The best electric bikes for 2023 – TechRadar

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Cycling is a lot of fun, but if you’re looking to get to work without needing a change of clothes, or are just looking to do some serious riding with less effort, the best electric bikes are worth considering instead of more manual riding.

The best electric bikes, or e-bikes, come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to consider your use case. Looking to build toward a rugged trail ride? Then you may want to look towards an eMTB or Electric Mountain Bike. Looking to skip the bus and get a little fitter on the way to work? Some models fold down so you can fit them in the lift once you get to the office.

It’s worth noting that you’ll still build up your cardio strength while riding an electric bike, because they assist your ride with power, but don’t propel the bike for you. That said, you will find that power to be immensely helpful if you’re heading uphill.

However, the best electric bikes often come with a steeper price point. Because of the cost of the motor mechanism and battery, they can be more pricey than even their most premium standard counterparts. That makes an electric bike an investment, particularly when buying from a trusted brand (something we’d recommend).

Speaking of recommendations, we’ve tested the best electric bikes on this list to help you find the right one for you. We’ve done so in all sorts of conditions, too, so you know whether it’ll fit into your schedule or not. If space is at a premium at home, consider checking out the list of the best folding e-bikes, and if you’re looking to save, our list of the best cheap electric bikes will help.

The best electric bikes for 2023

(Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 has received a redesign for 2022 that’s made it the best all-purpose e-bike you can buy today. Its high capacity battery means there’s plenty of power to tap into, and results in an extremely impressive range of up to 90 miles with pedal assistance.

Power assistance is delivered smoothly, and controlled through the superb MasterMind ride computer that allows for real-time tuning of power levels, lets you receive over-the-air software updates so you don’t have to take your bike to a service center, and can be locked and unlocked using a PIN.

The new Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 has a robust, practical build that makes it ideal for everyday riding in almost all conditions, with a comfortable upright riding position that’s well suited to navigating city traffic. Lights and fenders are fitted as standard, and there’s a front suspension fork to soak up bumps and potholes.

It’s not a cheap e-bike, and the generous battery means it’s quite heavy. During our tests, we found it a little bit of a challenge to drag around when not in the saddle, but a joy to ride and supremely practical in just about all riding conditions. Highly recommended.

View our full Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 (2022) review

(Image credit: Future)

A folding e-bike is the perfect solution for commuters – small enough to fit on a train or under a desk, with an added boost of power to ensure you reach your destination fresh and ready to work. The MiRider One strikes a brilliant balance here, and does so for a remarkably affordable price.

Despite its small size, it gives a smooth and comfortable ride thanks to its robust build and a rear shock absorber that absorbs any minor bumps on your route.

The motor has five levels of power assistance compared to the usual three, giving you plenty of control, with a boost button plus a throttle control to help you get away quickly at crossings and junctions. We found the extra power levels useful, with a reassuring amount of control whether you want a gentle boost or a more powerful assist. It charges from flat in just two hours, faster even than the Ribble Hybrid AL e at no. 5, and gives you a maximum range of 40 miles before it needs topping up.

When you’re done, the MiRider One folds down in a matter of seconds ready to be stored in the included case. The best e-bike for commuters on a budget by a long stretch.

Read our full MiRider One review

(Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The Gocycle G4 is an ideal premium electric bike option for commuters, and in our opinion, it’s the best folding e-bike you can buy today if money is no object. Previous Gocycle bikes have impressed us with their smooth power assistance, and the G4’s new motor is its best to date. The bike has a very respectable range too, running for up to 40 miles on a fast charge, and you can use Gocycle’s well-designed smartphone app to tweak its performance to optimize power assistance and range.

The G4 folds easily for storage or carrying on public transport, but it feels reassuringly solid to ride. Gocycle has made clever use of different materials throughout the bike’s build to keep weight down (it’s 1kg lighter than the previous model) and ensure it’s well balanced. All cables are internally routed, there’s a chain guard to protect your clothing, and mudguards and lights are fitted as standard

The small wheels of a folding bike are inevitably less forgiving of potholes than full-size tires, but the small shock absorber under the seat helped soak up most of the bumps we encountered during everyday rides.

