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Best Budget Electric Bike of 2021

Photo: Laura Casner
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Friday March 12, 2021
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Looking for an affordable e-bike? We exhaustively researched the best reasonably priced e-bikes and bought the top seven to compare side by side. Our diverse selection includes the full spectrum of e-bike styles. We rigorously tested these bikes head to head for several weeks while scrutinizing every aspect of their performance. We focused on and rated each model on the predetermined metrics of ride quality, distance range, power output, user interface, and ease of assembly. No matter your needs or budget, there's an electric bike for you.

Top 7 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 7
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $800 List$859.99 at Amazon$659.99 at Amazon$649.99 at Amazon$659.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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88
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79
73
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Pros Comfortable, long distance range, good handling, great display and controls, lots of featuresFaster, longer distance range, good handling, 5 pedal assist modes, good display and controlsFast, good handling, comes with fendersFeature packed, long distance range, comes ready to carry lots of cargo, 20 mph top speed"Mountain bike" style, affordable, headlight, 21-speed drivetrain
Cons More expensive, not the fastest or most powerfulSeatpost too short for taller riders, no instructions for the displayMediocre display and controls, limited rider height rangeOnly 1 pedal assist level, basic display and controlsLimited distance range, limited seat height adjustment, mediocre user-interface
Bottom Line This Class 2 electric bike impressed our testers with the best all around performanceA great option for those looking for a mountain style Class 2 electric bike with a fast top speed and a long distance rangeCommuters and city riders should give this fast-moving Class 2 electric bike a lookA simple, comfortable Class 2 electric bike with loads of featuresAffordable Class 2 e-bike with a serviceable performance in a mountain bike style
Rating Categories Macwheel Ranger 500 27.5-inch Blue Spark Electri... Vortex Electric City Bike Nakto 26-inch 250W Cargo AN-EB001 26-inch Electric Mo...
Ride (25%)
9
8
7
8
7
Range (25%)
10
10
8
10
8
Power (25%)
8
9
10
7
7
Interface (15%)
10
9
7
7
7
Assembly (10%)
7
7
7
6
7
Specs Macwheel Ranger 500 27.5-inch Blue... Vortex Electric... Nakto 26-inch 250W... AN-EB001 26-inch...
Wheel size 700c 27.5-inch 26-inch 26-inch 26-inch
Battery Size (Wh) 360 374 360 360 288
E-Bike Class Class 2 Class 2 Class 2 Class 2 Class 2
Motor Power (torque) 250W 350W 350W 250W 250W
Number of pedal assist settings 5(customizable, 3, 5, 7, or 9) 5 3 1 3
Top speed throttle (tested) 17.5 mph 20 mph 20 mph 20 mph 17 mph
Top speed pedal-assist (tested) 18 mph 20.5 mph 20 mph 20 mph 19.5 mph
Distance Range (throttle-only test) 19.55 miles 20.25 miles 16.42 miles 19.6 miles 14.84 miles
Frame material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Steel Aluminum
Maximum rider weight (lbs) 265 330 220 250 330
Measured Weight (w/o pedals, Medium) 48 lbs 5 oz 49 lbs 5 oz 50 lbs 11 oz 61 lbs 47 lbs 6 oz
Drivetrain 7 speed Shimano Tourney 24 speed Shimano Altus 7 speed Shimano Tourney Shimano 6-speed 21 speed Shimano Tourney
Brakes Mechanical disc Mechanical disc Mechanical disc V-brake front, Coaster rear Mechanical disc
Folding? No No No No No
Additional features Headlight, taillight, fenders, rear rack, horn, digital display, tool kit Bell, headlight, tools, digital display Bell, fenders. Basket, headlight, cargo rack, horn, suspension fork…? Headlight, horn
Warranty One Year Limited on hardware, 24 months on computer Two Years on frame, One year on battery, motor, and components One Year Limited on battery, charger, motor, controller. Six months on frame and other components One Year One Year Limited

