The concept of an electric bicycle is not new, but is definitely something that has caught on in the past few years thanks to improved battery and motor technology that provides improved range while cutting down on size and weight. In the last year alone, electric bicycles contributed towards as much as 50% of all bicycle sales in Belgium, and over 20% in Germany.
Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are a perfect mode of transportation for the average commuter. Not only are they a lot of fun, they also allow you to go much farther distances, climb steep elevations easily and carry more cargo. You get the chance to explore areas you would never go to on a regular bike.
And the best part? In most areas of the world, e-bikes are not classified as motorbikes, and hence are not restricted by laws. There are no license, ownership or registration, and even insurance regulations, meaning you are pretty much free to do what you want!
So why isn’t electric bicycle adoption faster? One reason; cost. E-bikes can get very pricey when compared to ordinary bikes. That’s what we aim to address in this article. We will talk about what to look for in an e-bike, and then take a look at the best electric bikes under £1,000 in 2018.
How to pick what electric bike to buy?
E-bikes are broadly categorized into three basic classes.
Class 1: Pedal Assist / Pedelec – This is the most popular type of electric bike, and involves the rider pedaling like with a normal bicycle. The electric motor assists with the pedaling however, and provides the back wheel extra power on each pedal, thus making pedaling effortless for the rider even when climbing a hill.
These types of electric bikes have no regulation laws. However, a bike is only considered into this category if the pedal assist keeps the bike under the speed of 25km/h in the UK, and 32km/h in the US. Faster bikes are categorized into Class 3.
Class 2: Throttle – Throttle-based e-bikes are not very common. They do not provide pedaling assist, and instead have a throttle much like a motorbike. The more you push the throttle, the faster it will go. Because of this behavior, bikes in this category have to face some level of restrictions in certain countries with respect to their speeds.
Class 3: Speed Pedelec – Speed Pedelecs are similar to standard Class 1 Pedelecs, except they can reach much higher speeds (45-50km/h). In certain areas, riding such bikes requires a license.
Besides the three broad classes, e-bikes can also be classified based on the location of their motor. Before buying an electric bicycle, it is important to understand how motor placement can impact performance:
Front-mounted motor: A bike’s powertrain is usually in the center and powers the rear wheel. However, if a bike has a motor on the front hub, it is difficult to provide pedal assist from there all the way to the back wheel, which is why front mounted e-bikes generally do not have pedal assist (although there are some exceptions). Front mounted motors are easy to install after-market, such as when converting an ordinary bike into an electric one, but they are not good for the overall handling of the bike, especially on corners.
Rear-mounted motor: Rear-mounted motors are much more popular than front-mounted ones, and they can easily provide throttle or Pedelec-based power. They also do not impact the aesthetic appeal of a bike. However, just like front-mounted options, rear-mounted motors tend to create an imbalance in weight distribution which impacts overall handling.
Mid-mounted motor: Motors mounted in the middle are activated by pedals, and as such can only be mounted onto Pedelec systems. However, their center placement provides excellent weight distribution, making them ideal and indeed the preferred option for most manufacturers.
The next most important factor to consider when buying an e-bike is battery configuration. Most bike batteries are lithium-ion based, and comprise of multiple cells connected inside a casing. Batteries are large and small, light or heavy. Here are some configurations to consider.
Battery capacity: Battery capacity will determine how long the motor will last. You can do with a small battery if you just want an electric bike for daily commute. However, longer adventures might necessitate a larger battery.
Battery placement: A battery’s physical size and weight do not matter as much as placement. Some e-bikes come with batteries fitted at the back above the rear tire like a rack. The most common option, however, is down tube placement, which provides better weight distribution and handling.
Battery replaceability: It is important to have a replaceable battery. Batteries have limited charge cycles, and if you recharge a bike battery every day, it will only last you up to 2 years. So, it is important to buy an electric bike that has batteries that can be easily replaced.
Now that we have looked at what factors need to be considered when buying an electric bicycle, let’s take a look at some of the best electric bikes under £1,000 that you can buy in 2018.
Best electric bikes under £1,000
Electric bikes can be pretty expensive, sometimes even worth thousands of pounds. In fact, the most expensive e-bike right now is the Blacktrail Bt-01, which comes at a whopping £61,000. But not everyone wants to dish out so much money on a bike.
It is true that with £1,000, your choices are limited. However, you should still be able to get a very decent bike. Here’s what you should expect for that money;
- Aluminum alloy or steel frame
- Rigid fork in favor of front suspension. At this price range, it is hard to get a decent suspension. And even if you do, that means there’s a compromise on other components or the overall build quality of a bike. So, it would be advisable to go for a rigid fork instead in order to get the best overall quality.
- At par back-post suspension
- 250W hub-mounted motor
- 8,000-10,000 mAh battery
- V-brakes typical, but you can sometimes find front disc brakes
Here are some of the best options available on the market right now.
The AeroBike Hybrid eBike ranks highest for us when it comes to affordability, performance and overall satisfaction. Labelled the X-Ride, it’s a power-assisted eBike that comes with a 36v lithium-ion battery with 30 miles of cycling with a staggeringly low 3 hours of charge.
The unique SRAM Automatix gear changing system in-built with the bike analyses the users riding and changes the gear for you. Making it a safer and more efficient ride.
“When the computer thinks you need help, it tells the motor, housed in the front wheel, to kick in. This means you can get up hills easier, go further and get a boost up to 15mph. If you want to pedal faster, to go even quicker, you can do that too. ”
The Powacycle Salisbury LPX Electric Bike is perhaps the most expensive electric bikes in this lineup, but has a range of some excellent all-round features which ranks it highly on our list. If you’re looking for something that will take you farther and last longer, than this might be the ideal choice.
