Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best electric bike 2021: The best commuting, folding, MTB and road e-bikes from £900 this Black Friday

Advertisement

Cycle further, faster and more easily with our pick of the best electric folding, hybrid, road and mountain bikes on the market

While electric bikes have been popular for many years in mainland Europe and East Asia, people in the UK have only recently woken up to the charms of a little motor assistance when cycling. Commuters, in particular, can benefit from an e-bike, as they offer a fast, reliable and sweat-free route to work, avoiding both the crush and delays of public transport and the physical demands of regular cycling.

That’s not to say you get off scot-free with regards to exercise. You still have to pedal to get the motor running on an e-bike – you can’t just press a button and put your feet up – and the assistance cuts out by law at 15.5mph. If you want to go faster than that, then you’re on your own. Still, the motor makes a big difference: the effort required to power an e-bike is roughly comparable to walking, which makes it the ideal way to travel further and faster without melting in a pool of sweat.

Here you’ll find our pick of the best e-bikes that are currently on the market. Whether you’re looking for a commuter-friendly steed, a bargain-priced beginner’s option or something ready for longer off-road and on-road weekend rides, you’re guaranteed to find something that fits the bill. At the end of the roundup, you’ll also find a buying guide to help you choose the best e-bike for you.

Save £585 on Brompton's H2L Folding Electric Bike this Black Friday

Our favourite folding electric bike is now 20% off in the Black Friday sales. With the battery tucked into a rucksack just below the handlebars, carrying the Brompton H2L e-bike is a breeze when travelling through stations, up escalators or through crowds as you can simply carry the battery separately. Not only that, the Brompton has a range of up to 45 miles and even mudguards to make sure you are equipped for any journey.
Rutland Cycling
Was £2,885
Now £2,300

Get almost 15% off the Carrera Crossfuse Electric Bike during the Black Friday sales

In the roundup below, we praise the Carrera Crossfuse as the option for long-distance commuters, and today, you can pick one up for an even cheaper price in the Black Friday sales. With its 80-mile range, front suspension and 700c wheels, everything about this e-bike is geared towards travelling larger distances.
Halfords
Was £2000
Now £1709

The Specialised Turbo Levo SL Comp 2021 has £550 off for Black Friday

Thanks to Rutland Cycling's Black Friday offers, you can get 10% off the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp 2021, which was selected as our best electric MTB. You can read all about its powerful motor, lightweight design and handy mobile app in our mini-review below.
Rutland Cycling
Was £5,500
Now £4,950

Best e-bikes: At a glance


The best electric bikes to buy

1. Pure Flux One: The best budget bike for city commuting

Price: £999 | Buy now from Pure Electric

If you’re after a serene commute at a bargain, the Pure Flux One may be for you. Usually retailing at just under £1,000, travelling on Flux One’s light 17.5kg frame won’t weigh as heavily on your finances as other e-bikes. Although a decent 25-mile range should see you through a short commute with no issues, fast-charging batteries (up to 80% in three hours) mean that you’ll be topped up relatively quickly even if they run dry.

What sticks out with the Flux One is that there are no gears, with the standard steel chain replaced by a carbon belt. The absence of gears means the bike is a single-speed machine – racing in at 9mph, 12.5mph or 15mph – and works best on flat terrain. While this might be off-putting for cycling purists, carbon belts typically last much longer than steel chains and will never need oiling, nor do they run the risk of staining your clothes. The lack of gears means that from an accessibility perspective, the Flux One resembles the e-scooters Pure has become known for, while still offering a bit of a workout.

For city dwellers after a beautiful, lightweight e-bike at an appealing price, the Pure Flux One is a great fit.

