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On the hunt for an affordable electric bike? Our testers extensively researched the best reasonably priced models on the market today and bought the top thirteen to test and compare side-by-side. Our diverse selection includes the full spectrum of e-bike styles. We put these bikes to the test for several weeks, comparing them side-by-side and making sure to evaluate every aspect of their performance. We measured up every bike against the same metrics of ride quality, distance range, power output, user interface, and ease of assembly to help you find the best model for your needs and budget.
The Ride1Up Core-5 impressed our testers and rode away from the competition in this test. The powerful Class 3 model comes equipped with a 750W motor that is quick to accelerate up to 20 mph using the throttle or up to 28 mph with pedal assist. The sleek-looking frame houses the battery within the down tube, with 500Wh of capacity that provides class-leading distance range. This rigid-framed bike rolls smooth and fast on 27.5-inch wheels with girthy tires that provide a nice amount of impact absorption, and it has predictable handling and excellent stability at speed. The controls are straightforward and intuitive, and the display is easy to read. The Core-5 has a relatively relaxed seated position, ample seat height adjustment, and it comes with a comfortable saddle and ergonomic grips. It also comes in XR/step-over (tested) and ST/step-through frame styles that provide a wide range of fit for riders between 4'11" and 6'4", as well as 3 color options to suit your preferences.
While we absolutely loved the Core-5, it is notably light on included features. This is the tradeoff for a powerful Class 3 model at this price, and if you want extras like fenders, lights, or a rear rack, you'll have to spend a little more to get them. We also found the 750W motor to be a little noisier than some other models, though not a deal-breaker by any means. Beyond these nitpicks, we feel the Core-5 is the best "budget" model we've tested and an absolutely fantastic value.
20-inch wheels and compact geometry results in twitchier handling and reduced stability
The Lectric XP 2.0 is a very impressive folding model with a sky-high price-to-performance ratio. It comes fully assembled in the box, so all you've got to do is unfold it and lock it in place to prepare it for use. This powerful little bike has a 500W motor and can support Class 3 speeds up to 28 mph with pedal assist or 20 mph using the throttle, and adjustments can be made to configure it as a Class 1 or 2 bike. The folding frame is home to a 460.8 Wh battery that provides a solid distance range given its diminutive stature. It rolls on 20-inch wheels with knobby 3-inch wide tires that perform well on a range of surfaces and provide great damping along with an 80 mm suspension fork. Perhaps the most notable feature is the folding design, and it collapses to a very small size for storage or transport. The XP 2.0 also comes loaded with included features like a rear rack, lights, and fenders to enhance the rider experience. It has a very wide range of fit, plus it comes in step-through (tested) and step-over frames and two colors to suit your needs or preferences.
The XP 2.0 is a fantastic folding model, but the smaller wheels can't quite match the more composed handling or stability of models with larger wheels. It's also fairly heavy at 61 lbs and 10 oz, so, despite its small collapsed size, it can still be challenging to lift or carry. Otherwise, we feel you'd be hard-pressed to find a better folding electric bike, especially at this price.
The Miclon LNE 26 is an affordable Class 2 e-bike with a throwback cruiser style that impressed us with its distance range. In our range testing, it managed to travel just over 21 miles without even pedaling while using the throttle only. Its 360Wh battery capacity helped the Miclon go the distance, but it also seems to use that power quite efficiently. It has a retro look with a low, step-thru frame that makes it easy to mount and dismount and an extensive range of seat and handlebar adjustments to fit a wide range of user heights. It's a comfortable bike with a relaxed, upright seated position and a laid-back ride quality. The LNE 26 has five pedal assist output settings and a throttle, and it has no problem reaching its top speed of 15.5 mph. It also comes equipped with user-friendly features like fenders, a rear cargo rack, and a headlight.
With a 250W rear hub motor, the LNE 26 can't match the faster, more powerful competition's power output or top speeds. However, this lower power output is one of the main reasons it can travel such a long distance on a single charge. While the controls have decent ergonomics, the simple LED display shows only the most basic information and can be challenging to see in bright light conditions. Beyond that, we feel this good-looking affordable electric model is a solid option for the rider who prioritizes distance and style over speed.
