Demystifying Low Budget eBikes
With e-bikes offering better value than ever and companies fiercely competing for the best value offering in the value stakes, it can be quite confusing to narrow down how much to spend and what features to expect, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, we are here to help by breaking down budget e-bikes into two broad price categories: low budget and lower mid-range. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect in each category and highlight the best value bikes available.
Low Budget eBikes – US$1000 / £1000
Undoubtedly, picking a bike in this category is quite challenging as there are many poorer quality e-bikes available below these price points. At Electric Bike Review (EBR), we tend to avoid recommending e-bikes in this range unless they stand out from the crowd. While there are even e-bikes selling for just a few hundred dollars, these may have even more compromised design or manufacturing quality compared to slightly higher priced options, which themselves can be of poor quality. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay are flooded with such cheaper e-bikes.
Typical complaints from purchasers may include parts that only last a few months, including the more expensive consumables like the lithium-ion battery. Additionally, the motors may feel underpowered compared to expectations, and dealing directly with a company in Asia can lead to waiting several weeks for replacement parts. Communication may be limited to email, and it can be uncertain who you are dealing with or where they are located. Warranty terms may also be unclear or nonexistent.
All of this isn’t to say that there aren’t satisfied buyers who have purchased low budget e-bikes. Some may even get a few years of use from their Ebay purchase. However, it is likely that the majority of these e-bikes end up broken or forgotten, either in the back of a garage or at a refuse tip. In other words, it can be a hit-or-miss situation.
The good news is that there are reputable companies producing e-bike models that just manage to fit into this category. These companies prioritize the quality and specifications of their e-bikes, have a physical presence in your country, and offer clear and transparent warranty terms. While you may not get mid-drive (which generally outperforms hub motors in terms of hill climbing and efficiency) or higher-end features like hydraulic disc brakes and multi-hub gears, you can still find an e-bike that will provide dependable service for many thousands of miles if properly maintained.
Swagtron – Affordable Quality
EBR has not reviewed any models from Swagtron and does not have personal experience with them. However, based on customer feedback, Swagtron appears to be one of the better ultra-low price point brands available. They also have a central point of contact in the US, although they exclusively sell online.
Some reviews suggest that Swagtron manages to use basic but reasonably durable components by cutting features. For example, they produce many single speed models with functional brakes, which is not always the case with ultra low priced options!
Online reviews seem to fall into two categories: those who have been delighted with their Swagtron purchase and those who have encountered difficulties when trying to resolve issues. Therefore, despite our recommendation, it’s important to consider the compromises in design and service at these lower price points when considering Swagtron e-bikes.
Lectric Xp / Xp Step-Thru – Superb Value for Money
The Lectric Xp is simply outstanding when it comes to value for money.
If You’re Willing to Spend a Bit More, the Lectric Range offers Incredible Value
If you can afford to make the step up from just a few hundred dollars to nearer US$1000 and you choose carefully you can get really outstanding value for money as shown by the Lectric range. They have kept costs low partly by offering just two models in two colours and even then the only real difference between the two models is the option of a step-thru frame.
In terms of getting the most out of your money, this e-bike has to be considered one of the best at US$999 when you take a look at the specifications; 4″ wide fat tires, a really powerful rear hub motor (with throttle assist up to 20mph and pedelec up to 28mph), a 500Wh frame-integrated battery, 7 derailleur gears, a carry rack, lights, mudguards, and even a kickstand… It even folds!
You can check out our full review of the Lectric range here and watch the video below:
BikTrix Swift Lite is Packed with Features for under US$1000
The BikTrix Swift Lite offers a lot of features for less than US$1000
Another e-bike that offers incredible value is the BikTrix Swift Lite, this time from Canadian company BixTrix. For just US$999, you have the option of a step-thru or diamond frame, a 350W rear hub motor, a 374Wh battery, and all the features you need for year-round e-biking, including lights, a rear rack, mechanical disk brakes, mudguards, and even a 30mm travel ‘unifork’ suspension. It also comes with a throttle, and the BikeTrix website suggests that all their bikes can be configured to class 1, 2, or 3.