Read our full review of the Pure Flux One for details

Key specs – Weight: 17.5kg; Motor: Vision GM110 hub; Range: Up to 40km (25 miles); Number of gears: N/A (carbon belt)

Buy now from Pure Electric


2. B’Twin Tilt 500: Best folding electric bike for £900

Price: £900 | Buy now from Decathlon

It might not have the range or power of pricier folding e-bikes, and it’s a little bulkier too, but the B’Twin Tilt 500 delivers a hell of a lot considering its low price, especially as it even chucks in mudguards, lights and a kickstand as part of the package.

The bike’s assistance cuts out at different speeds depending on which of the three modes you use it in. In Eco mode the assistance stops at 17km/h (10.5mph), and in Normal and Sport modes the motor cuts out at 22km/h (13.7mph) and 25km/h (15.5mph) respectively. As you’d expect, the range also varies based on the mode, and those who stick in the highest level of assist at all times should be wary that the range is listed at only 12 miles, though we found that the Tilt 500 tended to actually outlast this, covering more like 15-20 miles in Sport mode on one charge.

Read our full review of the B’Twin Tilt 500 Electric

Key specs – Weight: 18.6kg; Motor: 250W brushless motor (rear); Range: 12-21 miles; Number of gears: 6

Buy now from Decathlon


3. Brompton Electric: The best folding e-bike

Price: From £2,885 | Buy now from Pure Electric

Keen to avoid ruining the stylish design of its popular folding bike, Brompton opted to tuck the battery for its e-bike into a handy rucksack that sits on the front of the bike just below the handlebars. This makes it easy to take off and carry the battery separately, which is useful in reducing the weight of the bike itself when carrying it through stations or up stairs.

The range of the Brompton is 20 to 45 miles, which is very solid for a folding e-bike, but generally, you’ll need to stay in the higher levels of assist due to the small wheels, especially if you’re cycling a hilly route. In the high-assist mode, you should expect to get around 20 to 25 miles, still comfortably enough to tackle most commutes, before charging the bike at night. And even if you run out of battery it’s not a disaster, because the Brompton Electric rides smoothly even without assistance – you’ll just have to work a bit harder on the hills.

For clarity, it’s worth noting what the bike model names (M2L, H6L etc.) refer to. The M2L, for instance, is a two-speed bike with an “M type handlebar”. This is Brompton’s classic handlebar shape, which aims to provide an “all-round, neutral position”. By contrast, an “H type handlebar’ is the classic handlebar at an elevated height, suitable for taller riders. Finally, the “L” refers to the bike being equipped with mudguards, for year-round cycling.

Read our full review of the Brompton Electric

Key specs – Weight: 16.6kg (two-speed), 17.3kg (six-speed); Motor: Brompton (front); Range: 25-50 miles; Number of gears: 2 or 6

Buy now from Pure Electric


4. Carrera Crossfuse: A great option for longer commutes

Price: £1,899 | Buy now from Halfords

With its mammoth 80-mile range, wide handlebars, front suspension, disc brakes and 700c wheels, the Crossfuse is the perfect e-bike for cruising to and from the office. One charge a week will be more than enough for most people, with the Crossfuse reaching the 70-mile mark comfortably even if you opt for more assistance than the lowest Eco mode.

The Crossfuse has a torque motor that ensures a smooth ride; most of the time you won’t notice the assistance you’re getting from it. One black mark against it is the lack of integrated lights or a kickstand, but it’s a lot of e-bike for the price with a feature set that you’d generally have to pay over £2,000 for, so we’ll let it off the lights.

Key specs – Weight: 23.9kg; Motor: Bosch Active Line PLUS (mid); Range: Up to 80 miles; Number of gears: 9

Buy now from Halfords


5. B’Twin Elops 900 E Step Over: The best step-through bike

Price: £1,000 | Buy now from Decathlon

This elegant step-through city bike is easy on the eye and easy on your wallet, coming in at a penny less than £1,000. It has all the essentials you need for an enjoyable and sweat-free commute, starting with a motor that provides smooth assistance for up to 70km (depending on what level you use) and seven gears.

