Best Electric Bikes of 2020
Best Overall E-Bike
The Magnum Metro impressed us across the board with a well-rounded and versatile performance. This retro-styled e-bike looks great with clean lines and a modern yet vintage appeal. The Metro is big on comfort, and a suspension fork and seatpost combine with high volume tires to make this bike feel outrageously smooth while riding. Its handling isn't the sharpest, but we found it to be steady and predictable, with excellent stability at speed. It took top honors in our range test, and not only did it travel the farthest, but it held the highest average speed in the process. The 500W rear hub motor is surprisingly powerful, with quick acceleration and a top throttle speed of 20 mph. The six pedal-assist levels provide a huge range of pedaling support, and this bike easily gets up to 25 mph with a little effort from the rider. It has one of the best display/control systems in the test, along with excellent features like a sturdy cargo rack, fenders, and head and taillights.
While we loved almost everything about the Metro, it isn't perfect. Its pedal-assist system uses a cadence sensor only, and it isn't quite as refined in its delivery as models with torque sensors. We found its top speed using pedal-assist to be in the 25-26 mph range, and while this is plenty fast, it wasn't the fastest in the test. Beyond that, we feel this well-round e-bike is an excellent option for everything from commuting to riding to the beach.
Read review: Magnum Metro
Best Bang for the Buck
Rad Power RadCity 4
Rad Power is a popular e-bike brand, and their RadCity4 combines an affordable price tag with a solid all-around performance. Despite its name, it would be wrong to pigeon-hole this bike as just for city use, as this utilitarian commuter is good for just about everything short of mountain biking. With wide, high-volume tires and front suspension, the RadCity has a cushy and smooth ride quality. It isn't particularly nimble, but it handles impressively smoothly, with a nice, damp, and stable feel. Its 750W rear hub motor is powerful, with above-average acceleration and top throttle and pedal-assist speeds of 20 mph. It performed well in our range testing, and even went further than Rad Power's claimed low-end range while using the throttle only. We also loved its excellent user interface with ergonomic controls and an easy to read digital display. Add in features like fenders, lights, and a cargo rack, and this was one of our favorite bikes in the test.
The Rad City4 is a Class 2 e-bike, meaning that its throttle and pedal-assisted speeds are limited to 20 mph. While this should be adequate for most riders, it can't compete with the faster Class 3 models we tested. At just over 63 lbs, this bike is also heavy, it isn't all that pleasant to pedal around without power, and loading it on a bike rack can be a struggle. Beyond that, we found little not to like about this affordable and versatile model.
Read review: Rad Power RadCity 4
Best for Speed
Juiced CrossCurrent S2
The Juiced CrossCurrent S2 is a fast and powerful model. This Class 3 e-bike's strong 750W motor easily gets up to 28 mph using pedal-assist and 20 mph with the throttle. It accelerates quickly, and its power delivery feels refined and consistent thanks to its dual cadence and torque sensors. With a large 673Wh battery, the CrossCurrent was among the top performers in our distance range testing, with a high average speed to boot. This city/commuter style bike comes with fast-rolling 700c wheels and tires, and it has sharp, responsive handling and unflinching stability at higher speeds. Its sporty geometry requires a more athletic body position that further enhances its fast and racy feel. An all-in-one control/display unit is mounted by the left grip with good ergonomics and a variety of data available at a glance.
The CrossCurrent S2 is indeed a fast electric bike, and we feel it is best suited for those who are looking to get places in a hurry. Its more aggressive city-bike geometry and stiffer seat may not be ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed ride. It also comes with limited features compared to some other competitors. The headlight is a nice touch, but you'll have to spring for things like fenders and a cargo rack if you want them. Otherwise, we feel this quick and agile model is an excellent option for commuting or use in the city.
Read review: Juiced CrossCurrent S2
Why You Should Trust Us
Our e-bike test was led by Jeremy Benson. Benson is GearLab's Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor and a lover of all things two-wheeled. A Lake Tahoe resident for the past 19 years, Benson is an obsessive mountain biker and gravel rider, competing in the Pro class in endurance cycling events throughout northern California. He spends an excessive amount of time riding bikes each year while training, riding for fun, and testing every type of bike you can think of. As a full-time bike tester and reviewer for the past three years, Benson has tested well over 50 mountain bikes, gravel bikes, fat bikes, e-MTBs, and electric bikes combined. His years of experience have helped him develop an especially critical eye and the ability to identify and analyze important performance differences in the products he tests.
