The 9 Best Cheap E-Bikes You Can Buy Right Now

·14 min read
Photo credit: Staff, Courtesy of Rad Power Bikes
Photo credit: Staff, Courtesy of Rad Power Bikes


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Editor’s Note: We have reviewed this article and still stand by our recommendations for the best cheap electric bikes on the market as of September 2022. We’ll be evaluating this list monthly to make sure we bringing you the most up-to-date products and industry information. If you’re ready to click purchase, consider the Aventon Level.2, which we named the best overall cheap e-bike.

The joy of riding e-bikes and the cost-effective convenience they bring to everyday transportation have helped electric-assist bicycles, especially the cheap e-bike models that cost less than $2,000 recommended here, skyrocket in popularity.

Higher gas prices (on September 1, they averaged $3.82 across the country, according to AAA) has made these lower-cost e-bikes an even more attractive option for short trips or leisurely recreation. And while many non-assist bikes are hard to find due to kinks (or outright breaks) in the global supply chain, many of the affordable e-bikes sold by consumer-direct brands are still available online and can be shipped to your door in a week or less.

Best Cheap E-Bikes

The Expert: I’ve been testing bikes and other gear for more than 20 years, leading the product review and gear teams for half a dozen magazines and web sites. For four years, I oversaw product testing for Bicycling, in addition to Popular Mechanics and Runner’s World. I’ve been testing e-bikes since 2013, when the Haibike entered the U.S. market with its first electric mountain bike. I commute to work and anywhere else I can on a Benno Boost e-cargo bike (often with my kids riding on the extended rear platform) and typically have three to four e-bikes in my garage to test at any one time. Last year, using a decibel meter, I compared the loudness of various e-bike motors to see which had the least offensive output (the Bosch Performance line CX used on many premium bikes had the lowest noise to torque levels). More recently, I reviewed the Woom Up kids e-bike for Bicycling.

We use the term cheap electric bikes here to describe their price relative to the more expensive electric bikes you can find in bike shops and some online retailers. We’ve tested many of those premium e-bikes and electric mountain bikes too and some are truly exceptional. But they can cost three or four times the models here. Some run as much as $10,000. These bikes cost less, but our testing and research show them to be very reliable for everyday commuting and riding. To make these reviews as helpful as possible, we focused on lower-priced options from brands like Aventon, Rad Power Bikes, and others that you can purchase directly online. In addition to bikes for everyday riding, we included folding e-bikes and even a fat-tire e-bike.

If you are looking for a higher-performance e-bike, or specifically want the help and service you can get from a specialty retailer, be sure to check out recommendations for our Best High-Performance E-Bikes. You’ll find 18 exceptional, award-winning bikes rigorously vetted by our editorial team.

Hub Motors Save Cost

Every e-bike here uses a hub motor rather than a mid-drive motor. Hub motors (the original industry standard and more affordable of the two) can be located on either the front or, more commonly, the rear wheel. They typically don’t allow for the same natural maneuverability as today’s increasingly more common mid-drive motors because their weight is concentrated at the front or rear of the bike. In contrast, a mid-drive motor’s weight is low and centered over the bottom bracket, resulting in better control and a more balanced ride feel, much like a traditional bike.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

The Three Classes of E-Bikes

In the U.S., there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes are defined as class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you’re pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec,” can also have up to only a 750w motor (aka 1 horsepower), but can assist you up to 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without the need for a license. Rare just a year ago, Class 2 models are becoming more popular, especially at lower prices. These models have a throttle that can propel a bike up to, and maintain, 20 mph without having to continuously pedal. Some bikes blur the lines. Aventon’s popular Pace 500, for example, is technically a Class 3 e-bike in that it reaches speeds up to 28 mph, but it also has a throttle that tops out at 20 mph (the maximum legal speed for a throttle).

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Cheaper E-Bike Components

Usually, the cheaper the bike, the cheaper the parts. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be riding around on a rattling tin can. It just means that the bike’s designers took into consideration where they could include lower-level parts without sacrificing safety while putting the money where it counts most—hydraulic disc brakes, decent tires, and a reliable e-system. And although the electrical components on some of these bikes might not be plastered with a familiar name, like Bosch or Shimano, that doesn’t mean they’re not capable. Aventon, for example, pieced together its own e-bike system for the Pace 350—rather than buying a complete one from someone else—to keep the price down and allow for higher-quality parts elsewhere.

