowboy 4 is available with a step-over or step-through frame, making it accessible to a wider range of riders (Image credit: Cowboy)

It's super low maintenance as well, with internal cable routing and built-in fenders to keep everything as neat and clean as possible, plus a carbon belt in lieu of the usual chain. No tensioning and oiling is necessary – just some cleaning after a particularly dirty ride to keep it in good condition.

Built-in lights run from the bike's detachable battery, which can also charge your phone as you ride. Cowboy's app provides turn-by-turn navigation, and can calculate the quickest, quietest, and least polluted routes for you.

Cowboy 4 e-bike handlebars with smartphone attached

The Cowboy 4 charges your phone wirelessly, while its app delivery turn-by-turn navigation (Image credit: Joseph Delves)

The bike's in-built diagnostic system will warn you if anything goes wrong, and there's automatic incident detection that'll alert an emergency contact automatically if you have an accident. If you take out the optional theft insurance, you'll also receive a warning if the bike is moved when you're not close, and you'll be able to follow its whereabouts so you can get it back.

It's lightweight for an e-bike too, tipping the scale at 18.9kg, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, it's far from the most expensive machine around, priced at £2,290 (about $3,200 / AU$4,200) including delivery.

Smoother cruising

Our first encounter with the Belgian bikemaker was back in 2019, when we had the opportunity to take the newly launched Cowboy 2 for a spin in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in London. The experience wasn't quite refined yet, but it already felt like a brief glimpse into the future of cycling.

We got to spend much longer with 2020's Cowboy 3, and enjoyed two weeks of effortless rides. Our main complaint was that it only came in a single frame style and size, which meant only people within a certain height range who felt comfortable using a step-over frame could enjoy it.

Cowboy 3 bike resting against metal trellis

The Cowboy 3, which we reviewed last year, was hard to fault, but not quite as polished as the 2021 model (Image credit: Future)

With the launch of the Cowboy 4, the company has remedied that problem with a new step-through design, which costs the same as the step-over version, and makes the bike an even better choice for anyone with limited mobility, or who wants to ride comfortably in their regular clothes.

If you're in the market for an electric bike that makes life as easy as possible, the Cowboy 4 is the most obvious choice, and gets TechRadar's seal of approval.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)