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The 5 best electric bikes for commuting, cargo and more

These safe ebikes are ready for commuting, cargo, passengers and anything in between.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, vary wildly depending on what you are looking for.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, vary wildly depending on what you are looking for.Getty Images

If you find yourself biking more often, you are not alone. According to a report from The Bike Adviser, leveraging data from the US Census and American Public Transportation Association, the number of commuters biking to work increased by 61% from 2000 to 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic boosted cycling growth and cycling revenue, particularly electric bikes revenue, skyrocketed.

But electric bikes aren’t cheap, nor should they be. Many act as vehicle replacements, doing everything from transporting kids to school to hauling groceries back home. That’s why we spoke with experts across the industry to hone in on what makes a great ebike, and what to look for when shopping for your own.

SKIP AHEAD The best electric bikes | How to shop for an electric bike | How to use an electric bike

Our top picks

How we picked the best electric bikes

To pick the best electric bikes, we narrowed our choices using the following criteria, informed by our experts:

Build: We only selected ebikes that use disc brakes, and favored ebikes with name-brand components repair shops will be more familiar with.

Price: To weed out problematic, low-quality ebikes, we only considered ebikes from more established brands that cost over $1000.

UL certification: In accordance with recent laws passed in New York City around ebike battery safety and certifications, we only considered ebikes that are certified in compliance with the UL 2489 standard. UL 2489 is one of many electrical safety standards developed by UL Solutions, a leading company in global safety science.

The best electric bikes

The best electric bikes in 2023 came from a mix of name brand companies like Cannondale and Urban Arrow as well as newer brands like Aventon and Velotric.

Best overall: Cannondale

Cannondale Adventure Neo 3 EQ

Pros: Versatile, friendly design

Cons: No bell included

Cannondale’s Aventure Neo 3 EQ is an electric bike that is extremely versatile. It can handle commuting, weekend leisure rides, grocery trips, bumpy roads, you name it, all thanks to its name-brand components and robust design.

The star of the show is the Neo 3 EQ’s Bosch Active line motor system. According to our experts, Bosch is a veteran, premium manufacturer of ebike motors most shops will be familiar with. Combine a great motor with an accessible step-thru design, front suspension, dropper seat post, and built-in lights, fenders, and rack, and this is a comfortable, easy to enjoy ebike.

Type: Class 1 | E-assist: Pedal assist (5 levels) | Est. Range: Up to 65 miles | Battery: 400Wh, removable | Charge time: 3.5 hours | Motor: 250W mid drive | Gearing: 1x9 speed, trigger shift | Brakes: hydraulic disk brakes | Tires: 650b x 2.20” | Weight: 57 lbs | Weight limit: 305 lbs | Sizes available: Small, large | Certifications: UL 2849

Best lightweight budget ebike: Aventon

Aventon Soltera

Pros: Affordable, sleek design

Cons: Mechanical, not hydraulic, disk brakes

Chris Nolte, owner of ebike shop Propel Bikes, mentioned Aventon as one of a handful of budget ebike brands making UL certified ebikes. The Aventon Soltera ebike is its sleek, lightweight model built for the city.

Urban commuters who want something fast, lightweight and simple can find a lot to love in the Soltera. It’s 43 pounds, much lighter than other ebikes, meaning carrying it up a flight or two of stairs isn’t impossible. Most of the cables are routed through the frame, and the front and rear lights are built into the frame itself, leading to a sleek look with less exposed bits and bobs. And it’s only $1200, very affordable for the features on offer.

Type: Class 2 | E-assist: Throttle, pedal assist (5 levels) | Est. Range: Up to 41 miles | Battery: 360Wh, integrated | Charge time: 4-5 hours | Motor: 350W rear hub | Gearing: 1x7 speed, twist shift | Brakes: mechanical disk brakes | Tires: 700c x 35c | Weight: 43 lbs | Weight limit: 300 lbs | Sizes available: Regular, Large | Certifications: UL 2849

Best budget heavyweight ebike: Velotric

Velotric Discover 1

Pros: Cushy, comfortable design, wide tires

Cons: Heavy

If comfort and price are your two deciding factors, Velotric’s top-rated Discover 1 is worth a look. Velotric is another budget ebike brand making UL certified ebikes, and the Discover 1 was their first product. It’s a high weight capacity ebike with a strong motor that makes climbing hills easy, according to the brand. The combination of swept-back handles, an upright sitting posture, wide tires, a wide seat and a front suspension make this a comfort-forward design. It also comes with fenders and integrated front and rear lights.

