What are the best electric bikes for commuting?

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Why you should consider ditching the car to commute by electric bike? 

First off, it's just so much more fun!  The daily grind of commuting day in day out via the car wears all of us down.  It beats you up mentally, emotionally and physically, not to mention the financial burden of car maintenance, insurance and fuel.  

We could wax poetic about how you're helping the environment, saving money and yes those are all true and there are plenty of articles that go over those benefits in detail but we want to put the focus on YOU! 

FLOW!  Not to mention, the decompression you get from an exhilarating ride home.  Had a bad day at the office, well ease that burden hammering the pavement on your way home.  Has life gotten too busy with family and that new business you started to get in your regular workouts?  Well, lower the motor assist on the way home and break a sweat! 

If you've never commuted by an electric bike, we promise you will be amazed by the experience and we strongly encourage you to give it a go.  If you're an old hat at the commuting game but now looking to explore electric bike commuting options, then you'll find this super helpful as well.  

Click here to skip right to our Best Electric Bike Commuting options.  

Here's some of our top tips for making it a successful experiment: 

  1. Rent before you buy:  Don't want to shell out a ton of money for something you're not certain about?  Then rent an eBike from your local shop to try it out.  We do this through our San Diego location and many other shops also provide this as a suitable option. 
  2. Don't bite off more than you can chew:  We're all guilty of getting stoked about something new and going all in.  In this case, we'd recommend being reasonable so you don't get demoralized.  Maybe just aim to commute one day a week to get started.  We'd also recommend keeping your one way commute to less than 10 miles if you're a noob.  
  3. Invest in quality:  This is especially important when considering you're eBike as you want a build that is safe and reliable.  But this also rings true for your clothing you'll commute in, your panniers (aka saddlebags), lighting, helmet.  Depending upon where and what time of year you're commuting there are essential gear items that can either add to your experience or detract.  Take it from us, invest in quality and you'll be much happier and more likely to commit to this new form of commuting. 
This brings us to how to decide if an eBike is a quality and safe build? 
The eBike world is now full of a plethora of brands and models and it can be quite daunting to evaluate options.  Here's are list of considerations you'll want to review before making a purchase.  
  1. The brand/manufacturer:  Like any new industry, there are many who jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of a growing opportunity.  We've been in this game from the beginning in 2011 and we've seen fly by night companies come and go again and again.  With a sizable investment, you'll want to make sure you're choosing a bike from a reputable brand that is here for the long run.  You're going to need support down the line and even if the bike shop is still around in 2-3 years this doesn't always mean the manufacturer is.  You could have a great warranty, but if the company went belly up, that warranty could be worth about as much as Peloton stock. 
  2. The Build itself:  We're going to break this down from a number of components with a focus on mid-drive systems.  
    1. Price: Price is incredibly important when selecting your new commuter eBike. Afterall, there’s a good chance you’re purchasing this eBike to cut back & save on car and transportation expenses! The cost of a new commuter eBike will also be heavily influenced by the next three items in our checklist, motor, battery and class type.  Our main advice here is that going cheap just doesn't pay.  What you save up front, you'll spend later on reliability, maintenance and possibly safety!   Don't skimp!  A good reliable commuter will run you at least $2K and go up from there depending upon the bells and whistles you're looking for. 
    2. Class I or Class III: For many riders, a 28mph class 3 pedal assist eBike is a requirement at the top of their checklist. If your commute is 5+ miles one way and does not have a lot of stop & go, then a class 3 will definitely be more enjoyable and get you where you need to go quicker. Now for the Class 1 eBikes, if your commute is just around town and has a lot of stop and go, then a 20mph class 1 pedal assist might be straight up your alley!
    3. The Battery:  This is often one of the most expensive and integral components to an eBike and not all batteries are make alike.  First off, you only want a Li-Ion battery.  Do not settle for anything else.  There are many other batteries materials but many are volatile and are not just unreliable but unsafe.
      1. We've heard horror stories of eBike batteries catching fire because the lack of quality.  Believe us, this not something to skimp on, especially if you have a family!  
      2. The safest batteries will be UL Certified which independently assess the quality and safety of a battery.  All of Bosch's batteries are UL Cert. and go through years of testing before being released into the market. 
      3. The most popular battery capacities are as follows: 400, 500, 625 & 750.  The larger the number, the more range you'll get. 
    4. The Motor:  We are huge proponents of mid-drive motor systems. They're lighter, more balanced, more reliable and offer more torque for climbing.  Motors are measured by wattage and Nm (Newton-meter) with 50, 65, 75, 85 & 90 being the most widely used outputs on today’s modern eBikes. It’s good to note that these two specs typically go hand in hand. The higher the motors torque gets, the bigger the wattage.  
    5. The actual bike build:   Not all bikes are made equal and we'll quickly run through the most important components you'll want to evaluate when considering the best electric bike options for commuting that will provide reliability and keep you safe. 
      1. Brakes:  You should be looking for a bike equipped with quality disc brakes to ensure you have the proper stopping power you'll need.  Rubber brakes just won't do as they can't handle the extra weight of an eBike not to mention that you'll wear through them too quickly.  We'd also recommend staying with the quality brake brand systems like Shimano, Sram and Magura.  Avoid Tektro brakes.  You'll see these on many cheaper builds and believe us when we say they suck! 
      2. Tires:  If you're fairly new to commuting by eBike we'd recommend going with a larger diameter tire to increase traction, stability and a more comfortable ride as they'll absorb more of the bumps in the road you'll encounter on your route.
      3. Derailleur:  This is the component that will allow you to shift gears.  There are many different ways to go here but again if you're going with a traditional shifting system stay with Shimano or Sram.  If you're going with the internal shifting systems, you might want to take a look at the Nuvinci or Rohloff as they provide amazing and smooth shifting with considerably less maintenance as well as more room for error for those not used to using gearing.  

