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In this article, I’ll be taking a look at 9 of the best electric bikes for commuting in 2022. Plus I’ll explain why e-bikes are a viable and cost-effective alternative to using a car or public transport.
A lot has changed in the world over the last couple of years, and it’s made a lot of commuters rethink the way they get to work. Last year the UK government announced that it will be investing £2 billion in walking and cycling to ease the pressure off public transport in light of the ongoing situation.
One thing that has been mentioned is a £250 grant towards the cost of purchasing a new bike (e-bikes will be included in this). This means that electric bikes will become even more accessible to people who want to start using one for the daily commute.
An E-Bike Commuting Revolution?
Air quality in larger cities has been a growing cause for concern over the last few years, and in major urban areas like London there have been increasingly tighter restrictions on vehicle movement. The introduction and broadening of daily tariffs have seen lots of older vehicles priced off the road.
Even before 2020, savvy commuters were taking to electric bikes in their droves. The benefits of using an electric bike for commuting are obvious – cheaper, quicker and great for your health! And make no mistake about it, riding an e-bike daily, even for just a few miles can be extremely beneficial for you physical health and mental well-being. I have written an article on the health benefits of riding an e-bike, and the evidence is clear.
At the moment, people are understandably nervous about using public transport. With most governments now insisting on the use of face masks, commuting by public transport is now a thoroughly unpleasant experience for a lot of travellers.
So what’s the solution?
We already know that the road system in the UK especially cannot handle high volumes of traffic. I used to dread driving in any large city in the UK (particularly London). Sometimes it would take me three hours just to get from one side to the other.
Owning and running a car is an expensive undertaking. Modern cars are notoriously expensive to fix when they go wrong and increasing fuel, insurance, tax and general servicing means that running a car in 2022 will take up a substantial slice of the average monthly income.
We as a society also lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and the pressures of modern life can leave little time for exercise on a daily basis, especially if you have a family.
Using an electric bike for commuting could be the answer to a lot of the above problems.
What makes a good commuting e-bike?
In this article I’m going to be concentrating on factory built e-bikes that are specifically suited to daily commuting. It’s true that any electric bike can be used for the purpose of getting to and from work, and some of you may prefer bikes from specific cycling disciplines like mountain or road bikes. Folding e-bikes are also particularly suitable, but they are usually better for shorter distance commutes. If you prefer drop handlebars then an electric gravel bike would be perfect for the daily commute.
If you’re seriously thinking about making the move to using an electric bike as a daily form of transport, then you need to consider a number of things:
- What is your budget, and are you eligible for the Cycle to Work scheme or Green Commute innitiative?
- How long is your daily commute?
- Are you travelling on mainly asphalt or does you planned route involve unpaved surfaces?
- What is your current level of fitness?
- How hilly is your route to work, and what is the prevailing wind direction?
Your answers to the above questions will help determine what bike is most suitable. If your commute it is on mainly smooth tarmac, then a rigid frame bike will be fine. If, like most British roads there are potholes, cracks and other hazards you may want to consider a bike with high volume tyres and front suspension.
What electric motor is best for a commuting e-bike?
The answer to this relates to the above. If you have lots of steep climbs on your way to and from work you would ideally need a mid-drive like a Bosch motor.
If your ride is mainly on the flat with gently undulating hills, then a hub motor would do the job perfectly. Another thing to consider when choosing a motor is your current level of fitness. Small hub motors like the X35 ebikemotion system are lightweight, but don’t offer the same amount of assist (in terms of torque) as the Bosch units.
What qualities should I look for in a commuter e-bike?
Most commuter-style e-bikes have a very relaxed frame geometry with a comfortable upright riding position. The last thing most people want when cycling to work is to be hunched over the handlebars and turning up for work aching from the ride.
Enough battery power for a 30 mile round trip
Thankfully e-bike battery technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, coupled with the fact that most modern e-bikes are much more energy efficient than their predecessors, so finding an electric bike that has an assisted range of 30-50 miles is easy. If you’re finding your new e-bike isn’t quite getting the range you hoped for, there are ways to increase the range without spending more money.
What accessories should I have fitted for commuting?
If you’re serious about commuting by e-bike, then you will want a bike that has all the accessories that will make your journey more pleasant, especially when you consider the nature of the weather in the UK and northern Europe. You’re going to want to be as comfortable as possible. And you should certainly invest in some good quality protective clothing for the inevitable wet weather. For more information read my article on tips for riding an e-bike in winter.
Considering we have more wet than dry days on average in the UK, mudguards make one hell of a difference. I have a touring bike with mudguards and a racing bike without. If I get caught out in the rain on my racing bike I get a proper soaking, especially feet and legs.