Best Overall Electric Bike


Macwheel Ranger 500


Macwheel Ranger 500
Editors' Choice Award

$800 List
List Price
See It

90
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 9
  • Range - 25% 10
  • Power - 25% 8
  • Interface - 15% 10
  • Assembly - 10% 7
Wheel Size: 700c | Battery Capacity (Wh): 360
Comfortable
Long distance range
Good ride quality
Great display and controls
Lots of useful features
More expensive
Not the fastest or most powerful

The Ranger 500 impressed our testers and earned the top spot on our podium. Its ride quality was second to none with smooth-rolling 700c wheels, excellent predictable handling, and unwavering stability at speed. This "cruiser style" bike also has an easy step-through design and a comfortable, relaxed riding position. Its user interface was the best we tested, with ergonomic control buttons and an easy to read, customizable digital display. Its 360Wh battery helps provide it with an excellent range of distance. Tack on several user-friendly features like fenders, head and taillights, and a rear rack, and it's easy to see why this was our most highly regarded model.

While we feel the Ranger 500 is a good value, it was among the most expensive models we tested. It also has a 250W rear hub motor, and it couldn't quite match the power or top speeds of the fastest bikes we tested. Despite that, we feel this bike's ride quality, distance range, user interface, and wealth of features make it one of the best.

Read review: Macwheel Ranger 500

Best Bang for the Buck


Ancheer AN-EB001 26-inch Electric Mountain Bike


Ancheer AN-EB001 26-inch Electric Mountain Bike
Best Buy Award

$659.99
at Amazon
See It

73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 7
  • Range - 25% 8
  • Power - 25% 7
  • Interface - 15% 7
  • Assembly - 10% 7
Wheel Size: 26-inch | Battery Capacity (Wh): 288
Affordable
Mountain bike style
Pretty good handling
21-speed drivetrain
Medium distance range
Limited seat height adjustment
Mediocre display and controls

The Ancheer AN-EB001 is an affordable mountain-style e-bike that boasted consistently solid performance across all of our testing metrics. It rolls on 26-inch wheels and has comfortable and steady handling that is enhanced by its girthier, slightly knobby tires that help to dampen the ride. It has a good range of seat adjustment, with an adjustable stem, and it was overall a very comfortable ride. Its 250W rear hub motor is capable of propelling it up to 17 mph with the throttle, and the three pedal-assist modes provide a nice range of support to magnify your pedaling input. The 288Wh battery is on the smaller side, but we still found it to have a respectable distance range. The suspension fork and knobby tires also increase its versatility and help make this bike suitable for light-duty off-road use.

While perfectly functional, the controls and display of the AN-EB001 were far from the best we tested. We aren't sure how much thought went into the ergonomics of the control buttons, which we found somewhat challenging to access with the thumb while riding. Our taller testers also found the range of seat height adjustment inadequate, and those with long legs may need to customize this bike with a longer seatpost. Beyond that, we were generally impressed by the overall performance of this affordable electric bike.

Read review: Ancheer AN-EB001

Best Bang for the Buck Folding


Ancheer Folding 16-inch Electric Bike


Ancheer Folding 16-inch Electric Bike
Best Buy Award

$519.99
at Amazon
See It

67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 5
  • Range - 25% 8
  • Power - 25% 7
  • Interface - 15% 6
  • Assembly - 10% 8
Wheel Size: 16-inch | Battery Capacity (Wh): 288
Reasonably priced
Decent distance range
Three pedal assist modes
Funky handling
Doesn't fold as small or easily as the competition
Limited height range

The Ancheer Folding is a quality folding e-bike and an impressive value. While it can't quite compete with more traditional non-folding models in terms of its ride quality, it performed surprisingly well across all of our other rating metrics and tests. It arrives mostly assembled with minimal setup required, and it can easily be folded to reduce its size for storage or transport. The 250W rear hub motor provided relatively quick acceleration to its top throttle speed of 17.5 mph, along with three pedal assist modes with a good range of pedaling support. Considering the bike's small wheels, folding design, and 288Wh battery, we were quite impressed with its distance range of just over 15 miles in full-electric/throttle mode. The battery also has a handle for easy removal, and we appreciate the front and rear fenders to help keep you dry.

