The best budget electric bikes deliver much of what we like about the best electric bikes — but for less. These models offer power assist to make it easier to get around and go up hills, and go farther without breaking a sweat. They're great for those who are looking for an alternate means of transportation, but don't want to spend a lot, and want a little more exercise and range than the best electric scooters can provide.
But, there are a lot of budget electric bikes that are cheap, and not made of the best stuff, or have subpar parts. That's why we tested a number of electric bikes under $1,500 to bring you what we think are the best.
What are the best budget electric bikes?
After riding a number of models, we think the best budget electric bike is the Aventon Soltera. It's a great looking bike that's fun to ride and pretty zippy, too. It has an integrated battery, a nice, large display, and integrated head and tail lights. And, it has a starting price of $1,199 for the single-speed model, and $1,299 for a 7-speed version. However, we did find it was a bit underpowered when going up steeper hills.
Ride1Up has two models we like: The Core-5 and the Roadster V2. Both models start at $1,095, and come in two sizes and multiple color options. Both also look like regular bikes, too. The biggest nitpick we have is that neither model has integrated lights, so you'll want to pick up a set of the best bike lights to make yourself seen at night.
Read on for our picks of the best budget electric bikes, and be sure to get one of the best bike helmets before you head out on the road.
The price of electric bikes is coming down, but many of the best electric bikes still cost more than $1,500. The Aventon Soltera is a much more modestly priced model that sacrifices little in the name of economy. In our tests, we found it very comfortable to ride, and it looks great, too.
However, the Soltera's rear hub motor does feel a little underpowered, especially on hills, and if you want the least expensive version, you'll have to go with a single-gear model. Still, if you're looking for a low-cost electric bike to get you around town, this is definitely a model to consider.
Read our full Aventon Soltera electric bike review.
The Core-5 from Ride1Up is solid proof that an e-bike doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be good. Nor does a bike need to be expensive to look great. In our tests, we found the bike's motor to be powerful enough for most situations, but it felt a bit weak going up steeper hills. We also liked its looks, mechanical disc brakes, and easy-to-read digital display. However, the Core-5 does not include any integrated front or rear lights, so you'll want to invest in a pair of the best bike lights.
Unlike more expensive electric bikes, the Core-5 requires you to attach the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and make a few adjustments, which might require a trip to your local bike shop. Also, while Ride1Up says the bike should fit riders up to 6' 4", it felt small to a 5-foot 11-inch rider, so taller riders may be more comfortable on the Aventon Soltera.
But for those who want an affordable electric bike to get around town, the Core-5 should be towards the top of your list.
Read our full Ride1Up Core-5 review.
The Ride1Up Roadster V2 It looks like a regular, non-motorized commuter bike, but hides inside its frame a battery capable of delivering up to 30 miles of pedal-assisted power. At 33 pounds, this is one of the lightest e-bikes we've tested, and it comes in two sizes, so it should accommodate riders of nearly all heights.
In our rides with the Roadster V2, we found it to be fast and fun on flat and rolling terrain, but was a bit hard to get going on hills, as it's a single-speed model, and its pedal assist lags a bit. And, like the Core-5, the Roadster V2 lacks head- and taillights. Other concessions in the name of economy include a small display and rim rather than disc brakes, but it does have a belt drive rather than a chain, making it quieter as you go about town.
Read our full Ride1Up Roadster V2 review.
This is indeed a good e-bike at a good price. You’ll do without the fanciest features, but the 7S is super functional and fun to ride. We also loved its bright blue aluminum wheels. At 37 pounds, it's also quite light for an e-bike. Its rear-drive Bafang motor proved surprisingly powerful, providing an assist up to 18.5 MPH, and was aided by the 7-speed Shimano geartrain.
However, there are a few things we think could be improved. For starters, there are no integrated lights, so you’ll want to invest in a set of the best bike lights to make yourself better seen on the road. We also found that the Propella's battery — which is externally mounted and looks like a water bottle — tends to rattle around a bit, which is annoying. But overall, this is a great value bike for the price.
Read our full Propella 7S review.
The best electric bikes aren't cheap; most models start at $1,500 and go up from there. If you're looking for something more affordable, then the Swft Volt is worth a look. It's reasonably powerful, has both pedal-assist and a throttle, and has enough range to get you a good distance. For better or worse, it doesn't look like an e-bike, either.
However, this bike is not without its compromises: It only has one gear, its battery is not removable, and its display is rather basic. It also required a bit more setup than most other electric bikes we've tested. But, at this price, it's a good alternative for those with a limited budget.
Read our full Swft Volt review.
Folding bikes are great for those who need something that can fit on a train or bus, or don't have room in their apartment for a full-size model. However, the best electric folding bikes — Brompton and GoCycle, specifically — each cost more than $3,000, making them prohibitively expensive for many.
The $999 Lectric XP 2.0 is the low-cost answer for those riders. This folding model comes with a suspension fork, big 3-inch tires, plenty of mounts for racks and other accessories, front and rear lights, and cable-actuated disc brakes. It was a treat to ride, especially when we hit the throttle, and its excellent range meant more time between charges.
The biggest downside is that the XP 2.0 weighs a hefty 64 pounds, more than twice as much as other folding bikes, so it could be a real bear to get up and down stairs. But once you get going, it's a blast.
Read our full Lectric XP 2.0 review.
How to choose the best budget electric bike
Keep in mind that you'll have to make some compromises when purchasing one of the best budget electric bikes. Some might lack integrated lights; others might be single-speed only; many will have much simpler displays and motors that aren't as responsive as more expensive models.
That being said, even a budget electric bike shouldn't be cheap. Look for models that are well built — if you can take a test ride on one, all the better.
You'll also want to look for features that best suit your needs. If you live in a city, or have limited space, you'll want to prioritize electric bikes that are smaller and lighter, so you can squeeze it into your apartment, or carry it up a flight of stairs.
If you live in the suburbs, you're less constrained by size, and will want to look for an electric bike that's capable of transporting you longer distances. If you're planning to use it to go to the store, you'll want one that can easily accommodate a rack or basket of some sort.
How we test electric bikes
We test the budget electric bikes the same way we test the best electric bikes. It doesn't matter if an electric bike costs $500 or $5,000 — we put it through the same tests, which includes, of course, riding it around a lot.
In the process, we gauge the bike's overall comfort, such as its seat, handlebars and grips, our posture when riding, and how easy everything — especially the seat — is to adjust.
For the most part, electric bikes come fully assembled, but budget models often require you to attach a wheel, handlebar, or some other component. In those cases, we look at the ease with which you can put the bike together: How long does it take, are the instructions easy to follow, are there any special tools required, and are all the tools included?
We also test to see how well it performs as an electric bike. While we don't expect budget electric bikes to perform as well as high-end models, they should still provide an enjoyable experience. To that end, we ride the bikes up hills to see how much assist their electric motors provide, and how fast they are to respond when we start pedaling; lower-quality models will take a longer time to engage, which makes for more difficult starts when going uphill.
Another crucial feature of an electric bike is its battery. Larger batteries allow you to travel further on a charge, and spend less time with your bike plugged in. In the course of testing an electric bike, we see how quickly the battery drains when riding in different conditions. We test this using pedal assist and, when available, throttle, to see how much the battery is impacted.
Last, we also look at what other features come with the bike — a large display, integrated lights, disc brakes, etc — and factor this in with its price to determine its rating.