Not everyone wants to carry their stuff in a rucksack, so having a pannier rack is a particularly useful thing to have. Modern panniers are usually waterproof and you can easily store you belongings without having the discomfort of something on your back.
When the nights draw in over the winter months, lighting is essential and having a light system that runs of either the bikes battery or a dynamo hub is a must. I would still advise carrying a spare set of USB rechargeable lights just in case.
The Top 9 Best Electric Bikes for Commuting are…
And so, on to my list of the top 9 best electric bikes for commuting in 2022. All of the bikes below have been hand picked based on their specification, value for money and customer feedback.
1. Eskute Polluno Pro City E-Bike 🥇
The Eskute Polluno Pro is new for 2022 and replaces the Wayfarer Pro. Just like the Wayfarer, It punches well above its weight in terms of specification, and benefits from the latest Bafang M410 mid-drive motor and a very respectable 522Wh battery (made with Samsung cells). Other features include mudguards, lights, hydraulic brakes, front suspension fork and 28″ x 2.1″ Kenda tyres.
Although Eskute are a relatively new brand in the UK and Europe, they have quickly established a loyal following. I’ve had the benefit of using their Voyager e-MTB and have been suitably impressed with the build quality and performance.
If you’re looking for a decent quality e-bike for the daily commute, the Eskute Polluno Pro ticks all the right boxes and comes highly recommended!
2. Orbea H30 EQ
The Orbea Vibe H30 EQ is a perfect commuter e-bike for someone who’s looking for a balance between assisted and non-assisted riding. Because the Orbea uses the lightweight X35 ebikemotion system, the total bike weight is kept to a bare minimum. In fact the Vibe weighs no more than a regular budget entry-level hybrid bike.
One of the benefits of having such a lightweight e-bike is you can ride it like a regular bike and only use the assist when you really need it.
Apart from having all the extras needed for commuting, the Orbea features an excellent Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain with an 11-46t cassette for climbing steep hills. There’s also powerful hydraulic brakes for assured stopping in all weather.
3. Ribble AL e Fully Loaded Hybrid Electric Bike
The excellent Ribble AL e Fully Load Hybrid e-bike uses exactly the same X35 ebikemotion system as the Orbea Vibe, making it another lightweight option for the daily commuter. I absolutely love the design of the AL e – it blends classic styling with modern components and a frame that is inspired by their tough CGR AL e electric gravel bike.
The AL e uses SRAM’s excellent NX 1 x 11 gearing with a massive gear range courtesy of an 11-42 rear cassette paired with a 42t front chainring. The package is finished off with excellent Shimano UR300 flat-mount hydraulic brakes and Schwalbe Marathon tyres.
I had a Ribble AL e on loan at the beginning of 2021 and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Here is my full Ribble AL e review (with photos).
4. Orbea Optima E40
If you’re after a step-thru electric bike, but don’t want to be dealing with the excess weight of the typical mid-drive. The Orbea Optima E40 is the perfect solution.
The big selling point of the Optima is its lightweight and discreet X35 ebikemotion drive system, meaning overall weight is kept to a minimum. The Optima weighs in at just under 19kg making it around 5kg lighter than the average mid-drive step-thru hybrid e-bike.
Gearing is perfect for city riding with a 42t front chainring and 11-46 10-speed rear cassette. Braking is provided by Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes.
The Orbea Optima E40 is, in my opinion an excellent option for the daily commuter who wants a lightweight, practical runabout. The internal battery and small rear hub motor help keep weight down to a minimum, which is especially useful if you live in a flat.
Buy Now: Orbea Optima E40 £2049
5. Cube Hybrid Touring One 500 (2022 model)
The Cube Touring Hybrid One 500 offers everything you would wish for in a commuter e-bike. You have typical Cube build quality combined with the superb 3rd Generation Bosch Active Line motor and a neatly integrated Bosch 500Wh battery (calculate your potential range with Bosch range assist).
All the accessories you’ll need are fitted to this bike, with the added bonus of hydraulic disc brakes and 9-speed wide ratio gearing. The Bosch motor should provide smooth and seamless pedal assist – the Active Plus has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the urban rider / commuter.
The Touring Hybrid One 500 is excellent value for money. Cube have been producing quality electric bikes for a few years now and they have one of the most comprehensive and diverse range of any manufacturer. Even though all the components are fairly entry level, they come together to produce an incredibly versatile commuter e-bike that is equally at home on tarmac, gravel paths or bridleways.
6. NCM Milano Max Trekking E-bike
The NCM Milano Max has a great specification for the price and benefits from a Shimano Nexus 8 internally geared rear hub – this means you can change gear when stationary (unlike a derailleur system).
