The Best Electric Bikes Under $500 And Helpful Guide


best electric bikes under $500

Electric Bikes are a great way to get around these days. They can be fast and exciting to ride. You can take them on public transportation too. Electric bikes are much less expensive than driving a car for your commute and errands. There are many great e-bikes out there for very reasonable prices these days. If this sounds like a good idea to you then keep reading for our recommendations and guide to the best electric bikes under $500.

If you are in a hurry, our top 3 choices for electric bikes under $500 are below. If you are interested in more detailed reviews of our top 5 electric bikes under $500, a guide to electric bikes, and a FAQ please keep reading below.

Top Pick

ANCHEER 500W/250W Electric Bike

Editors Choice

Swagtron SWAGCYCLE EB5 Plus Folding Electric Bike

Best Value

ANCHEER Folding 350W Scooter Electric Bike

The Top 5 Best Electric Bikes Under $500

Below are our top 5 picks for the best electric bikes under $500 on the market today. We considered features, performance, price, durability, customer service, and customer reviews in our recommendations.

Top Pick

ANCHEER 500W/250W Electric Bike


Summary

The ANCHEER 500W/250W Electric Bike is a good low cost city or dirt road bike ebike. It has 3 power modes. Pedal assist, motor only and pedal only. It is available with either a 250 watt or a 500 watt motor for higher cost.

This bike looks like a mountain bike but is really intended for city riding up to dirt roads or very mild trails. It does not have the power or components for true trail riding. For city riding and road riding, it does great. The front shock is soft with no damping. It does a good job of absorbing potholes and cracks in the pavement or some of the roughness of gravel roads. If you try to ride this bike on a trail with many roots and rocks you will find the front suspension is constantly bottoming out.

This bike is spec’d out similar to a $400 to $500 non-electric mountain bike. It has Shimano Tourney components. It does have disc brakes which is a good upgrade and feature. It has 26 inch wheels with semi knob tires. To learn more about what to expect from a $500 mountain bike go here.

One annoyance is that the brake levers are reversed. The front wheel brake is on the right handlebar and the rear brake is on the left handlebar. This is the opposite of almost every other bicycle on the market.

The motor is a true 250 watt motor. The motor is a rear hub motor located inside the rear wheel. It offers decent assist and can easily move the bike on flat land up to top speed. It is not enough of a motor for steep hills or trail climbing.

The pedal assist works good for road riding. It takes around a 1/2 rotation of the pedals to activate and start applying assist. It has 3 levels of available assist. At the lowest level it gives you a little help. At the highest level it will go faster then you are pedalling on flat ground.

It has enough battery to go between 15 to 30 miles. Range depends on a variety of factors such as rider weight, how hilly the terrain is, and how fast you want it to go. It is enough for short commutes and running errands. The battery can be charged on or off the bike. It has an on/off switch to keep from draining while not in use. The battery has a key lock to keep it from being stolen off the bike.

The seat is on the narrow side. For those who want a more comfort oriented bike seat, you may want to replace it with something else. See our guide to comfortable bike seats to learn more.

Overall the Ancheer 250 watt mountain bike is an excellent city or dirt road electric bike. It has decent parts for the money and is easy to use. This makes it our top pick among the best electric bikes under $500.

Specifications

  • Motor Power – 250 watt (500 watt available) rear hub motor
  • Battery Capacity – 36V 8Ah Lithium
  • Max Speed – 15 mph
  • Range – 15.5-31 miles ( 25-50 km )
  • Max Rider Weight – 330 lbs
  • Charge Time – 3 hours
  • Speeds – 21 speed Shimano Tourney. 3 chainrings, 7 cogs
  • Frame Material – Aluminum
  • Brakes – Disc
  • Bike Weight – 50 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Easy to use power system
✔️ Battery can be charged on and off the bike
✔️ Good overall package of bike, motor and battery
What We Didn’t Like
Brake levers are reversed
Front suspension fork is too soft

Video Review

Editors Choice

Swagtron SWAGCYCLE EB5 Plus Folding Electric Bike


Summary

The Swagtron SWAGCYCLE EB5 is a great portable folding electric bike. It folds down to a very compact size. At 36 lbs it is easy to carry around with the built in carrying handle. It has both pedal assist and throttle operated motor.

The EB5 is a simple bike. It only has a single speed driveline for reliability and to keep the weight down. The wheels are only 14 inches which is on the smaller side. This isn’t a great bike for pedaling without assist or throttle especially up hills. With throttle assist it is easy to conquer almost any hill. This bike is designed for riding with assist or throttle.

