Next time you’re sitting in traffic, standing up on a jam-packed train, or puffing your way up a steep hill on a bike, ask yourself if there’s a better way to commute to work. The answer is yes. The answer is an electric bike.
Requiring just a little effort on your own part to keep the wheels spinning, e-bikes are a perfect way to combine moderate exercise with a commute because you can ride without breaking a sweat. We’ve also found them to be no slower than taking public transport to work in London and a far more pleasant experience. In the long run, they’re cheaper too.
That’s especially true if you use the Cycle to Work scheme to get a discount on your e-bike. The £1,000 cap on bikes bought through the scheme has recently been lifted, so you can grab an e-bike and enjoy a 25-39% discount, depending on your tax rate. We’ve got a detailed explanation of how it works in our guide to the Cycle to Work scheme: it is a little complicated but if you feel like giving up, remember that the minimum you would save on the cheapest of our recommended e-bikes is £250 – nothing to sniff at.
For more info on what to look for in an e-bike, try our expert buyer’s guide, or dive into our recommendations below,ordered by price to help you find something that matches your budget.
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The Best Electric Bikes For Commuting
Decathlon B’TWIN Elops 900 E Step Over
God bless Decathlon and its reliable budget options – we’re delighted to see the accessories haven’t been stripped out to keep the price low, with integrated lights, mudguards and pannier racks included. The Elops 900 is a big beast at 24kg, but thankfully there are disc brakes so you’ll be able to bring that heavy weight to a stop quickly even in wet conditions. The wide tyres, oversized seat and swept-back handlebars give it a comfortable city cruiser feel, although the rear-wheel motor and battery in the pannier rack means the ride won’t feel quite as natural as an unpowered bike. One advantage with that placement of the battery is that it can be removed and charged away from the bike, something that’s not always possible thanks to the fashion for integrating batteries into the frame.
Buy from Decathlon | £999.99
Evans Pinnacle Mercury
Similarly priced to the Decathlon, this is a better bike, although it does away with the accessories so make sure you budget for lights and mudguards at the very least. You get great quality for your money, however, with Chinese manufacturer Bafang’s battery and motor system upgrading the torque of the motor to 45Nm (compared with the B’TWIN’s 30Nm) for a more beefy boost. It’s also much lighter at 19kg and is available in hybrid or step-through frames.
VanMoof S3 / X3
The VanMoof is one of a new breed of smart bikes that connect to your phone, offering extra security features and enhanced personalisation of the ride. It’s a great option for people who aren’t that confident riding a bike, with the Dutch-style upright position helping you feel stable and aware of your surroundings, and the automatic gears giving you one less thing to worry about. We did find the shifting a mite clunky on our test ride, although it wasn’t jarring. The boost button on the handlebars was a great addition, however, making it easy to avoid any physical exertion. The main downsides are its 19kg weight – not terrible but there are much lighter bikes at this price – and a battery that can’t be removed to be charged.
A mammoth range of 80-130km and a price under £2,000 make the Carrera Crossfuse a very attractive commuter option, especially since those with a 5-10km commute will get through the working week on one charge. The Crossfuse has a torque sensor so the motor delivers assistance in a very smooth manner, without the jolting starts that can be an annoyance on cheap e-bikes. There are no integrated lights and the machine is no lightweight at 24kg, but it offers the range and ride typical of a £2,000-plus e-bike for £1,899.
Cruise through your commute with this powerhouse hybrid e-bike, which has a range of 65km even if you stick exclusively to the top level of assistance and will carry you through 140km if you put it in eco mode. The swept-back handlebars ensure a comfortable riding position, and the Motus also comes with a pannier rack plus front and back mudguards.
At under 14kg this is one of the lightest e-bikes available, thanks to the ebikemotion system that dials down the power and squeezes a smaller battery into the downtube – a reasonable trade-off in our opinion, especially as there’s enough oomph in the motor for you to ride in your work clothes and not sweat through them. It’s also a real looker and you can’t say that about many, maybe even any, e-bikes.
