When does it Make Sense to Buy the Cheapest Electric Bike?

Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Igor Karni

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When considering purchasing an e-bike, it is understandable to want to stay on the more affordable and cheaper end, rather than shell out thousands for one. However, there are certain components – for both safety and efficiency – that should be considered before choosing a cheaper option. This article will address some components to look out for before making your final decision! 

Should you buy the cheapest electric bike? Buying a cheaper e-bike model makes sense if you are an occasional e-bike rider, do not plan to cover long distances and rough terrain on your e-bike. You should also not compromise on safety, efficiency, and longevity features that will make sense for how you intend to use your e-bike.

Here is a summary table with several affordable e-bike model options, which yet still offer a good price-to-quality ratio:

E-bike modelE-bike categoryE-bike price
Aventon Pace 350City / step-through1099 USD
Aventon Pace 500City / commuter1399 USD
Green Bike USAFoldable1075 USD
Propella V3.4City / commuter1299 USD
Gravity X-RodCity / step-through1299 USD

Things to consider about cheaper e-bikes 

Before deciding which e-bike to go for, or which price range is within your best interests, it’s important to consider a few things first.  

Differences in e-bike components

One undeniable factor is that the higher quality batteries, electric drive systems, and e-bike components, the higher the price will likely be. Since the battery and drive system is crucial to your e-bike’s usability and safety, this is something you don’t want to sacrifice when it comes to price and quality. 

It is also important to have high-quality brakes and wheels/tires because these are also crucial to your balance and the ability to stop and go effectively, which tie directly into your safety while maneuvering your e-Bike. 

Read also: Why are e-bikes so expensive? And, What is the difference between cheap and expensive e-bikes? And, Will e-bikes become cheaper?

Easy E-Biking - Canyon Endurace:on AL e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Canyon

Some e-biking experts have even offered some general ranges for certain e-bike components. For example, a low-quality grade wheel can start at $4 each, a mid-grade at $12, and a higher grade at $40. Cheap brakes can be as low as 80 cents per wheel, mid-level $9, and high quality $25. For crank and pedals, at the low-end, this can be around $3, middle at $14, and high at $40. 

For motors, cheap off-brands can be as low as $15-20, a trusted Bafang is around $100, and the higher-end Panasonic is around $150 – $200. For saddles and seat posts, this can range anywhere from $1.50 – $30. Chains can range from 30 cents to $10, and bottom brackets from 50 cents to $19. Lastly, for a headset and fork, the cheaper set is around $6, medium at $12, and high grade at $35. 

Differences in e-bike motor and battery weight and efficiency

Another thing to keep in mind is that lower-end e-Bikes tend to have heavier and less efficient batteries that tend to be on the lower end of the mileage range. 

Read also: What is the difference between e-bike batteries? And, How far can e-bikes go? What is the e-bike range?

Cheaper e-Bikes may also have a lower quality motor, which often means there is less power-on-demand, resulting in a poorer acceleration in comparison to a more expensive one. Typically, a motor and battery that have a higher price mean that they are better quality and that your e-bike’s longevity will be greater. 

E-bike motors and batteries for different types of rides

Choice of e-bike motors

For those looking to commute in the city or go for leisure rides, something to consider is the type of motor in your e-bike. Hub motors are the most common and are made to fit any existing e-bike frame, whereas mid-drive motors are more expensive and require a special frame to mount. 

Easy E-Biking - Vanmoof e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Vanmoof

Typically, mid-drive motors are better for mountain e-biking as they can better overcome hills and uneven terrain, so if you are riding on flatter terrain, within cities, or for leisure, you don’t have to go out of your way to get an e-bike with a mid-drive motor and instead can go for a hub motor (which will save some money overall!). 

Read also: Front, mid-drive, or rear e-bike motor. Which one to choose? And, What is the difference between e-bike motors?

However, keep in mind that if you are looking for an e-bike that can tackle rougher landscapes, mid-drive motors tend to offer a more balanced and controlled e-biking experience, since these motors are more centered on the e-bike, whereas hub motors are placed on the front or rear of the e-bike. 

As well, according to many e-Bike riders, Bafang is a trusted leading manufacturer in e-Bike components such as motors and is always a reliable choice for e-bike models. Other components by brands like Shimano, Bosch, and Samsung are also reliable choices. 

Choice of e-bike batteries

Next, when it comes to batteries, riders should be sure to check the battery range (or, maximum mileage per charge) on an e-Bike model before purchasing. Depending on your lifestyle, preference, and type of e-Bike rides you are planning to go for, it’s important to account for your own optimal mileage beforehand. Cheaper batteries will tend to give you less mileage, whereas more expensive ones will tend to give you more.  

