Are you going to use your e-bike regularly for commuting or for a multi-day cycling trip? If so, you may wish to look at a touring e-bike.
These types of e-bikes come in many varieties, from big overland bikes capable of riding on snow and rocks to slimmer, lighter, gravel bikes ideal for the backcountry. In this article, we point you to some good ones on the market today.
Best All-Round Touring E-Bike
- Belt-drive and continuous variable transmission (CVT) gearbox
- Fenders, rack and lights included in price
- Ideal for long-range touring
There’s no beating a real-life story as a way to recommend a touring e-bike. How about the machine ridden on the longest-ever ride between two points on a motorized bicycle? In 2022 a couple did just that, riding more than 7,000 miles from Florida to Washington state on Dōst Drop and Dōst Kope e-bikes.
On a long ride like that, you need a few things to come together in an e-bike. It needs to be comfortable, reliable, and able to carry a good load on the journey. The Dōst Kope CVT (and sister, Dōst Drop CVT) has a belt drive that gives you none of the trouble that chain drives can. The belt doesn’t stretch for thousands of miles, and the rear-hub internal CVT gearbox is far more reliable than a cassette.
Once more, you can choose exactly the ratio for a climb or descent with an almost unlimited selection. Comfort comes from an upright seating position and ergonomic saddle. Cargo is carried on the rear rack and optional front rack.
Things to Consider
To achieve a 100-mile range you will need the dual-battery version that adds both extra cost and weight to the e-bike.
The CVT gearbox has a screen in its own right, which with the main controller and navigation system will mean you are looking at three screens as well as the road. This could be a bit distracting.
Best Class 3 Electric Touring E-Bike
Giant Revolt E+
- Fast touring and gravel e-bike
- Amazing long-range capabilities, and light-weight
- Comfortable riding position
Where many e-bikes achieve longer range with big batteries, the Giant Revolt E+ goes for it through lightness and efficiency. It lacks a suspension fork, instead allowing the flexible handlebars to absorb the vibrations — this saves a lot of weight and doesn’t impact rideability.
In theory, this e-bike can do most of the Dōst Kope CVT’s distance with just half the battery. This is a machine that will eat up the miles quickly thanks to the 85Nm SyncDrive motor. The designers of this bike also recognize that you don’t need to check so many parameters on the ride, so they’ve integrated an on-crossbar LED light system to tell you your settings.
With knobby 700x40c tires, the Revolt E+ is designed to take on forest and mountain roads. It’s no e-MTB, though — it is designed for routes where trucks may go.
Things to Consider
There are some sacrifices. On the Dōst and other touring bikes you will be in an upright position whereas, on this, you will be using your upper body to handle a lot of the riding. This could make you tired after a few days in the saddle.
With the bike lacking a rack, you will either have to retrofit one, use bike bags, or carry your gear on your back. Unless you do, this is probably better for long days riding with an RV or hotel as a base and not carrying all your gear between stops.
Best Overlanding E-Bike
QuietKat Jeep Rubicon
- Dual suspension for maximum travel and comfort
- Beefy 26” x 4.8” fat tires
- A whopping 1008 Wh battery
This limited-edition mountain-conquering machine will stop at almost nothing. With its 1000W motor heaving out over 160 Newton meters of torque, the Rubicon will handle climbs you never dreamed possible. The 4.8”-wide super-fat tires will take on mud, snow, and ice that would simply defeat smaller e-bikes, too.
American truck maker Jeep has put its name to this and, as befits the Jeep name, almost everything about this e-bike is built like a tank. Weighing in at 75 lbs with its giant wheels and beefy suspension, it will have you fearing nothing as you venture into the wilderness.
On longer treks, you will need to carry the optional extra battery (an additional $899.10) to allow for a multi-day ride. One of the optional extras is a trailer, so you can carry it on that and not on your back.
Things to Consider
As with Jeep’s apparent ethos, efficiency isn’t in the design vernacular of this machine. You will feel that this bike will take almost whatever you throw at it, but the tradeoff of all these more heavy-duty elements is that this is a lumbering, inefficient beast.
Unless you are planning a 30-mile ride each day and are carrying the spare battery on a multi-day trip, it won’t get you too far into the sticks.
