Electric cars get a lot of press, but the world’s best-selling e-vehicles are bikes. And even as conventional bicycle sales exploded during the pandemic’s recreation boom, U.S. e-bikes outpaced them at more than twice the rate. Technology has quickly gotten smaller, lighter and more efficient, and there is an e-bike for every type of owner.
“Pedal assist” e-bikes are more bicycle than motorcycle, with pedaling made easier, not optional. They are basically traditional bikes with an adjustable motorized boost—a manmade tailwind that reduces effort needed to go faster or uphill. Those new to cycling can get started with much less exertion. Regular, but less avid, cyclists can keep up on longer rides with their cycling friends. Grandparents can ride with grandkids and avid mountain bikers can climb steeper and go deeper into wilderness. No longer heavy and bulky, performance models now come from the same companies that make the best traditional bicycles, so it’s easier to fit your needs.
Commuter—Momentum Voya E+ 3 Momentum, a leader in urban and commuting bikes, paired that expertise with an ultra-slim battery and a superlight motor (3.7 pounds) to make its lightest e-model yet. The aluminum frame is durable and upright straight handlebars provide better field of vison in traffic. It charges fast, has a 45-mile assisted range that lets riders easily hit 20 mph, with nine speeds for manual pedaling and disc brakes for sudden stops ($2,400).
Performance Road—Trek Domane+ Trek is to road bikes what the new Ford Mustang is to electric cars. Its venerable Domane is one of the best-selling, most acclaimed road bikes, and the e-versions come in three models powered by Bosch that can assist to 20 mph for up to 65 miles ($5,049–$9,250).
Performance Mountain—Giant Trance X Advanced E+ Taiwan’s Giant is renowned for high-quality and cutting-edge engineering at a fair price and was an early innovator in the e-bike trend. This top-shelf model has everything a mountain bike should have—plus an engine. It includes full-suspension carbon frame with 150-mm of Fox shock front travel, capable 29-inch tubeless tires, hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano drivetrain. Comes in two trim levels ($7,000–$9,500).