While it offers folding convenience, the Ancheer Folding does require tools to remove the handlebar to get it to its most compact size. The folding design, along with its 16-inch wheels, also gives it a less stable ride quality than the larger-wheeled competition. Additionally, the controls and display leave a bit to be desired despite their functionality. Beyond those concerns, we still feel that this bike is an impressive value.

Read review: Ancheer Folding 16-inch

Best for Distance Range


Ancheer 27.5-inch Blue Spark Electric Bike


Ancheer 27.5-inch Blue Spark Electric Bike
Top Pick Award

$859.99
at Amazon
See It

88
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 8
  • Range - 25% 10
  • Power - 25% 9
  • Interface - 15% 9
  • Assembly - 10% 7
Wheel Size: 27.5-inch | Battery Capacity (Wh): 374
Great distance range
Good handling
Five pedal assist modes
Good display and controls
Fast and powerful
Seatpost too short for taller riders
No instructions for the display

The Ancheer Blue Spark proved to be a tester favorite and bested the competition with its impressive range. This mountain-style model was one of the most powerful bikes we tested with a 350W rear hub motor and a top throttle speed of 20mph. Its larger 374Wh battery also translated directly to the longest distance range of all the models we tested, traveling over 20 miles in our range test with the throttle only. Testers also loved the ergonomic handlebar-mounted controls and the excellent, easy-to-read digital display that provides information like current speed, remaining battery life, pedal-assist mode, and more. It has a traditional mountain bike style with fast-rolling, 27.5-inch wheels that provide steady handling and plenty of stability at speed, along with a suspension fork and wider tires that enhance its versatility and comfort.

While we loved the crisp digital display on the Blue Spark, we were somewhat dismayed that it didn't come with instructions. It would have been nice to change its units from kilometers to miles. Also, while it has a suspension fork and knobbier tires, we would hesitate to recommend the Blue Spark for any serious off-road use beyond smooth dirt roads and paths. Otherwise, we found little not to like about this powerful model.

Read review: Ancheer Blue Spark

Best for Carrying Cargo


Nakto 26-inch 250W Cargo


Nakto 26-inch 250W Cargo
Top Pick Award

$649.99
at Amazon
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 8
  • Range - 25% 10
  • Power - 25% 7
  • Interface - 15% 7
  • Assembly - 10% 6
Wheel Size: 26-inch | Battery Capacity (Wh): 360
Good distance range
Feature-packed
20 mph top speed
Ready to carry lots of cargo
Only one pedal assist level
Basic display and controls

The Nakto City 26-inch Cargo impressed our testers with its distance range, comfort, and wealth of useful features. This step-through cruiser style bike is easy to mount and dismount and has a comfortable, upright seated body position. The 250W rear hub motor quickly gets this bike up to its top throttle and pedal-assisted speed of 20mph on flat terrain. The 360Wh battery is easily removable for charging and helped this bike be one of the top performers in our distance range testing. Its ride quality was generally calm and collected with smooth, predictable handling and good stability at speed. We also loved that it came with user-friendly features like fenders, a headlight, an electric horn, a covered basket, and a rear cargo rack. We feel the cargo-carrying capabilities make this bike a fantastic option for trips to the market, post office, or to and from the office.

While we loved the wealth of features, it made assembling the Nakto a little more involved and time-consuming than most. It wasn't difficult by any means, but it took an hour to complete the process. We were also a little underwhelmed by this bike's pedal-assist system. Not only were the display and controls quite basic, but it only has one pedal assist level. It works; it's just a little less sophisticated than some of the other bikes we tested. That said, we still feel this is a quality, comfortable e-bike with a great range and cargo capacity.