The Elops 900 has disc brakes – always reassuring with heavy e-bikes that take some stopping when they’re flying downhill – and built-in lights powered by the battery, plus a clear console that’s simple and intuitive to control. The wide 28in tyres can handle potholes and cobblestones alike, and the bike comes with a pannier rack to make carrying your belongings easier. We’d also add a front basket to complete the classic step-through bike look.

Key specs – Weight: S/M 23.8kg, L/XL 24.3kg; Motor: 250W brushless motor (rear); Range: 25-43 miles; Number of gears: 7

Buy now from Decathlon


6. Ribble Hybrid AL e: The best-looking electric hybrid

Price: From £2,199 | Buy now from Ribble

Despite having its 250Wh eBikeMotion battery hidden in the downtube, the Ribble Hybrid AL e delivers a surprising amount of pedal assistance and a range of up to 62 miles. Plus it’s a real looker. Indeed, if you’re not sold on the rather chunky-looking models in this list, the AL e’s relatively lightweight 13kg design could be just what you’re after.

With prices starting from £2,199, it isn't cheap. The non-electric version starts from £899. If you want to get to and from work in style and without breaking a sweat, though, it might just be worth the premium. An additional £100 also gets you a pannier rack, lights, mudguards and a bell, making it the complete commuter’s bike.

Key specs – Weight: 13.1kg (medium); Motor: eBikeMotion system; Range: Up to 62 miles; Number of gears: 11

Buy now from Ribble


7. Giant Road E+1 Pro 2021: The best electric road bike

Price: £3,959 | Buy now from Pure Electric

No matter how powerful the motor or how sleek the design, all electric bikes can only provide assistance up to a speed of 15.5mph. This makes perfect sense from a safety point of view, but oh boy would it be fun to push past that point on the racy Giant Road E+1 and see how quick you can go.

As it is, you’ll find the 15.5mph limit is actually more a minimum of how fast you’ll go on this beauty, and the power is delivered so smoothly it feels just like riding a regular bike. The range tops out at around 90 miles in the lowest level of assistance, which is ideal for long Sunday rides with friends or longer touring trips, especially in hilly areas where you’ll delight in cranking up the motor for steep climbs.

Key specs – Weight: 20kg; Motor: Giant SyncDrive Pro (mid); Range: Up to 90 miles; Number of gears: 11

Buy now from Pure Electric


8. Cowboy 3: The smartest e-bike

Price: £1,990 | Buy now from Cowboy

Many e-bikes, even today, are little more than traditional designs with a motor and battery bolted on. The Cowboy 3 is different: it’s designed from the ground up as an e-bike and looks superb, plus it’s also crammed with technology, with GPS tracking, cellular connectivity and motion sensors all working together to deliver a raft of useful features.

The bike has theft alerts and tracking, automatic crash detection and also smartphone locking and unlocking. With a range of up to 70km, an impressively low weight of 16.9kg and very little maintenance needed thanks to a Gates carbon belt drive, the Cowboy 3 is one of the very best e-bikes on the market.

Read our full Cowboy 3 review for details

Key specs – Weight: 16.9kg; Motor: 250W; Range: Up to 70 miles; Number of gears: 1

Buy now from Cowboy


9. Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp 2021: The best electric MTB

Price: £5,500 | Buy now from Rutland Cycling

There are two main features you want from an electric MTB – it needs have a powerful enough motor to drive you up the climbs, but it also has to be nimble enough that you can thread your way along the trickiest trails when flying downhill.

For a mountain bike, Specialized's Turbo Levo SL Comp is lightweight and sleek (though an exact weight is not given). Despite that, the 240W SL 1.1 motor provides plenty of driving power, and the wheels are robust and durable enough for confident off-road rides. Specialized's Mission Control app is also a brilliantly handy tool, allowing you to adjust the exact amount of assistance delivered by the motor, and doing so in line with battery life to ensure you’ve got enough juice for the entire distance of your trip.

