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Are you searching for the best new electric commuter bike? After researching the top models on the market, we purchased 17 for side-by-side testing and comparison. Whether for your daily commute, getting around town, or spending more time outside, e-bikes are a fun and environmentally friendly alternative to vehicular transportation. With so many models on the market, it can be a challenge to find the right one. For several weeks we rigorously tested each electric bike in this review while examining their range, power output, ride quality, user interface, and ease of assembly. No matter your needs or budget, there's an e-bike to suit you.
The Ride1Up 700-Series scored high marks across the board and is the top-rated model in our electric commuter review. This competitively priced e-bike comes with a 750W geared hub motor that is plenty powerful with quick acceleration and supported speeds up to 28 mph using pedal assist and 20 mph under throttle power. This sleek-looking bike houses the battery inside the downtube of the frame with a whopping 720 Wh of capacity giving it a class-leading distance range in our testing. It rolls fast and stable on 27.5-inch wheels, and the girthy 2.4-inch wide tires and a 100mm suspension fork provide a smooth, comfortable ride. It has responsive and predictable handling, plus it comes equipped with quality name-brand components including an 8-speed drivetrain and powerful hydraulic disc brakes that work very well. Comfort levels are also high with a relaxed seated position, loads of handlebar and seat height adjustability, and it comes in two frame styles to suit varying needs and preferences. Additionally, features like a rear cargo rack, fenders, and integrated lights make this bike ready for anything.
While we loved nearly everything about the 700-Series, its assembly process is a bit more involved than other bikes we tested. All of the steps can be completed at home by following the instructions carefully, it just takes a bit of time and patience, or you can bring it to a shop if you're unsure of your ability to do it yourself. Fortunately, you only need to assemble it once. At 63 lbs and 11 oz, it's also a fairly heavy bike, and carrying it up or down stairs and loading it onto a bike rack can be a bit of a chore. Those concerns aside, we feel this bike is a standout performer and an excellent value.
High volume knobby tires increase surface versatility
REASONS TO AVOID
Still fairly heavy
Less stable/twitchier handling than non-folding models
Over the past couple of years, Lectric has quickly grown into one of the biggest names in e-bikes with their popular XP models. This reasonably priced folding bike qualifies for the budget category, yet it performs as well or better than many more expensive competitors. The Lectric XP Step-Thru 2.0 is an updated version of the original XP with several minor changes intended to improve the bike's performance. Our test bike arrived fully assembled in its compact, folded position, so all we needed to do was unfold it and lock the frame and handlebar in place to get it ride-ready. This powerful little model has a 500W (800W peak) motor, it is quick to accelerate using the throttle, and it can support speeds up to 28 mph using pedal assist. Ours came in its Class 2 settings with a 20mph top speed, but it can also be configured in Class 1 or Class 3. The removable 460 Wh battery is hidden within the frame and gives the XP a respectable distance range and a clean design. The Step-Thru version we tested has a very low frame that makes it easy to get on and off the bike, with a recommended user height range of 5'0" to 6'4". Girthy 3-inch wide knobby tires provide a bit of dampening and help expand the bike's versatility to a wider range of surfaces. It also comes with a quality user interface and features like fenders, lights, and a cargo rack that can support up to 75 lbs.
There's a lot to like about the Lectric XP 2.0, but we do have a couple of gripes. The bike's folding design and small, 20-inch wheel diameter directly influence its handling. While it performs well for a folding model, it can't quite match the stability or steady handling of non-folding models with larger wheels. Despite its small size and folding convenience, this bike still weighs 60+ lbs, so carrying it up a flight of stairs or putting it in the trunk of a car can be somewhat awkward and challenging. That said, we feel this affordable, versatile, and powerful folding model is a great option for its combination of portable/storable convenience, performance, and price.