The battery is replaceable by pulling the battery out of the frame. Extra batteries are available if you want more range. The bike will go 30 miles with pedal assist or 15 miles on battery power alone. It goes a top speed of 15mph. The motor is a hub motor located in the rear wheel.

The pedal assist on this bike is always on and only has one power level which is full power. For larger riders this is good. It will get you going right away with just a little pedal effort. For smaller riders, you should use caution as it is a lot of power.

This bike has v-brakes that do an adequate job of stopping it. We always prefer disc brakes if we can have them.

The bikes frame, handlebars, and pedals can all fold. The handlebar and seat are both adjustable height. You can easily make this bike fit both short and tall riders. The bike is small enough to fit in the trunk of many compact cars without folding. It will fit almost anywhere folded.

The Swagtron EB5 is a great little folding electric bike that you can ride and take almost anywhere. This makes it my top pick among the best electric bikes under $500.

Specifications

  • Motor Power – 250 watt rear hub motor
  • Battery Capacity – 36V 7.8Ah Lithium
  • Max Speed – 15.5 mph
  • Range – 15.5 miles battery only, 30 miles pedal assist
  • Max Rider Weight – 264 lbs
  • Charge Time – 60 minutes
  • Speeds – Single speed
  • Frame Material – Aluminum
  • Brakes – V-brakes
  • Bike Weight – 36 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Compact folding design
✔️ Simple reliable design
✔️ Adjustable handlebar height and seat height for different size riders
What We Didn’t Like
Pedal assist mode is always on
Pedal assist comes on with too much power for smaller riders

Video Review

Best Value

ANCHEER Folding 350W Scooter Electric Bike


Summary

The ANCHEER Folding 350W Scooter Electric Bike is a great fun little ride. It has 350 watts combined with a lightweight, compact design.

This bike has no pedal driveline. It only functions as an electric motor powered bike. They have done good job with putting in a better motor and brakes with the money that could have gone towards a pedal driveline.

It has a 350 watt rear hub motor which gives it plenty of go power. It has good acceleration and speed on flat smooth surfaces. It slows down a lot on hills, especially with heavier riders. The ride is good with pneumatic tires. The wheels are small so it is not as smooth as a bike with 26 to 29 inch wheels.

There are front and rear disc brakes for great stopping power. The motor also acts as a regenerative brake. This helps you charge the battery a little bit every time you stop.

This bike has an adjustable handlebar and seat to accommodate taller riders. The handlebar also folds, to make it smaller for storage.

The bike only weighs 26.5 lbs with a built in carry handle. You can carry this bike with you into the office or onto a bus or subway. The portability allows you to take this bike almost anywhere with you.

There is a phone app that lets you change settings including top speed. Top speed is limited to 15mph out of the box but can be increased to 18mph in the app.

The ANCHEER Folding 350W Scooter Electric Bike is really fun to ride and one of the cheapest e-bikes available. This makes it our best value pick among the best electric bikes under $500.

Specifications

  • Motor Power – 350 watt rear hub motor
  • Battery Capacity – 36V 6Ah Lithium battery
  • Max Speed – 15mph
  • Range – 15 miles
  • Max Rider Weight – 265 lbs
  • Charge Time – 2-3 hours
  • Speeds – No pedal driveline
  • Frame Material – Aluminum
  • Brakes – Front and rear disc brakes plus regenerative electric braking
  • Bike Weight – 26.5 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Super fun to ride
✔️ Compact and portable
✔️ IPX5 Water resistant
What We Didn’t Like
No pedal driveline
Not enough power for steep hills

Video Review

Best Electric Bike Under $1000

ANCHEER 350W Electric Bike


Summary

The ANCHEER 350 Watt Sunshine electric mountain bike is an upgraded version of their 250 watt bike. The basic bike is the same as the 250 watt version with upgraded motor, battery and controller.

The bike is similar to the ANCHEER 250 watt mountain bike. It is a basic $400-$500 conventional mountain bike. It has Shimano Tourney driveline components and a generic, nonadjustable spring suspension fork. It has a 3×7 pedal driveline with 21 speeds. It has 26 inch wheels. To learn more about $500 mountain bikes click here. It has the same limitations towards trail riding as any other mountain bike at that price point.

The brakes are set up normally on this version of the bike with the front on the left and rear on the right handlebar. The rotors are 180mm and have enough power for stopping.

The motor is a 350 watt rear hub motor. It has enough power to get to 20mph. It will only go that fast on flat smooth land and not hills. The upgraded battery can be charged on or off the bike. It has enough capacity to go 20 to 40 miles. Most users found they got between 15 to 20 miles using only motor power.

