In the last couple of years, sales of electric road bikes have soared. It was Giant that originally got the ball rolling a few years previous. For the benefit of this article, I will be looking at some of the best electric road bikes available.
What’s the point of an electric road bike?
This is something I see quite often on various forums and comments, but I thought the answer would have been obvious – not all of us are in tip top condition, some of us have health problems that are just a natural part of the ageing process, and some of us may be recuperating from an accident, illness or injury. Why should we sit at home feeling sorry for ourselves when the open road beckons?
In my 4 years in the e-bike industry, I’ve seen people of all shapes, sizes and ages get back on two wheels when the odds were stacked against them.
Not everyone wants a heavy electric mountain bike or hybrid bike. An electric road bike can be a great way of easing yourself back into the saddle and giving yourself a good workout without the extra stresses and strains put on your joints and heart during long climbs.
The bottom line, is e-road bikes are good for cycling, they’re good for the industry, and most importantly they are a great boost for riders who need a little assistance every now and then.
Even if you’re a keen cyclist, but find long distance rides fatiguing or you simply want to get to work quicker on a hilly commute, the e-road bike is the perfect solution.
Why buy an electric road bike?
Electric road bikes are the lightest e-bikes available by a long stretch. The typical e-hybrid bike weighs in at around 20-25kg, when you compare that to the weight of a regular aluminium-framed road bike of around 9.5kg, that’s more than double the weight.
Even at the cheaper end of the scale, e-road bikes like the Orbea Gain D50 still weigh less than 14kg including the motor and battery.
E-Road bikes are also designed specifically to be easier to pedal when the power cuts-out at 15.5mph (25km/h). Small hub motors like the X35 ebikemotion system produce zero drag when not in assist mode, and faster rolling road-orientated tyres also help reduce drag.
I have ridden a high-spec electric hybrid bike and an e-road bike on the same day, and I can tell you the difference on the road is like night and day. The transition from electric assist to pedal power (on the flat) is barely noticeable.
What if you could have the best of both worlds?
Ebike technology has come a long way in the last few years, and one of the pioneers of electric road bike drive systems is the German company Fazua. Their Evation e-assist system is a revelation!
The Fazua Evation system starts with a gearbox located in an enlarged bottom bracket area – this gearbox weighs in at around 1kg. Then you have the unit that drives the gearbox, along with a small 252Wh lithium battery pack – this part of the system weighs around 3.6kg.
Thanks to its clever modular design, the drive unit and battery can be removed in seconds, and a blanking plate fitted, effectively turning your e-road bike into a regular road bike, with the only weight penalty being the extra 1kg in the bottom bracket.
Lets take the Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 Race as an example: The total weight of this carbon-framed e-road bike is 14.9kg (including the drive system). That is about the same weight as a regular steel-framed touring bike. When the motor is removed, the weight comes down to 11.3kg – still quite heavy for a road bike, by only but a couple of kilo’s.
I have ridden various Fazua powered e-bikes (including the aforementioned Cube) and personally, I think the weight penalty is marginal. Unless you are entering competitive events, there’s no need to have a second bike – you can have the benefits of an e-bike and regular bike all-in-one!
The only other ebikes I have seen the Fazua system fitted to are sporty hybrids, and these tend to be more like flat bar road bikes.
So what are the best electric road bikes in 2020?
The selection below includes something for everyone. There are now so many sub-divisions of road bike, like gravel / adventure bikes, endurance bikes, touring bikes it can all get a bit confusing. I’ve ridden all styles of road bike, and when it comes down to it, they all share common characteristics – particularly the drop handlebars and STi shifters.
For me the best electric road bikes offer versatility, and are not astronomically priced – for that reason, I haven’t included anything over £4000 (which is still a hell of a lot of money for an ebike!)
Orbea Gain D50 Electric Road Bike
The Orbea Gain D50 was one of the first electric road bikes I had a ride on, and also one of the first to use the excellent Mahle X35 ebikemotion drive system. The great thing about the Gain is even the entry-level model weighs just under 14kg – the carbon-framed models are as light as 11kg.
