With summer well underway and a federal e-bike incentive back on the Congress floor, it’s time to start thinking about electric bikes — and what might be the best one for you and your lifestyle.
We’ve rounded up the best e-bikes for your specific needs, whether you’re commuting to work and need to keep your cool, toting around children, delivering pizzas or traversing mountains. How did we make our picks? Our recommendations are based on a combination of our own experience on the bikes, industry research and talking with experts and our readers about what they love to ride.
Our guide is broken up into several categories, starting with the diverse array of cargo bikes. From there we provide recommendations for commuters, seniors, folks looking to scale mountains, people living in small spaces and those who are on a budget.
Best cargo e-bikes
Electric cargo bikes are taking off as people look for ways to carry kids, gear and groceries. At the same time, the rise in e-commerce and fast delivery has led to an uptick in urban couriers delivering everything from pizzas and groceries to headphones and alcohol.
There are two main types of e-cargo bikes: front loaders and rear loaders. Each has its own strengths. Front loaders, for example, are often better if you’re carrying small children or large, bulky items. However, some people might be initially put off by the larger turning circle and the size — they are much longer and require more storage space.
Rear loaders feel more like a normal bike and allow you to stack cargo behind you. When it comes to transporting kids, rear loaders are better for older children who can be trusted to keep their seats.
We’ll break down some of the best cargo bikes we’ve found for different demographics.
Front loaders for parents: Urban Arrow Family Electric Cargo Bike
When it comes to making a great e-cargo bike for families, trust the Dutch to do it. The Urban Arrow Family Electric Cargo Bike is a front loader that’s built with the safety of your little ones in mind. One way the Urban Arrow pulls this off is through a lowered children’s seating position, which makes for an overall lower center of gravity that makes it easier for the bike to stick to the road.
The Family can seat a max of four passengers, including three in the box and one in the back, if you opt for a rear rack and seat, which will cost extra. The polypropylene box comes with two adjustable three-point belts and can accommodate an extra bench, an adapter to fit a car seat, a rain cover and more.
Buyers in the U.S. can choose either the Bosch Performance Line drive unit (65 Nm) or the Cargo Line (85 Nm) that can power you up to 15 miles per hour even on hilly terrain. The average range of the Family is about 31 miles, and the bike boasts electric pedal assist and stepless gear shifting.
Compared to other similar cargo bikes, the Family has a light frame. It weighs about 110 pounds, which is still heavy, but not as heavy as some. It has a total weight capacity (including cargo and rider) of 550 pounds. It’s about 9 feet long and 2.3 feet wide.
Close second place: Trek Fetch+ 4
The Fetch+ 4 has about the same things going for it as the Family, but we chose the latter for a couple reasons. The first was the price — the Family is about $500 cheaper. The second is the weight. I like to get the lightest bike possible, and if I’m toting around small children plus supplies, I don’t need the bike adding additional weight. The Fetch 4+ weighs about 163 pounds, about 50 pounds heavier than the Family.
I will say, however, that the Fetch’s two built-in child seats have five-point harnesses, as opposed to the Family’s three-point harnesses. The Fetch also has wobble-preventing headrests and three recline positions, including upright, chill mode and sleep mode.
Finally, the Fetch+ 4 actually comes standard with a rear rack to carry an additional child seat, so if you’ve got a large brood and need to carry five small children, this might be the bike for you.
Rear loaders for parents: Yuba Spicy Curry
Families love the Yuba Spicy Curry, with many saying it has almost completely replaced the need for their cars. It’s easy and fun to ride, and the long tail allows you to fit up to three wiggly kids in the back. Chuck on some saddlebags and a bread basket in the front, and you can carry the kids and the groceries all in one go.
The Spicy Curry has a carrying capacity of 440 pounds. While it can suit riders anywhere from 5 feet to 6 foot 5 inches, it is easier to handle for riders under 6 feet tall. That’s partly because the rear wheel is smaller than the front wheel, which lowers the center of gravity and makes it easier to handle while riding with cargo.