After exhaustively researching the best moderately priced e-bikes on the market, we bought six for side by side testing and comparison. Our rigorous testing process started with assembling each bike before weighing them ourselves for consistency. Over the course of several weeks, we rode each bike for an extended period while performing a standardized range test, handling tests, and while running errands around town. When our testing concluded, we rated each model on several predetermined metrics, including ride quality, range, power output, user interface, and ease of assembly. The cumulative scores helped us determine our best overall and top pick award winners.
Related: How We Tested Best E-Bikes
Analysis and Test Results
In an effort to differentiate between the e-bikes in this test, we performed several quantifiable tests to make direct performance comparisons between the different models. We chose to focus on several key performance attributes, like the ease of assembly, ride quality, range, user interface, and ride quality. In our scoring, we emphasized these metrics differently, with important characteristics like ride quality weighted more heavily than ease of assembly, for example. Our side by side testing revealed not only the performance of each model but how they compare to each other.
At GearLab, we don't rate the products we test based on their price, but we do appreciate a good value. Often, price and performance go hand in hand, but that isn't always the case. The Magnum Metro, was the highest-scoring e-bike we tested, and it was among the most expensive. Meanwhile, the Rad Power RadCity4 was one of the least expensive models, and it still scored well across our rating metrics.
We feel that the ride quality of a bike is one of its most critical performance characteristics. All of the bikes in this review are somewhat different, and their comfort, features, components, and handling naturally all vary as a result. A variety of factors, like wheel size and geometry, play a role in how a bike handles at speed or while turning. Seated body position, seat shape, grips, and seat and handlebar height adjustments help to dictate rider comfort. Meanwhile, included features like integrated lights, fenders, cargo racks, and suspension can enhance the user-friendliness and rider experience of each model.
The Magnum Metro, was one of the top-rated models for its comfort, smoothness, predictable handling, and wealth of features. This bike's step-through frame, comfy seat and ergonomic grips, relaxed seated body position, and large range of height adjustments made for a crowd-pleasing and comfortable ride. With a suspension fork and seatpost and wide, high-volume tires, this bike felt impressively smooth and quiet while riding. It may not have had the sharpest handling, but it felt steady and predictable in all situations with excellent stability at speed. It also comes loaded with features like head and taillights, front and rear fenders, and a sturdy cargo rack with a bungee.
The Rad Power RadCity4 also topped our charts for its excellent ride quality. This bike had a casual seated body position and ample height adjustments, along with a quality seat and comfortable grips. The suspension fork and wide tires did wonders to dampen and mute vibration and feedback from the road. This bike sacrificed some agility for its smooth ride feel, but its handling was consistently good with unflinching stability. Like the Metro, the RadCity 4 comes decked out with lights, fenders, a bell, and a heavy-duty cargo rack that can support up to 55 lbs.
Not far behind was the Ecomotion e-City. This cruiser style bike has a low step-through frame and a very upright and relaxed seated body position. We found its handling to be generally quite agreeable and predictable, though it could feel a bit twitchy in the tightest of turns and slowest of speeds. Like the bikes mentioned above, the e-City also comes equipped with great features like a rack, lights, and fenders.
The Juiced CrossCurrent S2 has a great ride quality, though with a notably different feel than the bikes mentioned above. This bike feels racy with a notably more aggressive geometry that puts the rider into a more athletic body position. With 700c wheels and skinny tires, this bike rolls fast and has razor-sharp handling. Likewise, the Cannondale Quick Neo SL has a quick and agile demeanor with a racier, city-bike feel. It looks and rides a lot like a road bike with a flat handlebar, and is nimble, responsive, and fast. At just over 35 lbs, the Cannondale also rides a lot like a non-electric bike should the battery run out, or you choose not to use the pedal assistance.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Electra Townie Go! 7D is a classic beach cruiser with the ride quality to match. It is impressively comfortable with a laid-back body position, wide seat, and high handlebars. Its handling is as laid-back as its looks, and while it is far from agile, it is predictable and appropriate for the bike. This no-frills model doesn't have much in the way of features beyond the cargo rack that houses the battery.
