Even before the pandemic, people were starting to ditch public transportation and private cars for alternative modes of transportation. This has contributed significantly to the rise in demand for electric bikes.
As recent studies have shown, e bikes are the most efficient and least expensive form of personal transportation, and they provide riders with a ecologically sustainable and convenient mode of daily transportation that doesn’t use fossil fuels or require costly registration and insurance.
There are so many options available in the market these days, and buyers often spend way too much money on their first electric bike, assuming that higher prices mean higher quality and performance. But this is rarely the case.
You can find excellent electric bikes for under $2,000, and even some very good, budget e bikes for under $1,000. What is the best electric mountain bike under $2,000? What is the best cheap ebike? How can you avoid buying a truly bad cheap electric bike? Keep reading to find out.
In this article we dispel some myths about ebike pricing, especially when the words 'cheap ebike' are thrown around. We believe that the best value electric bike is the one that boasts impressive specs and comes from a reliable brand, but does not break the bank.
With over 200 ebike brands on the market today, finding these affordable gems can make this task can be daunting. We're here to help.
The cost of a new electric bike can range from a few hundred dollars, to well over $10,000. Within this wide range, there are certain tiers or price points for e bikes that consumers should be aware of.
At the very low end of the market, you have truly cheap ebikes ($500 or less) listed on mega sites like Amazon, Walmart, eBay and Aliexpress. These models typically come from generic Chinese brands that sell on these marketplace platforms.
Some of the "brand names" found on these platform sites include Vivi, Hiland, Engwe, Ecotric, Polarna, Heybike, Velowave, Sohoo, Zpao, Paselec, Ancheer, Eahora, Addmotor, Sixthreezero, Gforce, Speedrid, NBpower, Vitilan, Wookrays, Alomejor, Tbest, Kunray, Vtuvia, and TB Vechi.
To achieve these crazy low prices, manufacturers must cut corners by using inferior components and often shoddy construction methods.
We do not recommend buying from these sites or sellers. The products are often direct imports from China (not warehoused in the US).
The products are often of shoddy design and workmanship, and there may be no supporting documentation, such as assembly guides and owner's manuals.
People selling these products are not able or unwilling to provide pre-purchase information or after-sales support.
This is so important when shopping for an electric bike. But that’s a main part of their cost-savings strategy, to not bother with phone calls or customer emails.
However, there are a few Chinese brands that manage to produce good quality, budget e bikes for less than $1,000, including the Natko and Fiido brands. Aostirmotor also has several models for less than $1,000, including the popular A20 folder and S03 city commuter.
The next price point tier is between $1,300 and $2,000. In this price range you will find a wide selection of class 2 ebikes to choose from.
Many of the bikes in this price range feature premium components and special features, such as brake sensors that automatically cut power to the motor when the brakes are engaged.
Rad Power Bikes is the largest brand of ebikes in the US, and many of their models fall into this category.
Bikes in this price range also come with accessories, such as fenders, lights, racks, and longer-range batteries.
If you want a bike in this price range but do not have the cash on hand, consider using PayPal Credit, which will give you 6-months of interest free financing.
The next price point tier is around the $2,500 mark. Bikes in this range will feature such premium components as hydraulic disc brakes, longer-range batteries, mid-drive motors with higher power ratings, and high-quality suspension. A good example of an ebike in this tier is the Fat-HD by Eunorau.
The Fat-HD feature the powerful 1000W Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor; Promax XD-E200 hydraulic disc brakes with automatic motor cutoff sensors; a long-range 48V/15.6Ah battery which mounts aerodynamically to the downtube; and a left-side thumb throttle with a 12-magnet cadence sensor.
The Revi Cheetah is another ebike that comes in under $3,000. The Cheetah has a bespoke retro frame reminiscent of 1960s cafe racer motor cycles, fat tires, and a powerful 750W rear hub motor.
Finally, there are a class of ebikes that cost over $5,000. These models are often designed for a specific use case, such as hunters, who demand the highest build quality and other specialty features not found on lower-priced units. Models at this price point include the Bakcou Mule, which was voted most favorite ebike for bow hunters in the last several year. In 2022, Bakcou introduced the Rohloff internally-geared hub as an upgrade option to the Mule and the Storm fat tire electric hunting bikes.