Read review: Nakto 26-inch 250W Cargo

Best for Portability


Swagcycle EB5 Plus Folding


Swagcycle EB5 Plus Folding
Top Pick Award

$499.99
at Amazon
See It

57
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ride - 25% 4
  • Range - 25% 6
  • Power - 25% 6
  • Interface - 15% 5
  • Assembly - 10% 9
Wheel Size: 14-inch | Battery Capacity (Wh): 270
Lightweight
Folds small for transport or storage
No assembly required
One pedal assist mode
Shorter distance range
Less steady handling
Limited rider height range

Convenience is the name of the game with the Swagcycle EB5. This lightweight folding e-bike collapses down impressively small for storage and transport, and it weighs a mere 36 lbs and 10 oz, making it by far the most portable model we tested. This bike is ideal for taking with you on the train, throwing in the trunk of a car, or stashing in a closet at the office. The Swagcycle comes fully assembled, and folding and unfolding it couldn't be easier thanks to their intuitive and user-friendly design. Its 250W rear hub motor packs a surprising punch for such a small bike, accelerating quickly with a top throttle speed of 15.5 mph. While it was far from the best, we were still relatively impressed by its distance range, considering its diminutive stature and 270Wh battery capacity.

Due to the nature of its folding design, 14-inch wheels, and compact geometry, the Swagcycle EB5 suffers a bit in terms of its ride quality. This bike feels a bit twitchy and unstable when compared to more traditional bikes, with handling akin to a large electric scooter. It has a single-speed drivetrain, and it does not pedal well should the battery die while out on a ride. This bike also has the simplest display and controls of all the models tested, along with only one pedal assist mode. That said, if you're seeking portable convenience, the Swagcycle EB5 has you covered.

Read review: Swagcycle EB5


Our test process was multi-faceted and included handling, range, and...
Our test process was multi-faceted and included handling, range, and power output specific tests, as well as using the bikes for running errands, commuting, and kicking around town.
Photo: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us


Our electric bike test was led by Jeremy Benson. Benson is the Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor for OutdoorGearLab and has years of experience testing mountain, gravel, and electric bikes. He is an obsessive cyclist and racer competing in endurance gravel and mountain bike events in the professional class. While he loves to ride using only his own power, he doesn't discriminate and can often be found riding e-MTBs on the trails and electric bikes around town. His years of experience testing and riding bikes for fun and training have given him the ability to sense the nuanced and often subtle differences between the products he tests while out on the road or trail. Benson is also the author of two guidebooks, Mountain Bike Tahoe, and Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes California, published by Mountaineers Books in 2017.

After researching the best, most popular, and most highly regarded affordable electric bikes on the market, we purchased seven for our side-by-side test. We ran each model through the same rigorous testing process while focusing on several key performance attributes. Our distance range testing was done on the same course with the same rider using the throttle only to see how far each model could travel on a full charge. We also tested our other key performance metrics, discussed below.

Related: How We Tested Best Budget E-Bikes

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Click to enlarge
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Analysis and Test Results


All of the models in this review are Class 2 electric bicycles that provide pedal assistance and have a throttle to propel you forward when not pedaling. We performed several quantifiable tests to make direct comparisons between the different models, determining each bike's strengths and weaknesses. Instead of arbitrary testing, we chose to focus on several specific performance attributes, such as ride quality, distance range, power output, user-interface, and ease of assembly. Our head-to-head testing reveals the individual performance of each model, as well as how they compare to the competition.

Value


The electric bikes in this review all qualify as being relatively affordable, yet they still represent a wide range in price. Though we don't rate the products we test based on price, we do always appreciate a good value. Our testing revealed a pretty clear correlation between price and performance, and the top-rated models also happen to be the most expensive. That said, even the more affordable models like the Ancheer AN-EB001 and the Ancheer Folding performed reasonably well and cost significantly less.