Other features include a Bafang M400 250w mid-drive motor and a class-leading 576Wh (36v 16Ah) battery. There’s everything you’d expect to see on a commuter e-bike including full mudguards, kickstand, lights, pannier rack and excellent Schwalbe puncture resistant tyres.
For the price the NCM Milano Max offers excellent value and everything you would look for in a daily commuter. It’s comfortable, has plenty of power for getting you up steep hills and has a massive battery range. All in all the NCM is a great option and well worth the money.
7. Raleigh Array Step-Through Electric Bike
At £1595, the Raleigh Array Step-Through is one of the Raleigh’s cheaper e-bikes. It’s very similar in design to the Carrera Crossfire E, and also uses the same Suntour HESC hub motor with ATS (Active Torque Sensing) pedal assist. Even the battery is the same 417Wh capacity.
The components are fairly common at this price point. There is Shimano 7-speed gearing, mechanical disc brakes, front and rear mudguards, a pannier rack, kickstand and lights. Suntour NEX front suspension with 63mm of travel combined with high volume 700 x 47c tyres make for a really smooth ride.
The Raleigh is decent e-bike for the price. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about the components used, but what you get for your money is a bike that’s ready for anything your daily commute can throw at it.
8. Raleigh Motus Derailleur Crossbar
Raleigh is a trusted brand that’s been around for a very long time and their Motus range of mid-drive e-bikes offer good value for money. The Raleigh Motus Crossbar is their entry-level Bosch-powered hybrid electric bike. It uses the latest Bosch Active Line motor which at 2.9kg is smaller and lighter than its predecessor.
Like other bikes on this list, the Motus comes with everything you’d expect on a commuter e-bike – mudguards, lights, rack and kickstand. Other features include a Suntour NEX suspension fork combined with 700 x 40c puncture-resistant tyres, Tektro T285 hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano 7-speed gearing (with a wide-ratio 11-34 cassette).
The torque-sensing Bosch Active Line motor is specifically designed for hybrid / city bikes with an emphasis on efficiency and smooth performance. The 300Wh capacity is fairly low, but due to the increased efficiency of the motor you can still expect to squeeze about 40-50 miles out of a single charge.
9. Pure Free City Hybrid E-Bike 🏆Best Value
The Pure Free City is a budget electric hybrid bike exclusive to Pure Electric. If you don’t want to spend too much on a commuter e-bike but require all the mod cons needed for a daily ride to work, then the Pure Free City is an excellent choice.
Features include a 250w rear hub motor, powered by a 36v 8.7Ah rack-mounted battery (claimed range of up to 28 miles). There’s a set of full-length mudguards, lights, kickstand and there is ample space on the rack for a large bag or a couple of side panniers.
Frame is a low-step / unisex design and is made from lightweight aluminium with a steel fork and the 700c wheels are fitted with 38mm all-weather CST tyres.
The Pure Free City is already very popular, and would be a great choice for someone looking for a cheap and cheerful electric bike that can handle the rigours of the daily commute.
So, what is the best electric bike for commuting on? As with everything bike-related there is no clear winner. All of the e-bikes featured in this article have something for everyone.
The best all-rounder in my opinion is the Eskute Polluno Pro. It offers exceptional value for money at a time when most mid-drive e-bikes start at well over £2000.
If you are already reasonably cycle-fit and are just looking to get to work a bit fresher and not so sweaty, then the Orbea Vibe H30 EQ and Ribble AL e are perfect. If you live in a flat and have to carry your bike up stairs these bikes are also ideal as they both weigh 14.5kg and are substantially lighter than the rest.
The Orbea Optima E40 is also a great choice for those of you who are looking for a comfortable, practical and lightweight electric bike – it’s only a bit heavier than the Gain and has the benefits of a low-step frame.
For sheer value for money and all-round versatility, the NCM Milano Max is hard to beat. It has the most powerful battery in this group test. It’s also very comfortable to ride and has a unisex frame design. Unfortunately there is limited option for frame size.
Both the Raleigh e-bikes offer good value and specifications for their respective prices. The Array Crossbar is one of the cheapest e-bikes on this list, and has everything you need for riding to and from work. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend more than £1000, the Pure Free City is fantastic value and comes from a retailer with nationwide coverage.
If you can afford to spend a bit more money, then the Cube Touring Hybrid One 500 is an excellent bike. It has everything you’ll need for a substantial daily commute.
Whatever you decide, I’m confident that riding an electric bike to work will have a positive effect on your life. Not only will it save you money, but also help you look forward to your daily commute, instead of having to dread wasting time being stuck in traffic or being crammed on to a bus or train.
If you need any help or advice choosing the right e-bike for you, leave a comment below and I will reply within 24hrs. Thanks for reading and ride safe!