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Best Electric Bikes for 2019

By Matthew Knight

Our independent tests reveal the e-bike motor systems that truly last the distance, so you can go further with less effort

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Electric bikes (e-bikes) are a fantastic way to rediscover a love for cycling, or extend your enjoyment into your later years. 

They don't come cheap though, and we've found that some will take you much further than others. 

Some e-bikes won’t even get you up a 1.2% incline, and will only take you 30 miles on the flat. The best we've tested will have you climbing hills with ease and power you along a flat road for nearly twice as many miles.

Like with any new bike, you'll want to try out a few options before you buy, but while a trial will give you a good feel for how the bike handles and how comfortable it is, it won't tell you how far it will go and how helpful it will be on the hills. 

Our independent e-bike tests focus on the bits of an e-bike that make the biggest difference to performance: the motor, battery and display unit, and tell you which combinations will give you the most support for longest.

Best E-bikes for 2019

We've tested 15 of the most common electric bike motor, battery and display combinations. Each one is found in a range of different e-bikes, so you can use these results to narrow down your search to the e-bikes that will power you up hills, deliver a smooth and consistent ride and be easy to use.

Only logged-in members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, sign up to Which? today for instant access to this and all our reviews.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

57 miles 80%

This motor comes with a display, which our lab experts thought was truly excellent.  It's compact, easy to use and, in combination with the motor, provides smooth and effective support for any riding terrain. 

It’s a great motor whether you're mainly riding on the flat, or in a hilly area. In combination with the 500Wh battery it has one of the longest ranges of any of the motors we tested at 57 miles. The range is still good with the 400Wh and 300Wh motor too, with 45 miles and 41 miles notched up, respectively. Unlike many others, this motor also gives good support on hills. It's one of just a handful that managed to pass all of our tough hill tests.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

50 miles 76%

This motor comes with a top of the range display, which clearly shows your riding data and is incredibly easy to use. Our lab experts loved it. 

It's a good motor too, giving you 50 miles' worth of cycling on flat terrain. It's one of just six motor and battery combinations we tested that passed all of our tough hill climb tests, so it's a good choice if you live in a hilly area, too.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

45 miles 73%

This motor and display unit is a great package. Our lab experts think the display unit is one of the best on the market, as it's clear and very easy to use. 

You'll get miles of assisted riding on the flat with this motor, and it's one of only six motors that passed all of our intensive hill climbing tests, so it's a good choice if you live in a hilly area.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

40 miles 70%

This motor comes with a 400Wh battery and a brilliant display unit. It's range on flat terrain is ample, and it's one of only six motors that was able to complete all of our tough hill climbing tests. However, its range on tough hills is quite limited. It would only last for 15 miles, on full assistance on a 6% hill. While this should be plenty for most, if you want to ride long distances on hilly terrain, you may want to opt for a different motor and battery combination

The display is fantastic. Easy to use and very clear, even on a bright day. 

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M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

44 miles 67%

This motor has a good, although not exceptional range on the flat, but it seriously impresses on hilly terrain. It has impressive grunt when the road pitches upwards and will keep you going for longer than any of the other motors we tested up a 6% gradient (it kept the pedals turning for 23 miles up a 5% hill in our tests).

The display unit is good too, providing clear and bright data on your riding in an easy to use package. The acceleration isn't quite as good as with some motors, but once you're up to speed this is a great e-bike motor.

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M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

 

34 miles

66%

This motor and battery pairing is a steady option. It's range is pretty short, but it can still take you up steep hills, which many can't handle. It has a range of 34 miles on the flat, and much shorter, we measured 12 miles, on a 6% gradient. 

It's a good motor, but in combination with this battery it's only suitable if you're not likely to be peddling too far. The display unit is top notch, though.

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M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

52 miles 63%

This motor comes with a display unit that is compact and easy to use.

It’s a good motor if you will mostly be riding on flat roads, as it has a longer range than most. However, it struggles to provide support in hilly areas. It can’t match even the efforts of a modest rider on a 6%, or even a 1.5% gradient, so we’d recommend looking elsewhere if you want help up the hills.

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M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

42 miles 59%

The display is compact and easy to use, but the motor and battery combination provides only a moderate range on the flat, and doesn't give adequate support on hills.

On moderately hilly terrain the motor wasn't able to match the efforts of even a modest rider, so we don't think it's the best choice if you live in a hilly area.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

57 miles 59%

This motor system comes with a 500Wh battery and has great pedigree on flat roads: it has the joint-biggest range of any of the electric bike motor and battery combinations we tested. The display unit is clear, and easy to use too. 

