10 best electric bikes that are compact, easily rechargeable and sleek
E-bikes can provide a much needed boost on long work commutes or hilly terrain
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are designed to assist your pedalling rather than replace it. The motor will cut out once you reach 25kph (15.5mph) so if you want to go faster than that, it’ll be down to your effort.
E-bikes come into their own when you want to start commuting on two wheels, say, but feel your journey is just that bit too long or strenuous.
Assisted pedalling means less exertion and less chance of arriving at work dripping in sweat.
There’s some evidence that e-bike owners cycle more, so even if it’s not as good a workout as a regular bike, it’s certainly better than nothing.
E-bikes are heavier than regular ones, often 7kg extra or more. So, if the battery goes flat, then you are pedalling a heavy bike. E-bikes are also pricier than those that thrive on push power alone.
Remember that you need to recharge the battery, which can take up to four hours, occasionally even more, to fully charge.
As with regular bikes, e-bikes come in different styles: mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids and folders. These bikes were tested across a range of terrains including gentle slopes and city roads.
Brompton electric: From £2,595, Brompton
Range: 25 miles
Gears: 2 or 6
When it comes to folding bikes, it’s hard to beat a Brompton thanks to its efficient, simple fold, decent drive and superb portability. That’s partly down to 16-inch wheels which are smaller than many rival folders. This is an electric version of the Brompton and it looks and feels just like the regular version. The battery here sits in a compact bag that clips to the front, with the motor driving the front wheel. This is a set-up that’s designed differently from most other electric models: simply remove the bag and plug it in to charge. There’s also a larger briefcase bag with the battery in, available as an optional extra (£130). A folding bike has the security benefit that it’s easy to take it inside, and keep under your desk, say. Available in black or white.
Volt Kensington: £1,559, Volt Bikes
Range: 60 miles
Volt makes a series of spiffy-looking electric bikes and the step-through framed Kensington is particularly attractive. Choose from three pastel colours: cream, light blue and a new, rather feisty, mint-green shade. These colours are for the larger model with a 17-inch frame and 26-inch wheels. The smaller model, with a 15-inch frame with 24-inch wheels, comes in blue only. The solid wire basket on the front looks great. Good attention to detail reaches to the integrated bike lock, leather handlebar grips and suspension seat post. Elegant and pleasing.
Coboc one Brooklyn: £3,715, Fully Charged
Range: 50 miles
Gears: Single speed
The coboc one Brooklyn is one of the most attractive bikes, electric or otherwise. It has a great design that cleverly hides the battery inside the frame, instead of making it a dominating part of the bike’s look. The matte finish dark brown colour looks tremendous. It’s also exceptionally lightweight. Instead of a regular chain, the single-speed Brooklyn uses a belt drive which is powerful, as well as being low-maintenance, quiet and clean. It recharges quickly, in about two hours, so it’s not out of commission for long. A smartphone app uses bluetooth connectivity in the bike to let you customise the ride. It also displays data such as distance and battery charge.
Gocycle GX: £2,899, E-bikeshop
Range: 40 miles
Gocycle’s foldable electric bikes are stunningly designed and highly delightful to ride. Some other models in the range have a folding mechanism that takes a moment to complete but this new model has a fast, easy fold. The range of 40 miles is good, but the recharge time is longer than most at up to seven hours. Like some others here, the gears are concealed for a cleaner, oil-free ride. A central LED display shows remaining battery life. The wheels are attached to the bike by bolts like on a car, making it easier to fix a flat tyre without removing it. The GX is powerful and very well-specced. It looks good, too.
Gtech eBike city: £995, Gtech
Range: 30 miles
Like the Coboc above, the Gtech uses a belt drive instead of a chain, which means no oil to stain your trousers. The battery looks like a futuristic water bottle, with a clear display to show the remaining charge. It clamps to the bike frame right where a water bottle often fits, but this makes for a slick, attractive design. There are only two modes, regular and eco, which define the level of help the battery gives. This is a step-through bike but there’s also a crossbar version, called the eBike Sport. Although it’s simple, the Gtech is effective and comes at a significantly lower price than many ebikes.
Assist hybrid electric bike: £429, Halfords
Range: 20 miles
This bike is very keenly priced. It doesn’t have the power or the sophistication of many rivals here or the disc brakes some ebikes boast, but it’s still a capable and effective ride. The range is not extensive, but enough for a short commute for a few days and recharge time is under three hours. This is not a folding bike, though it has the 20-inch wheels of many folders. Basic, but definitely worth a look.
Tern vektron D8: £2,300, Fully Charged
Range: 56 miles
The D8 stands out for comfort and speed. The rear rack sits above the battery and is very solid: strong enough for the heaviest of bags. There are multiple power settings for the electrical assistance including an enjoyable turbo mode which really does all the work for you. A built-in headlight is useful and the stem is fully adjustable so you can quickly alter the height (whether you want a friend to ride or just fancy a change in riding position). Components are high-end and effective, meaning minimal maintenance and strong performance.
Volt pulse: £1,599, Volt
Range: 60 miles
The strikingly designed pulse is another of Volt’s standout models. It comes with a choice of frame sizes and battery capacities, so you can ride for up to 60 or up to 80 miles as you please (the larger battery costs £200 more). The pedal-assistance is very smooth, so much so that you may convince yourself you're doing all the work and are fitter than you imagined. The disc brakes here are excellent, meaning less adjustment or maintenance in the long run. The battery can be detached when you need to charge it, though you do need to remove the seat post to do so.
Specialized turbo vado 3.0: £2,380, Specialized
Range: 93 miles
It’s not the lightest of e-bikes but it’s one of the nippiest. It’s pretty powerful: you may find that you only need to engage the gentlest of the three assistance modes to have low-effort ride. The range is outstanding in economy mode, 93 miles, though this drops to 25 miles in the fastest, turbo setting. Realistically, you’ll find the actual figure somewhere between, depending on how and where you cycle. The bike has a handsome, solid design with the battery stealthily integrated inside. It has an especially comfortable, upright riding position.
Boardman HYB 8.9E: £1,980, Halfords
Range: 56 miles
The just-released Boardman electric bike (available in hybrid models for men and women as well as an adventure bike option) has a relaxed, upright seating position that’s very comfortable. The 56-mile range is for the lowest level of assistance, in what the company charmingly calls Breeze mode. Data such as battery level, as well as a speedometer and directions, are all in the companion smartphone app available for iPhone and Android. Since the motor and battery can both be removed, you can also ride this without any assistance, and save weight into the bargain.
The Verdict: Electric bikes
For sheer style, the Gocycle GX is hard to beat, though for those who prefer a pastel-coloured, relaxed ride, the Volt Kensington is stunning. If space is a premium, the Brompton Electric is outstanding.
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