Comes in two frame styles and multiple color options
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited features - no lights
Motor is a little noisy
Considering its reasonable price, our testers were extremely impressed with the Ride1Up Core-5. The top-rated model in our budget selection, this bike easily outperforms many more expensive competitors in this review. This Class 3 model boasts a powerful 750W motor that has very quick acceleration up to its top throttle speed of 20 mph and up to 28 mph using pedal assist, and the cleanly integrated 500 Wh battery gives it stealthy looks and a very respectable distance range. The 27.5-inch wheels roll fast while the high-volume tires help to provide some vibration damping and a smooth ride given the rigid frame. We found it to be impressively stable, yet its handling remains quick and responsive. This comfortable bike has a somewhat relaxed seated position, a quality seat and grips, and lots of seat height adjustability, plus it comes in two frame styles (ST/step-thru and XR/step-over) to suit varying preferences and user heights.
To offer a high-performing Class 3 electric bike at this price point, Ride1Up had to make some sacrifices, and the Core-5 is notably light on included features. While it beats out other budget models in terms of power, range, and ride quality, it does not come with lights, fenders, or a cargo rack. It also comes a little less assembled than some other bikes, and you need to install the fork and drive side crank arm yourself, adding a couple of steps and time to the process. The 750W motor is quite powerful, but it also emits a little more noise than the motors on some of the more expensive competition. Regardless, we feel this bike's impressive performance and low price make it one of the best values on the market.
Available in 2 frame styles and 2 drivetrain configurations
REASONS TO AVOID
Rigid frame and skinny tires - slightly harsher ride
Not the most powerful
Mid-sized battery = shorter distance range
Aventon has slowly been expanding its range of electric bikes, and the Soltera is a reasonably priced Class 2 city-style model. This bike has clean lines with a frame integrated battery, and it is offered in both step-over (tested) and step-thru frame styles, 3 color options, and 7-speed (tested) or single-speed drivetrain configurations. The Soltera rolls fast on 700c wheels and narrower tires with excellent stability at speed and zippy handling. It has a city-bike look and feel, but the riser handlebar helps keep the seated position from being too forward-leaning. The 350W motor happily pushes you along at 20 mph using the throttle, with 5 levels of pedal assist to support your pedaling efforts. It comes with a relatively nice build for the price, plus it has one of the best display/controls we tested that also integrates with the Aventon app. At this price point, it is somewhat limited on features, but it comes with a headlight and rear lights that are cleverly integrated into the seat stays of the frame. At 48 lbs and 6 oz, it's also lighter than most other full-size bikes, making it a bit easier to carry or load onto a bike rack, and it rides more naturally without power as well.
With a rigid frame and lower volume tires, the Soltera is quick and agile, but it isn't the most forgiving over rough surfaces. The 350W motor provides a nice boost of power to amplify your pedaling, but it's obviously far less powerful than the larger motors found on many of the other bikes we tested. Likewise, the smaller 346 Wh battery corresponds to a shorter range in our testing, but realistically, it's probably adequate for most people's needs. That said, we feel the Soltera is a great, reasonably priced option for those seeking a sporty city-style e-bike.
The RadCity 5 Plus is a Class 2 model with the quality, performance, and features that have made Rad Power bikes so popular. Many people don't need or want a bike that can go faster than 20 mph, and that's who this model is made for. Still, with a 750W geared hub motor, this bike is plenty powerful with quick acceleration using the throttle or pedal assist or making those hills all but disappear. Rad Power's most recent frame designs have a cleaner and more streamlined look and the RadCity's semi-integrated 672 Wh battery gives it one of the best distance ranges of all the models we tested. The ride is super stable and smooth with a suspension fork, 27.5-inch wheels, and 2-inch wide tires that roll fast and take the edge off rough surfaces. It has a relaxed, upright seated position with comfortable touchpoints and lots of handlebar and seat height adjustability, plus it comes in step-through and step-over frame styles to suit varying needs. Of course, it also comes equipped with useful features like integrated lights, fenders, and a rear cargo rack, and Rad Power sells lots of accessories so you can customize your ride.
