Electric bikes are a great option for cycling beginners, or those who have taken a break from fitness. They are also perfect for experienced cyclists who are looking to take on a long distance challenge. Below, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best e-bikes in 2022, along with some top tips on what to look for when shopping…
5 tips when buying an e-bike
With so many e-bikes to choose from, finding the right one for your needs can be a minefield. Here, Dave Ward, bicycle product manager for e-bike brand Momentum, shares his buying tips.
1. Purchase your e-bike in person
‘Go and physically see a range of e-bikes at your local dealer rather than buying one online, especially if it’s your first e-bike purchase or you’re buying an e-bike after a long break from cycling. Sit on some e-bikes, get a feel for them and try them out if you can.
‘An e-bike has everything a regular bike has, such as brakes, gears, wheels and tyres, plus a motor, battery and different levels of assistance, so there’s a lot to take in. Learning how to use your e-bike from an instruction manual or online article can be tough, so there really is no substitute for going into a shop and being talked through how an e-bike works by an expert.’
2. Select your style
‘Decide what style of bike you want. Do you want an e-bike purely for fitness, commuting through the city, tackling countryside terrain or one that does a bit of everything? Once you’ve decided on your needs, make sure you buy the right size bike for your height.
‘If your bike is too small, you could be changing gears with your knees. If it’s too tall (and, therefore, longer in length), you’ll end up stretched out, which isn’t safe. You need to be able to reach the pedals and brakes to stay in control of the bike, and your head needs to be in a good, comfortable position to see everything around you, including surrounding traffic.’
3. Check the battery capacity
‘The capacity of a battery is measured in watt hours (Wh). Typical e-bikes can range from 300 to 800 Wh, and that figure indicates the size of your fuel tank. More is more, so the higher the number, the longer your battery can go for – but the price goes up accordingly. A bigger battery will give you the confidence to know it will see you to the end of a long ride.
‘That said, the great thing about e-bikes (compared to electric cars) is that you can still pedal home if you run out of power! Another thing to consider is the lifespan of the battery. Some might work for as little as 300 charges and need replacing sooner, while others can last for at least 1,000 charges.’
4. Examine the e-bike motor
‘The Newton-metre (Nm) metric indicates the torque (or strength) of the motor. In the UK, that can range from as little as 30 Nm up to 85 Nm, and the higher the number, the stronger the motor will be for better acceleration and climbing ability. Motors can be found in three different places on e-bikes: the front hub; the rear hub; or centrally on the downtube.
‘Hub-driven e-bikes are often cheaper and less bulky, but they’re not as strong as e-bikes with central motors. Also, remember that every e-bike sold legally in the UK has the same power output (250 watts) so they’re all restricted to 25km per hour – pricier e-bikes won’t go faster than cheaper models.’
5 best e-bikes 2022
WF tester Joanna Ebsworth says: ‘Everything about this high-quality e-bike screams reliability and sturdiness. It comes fully-equipped with a mid-mounted Bosch Active Line motor (barely audible in use), a 400Wh battery, Shimano 7 speed hub gears and strong but smooth hydraulic disc brakes, as well as integrated front and rear lights that work from the main motor, front and rear mudguards, a luggage rack, chain guard and kick stand.
‘The upright position, padded Selle Royal saddle and amazing suspension help to create a super-smooth and comfy ride, and you get up to 173km of assisted riding with one charge. The four levels of power assistance are accessed from a handy remote control next to your thumb, and the Bosch Intuvia Display bike computer reveals your distance, speed and battery capacity. The only downside is it weighs 28kg, so not the easiest bike to get through the house. But once I’m on it, commuting and days out are a dream.’
Momentum Vida E+ (£2,899)
Available in four colours with a choice of a mid-step or low-step frame, this e-bike has an upright riding position and luxe saddle for extra comfort. It also feels super-safe thanks to the wide, grippy tyres and reliable disc brakes that work in all conditions. One charge provides upto 170km of assistance that automatically adjusts to reflect the terrain, while the 60Nm motor will get up hills with ease.
Canyon Roadlite: ON 6 (£2,699)
This sporty hybrid e-bike provides 120km of assisted riding in one charge and lets you choose from three modes: Breeze (gentle and constant); River (progressive and dynamic); and Rocket (powerful burst). It’s light enough (16.3kg) to carry up steps and onto public transport, and you can shave an additional 3.6kg in weight by removing the powerful motor and riding it like a regular bike.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore (from £2,995)
Weighing just 15.53kg, this compact, folding ‘Explore’ model is built to withstand longer touring trips outside of the city. With six gears and a300 Wh battery, you get performance and portability over a range of 25-45 miles depending on how much Smart Pedal Assist tech you need. Available in a choice of four colours and three handlebar heights. Plus, it even has a USB port to charge your phone on the go.
Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 (£3,900)
WF tester Sarah Sellens says: ‘This ride packs some serious pep! With three preset modes of assistance – Eco, Sport or Turbo – plus an unassisted mode (Off), you can easily switch from a little pace support to a super cruising speed. This isn’t the bike to take racing. However, it is perfect for comfy commuting and hauling heavy backpacks from the shops.
‘With a solid upright position, it felt safe and sturdy – I was confident riding it from the first go. And alongside the front suspension, the factory standard tyres provide a noticeably smooth ride. I love that it comes with rear and front built-in lights, plus a pannier-ready rack.’
Words: Joanna Ebsworth | Lead Image: Shutterstock