Easy E-Biking - Decathlon ELOPS 500 low frame e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Decathlon

Another thing to consider about batteries it that lithium-ion batteries are the most common and efficient batteries on the market, currently. This is because these batteries minimize the e-bike’s weight, thus making it easier to cycle and have optimal range and longevity.  

Choice of e-bike brakes

It may also be worth considering the difference between mechanical disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes. While mechanical are perfectly reliable, they use a cable pull system for braking, whereas hydraulic use fluid to transfer force. Typically, e-bike riders note that hydraulic brakes are more efficient at stopping, offering better/safer control for riders. 

However, hydraulic brakes tend to be more expensive than mechanical ones, so consider this as well before buying. Riders should note that one of the big benefits of an e-bike, which is equipped with an electric system, means you can cycle at a higher speed than on a traditional bicycle: but this also means that you will need to rely more heavily on high-quality parts like your brakes (in order to stop quickly and smoothly).

Is there a cut-off e-bike price?

One good determining factor for buying a cheaper e-bike, a factor that is recommended by riders and experts alike, is that going below $1000 USD for an e-bike may be risky. 

Since most e-bikes use lithium-ion batteries, which are fairly pricey, having the overall cost still be under $1000 may indicate that the manufacturers are cutting corners on the e-bike elsewhere, which could be detrimental.  

Read also: How much does it cost to own an e-bike? And, What is the difference between cheap and expensive e-bikes?

Another detail to remember is that where traditional bicycles do not have a battery and motor, e-bikes do, which is a huge factor as to why the base prices go up significantly between the two options. 

Easy E-Biking - Decathlon Rockrider E ST900 e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Decathlon

As well, since e-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes, this means shipping costs are higher too, factoring into the overall cost. Therefore, it’s important to adjust expectations when it comes to e-bike prices versus traditional bicycle prices because having a reliable electric system is extremely important to rider safety and e-bike longevity. 

Budget-friendly e-bike models to consider

Below are a few e-bike model options that are within the $1000 – $1400 USD price range, which is on the cheaper end of the price spectrum, yet still offer a good price to quality ratio. 

Aventon Pace 350 

Easy E-Biking - Aventon Pace 350 electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Aventon

This lightweight design e-bike offers a step-through frame (making for easy mounting and dismounting), with a lithium-ion battery that offers a range of 35 miles per charge. This model is ideal for cruising, commutes, and city rides. The Aventon Pace 350 comes with a 500W rear hub motor, mechanical disc brakes, a Shimano rear derailleur, and 7-speed shift levers. 

  • Price: $1099 USD 
  • More details for this model can be found here

Aventon Pace 500 

Easy E-Biking - Aventon Pace 500 electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo courtesy of Aventon

Though this option is at a higher price point, it comes equipped with many high-quality features. From hydraulic disc brakes to a powerful 750W rear hub motor and a lithium-ion battery that offers a 40-mile range, the slightly higher price is justifiable given its quality features. 

  • Price: $1,399
  • More details for this model can be found here

Green Bike USA Folding e-Bike

Easy E-Biking - Green Bike USA folding electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

This model is a folding e-Bike, which is optimal for city-dwellers and those with limited storage space. It has a 350W hub motor, a Samsung lithium-ion battery, and Shimano 6-speed gears. Its tires are suitable for all weather conditions.  

  • Price: $1075 USD 
  • More details for this model can be found here 

Propella V3.4 (7-Speed) 

Easy E-Biking - Propella electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

The Propella V3.4 7-Speed comes equipped with a lithium-ion battery that allows for a range of between 25-40 miles. It also has a Bafang 250W rear hub motor, mechanical disc brakes, a 5-level pedal assist, and a Shimano derailleur and shifter. 

  • Price: $1,299 USD (*note: the Single Speed option is $1099) 
  • More details for this model can be found here 

Gravity X-Rod 8 Speed E-Bike 

Easy E-Biking - Gravity X-Rod electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

This e-bike comes with hydraulic disc brakes, a lithium-ion battery, a Bafang 350W rear hub motor, and a 20 – 45-mile range. With wide tires and a comfortable custom design saddle, this model’s features make it an affordable option while still being of high quality. 

  • Price: $1,299 USD 
  • More details for this model can be found here

A few words in conclusion

Ultimately, if you are a rider looking for a cheaper e-bike model, you can definitely do so! However, be sure to understand which compromises you may be making, if any, while choosing your e-bike. 

At the end of the day, it is not recommended to sacrifice safety whatsoever, so be sure to keep certain main components in mind – such as the motor, battery, and brakes– to ensure optimal safety. 

However, the longevity and purposes of your e-Bike are entirely dependent on your lifestyle, and you should be sure to choose an e-Bike that will help to serve your personal purpose! 

Read also: Ever considered offering e-bike as a gift? Or gifting one to yourself? Check out our suggestions – in this e-bike gift guide.

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