Bikes have varying ride qualities dictated largely by wheel size...
Bikes have varying ride qualities dictated largely by wheel size, geometry, and performance of components.
Photo: Laura Casner

Ride


We feel that the ride quality of a bike is one of its most important attributes. Each model we tested was different and had varying handling characteristics, comfort levels, and features that help to define the way they rode. Wheel size and geometry play an integral role in how a bike feels while turning and how stable it feels at speed. Fit adjustments for the seat and handlebar are important elements that affect comfort across a range of user heights. Additional features like racks, lights, and fenders also play into the overall quality of the user experience.


The Macwheel Ranger 500 had the best ride quality of all the models we tested. It has a cruiser bike style with an easy step-through frame and comfortable, casual, seated riding position. It rolls on smooth and fast 700c wheels (the same size as a road bike), and it has steady, predictable handling in all situations and excellent stability at speed. Not only did it have the best ride feel and performance, but it comes well equipped for commuting or running errands thanks to features like a rear rack, head and taillights, and fenders front and rear.

The Macwheel ranger 500 impressed us with its comfortable cruiser...
The Macwheel ranger 500 impressed us with its comfortable cruiser bike style, fast-rolling and smooth 700c wheels, and wealth of user-friendly features.
Photo: Laura Casner

The Nakto Cargo also impressed us with its ride quality, comfort, and wealth of features. It handled smoothly and predictably, with a cruiser bike style and a comfortable upright body position. It also came fully equipped with useful features like fenders, a headlight, a horn and bell, a covered front basket, and a rear cargo rack which enhanced its user-friendliness. We felt the Ancheer Blue Spark also had an agreeable ride quality. It can't match the features of the Macwheel or the Nakto, but its handling was nearly as good. It comes with 27.5-inch wheels and tires that roll fast and provide smooth and responsive handling and a calm feel when brought up to speed. Though it offered somewhat limited adjustments, we still found it to be comfortable.

The Nakto is comfortable, handles well, and comes with all the...
The Nakto is comfortable, handles well, and comes with all the features you'll probably ever need.
Photo: Laura Casner

Both the Ancheer AN-EB001 and the Ecotric Vortex have slightly smaller 26-inch wheels and good ride qualities, though they can't match the high bar set by the models mentioned above. Both bikes deliver reasonably comfortable handling and adequate stability at speed, though they don't feel as composed as the bikes with slightly larger wheels.

The folding bikes handle reasonably well considering their small...
The folding bikes handle reasonably well considering their small wheels and folding designs, but hey can't compete with the full-size non-folding bike in terms of ride quality.
Photo: Laura Casner

The two folding models we tested, the Ancheer Folding and the Swagcycle EB5, have ride qualities that are a product of their convenient folding designs, small wheels, and cramped geometries. Both bikes are notably twitchy in their handling and less stable at speed when compared to the non-folding models with larger wheels. Of the two, the Ancheer feels marginally better with its slightly larger 16-inch wheels. Both bikes, though, handled better than anticipated for a folding design.

Our standardized range testing allowed us to directly compare our...
Our standardized range testing allowed us to directly compare our test bikes. The Macwheel Ranger was one of the best.

Range


How far an electric bike can travel on a single charge is referred to as its distance range. Many factors play into a bike's range, including battery storage capacity, rider weight, terrain, and rider input. To make our range test as consistent as possible, we had the same rider, on the same test course, ride all of these bikes from a full charge until the battery died while recording all of the ride info with a GPS-enabled cycling computer. We also removed the rider input/pedaling variable by performing this test using the throttle only. This test gave us an accurate assessment of the low end of each bike's range. Our test course contained around 100 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss per 2 miles. It is safe to assume that every bike we tested could be ridden much farther on perfectly flat terrain, especially while pedaling and using pedal-assist instead of just the throttle.


Three bikes rode away from the pack in our distance range testing, and—no surprise here—they all had larger battery storage capacities. The top performer in this test was the Ancheer Blue Spark with a 374Wh battery. We rode the Blue Spark 20.25 miles with 1,171 feet of elevation gain/loss. It did so in 1 hour and 24 minutes, with an average speed of 14.5 mph. The Macwheel Ranger 500 and the Nakto have similar battery storage and were hot on the heels of the Blue Spark in our range test. They both fell about a half-mile short, but we were still quite impressed with their 19.55 and 19.6 miles, respectively. These three bikes were head and shoulders above the rest of the test fleet.