Type: Class 2 | E-assist: Throttle, pedal assist (5 levels) | Est. Range: Up to 65 miles | Battery: 691Wh, removable | Charge time: 6 hours | Motor: 500W rear hub | Gearing: 1x7 speed, trigger shift | Brakes: hydraulic disk brakes | Tires: 26” x 2.5” | Weight: 63 lbs | Weight limit: 440 lbs | Sizes available: One size | Certifications: UL 2849

Best cargo ebike: Tern

Tern Quick Haul P9

Pros: Excellent hauling performance, compact size

Cons: Tern accessories can be pricey

For hauling groceries, home goods, you name it: Tern’s ebikes are top-rated and ready for the task. Tern is a name-brand in the electric cargo bike space, used by many cargo messengers in cities like New York City.

The Tern Quick Haul P9 is one of their newer models, and offers excellent performance in a lightweight package. Despite weighing 50 pounds, the Quick Haul P9 can carry over 300. It’s Bosch motor and battery provide ample torque and great range, according to the brand. The design is also user-friendly, with a low, step-thru frame, double-sided kickstand, built-in lights, fenders, rack and more.

Type: Class 3 | E-assist: Pedal assist (5 levels) | Est. Range: Up to 65 miles | Battery: 400Wh, removable | Charge time: 4 hours | Motor: 400W mid drive | Gearing: 1x9 speed, trigger shift | Brakes: hydraulic disk brakes | Tires: 20” x 2.15” | Weight: 50.5 lbs | Weight limit: 330.7 lbs | Sizes available: One size | Certifications: UL 2849

Best family ebike: Urban Arrow

Urban Arrow Family Cargo

Pros: Excellent for transporting kids, reliable

Cons: Heavy and long, takes getting used to

If you need an ebike that can comfortably transport kids (or adults), Urban Arrows’ Family Cargo bike is one of the best. While it may look unusual, this type of passenger bike is commonly called a “box bike” in places like the Netherlands.

This bike is filled with premium, high-end parts designed with heavy loads in mind. One unique feature is the gearing — there are no traditional gears with this bike, simply a range you adjust within at any time using the twist shifter.

For a bike this size, and for this task, think of it more as a car replacement. And with add-on accessories like rain covers and extra benches, this bike can replace car trips year round.

Type: Class 1 | E-assist: Pedal assist (5 levels) | Est. Range: Up to 50 miles | Battery: 500Wh, removable | Charge time: 6 hours | Motor: 250W mid drive | Gearing: Enviolo Heavy Duty continuous, twist shift | Brakes: hydraulic disk brakes | Tires: 26” and 20” x 2.4” | Weight: 112 lbs | Weight limit: 551 lbs | Sizes available: One size | Certifications: UL 2849

How to shop for an electric bike

Electric bikes can be expensive, and are often a replacement for another kind of transport. As such, it’s important to know how they work and how to ride them safely, in accordance with the law. Our experts honed in on a few important areas of knowledge to focus on when shopping:

Understand the ebike class system and regulation

All of our experts say repeatedly that shoppers should understand the rules and regulations around ebikes in their state. For example, over 10 states require ebike riders to have a license. Many states have minimum age requirements to operate an ebike.

Most states regulate ebikes using the three-class system, where ebikes are categorized as either class 1, class 2, or class 3 bikes depending on their top speed and electric assist. Depending on local laws, there may be restrictions in place for where and how you can ride your class 1, class 2, or class 3 ebike. When in doubt, we recommend buying a class 1 ebike, as they are the most common, easiest to ride, and currently have the least amount of legal restriction.

