Updated October 25, 2023
Commuting via bicycle has a rich history, but recent technological advancements have breathed new life into the world of urban e-bikes, making it an electrifying experience. With a plethora of electric bikes on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In this article, we've curated our top choices for city e-bikes in five distinct categories: versatility, cargo capacity, lightweight design, drop bar style, and budget-friendliness.
Kicking off our list is the versatile urban e-bike champion, the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0. Priced at $4,000 and weighing 58.2 lbs (26.4 kgs), it's the heaviest bike on our list but packs a wealth of features.
This bike offers both traditional high top tube and low step-through frame options, with sizes ranging from S to XL. Its relaxed, upright geometry, featuring a 68-degree headtube angle, 75.5-degree seat tube angle, and a high stack of 652mm on the size large, ensures a comfortable ride. The long chainstays and wheelbase make it stable and versatile.
The Turbo Vado 4.0 is powered by Specialized's 2.0 250W mid-drive motor, capable of delivering up to 70Nm of torque. As a class three e-bike, it provides assistance up to 28mph, making it ideal for longer commutes. The 710Wh battery offers a claimed range of up to 90 miles, and the e-system is controlled via a handlebar-mounted remote and displayed on the stem-mounted display.
What sets this bike apart is its inclusion of an 80mm SR Suntour coil-sprung fork with a built-in lockout, expanding its terrain capabilities. The 650b by 2.3" tires add to its versatility. Specialized has integrated lights into the fenders and racks, eliminating the need for separate batteries. The bike also features an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain and SRAM Level hydraulic disk brakes.
The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 excels in versatility, offering a robust power delivery system, a well-thought-out spec, and a reasonable price.
For the best cargo urban e-bike, the Yuba Spicy Curry Class 1 takes the crown. Priced at $4,999 and weighing 60.2 lbs (27.3 kgs), it's a cargo hauling powerhouse, capable of accommodating up to 440 lbs of cargo or two additional passengers on its 950mm long rear rack.
The Spicy Curry features a unique wheel configuration with a 26" front wheel for improved terrain handling and a 20" rear wheel for better stability. This bike is available in one size, suitable for riders from 5'1" to 6'4".
The bike is equipped with a 250W Bosch Cargo Line mid-drive motor delivering 85Nm of torque, a critical feature given its cargo capacity. Paired with a 500Wh battery, it offers a claimed range of up to 70 miles. The Bosch Kiox display is a sophisticated unit that can show maps, fitness data, and monitor various parameters in real-time.
The bike's components are well-suited for its cargo-hauling purpose, including a 10-speed Shimano drivetrain, Magura's powerful hydraulic disc brakes, and integrated lights that function as brake lights. Yuba also offers various cargo-specific accessories for customization.
LeMond, owned by the legendary Greg LeMond, leverages carbon fiber for almost every component, contributing to its exceptional weight savings and striking aesthetics.
The Prolog's geometry is decidedly sporty, with a steep headtube angle of 71 degrees, a seat tube angle of 73 degrees, and a reach of 420mm (size large). Short chainstays enhance agility with a wheelbase of 1,100mm (size large).
Powered by a 250W Mahle M1 hub-drive motor (capable of 40Nm of torque), the Prolog is discreetly electrified. It houses a 250Wh non-removable battery in the downtube, offering a range of up to 46 miles. The bike uses a minimalistic top tube button for e-system control, emphasizing simplicity.
Despite its lightweight design, the Prolog doesn't compromise on components. It boasts an 11-speed Shimano GRX 800 drivetrain, SRAM Apex hydraulic disc brakes, and high-quality DT Swiss 370 hubs, and integrated lighting.
The LeMond Prolog combines race-inspired geometry with practical components in a lightweight package, ensuring an exhilarating commute.
Priced at $6,299 and weighing 30.1 lbs (16.6 kgs), the Santa Cruz Skitch Apex, with its sporty aesthetics and geometry reminiscent of gravel bikes, secures the title for the best drop bar urban e-bike, boasting a full carbon frame and fork, a 69-degree headtube angle, a 74-degree seat tube angle, and short chainstays.
The Skitch is a class 3 e-bike, equipped with the discreet Fazua Ride60 mid-drive motor providing 60Nm of assistance. The 430Wh battery in the downtube offers a claimed range of 60 miles, with controls through a top tube button.
This bike distinguishes itself with meticulous component selection, including a 12-speed SRAM Apex drivetrain, SRAM Apex hydraulic disc brakes, DT Swiss 370 hubs with WTB rims, and Schwalbe G-One Overland Evo tires. The Skitch's alloy Zipp drop bars contribute to its sporty persona.
The Santa Cruz Skitch fills a unique niche in the urban e-bike sector, blending sportiness with urban utility.
If you're searching for a budget-friendly urban e-bike, the Co-op CTY e1.1 offers an enticing option. Priced at just $1,299 and weighing 48 lbs (21.8 kgs), it's exclusively available through REI, making it accessible for U.S. residents.
The CTY e1.1 features a frame with a 70-degree headtube angle, 73-degree seat tube angle, and comes in three sizes. Its upright riding position, with a 1,079mm wheelbase, makes it a comfortable choice for riders.
Powered by a 250W Bfang hub-drive motor delivering up to 45Nm of torque, the CTY e1.1 has a 450Wh battery with a range of 40 miles. It offers five pedal-assist modes, controlled through a bar-mounted button and display.
Despite its budget price, this bike offers quality components, including Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, a 7-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain, and integrated lighting. REI sweetens the deal with a year of free tune-ups.
The Co-op CTY e1.1 stands out as a budget-friendly e-urban bike with good specifications and dealer transparency.
In the ever-evolving world of urban e-bikes, these top picks represent a diverse array of options to cater to different rider preferences and needs. Whether you prioritize versatility, cargo capacity, lightweight design, drop bar style, or budget-friendliness, there's an ideal electric bicycle waiting to enhance your urban commute. Feel free to reach out to the 99 Spokes Discord channel if you have questions for the community!