The Ancheer Blue Spark was the clear winner in our range testing...
The Ancheer Blue Spark was the clear winner in our range testing, traveling over 20 miles in full-electric/throttle mode.
Photo: Laura Casner

The Ecotric Vortex had the next longest range at 16.42 miles and 958 feet of elevation gain/loss. While it was short of the high bar set by our top-rated models despite its larger battery, it did hold the highest average speed during the test at 17.3 mph. So, it may not travel quite as far, but it goes faster. To our surprise, the Ancheer Folding had the next best range. This folding model rolls on 16-inch wheels and has a 288Wh battery, yet it still was able to travel 15.42 miles and 896 vertical feet. The Ancheer AN-EB001 has the same 288Wh battery, and it wasn't terribly far behind with its 14.84 miles and 860 feet of elevation.

We weren't too shocked to find that the Swagcycle EB5, with its minuscule 14-inch wheels and 270Wh battery, had the shortest distance range in the review. Even still, it managed to travel 12.12 miles with 630 feet of elevation gain/loss — respectable, given its lighter weight, small wheels, and folding design.

The Ecotric Vortex was one of the most powerful bikes we tested. Its...
The Ecotric Vortex was one of the most powerful bikes we tested. Its 350W motor provided quick acceleration, a top speed of 20 mph, and the highest average speed during our range testing.
Photo: Laura Casner

Power


The point of electric bikes is that they have power, and in the case of all the Class 2 models in this test, they have both throttle and pedal assist. A bike's power output is dependent primarily on the size of its motor, and all of the models we tested have either a 250W or a 350W rear hub motor. We performed various tests using the throttle and pedal assistance to determine each bike's top speed, acceleration, and ability to hold speed up moderately pitched uphills. All of the models we tested have a power shut-off brake system that kills all of the power whenever the brakes are applied.


The Ecotric Vortex scored the highest in this metric and just narrowly edged out the next closest competitor. The Vortex has a more powerful 350W motor and a top throttle speed of 20 mph. It has decent acceleration, and we found that on the uphill, it could hold speed better than most. Additionally, it had a noticeably higher average speed than any other bike during our range testing. Its three pedal assist modes provide a good range of support, and it was easy to get this bike up to 20 mph while pedaling in the high output setting.

The Ancheer Blue Spark was the other model we tested with a 350W motor, and it was nearly equal to the Vortex's power output. It also had a top throttle speed of 20 mph, although its acceleration felt marginally faster and more robust. Its five pedal assist modes provide an even greater support range, and it was no problem getting up to 20 mph and keeping it there while pedaling. That said, its average speed during our range test using the throttle was a bit slower at 14.5 mph.

The Ancheer Folding surprised us with its power and top speed given...
The Ancheer Folding surprised us with its power and top speed given its folding design and small wheels.
Photo: Laura Casner

Not surprisingly, the four models we tested with 250W motors couldn't quite match the power output of the bikes mentioned above. Their acceleration was slightly slower, although the Nakto Cargo had no problem hitting 20 mph using the throttle or pedal-assist. We were less than impressed, however, with its single pedal assist mode. The Ancheer AN-EB001, the Ancheer Folding, and the Macwheel Ranger 500 were all capable of hitting 17-17.5 mph top speeds with the throttle only. The Swagcycle EB5 has just one pedal assist mode with a top speed of 15.5 mph, although its motor felt surprisingly torquey and robust when the throttle was twisted.

The display and controls on the Ancheer Blue Spark were among the...
The display and controls on the Ancheer Blue Spark were among the best in the test.
Photo: Laura Casner

User Interface


The controls and display are the primary ways that riders interact with an electric bike, and their quality and user-friendliness varies dramatically among the models we tested. Though all serve their intended purpose, some shine as ergonomic and cutting-edge machines, while others are more elementary. The top-rated models have ergonomic control buttons that are easy to reach while riding, as well as digital displays that provide a wealth of information at a glance. Battery charging was nearly identical amongst all of the models tested, with removable batteries on all but one and relatively standard charging ports, cables, and times for each.


