In the early days of e-bike technology there was no such thing as a lightweight electric bike. However, recent advances in motor and battery technology have paved the way for the latest generation of e-bikes. In this article, I’m going to be taking a closer look at 6 of the lightest electric bikes currently available in 2022.
Benefits of riding a lightweight electric bike
One of the biggest drawbacks of the average e-bike, is the significant extra weight due to the motor and battery. A typical crank-drive e-bike with 500Wh battery will tip the scales at over 22kg, with some models weighing as much as 26/27kg. Having this extra weight isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re going to be using the e-assist all the time, but what if you only need the assist occasionally?
Anyone who’s ridden a heavy e-bike with a flat battery will tell you, it feels like your pedalling a fully-loaded touring bike! The extra weight isn’t that much of a problem on the flat, but the slightest incline will have your legs begging for mercy!
The lightest electric road bikes can weigh as little as 11kg, which is even lighter than a regular (unassisted) hybrid bike. Most of the lightweight e-bike featured below weigh under 16kg and can be ridden like a normal bike without feeling the above weight penalty.
Another benefit of a light e-bike is they’re much easier to transport. If you need to take your bike up stairs or you regularly transport your bike in a car or van, trying to lift a 22kg can be very problematic for some people. E-bike-specific bike carriers for cars are more expensive than regular carriers, but with a lightweight e-bike you can use a regular bike carrier.
Disadvantages of a lightweight e-bike
Lightweight electric bikes usually have much smaller internal batteries (usually 250Wh – 360Wh). This is to keep the weight to a minimum and allow for better integration. If you rely on the assist more often than not, you will find your assisted range is significantly less (than an equivalent 500Wh mid-drive).
Most of the motors used on the bikes featured below will not produce the same level of assist as something like a Bosch (with a couple of exceptions). The kind of assist afforded by the X35 ebikemotion system is very subtle and more akin to riding with a strong tailwind.
The lightest electric bikes in 2022 are…
You’ve weighed up (pardon the pun!) the pros and cons of a lightweight electric bike, but are still unsure of which one is best. Below, I’ve drawn up a shortlist of 6 of the lightest electric hybrid bikes currently available.
Rose Bikes Backroad+ Fitness 🏆
The Rose Bikes Backroad+ Fitness offers something unique - a high-torque Shimano EP8 mid-drive motor, wrapped up in a lightweight carbon fibre frame. Weighing in at just over 15kg, the Backroad+ is designed to be fast on tarmac or gravel. The Fitness uses Rose Bikes gravel-specific frameset but with flat handlebars. Gearing is a combination of Shimano XT derailleur with SLX shifter. I'm so impressed with the specification, I would be tempted to buy one if they were available in the UK, but unfortunately shipping is only available to EU countries. The Shimano EP8 motor is usually only reserved for high-end mountain bikes and I can only imagine how much fun this bike is to ride being so lightweight. If you want a lightweight e-bike, combined with top-notch performance, this is the bike to go for.
- Shimano EP8 motor
- Lightweight carbon frame
- Shimano XT gearing
- DT Swiss wheelset
- All-terrain capabilities
- Unavailable for UK shipping
Cannondale Tesoro Neo SL EQ
Cannondale are a brand renowned for quality products and the Tesoro Neo SL EQ is no exception. Featuring a lightweight alloy frame with full carbon fork, the Tesoro comes in at just over 15kg, despite having mudguards, pannier rack, lights and kickstand. You'd be hard-pushed to find a non-assisted hybrid with this spec at this weight. Powered by the excellent Mahle X35 system and 252Wh internal battery, the Tesoro Neo EQ looks like a regular bike and rides like one, but has the added benefit of e-assist for those pesky hills!
- Fully-loaded hybrid e-bike
- Very reliable Mahle e-assist system
- Cannondale quality
- There are similar, cheaper alternatives
Ribble AL e Fully Loaded
Ribble Cycles kindly lent me an AL e Fully Loaded back in early 2021, and it's a great bike for day to day use. I had the bike on loan for a couple of months and put quite a few miles on it in that time. It's lightweight at 15kg and practical for daily use, thanks to the pannier rack and mudguards. I found it comfortable for longer distances and only needed to use the assist on the steeper climbs. I managed to squeeze nearly 70m miles out of a charge, although this was using the assist in the low setting. It looks great, handles great and rides really well, with or without the assist engaged.
- Mudguards and Pannier rack
- Mahle ebikemotion system
- SRAM NX 1 x 11 gearing
- I couldn’t find fault with it!
Specialized Vado SL 4.0
I've got a real soft spot for the Specialized Vado SL 4.0. What really won me over with this e-bike is way the motor feels - it's super smooth and produces e-assist in such a subtle way, that it's easy to forget you're even riding an e-bike, until you realise your going uphill much faster than normal. It just begs to be ridden hard, and you can still give yourself a really good workout riding this bike. Highly recommended!
- Super smooth SL 1.1 motor
- Decent 320Wh battery
- Responsive pedal assist
- Handles really well
- Great fun to ride!
- If it was a bit cheaper, I’d buy one!
Orbea Vibe H30
The Orbea Vibe H30 is a lightweight e-bike aimed at the urban / leisure market and is great fun to ride. Featuring the popular ebikemotion system, wrapped up in a lightweight alloy frame with full carbon fork and decent components, the Vibe is a top seller. It looks stylish and has fast and responsive handling. Perfect for weekend leisure rides or fast-paced fitness riding.
- Fast and responsive handling
- Looks great!
- Quality components like Magura brakes
- X35 ebikemotion
Merida E-Speeder 400 EQ
The Merida E-Speeder 400 EQ is one of the best-value offerings on this list. Sharing its frame geometry with its non-assisted counterpart, the E-Speeder is fast, light and nimble. It's also very practical, benefiting from rack, mudguards, kickstand and lights. The Merida would make an ideal daily commuter e-bike or would be perfect for weekend leisure rides.
- Fully equipped for commuting or touring
- Very good value for money
- Nice frame geometry
It’s very tough to pick a clear winner from such a good bunch of electric bikes. If I had to make a decision based on spec alone, then the Rose Bikes Backroad+ Fitness would win hands down – A super light carbon frame with Shimano EP8 motor is a recipe for fun!
The one bike featured above that I’ve covered plenty of miles on is the Ribble AL e Fully Loaded. It’s a very high quality e-bike. It’s comfortable to ride and can be easily ridden without the assist. I did a couple of 30-35 mile rides on the Ribble with about 3000ft of elevation gain and I only ever used the assist on the climbs. I always had around 60% battery remaining after each ride.
The other e-bike featured here that stands out is the Specialized Vado SL 4.0 – the connection you feel when pedalling is sublime, and the bike just begs to be ridden fast. It handles like a dream and powers you up steep climbs, making you feel like a pro! Definitely worth considering.
All of the other lightweight e-bikes are great. The Orbea H30 is one of their best-sellers. The Cannondale is a quality machine, but is very similar in terms of specification to the Merida E-Speeder, which is nearly £200 cheaper.
No matter what you decide, riding a lightweight e-bike is a whole load of fun and I think these bikes bridge the gap nicely between a regular bicycle and a full-fat mid-drive.