Five Good & (Relatively) Cheap Electric Bicycles | Reviews for 2015
5 Reviews: What are the Best Cheap Electric Bikes Around Today?
If you live in a big city like I do, you're almost always faced with the dilemma of 'how to get there', quickly and safely. Even in smaller, rural areas, sometimes a car just doesn't work as a means of transportation. They are big, expensive and subject to traffic. Why not consider a cheap electric bicycle for your commuting needs?
Good, cheap electric bicycles are found for sale almost everywhere these days. In my city of Vancouver, you see them on the street at almost every time of day. With advances in battery charging and motor technology, these clean, quiet and powerful vehicles are ideal for zipping around town. But what if you run out of juice? No problem! Most models come with pedals and work great as a traditional bike too. You can charge your cycle for pennies a day, and you'll be surprised how much fun your morning commute can become.
This lens is all about the best cheap electric bicycles for sale today. First I'll talk about what options inexpensive e-bikes come with typically, and what to look for. Next, we'll take a look at five of my personal favorites. Each bicycle I'll review is available online, simply because that's the least expensive way to get into a good quality electric bicycle. If you go to a shop you'll get great advice and service, but you'll pay a markup for sure.
Standard Equipment: What features you'll find on a good quality electric bicycle
There are a lot of different e-bike manufacturers these days, but they all copy each other in certain areas. Here is a general list of what you can expect to find on a cheap electric bicycle from most manufacturers.
- Battery and Charger:
When you buy an electric bicycle, reviews are important. Make sure it comes with a battery and charger, as some very inexpensive make you buy these separately (ridiculous!). Any out of the box e-bike should come with a battery of some kind and a charger. Batteries are a big part of the price tag. The more expensive the bike, the better the battery. Premium models come with lithium batteries that hold more charge, whereas less expensive types will have nickel metal hydride batteries that are heavier and hold less power.
- Electric Motor:
Obviously, your bike will require a motor. Where that motor is exactly depends on the maker. Some bikes make use of an external motor mounted to the rear of the bike. A chain runs to the wheel, powering it. The best electric bicycles for sale will have hub motors, meaning the motor is embedded in the hub of the front or rear wheel. These are good because they're lower profile and lower the center of gravity of the bike, and they can be quieter too (with no chain to run).
- Controller Box and Throttle:
All e-bikes need a controller to manage the signals and power. The throttle is often mounted like a motorcycle, as a grip twist. If you want to go faster, you just twist the grip towards you. Some work as electric assisted bicycles, which means the power only comes on when you pedal. This is more subtle and can be a nice feeling of power when you step on the gas.
- Electric Bicycle Accessories:
Many models come with built-in accessories. A common one is a battery rack with extra storage, sometimes with enough space to carry an extra battery for longer range. Many models also sport an electronic display that shows your remaining battery life (sometimes just using LED light indicators in red and green), speed and distance travelled. Both cheap and expensive electric bicycles will usually come with at least a front light for night riding.
Very inexpensive electric bicycle for sale. Great accessories and a complimentary rear battery rack that can hold an additional battery for extra range. Available in men's and women's frames.
Currie eZip: An affordably cheap electric bicycle with good reviews
Super Inexpensive electric bicycle for sale with great accessories
I've listed the Currie Technologies eZip electric bike on a few of my other articles, simply because it's such an amazing bargain. Sure, it's not the lightest bike around, but for well under $700 it's an incredible deal any way you look at it.
You won't find much else on the market at this price range.
With an included rechargeable battery, really nice bicycle with Shimano components and front shocks, a rear rack that can hold an additional battery for double the range, and a twist grip throttle, this is one killer deal.
It's not in the same postal code as more expensive models, but it does the trick and it's a great entry point in electric bike riding. The motor is strong, the range is decent, and the component quality is pretty good as affordable e-bikes go.
There is also an awesome ladie's step-through frame version of this bike for the exact same price. If you're concerned with weight distribution or getting on and off, the step through frame is the way to go, it's a lot easier to handle.
Prodeco G Plus: A powerful folding electric bicycle with a great price
A full sized folding electric bike with tons of selling features
The Prodeco Technologies G Plus is a wonderful example of how inexpensive electric bikes are getting lately. As a bicycle, this model is top notch. It's got a lightweight aluminum frame which counters some of the extra weight of the battery and motors. The frame is a split full-sized, which can be folded in half for easy storage using the quick-release locking mechanism.
It uses a lithium battery which saves some weight, and it's mounted over the rear wheel behind the seat. It uses a 36v, 250 watt electric motor housed in the front wheel hub, which works to keep the weight distributed low, which makes this model very stable and maneuverable.
The semi step-through frame is really easy to get on and off of, and with wide tires and 7 speeds to work with it's a fabulous commuter, hybrid bike or daily rider. You'll pay a bit more for the lithium batteries, but they'll last over 2000 charges before needing replacement.
Prodeco has a number of great, affordable electric bicycles in various styles. They're definitely one of the best ones to look into.