Which combination is right for you?

If you’re a rider with a commute of more than 15-20 mi roundtrip, we recommend sticking to a class 3 eBike with high torque and a battery capacity of 500Wh or more! Top recommendations: Gazelle Medeo T10+ and the Riese & Muller Charger 4.

If your commute is less of a journey and more of a stroll around town, we recommend a comfort driven Class 1 eBike with 400-500Wh of battery capacity. Top recommendations: Gazelle Medeo T9 and the CUBE Touring Hybrid series.

Does your commute involve precious cargo? Whether it’s your mini me (child!) or just a few heavy boxes, a Cargo eBike is where you should have your eyes set. Top recommendations: Tern GSD, Tern HSD and Riese & Muller Multicharger

Are you looking for an eBike to use for deliveries? If so, high battery capacity should be at the top of your list. Many eBikes offer large batteries and even dual battery options. Our go to is the Gazelle Medeo T10+ and Gazelle Ultimate T10+ which are expandable from 500Wh to 1000Wh of capacity!

Ok, there is a ton more we could write on this subject, but this will help serve as a general overview to help guide you and what to look out for in considering your options. 

Now let's get to some of our picks for the best electric bikes for commuting.  

  • Best electric bikes for commuting blog review on Fly Rides

Gazelle Medeo T10+

Best electric bikes for commuting blog review on Fly Rides

When we talk about price & value, nothing brings more to the table than the Gazelle Medeo T10+. At just $3799, it comes spec’d with Bosch’s most powerful 85Nm Performance Line Speed, a 500Wh internal battery that can be expanded to 1000Wh with its dual battery capabilities, integrated headlight and taillight, rack, fenders, cafe lock, front suspension, and to top it all off, 4 piston hydraulic disc brakes! Yes, that was a lot, but it really goes to show how much the Medeo T10+ really brings to the table! It’s easily our top recommendation for anyone looking to commute via eBike! If you’re interested in a slightly nicer component spec and love the color red, check out the Gazelle Ultimate T10+ at $4499.

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Gazelle Medeo T10+

Cube Kathmandu Pro

Cube Kathmandu Pro 625 electric cummuter bike review on Fly Rides

Of all the eBikes on this list, the Kathmandu is by far the most well rounded, as it’s capable of handling just about any type of terrain you can throw at it. Whether it's a 10 minute ride to the office, 10 mile commute across town, a trek through mountain fire roads or even a tour across the entire USA, the Kathamdu has you covered. And yes, we had a customer of ours ride from Los Angeles to New York City on their Kathmandu! As for its capabilities, the high volume tires, front suspension and comfortable geometry make the transition from riding pavement to gravel trails seamless. If you’re looking for an adventure, the Kathmandu is it!