Ride 1Up Roadster V2 Offers the Best Value Lightweight Belt Drive
Ride1Up’s Roadster V2 has to be the best value lightweight belt drive out there
At US$995 and weighing just 14.5kg with a belt drive, RideUp1’s Roadster V2 offers exceptional value if you’re looking for a lightweight single-speed urban style e-bike. What’s more, it’s advertised as a class 3 e-bike with assist up to 24mph. The relatively small 252Wh battery is the main drawback, and the dual pivot caliper rim brakes may require replacement after a few thousand miles, depending on the intensity of your rides.
**Ride1Up** managed to include a display at this price point, showcasing the current speed, battery life, and distance.
### Decathlon Riverside 500E £999 / €1200
**Decathlon’s Riverside 500E** is undoubtedly one of the most cost-effective hybrid / trekking style e-bikes available.
Decathlon, a French chainstore that expanded to cover the UK, Belgium, and Germany, offers a wide range of affordable e-bikes. Among them, the Riverside 500E stands out with its unique features – a torque sensor and hydraulic disc brakes. Torque sensing ensures smoother and more efficient power delivery, resulting in a smoother ride and extended battery range. Additionally, hydraulic disk brakes provide a controlled and seamless braking experience.
The Riverside 500E also boasts a generous 418Wh battery, front and rear lights, 8-speed derailleur gears, and compatibility with a rear pannier rack.
### Calibre Kinetic
**The Calibre Kinetic** is an excellent entry-level hardtail e-mountain bike.
The Calibre Kinetic, offered by UK outdoors retailer Go Outdoors, is a straightforward EU-spec pedelec with a maximum assist limit of 15.5mph. It serves as a great starting point for off-road ventures, providing sufficient performance without the need for a high-quality mid-drive capable of tackling extreme off-road conditions. Equipped with a Promovec geared rear hub motor, a 317Wh battery, a crank motion sensor, and 24 derailleur gears (3 x 8), the Kinetic weighs a respectable 21.2kg.
Notably, the hydraulic disk brakes and decently sized 317Wh battery are particularly impressive considering the price point.
The main competitors in this price range are the Carrera Vengeance-E from Halfords and Decathlon’s lower-priced Rockrider hub motor range. While the Vengeance-E, which I have also tested, excels in immediate power delivery, the Kinetic surpasses it in terms of hill-climbing power, gear range (465% vs 280%), Clarks hydraulic disc brakes over Textro mechanical ones, weight (21.2kg vs 22.6kg), and overall price-to-value ratio. Decathlon’s women-specific hub motor e-MTB, priced at £850, also seems like a great deal with its moderately powerful rear hub motor rated at 42Nm of torque. Though I haven’t personally tried any Decathlon models, the specifications on paper are certainly promising.
Lower Mid-Range eBikes – US$1000-US$2500 / £1000-£2000
In this price range, you have a decent selection of mid-drive eBikes, although the hub motor options should offer additional features like larger batteries or e-cargo and e-fat bike capabilities. As you move up the price scale, you’ll find higher quality hydraulic brake systems and better gearing systems. However, it’s worth noting that some bikes in this price range may have shorter guarantee periods.
With so many e-bikes available in this price bracket, we’ve identified the standout value options and the most affordable e-bikes in their respective categories:
Rad Power Bikes
Rad Power claims to be the largest e-bike manufacturer in the US, offering a wide range of styles, from e-fat bikes to commuters to e-cargo bikes, all focusing on providing value for your money.
Rad Power’s RadMission: Power and Battery Life
Rad Power’s RadMission is a single-speed e-bike that delivers good power and features a decent-sized battery.
The Single Speed RadMission
The RadMission, priced at US$1099, is their most affordable option. You can find our review of this bike here. It comes with a powerful rear hub motor that utilizes a 504Wh battery, as well as built-in lights and a kickstand.
Available in Europe and the UK
The RadMission is also available for purchase in Europe and the UK; click here for more information.
Rad Power’s RadRunner: Versatile and Affordable
Priced at US$1199, the RadRunner is an excellent budget e-cargo bike that offers a wide range of carrying options. Despite its affordable price, it boasts a rear rack rated to carry up to 54kg, a powerful rear hub motor, and a large 672Wh battery. However, it is worth noting that its weight of 30kg may affect its travel distance. The RadRunner also includes built-in lighting, including a brake light and a kickstand, but additional accessories like mudguards and pannier bags come at an extra cost. You can find this bike here in Europe and the UK.