Really inexpensive electric folding bicycle, over 25 miles of range, a 250 watt motor with lots of power, electric assist bicycle and throttle control.
Mariner: Among the best affordable, folding electric bikes
A fast and cheap folding electric bicycle with great reviews
Here's a great bike model also made by electric bicycle company Prodeco, a brand that's built a sterling reputation as an electric bicycle maker. The Mariner is great because it's not only a capable and inexpensive electric bicycle, it also folds down very easily for portability and storage.
The 250 watt front hub motor is actually pretty powerful and capable of making your commute a breeze.
This is an electric assist bicycle, so when you pedal the power kicks in subtly to give you a boost, really handy when heading up hills. Electric assist is nice because it makes your battery life go a long way. Or, you can twist the throttle for on-demand power whenever you feel like it, up to 500 watts. It's got an incredible 25+ mile range too, thanks to great quality batteries.
This cheap electric bicycle reviews well, and with its light weight and great looks (not to mention the great company behind it, the Mariner is a winner.
A super powerful electric motor, extremely long range (over 20 miles), great quality components, puncture resistant tires, and great reviews, this electric bike is a bargain by any estimation.
R Martin MiPower: Among the best electric bikes for affordable power and comfort
A 500 watt, powerful electric bicycle, reviews very well
The R Martin's MiPower Electric Bike isn't anything terribly special to look at, but its utilitarian exterior belies a powerful machine underneath. It also isn't exactly 'cheap' by traditional nominal terms, but it's a bargain considering this is a commuting machine that will last you for many years of consistent usage.
This is one of the strongest 'over the counter' e-bikes on the market, and it's extremely durable, well thought out and perfect for all riding situations. With a massive 500 watt brushless hub motor, hills are no problem. The fronts shocks are adjustable so you can fine tune your ride experience, and it charges in a lightning fast 2 or 3 hours. The best part is the proven quality based on customer feedback. This electric bicycle reviews extremely well, mostly because it has amazing range, great power and superior components.
I'd recommend it if you plan on using your bike more than a couple of times per week, or if you're seeking a commuter bike to get you to and from work every day. It's a solid product.
This model comes in a step-through frame. With an 18 mile range, 14 MPH top speed, suspension components and locking battery, this is a commuter beast.
Watseka: A good, affordable, straightforward electric hybrid bike
A cheap hybrid electric bicycle with tons of features
Watseka Bikes are known for providing good quality, inexpensive electric bikes, and this comfortable, step-through electric bicycle is a very cool example of that. It has a very manageable stance to it with it's upright sitting position and generous front forks. The battery smartly mounts on the seat tube, keeping it low and distributing weight nicely ( a nice thing since the batteries are hefty and can make a bike top heavy).
With the front suspension forks, comfy saddle and upright riser bars, this is a really comfortable bike to ride, and it makes a great commuter. It has an 18 mile+ range and can travel up to 14 MPH with the 250 watt high torque brushed motor. It also has multiple riding modes, so you can use the passive electric assisted method that will only kick in while you're pedalling, or just use the throttle manually.
If you're just getting into e-bikes and want to give one a whirl, this is the first ride for a lot of people. It's a good electric bicycle with a cheap price and excellent reviews.
Recommendations to e-Bike Newbies
Buying a cheap electric bicycle online? Manage your expectations...
If you're looking to buy an electric powered bicycle or an electric assisted bicycle and you've never ridden one before, here are some tips to let you know what to expect, and determine if an electric motor powered cycle is the right choice for you.
- They Don't (Often) Require Insurance:
Here's a bonus. If you commute to work, your electric powered bicycle is not considered an insurable vehicle in many areas. Check your local laws, but most of the time you don't have to pay a cent to the government to ride around town. Super high powered e-bikes are a different story.
- They Are Heavy:
Despite what you'll read in electric bicycle reviews or sales material, all electric bicycles are at least moderately heavy. It's a fact of the technology: the motor and the battery combine to add a lot of weight to the frame. Especially with cheaper models, an electric bike will be a fairly cumbersome ride to manage. I bought a cheaper e-bike for my tiny mother and she couldn't handle the size and weight. If you're smaller or worried about the weight, consider either a more expensive one (usually much lighter), or one with a low center of gravity (hub motors in the wheels).
- Batteries Don't Last Forever:
Batteries do wear out. They can last for many, many charge cycles, and the average rider may never have to replace one. However, if you commute and charge it every day, it will lose total power over time. They vary from 200 to well over 1000 charge cycles depending on battery quality. Still, the small expense of battery replacement or refurbishment is low compared to what you'd pay in gas and insurance.
Other Bikes / Accessories To Consider
Didn't find a model you like? Here are a few others to take a look at. There are a lot of great options out there, but I do recommend you stick closely to models that have well known brands (do not buy no-name brands, it's not worth it!) and great reviews from actual buyers.
Also be aware of the brand's return policies and warranty. If you're unsure, contact the seller before putting any money down.