E-Bike Battery Range and Integration

It used to be that most bikes at this price point didn’t hide their batteries with much elegance. Instead, companies installed them prominently on top of the down tube. But we’re beginning to see more batteries hidden within the down tube or tucked discreetly behind the seat tube. Don’t expect to ride across the state on these bikes, either. The highest range in this list is 70 miles, but most average about 45. Like gas milage in a car, real world results vary depending on what assist level you use, terrain, and more. Still, it’s worth checking the bike’s battery range before you buy to make sure it fits your daily needs.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

How We Tested These Cheaper E-Bikes

Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using most of these bikes for their intended purposes. I’ve personally ridden and tested many of them to and from work, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain to see how they handle, and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. The Bicycling gear team evaluated every model on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with these recommendations that we believe will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.

Best Overall Cheap E-Bike

AVENTON LEVEL.2

Power: 500W | Weight: 59.8 lb. | Top speed: 28 mph | Range: Up to 60 miles



This month, Aventon updated its outstanding Level e-bike to have a smoother ride and added visibility. A new torque sensor delivers power to the rear hub motor more evenly than the previous generation bike. The Level.2 has a more natural and intuitive feel when riding. The addition of integrated lights and a smaller, easier-to-use display help make one of our favorite commuter e-bikes even better. In our testing, the Level.2 performed better than expected in every situation. The Aventon Level.2 remains the best commuter e-bike you can purchase for less than $2,000 and one of the best commuter bikes you can buy overall. The updates to the platform make an already great bike even better. This e-bike has everything you need for commuting or getting around town. Plus, the Level.2 rides great and is priced right. Now’s the time to level up!

Available in Step-Through Read Full Review

Best Value E-Bike

AVENTON PACE 350

Power: 350W | Weight: 46 lb. | Top Speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 40 miles

Drop below the $1,000 price level and e-bikes start to get sketchy. Most use lithium-ion battery technology, which is still pricey, and including it could mean cutting corners elsewhere if the overall price is that low. At $1,399, the Aventon Pace 350 gets close, but our test revealed it’s not too cheap to be high quality. The Class 2 e-bike tops the assistance out at 20 mph, whether you get there by pedal-assist or a throttle. There’s a 7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain and five levels of e-assist, giving you various pedaling options. Of the e-bikes we put through our handling circuit, the Pace 350 felt the most balanced and planted on pavement and dirt. You don’t get lights or fenders, but the Pace 350 felt viable for daily commuting. Aventon also offers the Pace in a step-through model.

Read Full Review

Best Lightweight E-Bike

RIDE1UP ROADSTER V2

Power: 350W | Weight: 35 lb. | Top speed: 24 mph | Range: Up to 30 miles

There’s a lot to like about the Roadster. It’s discreet, lightweight, and makes getting around a big city or small town a breeze. Plus, it’s priced very competitively. It does give up lights, a rack, fenders, gears, and disc brakes to hit both its price point and weight, and the range is shorter than other more expensive options. Because of that, the Roadster is ideal for short commutes on mostly flat roads and paths. But, if you’re looking for a low-cost, durable e-bike, then it’s worth considering the Roadster.

Read Full Review

Best Singlespeed E-Bike

RAD POWER BIKES RADMISSION

Power: 500W | Weight: 49.4 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 45 miles



One of the most affordable e-bikes right now is Rad Power’s RadMission, a city bike with commuter potential. For $899, you get a stripped-down single-speed that moves along at 20 mph with a throttle to help you get up to speed or the top of punchy hills. The 27.5 x 1.95-inch-wide Kenda Kontact tires are slightly narrower than the 2-inch or wider tires we typically see on commuter e-bikes, but they were wide enough to feel speedy and provide comfort on pavement and bumpy bike paths. You also get integrated lights and a bell and a long list of options to add. The Rad Power–branded hub motor drive unit that delivers 50Nm of torque, and a 504Wh battery. The battery is removable and backup batteries are available from Rad Power if you want to have a spare at work or home. In addition to this mid-step-through version that makes it easier to get on and off, Rad also offers a traditional step-over model.