Research shows that consumers tend to believe that price is an indicator of quality. As noted above, the price for good electric bikes can be wide ranging. Good electric bikes can be found for under $1,000, although you might have to make compromises when it comes to the feature set. It is also important to recognize that price is not a direct indication of quality. For instance, you might find two bikes with very similar specification, which may have widely varying prices.
One reason for this is the business model of the manufacturer. Some brands have special contracts with their factories, maintain their own warehouse facilities, and have other business practices in place that allow them to offer bikes at lower prices. They may also have widely varying expectations with respect to their returns on investment. Another factor is brand prestige, where a brand prices their products high to create the perception of enhanced value. This can clearly be seen in the luxury car market.
Are ebikes really that expensive? When compared to other forms of personal transportation, such as cars and motorcycles, an electric bike can be considered quite affordable. Some ebikes are even cheaper than high-end conventional bicycles.
There are a number of factors that affect the price of electric bikes. The most expensive component on an ebike is the lithium-ion battery. These batteries use a variety of exotic chemicals and materials to function, and they are expensive to produce and manufacture. Ebikes also have more components than a conventional bike. In addition to the battery, you have the battery charger, the motor, the controller, and the display. These parts all cost the manufacturer money, and they have to factor that into the price of the ebikes they sell. Likewise, ebikes must be designed to resist water infiltration, which is also an added cost that is passed onto consumers.
Another factor that people often forget are ebike tariffs. As much as we hate it, the Trump-era trade war tariffs which were finally implemented for electric bikes on January 1, 2021 are forced many brands to increase their prices, and past those operational costs onto consumers. The added 25% expense raised the price on many models by between $100 and $250 per unit.
As with most technologies, mass adoption and technical advancements have a downward pressure on prices. Remember how much cell phones cost when they were first introduced? In countries like Holland, sales of electric bikes are now higher than conventional bikes. We believe that advancements in battery technology, as well as more adoption of ebikes in the US, will ultimately drive down prices.
We like to think that there is an ebike for every budget, and we do our best to help people find the perfect electric bike to meet their budgetary requirements. We carry ebikes starting at $699.
Electric bike batteries are the most expensive component on an ebike, and the greater their capacity (measured in amp-hours) the higher the price. When you buy a new ebike, the battery and charger are included.
However, if you want to purchase an extra battery to extend your range, or need a replacement ebike battery, you can expect to pay at least $500. Larger capacity batteries may cost as much as $800 per unit. If you are looking to replace an old ebike battery, you should consider getting the battery packed with fresh cells. There are several companies that can test and rebuild your batteries, for much less than buying a new one.
We’re sorry, but there are no electric bikes for under $100.
We believe that the Nakto brand has created one of the best cheap electric bike lines available today, starting at $699. But in our opinion, the Nakto Santa Monica is the best electric bike for the money. The Santa Monica is a powerful street cruiser, featuring 26" x 3.0" cruiser tires with knobby treads, perfect for unpaved roads and trails.
For just $1,098, the Santa Monica is a next generation classic cruiser. It has a swooping frame, with front shocks and the battery integrated into the downtube. The sweptback handlebars are super comfortable, allowing for an upright riding position with relaxed shoulders and arms.
The Santa Monica offers many features usually found on much more expensive ebikes. The bike is outfitted with a 500W rear hub motor, paired with a 48V/10Ah battery for hours of riding adventures per charge. You can ride the Santa Monica like a conventional bike, using the 6-speed drivetrain. But when you need a boost, this electric bike delivers. You can activate the 5-level pedal assist system (PAS) while pedaling, or simply give the right-side twist throttle a twist, and off you go, no pedaling required.
Trek is one of the largest ebike brands, and they intentionally target the premium tier of the market. Their least expensive ebike is the Verve+2, which starts at $2,850 at the time of this writing. Verve+2 features an integrated battery and mid-drive motor, and other premium components. However, has noted above, prices do not always translate directly to quality, and many brands target upper-middle class consumers who have lots of disposable income.
The battery is one of the most critical parts of an electric bike. Without it, you would not be able to power the motor and enjoy the pedal assist system or throttle power. All ebike batteries make use of lithium-ion cells, which are lighter, more compact, and have a higher energy density than their sealed lead-acid (SLA) predecessors.