The frame is built out of sturdy aluminum, which gives it excellent durability. The wheels measure 26 inch in size. And, like the rest of the bikes on this list, it has a dual mode of operation: PAS (Pedal Assist System) and e-bike mode for pedal-less operation.
Rather interestingly, the bike features a relatively low powered 200W brushless motor with a 6-speed transmission. It is not designed for fast speeds, but can reach speeds of up to 25km/h.
What it lacks in acceleration, however, it covers for in range. The 26V 13AH Li-ion battery can take you up to 55-60kms on a single charge with PAS mode. The battery can be charged within 4-6 hours, and is removable – it weighs merely 2.9kg.
The LPX is a versatile bike and comes with a rear rack that you can use to carry goods arounds.
High up on our list is one of the most versatile e-bikes around, the ANCHEER Power Plus. Being a Mountain Bike, it is perfect for any kind of adventure. The carbon steel front fork will keep it fairly balanced. What’s more, the batteries are disguised as a thermos, which will make it almost impossible to tell from a distance whether its an e-bike or a regular bicycle.
The Power Plus offers amazing value for money. It isn’t the most expensive on this list, but certainly provides some of the best features. It offers two operating modes, pedal assist as well as throttle. So, if you’re going uphill and don’t want to exert yourself too much, the pedal assist will take over. And if you don’t want to make any effort at all, simply use the throttle. The 250W brushless motor can bring it up to speeds of 25km/h, and the 36V 8AH battery will carry you anywhere between 25-50 km on a single charge.
The bike has 26” wheels, and features disc brakes on both wheels. Speeds are adjustable as per the 21-speed transmission. The whole frame is made out of 100% aluminum alloy.
The best part, however, is that this bike isn’t even at the top end of the £1,000 spectrum. It is fairly average priced, and you will be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck.
NAKTO City Electric Bike
The NAKTO Electric Bike is designed for urban environments with an all carbon steel frame, making it extremely durable and long-lasting. The frame is pretty heavy for a bike its size, which means that it may not be ideal for going on bike trails, but will serve you within city just fine.
Just like the ANCHEER Power Plus, NAKTO City Electric Bike features two modes of operation; pedal assist, and throttle mode. It also has a similar 250W brushless motor, allowing you to go to speeds up to 25km/h. However, it has a bigger 36V 10AH battery that will carry you up to 45km on throttle mode, and up to 56km in pedal assist mode.
The bike also has a built-in rack at the front for transporting goods.
One of the downsides of this bike, however, is that it is heavy overall, with the weight tending towards the back. This can make it somewhat difficult to handle at high speeds, especially when breaking on a turn as it is back-heavy and can end up in a spin. But considering its moderate price, it is still an excellent bargain.
The ANCHEER Folding Electric Mountain Bike is another excellent entry by ANCHEER, and in many ways it is very similar to the ANCHEER Power Plus. What’s special about this bike however, is that it can be folded and transported around very easily. Built from high quality aluminum, the bike does not trade off durability for its foldability. It is just as rugged as the Power Plus, and can perform just as well off-road. However, it is heavier than the Power Plus, so might give a shorter range and require more effort going uphill.
The bike features PAS and e-bike modes, allowing you to switch between pedal assist and active throttling. You have three different speed levels to choose from. The 250W brushless motor, coupled with a 36V 8AH battery can take you around 25km on e-bike mode, and up to 48km on PAS mode. The battery takes around 4-6 hours to fully charge.
The 26” wheel are made out of aluminum alloy, and come with thick, anti-slip and wear-resistant tires, perfect for all weathers.
If a lightweight and sturdy electric bike is what you’re looking for, then you can’t go wrong with the Tomasar Power Electric Bike.
The frame is constructed from 100% lightweight aluminum and is collapsible, which makes it durable while keeping portability in mind so you can transport it easily. The portability, however, does not impact durability and long-life in any way.
Additionally, the speed can go as high as 25km/h -thanks to the high-speed brushless motor. This allows you to significantly slash down your commute time. However, it should be noted that although this model’s speeds are remarkable, it is still not enough to classify this bike in the ‘cyclocross’ category, as it is still somewhat slow.
There are two running modes on this bike for you to select from. If a smooth nice and easy ride is what you desire, then you will be able to move about without pedaling using the e-bike mode. Alternately if you want to boost your e-bike’s range, simply go for the PAS – Pedal Assist Sensor mode.
The Tomasar Power Electric Bike has a removable lithium-ion battery that can carry you up to 50 km without any problems. To add to these fantastic features, the high-quality fork and braking system are excellent, resulting in a smooth safe ride.
If you’re an enthusiast and are looking for a performance electric bike, the ECOTRIC Flat Tire Electric Bike might be something you would want to look at. The machine has a powerful, 500W rear-hub motor, and a 36V/12AH battery. This lets the bike achieve speeds of up to 37 km/h, putting it right into the Speed Pedelec category.
The most notable feature of this bike is the flat tire setup. The 26” wheels feature 4” thick tires that provide excellent grip and control over any surface. It is great for off-roading and can handle the most challenging bike trails with ease.
Electric bikes may not be cheap, but that does mean you should miss out on all the fun and convenience. Most electric bikes don’t need licensing or registration, so they present an ideal mode of transport for your daily commute even if it is long. Electric bikes have no carbon footprint, unlike motorbikes, and you can always turn them off and pedal them like a normal bicycle if you run out of charge or want to experience the challenge of an actual bicycle.