The range of an e-bike refers to how far it can be ridden on a single battery charge. The range of any bike varies significantly based on many factors, which include, but are not limited to, rider weight, battery storage capacity, terrain, temperature, rider input, and power output. E-bike manufacturers typically claim a range with low and high-end estimates of their bike's range, and in our experience, these claims are generally close to accurate. Regardless, we performed our own range testing for consistency, to determine the low-end range of each bike in the test. To level the playing field, we performed our test on the same course, with the same rider, in the same weather conditions, using the same cycling computer to record the data. Every bike could easily be ridden significantly further with some, or more, effort from the rider. For the bikes equipped with a throttle, Class 2, and 3, we did the test using the throttle only with no pedaling input from the rider. Since our test selection included Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes, it required us to tweak our throttle only test for the Class 1 models. We rode the Class 1 bikes on the highest output setting with minimal pedaling input from the rider to leave the majority of the work to the motor.
With a 624Wh battery and a 500W rear hub motor, the Magnum Metro surprised us and took the top spot in our range test. The Metro traveled 28.7 miles with 1,660 feet of elevation gain/loss in a time of one hour and 36 minutes. We were very impressed by the fact that this bike went the farthest, considering that it outperformed bikes with larger batteries. Not only that, but it held the highest average speed of all the models we tested at 17.9 mph.
Not far behind, the Ecomotion e-City went the second farthest in our range testing at 27.8 miles. The e-City climbed 1,550 feet over that distance with an average speed of 16.1 mph and a time of one hour and 43 minutes. This performance was particularly impressive given the fact that it has a smaller 468Wh battery storage capacity and a smaller 350W rear hub motor. Boasting a sizeable 676Wh battery, the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 was close on the e-City's heels at 27 miles and 1,400 vertical feet of elevation gain. With a 17.5 mph average speed, the CrossCurrent finished the test in a quick hour and 30 minutes.
Coming across the line just a mile behind, the Rad Power RadCity4 logged 26 miles with 1,400 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss. The RadCity held an average speed of 15 mph for a time of one hour and 45 minutes. We found it interesting that with a 672Wh battery, the RadCity was bested by other bikes with smaller batteries. That said, the differences in range are small and marginal at best.
The two Class 1 models were outliers in this test, although we were quite impressed by how far they could travel with minimal effort from the rider. The Electra Townie Go! 7D has a smaller, 309 Wh battery, yet it traveled 24.4 miles on our test course. It took an hour and 39 minutes to complete the test with an average speed of 14.8 mph. The Cannondale Quick Neo SL has an even smaller 250Wh battery, so its test range of 19.6 miles didn't come as a huge surprise. While it may be the shortest in the test, we feel that it's still relatively impressive given how little effort it took and the size of the battery.
In the US, electric bikes fall into three classes. In all three classes, the motor size is limited to 750W. Class 1 e-bikes have pedal assist only and are limited to a top speed of 20 mph. Class 2 electric bikes have a throttle as well as pedal assist, and both are limited to 20 mph. Class 3 bikes also have a throttle and pedal-assist, but the throttle stays limited to 20 mph while the pedal-assist tops out at 28 mph. Be sure to check local and regional regulations regarding the use of the different classes of electric bikes where you live and ride.
Our selection of test bikes fall into all three of the e-bike classes and come with varying motor sizes. Power output is dependent mainly on the size or wattage, of a bike's motor, with larger motors producing more power. Our assessment of power output is based on more than just the size of the motor, and we performed several tests with the goal of analyzing both the throttle and pedal assistance. In addition to the top speed of each bike, we compared their acceleration, range of pedal-assistance, quality of the output, and their ability to hold speed uphill and over time.
Not surprisingly, one of the fastest and most powerful bikes was the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 with its large 750W rear hub motor. The CrossCurrent came to us in its Class 3 configuration, and it accelerated quickly to its top throttle speed of 20 mph and was easy to get up to 28 mph using pedal assist. It wasn't just its speed that was impressive, however, as this bike had a very refined feel to its power delivery thanks to its combination of cadence and advanced torque sensors. If you want to go places quickly, the CrossCurrent has you covered.
Interestingly, we found the Magnum Metro to feel almost as powerful as the CrossCurrent despite having a slightly smaller 500W motor. It also arrived in its Class 3 configuration, though its top speed was limited to 25 mph. Using the throttle, the Metro felt zippy, was quick to accelerate, and had no problem getting up to 20 mph or hold speed while going uphill. With six pedal-assist levels, the Metro provides a large range of support, and it had no issue getting up to its top pedal-assisted speed of 25 mph.
