3 Perfect Electric Bikes for Low Stress, Short Trips
If you are looking for an electric bike for fairly uneventful, short trips about town ... shopping, going to the park, visiting friends ... then almost any electric bike will do. As such, our recommendations below focus on price and convenience.
In terms of convenience, a key feature is the step-through frame.
First we should clarify that there really is no such thing any more as "ladies bikes" and "men's bikes". Step-through frames were considered suitable for ladies, who might be wearing skirts and would not be riding as aggressively. However, this view is outdated.
In reality, step-through frames make it easier to mount and dismount a bike, which can be important if you are not as flexible as others, are carry packages, or have to get on and off frequently.
Yes, a cross bar frame is geometrically stronger. So, to compensate, step-through bikes can have thicker (and thus heavier) frames, but when you have an electric motor that extra weight is not a significant consideration.
As a result, all our recommendations below include a step-through frame because they are more convenient, especially when making short trips.
One final point, before you make a final decision, please have a look at our articles on hills, carrying groceries or children, security concerns and awkward storage simply so that you can understand other factors that you might want to consider.
1st Option - Emu Roam Step-through Electric Road Bike (£997)
Perhaps one of the least expensive electric bikes available in the UK, The Guardian summarises the Emu Roam as " a good bike at a fair price."
A British brand and a UK company, the Emu Roam is configured as a city bike and so a more comfortable, leisurely ride, and the entry level battery has a range of 50 mile. We suggest the step-through version instead of the crossbar version. Although historically a step-through was known as a "woman's bike", in reality this just makes it easier to got on and off. Materials are such these days that step-through bikes are no less rugged.
The components are good quality: Shimano breaks and gears, Samsung battery cells, puncture-resistant tyres, chain guard.
This bike has a front hub motor. There are three potential issues to be aware of. First, although front hub electric bikes are cheaper to manufacturer and cheaper to maintain, the bike is heavier, especially in the front. You may notice it being more effort mounting a kerb.
Second, front hub motors also mean less weight in the back, meaning less traction and less power on hills. So, if you live somewhere hilly, this bicycle may not be ideal for you. Indeed, the bike may feel less maneuverable because the front end is not as light.
Third, if you lock your bike in public (to nip into a shop), you will not to explicitly lock the front wheel. The Emu Roam does not have a quick release; however, the front wheel is still an easy target and the inclusion of the front hub motor makes it particularly attractive.
It does has a nice security feature. The display is password protected and the motor won't work if you don't unlock the display. On the other hand, if the display is stolen during the day you will be in a pickle getting the bike home.
2nd Option - Wisper Wayfarer H7 Step-through Electric Bike (£1,695)
If you want a step up from the Evo Roam, then we recommend the Wisper Wayfarer H7 configured for City riding (rather than Adventure) and with the optional front rack (£100).
Wisper (based in Kent) have over 14 years of experience in the electric bicycle industry and thus have a good idea of what they are doing. This is confirmed by a 4.7 out of 5 score on Trustpilot with over 500 reviews.
What we like about the Wayfarer is the design concept. Mountain bikes are comfortable, safe, strong, and rugged but easy to ride. Wisper started with a mountain bike, added lots of anchor points, and then configured it as a city bike, giving riders the best of both worlds.
The H7 comes with a rear hub motor. Compared to the Emu Roam, riding the Wayfarer will feel much more natural as the front end will feel light and maneuverable. Also, if there are hills near where you live, rear hubs place the weight on the back tyre, giving you better traction (and thus more power and control) on hills and loose terrain.
Besides its low costs (but high quality) there are a few features that make this bike particularly relevant. First, removable battery in the downtube. If you are locking up your electric bike in public while shopping, you will want to take the battery, seat and perhaps display with you. Although the Wisper battery has a key lock holding it secure, it is easy to remove and convenient to carry ... and you should do this.
The battery comes in two sizes. The smallest (450 Wh) gives the bike a range of 30 miles; the larger 45 miles.
Second, if you are using your electric bike for shopping, the rear and front racks can come in very handy.
3rd Option - Tern HSD P9 Cargo Electric Bike (£3,400)
Tern is an interesting company. They seek to change the world ... well, at least the way people move about. As a result, they have come up with some very innovative (but proven) designs. Our third recommendation is the Tern HSD P9 ... ideal for taking the kids on a school run, nipping down for a quick shop, or for doing the weekly grocery run.
Wired magazine rates the entire Tern HSD range 9 out of 10, saying that "it's easy to store and transport [but] hauls a surprising amount of stuff" ... 374 pounds to be precise.
An important design design made by Tern was to focus on 20" tyres. On a purely human-powered bike this would be a non-starter, requiring to pedal like mad to go anywhere. But this limitation vanishes with power assistance. The result is a bike that is comfortable from someone as short as 4'11" or as tall as 6'5" ... but also a bike that is easy to store and move about. Indeed, the bike folds and is designed to be stored upright in a cupboard.
In addition to a high quality Bosch mid-drive motor and other equally high quality components, the HSD P9 has a wide range of accessories to tailor to a broad range of specialized uses.