PeopleForBikes has a helpful breakdown of all 50 state’s specific ebike laws here.

Check for ebike certifications

Ebikes that are certified in compliance with UL standards should have a sticker or label somewhere on the bike indicating this certification. Look for this type of certification when shopping online or in-person. There are multiple independent labs that certify ebikes, but two of the most common you’ll see in the US market are UL Solutions and TÜV Rheinland Group.

All of our recommended ebikes are certified in compliance with the UL 2489 standard. This narrowed our choices significantly as, outside of New York City’s new law, UL 2489 is a purely optional certification within the US. Many of the bike brands we reached out to are currently going through the UL 2489 certification process, and expect certification later in 2023. As such, we expect a much wider selection of UL 2489 certified ebikes in the near future.

Check the ebike’s components

All ebikes inevitably need maintenance. Unless you happen to be a bike mechanic and an electrician, you are going to need to take your ebike to your local bike shop for yearly maintenance or special repairs.

This is one reason why our experts recommended ebikes made with name-brand components like Bosch, Shimano and Tektro. “Oftentime bike mechanics will not service something if they do not know what the components are or where they come from,” says Ash Lovell, electric bike policy and campaign director at PeopleForBikes. “If they can recognize the brands, they’ll feel more comfortable servicing it.”

Give it a test ride

All of our experts recommended test riding an ebike if possible. Most bike retailers offer this service, and it is the fastest way to discover how a particular ebike feels to ride, and if it is the right one for you.

Check for ebike incentives

Nolte and Lovell both recommended shoppers pay attention to local ebike incentives. While there is no federal ebike tax credit (yet), states like California, Colorado, Connecticut and others offer ebike tax credits that can save your thousands of dollars.

How to use an electric bike

If you’ve recently purchased a new ebike, there are a few things you should keep in mind to get the best possible experience, whether you're on the street riding or at home charging.


It helps to know how to ride a traditional bike before riding an electric one, says Lovell. But if you are dusting off your biking skills with a brand new ebike, “find a place without traffic, away from pedestrians, where you can practice handling the bike,” says Alison Dewey, the director of education at the League of American Bicyclists. She also recommended finding a bike class where you can build your confidence and learn safe riding tips from an instructor.

Ride safely

“Predictability is a key safety measure on any type of bike,” says Dewey. Knowing basic rider etiquette like hand signals is crucial to staying predictable to the traffic you are sharing the road or path with. “When you are in a congested area, you’ll need to slow down. When you are turning, you need to signal. All of these pieces of rider safety and etiquette are important,” says Dewey.

Of course, wear a helmet. Research by the National Transportation Safety Board found helmets reduce serious head injuries by 50 percent. If you don’t have one, check out our guide to the best bike helmets.

If you do get into an ebike crash of any kind, “take [your bike] into your local repair shop or retailer and have them check it out,” says Lovell. “Sometimes there can be problems that you can’t necessarily feel or see while you're riding, but they can degenerate over time.”

Charge smartly

Charging an ebike isn’t like plugging in your smartphone by your nightstand: there are a few rules you should follow to maintain a safe and healthy battery.

First, do not charge your ebike unattended. That includes charging it overnight in the other room while you're sleeping. If you are charging your ebike, only use the provided charger, and plug it directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord or power strip.

While extremely uncommon, battery fires are possible, especially when poor charging habits are combined with low-quality or secondhand, non-certified ebike, according to our experts.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Chris Nolte is the founder and owner of Propel Bikes, an ebike retailer with locations in New York, California and Delaware. He founded the company in 2011, and has placed an emphasis on ebike education for both consumers and legislators.

Ash Lovell, Ph.D., is the electric bicycle policy and campaign director at PeopleForBikes, a Colorado non-profit that represents over 320 different bicycle supplier members.

Alison Dewey is the director of education at the League of American Bicyclists, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating safer roads and stronger communities for bikers in America.

Why trust NBC Select?

Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at Select who has ridden bikes around New York City for years. To better understand ebikes and their complexities, he spoke with experts across the biking industry, including bike sellers, manufacturers, industry representatives and educators.

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