Best electric bikes for 2022
Our rigorous lab tests reveal the UK’s best e-bike motor systems, found on top electric bike brands such as Giant, Halfords and Trek. Find the ones that can truly support you, letting you go further with less effort
Electric bikes (also known as e-bikes) are a fantastic way to rediscover a love for cycling, let you go further and extend your enjoyment into your later years. They don’t come cheap, though, and we’ve found that some will take you much further than others.
Make the wrong choice and you could end up with an electric bike that will take you only 30 miles on flat ground, and won’t get you up even the shallowest of hills. However, the best we’ve tested will have you climbing hills with ease and power you along a flat road for nearly twice as many miles. Read on to find our why we test electric bike motors, the best motor/display combinations and some of the top brand models that have them.
The secret to choosing the best electric bike
The most important part of an e-bike is its motor and display combination. If this performs poorly, there isn’t much point in spending the extra money that an e-bike costs over a traditional bike. While there are many brands, there are only a few manufacturers (such as Bosch, Shimano and Yamaha) that produce e-bike motors.
Consequently, many models use the same motor and display combinations. Therefore, our independent lab tests focus on electric bike motors and displays. Armed with this information, you can narrow your search to just those that have the motor/display combo that you want.
Most retailer sites let you filter your search by the type of motor, but we’ve also listed a selection of e-bikes with each motor review, chosen from the most popular brands among owners.1 Be aware that some retailers will sell the same e-bike, but with a different motor. If you find one we’ve listed at a different retailer, we recommend you double check the specifications to ensure it has the motor you’re after.
Bosch Active Line with Purion display (400Wh battery)
Score: 65% Range: 32 miles Bikes with this motor include: Raleigh Felix Step-through Electric Hybrid (£1,900 at Halfords), Trek Verve +2 (£2,600 at Balfe’s Bikes), Trek District+ 1 (from £2,275 at Evans Cycles) Our verdict: The range of this motor and battery combination isn’t as extensive as some, but could be extended to 54 miles with a 500Wh battery.
The range is much shorter on steep hills, less than 10 miles on full assistance on a steep gradient. It’s a decent motor with no major flaws. The consistency and smoothness of the power delivery is a particular strength of this motor, and it’s also quiet. The Purion display, which has four assistance levels, is visible in bright conditions, plus it’s clear and easy to use.
Bosch claims this is a motor for urban travelling, and our test results agree. A bike with this motor will be great for someone wanting to get around town, but if you’re wanting to go for longer rides or off-road, take a look at a motor with a bit better more hill support.
Bosch Active Line Plus with Intuvia display (400Wh battery)
Range: 43 miles
Bikes with this motor include: Raleigh Felix+ Nexus Hub Step-through Electric Hybrid (£2,250 at Halfords), Trek District+ 6 (£3,050 at Trek Bikes), Kalkoff Image 5.B Move 2021 (£2,899.99 at Rutland Cycling)
Our verdict: The Bosch Active Line Plus motor will take you almost 43 miles on the flat and a little over 13 miles on a steep hill, when paired with a 400Wh battery. It’s a good, quiet, motor and very smooth with its power delivery. It also accelerates you quickly and without jerkiness up to top speed. The Intuvia display is the best we’ve tested. It has four assistance levels, provides clear information and is very easy to use.
A bike equipped with this motor and display is a good choice if you want an e-bike that you’ll use mostly for urban travelling, but will still hold up fairly well if you decide to go on a longer adventurous trip.
Bosch Performance Line with Purion display (500Wh battery)
Range: 40 miles
Bikes with this motor include: Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B Move (£1,889.99 at Rutland Cycling), Cube Nature Hybrid EXC 625 (£2,599 at Pure Electric), Haibike HardNine 4 2021 OUT OF STOCK (£1,999.99 at Rutland Cycling)
Our verdict: The Bosch Performance Line Cruise is the best all-round motor that we’ve tested. It’s a good pairing with the Purion display which gives four levels of assistance and is easy to use. When paired with a 500Wh battery, you’ll get 40 miles of riding on the flat on the maximum power setting. That drops to 16 miles on a steep gradient. You can buy this motor with 300Wh and 400Wh batteries, too, which will reduce the range of the bike, but you’ll still get the same smooth ride.
The motor accelerates exceptionally well, is one of the quietest we’ve tested and is brilliant at supporting on flat roads or hilly terrain.
How we test electric bikes
All of the e-bike motor systems we test are set up on a rolling road in a lab and put through an array of tough tests designed to simulate real-life use. We use the same setup to test all the different systems, so that you can easily see how they compare.
How we calculate electric bike range
Manufacturers may give a mileage figure on their electric bikes, but they often won’t publish the weight of the rider or the conditions they’re riding in. Trying to compare range with another bike is therefore almost impossible.
For our range tests we keep the following constant:
Weight of the cyclist (70kg)
Frontal area and air resistance
Rolling resistance of the tyres
A constant speed of 15.5mph is maintained when the bike is up to speed
When the bike is on a slope of 6% that speed is reduced to 11.2mph
You won’t find range figures for e-bikes that are truly comparable anywhere else.
We conduct our range and incline tests on three separate power-assistance settings:
100% assistance Motor is putting in the same effort as the rider
150% assistance Motor is putting in more effort than the rider
200% assistance Motor is putting in twice as much effort as the rider