The Bosch Cargo Line drive unit and Powerpack 500 battery give the bike 60 miles of range on a single charge and a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The Spicy Curry weighs about 60 pounds and has a length of almost 7 feet.
Accessories include adjustable monkey bars, side boards and an easy-fit child seat.
For urban delivery workers: RadRunner 3 Plus
Gig delivery workers in cities have really gravitated toward using electric utility bikes that are easy to use and easy to store. But because cargo bikes are expensive, delivery workers often sacrifice quality for a good price point. This has led to quite a few serious battery fires, especially in New York City, arguably the fast delivery capital of the country.
Rad Power Bikes has many in its lineup that offer both an affordable bike and a safe, high-quality battery. The company recently launched its newest RadRunner 3 Plus, a comfortable and affordable fat-tire bike that’s built to carry cargo. Its payload capacity is 350 pounds, and it’s built with plenty of accessory mounting points for more storage placement options. Some new accessories include a trailer, a center console with a locking lid and a new passenger seat. There’s also a hardshell locking box and hardshell locking pannier.
The RadRunner 3 Plus has a range of up to 40 miles, but customers can purchase a dual battery system, bringing the range up to 100 miles. The battery can easily be removed and charged inside your apartment, so you won’t have to lug the whole bike upstairs if you’ve got a safe place to lock it up on the ground floor.
Best e-bikes for commuters: Cowboy
€2,990 at Cowboy (For now! Cowboy says its prices are going up in August.)
When looking for an urban commuter bike, something lightweight enough to haul onto a bus or carry up stairs is key. Ideally, you also want it to look fresh as hell. That’s where the Cowboy e-bikes win, coming in at around 40 pounds and in stylish matte colors like lavender, clay and sand.
Cowboy has three bikes on offer, and they all have more or less the same features and are priced the same. The Classic (formerly the Cowboy 4) has a slightly shorter handlebar than the other two, and it puts you in an active rider position. The Cruiser and the Cruiser ST (formerly the Cowboy 4ST) both put you in an upright riding position, but the former bike has a step-over frame and the latter has a step-through frame.
Cowboy’s bikes are surprisingly simple in design, perhaps a nod to their Belgian creators. The frames are sleek and light, and the automatic lights are flush against the neck rather than jutting out. The bikes come out the box pretty much ready to ride with minimal setup. Instead of gears, they have a motor that kicks in automatically when you start pedaling. Cowboy only has one pedal-assist level, which isn’t ideal, but the bikes will bring you to a top speed of 20 miles per hour. Each bike has a removable battery that takes about three hours to charge and can get you 40 miles.
Cowboy does the smart bike thing in a minimalist way. Rather than including an LED display on the handlebars, the bikes have built-in phone holders with a wireless charger. They’re also app-connected, so you have to pair to lock and unlock it. You can also use the app’s GPS system to navigate the best route, check the battery range, get live weather updates and monitor speed. It even has crash detection and will share your location with emergency contacts in case of a crash.
Close second place: Ride1Up 700 Series
$1,695 $1,395 at Ride1Up
Ride1Up’s 700 Series is a great all-around e-bike that doesn’t break the bank. It’s a little heavier at 62 pounds, which makes it less ideal for apartment dwellers who don’t have an elevator in their building. But it’s a lot faster — the Ride1Up is technically a Class 3 e-bike, with 28 miles per hour pedal assist and a 20 mph throttle, thanks to a powerful 750W Bafang motor. It’s also got a range of up to 50 miles.
Best e-bikes for seniors: RadRunner 2
My over-60-year-old mother loves her RadRunner 2, so I can say with confidence that this is a great bike for older riders.
The step-through frame makes it easy to mount, and the fat tires give it a feeling of sturdiness on the road. The LED display is simple and easy to understand, giving the basic data you’d need like the level of pedal assist you’re on, the amount of battery charge remaining, and the speed. The throttle is there to help with those moments when pedaling is getting too exhausting or you need to move out of traffic quickly.
The RadRunner also has LED lights that indicate to cars behind you that you’re braking. The 750W motor gives you a top speed of 20 miles per hour, and the battery has a range of up to 45 miles.