It doesn't fold as as easily as some other folding models
Limited height range
The Ancheer Folding is a very affordable folding electric bike. While it can't quite compete with more traditional non-folding models in terms of ride quality, it performed relatively well across all of our other rating metrics and tests. It arrives mostly assembled with minimal setup required, and it can be folded to reduce its size for storage or transport. The 250W rear hub motor provided decent 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 smaller 288Wh battery, we were pretty 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 and its 16-inch wheels also give it a less stable ride quality than the larger-wheeled competition. Additionally, while functional, the controls and display leave a bit to be desired. Beyond those concerns, we still feel that this bike is an impressive value.
Sold with either 7-speed (tested) or single-speed drivetrains
REASONS TO AVOID
Rigid frame and skinny tires-slightly harsher ride
Not the most powerful
Somewhat more aggressive body position
Aventon has been producing quality electric bikes for several years, and the Soltera is one of the newest models in their lineup. This Class 2 model has a city-bike style with sleek looks and clean integration of the battery into the downtube of the frame. The 350W motor isn't the most powerful, but it easily whisks you along at up to 20 mph using the throttle or pedal assist, and the removable 346 Wh battery provides a good power supply and a respectable distance range. Handling is sharp and responsive and the 700c wheels roll fast, smooth, and stable. The interface is excellent, with straightforward and user-friendly controls and a great display that can even be synced to the Aventon app for ride tracking, changing settings, and sharing your stoke with the Aventon community. It comes in both step-through and step-over (tested) frame styles, two frame sizes, and three color options, and it can be purchased with either a 7-speed (tested) or single-speed drivetrain to suit your needs or preferences. It's also fairly lightweight at 44 lbs and 5 oz, making it a bit easier to carry up or down stairs or load onto a bike rack.
While we loved the sporty feel and zippy handling of the Soltera, the rigid frame and skinnier tires don't dampen vibration all that well and it can feel a little harsh on rough surfaces. The 350W motor does a fine job supporting your pedaling efforts, but it can't compete with models that have larger motors in the power department. That said, we feel this reasonably priced bike is a great option for city dwellers or commuters looking for a relatively lightweight and good-looking ride.
The Propella Mini sets itself apart from the competition with its compact size and impressively light weight. Sure, it's not the most powerful, nor does it have the longest range, but at a measured weight of just 35 lbs and 5 oz, that doesn't come as too much of a surprise. This bike is very easy to carry up or down a flight of stairs, and its compact dimensions make it more storable than most non-folding models. This Class 1 bike does not have a throttle, but its 250W motor and 5 pedal assist levels easily propel you along at up to 18 mph, and the 250 Wh battery provides a respectable range, especially given the bike's low weight. The 20-inch wheels give up a little stability compared to larger wheeled models, but it has quick handling and is very easily maneuverable. If you prefer the ride feel and handling of larger wheels, Propella also makes the SS (single speed) and 7S (7-speed) models with the same motor, battery, looks, and similarly low weight as the Mini, but with 700c wheels and tires.
The Mini is impressively maneuverable and can turn on a dime, but the 20-inch wheels do contribute to a less sure-footed ride feel and slight reduction of stability at speed. It's also limited to a top-assisted speed of 18 mph, but frankly, we felt that was plenty fast when riding the Mini. While the 250 Wh battery does provide a decent distance range, it was easily outperformed by models with larger batteries in that test. It also doesn't come with features like fenders or lights, so if you want them, you'll need to buy them separately. Regardless, we feel the Mini is a great option for urban environments, flatter terrain, shorter trips, or anyone who prioritizes simplicity and lightweight.
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 thirteen for our side-by-side test. We ran each model through the same rigorous testing process while focusing on several key performance attributes. We did our distance range testing 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.
Our testing of budget e-bikes is divided across five rating metrics:
Ride tests (25% of overall score weighting)
Range tests (25% weighting)
Power tests (25% weighting)
Interface tests (15% weighting)
Assembly tests (10% weighting)
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 focused 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 and how they compare to the competition.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested a broad range of bike styles that include Class 1, 2, and 3 models. Despite their differences, we put each bike through the exact same tests to bring you apples-to-apples comparisons.