This is a premium e-bike, and has a price to match (if you need a more affordable option, the excellent MiRider One is well worth a look) but if it’s going to be your main bicycle for regular riding, it’s a justifiable investment.

Read our full Gocycle G4 review

(Image credit: Joseph Delves)

If you’re looking for an electric bike for city riding, the Cowboy 4 is impossible to ignore. 2020’s Cowboy 3 was an impressive machine, but the new model pushes things even further with an even more refined experience and a choice of step-over and step-through frames.

One of the Cowboy 4’s standout features is its simplicity. Even if you’ve never ridden an e-bike before, we found that the absence of gears, switches and other controls means we were riding effortlessly immediately, as it felt very intuitive. The motor kicks in automatically when you turn the pedal, adjusting the assistance depending on how much pressure you’re applying.

Maintenance is simple too, thanks to the internal cabling and carbon belt drive system, which doesn’t require oiling or tensioning like a chain. Lights and fenders are built in, and there’s even a charging port to juice up your smartphone (which provides easy navigation with smart route suggestions via the Cowboy app).

Although it was initially only sold in Europe, the Cowboy 4 is now available in the US as well. The company received €71 million in Series C funding in January 2022, so it seems likely that it’ll soon roll out in other countries as well.

Read our full Cowboy 4 review

(Image credit: Future)

With its road-inspired design and super smooth ride, the Ribble Hybrid AL e is a great electric bike and the best hybrid on our list. Whether you’re looking for something to take the sweat out of your daily commute, or a bike for long weekend rides, this electric hybrid could be just the ticket.

Electric bikes often aren’t particularly stylish, and their chunky frame-mounted batteries are common targets for mean-spirited vandals, but the Ribble Hybrid AL e could easily pass as a conventional push-bike. Its drive system weighs a mere 3.5kg, making the bike surprisingly light (it weighs less than some electric scooters), and only a discreet power button and slightly thicker than usual downtube give it away.

It can be charged from flat in 3.5 hours, and gives you up to 60 miles of power-assisted riding over mixed terrain. There are three levels of assistance to choose from (though in our experience the highest is the most fun), and the Ebikemotion companion app provides you with turn-by-turn navigation and live stats on your ride.

If that’s not enough, this is also one of the most affordable e-bikes available today. Highly recommended, and during our tests, it was simply hugely enjoyable to ride.

Read our full Ribble Hybrid AL e review

(Image credit: WAU)

The WAU Bike is an electric bike with remarkable range – able to travel up to an incredible 215 miles with an additional power pack attached, so you can forget range anxiety even on long leisure rides. That longevity also makes it a solid choice for commuters, meaning you only need to charge it up on the weekend.

The rear hub motor is smooth to pick up, whichever of the five pedal-assisted modes you choose, and you can easily switch between them when facing a hill or a flat.

There’s also an eight-speed cassette on the rear, which provided just the right amount of adjustment during testing to prevent our legs free-spinning while travelling at high speeds.

There are also some carefully designed extras here, including an anti-tamper alarm, multi-function rear lights, and geo-fencing so the bike can’t be ridden outside a certain area.

View our full WAU Bike review

(Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert is one of the most stylish electric bikes around, delivering slick road stylings, with dynamic power assistance from its 240W motor when you need it.

The components are all top quality, with a carbon frame, Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes, 46T chainrings, Shimano Deore XT Di2 Shadow Plus, 11-speed rear derailleur, Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc R8070 shift levers, Praxis Alloy Cranks and a Shimano XT, 11-speed, 11-42t cassette.

If you love long weekend rides, but find they leave you feeling broken at the end, this is the electric bike for you (provided your wallet can take the hit). Enough to convert even dedicated traditionalists.

Read our full Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert review

(Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The Mycle Cargo is a big and beefy electric cargo bike with storage capacity on the rear and sides of the bike. Want to carry your shopping home regularly, or frequently moving equipment around? This bike is sure to fit the bill: it’s excellent value for money, powerful and well-designed, with an intricate frame to distribute weight more effectively and a second battery to boost range.

