How to Select the Best Electric Bike for City? (with examples)

Last Updated on August 1, 2023 by Igor Karni

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City e-bikes are on a league of their own when it comes to what they bring to the table for urban bike riders. They, especially the good ones, bring unrivaled comfort and convenience for the daily commuter and leisure rider alike. 

Indeed, electric bikes for cities are less about power and hardiness and more about practicality and sufficiency. In short, they are designed with the urban landscape in mind. This fact basically ensures that they should be your number-one pick when you decide to buy an e-bike that you plan to ride regularly in the city you live in. This is also why they are a perfect match for cities that have well-designed and -maintained bike lanes. 

Of course, not all e-bikes for cities are built alike. And, for those who are looking to get the best value for their money, you really have to be meticulous considering a large number of models already available today. This takes knowing the factors and criteria that determine the overall quality of a city e-bike. 

Read also: Here is why e-bikes are really cool. And, How to select the best city e-bike (with examples)?

Top selection criteria for the best city e-bike

So what city electric bike will deserve the lofty “best” label? For this, you really have to pay attention to features that heighten comfort, components that make handling easier and boost safety, amount of riding range the battery can provide, warranty, weight, and, last but not least, the price

We will explain further how each one determines the value of any city e-bike. In the process, we hope that you will be given a well-rounded summation of an electric bike’s quality so that you can easily gauge your options and not have a hard time when deciding.

List of the best city e-bikes based on customer feedback

Model NamePriceRiding Range Weight
Rad Power Bikes RadCity Step-Thru$1,49925 – 45 miles (40 – 70 km)65 pounds (29.5 kg)
Riese & Müller Supercharger GX Rohloff HS$8,75960 – 160 miles (100 – 250 km)67.2 pounds (30.5 kg)
OHM Quest$3,69930 – 80 miles (50 – 130 km)52.9 pounds (24 kg)
CUBE Elly Cruise Hybrid 400$2,99930 – 60 miles (50 – 100 km)54.4 pounds (24.7 kg)
Magnum Ui6$1,69930 – 60 miles (50 – 100 km)60.1 pounds (27,3 kg)

City e-bikes should be the epitome of comfort

Almost all people who opt for electric bikes for cities are primarily casual riders. If you are one yourself, then you will probably agree that comfort is your main priority. But what exactly is comfort in terms of city electric bike riding? 

This can vary between riders, that much is certain. But, for most, it is that feeling of not having to break a sweat to get to your destination. 

Read also: How not to sweat on your e-bike commute? Trip planning – in this article, on the road – in this article, when you arrive – in this article.

As much as possible, you would not want to pedal too much. It can also mean being comfortable with the seat every time you ride the electric bike or the convenience it brings as you do your daily commute. Other aspects you should focus on are the handlebars and the weight of the e-bike, especially if you are riding an electric bike for the first time.

To get a clear view of how comfortable any model might be for you, you should, more or less, have a solid answer to the following questions before you settle on anything.

  • Do the seats provide adequate softness for you?
  • Is the e-bike just right for your size?
  • Are the wheels large enough? Wheel size is important because larger wheels actually make it possible for you to cover more distance with every pedaling action. At best, we recommend wheels that are, at least 26”.
  • Would you prefer a folding city e-bike? Foldables are necessary in cases when you have to take the train or go through walkways as well.

One great way to make sure that you will be comfortable with the e-bike is, of course, to take the time to test ride it. This is assuming there is a model available on hand to be test-ridden. 

City e-bike riding range is all about you and your habits

Riding range is arguably the second most important criteria that you should consider when buying a city e-bike. Which you really should be glad to know because a lot of first-time buyers are inclined to overlook this. For this, you have to look mainly at the battery. 

Most stores immediately list the riding range of the battery for your reference. Since it is a range, you can never expect it to deliver the exact mileage every time. There are far too many factors that determine this, after all, such as your riding habits, terrain, how much charge the battery has before you started riding, etc.

Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike range on a single charge? And, How fast are e-bikes?

Obviously, any model that can provide a maximum of 100 miles or more is already a considerably exceptional city e-bike. If getting as much range as possible is what you want, then do be on the lookout for affordable models that still manage to assure this. 

The general rule of thumb is for the city e-bike to provide just enough range to cover entire distances for your daily commute. If you plan to use your city e-bike for purposes other than commuting, you definitely have to be mindful of the range. 