Propella offers two models, both single and seven-speed, that are known for their lightweight design.
Propella’s Lightweight Models
Both the single and seven-speed models from Propella are remarkably lightweight for e-bikes.
Prices and Features
The single-speed model starts at US$999 and weighs around 35lbs (sub 16kg). It has a top speed of 18.5mph and is equipped with a 250Wh battery. Even the seven-speed version weighs only 37lbs (sub 17kg). Don’t miss out on the opportunity to preorder these bikes before they sell out.
Blix Bikes Starting from US$1499
A Versatile Option for Carrying Heavy Loads
The Blix Packa is equipped with a rear rack that can accommodate two child seats, with a weight capacity of 150lbs / 68kg.
At the beginning of 2020, Blix, based in Santa Cruz, completely shifted its business model to a direct-to-consumer approach. This change was made to ensure competitive pricing across their entire range, which has proven to offer exceptional value for money. In this article, we will showcase our top picks from their collection.
For just US$1599, you can get your hands on one of the most cost-effective e-cargo bikes available in the market – the Packa. This bike stands out due to its myriad carrying options and the availability of a dual battery system, which provides an astonishing maximum capacity of 1171Wh (although the extra battery comes at an additional cost). Such a feature is typically found only on more expensive e-bikes, particularly those that incorporate the Bosch dual battery system. The Packa also offers a wide range of accessories for carrying various items and boasts a loading capacity of 400lbs / 181kg.
The Packa falls under the classification of a class 2 e-bike and is equipped with a pure throttle mode, which can be extremely helpful when starting from a standstill with a heavy load. Other notable features include integrated lights, rear footrests/running boards, a tool-less adjustable stem, and a well-positioned and sturdy center kickstand.
Blix’s Sol: A Blend of Style and Comfort
Blix offers a beach cruiser style model called Sol, priced at just US$1499. This bike combines sporty performance, stylish design, and functional attributes to ensure a comfortable and effortless riding experience. Powered by a robust 500W geared rear hub motor and a sizeable 672Wh battery, the Sol boasts excellent rideability with its low step-thru frame, swept back handlebars, and wide profile tires. It is an ideal option for those new to e-bikes, offering great value for money. Similar to the Packa, the Sol features a fully-featured LCD display with USB charging capability for small devices.
The Sol can even handle substantial loads, thanks to additional accessories such as front and rear rack options, with the latter being able to accommodate a child seat. Furthermore, it is classified as a class 2 e-bike with a maximum speed of 20mph and offers a throttle option.
Aventon: Great Value Ranging from US$1099 to US$1599
The Aventon Pace 500 – Excellent Choice for a Class 3, 28mph E-Bike
A notable name in the Californian market, Aventon, offers a diverse range of budget-friendly e-bikes. Among their line-up, we were particularly impressed by the Pace 500, priced at US$1399. One remarkable feature of this model is that not all competitors in this price range offer class 3 e-bikes, making the Pace 500 a standout choice.
UK readers, take note that Aventon is now available in the UK through Brick Lane Bikes. You can find the EU spec version of this bike there, although its value may not be as good at £1499.
Sondors Fold X – it’s a fat bike that folds and comes with a big battery for US$1199
SONDORS directly sells bikes to consumers, offering hub motor models at two price points: US$1199 and US$1699. Their entire range is characterized by powerful motors, big batteries, and fat tires. Among them, the US$1199 Fold X stands out with its 20″ x 4″ fat tires, a 350W rear hub motor, a massive 672Wh battery, and the ability to fold in two for convenient transportation and storage.
Sondors X – with a huge battery, massive tires, and plenty of motor power for US$1199
If folding is not a requirement for you, then the Sondors X model is worth considering. For the same price, it offers even more motor power (500W) and battery capacity (872Wh). Both the Sondors X and Fold X belong to Class 2, 20mph assist models.
The Sondors LX offers an incredible specification for less than US$2000; it features a 750W mid-drive, front air shocks, and class 3 28mph assist – those who wait until June 2020 for shipping will hopefully not be disappointed.
