12 Best Electric Bikes (2020): Lightweight, Affordable, Folding, and More

Around the country, bars, restaurants, and other public spaces are closed or have limited service. Public transportation is becoming a more iffy proposition, and cities are closing streets to give pedestrians more room to move around near their homes.

Enter: the electric bike. You don’t need to be physically fit to ride one. It gets you outside, reduces fossil fuels, reduces congestion, and it’s fun. Over the past few years, we’ve tried almost every kind of ebike there is, from heavy-duty cargo bikes to high-end mountain bikes. Whether you’re tooling around your neighborhood buying wood chips from the hardware store or trying to trim a few miles off the ride for a socially distanced visit, we have the best ebike for you.

We will be continuing to test and ride bikes, so if you don’t see one you like now, be sure to check back later. Once you get one, check out our favorite biking accessories and gear for a bikepacking adventure.

Have questions about electric bikes? Join the conversation in the comments section below. (Register here for an account.)

Updated for September 2020: We removed several older picks, added new information, and added new bikes, like the Cannondale Quick Neo SL.

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  • Photograph: Specialized 

    The Best Bike

    Specialized Turbo Vado SL Equipped

    When I had to return this electric bike (9/10, WIRED Recommends), I almost cried. The tiny, but powerful, custom motor and slim battery are integrated into the frame, so it doesn’t even look like an ebike. The XS frame weighs 33 pounds, only a few more than a regular steel bike. It has a hybrid frame with flat handlebars that make it easy to maneuver on a variety of surfaces, whether you’re scooting along at 28 miles per hour or bumping through trees at your local park.

    Specialized’s Smart Control system means you don’t have to adjust assistance while you’re riding, or worry about having enough battery to get home. A hidden shock in the head tube cushions the blow from any unexpected potholes. Even the accessories are top-notch, like long, flexible custom fenders that slice water down and away from you in the rain. I put 40 miles on it in three days. It was so fun that it was hard to hop off.

  • Photograph: Rad Power Bikes

    Best Utility Bike

    Rad Power Bikes RadRunner

    No matter which bike I recommend, most people I know personally buy this one. It has a seemingly magic blend of affordability and usefulness. Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes ships its bikes direct-to-consumer, and rather than working exclusively with companies like Bosch and Shimano, it also develops its own custom hub-motor drivetrains with a number of different vendors. Extras like aluminum pedals and extra gears are stripped off in favor of a burly 120-pound rear rack and big, stable, custom Kenda tires.

    Almost anyone can use the RadRunner (7/10, WIRED Review)—whether you want a comfy cruiser for beach rides, a stable seat for your 4-year-old, or you just want to ditch your gas-powered Vespa.

    Alternative: RadRunner also has a more cargo-friendly RadWagon 4 coming out soon. And if you’ve never been on a bike before, the Elby S1 also has an easy step-through frame and premium trimmings (like Tektro hydraulic brakes). It’s much more expensive, though $3,000 at Amazon).

  • Photograph: Propella 

    The Best Affordable Bike

    Propella 7-Speed (V3.4)

    Who am I kidding? Unless you’re already an ebike enthusiast, you probably want one that’s cheaper, and for these, that means as close to $1,000 as possible. That’s a hard proposition if you want a reliable motor and a frame that won’t buckle at 15 mph.

    Propella’s direct-to-consumer 7-speed (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best cheap bike we’ve found. Reviewer Parker Hall noted that it has trustworthy components like a Samsung battery and Shimano disc brakes, and nifty accessories like a cool suspension seat. At 39 pounds, it’s also pretty light for an ebike! It ships directly to you, too, which is handy if you’d like to avoid a bike shop right now.