Bicycles

Commuting 2.0: The best ebikes of 2019

Commuting 2.0: The best ebikes...
The Rayvolt X One is one gadget-packed example of 2019's best e-bikes
The Rayvolt X One is one gadget-packed example of 2019's best e-bikes
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The Rayvolt X One is one gadget-packed example of 2019's best e-bikes
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The Rayvolt X One is one gadget-packed example of 2019's best e-bikes

Electric cars and motorcycles may still be too expensive to switch to, but any trip through a major city's bike lanes will show you that ebikes have very much arrived. Expensive next to basic pushbikes, maybe, but electric bicycles are well and truly affordable for a broad range of riders, and they've opened up emissions-free, toll-free, parking fee-free cycle commuting to large groups of people that might never have committed to riding a bike otherwise.

What's more, research is beginning to show that ebikes are every bit as good for your health as regular ones, as counter-intuitive as that might seem. The main reason for that is that a bit of electric assistance tends to encourage people to get on their bikes more, and ride further. Heck, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool motorcycle tragic, but I commute as often on my little Bafang Ultra ebike as I do on my GSX-R or Speed Triple these days, and I feel the benefits every time I choose it.

So, if you're already electrified and on two wheels, then good for you! If you haven't succumbed to temptation yet, then perhaps this list of some of the year's most interesting ebikes might whet your appetite. And if you're still one of those doofuses complaining to anyone who'll listen that ebikes are cheating, kindly scroll to the comments and tell us exactly who's being cheated out of what.

Here are the ebikes that impressed us in 2019.

The Beasts: 2,000 watts and upwards

Delfast Offroad

The Offroad model has a familiar Delfast look, but sports fat, low-pressure tires for off-road adventures
The Offroad model has a familiar Delfast look, but sports fat, low-pressure tires for off-road adventures

This chunky little monster runs a 4-kW hub drive, ruling out any chance of legality in most areas. Built with hoops as fat as a trail bike, that's essentially how Delfast sees it. It'll do 45 mph (72 km/h), and cover as much as 110 mi (177 km) on a charge. Front and rear suspension, plus a hydraulic dropper seat, give it proper off-road chops, but it's a heavy fella, so don't plan to be whipping the Delfast Offroad over jumps.

Skoda Klement

Skoda's Klement concept e-bike
Skoda's Klement concept e-bike

The Skoda Klement is just a concept at the moment, largely because it's a road-focused machine with literally no category to fit into. With its 4-kW hub motor, it'll take off like an absolute rocket, even though it's speed limited to 28 mph (45 km/h). It's arguable whether this thing is even an ebike at all, because it's got no pedals. Instead, you tilt the footrests forward and backward to apply power and brakes. Your phone becomes the bike's screen, and the rigid frame is made all the more eye-catching thanks to single-sided front and rear swingarms. It's a weird bike, for sure, and possibly a glimpse at a kind of road-going electric moped we may see in the future.

Luna X-1 Enduro

Carbon frame, 2,000-watt mid-drive, high spec componentry, impressive price
Carbon frame, 2,000-watt mid-drive, high spec componentry, impressive price

Luna Cycles is a great place to shop for high performance on a budget. The first to bring the Sur-Ron Light Bee into the United States last year, Luna has backed it up with a practical and fun-looking range of machines, including this Chinese kit machine, the company's first enduro machine. A beefed-up, torque-sensing 2-kW Bafang mid-drive, RockShox suspension at either end and a dropper seat post give it serious off-road capability, but it's the price that'll impress the most: US$3,650 with the Luna X-1's set of specs is a helluva deal.

Scout Pro Hardtail

The Scout Pro e-mountain bike from Hi Power Cycles
The Scout Pro e-mountain bike from Hi Power Cycles

Seems Scout has been hotting up Bafang mid-drives as well, because what looks like a 1,000-W Bafang Ultra makes a full 3 kW in the Scout Pro Hardtail. I'd love to know how long the rest of the drivetrain lasts with 240 Nm of torque running through it!