The Sondors LX is an impressive-looking fat tire step-thru model that is currently in production. Although the shipping is scheduled for June 2020, we couldn’t resist sharing the pre-production specification. For US$2000, it boasts an unrivaled specification, including a 750W mid-drive, air suspension front forks, 26″x4.9″ fat tires, a truly enormous 1008Wh battery, hydraulic disk brakes, and integrated lighting.
Pedego – Starting from US$1695
Pedego operates over 120 locally-owned stores across the US and provides a five-year prorated battery warranty. This added value sets them apart from other e-bikes in this category that are priced lower. Moreover, you have the advantage of being able to test ride their bikes and receive local support if you can visit one of their retailers.
Pedego’s Element is a formidable e-fat bike
Pedego recently unveiled their latest and most cost-effective model, a US$1695, 20″ Class 2 (20mph with throttle) e-fat bike called the Element. It is equipped with a robust rear hub motor and a 408Wh battery. While it would have been nice to have more accessories included at this price point, Pedego is well-regarded for their excellent craftsmanship and powerful motors, so the investment is truly focused on the heart of the system.
BikTrix Juggernaut Classic and Stunner Cruiser Range
The BikTrix Juggernaut Classic stands out as the most affordable ‘power’ mid-drive available. This Canadian company offers the Juggernaut Classic at an unbeatable price. Notably, it boasts features typically found only on more expensive mid-drives, such as integrated lighting, rack, fenders, front suspension, and an 8-speed derailleur transmission. The base model includes a 696Wh battery with a 2amp charger, but larger battery options and faster chargers are available as upgrades. The Juggernaut Classic is powered by the Bafang 750W BBS02 mid-drive, which operates through both pedelec and throttle.
Their Stunner cruiser range is also worth considering for those seeking a reasonably-priced mid-drive option. Starting at US$2199, the Stunner X is described as an ‘all-terrain cruiser’. It shares the same Bafang 750W BBS02 mid-drive as the Juggernaut Classic and comes standard with a 700Wh battery.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u13zHJhrs00&w=942&h=530]
IZIP Vibe 2.0
The IZIP Vibe 2.0: Bosch mid-drive power without breaking the bank
The IZIP Vibe 2.0 is a class 1 pedelec, meaning it doesn’t have a throttle but offers pedal assistance up to 20mph. What sets it apart is that it is a ‘Bosch Bike’, guaranteeing market-leading, high-performance quality with a well-defined, rock-solid, 2-year battery guarantee. Additionally, it is equipped with the super quiet and efficient Bosch Active Line mid-drive. Other notable features include a sturdy integrated rack and a full chainguard.
Decathlon Rockridee EST520
An astounding value: an eMTB-quality mid-drive for less than £1500
eMTBs have gained tremendous popularity, yet one common complaint is the relatively high price for a quality mid-drive eMTB with true off-road capabilities. Enter Decathlon’s Rockrider E-ST 520, featuring a Brose T mid-drive with 70Nm of torque and other premium features like a rear thru-axle and hydraulic disc brakes. It also boasts a reasonably-sized 420Wh battery.
Cube, a German-based brand, is renowned for offering unmatched quality for the money. They exclusively use Bosch mid-drive motors and incorporate various own-brand accessories. Moreover, their manufacturing process focuses on efficiency to keep prices as low as possible while delivering exceptional e-bikes.
Powerful Bosch mid-drive, kickstand, mudguards, lights, hydraulic disk brakes, and front suspension – all for less than £2000
Our top choice among the sub-£2000 e-bikes of 2021 is the Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance 400 All Road priced at £1999. It is fully equipped for exceptional on and off-road performance, with the only drawback being its smaller 400Wh Bosch battery. Notably, it features the powerful Bosch Performance mid-drive, offering 65Nm of torque, which receives rave reviews. Many higher-priced e-bikes powered by Bosch mid-drives often feature the lesser power of the Active Line series.
Other sub-£2000 Cube e-bikes include the Town Hybrid ONE 400 priced at £1799 and the Touring Hybrid ONE 400 priced at £1899.
JORVIK ELite Jet E
This Jorvik model is a remarkable exception to the common price range for budget e-trikes, as many tend to exceed US$2500 / £2000. The JORVIK ELite Jet E features a folding frame and a 522Wh battery.
Stay tuned for more e-bike news and reviews, and thank you for reading!