Jump Start: The 6 Best Electric Bikes

If there is a hell then it isn’t a fiery inferno where guys dressed in fetish gear poke you with farm implements. Rather it is going to be a place where you are eternally stuck in rush hour traffic with a radio that only plays the morning zoo crew and Justin Bieber B-Sides for eternity. There are few things more miserable about city living than dealing with traffic, but what if there was a better way that can help you exercise and yet give you motorized power? Enter the electric bicycle.

Known to the kids on the street as e-bikes, these have become an increasingly popular form of transportation. If you’re new to the game, these are standard bicycles that include a small electric motor that can either give you a boost on flat runs or when going up hills, or can entirely power the bicycle more like a scooter. They’re still in their infancy, but if you’re a commuter who is looking to add a little more sloth into your life, or just a bike rider who likes a little more power, consider investing in one of the 6 best electric bikes.

e-JOE Epik SE
e-JOE Epik SE
Pro: Inexpensive and saves space
Con: Very limited range

Li’l Buddy: City dwellers or those looking for a deal on a folding e-bike should probably put their stock in the Epik SE from e-Joe. This breaks from the pack by using a Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt battery to help power the rear-mounted hub motor that can churn the tiny 20 inch tires for 20-30 miles. When pedaling you have 7 speeds to play with attached to a Shimano Tourney transmission, which can greatly extend your distance if used properly. While it is built mostly for road use, it doesn’t balk at some of the tougher streets such as the hills in San Francisco or the notoriously rutted streets in the ghettos of Detroit (though expect to have it stolen if you go to the latter). Comes pre-equipped for all kinds of riding with fenders, lights, a cargo rack, and a suspension fork. For an inexpensive hunk of 6061 aluminum alloy with wheels, this is a steal and the perfect introduction to the electric bike world. [Purchase: $1,449]

IZIP E3 Path Plus

IZIP E3 Path+

Pro: Very upright design
Con: Limited feeling of torque when climbing

Working for a Living: IZIP is one of the better brands for any electric bicycle enthusiast with a model that can make speed demons and rock hoppers equally happy. Our personal favorite was the well-balanced E3 Path+. It has a built-in storage rack that works well for book bags, backpacks, or a full 30 pack of Pabst. It runs almost silently so as not to be a distraction on roadways and can run either in a full throttle or pedal assist mode depending on how slothful you feel. Riding range runs between 25 and 45 miles with a top speed of around 20 mph that won’t break any records, but does allow the bike to bear a smaller 500 watt battery that isn’t as heavy as faster electronic bikes. A Bombproof 8 Speed Shimano Altus system ensures that when you do pedal you’ll never be wasting motion. With multiple sizes and an overall upright feel, you won’t be doing any racing, but will be comfortable heading to and from the job. [Purchase: $2,200]

ProdecoTech Outlaw SS

ProdecoTech Outlaw SS

Pro: Large tires can handle most obstacles
Con: Wide and bulky

Mountaineer: This is in the mountain bike family but the 2.4 inch tires make it borderline fat bike and certainly place it well in the arena of trail runner and rough riding e-bike. The body is pure aircraft grade aluminum meant to run over obstacles, not around them, though it weighs in at 90+ lbs. Despite its sturdy appearance it can kick off with a top speed of 28 mph without pedaling and is sure to give the adrenaline junkie or off-roader plenty of push to crow about. An 8 speed SRAM drivetrain and full double-crown magnesium suspension make this feel almost like a motocross bike rather than a pedaler. The saddle and grips are both leather for a tougher feel and better longevity. For the money, you won’t find a sturdier or more fun adventure bike, but the commuter might find it a little beefy for weaving through traffic. A full charge gives you a bare minimum of 20 miles. [Purchase: $2,400]

Yuba elMundo

Yuba elMundo

Pro: Many motor settings
Con: Limousine long

Wide Load: The elMundo has a special fan base in parents who need to lug kids around or get groceries but don’t want to use their car or are hoping to drop some of the lbs which accumulate when you don’t have time to make more than frozen pizza or mac ‘n cheese for dinner. This combines the frame of a cargo bike with the 350-watt BionX hub-drive of a versatile electric bike that includes 4 full levels of power and pedaling assistance. The wide range of options lets you choose how much help you need depending on how big your load is. Crank it down for a solo jaunt or up when you’re trailing the stroller carriage or sundry freight. Though it comes in at 66 lbs. it still handles well, even with the wide stance and large wheel base. You can buy it with optional footboards and padded rear seats that let passengers take advantage of your jump onto e-bike buying bandwagon without having to do any work. You can expect a range of 20-40 miles which changes drastically depending on load and which pedal assist setting you use. [Purchase: $3,500]

Specialized Turbo S

Specialized Turbo S

Pro: Integrated battery and hidden connector cables
Con: No suspension

Speed Freak: At a glance, this doesn’t have the typical bulky body and extra external baggage that comes along with most electric bikes. Instead all of the cables are run internally, much like you would expect from a road bike meant for racing rather than a commuter bike. The battery is integrated into the downtube so as not to double down on the overall weight. If you want an alternative to the quicker pedelec models, then this is the answer to your prayers. The ride on this is smooth even though it can get up to 28+ mph when it is cooking along, but it purrs like a kitten making barely a peep as you whiz by. When you pedal you have 10 full gears to work through that can help give you a little more juice out of the Turbo Direct Drive motor. Formula R1 hydraulic disc brakes and a 180mm rotor give you both stopping power and getup and go. The only issue you’ll find is that the lack of a suspension can make coarse turf feel even rougher, especially at speed. [Purchase: $6,000]

Copenhagen Wheel

Copenhagen Wheel

Pro: Works with most standard bicycles
Con: Not a full bike

Game Changer: Rather than buying a bicycle that begins and ends its life as an electronic bike, the Copenhagen Wheel retro-fits your favorite road bike to make your own electric bike. Instead of using a throttle, this adds in a push as you pedal so that you can’t just sit back and ride, but also can get serious speed with just the effort you’d use for pedaling a paper route. Inside the wheel are a multitude of sensors as well as a Bluetooth wireless adapter that works with your smartphone so that you can change settings as you ride from an app. Internal sensors determine how hard you are pedaling and then kicking in the motor appropriately to give you more power. The harder you work, the harder it works. Inside the 26 inch or 700c rim is a 48V Lithium battery that can run for about 31 miles depending on speed and force. With just a little foot power you can get up to 20mph. Best of all, the overall weight is only 13 lbs. Note that the pre-order price changes according to supply. [Purchase: $949]

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