Key specs – Weight: Not given; Motor: Specialized Custom SL 1.1; Range: Unspecified; Number of gears: 11

Buy now from Rutland Cycling


10. Volt Metro: An excellent mid-price folding e-bike

Price: From £1,599 | Buy now from Volt


The Volt Metro is a folding e-bike that rides more like a full-sized e-bike than a compact space saver. It rides well on its 20in wheel and fat tires, the gears shift smoothly and it feels robustly put together.

It isn't particularly stylish but its 250W rear hub motor pushes you along with great gusto and if you're the type who doesn't want to put too much effort into your ride it'll do 95% of the work for you up to the maximum speed of 15.5mph. All you need to do is gently turn the pedals. Range is good, too, at up to 40 miles or 60 miles if you opt for the pricier model fitted with a 630Wh battery.

Unlike the Brompton Electric and the Decathlon B'Twin Tilt 500, the Volt Metro's beefy aluminium frame makes it pretty hefty, and at nearly 23kg (including the battery) you certainly won't want to be lugging it on and off commuter trains too often.

But if you don't have much storage space at home and the prospect of getting to work under your own steam without having to put in much effort appeals this is a well-priced choice.

Read our full Volt Metro review for details

Key specs – Weight: 22.7kg (inc battery); Motor: 250W brushless motor (Rear); Range: up to 40 or 60 miles; Number of gears: 8

Buy now from Volt


11. Hummingbird Electric: The best lightweight electric bike

Price: £4,495 | Buy now from Hummingbird

At 10.3kg the Hummingbird Electric is the lightest electric bike you can get. This weight, combined with its folding design, makes it a brilliant option for commuters and city riders, especially as it’s so good-looking that you’ll want to take it everywhere you go.

The Hummingbird’s motor fires up in a slightly different way to other e-bikes, requiring three back-pedals at low speed to kick in. It will also turn itself off after a couple of minutes of inactivity, or ten minutes if connected to the partner Bitride app. You can use this app to adjust the assistance it gives, as well as checking your battery status.

At almost £4,500 you’re clearly paying through the nose for the outstanding design of the Hummingbird, but its low weight in particular will appeal to riders who’ve steered clear of e-bikes for fear of having to lug around a 20kg monster.

Key specs – Weight: 10.3kg; Motor: Hummingbird; Range: Up to 25 miles; Number of gears: 1

Buy now from Hummingbird


12. Furo X: A folding e-bike with fantastic ride quality

Price: £1,799 | Buy from Furo Systems

Furo Systems is a newcomer to the folding e-bike scene but its lightweight carbon-fibre folder is already one of the best folding e-bikes we’ve ever ridden. Powered by a 250W BAFANG hub motor built into the rear wheel, it rides like an absolute dream, with smooth power assistance applied to the wheel so you can ride faster and further than normal. Comfy tyres and contact points ensure you’re fresh and raring to go whenever you arrive at your destination.

It’s surprisingly light when it’s folded up, too, thanks to that carbon-fibre frame, and weighs 15kg including the battery. That makes it lighter than both the Brompton Electric and the GoCycle GX. Still, a lot of weight to lug about, then, but a little easier to manage than the competition.

At this initially reduced price, the Furo X is very good value for a folding e-bike. It comes ready fitted with front and rear fenders, powerful hydraulic disc brakes, an integrated front light and wireless indicators, too.

Key specs – Weight: 15kg; Motor: 250W brushless motor (rear hub); Range: Up to 45km or 55km, depending on which battery you choose; Number of gears: 9

Buy now from Furo Systems


How to buy the best electric bike for you

What kind of electric bike should I buy?