Best Class 2 Touring E-Bike
- Rack-mounted battery
- Optional extras such as front rack and bags
- Rear rack, fenders, and lights come standard
Built for longer commutes and capable of being ridden on throttle only, the Pedego City Commuter is one of the best road-legal throttle-powered e-bikes available today. Though designed primarily for the commuter who may not wish to break a sweat going to work, this is an e-bike that could easily be used for long days out.
The throttle does eat through the battery faster than the pedal assist, but the advantage is that you can relax and enjoy the view while the bike takes you there. Could you use pedal assist while riding out and throttle back home with tired legs? Yes!
The 28” x 2” tires make for a comfortable ride, as does the optional extra-cushy saddle. Unlike some e-bikes we look at here, this machine won’t be able to take much more than road duty or multi-use paths, so there are better e-bikes for off-road and overlanding at a similar price.
The 500-watt mid-drive motor gives a muscular 95 Newton meters of torque to flatten the hills.
Things to Consider
Pedego claims a 76-mile range for this bike. This is for pedal assist, while using throttle alone it will do much less — perhaps 45 miles on flat road.
Best Low-Cost Electric Touring E-Bike
- Rack, fenders and lights as standard
- Great range per charge
- Wide tires for all-terrain touring
Made to be ridden long distances comfortably, the Himiway Zebra is an e-bike that makes some compromises to achieve great results. The first is the speed — a 750W motor could in theory do greater speeds than 15.5 mph, but power is instead released more gently for a greater range. Considering on the flat you will rarely go much above 15 mph, this is the first successful compromise.
The wide tires may make you think this is an overlander like the QuietKat Jeep Rubicon we mentioned above, but don’t try anything too wild on this bike, as it won’t forgive you. Perhaps more like the Giant Revolt E+, it will do forest or mountain tracks, but certainly not an e-MTB trail route.
The Zebra’s power will easily handle steep inclines, even with a substantial load on your rack and back. You could even pack a spare battery to add a couple of days between charges, depending on the length of your rides.
Finally, we like the apparent size that gives this e-bike a certain presence on the road. This could mean you are noticed sooner by other road users than on a smaller machine.
Things to Consider
Like the QuietKat we looked at earlier, this is a big and heavy e-bike that is a load in its own right. If tipped over while fully loaded, it could be a bit of an effort to get back up and rolling again.
Choosing a Touring E-bike
Touring can mean a lot of things, from a long ride along mountain roads to city hopping to a full overlanding adventure. For each type (or mix thereof) you might want a different e-bike. We’ve shown you a selection of these that will meet certain needs, but there are plenty of other touring e-bikes out there.
Where you are carrying gear for a couple of days or more, a rack (or two) is essential so you won’t have to endure the body strain of carrying the load entirely on your back.
Fenders will keep road dirt off you as you ride. These can be good even on mixed-use paths as well as off-road trails — they will certainly reduce how wet you get as well.
How far will you want to go between charges? This could mean you choose a lightweight and efficient machine like the Giant Revolt E+ or one with dual batteries like the Dōst Kope. It could also mean using a giant battery like the one on the Himiway Zebra at the end!
When it comes to a road-only route, you can recharge your e-bike at hotels or campsites. It also means you can go for an e-bike with lower-profile road tires like the 700x40c tires on the Giant Revolt E+.
Mixed-use paths and roads
Here, a wider tire, even up to 2.5” is acceptable for unpaved roads and gravel paths. These will absorb the bumps a bit and add to the comfort of the ride. Where you know there will be mud or rocks, consider an off-road tire with knobbles, though a slicker road tread will handle mixed-use paths.
Finally, look for suspension forks on a bike like this as it will make your arms less tired on the ride.
For overlanding and harsher cross-country routes, look for a quality 2.5”-wide or greater mountain bike tire or a fat tire configuration. These will require more energy to get up to speed (and therefore more battery) but will grip loose and wet surfaces on your route.
A dual-suspension configuration like that on the QuietKat Jeep Rubicon will also make for more comfortable riding even on the most difficult terrain. As with the big tires, these will suck a bit more energy out of you as you accelerate too, so they will reduce the range and efficiency of the e-bike.