Lithium-ion batteries are priced mainly in terms of their capacity (measured in amp-hours). A battery with more amp-hours will give you a longer range per charge, which you can calculate using our Ebike Range Calculator. Lithium is a highly reactive element, which means that a lot of energy can be stored in its atomic bonds. This is why such batteries are described as having a high energy density. Similar batteries are found in cell phones, laptop computers, and other modern electrical devices. And if you ever needed to replace one of these batteries, you know how expensive it can be.
The ebike industry in the US is fragmented, with many small competing companies and no single dominant player. This is good for consumers, since it results in a larger diversity of products on the market, and more competition. This also helps in controlling prices to some extent.
But each of these companies has its own unique business structure, and their costs of production, distribution and marketing can vary widely. And many of these brands sell their bikes through dealers - online and brick & mortar - who themselves might offer things of value such as free shipping, coupon codes, and other marketing incentives.
But here’s the kicker: You may find two nearly identical ebikes from different companies, priced several hundred dollars apart. The bikes may have the same value, but their prices can vary greatly.
Where you shop for your ebike can have a big impact on how much you pay, and the value you receive. It’s important to keep in mind that the value you receive is not just the price of your ebike, but the customer service and support you can expect to receive, especially if there is a warranty issue.
The current market for electric bicycles is made up of five broad channels, including:
Brick and mortar stores. Traditional bike shops hold inventory and sell bikes exclusively from their physical store or warehouse. These businesses have the overhead costs of rent, insurance and staff, which can impact how much they charge customers.
Click and mortar stores. These are bike shops that hold inventory and sell their ebikes from a physical store/warehouse location and through their website. These businesses have the same expenses as traditional bike shops, but also the challenge of managing sales through multiple channels. Like other bike shops, they have bike techs on staff that can help you find the best fitting bike, and provide after-sales service.
Ecommerce sites. Online stores that do not have a physical presence sell via websites and fulfill orders directly from the warehouses of their brand suppliers. These sites do not have to pay rent, but they still have expenses such as maintaining their website and online advertising. The prices advertised on these sites are usually set by the brand, but they are more likely to offer discounts than physical retailers. The level of customer service can vary substantially from one online retailer to the next. Really Good Ebikes (RGE), the site you're on now, is a leader in this category!
Ecommerce platforms. Ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target allow third-party sellers to use their platforms to make sales, and often provide warehousing and fulfillment services to these sellers. These platforms are known for selling budget brands from China. These may be cheap ebikes (often under $1,000) not known for being high-quality or a true value.
Direct from China. It is hardly news that most ebikes are built in China. And now you can buy ebikes directly from China, through websites like Aliexpress. The prices can be very attractive when compared to ebikes sold in the US, but delivery times can be well over a month, and you should not expect anything but the bare minimum of customer support.
For rear hub fat tire ebikes, there are still a lot of options to choose from, but which is the value for the money? Our first choice would be the E-Fat-Step from Eunorau, which retails for $1,299. The E-Fat-Step is a folding fat tire bike with a low-step frame design for easy mounting and dismounting. It sports a 500W rear hub motor, which will give you a powerful boost when climbing hills or riding through soft surfaces such as sand or snow.
The E-Fat-Step is often compared to the more expensive RadMini Step-Thru 2, which retails for $1,499. While it’s true that the Radmini has a 750W motor and 2Ah more battery capacity than the E-Fat-Step, we do not think these features are worth an extra $200. Another bike that is comparable to the E-Fat-Step is the Ram SS from Emojo, which retails for $1,899. The Ram SS also has a 750W motor, but it’s battery capacity is less than both the E-Fat-Step and the RadMini.
Next up, let’s check out a few mid-drive fat tire mountain bikes, and see which one is the best value electric bike. This is a very popular category with many options to choose from, so let’s dive in.
First, it’s important to know that the mid-drive ebikes are at the high end of the price range. There are a number of reasons for this. Mid-drive motors are more expensive than rear hub motors, the batteries paired with them are often of higher capacity and longer-range, and the bikes typically have heavy-duty frames that are ideal for hunting applications.