At 64 lbs and 11 oz, the RadCity 5 Plus is pretty heavy. This weight makes it less than ideal if you need to carry it up or down a flight of stairs, and it can be challenging to load onto a bike rack. It also has a relatively tall front end and handlebar, and while the stem is adjustable, the seated position is quite upright. This upright position lends itself to an easy-going ride feel, and that translates into the bike's more relaxed handling as well. As a Class 2 model, it's also limited to a top speed of 20 mph using pedal-assist, but again that may be ideal for many users. Despite these concerns, we feel this is a great option for anyone seeking a quality Class 2 electric commuter.
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 673 Wh 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, ripping around town, and getting places quickly.
Need to purchase accessories to really take advantage of cargo-carrying capabilities
The Rad Power RadWagon 4 is one of the most popular electric cargo bikes on the market. This utilitarian model has a 350 lb weight limit, a large rear platform, and is designed to work with a huge array of aftermarket baskets, seats, and racks, so you can configure it to meet your cargo carrying needs whether you're commuting, running errands, or transporting children. A strong 750W geared hub motor has no problem moving this heavyweight bike along at 20 mph while using the throttle or pedal assistance, and its large 672 Wh battery helps to give it an impressive distance range. Due to its length, the RadWagon has a super stable and smooth ride quality with relaxed but predictable handling. It has a relatively low standover height making it easy to step on and off the bike, and it has large seat and handlebar height adjustments that can accommodate riders between 5'1" and 6'4". It also comes loaded with user-friendly features like lights, fenders, a burly two-footed kickstand, USB charging, and a bell.
There was little we didn't like about the RadWagon 4, but it's hard to look past the length and weight of this bike. Transporting it can be difficult because it is too large and heavy to fit on most bike racks, and it can be a real challenge to move it up or down stairs. Due to its Class 2 settings, it's also not the fastest bike around with a top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph. While it can potentially replace your car, you've got to spend additional money to customize it with aftermarket accessories to really unlock its cargo carrying potential. All that said, we still think this is the best reasonably priced electric cargo bike on the market.
Safety Notice and Tire Recall - September 2022
Rad Power Bikes has recently issued two important safety notices regarding the RadWagon 4. One pertains to a potential assembly issue for bikes purchased on or after June 1st, 2022, in the form of a misaligned rim strip that may cause your tube to pop. The other is a tire quality issue that affects some, but not all, RadWagon 4 e-bikes. The company urges customers to stop riding their bikes until they have been inspected and determined safe to ride or repairs have been made compliments of Rad Power Bikes.
The Aventon Aventure Step-Through is an adventure-ready e-bike that's equipped to take you just about anywhere, whether that's down a dirt road or across town to the office. With massive 4-inch wide knobby tires and 80mm of front suspension, the Aventure smoothes over rough terrain and is capable of riding on pavement, dirt roads, smooth trails, and loose conditions. A huge 720 Wh battery is cleanly integrated into the bike's frame giving it sleek looks and a solid distance range. The 750W motor (1,130W peak) is one of the most powerful we've ever tested, easily whisking you along at 20 mph with the throttle and up to 28 mph using pedal assist. The quality user interface consists of intuitive controls, a thumb throttle, a vibrant color display, and it integrates with the Aventon app. When paired through your smartphone, the app allows you to record rides, share your adventures, and easily make changes to the bike and display settings (adjusting the speed limit between Class 2 and 3 settings, for example). The Step-Through version we tested has a low-slung frame, a comfortable seated position, plus it comes in two sizes to fit riders between 4'11" and 6'2". It also comes loaded with features like lights, fenders, USB charging, and it is ready to mount optional front and rear racks so you can carry all of your gear.
While the Aventure is indeed an excellent bike, it is not without fault. This heavy model weighs 73 lbs, meaning that it's too heavy to transport on most bike racks, and moving it around can be somewhat of a challenge. Also, the 4-inch wide tires expand its terrain and surface versatility, but they create a fair bit of noise, drag, and a grabby feel when riding on pavement. That said, if you're looking for a powerful electric fat tire bike for all of your adventures, we think the Aventon Aventure is one of the best there is.
