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Best electric bikes in 2021 Best electric bikes in 2021

There’s been a lot of talk about the switch to battery-powered cars lately, but in the immediate future, the real revolution in electric transportation may be taking place on two wheels. Electric bikes, once just a novelty, have been rapidly growing in popularity due to the benefits of quicker commutes and longer leisure rides. Last year, consulting company Deloitte predicted that between 2020 and 2023, 130 million electric bikes will be sold around the globe.

How exactly do these bikes work? Basically, it's a standard bicycle outfitted with a motor that can provide a boost, sometimes called “pedal assist.” Think of it as regular biking with a power-up when you need it most—like a video game. That motorized push can be extremely handy when trying to surmount hilly terrain, haul groceries or simply go long distances.

Why should you get one? Well, for starters, they're a lot of fun. And you'll ride a lot more—even if you already ride a lot. According to a survey by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (PDF), a little more than 50% of bike owners in North America said they rode daily or weekly. But after buying an e-bike, that number soared to a whopping 91%. Which makes sense, right? Even the fittest athletes get tired and remounting your bike after a long ride can feel a bit daunting. These powered options let you continue riding while giving your legs a bit of a break.

And while the original electric bikes were all heavy cruisers favored by senior citizens, today's e-bikes are now lighter, more stylish and more powerful than ever. Plus, they're built for all sorts of cycling styles. To help you decide, we consulted some experts to pull together the best bikes for any type of rider or budget.

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The Best
Electric Bikes in 2021

The Tesla
of E-Bikes

It's streamlined and stylish; it's lightweight and forward-thinking. The cool urban commuter is crafted from carbon fiber with cleverly integrated front and rear lights. Designed by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, it delivers relaxed racing geometry for easy handling and maneuverability—all in just 26 pounds. Wide tires provide a smooth ride and a Mahle X35+ Smart E-Bike System provides all of the features and characteristics you want, plus ride data and tracking via the Mahle mobile app (which pairs nicely with Strava).

Prolog,
$4,500 by LeMond

The Gravel Bike

This is an electric bike that doesn't look or feel like an e-bike. It's light and agile, it can handle daily commutes or more adventurous trail rides on rugged terrain with ease. The Mahle drive system uses a 25-watt rear hub motor that's easily engaged when you need it and imperceptible when you don't. The integrated top tube controller lets you toggle through powering on the bike, selecting your assist level and checking your battery charge, all at the touch of a button—which keeps the handlebars clean and uncluttered.

Topstone Neo SL2,
$3,500 by Cannondale

The Bargain Bike

Especially if you're just dipping your toe into the world of electric bikes, you want one that's reliable and not too expensive, right? Propella's direct-to-consumer single-speed bike is the best cheap bike you can buy. It's not fancy, but it's still pretty good looking and has trustworthy components, such as a Panasonic battery and Shimano disc brakes. Plus, at just 35 pounds, it's fairly light for an e-bike. But just know that it ships partially assembled, so you may need a bike shop to assist with putting it together.

Single-Speed V4.0,
$1,099 by Propella

The Mountain Bike

Specialized's first pedal-assisted mountain bike takes design cues from the brand's most popular bikes and adds in industry-leading tech that gives you the power to ride more trails. It has a rigid, asymmetric frame that's longer in the front, to make pounding the downhills smoother (and safer), while the 500-watt motor's Smart Control system makes it easier to maneuver on tough terrain, and uses less battery power. The Mission Control app lets you easily custom-tune nearly every aspect of the bike, from monitoring your power use to performing basic system diagnoses.

Turbo Levo Comp,
$5,354.99 by Specialized

The Cruiser

These retro-styled cruisers have all the old school charm but are supercharged with one of the best-rated motors on the market. The 48V battery allows for plenty of power to be delivered to the motor when needed (like climbing a hill with a heavy load). The aluminum frame conceals all the wiring to keep the look as classic as possible. The whole bike can be customized and styled to your needs and tastes.

Model C,
$2,099 by Electric Bike Co.

Tax credit illustration

Time for a Tax Credit

Since 2005, the federal government has offered tax credits of up to $7,500 for hybrids and plug-in electric cars. But so far, financial incentives for e-bikes have only existed at the local level and, in one instance, state levels. But in February two congressmen introduced HR 1019, the E-BIKE Act. This would provide a federal tax credit of 30% of the purchase value of an e-bike (up to $1,500), which would no doubt get more people on these bikes.

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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