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Speed and motor power are always welcome but there is no need to go overboard

Speed is not really a top priority by most urban e-bikers, but it is still important to take a look at it. At most, you just want enough to get around without going over the speed limits imposed in your city. This is especially true if you are guaranteed to ride through solely flat terrain.

An exception can be made, obviously, in the case of where you have to go through hilly portions consistently. Do take note that steep inclines do tend to take more toll on the motor and battery life simultaneously. How far do these inclines run? You may need to answer this question from the get-go so you will not end up buying an e-bike with inadequate motor power.

Read also: Can e-bikes help go up steep hills? And, How to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike?

Check the levels of assistance (or speeds) the motor offers. You may not require too many variations in assists if you will only be riding on generally flat streets often. Each change in assist has its own purpose, but going for higher numbers definitely translates to faster speed and a lesser need to exert effort when pedaling. 

Mid-drive motors will do for most cases, even if you have to negotiate steeper hills. 

The best city e-bikes never omit better handling and safety

This criterion is based a lot on certain components that the e-bike has integrated. Can the e-bike provide adequate lighting when you are riding on city streets at night? Are the breaks strong enough? Does it have bright brake lights? 

You may also want to consider getting a bike with a higher handlebar because it will require you to be seated upright. Most experienced city e-bike riders prefer models that encourage upright seating positions because they can let you smoothly check your surroundings while riding. This is usually not the case in sports or performance-oriented e-bikes; hence, this only proves city e-bikes are definitely purpose-built for urban riding. 

Models that come with locks are certainly more than welcome, especially if your city is not as safe as others.

Read also: Are electric bikes dangerous? What are e-bike risks? And, How safe are electric bikes?

City e-bikes readily showcase the innovative side of e-bikes with their advanced features

It’s always interesting how most brands incorporate technology into their e-bikes. And city e-bikes are but one of the best examples. Any additional tech added that can heighten comfort and make the riding experience more enjoyable is always welcome. 

You can immediately see the difference between mid-range and high-end models, as evidenced by the almost ubiquitous use of GPS, automatic torque sensors that help you prolong riding range, waterproofing components, and the ability to sync apps through the integrated display, to cite a few. 

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These are the models that really capitalize on e-bike technology, and the ones revolutionizing it, to the point that e-bikes are becoming more preferred than cars and motorbikes. That alone is enough proof of their worth. 

Lighter weight is always a popular choice for good reason

When considering weight, you have to anticipate any extra load you will be carrying. Most e-bikes are naturally heavier than average bikes. You have to keep this in mind if you are planning to buy one that also has a bike basket or an extra child seat. Do you prefer to ride with backpacks frequently? If you carry substantial extra weight most of the time, it would be wiser to lean towards lightweight models more.

Read also: How much can an e-bike carry? And, Can an e-bike pull a trailer?

If you are a beginner, it might take time for you to adjust to the heftier weight of most e-bikes while riding or carrying them (i.e. when folded). It won’t hurt if you can already get an inkling as to the amount of weight you can handle (plus the additional load). This underscores the need to test the e-bike as much as possible before buying. 

Price and warranty of city e-bikes are not to be underestimated

Based on our research, the cost and accompanying warranty of a city e-bike readily reveal its quality. More often than not, higher-end models really do trump the competition in terms of their ability to guarantee smooth urban rides, provide maximum comfort through their design and features, and have competent riding ranges that can the riders’ exceed expectations. These are practically all you need if you want the best e-bike experience in urban settings. 

The tech features and other added components found in more high-end models tend to make all the difference for a lot of riders. What is good is that these models also offer enough versatility that allows them to still be comfortably ridden even in rougher terrain. If you are the type of rider who sees the long-term economic advantages of owning a solid, first-rate e-bike, you will no doubt agree with this as well. 

Read also: How to select the best e-bike for your needs? Making your educated e-bike selection choice – and also in this article. And, How much does a good e-bike cost? Comprehensive e-bike pricing guide (with 46 examples).

What’s good is that there are definitely good mid-range city bike models as well as proven by the table above. Also, most high-end city e-bikes are comparatively more affordable than high-end variants of other e-bike types. In the end, it is all about making the most out of your budget, and you can easily do this by considering your wants and needs along with the other criteria mentioned here. You can expect to get a city e-bike that you will naturally regard as the best for you with this practice. 

A few words in conclusion

Paying attention to every criterion we mentioned above will surely help you gauge the value of a city e-bike in no time. This value, it’s safe to say, is largely rooted in how the e-bike can fulfill your needs while ensuring your safety and comfort in every ride. Everything else comes after. 

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