Less rider control over gear and pedal assist changes
The VanMoof S3 is a very unique electric bike with a modern design aesthetic that is loaded with interesting tech features. The Dutch brand has given the S3 a somewhat retro European but futuristic style that we find very pleasing to the eye, with clean lines, in-frame battery integration, mostly internally routed cables, an enclosed drivetrain, and a very uncluttered one-piece handlebar/stem. In fact, it looks a lot like a non-electric single-speed city bike. The modern design permeates every aspect of its performance, from the simple assembly process and included tools, the automatic 4-speed shifting and pedal assistance changes, to the well-designed and user-friendly VanMoof app. The bike itself is very stable with quick handling and a sturdy feel, plus it is notably quiet with little noise coming from any of the parts or the motor. Technically a Class 1 model without a true throttle, the 250-350W front hub motor provides moderate levels of pedal assistance, until you press the turbo button which gives a serious speed and power boost. Since the bike makes both gear and pedal assist changes for you, the controls consist of a button for the bell and another to activate the turbo, and the display is a matrix of small LED lights built into the top tube of the frame. You'd hardly know it's even there, but the 504 Wh battery gives it a surprisingly good distance range. The S3 seamlessly integrates with the user-friendly VanMoof app where you can make changes to settings (bell sound, lights, gear shifting, pedal assist levels, etc) and track your rides. The app is also where you configure the various integrated security features (alarm, lock/unlock, personal passcode, Find My), so you can deter theft or track your bike if it gets stolen.
The S3 isn't your typical electric bike, and we found that it takes a little getting used to. While the automatic shifting and pedal assistance changes are slick and work fairly well, it may not be ideal for those who like a bit more control of their bike. Likewise, with just 4 gears, the drivetrain doesn't have the widest range and may not be the best for those who live in very hilly areas. While the battery integration is very streamlined, it can't be removed for charging, so you'll need to get the entire bike within the charging cord's reach of an outlet. The security hardware on the axles will likely deter bike thieves, but we are also concerned about the difficulty of replacing a tube if you get a flat out on a ride. We don't think this bike will be for everyone, but those who dig the style and appreciate the integrated security and tech features will find a lot to like here.
Over the last three years, we've tested 45 different e-bikes across multiple e-bike categories. For this review, we exhaustively researched the best moderately priced e-bikes on the market and then purchased seventeen for side-by-side testing and comparison. Our rigorous e-bike 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 commuting and 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.
Our testing of 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)
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 21 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 five years, Benson has tested nearly 100 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.
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: ease of assembly, power output, 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. Sure, some of the more expensive options like the Aventon Aventure and the Rad Power RadWagon 4 rate very highly in our performance metrics, but some of the more affordable models, like the Ride1Up Core-5, Lectric XP 2.0, and the Aventon Soltera get the job done for less. For riders operating on a tighter budget, we've tested a group of bikes lower priced options in our Best Budget Electric Bike review.
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.
When it comes to a great ride, the Ride1Up 700-Series delivers. This bike has a very balanced, smooth, stable, and comfortable demeanor. The 27.5-inch wheels roll fast and the high volume tires and 100mm suspension fork do wonders to take the edge off of cracks, bumps, and rough surfaces. A quality seat and grips and lots of handlebar and seat height adjustability provide a high level of comfort, plus it comes in two frame styles to suit your needs. It also comes loaded with features, like fenders, lights, and a cargo rack so you're ready for anything.
Also leading the pack with its excellent ride quality was the Aventon Level Step-Thru. With 27.5-inch wheels, girthy tires, and a suspension fork, the Level feels stable, smooth, responsive, and composed in any situation. Our only complaint about the Level is that it doesn't come with lights. Despite a similar look and features, the Aventon Aventure Step-Through has a notably different ride. With massive 4-inch wide knobby tires making it suitable for riding on dirt roads, smooth trails, and loose surfaces, the Aventure is ready to tackle any adventure.
The Magnum Metro and the Rad Power RadCity 4 were among the top-rated models for their comfort, smoothness, predictable handling, and wealth of features. Both bikes felt impressively smooth and quiet while riding with suspension forks and high-volume tires. Neither has the sharpest handling, but they felt steady and predictable in all situations with excellent stability at speed. They also come equipped with user-friendly features like front and rear lights, fenders, and sturdy cargo racks.