The electric bikes in this review all qualify as relatively affordable, yet they still represent a broad range in price. We don't rate the products we test based on price, but we 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 Miclon LNE 26 and the Ancheer Folding performed reasonably well and cost significantly less.
We feel that a bike's ride quality is one of its most important attributes, and we give it a 25% weighting in the overall score. Each model we tested was different and had varying handling characteristics, comfort levels, and features that helped define how they rode. Wheel size and geometry are integral to how a bike feels while turning and how stable it feels at speed. Fit adjustments for the seat and handlebar are essential 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 Ride1Up Core-5 impressed us the most with its excellent, comfortable ride. It may be light on features, but this bike has composed and predictable handling and is very stable at speed. The 27.5-inch wheels and roll smooth and fast, and the girthy tires provide decent damping for bumps and cracks in the road. It has a relaxed seated position and it comes in 2 frame styles to suit a wide range of rider heights and preferences. The Aventon Soltera was also a hit. This city-bike-style model has a sporty feel with quick handling and fast-rolling 700c wheels and tires. It requires a slightly more athletic body position that suits the style of bike perfectly. It also comes with integrated lights for enhanced visibility and riding at night.
The Nakto Cargo impressed us with its ride quality, comfort, and wealth of features. It handles 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 user-friendliness. Likewise, the Miclon LNE 26 had a similar retro, cruiser style with a casual upright seated position, smooth handling, and user-friendly features like fenders, a cargo rack, and a headlight.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the ride quality of the Lectric XP 2.0. It's smaller wheels and compact folding design do decrease its stability somewhat compared to the larger wheeled competition, but a suspension fork and girthy 3-inch wide knobby tires provide a relatively smooth ride and expand its versatility to a wider range of surface conditions. It has a very wide range of fit, and it also comes equipped with lights, fenders, and rear cargo rack.
How far an electric bike can travel on a single charge is its distance range. Many factors play into a bike's range, including battery storage capacity, rider weight, terrain, and rider input. We weigh this metric at 25% of each bike's overall score. To make our range test as consistent as possible, we used the same rider on the same test course for each one. We rode 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. For the Class 2 models, we also removed the rider input/pedaling variable by performing this test using the throttle only. For the Class 1 models without a throttle, we turned the cranks to activate the cadence sensor, but didn't put any effort into pedaling, making the bike do all of the work. This test gave us an accurate assessment of the low end of each bike's range, and more importantly, how they compare to each other. 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.
It didn't come as much as a surprise that the top-performing models in our range testing also happened to have the largest batteries. With its 500Wh battery, the Ride1Up Core-5 rode away from the field with 23 miles and 1,282 feet of elevation gain/loss. Not only that, but at 17.3 mph, it held the highest average speed of all the models tested. Not too far behind, was the Miclon LNE 26 with its 360 Wh battery. We were able to ride it for 21.3 miles with just over 1,000 vertical feet of elevation gain and an average speed of 13.8 mph. The Miclon's less powerful 250W motor isn't nearly as fast, but it seems to use its power very efficiently.
Just behind were the Lectric XP 2.0 and the Rad Power RadMission with 460.8 Wh and 504 Wh batteries, respectively. Both bikes traveled an impressive 20.7 miles before running out of juice. While neither bike topped the charts, they weren't far off. We were particularly surprised by the Lectric's performance given its smaller wheels and folding design.
The point of electric bikes is that they have power, and as one of the three most essential elements, we give power test results a 25% weighting in the overall score. A bike's power output depends primarily on its motor's size, and the models we tested have motors ranging in size from 250W up to 750W. For the Class 2 and 3 models, 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. For the Class 1 models, we performed the same tests, just without the throttle, and soft-pedaled to let the motor do all the work.
With a 750W motor, the Ride1Up Core-5 blew the competition away in this metric. It was able to accelerate from a complete stop up to 20 mph in just under 10 seconds using the throttle, and it was able to accelerate and hold speed up hills that made other models slow and bog down. This Class 3 model is also capable of supporting speeds up to 28 mph using pedal-assist. Nipping at the Core-5's heels was the Lectric XP 2.0. It has a 500W motor, and it is also Class 3 capable for speeds up to 28 mph using pedal assist. We found the smaller wheels to allow for very quick acceleration using the throttle, and it felt eager to get up to its top throttle speed of 20 mph.