The unaffordable but tasty

The Trefecta RDR

An Enviolo stepless hub gear system gives this thing the ebike equivalent of an automatic CVT
An Enviolo stepless hub gear system gives this thing the ebike equivalent of an automatic CVT

An absolute kitchen sink job, the Dutch Trefecta RDR offers switchable ABS braking, outstanding suspension, a CarPlay-enabled phone cradle, and a 920-W powertrain with a carbon belt and an Enviolo infinitely variable automatic transmission. It's a tank. It's also kind of funny to look at, and costs nearly ten grand.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition

The Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition is the range-topping model of Specialized’s new Creo family of e-bikes
The Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition is the range-topping model of Specialized’s new Creo family of e-bikes

Yes, that's an ebike – not that you could really tell by looking at it, or indeed by lifting it up. Thanks to carbon everything, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL weighs just 26.2 lb (11.9 kg). Heavy for a competition roadbike, sure, but featherweight for an ebike. Specalized built its own motor for this thing, ensuring there's no drag once the 240-W motor cuts out. It might look a million dollars, but it's yours for a mere $16,500.

Nua's "unlimited range" Electrica

The first Nua Electrica is already on the road in Houston
The first Nua Electrica is already on the road in Houston

Sure, the unlimited range thing is a bit gimmicky – it only "charges itself" if you let it sip power on your downhills – but the Electrica's nifty lightweight design, which puts the entirety of the electric system, including battery, sensors and motor, in the rear hub, is a cool idea. But it uses a bunch of titanium in the frame, fork and seatpost for lightweighting, so it comes out around $4,500.

Tern HSD S+

Tern's HSD S+, complete with censored Evolo IVT hub
Tern's HSD S+, complete with censored Evolo IVT hub

With fully adjustable ergos, an Enviolo infinitely variable auto transmission, enough modular carrying capacity to challenge a cargo bike, and a semi-folding system for tight storage and transport, the Tern HSD S+ is designed to be so uber-practical that it could replace your car. Mind you, for $4,999, you might as well just replace your car.

The gadget-oriented

We're told that the target weight of the Oslo is 20 kg (44 lb)
We're told that the target weight of the Oslo is 20 kg (44 lb)

There were so many gadget-based bikes this year that we'll pop them in a quick list and you can click through if you wish to learn more.

  • The Spinciti Amsterdam connects to your phone to deliver correct fitness data for fitness tracking apps.
  • The X One (pictured at the top of the page) unlocks itself with facial recognition, has head motion-activated indicators, and lets you pedal backwards for regen braking. It also looks very cool.
  • The Karmic Oslo (pictured above) has a fully enclosed chain drive, disc wheels and it frankly looks like it's from the future.
  • The Alter Bike doesn't charge at the wall – it uses hydrogen gas and a fuel cell for power.
  • The Calamus One has indicators, a touchscreen with Google Maps navigation, and a blind spot warning system that vibrates your handlebars.
  • The Xmera varies its level of pedal assist to keep your heart rate in the desired range.
  • The Stark Drive Torque has fingerprint locking and wireless phone charging.
  • Royal Dutch Gazelle and TU Delft have been working on a steering-assisted ebike to help old folks get around without falling over.
  • The odd-looking iweech ebike learns where you generally ride it, and analyzes distance, topography and other factors to set an assist level that'll get you to your destination without running out of battery.
  • The Gocycle GXi is a neat little fast-folding bike with a predictive shifting system that drops gears for you as you slow down, so you don't get stuck trying to take off in top gear

The surprisingly affordable

The RadRunner

The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299
The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299

Rad Power Bikes has absolutely dominated the ebike market in the United States with a philosophy of making the most affordable, practical, simple machines possible. The single-speed RadRunner costs just $1,299 with a 750-W hub motor, a chunky back rack and a 672-Wh battery – and it can be specced up from there with a big range of thoughtfully-designed modular add-ons.