The electric controller on this bike is upgraded from the 250 watt version. It only has 2 modes. Power and unpowered. In unpowered it is a normal bike. In powered mode it has both throttle control of the motor and pedal assist active at the same time. This makes it a little more simple to ride since you do not have to worry about changing modes. You can just stop pedalling and start using the throttle.

Several users have found they need to tighten fasteners on the bike after getting it. You should go over all the cable fastners and other bolts before using the bike.

The bike frame is roughly a medium size. It is good for riders 5′ 3″ to about 5′ 9″. People who are taller will need a handlebar or stem with more rise to comfortably ride this bike.

The ANCHEER 350 watt mountain bike is a nice upgrade over the 250 watt bike for only a little more money. This is one of the best electric bikes under $1000 out there.

Specifications

  • Motor Power – 350 watt rear hub motor
  • Battery Capacity – 36V 10.4Ah Lithium
  • Max Speed – 20 mph
  • Range – 22 (motor only) to 40 miles (pedal assist)
  • Max Rider Weight – 300 lbs
  • Charge Time – 6-8 hours
  • Speeds – 21 speed Shimano Tourney. 3 chainrings, 7 cogs
  • Frame Material – Aluminum
  • Brakes – Mechanical disc brakes
  • Bike Weight – 52 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Simple 2 mode controller
✔️ Good power and top speed
✔️ Good overall e-bike package at a reasonable cost
What We Didn’t Like
Need to check for loose fasteners before riding
Bike frame is too small for 6 foot and taller riders

Video Review

Jetson Bolt Folding Electric Bike


Summary

The Jetson Bolt Folding Electric Bike is a very fun compact little electric bike for a great price. This bike is extremely fun to ride whether commuting or just for fun.

The Bolt does not have any pedal driveline. It is purely an e-bike with throttle power. There is an upgraded Bolt Pro that also has a pedal driveline and some other features for more money.

The highlight of this bike is how fun it is to ride. It can go up to 18mph after you remove the speed limiter in the smartphone app. As delivered it tops out at 15mph. It has small wheels so rides more like a scooter than a traditional bike. At 18mph it will get your adrenaline going.

This e-bike is powered by a 250 watt hub motor in the rear wheel. It gives you plenty of zoom on flatlands. It will struggle going up hills especially with heavier riders. If you plan on riding your e-bike somewhere with lots of hills you might consider the Bolt Pro instead.

For brakes, there is one rear disc brake. It is enough to stop you but we would prefer a front and rear brake. Front brakes have more stopping power on any bike than the rear brake. We understand that compromises were made to keep the cost low on this bike and that is one of the omissions.

The bike has built in LED headlights and taillights for night riding. The taillight also acts as a brake light to let any cars nearby know you are stopping.

The handlebar of the bike folds down. This bike is already very compact so it doesn’t reduce the size a lot further. The feature is there for those who want to use it. The bike weighs 34 lbs making it very portable. You can carry this into your office or onto public transportation to get wherever you intend to zoom around.

Overall this is a great fun little zippy bike. It is one of the cheapest e-bikes out there as well.

Specifications

  • Motor Power – 250 watt rear hub motor
  • Battery Capacity – 36 volt 5.2ah lithium battery
  • Max Speed – 18 mph
  • Range – 17 miles
  • Max Rider Weight – 250 lbs
  • Charge Time – Up to 5 hours
  • Speeds – No pedal driveline
  • Frame Material – Aluminum
  • Brakes – Rear wheel disc brake
  • Bike Weight – 34 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Very fun bike to ride
✔️ Small compact size
✔️ Simple clean design
What We Didn’t Like
Struggles going up hills
No pedal driveline

Video Review

Electric Bike Guide

There is a lot of things to think about when purchasing an electric bike. Where do you plan on riding it? How far do you need to go on it. Do you need to transport it on public transportation or the trunk of your car? How fast do you want to go? Let’s explore all of these electric bike questions below.

What are the benefits of an electric bike?

There are several benefits to an electric bike. Lets look at a few of them.

  • They allow you to ride farther and faster than you could with a conventional bike.
  • People who can’t ride a regular bike due to lower body injury can ride e-bikes.
  • You can still use an e-bike to lose weight. This is especially true for people with injuries who can’t do other exercises.
  • E-bikes make great commuter vehicles. They are much cheaper to own and operate than a car.
  • They are fun to ride. Zipping around on a bike has never been boring no matter what kind of bike it is.

What should I look for when buying an electric bike?