This is our top all-round pick for commuters right now. That’s not just because of its relatively low 16.1kg weight, integrated battery and lights, oil-free belt drive or 70km range. And it’s certainly not because of the name Cowboy. It’s really because of the SIM card in the bike, which means you (or ideally the police) can track it down via GPS if it gets stolen, and also that it can’t be turned on without the partner app. Given the recent prevalence of bike thievery in the UK, clever anti-theft features like these are a godsend, and something we hope other brands take note of.
We recently reviewed the Ampler Curt, a flat-bar road bike similar to the Cowboy (above). While the Cowboy edged it in a head-to-head because of the price, we loved the Ampler experience. The Estonian company makes relatively light e-bikes (17.2kg in the Stout’s case), which hide the battery and come with all the trimmings – mudguards, puncture-resistant tyres, pannier rack and powerful integrated lights. Despite the slim frame and battery, power isn’t compromised as on the Ribble AL e (also above) – bang it on the highest assist setting in the app and getting around is zero effort, even up steep hills.
Buy from Ampler | £2,390
Roadlite:ON AL 7.0
We’ve taken one test ride on this light, aluminium-framed 15.5kg bike from the German direct-to-consumer online retailer and were impressed enough to want to tell you about it before we had a chance to do a full review. The handling and smooth assist from the motor brought back that “first time riding an e-bike” (or even a bike) feeling. If you’re not interested in practicalities (the brand’s forthcoming Pathlilte:ON is better for that) and just want to fly into work with a smile on your face, this one’s for you.
Buy from Canyon | £2,499
Gazelle Grenoble C8 HMB
This e-bike excels on two fronts – comfort and range. You can get a step-through or high-step version of the bike, which has an upright riding position perfect for cruising through the city, and in eco mode the battery lasts a stonking 115 miles (185km). Even if you opt for turbo mode, which offers the most assistance, you can ride for 45 miles (72km), and that’s with the standard gold battery – you can pay an extra £170 for the platinum battery for an even greater range. The bike comes with built-in lights powered by the battery, a pannier rack, mudguards and even an integrated lock, which is all very handy indeed.
Buy from Gazelle | From £2,599
- Electric Bike Buyers’ Guide
- Save £££s On An E-Bike Using The Cycle To Work Scheme
- Six Real-Life Benefits Of Cycling To Work
The Best Folding Electric Bikes
Folding bikes often sacrifice some range by opting for a smaller battery so they can be carried comfortably, but the Volt Metro manages over 80km while remaining eminently portable. It also has a throttle to provide an extra burst of speed away from traffic lights, and comes with integrated lights.
By putting the battery in a removable rucksack that sits on the front of the bike, Brompton has ensured that the Electric retains the style of the classic Brompton foldie. That means it’s more portable and useful because it folds down into a much smaller size than any other option we’ve tried. You can store it in a cupboard easily, or fit it under your desk with space to spare, or carry it into a shop to pick up dinner rather than having to bother, or risk, locking it up outside. The Brompton Electric has a range of 40-80km and is pretty lightweight for an e-bike at 16.6kg for the two-speed version and 17.3kg for the six-speed.
Buy from Brompton | From £2,595
All of Gocycle’s distinctive bikes are lightweight and reasonably portable, but the GX is the company’s first proper folding option, with a central hinge and a design that allows it to be pushed along by the seat when folded. That last part was especially handy when we caught a flat halfway to work and were able to catch a bus and walk the remainder of the way, pushing it on one wheel. All the bike’s mechanisms are housed inside the frame, which protects them from the elements and protects your trousers from a greasy chain. The range tops out at 65km – good for a folding e-bike – and the motor delivers smooth assistance in line with the power you’re putting through the pedals.
There’s no way an e-bike could entirely replace my car, but it improved some journeys
A comfortable and practical urban electric bike with refreshingly simple security features
This lightweight e-bike offers a smooth ride, but its abnormally high price is hard to justify
The second electric bike from Brompton is lighter and can now be wheeled around, but is it worth the extra expense?
The best folding e-bike we’ve tried, by a country mile – every urban home should have one
It’s cheaper, greener, healthier and kids love it – Raleigh’s consumer model could accelerate an e-bike revolution
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