- Looks like a regular bike
- Excellent X35 ebikemotion drive system
- Entry-level groupset
- Price increased, but not the specification
- May not be powerful enough for some riders
Boardman ADV 8.9e Electric Adventure Bike
Boardman entered the e-bike world last year with an adventure bike and hybrid, both models have been very popular. The ADV 8.9e is, in fact the cheapest Fazua Evation-powered electric adventure bike currently on the market. Not only that, but it also has a very respectable specification for the money:
- SRAM Apex 1 x 11 with an 11-42 rear cassette
- SRAM Apex hydraulic disc brakes
- Lightweight alloy frame with carbon fork
- Schwalbe G-One Speed 700 x 38c tyres
- Cheapest Electric Adventure Bike
- Excellent Fazua Evation drive system
- Fairly light
- SRAM Apex 1 x 11 groupset
- 2-year warranty with Halfords nationwide coverage
- The motor is not as powerful as regular mid-drives
Bergamont E-Grandurance RD Expert Electric Adventure Bike
The Bergamont E-Grandurance RD Expert bridges the gap between road, gravel and touring bike. The great thing about the Bergamont is, it has all the things you would expect on a modern touring bike, all wrapped up in a nice package, and at the very competitive price of just over £3200.
I liked this bike some much, that i’m seriously thinking about keeping an eye out for one (when the inevitable sales start). I’m a bit biased as I love bicycle touring, and the E-Grandurance isn’t overly heavy with the Fazua Evation motor installed at 17kg. My vintage Dawes Galaxy isn’t far off that, and it doesn’t have a motor!
Another great thing about the Bergamont is the latest Shimano GRX groupset. I have listed the highlights of this bike below:
- Shimano GRX 1 x 11 with an 11-42 rear cassette and 42t front chainring
- Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes
- Schwalbe G-One All-round 700 x 35c tyres
- Pannier Rack
- Excellent spec for the money
- Ready for touring
- Shimano’s latest 1 x 11 GRX hydraulic brake groupset with an 11-42 cassette
- Looks gorgeous
- Aluminium fork
- Slightly heavier than similar e-road bikes
- Relatively low battery range may put off some buyers
Ribble SL e Endurance Electric Road Bike
I was fortunate enough to have a go on one of these when a friend purchased one when they were first released. The Ribble SL e Endurance has a full carbon fibre frame and uses the X35 ebikemotion hub drive system with 252Wh integrated battery. I decided to ride the bike without the motor switched on for a good few miles in the hilly Cornish countryside, and if I hadn’t have known it was an e-bike, I wouldn’t have even realised I was riding one!
The Ribble is so lightweight, tipping the scales at under 12kg that the e-assist is only really needed to take the sting out of steep climbs (or keep up with your lights, fitter friends!).
It is available in a number of configurations from the entry-level Tiagra through to SRAM Etap and Shimano Dura Ace Di2.
- Ultra lightweight carbon frame
- X35 ebikemotion drive system
- Lots of options and configurations available
- Very competitively priced
- Battery range may not be enough for some riders
Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 Race Electric Road Bike
Cube’s Agree Hybrid C:62 is an excellent e-road bike that has a full carbon frame and Shimano’s R7000 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes. The C:62 uses the Fazua system, and weighs in at only 14.9kg with the motor fitted and 11.3kg without. It is a great bike to ride and has a 34/50 compact crankset with an 11-32 cassette at the rear, giving a good range of gearing.
The 252Wh Fazua battery will give a potential assisted range of up to 50 miles, but this depends heavily on how much the assist is relied upon. When I had a ride on this bike, I only used the assist on inclines greater than 8% and found the middle assist mode to be more than adequate (but this will depend on the rider).
- Full Carbon frame
- Removable Fazua drive system
- Shimano 105 R7000 hydraulic brake groupset
- Comparatively low battery capacity
Giant Road E +1 Pro Electric Road Bike
Giant were the first major bicycle manufacturer to produce an electric road bike, and it was the first one I got to try out. The Road E +1 Pro is not particularly light when compared with the other bikes in this selection at 18kg, but it more than makes up for the extra weight with the fantastic Giant / Yamaha Sync Drive Pro mid-drive motor.
The torque this thing produces is remarkable, and it really does help the rider power up steep climbs without breaking into a sweat or getting out of breath. Out of all the e-road bikes I’ve ridden, the Giant is by far the most fun, it really does make you feel like a pro!
As with all mid-drive motors, the Giant uses a sophisticated torque-sensing pedal assist system, that is very responsive to rider input. The battery energy capacity is also substantially larger at 375Wh, giving a potential assisted range on between 80-100 miles.
- The Sync drive pro motor is a beast!
