Tested: The Three Best E-Bikes
Save a tree, ride an e-bike
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Electric mountain bikes may still be contentious on the trails, but there's no good reason why you shouldn't get a commuter with a little extra oomph.
Stromer ST1 X ($4,999)
Best For: Geeks with a need for speed.
The Test: The ST1 X epitomizes integration. The futuristic aluminum chassis, complete with through-axles, hides a high-capacity 618-watt-hour battery in the chunky down tube, a proprietary 500-watt motor—among the most powerful on the market—in the rear hub, and an LCD touchscreen in the top tube that displays battery level and assist power. With the accompanying app (Android and iOS), you can tune the engine performance to make it accelerate faster or maximize efficiency. You can also lock out the brakes, so it can’t be rolled away by thieves, and track the bike via the built-in GPS, should it go missing anyway. Of course, all that technology—plus beefy fenders and a bombproof rack—comes at a price: the ST1 X is the heaviest option here, and parking it can feel like muscling a Harley.
The Verdict: With a range of up to 75 miles, this is a top-shelf daily driver for technophiles. 63 lbs
Faraday Cortland ($3,499)
Best For: Bike snobs.
The Fest: We love that Faraday managed to combine the chic simplicity of a step-through Dutch roadster with the technological advantages of a pedal-assist motor. The key is the diminutive 306-watt-hour battery behind the seat and 250-watt front hub motor, which together preserve aesthetics while delivering a surprising amount of kick. That scaled-down electrical system also keeps the weight low, making this fun to ride even with the motor off (a good thing, since the range is only 20 miles). The Cortland was obviously designed by cyclists, as the Gates belt drive, eight-speed Shimano Alfine drivetrain, and Continental Contact tires are parts we’d hope for on any bike, pedal-assist or not. Our only niggle: the taillight is so low that the rear wheel almost blocks it from view. On the other hand, the double kickstand is the best here.
The Verdict: The future of e-bikes—beautiful, lightweight, and fun. 42 lbs
Juiced CrossCurrent ($1,499)
Best For: True utilitarians.
The Test: Here’s proof that quality e-bikes don’t have to be a pain in your wallet. It’s not the sexiest ride, with the 374-watt-hour battery tacked onto the down tube like a growth, but the 340-watt motor in the rear hub offered plenty of torque. The standard battery setup is rated at 25 miles on a charge; however, the lowest power settings added very little assistance, so we opted for higher settings and got a little more than half that range. We were most impressed by the rigid version of the bike, called the CrossCurrent Air, which ditches the suspension fork (and three pounds) and switches up the electronics, which reduces the price to $1,095.
The Verdict: An e-bike for everyone. 51.5 lb