Luna Fixed

From the right-hand side you'd struggle to pick the Luna Fixed as an e-bike
From the right-hand side you'd struggle to pick the Luna Fixed as an e-bike

With its sneaky 400-W mid-drive motor and carbon belt drive, the Luna Fixed offers a super-stealthy package that most folks won't pick from a regular bike, unless they sneak a peek at the left hand side. And Luna launched this single-speed commuter at just $1,750.

The iMiro Sivrac X-Framed folding bike

The Svirac e-bike has been six years in the making
The Svirac e-bike has been six years in the making

The iMiro Sivrac is the fastest-folding bike we've ever seen. Pull one knob, and it folds up in about a second for storage and transport. It's got integrated LED lighting, a removable battery, a companion phone app and some rudimentary front suspension, and it's ready to commute from $1,299.

Juiced CrossCurrent

The Juiced CrossCurrent S2 gets 50-100-mile ranges with pedal assist
The Juiced CrossCurrent S2 gets 50-100-mile ranges with pedal assist

There's nothing fancy about the Juiced Crosscurrent, but it's a super-solid commuter with a 750-W torque- and cadence-sensing hub drive, with a 52-volt, 676 Wh battery that'll get you up to 100 miles (160 km) of range if you run it economically, or 34 miles (55 km) if you forget to pedal and use the throttle everywhere. At $1,799, it's a terrific introduction to zero-emissions commuting.

11 comments
GordonHoffman
I rode my electric assisted bike to work for 10 years, except on rainy and snowy days. I have no suspension so it is lousy on rough roads, and it wasn't good for any cargo. Can you show these being used on rainy days?
Douglas Rogers
If you can ride up all of the hills it is a big incentive to commute.
Dan Bauer
Loz, i'm rockin' 700c x 30 90 psi studded tires up here in North Dakota - just wanna say your journalism has been the best I've read for the past 5 - 7 Years!
JeffK
GordonHoffman, Rad Power Bikes is based in Seattle and when we checked out their HQ store there while visiting relatives for Thanksgiving, there were dozens of locals shopping their Black Friday sale, and numerous sales while we looked around. The company wouldn't survive six months if the bikes couldn't be ridden in the rain; they wouldn't even be able to allow test rides nearly half the time with the city averaging 152 rainy days annually.
roddy6667
These prices are insane. Here in China you can get an electric scooter or bike for about $300 US. It has a range of almost 20 km. These vehicles are everywhere. My niece had one when she was single and lived at home. Now she is married and they have a car, but they kept the e-bike. Her husband lost his license for 6 months because he ran a red light and caused an accident. He used the e-bike to commute to work in that time. He is huge, about 6'2" and almost 300 pounds. It carried him fine. What does the $4000 ebike do that the $300 one can't?
Eric K
Very nice list, I hadn't seen Nua's Electrica... Titanium frame!?!?
Pauly G
good info but, would be nice to do an apples 2 apples. Range on all of them, cost, etc, regardless of each hitting different demographics. Can be bought in US, etc. Would love to be riding one of these to work, but comparisons on new tech are hard to find. Thanks, Love your articles.
Bill S.
The biggest problem I see in the U.S. is that our population of drivers are the worst in the world. Riding bicycles have landing me in the hospital THREE different times due to moronic drivers. However, riding motorcycles (Harley's) for over 52 years without a scratch, mostly on the freeways of L.A. . Love to have an electric bike, but hate hospitals more.
c w
1) the gentleman in the first photo is rooting a home that is not properly sized for him. That photo is currently driving me nutz.

2) @Roddy6667: let us know the model or show is a picture of the whole you're referencing, and perhaps we can tell you the differences better something similar for sale in the US. There are plenty cheap e-bikes and scooters around the US market, but they aren't what we would likely call "shop quality bikes". The components hanging off the frame do a lot to affect the price and, keep in mind, that one is likely to be able to find any bike with its constituent parts (or complete construction) in China for significantly cheaper IN China than in the US.
c w
(sigh)

"the gentleman in the first photo is rooting a home that is not properly sized for him"

I hate predictive text and touchscreens.