Boasting a robust 750W motor, the Rad Power RadCity 4 was among the most powerful bikes we tested. This Class 2 e-bike easily does 20 mph with the throttle or while using pedal assist, with quick acceleration and five smooth pedal-assist support levels. We found the powerful motor to have no problem accelerating and holding speed while using the throttle going up hills. It lost a bit of ground to the faster competition for its limited pedal-assisted top speed of 20 mph.
The Ecomotion e-City has a 350W motor that couldn't quite compete with the more powerful competitors. Still, we were impressed by the output of the smaller motor. Its acceleration felt relatively average, but it still had no problem reaching its top speed of 20 mph using the throttle or pedal assistance. It also posted a very respectable 16.1 mph average speed during our range testing. Both the Cannondale Quick Neo SL 2 and the Electra Townie Go! 7D are Class 1 e-bikes with pedal-assist only. These bikes shared the same size 250W rear hub motor and provide average power output in their three pedal assist support levels. These bikes provide a nice boost to support your pedaling efforts but don't quite pack the punch of the other models.
Riders interact with their e-bikes primarily through their display and controls. Each bike's interface is different, and their ergonomics, user-friendliness, and intuitiveness vary significantly among the models in this review. While every system we tested was functional, some are advanced and show loads of information while others are much more basic. Our favorite interfaces have controls that are easy to reach while riding with large, easy to read digital displays that show numerous data fields at a glance.
Two bikes tied for top honors in this metric with similar control/display systems. Both the Rad Power RadCity 4 and the Magnum Metro impressed us the most with large digital display screens centered in the middle of the handlebar in an easy to see location. These screens provided a wealth of information, making it easy to know your current speed, pedal assist level, distance, time, etc. Both bikes also had ergonomic controls located next to the left grip, where they were easy to reach with the thumb while riding.
Both the Ecomotion e-City and the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 feature all-in-one units that contain the button controls and the display in a single unit mounted to the handlebar by the left grip. Both displays show several data fields and are relatively easy to read, although their smaller screen size and location make them a little less user-friendly to view than our top-rated models.
The Electra Townie Go! 7D has a decent interface, although it is rudimentary compared to the models mentioned above. This all-in-one unit has good ergonomics, although its display consists of LED lights to monitor your battery charge and pedal-assist support level. The Cannondale Quick Neo SL 2 had our least favorite display/controls. A single button ringed by an LED light controlled all of the functions of the bike and served as the battery life and pedal-assist mode indicator light. While we appreciate simplicity, this system wasn't incredibly intuitive, and its location on the top tube made it more challenging to use while riding.
Every bike in this test was shipped to us and required some amount of assembly before taking them out for test rides. All of the models arrived mostly assembled with only several easy steps remaining to get them ready to roll. People unfamiliar with bikes may want to have the assembly completed by a professional bike mechanic. However, the remaining assembly of every bike we tested can easily be finished at home with a little time, a few tools, and detailed instructions. Some bikes are easier and quicker to assemble than others with fewer steps required to finish the job.
The Cannondale Quick Neo SL 2 was one of the most straightforward models to assemble. Finishing the job only required attaching the front wheel, handlebar, pedals, and adjusting the seat height. Its 35 lb weight also made it much easier to deal with when moving it in and removing it from the box. The remaining assembly of Electra Townie Go! 7D was equally easy to complete. In about 20 minutes, we had the front wheel, handlebar, and pedals attached, and we were ready to rip. The Magnum Metro was also among the top performers in this metric. The Metro came in an extra-large box with the front wheel already attached. Once we put the handlebar and pedals on, we were finished. Due to the heavier weight of the Metro, however, removing it from the box is a task best suited for two people.
Both the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 and the Ecomotion e-City were relatively easy to assemble, although both bikes took a fair amount longer to complete than the models mentioned above. The Rad Power RadCity 4, wasn't particularly difficult to put together, although there were a few extra steps like installing the front fender that added a little time to the process.
Whether for commuting, running errands, or simply riding for fun or fitness, a quality e-bike is a great way to get you there. With so many options on the market to choose from, we know there can be a lot to consider when choosing a new electric bike. Our rigorous testing process goes past the specifications and jargon and into the nitty-gritty details of how these bikes actually perform in the real world. We hope our detailed comparative analysis helps you find the right e-bike to suit your needs and meet your budget.
— Jeremy Benson