If you’re looking for an e-bike to commute on, the two main choices are between folding and hybrid electric bikes. Folding bikes save on space at home and are generally lighter than hybrid bikes, but sacrifice some range, so are generally only suitable for shorter commutes if you don’t want to charge them every day. Meanwhile, their smaller wheels can make tougher work of the rougher roads and potholes in London’s cycle network. If you can find the room, the bigger wheels and stiffer frames of hybrid bikes prove more comfortable to ride and usually have a bigger battery and motor, so can also be used for long weekend rides as well as short-hop commuting. They are heavier, though, and can be extremely expensive.

Other electric bike options include mountain bikes and road bikes. The former are growing in popularity as riders can power up the hills before flying back down them with the motor turned off, meaning their day on the trails involves more fun and less graft – and even riders with middling fitness levels can cover much bigger distances off-road. Road e-bikes aren’t so common and are generally very expensive, but are also speedier than most electric options and have a greater range. Incidentally, both road and MTB e-bikes are now a regular sight in the bike rental shops of more mountainous areas such as the French Alps, as they allow even novice riders to accompany experienced riders up the steepest hills and tackle longer rides without getting left behind.

How much do I need to spend?

As you’d expect, electric bikes are more expensive than regular bikes, and generally you’ll be looking at around £1,500 to £3,000 for a quality hybrid bike, although there are a couple of bargains available under £1,000. Folding bikes are a little cheaper, but will still set you back £1,000 to £2,000, and if you fancy an electric MTB or road bike, expect to shell out upwards of £2,000. They’re not cheap, but considering the cost of public transport in the UK’s major cities you might end up making your money back within a couple of years of commuting on an e-bike – and you might just get a little fitter into the bargain, too.

What features should I look out for?

The key features to look out for on an e-bike are what type of motor it uses, how far the battery will get you (normally referred to as a bike’s range) and its weight. The motor can be placed in the centre of a wheel at the hub (this is referred to as a “hub motor”) or in the middle of the bike, which balances the weight better.

Shimano and Bosch are the two main manufacturers of mid-drive motors across a range of e-bike brands, with both offering quality and reliability, while some e-bike manufacturers will use in-house designs. Most bikes will allow you to choose how much assistance the motor provides with a handlebar-mounted control, with more assistance making it easier to pedal, albeit at the expense of battery life.

The range of an e-bike is vital, as they can be a bit of a handful to ride without assistance due to their increased weight. You should be looking for a range of at least 40-50 miles from a hybrid or road bike, and ideally significantly more with lower levels of motor assistance. With MTB bikes it’s tricky to provide a definite range because of the varying terrain they’ll be ridden on, so it’s worth enquiring on a case-by-case basis. Folding bikes generally have a lower range of between 20 and 50 miles.

One thing that all electric bikes have in common is their weight: all current models are significantly heavier than their human-powered equivalents. Bikes that weigh over 25kg will be a real lump to carry up or down steps, so it’s wise to consider a more lightweight hybrid or folding bike if you don't have a ground floor flat. Also consider how hard it will be to ride if the battery does run out of juice – a 25kg bike is no fun to ride up a hill when there isn’t a motor to lend a helping hand.

What’s the difference between a speed and a torque sensor?

An e-bike with a basic speed or cadence sensor will detect when you are cycling and provide a fixed level of assistance based on what you have set with the controls. In a sense it works like an on/off switch, with pedalling turning on the assistance. A torque sensor detects how hard you are pedalling and provides a range of assistance based on that, even within the overall level you set. The torque approach amplifies your effort and results in a smoother, more natural-feeling ride, avoiding any jerky movements when the motor suddenly kicks in, which does happen with speed sensors. However, the fixed level of assistance provided by a speed sensor can make things easier when riding up hills, and bikes with speed sensors are usually cheaper.

What extra features should I look out for?

Check how large and clear the display of the e-bike handlebar computer is and what information it shows. It’s especially useful for it to show a range estimate for each level of assistance available. Two extras that really should be on every e-bike are lights powered by the battery – it’s quite annoying to have to charge lights separately when there’s a huge battery on your bike – and a kick-stand, because e-bikes are heavy.

Read more

Best Buys