Best Fat-Tire E-Bike

RAD POWER BIKES RADRUNNER 2

Power: 750W | Weight: 65 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 45 miles

Odds are that you’ve either seen this bike or one that looks a lot like it. Whether you consider it a “bike” is irrelevant—it’s cheap, useful, and thrives in the city. The e-utility design gives you three storage areas: the front rack, the rear rack, and the mid-frame center console. If the latter feature seems gimmicky, that’s understandable, but we instantly found it useful for loose ends and anything that couldn’t get wet. These accessories quickly turn this $1,200 e-bike into a $1,500 e-bike, but they allow you to retrofit the bike to haul kids or pizzas or fresh fish (as Rad flaunts in targeted YouTube ads). The fat tires and short wheelbase make the RadRunner 2 a capable off-roader and maneuverable urban bike, although the steering is too sharp as you’re moving fast. That said, most customers won’t ride the RadRunner 2 as aggressively; the bike is pleasant and nimble around town, ideal for its intended purpose.

Best Cruiser Cheap E-Bike

ELECTRIC BIKE COMPANY MODEL E

Power: 500W | Weight: 53 lb. | Top speed: 25 mph | Range: Up to 70 miles

The new Model E is a sturdy, elegant beach cruiser assembled and painted in the U.S. We tested the brand’s model X last year and it impressed us with its high quality. All Electric Bike Company models are assembled in the U.S., and the attention to detail is immediately evident. Unlike the Model X, this one is sleeker, with an integrated battery. But like that one, it’s fully customizable and built to order with your options. The Schwalbe Fat Frank tires and steel frame and fork combine to deliver a smooth ride, and the comfortable saddle and retro handlebar beckon you to relax and let the e-assist do most of the work. And despite its weight, the disc brakes help you come to a smooth stop, whether you’re dodging squirrels on the bike path or avoiding tourists on the boardwalk.

Great for City Riders

AVENTON SOLTERA

Power: 350W | Weight: 41 lb. | Top speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 63 miles

This affordable single-speed model from Aventon delivers simplicity and style that is tough to beat. The bike also comes as a 7-speed geared option, but we like the easy maintenance and convenience of this one-speeder. Simply push the throttle to get started and the brushless hub motor kicks in, assisting you more gently as you start pedaling. There are disc brakes (on the 7-speed) or rim brakes (on the singlespeed) and an integrated light. The battery is hidden in the bike’s frame, a surprising feature compared to the bolt-on vibe of many bikes in this price range. Best for smoother roads and bike paths, the Soltera delivers the most essential features a city rider needs in a strikingly light 41-pound package.

Read Full Review

Best Step-Thru E-Bike

SCHWINN COSTON CE 27.5 STEP-THRU

Power: 250W | Weight: 55.8 lb. (small/medium) or 56.8 lb. (large/extra-large) | Top speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 35 miles

It took some time, but one of the most well-known bike brands has embraced the fastest-growing bike category: e-bikes. Judging by Schwinn’s first offerings, which are appealing, it should have made the move sooner. The Coston is one of several new electric-assist models that offer a lot of attractive features at a low price. This one has a 250W hub-mounted motor and up to a 35-mile range, making it a capable option for commuting, cruising, or exploring. There’s an integrated front light, and one on the battery that makes you more visible when riding at night. There’s also an easy-to-use control unit, 7-speeds, and mechanical disc brakes—nice features for the price.

Best Folding E-Bike

RAD POWER BIKES RADEXPAND 5

Power: 750W | Weight: 62.5 lb. | Top Speed: 20 mph | Range: Up to 45 miles

Rated as our top value pick among the best folding e-bikes on the market, Rad Power’s RadExpand 5 succeeds the RadMini 4, the brand’s previous folding model, in stellar fashion. Shedding almost 5 pounds and sporting a 750-watt motor, the RadExpand seeks the road less traveled with plush 4-inch tires wrapped around nimble 20-inch rims. A range of up to 45 miles makes this bike worthy of day-long excursions, and it folds up easily for storage or transit. The bike is also outfitted with fenders, a rear rack capable of carrying 55 pounds (almost the weight of the bike itself), and fully integrated front and rear lights, making this machine a more-than-capable city commuter.

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