It’s not perfect, though: it’s big, bulky and very heavy, extremely difficult to store and at 1.87 meters, it’s not a recommended ride for first-timers. The length and footrests that are attached to the rear sides of the bike can catch you out if you’re slaloming through traffic. But, as a well-constructed cargo bike for a reasonable price, it’s an excellent choice.

Read our full Mycle Cargo review here.

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)

The Ride1Up Prodigy is a good value mid-drive e-bike that multiplies the power you put in with the pedals. No throttle here: even though the assistance is excellent and makes for a comfortable ride, it’s still you doing all the work. The aim is to make your efforts become more powerful, and help you ride longer distances.

It offers an upright riding position that’s comfortable, and the sophisticated torque sensor does a good job responding to input. The range is respectable, with heavy use of its ‘turbo’ mode offering, when tested, 26 miles on a single charge.

There are better bikes out there, but mid-drives in this class tend to cost a lot more. It may be heavy at 25kgs, but when it comes to value for money, the Ride1Up punches well above its weight class.

Read our full Ride1Up Prodigy XR review here

(Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon is one of the best lightweight eMTBs we’ve ever tried, with incredible specs courtesy of a powerful Specialized exclusive mid-drive motor, top components from the likes of Fox and SRAM, and very responsive handling.

It’s got a full day’s worth of riding in a charge, providing you use it well and conservatively, with the motor supporting up to 20mph speeds, which is fine on trails, which this bike is made for. The wheel and suspension construction is excellent and will endure all the punishment you’re going to throw at it.

This is an electric mountain bike that is lightweight, with great gearing and a premium drivetrain to support the battery and electric motor too. The design is striking, but practical and agile, easily comparable to the old Stumpjumper models.

Read our full Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon eMTB review

How we test electric bikes

We’ve ridden a wide range of e-bikes, so even if two models have comparable specs, we’ll be able to give you a full rundown of how they actually ride on the road. We always test electric bikes in real-world conditions so you know how each one will perform in day-to-day life, and put them through their paces on a range of terrains and gradients.

We test each bike’s full range of power settings, plus custom settings, and if the bike has a navigation system then we’ll also use it to plot and ride several routes. We’ll also compare the GPS tracking from the ride computer with the readings from a top-end sports watch, and if the bike has a mobile app, we’ll let you know just how easy it is to install and use – plus any hidden surprises you should be aware of, like the need to pay a subscription fee to download maps.

It’s always a good idea to test-ride any bike yourself before committing to a purchase, but our aim is to give you the most complete picture of the experience possible first.

How to choose the best electric bike for you

First off, you need to take a look at what kind of electric bike is best for your needs… and your budget. If you’re someone who’s fed up of commuting by car or bus, and you’re looking for a convenient, healthier, happier and cheaper way to travel to work, a folding e-bike like the MiRider One is ideal.

Any road-worthy electric bike makes a good commuter, but bikes are expensive, and locking them up (even with one of our best bike locks) can risk theft. Folding bikes can be taken into work to keep them safe or bundled onto trains to cut long commutes short.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an electric bike to take on off-road, you’ll want an electric mountain bike, or eMTB, like the Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon. While standard road bikes are designed for economical travel on flat surfaces, eMTBs require extra juice to compensate for the increased resistance and thicker tires, as well as better suspension to handle jumps and rough rides. Because of these additional complexities in construction, eMTBs usually cost a premium, and there aren’t many good budget options around beyond a conventional pedal-power MTB.

However, if you’re just looking to increase the distance, decrease the effort during your ride, or even work a side-job delivering food in the evenings, a road bike like the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 is a great investment. You can ride hard all weekend to remote spots or zip around town with ease.

As well as budget and riding style, you’ll need a battery to suit your needs. Check the distance you travel on a regular basis, and that will dictate the range you need. City-dwellers never going more than a few miles at a time can afford to sacrifice battery capacity, while people heading out on long rides will need to ensure a charge can last them during their adventures.