The Juiced CrossCurrent S2, Aventon Soltera, VanMoof S3, and the Rad Power RadMission have great ride qualities, though with a notably different feel than the bikes mentioned above. Each of these bikes has more of a city/metro bike look and feel. They roll fast, stable, and smooth, plus they have sharp, responsive handling. They aren't quite as easygoing or forgiving as the abovementioned models, a trade-off for their sportiness and agility.
Both the Lectric XP and the Rattan Folding have ride qualities dictated by their folding designs, compact geometries, and 20-inch diameter wheels. They feel noticeably less stable and steady than the larger wheeled competition, a tradeoff for their folding convenience. That said, both bikes come with wide, knobby tires that work well on a range of surfaces, and both come loaded with useful features. At the other end of the spectrum, the Blix Packa and Rad Power RadWagon 4 are heavy and long bikes with a huge cargo capacity. They are far from agile, but both score well here for their high level of comfort, unflinching stability, smooth ride, and wealth of features.
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. 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 also included some Class 1 models, it required us to tweak our throttle-only test just slightly. We rode the Class 1 bikes on the highest output setting with the pedals turning enough to trigger the cadence sensor and pedal assist, but without any effort on the part of the rider so the motor does all the work.
Our testing revealed a pretty large spread from the longest, 32.4 miles, to the shortest, 18.3 miles, ranges. In most cases, the size of the battery correlates pretty directly with the distance a bike was able to travel. Even the poorest performing bike in this test still went 18.3 miles, which is honestly quite an impressive distance to ride a bike without pedaling. It is important to understand that our range test results represent the low-end of each bike's range potential, and they could all probably be ridden further on perfectly flat terrain and in most cases, their ranges could easily be doubled, or more, with some pedaling effort on the part of the rider.
Boasting a massive 720 Wh battery, the Ride1Up 700-Series rode away from the competition in our range test. It managed to travel an impressive 32.4 miles with just over 1,700 feet of elevation gain/loss, holding an impressive average speed of 17.2 mph in the process, and that's without even pedaling. If you have a long commute or you just don't want to have range anxiety, the 700-Series has you covered. Not far behind, the Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus also posted an impressive 30 miles with 1,627 feet of elevation gain on our test course. This isn't too surprising as it has a 672 Wh battery, one of the biggest in the test. Anyone who wants or needs a bike that can go the distance would be wise to consider either of these bikes.
A huge surprise in our test was the Rattan Folding, but with a 624 Wh battery and a 500W rear hub motor, it was a top performer. We rode it for 29.7 miles with over 1,500 feet of elevation gain/loss at an average speed of 15.4 mph. With the same size battery and motor power, the Magnum Metro impressed us with 28.7 miles with over 1,500 feet of elevation gain/loss in a time of one hour and 36 minutes. Even more impressive, the Metro held a very fast average speed of 17.9 mph in the process.
Just a shade behind, the Aventon Level Step-Thru with its 672 Wh battery went the distance with 28.4 miles and an average speed of 15.3 mph. Boasting a sizeable 673 Wh battery, the Juiced CrossCurrent S2 also proved that it is a contender with 27 miles and 1,400 vertical feet of elevation gain in our test. With a zippy 17.5 mph average speed, the CrossCurrent finished the test in a quick hour and 30 minutes.
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 models also have a throttle and pedal-assist, but the throttle stays limited to 20 mph while the pedal-assist tops out at 28 mph. The speed limits of many electric bikes can be adjusted, so they can be used in Class 2 or Class 3 configurations, and often the throttle can be disconnected to configure it as a Class 1.
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 falls 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 torque and power. Our assessment of power output is based on more than just the size of the motor, and we performed several tests to analyze 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 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 felt eager 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.
