7 reasons why I’m finally an electric bike believer

The Verve+ 1 Lowstep LT bike in red on a bridge with a blue sky.
(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia/Future)

It’s easy to dislike new things, especially when that new thing tends to be pricier, heavier and dorkier looking than a cherished old thing. I’m speaking about electric bikes, of course. As an avid cyclist since my diaper days, I’ve been hooked on the feeling of cruising around on a bicycle for as far back as my memory goes.

When ebikes started popping up in my purview ten years ago, or so, I initially paid them little mind. After all, ebikes are an incredibly eco-friendly alternative to motor vehicles, and living in a congested city like Seattle, I’m down for anything that reduces urban car culture. 

But then ebike numbers started to grow and soon, everyone from floppy-haired preteens to salt-and-pepper retirees began blasting by me at Mach speed — bike racks became jam-packed with bulky, unsightly ebikes, as did popular biking trails. And, so, my attitude shifted from that of an open-minded, fresh-faced college boy to one of a crotchety recluse, ready to shake my proverbial cane at all ebikers in passing. 

That was the old me, though. People can change. These days, I’ve come around to the motor-assisted lifestyle. In fact, I’m considering upgrading to one of the best electric bikes soon. Here are seven reasons why I’m finally an electric bike believer.

1. You can still get a workout…if you want to

Ride1Up Roadster V2 on roadside

Ride1Up Roadster V2 is priced at around $1000. (Image credit: Ride1Up)

The old me would scoff at ebike riders zipping by as I huffed and puffed up steep inclines. "Get a real bike!" I'd shout in my head. But now I know better than to judge. Sure, you can cruise around on an ebike with minimal physical exertion. That doesn't mean you have to.

I find that for longer rides, in particular, it's often necessary to conserve battery power for the tail end when I'm really tired. When riding the Verve+ 1 Lowstep LT, for instance, I like to keep the e-assist on at its lowest setting for all but the steepest hills, which coincidentally is how I end most rides (I live on a hill). This means I'm still doing plenty of pedaling and getting my heart rate decently elevated. 

So, yes, you can definitely still get a solid workout on an ebike. On a recent 15.6-mile ride, for example, I burned 878 calories, according to the Garmin Forerunner 165. My average heart rate for that ride, 146 bpm, was also not too dissimilar to my average for similar rides on a standard bike. 

Ride1Up Roadster V2: was $1095 now $795

Ride1Up Roadster V2: was $1095 now $795
The Ride1Up Roadster V2 is the best budget electric bike on the market. It has a range of 20 to 30 miles and a max motor-assisted speed of 24 MPH. Reasonably lightweight, the V2 looks like a standard commuter bike, despite its zippy e-assisted disposition. 

Verve+ 1 Lowstep LT: $2299

Verve+ 1 Lowstep LT: $2299
The Verve+ 1 Lowstep LT is an electric-assist bike with up to 35+ miles of range. Maxing out at 20 MPH with full motor power, it has plenty of pep in its step for joy rides or booking it up hills. High handlebars and large tires make for a comfy ride, whether on pavement or rougher terrain, and an integrated rear rack makes carrying cargo a breeze.

2. Prices are coming down

It's easy to assume that electric-assisted bikes cost a pretty penny. But the entry-level market, which I'm classifying as any bike under or around $1000, has really started to blossom.

A quick trip to our best electric bikes buying guide reveals several excellent options in the $1k neighborhood, including the Ride1Up Roadster V2, the Ride1Up Turris and the Juiced Ripracer, which looks like an absolute blast to whip around on.

3. Range is adequate, even on the entry-level

Speaking of entry-level, battery life on bikes like the Roadster V2 and the Juiced Ripracer is respectable. The former gets between 20 and 30 miles per charge, depending on how much e-assist you use, and the latter 55 miles. Higher-end options, like the $1700 Rad Power RadCity 5 Plus also sport batteries with ranges of 55 miles and upwards. 