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Cube Kathmandu Hybrid Pro

Gazelle Medeo T9 City

Gazelle Medeo T9 City electric commuter bike review on Fly Rides

By now you might be noticing a trend…Gazelle’s are quite popular and take the crown for many categories! With their extremely well built frames and reliable Bosch systems, they offer a value that’s hard to beat when compared to the competition. That does not change with the Gazelle Medeo T9 City which comes in at $2499. This no frills eBike has everything you need and nothing you don't! Featuring 40Nm of torque and a 400Wh battery, it will get you where you need to go with comfort and ease!

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Gazelle Medeo T9 City

Specialized Vado 5.0

Specialized Turbo Vado 5 0 electric commuter on Fly Rides

When it comes to power, the Vado 5.0 has you covered with its own Specialized 2.2 motor featuring a whopping 90Nm of torque! Paired alongside the powerful motor is a large 710Wh battery that has you covered for long turbo mode commutes and adventures. The newest renditions of the Vado line also saw an upgrade from 700c wheels to 650b (aka 27.5) which allowed for higher volume tires that offer more comfort and mixed terrain capability.

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Specialized Vado 5.0

Riese & Muller Charger4

Riese and Muller Charger4 commuter bike review on Fly Rides

If price is not an option and you’re looking for a new eBike to do it all, look no further than the R&M Charger4. Why do we give it a “do it all" title? Because it offers the best balance between city commuter and off-road touring adventurer. The Charger4 with the GX offroad tire option will allow you to cruise over any surface with ease and comfort. Like all other Riese and Muller, the Charger4 is available in Class 3 or Class 1, three different drivetrain orientations, as well as a multitude of other customizations like displays, tires and racks. The list goes on! When it comes to the drivetrain however, we personally prefer the touring & Rohloff drivetrains paired alongside the class 3 motor and the vario drivetrain paired with the class 1 motor. Making a decision on a new R&M can be daunting given all the options available and because of this, we recommend you give us a call to go over your options! It’s good to note as well, if you’re not interested in waiting for a custom order from the factory, ask our sales team about the models we hand pick and design for our showroom floor!

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Riese & Muller Charger4

Tern GSD & HSD

Tern GSD electric commuter cargo bike review on Fly Rides

Does your commute involve precious cargo? If the answer is yes, look no further than the Tern GSD and HSD. The GSD, being the larger of the two, features the 85 Nm torque Bosch Cargo Line motor and has an overall gross capacity of nearly 440 lbs with the rear rack supporting up to 220 lbs. The HSD on the other hand features two lower power motor options from Bosch but still has a gross capacity of 374 lbs with the rear rack being able to support a maximum load of 132 lbs! One of our favorite things about Tern is the plethora of accessories and attachments they offer which allow you to customize any eBike to fit your exact needs. They are like the swiss army knives of eBikes!

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Tern GSD & HSD

Honorable Mentions

Riese and Muller Nevo GT Vario HS electric commuter bike review on FLy Rides Gazelle Ultimate C380  electric commuter bike review on FlyRides Orbea Kemen SUV 30 hardtail emtb city commuter electric bike review on Fly Rides

Riese & Muller Nevo

Let’s start off by saying, there aren’t many low step eBikes on the market that are offered with class 3 speed and power. Not only that, but the Nevo is offered in a 43cm size small that comes spec’d with 26 inch wheels making it easy to apparch for smaller riders when compared to the larger 27.5 inch wheels found on larger models. In typical R&M fashion, the Nevo sports an incredibly strong and supportive frame that delivers a ride quality unmatched by the competition. The Nevo can also be equipped with 3 different drivetrain options, similar to every other R&M.

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Riese & Muller Nevo

Gazelle Ultimate C380+

If you’re looking for an eBike that is low maintenance, reliable, and doesn’t break the bank? If yes, then the Gazelle Ultimate C380+ is for you. Now we understand $4999 isn’t exactly inexpensive, but in the world of class 3 belt drive eBikes, specifically from brands like Specialized and R&M, the Gazelle C380+ a better value at a lower price point! Now you may be asking, “why do I need a belt drive?" The short answer is, belt drives do not need to be lubed like their chain counterparts, they’re easier to clean and they last close to 4-5x longer than your average chain. Oh, and they also feature internal gearing so no need to mess with tuning a derailleur! With all of that being said, chain drives are not the end all be all, but if you’re the kind of person that loves simplicity and ease of use, then a belt drive is where you should have your eyes set.

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Gazelle Ultimate C380+

Orbea Kemen SUV 30

Click here to view the full specs and our best pricing on the Orbea Kemen SUV 30

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