When it comes to buying an electric bike for commuting, there are a lot of things to consider. Here are a few questions you may be asking yourself:
- How far do I have to ride daily?
- Do I want or need a throttle?
- Is a step-through frame necessary?
- Does my budget stretch to several thousand dollars?
- Can I store an e-bike safely in my home or office?
These and other questions can leave you in knots as you try to work out just what would suit you and your commute.
Here, we have six e-bikes that will answer many of the questions above, from high-end and long-range Class 3 e-bikes to more affordable electrics.
Best Overall Electric Commuter Bike
Cannondale Adventure Neo 1EQ
- Comes with SmartSense rear radar technology
- The fender, rack, and lights are part of the package
- 10-speed drivetrain
Cycling through busy rush hour traffic, you need eyes in the back of your head. That’s just the technology Cannondale has equipped on this electric commuter bike — the SmartSense radar system that warns you of imminent close passes.
SmartSense is installed on the rear of the bike and tells you via the controller if another vehicle is too close or is coming in fast. Knowing to evade trouble before it causes problems should allow you to ride safely and get home safely, even in the harshest urban environments.
As commuter bikes go, the Cannondale Adventure Neo 1EQ fits the brief well. It has a long range, is lightweight and nimble, and it looks stylish. With the Bosch Powerline Cruise motor offering a supportive 60 Nm of torque, there are very few cities in the world where the drive system might be overtaxed, even on the hills.
Things to Consider
First, this is a step-through electric bike that may not be so appealing to everyone. However, older riders with less mobility (let’s face it, many over-45s) will find it comfortable to ride.
Second, this is not a Class 3 e-bike, and that could be off-putting to those who want and can have motor support up to 28 mph (some states don’t permit Class 3 e-bikes unless they’re registered). It also lacks a throttle, so you will have to pedal everywhere.
Best Class 3 Electric Commuter Bike
- Class 3 — ideal for faster commutes
- Lights, fenders and rack as standard
- 12-speed drivetrain with 10-tooth ‘turbo’ cog for high-speed sections
Where Class 3 electric bikes are permitted, these are seen as an ideal machine for longer commutes. This is where the Cannondale Tesoro X excels — providing power right up to the fastest you’re likely to pedal on the flat.
Thanks to the 10-tooth ‘turbo’ gear on the cassette, you should be able to maintain a fairly high speed without the pedaling cadence getting ridiculous. You should thereby cycle fairly economically even on a 20-mile ride between home and office.
As a whole, the Tesoro Neo X is a lightweight, comfortable e-bike to ride. Coming with fenders, a rack, and lights, it allows you to carry your work stuff with you even after a long day in the workplace.
With its modern yet classic lines and color scheme, this is a machine that you won’t be embarrassed to be seen on when you arrive. It’s not unlike having a Tesla, only this e-bike is far kinder to the environment than any electric car on the road.
Things to Consider
Class 3 e-bikes aren’t always permitted on the road — check your state’s stance on the matter. Over 30 states recognize the class system, so this is becoming a rare enough situation.
On a similar point, this e-bike also lacks a throttle, so you will have to pedal everywhere. As we will see in the next section, there are Class 2 commuter e-bikes that will suit your needs perfectly if a throttle is an essential part of your criteria.
Best Class 2 Commuter Electric Bike
- Class 2 with throttle
- Full chain guard
- 7-speed pedal drivetrain
California-based Pedego proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a high-quality electric commuter bike. With its retro looks that hark back to ‘sit up and beg’ bicycles used in the ’70s and ’80s, it is appealing to the eye too.
It being a Class 2 e-bike, you can sit back and use the throttle to get you where you want to go without pedaling at all. For those hot summer days when even walking to your car could make you break a sweat, this could be ideal.
Thanks to its 500W mid-drive motor offering up to 95 Nm of torque, this is an e-bike that shows no fear even in the hilliest of cities. That could mean a commute in Portland or San Francisco on a hot day while passing cars with their sweltering drivers looking on enviously.