It's worth noting that most entry-level ebikes don't offer swappable batteries. So, you'll likely need to shell out extra dough for that feature. Fortunately... 

Ride1Up Roadster V2 motor

The Ride1Up Roadster V2 has a range of between 20 and 30 miles. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Batteries recharge quickly

Modern ebike batteries charge pretty quickly. I was pleased to discover that the Trek Verve+'s internal battery can be juiced up to 100% in roughly two hours. The Roadster V2 takes a little longer, between two and four hours. 

Still, this means that if I run out of juice while on a cycling adventure, I can pop into the nearest coffee shop or pub, down a beverage or two while my bike charges up, and be on my merry way.

5. They're heavy but not too heavy

Weight and bulk are both major reasons why I've been hesitant to own an ebike. Living in an apartment with several sets of stairs to navigate doesn't exactly vibe with owning a 77-pound bike. 

However, there are a handful of reasonably-priced, light-ish ebikes out there. You'll find lighter options in carbon fiber, of course, but those models start at several grand. Not to worry, the Roadster V2 is just 33 pounds and the Trek Verve+ is 43 pounds. While both vastly outweigh my standard commuter bike, the heft is manageable. 

6. Faster than a car in congested cities 

In congested urban environments, ebikes offer an entertaining and environmentally friendly alternative to commuting by car. They can also get you from point A to point B — assuming your city has adequate bike infrastructure — often faster than motor vehicles. 

In Seattle, I'm easily able to avoid the crushing agony of rush hour traffic thanks to well-placed bike lanes and trails. Destinations that might otherwise take me 45 minutes to get to via car instead take me 15 or 20 minutes.

7. They're pure fun 

Juiced RipRacer parked on mountain trail

The Juiced RipRacer is a small ebike that cruises at speeds up to 28 mph.  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Ultimately, the reason I got into biking in the first place is because it's fun. Who would've guessed that adding a small motor to a bike could make it even more enjoyable? But it surely does. 

Beyond the thrill of cruising around town like a bat out of hell, electric bikes also have the benefit of unlocking new adventures. Destinations I may have previously avoided biking to due to distance or incline are now suddenly within reach. 

Bottom line: I'm an ebike believer

This marks just the start of my electric bike journey. And I can't wait to see where it takes me: I mentioned shopping for an ebike in the intro, and I'm eager to explore all of the options out there. 

I'll be sure to keep you updated as I test out different models and get a sense of which brands and styles are best. Until then, happy riding! 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd. 

  • nick G2
    Mock speed? Physical excursions? Peddling? Is proofreading an article you dictated to your phone too much to ask?
    Reply
  • jfbramfeld
    I have been riding electric bikes for about 6 years now. I agree with most of what you say. I would add that these much too heavy bikes need at least 50 watts of assist to get them even with a cheap road bike for pedalling effort. That corresponds to the lowest level of assist for the three e-bikes I've had. I don't hesitate to add assist for uphill, upwind and soft ground travel, of which I encounter plenty. Even so, I can travel 30 miles on my current Rad without going below 3 of 5 bars. That's about half charge. I have zero range anxiety and my butt gives out way before my legs and battery.

    I like to travel trails away from home on occasion , which means putting them in a vehicle. If the bike doesn't fold that means a carrier, which is a pain in the neck. Not that putting a 75 pound folded bike in a cargo area or trunk is any fun.
    Reply
  • CoachellaRider
    I firmly believe e-bikes will represent 20% of the vehicles on the road in ten years (if not sooner.) The main driver will be economic rather than environmental or health benefits. When a new college grad starting their first job with a 20 mile commute can either buy a junkie car for tens of thousands of dollars, or spend 1K on an e-bike, it's not hard to see that many of them will opt for the bike.

    It becomes even more obvious when that same new college grad has to decide between car ownership or home ownership. E-Bikes just make sense.
    Reply