Best e-bikes to ride for 2020

Lyle Ellerbee

The electric rideables market continues to expand as people consider new alternatives to public transportation. It’s grown so much that we’ve now divided our recommendations into two different categories: the best e-bikes, which you’ll find below, and the best electric scooters and skateboards. Most of them were tested on a commute through sections of midtown Manhattan, around Central Park or down the West Side Highway bike path. Some were tested before the coronavirus pandemic, others more recently. 

If you do get into rideables, be sure to be safe by keeping a few guidelines in mind. Leave enough space between yourself and both cars and riders on plain old human-powered bikes and scooters. Ride and pass with caution, because you can go faster. Keep your battery charged and make it a habit to check on your tires often. Most important, wear a helmet every single time you ride. 

We update this list periodically.

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Buying your first e-bike: What you can expect


Sarah Tew/CNET

Great for a commuter with limited storage space. The Swagtron EB5 Pro is a folding pedal-assist bicycle with an electric motor that also has its own throttle (so you don’t really have to pedal at all). With a full battery, it can travel up to 15 miles at a speed of 15 mph. This folding electric bicycle is a single speed, and you can even turn all the powered features off and use it like a regular bike. It weighs a solid 37 pounds and the seat supports riders up to 264 pounds, but when the seat is folded down, this ride is surprisingly small.

See our Swagtron EB5 Pro gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If it can be put on a bicycle, Rad Power Bikes probably offers it. With a slew of accessories, you can outfit one of their nine different bike models for cargo, kids, cargo with kids, or just riding through the mud. 

We got our hands on the RadRunner 1 with a rear bench and foot pegs. This particular configuration is great for a parent to get out and run errands with their little ones on board. The 48-volt, 14-amp-hour battery powers a 750-watt motor that can pedal-assist or throttle the RadRunner up to 20mph. With four levels of assistance, riders can increase or decrease to help conserve battery, if necessary, or make it up a steep incline. 

The step-through frame makes it easy to mount and dismount, even with a passenger or packages on the rear of the bike. The RadRunner is rated to support up to 300 pounds. I can assure you it does that as my passengers and I pushed past the weight limit without any problems.

Read our RadRunner 1 hands-on.

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The $2,299 Camp Scrambler from Juiced bikes is as fun as it is unique, and as comfortable as it is fast. The long banana seat is reminiscent of bicycles from the ’70s, but with a modern twist. The Camp Scrambler comes with a 750-watt Bafang motor, can pedal assist up to 28 mph and throttle up to 20 mph. It’s powered by a 52-volt battery giving riders the ability to travel up to 50 miles on a single charge. Recharge time is approximately four hours. There are seven pedal-assist modes and a Shimano seven-speed freewheel cassette to shift gears as well.

The long seat is cozy for riders of all sizes and still has room for a second rider (my speed-demon daughter loves to ride on the front section of the seat) and the high handlebars are pleasing for long rides. I’ve put more than 500 miles on one and still enjoy riding it every bit as much as I did at the start. The wide Kendra knobby tires make it easy to hop on- and off-road, but for those who strictly ride pavement, there’s the City Scambler, which has a similar look and specifications with street tires. 

The bicycle weighs 71 pounds and can support riders up to 275 pounds. Lights on the front and rear of the bike help for nighttime visibility and it comes with a bell to let people know you’re coming down the lane. Dual hydraulic brakes bring the Scrambler to a stop quickly and safely. The whole package makes for a great riding experience.

Read our Juiced Bikes Camp Scrambler first take.

Sarah Tew

The gorgeous, futuristic-looking $2,799 GoCycle GS is not your average folding e-bike. Its motor is located in the front and it has a fully enclosed chain that runs to the back wheel. This allows you to commute without worrying about getting grease on you or your clothes or lubing the chain after being out on a wet day. Roads with rough patches are less of a problem with its rear suspension, too. 

The wheels attach with single-sided mounts, which is a major design standout, allowing them to be quickly removed by hand. It also means you can break it down into smaller pieces to take up less space. The whole thing weighs 36.3 pounds (16.5 kg) and you can get a Portable Docking Station that’s essentially a rolling suitcase for the bike for stowing and transport. 

The GS settings are controlled by an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth through the GoCycleConnect app. Two bands on the handlebar securely hold your phone while riding. While riding the GoCycle you’re able to change assistance modes, speeds and toggle the throttle on and off. 

Throttle assistance can only be used when traveling at least 4 mph, so as not to put too much pressure on the 500-watt motor. The GoCycle’s 300Wh battery gets about 40 miles (65 km) on a full charge depending on your riding style and weight; it’ll support riders up to 220 pounds and pedal/throttle assist up to 20 mph. A full charge takes about seven hours or three and a half with a fast charger (sold separately).

The GS focuses on the little details, such as its center stand that folds up discreetly under the bike making it almost invisible. I can not emphasize enough how beautifully designed this bike is. How they squeezed so much into this small bicycle is just amazing. 

At $2,799 you’re getting a premium ride (and it’s not even the company’s top model), but if you’re not sure it’s worth it sight unseen, you may find a local retailer that carries the GoCycle line and allows test rides.

See our gallery of the GoCycle GS.

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Even though it’s been replaced by newer models, I decided to leave the Super Commuter on this list because it’s available at a decent discount (down to $3,600 from $5,200). 

I originally tested this bike in the 2019 TD 5 Boro Bike Tour. First, I wanted to see how it performed as a normal bike. It’s heavy at 54 pounds, and I had to see how it would fare against some of the sleeker bicycles. The 11 speeds made it easy to maintain a comfortable pace. When I came across a few inclines, the pedal assist (Bosch Performance Speed, 350-watt motor, integrated into the frame) worked perfectly. 

Eco was my preferred assist mode. It gives the least assistance of the four settings (Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo), so it has the best battery life for long distances. Keep in mind that this bicycle does not have a throttle; it is strictly pedal assist.

Note: This bike was subject to a recall in Dec. 2019 because of a possible fall hazard relating to the bike’s front fender. Be sure to confirm that the issue has been addressed before purchasing this model. 

See our gallery of the Trek Super Commuter Plus 8S.

Sarah Tew

The $6,000 Trek Allant Plus 9.9S hits a lot of premium notes. The design is sleek, with a Removable Integrated Battery (or RIB, as Trek calls it) built right into the frame. There’s also an optional secondary 500-watt-hour battery that mounts just above the integrated one for extra range. 

The built-in display shows riding mode, speed and more, while the Bosch app for iOS and Android keeps track of where you’ve gone and how long it took to get there. The frame is made from lightweight carbon fiber, but still hits 51 pounds. 

In my hands-on testing, the Allant handles as if it were gliding over the pavement, and having the option to use the 75 Newton-meters of torque from the Bosch Performance Speed pedal-assist motor — taking you up to 28 mph — just adds to the experience.

See our gallery of the Trek Allant Plus 9.9S.

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