The Aventon Aventure has a similarly powerful 750W (1,130W peak) motor that was impressive to say the least. This bike was quick off the line using the throttle or pedal assist, and it held power impressively well while going up gradual hills during our throttle-only range testing. This fast-moving bike comes in Class 3 settings, and it had absolutely no problem ripping along at 28 mph while using pedal assist. The Ride1Up 700-Series also boasts a strong 750W geared hub motor. This bike is quick to accelerate using the throttle and it holds its speed impressively well up hills. Like the Aventure, it is very easy to get up to its top pedal-assisted speed of 28 mph. This bike is fast, but you also don't have to ride it or any of the Class 3 models at top speed all the time. The multiple levels of pedal assistance allow you to choose how fast you want to go, and you can also decrease the top speed through the display.
The Class 3 Aventon Level Step-Thru also impressed us with its power and 28 mph top speed. While not quite as quick to accelerate using the throttle as the aforementioned models, its 500W (750W peak) motor felt robust, and it had no problem hitting and holding 28 mph on flat ground in its highest pedal assist level. Likewise, the small but mighty Lectric XP 2.0 surprised us with its power. This bike is quick to accelerate using the throttle, and the 500W (800W peak) motor assists speeds up to 28 mph.
Boasting robust 750W motors, the Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus, Rad Power RadCity 4, and RadWagon 4 were among the most powerful bikes we tested. These Class 2 models easily do 20 mph with the throttle or while using pedal assist, with quick acceleration and five smooth pedal-assist support levels. We found the powerful motors to have no problem accelerating and holding speed while using the throttle going up hills. They lost a bit of ground to the Class 3 competition for their limited pedal-assisted top speed of 20 mph.
While not a top performer in this metric, the VanMoof S3 stands out for its unique design and power delivery. Not only does it have a front hub motor (all of the other bikes we tested have rear hub motors), but it's a Class 1 model with a twist. This bike has 4 levels of pedal assist and it makes automatic changes while you ride, and it also has a turbo button that provides a major power boost when you press it. Pressing the turbo button is a lot like pushing a throttle, although you need to be pedaling for it to work.
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 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.
Frankly, most bikes come with good control and display systems these days, and multiple models are tied for top honors in this metric. The Rad Power and Aventon models, Lectric XP 2.0, Magnum Metro, and the Blix Packa impressed us the most with large digital display screens centered in the middle of the handlebar in an easy-to-see location. These screens provide a wealth of information, making it easy to know your current speed, pedal assist level, distance, time, etc. All of these bikes also have ergonomic control buttons located next to the left grip, where they are easy to reach with the thumb while riding, along with thumb paddle or twist throttles. Aventon went a step further with the Aventure and Soltera, both of which are compatible with the Aventon companion app. This app allows you to sync with the bike and display to change settings, record rides, and share adventures with the Aventon community.
Both the Ride1Up 700-Series and the Core-5 models as well as 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. The 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.
An outlier in this metric is the VanMoof S3. This unique tech-forward bike makes automatic changes to the pedal assistance and has limited controls, really just a bell and a turbo button, as a result. The display is also quite different, and it has an LED matrix integrated into the top tube of the frame. The VanMoof app is a well-designed and important part of the package as it allows you to change settings, track rides, and configure the integrated security features of the bike.
Every bike in this test was shipped directly to us and required some amount of assembly before taking them out for test rides. Most of the models arrived mostly assembled with only a few relatively 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 and/or easier steps required to finish the job.
The two folding models we tested were the clear winners in this metric because they arrived fully assembled. The Lectric XP 2.0 edged slightly in front, as the process was as simple as taking the bike out of the box, removing the packing materials, and unfolding/locking the bike into its riding position. The Rattan Folding was also completely assembled, though removing the protective packing material proved to be a bit of a chore, and some spray foam ended up leaving residue on our brand new bike.
The slick packaging and straightforward process to complete the remaining assembly of the Charge City earned it high marks in this metric. This bike comes with the handlebar and pedals already attached, with only the front wheel needing to be installed. The Cannondale Quick Neo SL 2, RadMission, Aventon Soltera, and VanMoofS3 were among the most straightforward models to assemble. Finishing the job only required attaching the front wheel, handlebar, pedals, and adjusting the seat height. In under 30 minutes, we had each bike ready to rip. The Magnum Metro also scored well 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.
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.
Whether you're an avid rider or an aspiring home mechanic...
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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.