The Best E-Bikes For Beginners

E-bikes are pretty magical and every rider should experience the joy of riding with a bit of extra boost. If you're looking to make the leap and buy your first E-bike, here are the best brands and models to consider.

The Best E-Bikes For Beginners

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
E-BikeCommute

A Trek Domane+ HP. Photo: Trek Bikes

E-bikes make you feel like a cycling superhero. They allow you to go faster and use less energy, and they are perfect for tackling everything from a daily commute to big adventure rides. Best of all, they’re just plain fun. 

Whether you're looking for a commuter, a fitness tool, or something to help you explore, there’s an E-bike that’s perfect for you. Need help picking the right E-bike? No problem. We’ll cover what beginner E-bike riders need and pick out a few of the best beginner-friendly E-bikes from our inventory. 

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Good beginner E-bikes should be…

Affordable but high-quality

The number one question every prospective E-bike rider asks is, “How much will it cost?” When shopping for a regular bike, I normally suggest that new riders spend $1,000-3,500 on their first bike. But if you add an electric motor to the mix, it's going to increase the price. 

If you’re looking for a good first E-bike, I think riders should budget at least $1,500 but potentially be prepared to spend in the range of $2,000-5,000 if you want to ride a high-quality or high-performance bike. Sticker shock? Well, you’ll soon discover that E-bikes less than $2,000 are considered “cheap.” 

Of course, you don’t need to spend this much. But if your goal is to ride regularly, rack up miles, and put your bike through the wringer, this price range will get you a bike made within the last 5-7 years that is modern, reliable, resellable, and most importantly, safe. It will be easier to use and maintain, and won’t need any immediate repairs. Plus, it will keep you stoked to continue riding.

We recommend shopping for E-bikes made by reputable manufacturers and built with mainstream cycling components. They’re less likely to break down and if you do need to repair your bike, it will be easier and cheaper for bike shops to service and source replacement parts. 

For reputable brands, big players like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Orbea, BMC, Santa Cruz, Rocky Mountain, Norco, Canyon, and Serial 1 top our list. There are plenty of smaller brands worth checking out too. Just explore our inventory to see the 30+ E-bike brands TPC carries

For E-bike motors we trust motors made by the following manufacturers:

  • Brose
  • Bosch
  • Fazua
  • Giant
  • MAHLE
  • Shimano
  • Specialized

Hopefully, these recommendations give you a good starting point. If you stick with these brands, you can be confident that you’re buying an E-bike that will satisfy your needs, be easy to live with, and go the distance. 

Class 1 or Class 3 E-bikes

Most E-mountain bikes like this Orbea Wild are Class 1 and that's more than enough. Photo: Orbea

E-bikes are divided into classes depending on the level of motor assistance:

  • Class 1: Pedal-assist only. The motor provides assistance up to 20mph.
  • Class 2: Pedal-assist mode up to 20 mph and a throttle-powered mode.
  • Class 3: Pedal-assist only. The motor provides assistance up to 28mph.

TPC does not carry Class 2 E-bikes that use a throttle, so this article will focus on Class 1 and Class 3 E-bikes that are pedal-assist only. Also, many bike trails in the U.S. also only allow pedal-assist E-bikes (check your local E-bike laws!). 

It’s called “pedal-assist” because when you pedal the electric motor engages to assist you with a boost of power. The harder you pedal, the more the motor assists you. Like a regular bicycle, you control your speed with your feet so there’s no learning curve. They also tend to be safer because there’s less risk of whiskey throttling into obstacles or other road users. 

The main difference between Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes is the “top speed” of 20mph vs. 28mph. Top speed is in quotes because you can go faster by pedaling harder or going down a steep hill. The motor will just stop helping you. This limited top speed means E-bikes are still classified as bicycles instead of motor vehicles that require licensing and registration. You will be able to tell whether they are Class 1 or Class 3 by the top speed listed in the specifications.

Class 1 E-bikes are the best choice for most riders. They are the most common and the most universally accepted. You can ride a Class 1 e-bike on city streets and many bike paths. Access to mountain bike trails varies around the U.S., but Class 1 E-bikes are the only type allowed in most areas.

Class 3 e-bikes are good for riders who need to keep up with car traffic, fast group rides, or just have a need for speed. They are the fastest e-bikes that don't fall into the motorcycle/moped/scooter category. Depending on your state, these may not be legal to ride on bike paths.

The right size

Measured Size

Frame Size

Min Rider Height

Max Rider Height

13” / 43-47cm

XS

4' 10"

5’ 2”

15” / 48-51cm

Small

5’ 2”

5’ 6”

17” / 52-55cm

Medium

5’ 6”

5’ 10”

19” / 56-58cm

Large

5’ 10”

6’ 2”

21” / 59-63cm

XL

6’ 2”

6’ 5”


Riding a bike that’s slightly too big or too small sucks. So try to buy the correct size. If your E-bike fits you, it will be more comfortable and easier to maneuver. This will make riding more fun and encourage you to use your E-bike more. That’s a good thing! If you need more guidance than a basic size chart, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Bike Sizing or contact our expert Ride Guides at rideguides@theproscloset.com, or call us at 866-401-9636 for one-on-one sizing advice. No matter how good the price looks, it’s a bad deal if the bike doesn’t fit you. 