The #1 most popular mid-drive fat tire mountain bike among bowhunters is the Bakcou Mule. Retailing with a base price of $5,147, this is anything but a budget ebike. And yet, it might be one of the best ebikes for the money.
The Mule was designed and engineered around the unparalleled power and performance of Bafang's Ultra mid-drive motor. The Ultra motor is widely recognized as the “diesel engine” of mid-drive motors! It’s all metal, heavy-duty gearing, combined with the intelligence of an integrated torque sensor, make the Ultra motor the most capable, durable, and efficient motor on the market today.
Don’t be fooled by the 1,000W nominal badge on this mid-motor. Under the hood, the Bafang Ultra is capable of pulling 1,600W from the battery using only its stock settings.
The Bafang Ultra torque rating is also crazy good. At 160 Nm, this motor is far and above the best mid-drive on the market. The best and latest models from other industry leaders, including Bosch, Brose and Panasonic, are only now reaching 90 Nm. That translates into wheelie popping, seat-of-the-pants thrill riding that most people have never experienced before on an ebike.
For comparison purposes, you could check out the QuietKat Apex, which features the Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor and retails for $5,499. Or you could search for the best electric mountain bike and find models that range from $6,000 to over $10,000. Crazy!
From the perspective of value, we think the Eunorau Fat-HD fat tire mountain bike is a winner. At $2,399, the 1000W Fat-HD is one of the least expensive mid-drive fat tire e bikes on the market. It is a true adventure bike.
It features the same Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor found on the R1000XPC, as well as a 48V/15.6Ah downtube-integrated battery. There are also options to get a second battery at very good prices ($470 for the 48V/16Ah option, and $670 for the 48V/21Ah option).
The Eunorau Fat-HD comes with hydraulic disk brakes, a left-side thumb throttle, 5 levels of pedal assist, RST Spring suspension fork with lockouts and 100mm of travel, fenders and a rear rack.
Folding electric bikes are another very popular category in the world of e bikes. They are designed to fold into a compact form, making it ideal for transport and storage.
Folding bikes have a hinge and clamp mechanism in the middle of the frame, which allows the frame to be folded in half. Some folding bikes also have a folding tiller - the part which the handlebars connect to - which allows for an even more compact folded dimensions.
As mentioned above, the E-Fat-Step is a great fat tire e bike for the money. It’s also a great folding e bike, and at $1,299, it’s a pretty good value.
The City Premium folding ebike from Green Bike Electric Motion is a real winner in this category. It’s built for comfort and style, but is also quite affordable and a good value at $1,699.
The City Premium has a 6-speed derailleur and can be ridden like a conventional bike. It was a comfortable upright riding posture, and you will really enjoy the large, spring-loaded gel saddle and suspension seat post. The ergonomic grips are a pleasure to hold, and all the controls are laid out nicely on the handlebar for easy operation.
When you’re ready for a boost, the City Premium will help get you to your destination in style without breaking a sweat. It features a 350W rear hub motor, and a long-range 48V/15.6Ah battery. The battery is removable, so you can charge it while on or off the bike.
Other features of the City Premium that make a premium e bike are the magnesium alloy rims, hydraulic disc brakes, fenders, a rear rack and bright headlight.
At $1,699, the City Premium might not seem like a bargain. But when compared to some of the other premium folders on the market, it is. The Pedego Latch folding e bike retails for $2,795, and the Evelo Dash, also a 350W folder, starts at $2,899.
The last bike in our roundup is the Big Dog from Green Bike. This beast of a folder sports a 750W rear hub motor, and is perfect for hilly rides on rutted and rocky trails. Not only will the fat tires absorb bumps in the road, but with a full-suspension frame, the Big Dog Off-Road is going to give you more comfort than a hardtail ride.
The fat tire folding e bike category is very popular, and there are tons of models to choose from. So why do we consider the Big Dog to be a good e bike for the money? Well, check out some of the competition. There is the Quietkat Bandit, which also has a 750W rear hub motor, but no rear suspension. It retails for $2,699. And the Maxfoot MF19 goes for $2,599.
So when it comes to fat tire folders that are a good price for the money, there’s no beating the Big Dog Off-Road.
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