An electric bike amplifies your pedalling effort. So while you can ride steeper hills or longer distances without working up a sweat, you still get some aerobic exercise. You choose how much help you receive using a switch on the handlebar. The more power you draw, the shorter the range. Most will comfortably manage 25-40 miles on a full battery, and all cost pennies to recharge. The electric components do ramp up the initial cost; at this price, expect a basic but serviceable bike with motor in one of the wheel hubs.
Carrera Crosscity Electric bike
The Crosscity looks like a standard 20-inch wheel folding bike. It’s heavier (18kg) because of the rear wheel hub motor and the battery concealed in the frame. The maximum assisted speed is the same as any other European-legal e-bike (15.5mph) but the range is modest at ‘up to 30 miles’. Given that you can fold the bike to fit a car boot or train luggage rack, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cyclescheme Price £487.50*
Pulse Urban Leisure ZL-2
The entry-level Pulse e-bike is commuter-ready, with integrated lighting as well as mudguards and a rack. The riding position is stately, thanks to a high, backswept handlebar, and the wide tyres and basic suspension fork will take the sting from bad roads. Range from the 250W rear hub motor and 36V 320Wh battery is 20-35 miles. The ZR-2 is the same except for the frame, which has a top tube.
Cyclescheme Price £674.25*
B’twin Elops 900 E Step-over
Some budget e-bikes have dodgy electric cabling; the B’twin’s is routed through the aluminium frame, which prevents problems from snagging. The bike ticks all the commuting boxes, adding a kickstand and quality lighting powered by the rack-mounted battery. Mechanical disc brakes are a rarity on budget e-bikes, and worth having due to the bike’s weight. The 250W motor is in the rear hub, and range is 25-43 miles. It’s also available with a top tube.
Cyclescheme Price £749.25*
Raleigh Array Crossbar Hub Gear
There’s a Raleigh Array with 1x7 derailleur gearing for £150 less, but this version should require much less drivetrain maintenance, thanks to a 7-speed Shimano Nexus hub gear and a chain case that will keep the oil where it belongs. The 250W front hub motor will provide assistance for up to 67 miles. Integral lighting and a kickstand add convenience, while the 40mm tyres will cope with potholes and chipseal. A step-through frame version is available.
Cyclescheme Price £1,000*
Giant’s entry-level e-bike has a step-through aluminium frame, with a 250W motor in the front hub. Its rear rack-mounted 300Wh battery will power that for up 50 miles on the lowest setting (‘eco’). You can fine tune the relaxed riding position as there’s an adjustable stem. It’s a relatively simple bike, with a rigid fork, V-brakes and 1x8 derailleur gearing, but it’s well executed and comes with mudguards and lights.
Cyclescheme Price £1,049*
An e-bike that folds provides sweat-free cycling wherever you’re going and however you’re getting there.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty. Choose wisely and you can buy a decent new commuter bike for £250 or less.
When your bike folds to the size of a suitcase, your cycle-to-work strategies will be different. Here are some tips.