Operating modes

There are a few different operating modes for electric bikes. They are motor powered and pedal assist. An electric bike may operate in one or both modes and also as an unpowered bike depending on the bike. Some electric bikes are able to switch modes.

  • Powered Bike – The motor can power the bike on its own with no pedaling input. The bike may or may not have pedals.
  • Pedal Assist – The motor provides power only when the rider is pedaling. A sensor on the pedal detects when the bike is being pedaled and powers the motor only when it’s being pedaled.
  • Unpowered bike – You pedal the bike with no electric assist or power.

Motor power

Most electric bikes in the under $500 price range have a motor that is between 250 and 350 watts of power. For reference 1 horsepower is equal to 745.7 watts. The more power an e-bike has, the easier it will be to go up hills, and the faster it can go.

Battery size

Most under $500 electric bikes have 36 volt lithium batteries. An electric bike with more battery capacity will have more range and can have more output power. Higher capacity lithium cells can discharge at a higher current without damaging the cells. More capacity is better. The downside to more battery capacity is that the batteries get bigger and heavier. There is only so much space on a bicycle frame to store batteries. If you need to carry your electric bike, battery weight becomes an important factor.

Bike Type

You can get electric bikes in all of the common bike types these days. The most popular types of bikes are listed below.

  • Road bike – These bikes are primarily meant for riding on smooth paved surfaces. They have a crouched down riding position with drop handlebars.
  • Mountain bike – These bikes are meant for riding off road on trails. They have flat handlebars and a more upright riding position. Most have front suspension or full suspension.
  • Hybrid bike – These are a cross between mountain bikes and road bikes. They have a more upright riding position and flat handlebars similar to a mountain bike. They are lighter weight with tires and wheels that are more pavement oriented.
  • Gravel bike – These are another cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. They have droop handlebars and crouched down seating position of a road bike with wheels and tires that are more oriented towards gravel or dirt road surfaces
  • Commuter bike – These are an offshoot of a road bike. They tend to have flat handlebars and upright seating position. They have wheels and tires meant for pavement use.
  • Folding bike – This is a bike that can fold in half to be more portable. They tend to be road bikes with pavement oriented tires and wheels and flat handlebars.

Driveline

The bike will have some combination of chainrings (front gears) and cogs (rear gears). 3 x 7 drivelines with 3 chainrings and 7 cogs are really common in bikes under $1000. Since e-bikes also have motor assist they don’t always have a need for really low gearing. Some bikes have a 1 x 7 or single chain ring and 7 cogs.

Higher end drivelines usually mean more range in gear ratios. This means you get better climbing (low gear) and better top speed (high gear).

As you go up in cost bikes transition from a 3 x 7 system to a 3 x 8 or 3 x 9 system. Then to a 2 x 10 and finally to 1 x 11 and 1 x 12 on high end bikes. 1 x 12’s are wonderful and simple to use since they have a lot of range and no front derailleur to worry about.

This may seem counter intuitive since higher end bikes lose the front derailleur and have fewer parts. Low end bikes have 3 chainring drivelines which would seem to be a more complex system.

See our article on 1x Drivelines to learn more about 1 x 12 systems.

Brake type

Bike brakes are either v-brake or u-brakes that clamp on the rim to stop the bike or disc brakes. V-Brakes are the traditional bike brake that are operated by a cable. They work by clamping brake pads against the sidewalls of your bike rims. They work well when setup right. They don’t work when the bike rims get wet. If the bike wheel becomes bent and out of true it effects their clamping effort. They have less stopping power then disc brakes.

Disc brakes work by clamping against a rotor attached to the center of your bike wheel. They can be operated by a cable or hydraulics. They have several advantages over v-brakes. They have much higher braking power. You can screech to a stop with 1 finger effort. They work on wet roads. The rotor is far from the wheels and wet pavement. They work with bent or out of true wheels because they are attached to the hub.

Disc brakes are better performing and preferred for any e-bike.

Frame Material

Most bike frames are made of aluminum. Aluminum offers good lightweight construction for a reasonable price.

Carbon fiber is the next most popular choice but it is much much more expensive. Carbon fiber bikes will weigh several pounds less than an aluminum bike. You will pay a few thousand dollars to save those few pounds.

Some bikes are still made with steel frames. Steel frames are a few pounds heavier than aluminum. Steel has good durability and the frames are more flexible than aluminum so it can provide a softer ride.

With an electric bike, you are carrying around several pounds of batteries. Some have 20 to 30 lbs of batteries which weigh as much as some bikes. It’s not worth spending thousands for a carbon frame when you are going to strap pounds of battery weight to it.