The Rad Power RadMission also delivered in the power department. This Class 2 city bike has a 500W motor that easily whisks you along at 20 mph using the throttle or pedal assist. It's not the absolute fastest, but it certainly holds its own and outperforms most other bikes in the budget category. All of the other bikes we tested have 350W or 250W motors and can't match the power delivered by the aforementioned models. One that stood out, however, was the Aventon Soltera. The Soltera isn't quite as quick to accelerate, but once up to its top speed of 20 mph, it maintains that speed well with its fast-rolling 700c wheels and tires as evidenced by its impressive average speed of 17 mph during our range test. Similarly, the Miclon Cybertrack 100 has a 350W motor and was no slouch in the speed department. Again not the fastest, but it was surprisingly quick to accelerate given its smaller motor size.
The controls and display are the primary ways that riders interact with an electric bike, and we weighted this metric at 15% of the overall score of each cycle. Their quality and user-friendliness vary dramatically among the models we tested. All serve their intended purpose, but some shine as ergonomic and cutting-edge, while others are more rudimentary. The top-rated models have ergonomic control buttons that are easy to reach while riding and digital displays that provide a wealth of information at a glance. Battery charging was nearly identical amongst all of the models tested, with relatively standard charging ports, cables, and times for each. All but one model had removable batteries, a design we appreciate for easier charging and security purposes.
The Aventon Soltera stood out for its excellent display and controls. The thumb throttle and control unit are all situated close to the left grip and are easy to reach, with dedicated buttons for each function that are very intuitive in their use. A quality display sits in the middle of the handlebar above the stem in an easy-to-see location, and it shows all of your pertinent ride info at a glance. The Soltera can also be synced to the Aventon app, so you can record rides, change settings, and share pictures and stories with the Aventon community. Similarly, the Lectric XP 2.0 has a great user interface. The buttons and throttle are very straightforward with good ergonomics, and the large digital display is very easy to read.
The Ancheer Blue Spark featured good 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 various stats, including current speed, remaining battery, and pedal-assist setting. Unfortunately, this bike did not have instructions for its display/controls, nor could we find them online, which left us stuck with the info displayed in kilometers instead of miles.
The Ride1Up Core-5 has a slightly simpler interface that consists of a thumb paddle throttle and a combo control/display unit. It's super easy to use and the display shows everything you need pertaining to your ride, but its position by the left grip isn't quite as easy to see as those that are positioned in the middle of the handlebar.
All of the bikes we tested were shipped directly to us in a box, and most require some assembly to make them rideable. However, since it is a one-time task, we only give a 10% weight to the difficulty of assembly. Most bikes come mostly assembled and require only a few relatively easy steps to finish the job. Those unfamiliar with bikes may be best off taking their bike to a shop with skilled mechanics, but all of the tested models can be assembled by the consumer at home using the included tools and instructions. However, sometimes it is nice to keep some extra tools handy in case you need to do any adjusting or maintenance later on.
The Swagcycle EB5 and Lectric XP 2.0 were by far the easiest to get up and running, as they arrived completely assembled, and unboxing them and removing the protective packing materials only took a few minutes. Of course, both bikes needed to be unfolded and locked into their open and rideable positions, but that was the extent of it. It couldn't be easier to get either of these bikes ready for use.
The Ancheer Folding was also quite easy to assemble. It came more assembled than most, with both wheels already attached. It took only 30 minutes to get this bike out of the box and ready to roll. Likewise, the Rad Power RadMission was equally quick and easy to put together. All that need to be done was to attach the handlebar, front wheel, and pedals to get rolling. Both the Aventon Soltera and the Propella Mini had similarly easy assembly processes, taking 30 minutes or less to complete.
Electric bikes are becoming increasingly popular for good reason. Whether for a commute, running errands around town, or just for exercise, e-bikes are a great way to save some gas money, get around quickly and efficiently, and have some fun to boot. We love them as a way to make trips to the grocery store not only more eco-conscious but also an easy and fast affair. They make riding to work on a hot summer day a less sweaty event and are just plain old fun to cruise around on. We know that there are lots of options on the market, and not all of them are easily affordable. So we hope that with this review, you'll be able to find one that suits your needs without breaking the bank or sacrificing quality.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.