The best budget electric bikes are designed to provide additional assistance from their electric motor, but without adding too many unnecessary features that bring the up-front cost up too much. The motor and battery make electric bikes more expensive than pedal-only bikes, but they do make cycling more accessible to a wider range of riders, particularly if you live in a hilly area. That makes leisure rides and shopping expeditions a lot easier and means that the car can be left at home, saving some cash.
The increasing demand for the best electric bikes has meant that there are more and more options out there though and has also meant that there are more budget electric bikes available. We’ve got options for the best electric bikes under £1000 / $1000 and best electric bikes under £2000 / $2000. It’s also worth checking out our electric bike deals page to see if you can get a bargain on other models currently discounted.
At the budget end of the market, there tends to be a greater divide between which bikes are sold in which locations. International brands do still have their market share, so you’ll find those brands available in both territories, but smaller brands also have a share of the market, and these tend to have a more localised reach. Co-Op cycles, for example, makes some great budget electric bikes, but you’ll struggle to buy them outside the USA. Likewise Pure Electric has a good choice for those in the UK.
Best budget electric bikes in the USA
The Treadwell Neo adds a rear hub motor to Cannondale’s city bike, which is designed for agility and comfort. You have a choice of step-through frame or a slightly higher crossbar that’s still easy to climb on and off.
There are various specs of the Treadwell Neo which get different rear hub motor systems and different drivetrain options. They are nimble handling bikes that are fun to ride, and the optional EQ models come equipped with mudguards, a kickstand and lights, as well as a front rack/basket so they’re ready for all-weather riding and luggage carrying duties.
The Hurley Amped is designed as a simple bike with classic styling for riding around town. Made of steel, it has a singlespeed drivetrain and has a range of up to 20 miles – plenty for shorter excursions, although possibly not enough if you want to go multiple days on one charge.
The design includes a chainguard to keep your trousers clean. while rim brakes do the stopping. There’s a large LCD display on the bars to give you status data and there’s also throttle control if you don’t want to pedal.
The Mosh/Cty e-bike is equipped with a motor from Brose which pushes out 90Nm of torque for fast starts and easy hill climbing. Its power is transmitted through a single-speed Gates belt drive that’s maintenance and lubricant-free and there’s a large capacity battery for plenty of range.
The Mosh/Cty comes with really wide 2.8-inch Schwalbe tyres, integral lights and powerful hydraulic brakes. There’s fast charging of the battery both on and off the bike.
The funky-looking Generation e1.1 from American outdoor store REI’s own-brand Co-Op Cycles comes with 20-inch wheels with 2.4-inch tyres and a low standover for zippy handling and easy on/off. There’s one frame size, but four colours. It’s only available in the USA, and it’s powered to a ‘Class 1’ speed of 20mph by a Bafang rear hub motor. Hydraulic disc brakes take care of stopping.
Nice extras include lighting, a kickstand, a rack, and a suspension fork. The 417Wh battery is removable, lockable and gives you up to 40 miles range. It’s only available in the USA.
Another USA-only entry from REI’s Co-Op Cycles, the CTY e2.2 has a more powerful Shimano Steps mid-mounted motor than the popular e2.1. Designed for urban riding, there’s a low standover, an upright ride position and a walk mode to the motor, making the e-bike easy to move around when you’re not riding. Though at almost 24kg, it’s not light, so don’t expect to carry it upstairs without difficulty.
For comfort, there’s a Suntour 75mm travel suspension fork and 1.95-inch Schwalbe tyres. REI gives you mudguards, wired-in lights, a kickstand and a sturdy rack, so you’re all set for city riding, but we like it best for its ability to handle rougher terrain.
If you’re after laid-back cruiser style from your electric bike, the Cruiser Go! is for you. It’s sold by Trek’s Electra brand and as the name suggests, it has a ‘cruiser’ design, popularised on beaches and boardwalks in the USA. It has an integrated battery and although its capacity is limited, it is fully enclosed in the frame and gives you plenty of range if all you want is an easy cruise with family, friends, or alone.
You can add a second range extender battery that sits just behind the head tube and plugs into the charge post at the bottom end of the down tube. It has the same 250Wh capacity which should provide up to 40 miles of extra range.
Best budget electric bikes in the UK
As its name suggests, Pure Electric specialises in selling electric bikes. It’s also got its own range and the Flux One is a pared back alloy singlespeed with a maintenance-free Gates belt drive and a reasonable 17.5kg weight. Pure Electric quotes a 25-mile range from the 252Wh battery and 35Nm torque rear hub motor.
The bike runs on 700c wheels with 35mm Maxxis tyres, with cable-operated disc brakes. It’s a neat way to zip around town with low maintenance drivetrain and assistance from the motor to help smooth the way.
The Ridgeback Electron Plus has a claimed 125km range from its Shimano Steps drivetrain. There’s a Shimano Nexus seven-speed hub gear and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, for a comprehensive, quality Shimano package.