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Best Beginner City / Commuter E-Bikes

City and commuter E-bikes are designed to maximize comfort for cruising around town. They often adopt comfy upright riding positions with flat handlebars. They might also have racks for carrying panniers and other luggage to your destination and fenders to keep you dry in wet weather. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Specialized Turbo Vado

Specialized Turbo Vado

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The Turbo Vado is what I consider the benchmark for city E-bikes. It’s comfy, fast, and versatile, and the Specialized Turbo 1.3 motor is a proven performer on Specialized’s burlier mountain E-bikes. If you’re looking for something even comfier, or want to tackle a bit of gravel, then the big-tired Specialized Turbo Como will fit the bill. 

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Orbea Kemen Mid SUV 

Orbea Kemen

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Pavement, dirt, gravel, even light singletrack, the Kemem Mid SUV is designed to tackle it all with knobby tires and front suspension. It uses Shimano’s torquey Steps motor so go ahead, load it up and explore the urban jungle, or the actual jungle if you want. 

Serial 1 Rush/CTY SPEED

Serial 1 e-bike

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Serial 1 is the E-bike offspring of Harley-Davison motorcycles. Harley took a slightly different approach to E-bikes, with a stylish frame inspired by the American brand’s early motorcycles. The Rush/CTY SPEED is a Class 3 speed machine that I absolutely loved riding. Need something simpler? Then check out the super fun singlespeed Mosh/CTY. 

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Momentum Vida E+ Low Step

Momentum Vida E+

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Made by Giant, the Vida uses Giant's smooth SyncDrive Life motor and provides an upright riding position and low step design that plays nice with everyday clothes. It has an 8-speed gearbox, hydraulic disc brakes, and wide and cushy 26” tires to easily navigate any urban setting.

Giant FastRoad E+

Giant FastRoad E

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If the Momentum is a bit too avant-garde, then check out Giant’s more classic-looking FastRoad E+. Not only is it built to be a comfy tourer with cushy 27.5” wheels, but it’s also a speedy Class 3 bike so it can get you to your destination a little bit faster. 

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Best Beginner Road E-bikes

Road E-bikes are more high-performance than their commuter cousins. Like regular road bikes, these will use drop handlebars that provide more hand positions including a lower aerodynamic position in the drops. Many road-focused E-bikes are also Class 3 bikes because they need to handle the higher speeds encountered during serious road riding. If you want to escape town and explore miles of open roads, then these are the right tools for the job. 

Trek Domane+ HP

Trek Domane+ HP

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The Domane+ is an all-day endurance bike that focuses on comfort without sacrificing speed. This Class 3 Domane+ HP has more power than the Domane+ LT and will assist you up to 28mph. Put that power on an OCLV carbon frame that excels on climbs, descents, and sprints and you have a true speed machine.

Giant Road-E+

Giant Road-E+

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Giant is the world’s biggest bike manufacturer so they know how to deliver high-performance bikes with great value. The Road-E+ is no exception giving you Class 3 speed, big range, and high-quality components (Shimano Ultegra in this case) for a super competitive price. 

Specialized Turbo Creo SL

Specialized Turbo Creo SL

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“SL” stands for “Superlight,” and at just a touch over 31 pounds the Turbo Creo SL is significantly lighter than most E-bikes. Despite being Class 3, it uses a smaller motor and battery so there’s less torque and range, but that’s the whole point. It’s designed to be just enough to enhance your ride without overpowering it.  

Orbea Gain

Orbea Gain

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The Turbo Creo SL is pretty discrete, but for those that want their E-bike to truly resemble a normal bike, there’s the Orbea Gain. A well-hidden Class 1 MAHLE ebikemotion 35 hub-mounted motor provides a slim silhouette and low weight. It has just enough boost to help you ride farther and stay pinned to fast groups.  

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Best Beginner Mountain E-bikes

E-mountain bikes are exploding in popularity because they let riders explore trails that might be inaccessible to them otherwise. They’re also great for trail riders who are short on time or who want to dedicate more of their energy and focus to descents. Because E-mountain bikes have suspension and other specialized off-road components, they tend to cost significantly more than other E-bikes. Fortunately, high-quality certified pre-owned options can get you the performance of a $10,000 bike for half the price. 

Specialized Turbo Levo

Specialized Turbo Levo

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The Turbo Levo has been in production for a long time and has become one of the most popular E-bikes you’ll see out on the trails. It essentially takes the tried-and-true Stumpjumper trail bike platform and adds one of Specialized’s proven Turbo motors, making the Turbo Levo the benchmark against which all other E-mountain bikes are judged. 

Giant Reign E+

Giant Reign E+

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The Giant Reign is a downhill brawler. With big suspension travel and progressive geometry, it’s ready for gnarly downhill tracks, bike park laps, and everything in between. Everything about the Reign is focused on having the most fun possible on every descent.

Norco Sight VLT

Norco Sight VLT

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Norco bikes hail from British Columbia, the birthplace of freeride. Born and bred on the gnarly trails of the Pacific Northwest, the Sight VLT is tough enough to handle anything the trail throws at it. 

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