Things to Consider
In throttle mode, the bike will chew through the battery at quite a rate. On the 480Wh version, you can expect less than 20 miles of range before you need to plug it in, and with the 720Wh battery, this goes up to a still-small hour and a half or so.
On pedal assist (PAS) mode you can still get the advertised 76-mile range, but only if you go easy on the power settings and the terrain is very flat.
Best Step-Thru Commuter E-bike
Trek Allant+ 8S Stagger
- COBI.app — use your smartphone as the bike controller
- Fantastic range with range extender
- Fenders, lights, and rack as part of the package
As e-bikes in this article go, this actively competes with the Cannondale Adventure Neo for being the very best electric commuter bike we’ve seen.
A Class 3 low-step electric bike, it has one of the best gadgets on any e-bike today. The COBI app allows you to simply plug in your phone and run your e-bike through it. The COBI app reduces clutter on the handlebars by allowing you to run your GPS, bike (and even music) on one system. It also means that when the smartphone is unplugged, the bike is unusable.
As a quality, upper mid-range electric commuter bike, the Trek Allant S Stagger comes with fenders, a rack, and lights for riding after sunset. Thanks to its large battery and 28 mph speed limit, you can do longer commutes too — a 30-mile trip is perfectly feasible even on a relatively hilly route.
Things to Consider
Unlike the Tesoro Neo e-bike above, the smallest cog on the drivetrain has 12 teeth. That could mean at higher speeds you are cycling at an uncomfortable cadence without the 10-t cog that the Tesoro Neo has. This could mean a relatively slower commute as you choose to pedal more gently on a longer ride.
With so many high-quality electric commuter bikes out there, detail is King, and this could impact your buying decision when looking for a faster Class 3 e-bike
Best Commuter Electric Bike for Under $2,000
- Fat tire e-bike
- Lights, rack, and fender standard
- Long range
A big selling point for this affordable electric bike is its range. With almost a kilowatt-hour of battery, it can do up to 80 miles per charge. Being big and comfortable, a long ride on this e-bike could be as relaxed as cruising the highways in a Tesla Model X.
The size of this bike is another major factor in why you may choose to buy it. Thanks to the 4-inch fat tires and wide frame, it gives you the feeling that you will be noticed more than you might on a slimline racing bike, for example. With pannier bags on the rack, you could be a good 2 – 3 feet wide — considerably wider than on any other bike we cover here.
The fat tires can also allow you to ride off-road comfortably. Live on a ranch with a mile or two of gravel tracks to get to the road? Even in less favorable weather, the Himiway Zebra could comfortably handle the potholes and rocks in the way.
Things to Consider
One major drawback to this e-bike is its overall weight. Coming in at well over 20 lbs more than some of the major brands’ e-bikes we look at above, it is a bit of a tank to ride. The powerful motor will enable you to forget that some, but the bike could get a considerably greater distance with its 960 Wh battery if it was lighter overall.
Best Folding Commuter Electric Bike
Lectric XP Lite
- Folding electric bike
- Headlight and mirrors as optional extras
- Single speed drivetrain
People living in big cities like New York and Chicago don’t always have the space to keep a big bike securely. That’s where a quality folding electric bike can come in handy, as it will allow you to avoid having to take the bus or subway to work.
Lectric has a range of folding e-bikes, but we chose the XP Lite because it is the lightest and folds the smallest. The Lectric XP Lite can be stored in a closet and is relatively easy to carry upstairs.
The range and speed aren’t amazing on this little e-bike — sacrifices made to allow for low weight and movability. The Lectric Step-Through 3.0, for example, has a rack and fenders but pays for this in added weight and bulk.
You do, however, get a quality electric bike that can zip along for as many as 15 miles on throttle alone. That could be a run from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back on a typical day. Being small enough when folded, you could even carry it on a bus or subway car as part of a long run from Long Island into New York City.
Things to Consider
There are lighter (and far more expensive) folding e-bikes out there that may be more suited to a multi-modal, two-way trip on your local train or bus line. You wouldn’t want to carry a 48-lb e-bike alongside a backpack with all your work stuff up ten flights of stairs at either end of your trip.