Electric bikes compared: How to buy the best e-bike

Shopping for an electric bike but confused by the different styles? Our guide to the best e-bikes around helps break it down for you.

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Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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Andrew Lanxon
3 min read
Watch this: Our pick of the best electric bikes around

Even the humble bicycle hasn't escaped the clutches of modern technology. A whole herd of new e-bikes with electric motors are taking to our cities' streets. Adding a motor to a standard cycle does ramp up the price significantly, but it takes much of the effort out of cycling, making your commute to the office a sweat-free experience and allowing you to sit back and enjoy your cruise.

I've been putting some of the best examples to the test to help you work out what you need to consider before you splash your cash on a fancy new ride.

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GoCycle G3: Compact and modern

First, think about what you need your bike for -- if it's just for a short city commute, in among traffic, then consider a smaller frame that's easy to manoeuvre through cars. The GoCycle G3 (right) is impressively nimble and its electric assistance will help propel you up to 15 mph (24 kph). Better yet, it has built-in lights, automatic gears and you can customise the amount of power the motor provides using a phone app.

Best for: The gadget-loving commuter

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Mando Footloose IM: No chain, no gain

The Mando Footloose IM (above) has a similar compact style, with a frame that's easy to steer. The battery is removable too, allowing you to easily charge it up without having to move the whole bike near a wall socket.

The Footloose has no chain, however -- it's entirely electrically driven. It takes very little effort to get to your destination, meaning you arrive at work without having broken a sweat. The downside is that when you run out of power, you're not going anywhere. And pedalling from a standstill, waiting for the motor to kick in, is an odd sensation that takes some getting used to.

Best for: The lazy rider

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Cyclotricity Wallet: Folds down for your office

If you're taking your bike inside, consider one that folds up. The Cyclotricity Wallet has a motor in the front wheel, which takes you up to speed either by assisting your pedalling, or you can sit back and use the throttle by itself. Its folding design makes it slightly easier to get in and out of a building, but its hefty weight means you still won't find it easy to carry onto public transport.

Best for: The office cyclist

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Coboc Rome: Stylish and hassle-free

For a more stylish ride, cast your eyes over the Coboc Rome. It's a full-size bike, with gorgeous stylings, and large wheels that let you pick up plenty of speed on the road. It has a fuss-free approach too, with its automatic motor assistance -- all you need to do is get on and ride. It's very much like any fixed gear bike you'll see on the streets, but with the additional motor, it's less effort to get about.

Best for: The fashionable city rider

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Cyclotricity Stealth: Built for rough terrain

If you're more concerned with conquering the countryside than the commute, Cyclotricity's Stealth is the one for you. It's a full-size mountain bike, with aggressive tyres and suspension on the front forks to absorb the rocks and bumps on the trails. It's comfortable to ride, and its motor can either give you assistance while you ride, or you can just hit the throttle to rocket over hills with no effort on your part.

Best for: The speed-loving adrenaline junkie

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Volt Infinity: A classy all-rounder

Finally, if you want a bike that's equally at home on city streets as it is on country pathways, the Volt Infinity is the bike to go for. Its large wheels and front suspension forks make for a comfortable ride and its smooth, electric gears and responsive motor make it easy to get up to speed.

Best for: The country cruiser

Regardless of what you choose, always keep safety in mind and never ride without a helmet. For more information on all the featured bikes, including prices, check out the full reviews.