Wheel size

Bigger bicycle wheels give a smoother ride. Bigger wheels roll with less resistance and are more efficient. Common wheel sizes for full size bike wheels are 29 inch or 700C, 27.5inch or 650b, and 26inch. 26 inch is no longer common except on cheap mountain bikes or fat bikes with 4 inch wide tires.

Foldable bikes or small portable bikes have smaller wheels. These make the bike light enough to carry. They will not ride as smoothly and they will take more effort to climb hills.

Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes

California has developed a system of 3 classifications for electric bikes. Several other states and federal organizations have adopted it as well. The classifications are as follows:

  • Class 1 e-bike – pedal assist only with no throttle and a top powered speed of 20mph
  • Class 2 e-bike – Bike can be powered by the motor alone with a maximum powered speed of 20mph
  • Class 3 e-bike – pedal assist only with no throttle and a top powered speed of 28mph

To learn more about electric bike classifications go here.

Is it worth getting an electric bike?

An electric bicycle may not be for everyone. For those who enjoy riding them, they are absolutely worth the extra cost. An e-bike will always be cheaper to ride and own than a car. You can save a ton of money on your commute using an e-bike. They can allow people with lower body or back injuries who couldn’t otherwise ride a bike to enjoy biking.

What are the disadvantages of electric bikes?

There are a lot of advantages and only a few disadvantages to an electric bike.

  • An electric bike will cost more than a regular bike. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years adding more cost.
  • Some cities and states only allow certain classes of e-bikes on public roads. You need to check the laws where you live to see what you can and can’t ride there.
  • Many mountain bike trails do not allow electric bikes of any kind. More and more are opening up to class 1 pedal assist bikes. They will probably be legal on all trails within the next few years due to their benefits to older and injured bikers.

How long does an e bike last?

An e-bike can last as long as a conventional bike. The battery will lose capacity and wear out from charging and discharging. The average e-bike battery lasts between 10,000 and 30,000 miles. Depending on how much you ride that could be a long time. If you keep the bike indoors and out of the weather it will last much longer.

How do I maintain an e-bike?

Maintenance for an electric bike is the same as a regular bike except for the motor and battery. See the below video for some tips on maintaining an e-bike.

Electric Bike FAQ

Q: How fast do electric bikes go?

Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are limited to 20mph. Class 3 e-bikes are limited to 28mph. You can pedal an electric bike faster but the motor will not power you above those speeds. For electric bikes not following the classification standards you can get higher speeds. Above 28mph it becomes a moped in most states requiring you to have a driver’s license and registration.

Q: How often should I charge my ebike?

To ensure a long life for your e-bike battery you should never leave it completely discharged. When you are done riding your e-bike you should let the battery cool down a little if it’s hot and then recharge it. You should always keep your e-bike battery charged at 50% or a little above for storage.

Lithium batteries are sensitive and require some care. The 2 worse things you can do to them are overcharging and completely discharging them. Overcharging can lead to fires. Most lithium battery chargers have circuits to prevent overcharging. You should always read the owner’s manual for your battery and charger for any safety precautions.

Discharging a lithium battery completely can damage the cells. If this happens they may not hold a charge and can’t be fixed. All batteries have a slow self discharge over time. It’s very slow with lithium batteries but still occurs. As long as you don’t store the battery completely discharged for a long time this problem won’t occur. Most e-bike controllers have circuits to monitor battery voltage. They will cut off the e-bike before damage can occur.

Q: What’s the best electric bike for the money?

The ANCHEER 250/500 watt bike and 350 watt bike represent really good values. They are based on a $500 value mountain bike with several hundred dollars worth of motor, battery, and controller. They are decent, reliable bikes for a good cost.

Q: Can you ride electric bikes in the rain?

From a biking perspective, you can ride an e-bike in the rain just like any other bike. Some electric bikes have water resistant controllers, motors, and batteries. Some do not and will be damaged. You should consult your e-bikes manual to learn whether it can be used in the rain or not.

Q: How fast is a 500w ebike?

Most e-bikes will be limited to a top speed under power of 20mph or 28mph to comply with class 1, 2, and 3 e-bike laws. 500 watts is enough power to propel you faster than 28mph on flat land, but the controller will limit it to 28mph.

Q: How fast is a 1000w ebike?

Most e-bikes will be limited to a top speed under power of 20mph or 28mph to comply with class 1, 2, and 3 e-bike laws. 1000 watts is enough power to propel you faster than 28mph on flat land, but the controller will limit it to 28mph. If the electric bike is classified as a moped with registration and a drivers license it may be able to go faster.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water.  I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions.  I decided to start this Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.

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