Additionally, the RadRunner 2 comes with a rear rack, which is great for storing cargo, or in my mom’s case, veggies from the local farmer’s market.
Best e-bikes for the mountains: Specialized Levo Comp Carbon
One of the best things about Specialized’s Levo Comp Carbon e-mountain bike is its flexibility. It’s built with an adjustable geometry that lets the rider set it up in six different configurations to suit their riding style, terrain and preferences. The bike also has a mixed wheel design — 160 mm in the front and 150 mm rear travel — which makes clearing steep terrain much easier.
The 700Wh battery gives the bike an impressive range that lets you ride for over 5 hours. The Levo Comp Carbon’s 575W motor powers serious torque with three support settings that are customizable via Specialized’s Mission Control app. It’s easy to make adjustments to your output while on the trail, allowing you to work as hard as you want on uphill climbs.
Overall, this bike has intuitive handling. It takes off and lands well and is agile and responsive. Well worth the expensive price tag.
Best e-bikes for small spaces: Gocycle G4
Folding bikes are great when you have limited storage space, but if it’s a mission to fold them and they just condense into a cumbersome, heavy bulk of metal when folded, then what’s the point? The Gocycle G4 doesn’t have that problem. In fact, it ticks almost all the boxes you’d want in a folding e-bike. At only 38 pounds, it’s lightweight yet sturdy, and it’s easy to fold in just seconds. Plus it handles really well.
The G4 has a 500W front hub motor that can bring the bike up to 20 mph top speed, via both pedal assist and throttle. Its removable lithium-ion battery is integrated into the G4’s hydroformed aluminum frame, it takes 3.5 hours to fully charge, and has a range of up to 40 miles. For the G4i, that range extends to 50 miles. The bike also has an integrated USB charge port on the handlebars so you can use the bike’s battery to charge your phone.
The folding mechanism is intuitive and can be done in 10 seconds. And even better, once folded, it can be rolled on its wheels. With the kickstand down, the G4 all folded up is about 35 inches long, 15 inches wide, and 24 inches tall.
The bike also connects with the GocycleConnect app so riders can access customized driving modes, health stats and maximum and average pedal power.
Close second place: Montague M-E1
The thing about folding bikes is they sometimes look funny. I don’t make the rules, they just do, with their small wheels and long necks. If you want something that folds but still looks like a regular bike, then the Montague M-E1 is a great option. At 54 pounds, it’s still heavier than the Gocycle 4, but still fairly lightweight as far as e-bikes go. Luckily, it, too, can be rolled by the wheels once it’s in a folded position.
Best e-bikes for riders on a budget: Lectric XP 3.0
Yes, this is also a folding bike, but it’s so much more. And “more” is the right descriptor here because the XP 3.0 is an upgraded version of Lectric’s popular 2.0 bike. It’s got a quieter motor, more torque, better brakes, added suspension and a rear rack that can hold more weight — up to 150 pounds. The optimized gearing also means smooth riding at higher speeds.
Lectric’s XP 3.0 can accommodate a Class 1, 2, or 3 e-bike with pedal assist and throttle. The 1000W peak rear hub motor delivers 55 Nm of torque, and the battery has long range and standard options to give you up to 45 or 65 miles of range, respectively. Now, the bike battery isn’t removable, so you have to bring the whole thing to whatever outlet you’re using. However, if you opt for the spare batteries, those can be removed and reinstalled, doubling your range.
The bike weighs about 64 pounds, which is fine. It comes with a headlamp and taillight combination, which is not always a given with more affordable bikes. The fat tires are puncture resistant for a smooth ride.
Close second place: Ride1Up Roadster V2
Ride1Up’s original roadster with some upgrades. It’s a simple, fast and clean e-bike, with a concealed battery and quiet motor. Passersby might even assume you’re riding an analog bike! The Roadster V2 has a single-speed belt drive, a compact LCD display and a smooth alloy frame. It’s ideal for short commutes in urban environments, and preferably the flatter ones at that.