Of all the models tested, we were most impressed with the user interface of the Macwheel Ranger 500. The control buttons and large digital display screen are housed in a single unit mounted to the handlebar by the left grip. The screen is easy to read and features various info like current speed, remaining battery life, and pedal-assist setting, and the buttons are ergonomically friendly and easily accessible with your thumb while riding. This advanced control unit is customizable and comes with detailed instructions (surprisingly, something that was not included with every model in our test).

The Ancheer Blue Spark also featured excellent controls and a digital display. The control buttons sit close to the left grip and are easy to reach, and the screen is affixed in the middle of the handlebar for easy viewing. The display shows a variety of information, including current speed, remaining battery, and pedal-assist setting. Unfortunately, this bike did not come with instructions for its display/controls, nor could we find them online, which left us stuck with the info displayed in kilometers instead of miles.

While they all work well enough, the controls on other models like...
While they all work well enough, the controls on other models like the Ecotric Vortex leave a bit to be desired.
Photo: Laura Casner

None of the other models could compete with the excellent user interfaces Blue Spark or the Macwheel Ranger, although all of them have functional systems. The Ecotric Vortex, Ancheer AN-EB001, and Ancheer Folding all have simple handlebar-mounted controls with LED lights used to display remaining battery life and pedal-assist setting. Though a far cry from the fancier systems, they all work well enough. We weren't very impressed with the display and controls on the Nakto, which was comprised of an LED battery charge indicator and a pedal-assist on/off button. The Swagtron EB5 had the most basic user interface, consisting only of a power button and battery life indicator lights.

Most bikes arrive in a box like this with roughly 80% of the...
Most bikes arrive in a box like this with roughly 80% of the assembly completed. The remaining setup is up to the consumer.

Assembly


All of the bikes we tested get shipped in a box, and most require some assembly to make them rideable. Most bikes come mostly assembled and require only a few relatively easy steps to finish the job. Those who are unfamiliar with bikes may be best off taking their bike to a shop with skilled mechanics, but all of the models we tested can be assembled by the consumer at home using the included tools and instructions.


The Swagcycle EB5 was by far the easiest to get up and running, as it arrived completely assembled, and unboxing it and removing its protective packing materials only took a few minutes. Of course, it needed to be unfolded and locked into its open and rideable position, but that was the extent of it. The Ancheer Folding was the runner-up in this metric. It came more assembled than most, with both wheels already attached. It took only 30 minutes to get this bike from the box to ready to roll.

The Swagcycle EB5 is unique in that it comes fully assembled and...
The Swagcycle EB5 is unique in that it comes fully assembled and folds up very small for storage or transport.
Photo: Laura Casner

All of the other models were relatively average in their ease of assembly. Each bike arrived approximately 80% assembled, and it required about 45 minutes to perform the standard steps to finish the job. Installing the handlebar, seatpost, pedals, and front wheel was just about all it took to get each of these bikes ride-ready. A few models did have some extra steps like attaching fenders, lights, or displays, but the differences in time and effort were too minor to be notable, with one exception. The Nakto Cargo took the longest to assemble — a full hour. It wasn't difficult, but the extra steps of installing the front fender and basket added a bit of time to the process.

There are lots of electric bikes on the market. We hope this review...
There are lots of electric bikes on the market. We hope this review helps you find the right one.
Photo: Laura Casner

Conclusion


There are loads of electric bikes on the market, and they are becoming increasingly popular. Whether for transportation, commuting, or riding for fun, they can be a great way to save some money and/or get outside. We know there's plenty to consider when searching for an affordable electric bike and that choosing the right one can be a challenge. We've done our best to identify the important factors and performance attributes to consider, and we hope the information provided here assists you in making a more informed purchase decision.

Jeremy Benson