However, you'll have to put a bit more effort in than with other motors if you are cycling up steep hills. It's good at matching the efforts of a rider, but if you ask the motor to put in more effort than the rider, it struggles.

 

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

31 miles 56%

This motor is a bit underpowered for anything other than short and easy rides. It didn't manage to pass any of our tough hill climb tests and you only get 35 miles worth of assisted riding on the flat. 

The display is easy to use, but quite basic compared with others we tested. 

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today. 

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

45 miles 55%

This motor has a good range on the flat of 45 miles, but it struggles to deliver top end power on the hills. It's fine when matching the efforts of a rider, but if you want to dial up the assistance to 1.5 times the effort of the rider, or twice the effort, it starts to struggle. 

The display unit is bright, clear and easy to use. 

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

46 miles 52%

We found the display unit on this set up a bit clunky and harder to use than most, and we weren't too impressed with the motor either. 

It has decent range on the flat, but struggles to deliver top end power when push comes to shove. While it can match the efforts of a moderate rider on any type of terrain, including the flat and rolling hills, if you ask the bike to put in one and a half times the effort of the rider, or twice the effort of the rider, it can't do it. 

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today. 

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

40 miles 51%

We liked the display unit and assistance controls on this system. They're easy to use and the display is big, bright, and clear. The motor left a little to be desired though.  

We found the power assistance wasn't as smooth as other systems we tested and it was also one of the noisiest. The range is also only moderate and it struggles to deliver when you need it most. One of our tough tests requires the motor system to deliver twice the power of a moderate rider on the flat, on rolling hills and on a steep hill; this motor simply couldn't manage it.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

 

M

56 miles 49%

This motor comes with a top notch LCD display that's easy to use and has a clear display that will show you all of your riding stats. The range is one of the longest we've tested at 56 miles, so it's a good choice for someone looking to do a lot of riding on the flat. 

But point your wheels uphill and you might be left huffing and puffing. This motor can't match the efforts of even a moderate rider on shallow rolling hills or tougher inclines, so it's best avoided if you live in a hilly area.

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

M Range on flat terrain Hill support Display unit Overall score

M

32 miles 46%

This is the worst motor system and battery combination we tested. It has a very limited range, even on flat terrain, and it really struggled on hills of only 6% gradient, meaning that the rider would have to put in significantly more effort than with other motors.

The display unit is great, but the motor and battery let this system down. 

To find out which motor we are talking about log in now or join Which? today.

Last updated: April 2019

How we test electric bikes

All of the e-bike motor systems we test are set up on a rolling road in a lab and put through an array of tough tests designed to simulate real-life use. We use the same setup to test all the different systems, so that you can easily see how they compare.

How we calculate electric bike range 

You won't find range figures for e-bikes that are truly comparable anywhere else. Manufacturers may give a mileage figure on their electric bikes, but they often won't publish the weight of the rider or the conditions they are riding in. Trying to compare range with another bike is therefore almost impossible. 

For our range tests we keep the following constant:

  • Weight of the cyclist (70kg)
  • Frontal area and air resistance
  • Rolling resistance of the tyres
  • A constant speed of 12.4mph is maintained when the bike is up to speed
  • When the bike is on a slope of 6% that speed is reduced to 11.7mph

 Assistance levels

We conduct our range and incline tests on three separate power assistance settings:

  • 100% assistance - motor is putting in the same effort as the rider
  • 150% assistance - motor is putting in more effort than the rider
  • 200% assistance - motor is putting in twice as much effort as the rider

Different cycling terrain

Each e-bike system is tested on a flat road, a shallow hill (1.5% gradient), and a steeper hill (6% gradient). 

Many of the motor systems we've tested can not provide all of the levels of assistance described above on even a shallow hill, making them unsuitable for hilly areas.

Expert riding assessments

Each e-bike motor system is assessed for the following criteria:

  • The smoothness with which it delivers power to the pedals - some motors are noticeably juddery when delivering power.
  • How well it accelerates from a standing start - some systems don't deliver power until after a few pedal revolutions, making it more difficult and less safe for a rider setting off and getting up to speed.
  • Noise - some motors emit an irritating whine, which could be distracting and ruin your afternoon jaunt through the countryside.

Display unit

The display unit is rated for how easy it is to use, for example switching between assistance levels, and the visibility of the data it displays in various light conditions.

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