There’s the classic upright ride position, with tall handlebars, and the bike comes complete with mudguards, a rack and lights, as well as a kickstand. It might not be the fast-handling nimble bike like others on this list, but it offers a relaxed, comfortable position that helps you see around you, making it ideal for getting about town safely.
The Pendleton Somerby E provides an electric boost to the Pendleton women’s leisure bike, thanks to a Bafang rear hub motor and a battery under the rear rack.
The step-through alloy frame, upright position offer a similar list of benefits to the Ridgeback above; making it easy to get around town safely.
The eight-speed gearing makes for steady progress, while Tektro V-brakes help you stop. The bike comes complete with metal mudguards and a luggage rack to help you get through the city in comfort.
The Raleigh Stow-E-Way gives you all the benefits of a folding bike plus a battery range quoted at 30 miles, with the battery removable for charging. It’s not too heavy either and comes with a seven-speed Shimano drivetrain and walk assist mode.
You get a full set of extras in the deal too, including lights, mudguards and a rear rack. The bike’s rim brakes are a fairly standard item on folding e-bikes, rather than disc brakes.
Another budget entry from Raleigh, the Array has a 63mm travel Suntour suspension fork, mudguards, kickstand, lights and a rack, so you can get out and ride without additional expenditure.
Suntour provides the motor and battery too, giving you a good range that’s claimed at up to 104km. Tektro mechanical disc brakes provide the stopping power.
This singlespeed bike has an impressively low 13.3kg weight. Its motor, battery and electronics are all enclosed in the rear hub, allowing regenerative braking to recharge the battery and making for a clean look too.
Another neat feature is the front lighting that’s integrated into the handlebar and a rear light array embedded in the seatpost, helping to accentuate the clean lines. The bike rides on 35mm 700c tyres for plenty of grip whatever the road conditions.
How to choose a budget electric bike
To produce and market a budget electric bike, the bike maker may have had to make compromises on the bike’s spec or its electrical components. Some compromises you may be happy to live with, while others may limit how useful the e-bike will be for you, so it’s worth weighing up what’s essential for you and what you can live without.
Here are things to consider when choosing the best budget electric bike for your needs.
How are budget electric bikes made less expensive?
The most expensive parts of an e-bike are usually the motor and the battery. A budget electric bike may come with a cheaper motor, but there’s usually the greatest opportunity to save money on the battery.
So don’t expect a budget electric bike to have as large a range as a more premium option. It should be plenty for shorter trips, but you may find your range compromised if you want to ride further. In general, electric bikes will have a battery with between 300Wh and 700Wh capacity, which should give a range of between 20 miles and 60 miles.
How much range you will get will depend on how fit you are. If you can put in a lot of effort to keep moving yourself, rather than relying on the motor as much, you’ll get more range. That’s particularly true if you ride at over 15mph/25kph in the UK, Europe and Australia, when by law the motor must cut out, and so the battery won’t be being drained.
In the US, the equivalent figure can be as high as 28mph, which is a bit harder to exceed under pedal power alone, but it differs between e-bike classes.
What is torque and how much do I need?
Most electric bikes are limited to around 250 watts of power output, so the critical measure of how much assistance they can give you is the torque figure. This indicates how much peak turning power the e-bike motor can provide.
Torque output is measured in Newton-metres (Nm) and typical values for e-bikes start at around 40Nm for low powered hybrid bikes and some electric road bikes, where it’s expected that the rider will be providing much of the impetus.
A mid-range torque output is between 50Nm and 70Nm and is typically found in straight bar hybrid electric bikes.
Higher torque motors between 80Nm and 100Nm are found in many electric mountain bikes, where the ability to assist the rider to climb steep gradients is an important feature.
How many assistance levels do I need?
Most electric bikes will offer at least three assistance levels. That’s enough for the majority of riding; switch between the levels and you can get more assistance for hills but conserve battery life when you’re riding on the flat.
Some electric bikes offer more levels than this, sometimes up to five, but in our experience they don’t offer any useful additional capability over three options.
All electric bikes can be ridden unassisted too. Often, there’s minimal extra resistance from the motor when it’s not working, so you’ll save battery life and, at least on the flat, the e-bike won’t be any harder to ride than a pedal-only bike.
What else might I sacrifice in a budget electric bike?
Besides the battery, a budget electric bike may have standard bicycle components with a lower spec than a more premium model.
That usually manifests itself most clearly in the number of gears on offer; whereas a premium electric bike may have 11 or 12 gears, a budget electric bike may make do with a lower spec groupset with 7 or 8. That’s not necessarily a problem and a 7 or 8-speed groupset might cover the same range as a higher-spec option, just with slightly larger jumps between gears.
Brakes are important and higher-priced electric bikes will usually use hydraulic disc brakes. You may find that a budget electric bike is fitted with mechanical disc brakes, which in general are less powerful than hydraulics. With the greater weight and speed of an electric bike, this may mean that stopping isn’t quite as sharp.
You may also find that a budget electric bike isn’t kitted out with items like lights, mudguards and a rear rack that, depending on its intended use, a higher-spec bike might have included.