- Excellent build quality
- Great battery range
- The most powerful e-road bike in its class
- Considerably heavier than other e-road bikes
Cannondale Synapse NEO SE 650b Electric Gravel Bike
The Cannondale Synapse NEO SE 650b is the only electric bike on this list to use the Bosch mid-drive e-bike motor. Its adventure / gravel riding credentials are immediately evident with the WTB Byway 650B x 47mm tyres and SRAM Apex 1 x 11 groupset.
Cannondale have a long history of producing excellent mountain bikes, and they have carried this forward with their latest generation of gravel bikes (including the NEO SE). This is an electric bike that is equally at home on the tarmac, forest trails or canal towpaths.
The Bosch Active Line Plus motor isn’t as powerful as the CX motor, but it is smooth enough and produces a nice turn of power when needed, but it lacks the pulling power of the Giant / Yamaha Sync Drive motor found on the Road E +1.
On a plus note, the Active Line Plus motor is incredibly efficient. The 500Wh Powertube battery should give a potential range in excess of 100 miles (when used sensibly).
- Cannondale build quality
- Rugged design
- Excellent long-range integrated battery
- Smooth Bosch mid-drive motor
- SRAM Apex 1 x 11 groupset
- Heavier than other e-road bikes
- Bosch CX motor would have been better
Focus Paralane 2 6.8 Disc Electric Road Bike
If your looking for an excellent endurance e-road bike, look no further than Focus Paralane 2 6.8 disc. The Paralane uses the excellent Fazua Evation motor which is neatly integrated into the Aluminium frame. The groupset is Shimano 105 R7000 disc with a 34/50 compact crankset with an 11-34 11-speed cassette.
The bike is finished off with a lovely DT Swiss RR521 wheelset shod in Continental UltraSport II 700 x 28c tyres for optimum comfort.
- Good all-round Endurance e-road bike
- Fazua Evation ebike drive system
- Shimano R7000 105 hydraulic brake groupset
- A great looking e-bike
- Lower range from the 252Wh battery
Lapierre E-Sensium 300 Disc E-Road Bike
Lapierre are another brand who I’ve always had a soft spot for. They have always made some great road and mountain bikes. Their E-Sensium 300 electric road bike is competitively priced considering the specification:
- Shimano Tiagra R4720 hydraulic disc 10-speed groupset with 50×34 compact crank and 11-34 cassette
- Lightweight alloy frame with carbon fork
- Mahle X35 ebikemotion e-assist with integrated 250Wh battery
- Lapierre Style
- Excellent value
- Tiagra hydraulic brake groupset
- X35 ebikemotion drive system
- Lower torque output may not suit some riders
- Limited battery range
Whyte Winchelsea Electric Gravel / Adventure Bike
Whyte are renowned for producing high quality mountain and road bikes, the Sussex-based company have recently expanded into e-bikes, and their range is impressive. The Winchelsea is one of two adventure-style road bikes available, the other is the Whyte Gosford.
- Rugged and versatile ‘go anywhere’ e-bike
- Fazua Evation motor system
- SRAM Apex 1 x 11 groupset with 11-42 cassette
- Looks great
- Lower battery range than the heavier mid-drives
The Verdict – What is the best Electric Road Bike?
To be honest, there is no clear winner. All of the bikes listed above have their own merits. One of my personal favourites is the Bergamont E-Grandurance RD Expert. For sheer power, the Giant Road E +1 Pro is untouchable, and the middle ground would be the Cannondale Synapse NEO SE electric gravel bike.
Ultimately the decision depends on your own personal requirements. If you need a lot of assist, I would be inclined to go for something more powerful like the Giant or Cannondale. If you just want an ebike to help with the occasional hill, then the ebikemotion or Fazua motor will do the job.
The e-road bikes listed above are only a small selection of what is available, I currently have nearly 50 different electric road bikes listed for comparison on this site.
Prices range from just under £1000 to over £10,000 – and everything in between, from manufacturers like Cannondale, Giant, Specialized and many more.
Electric road bikes are not only great fun to ride, but they are helping thousands of people realise their dream of getting back into the saddle, when a few years back it just wouldn’t have been possible.
Make no mistake, the e-bike revolution is changing peoples lives for the better, and we should all embrace it. I was having a chat today with my local bike shop owner in Cornwall – Callington Cycles, and we were in agreement, that e-bikes are a positive force in cycling. Those who give up their cars in favour of an electric bike for the daily commute are generally happier and healthier as a result.
E-Road bikes are relatively new to the ebike world, but I can see them catching on in a big way, much in the same way electric mountain bikes have.
Thanks to e-bikes, physical limitations will no longer stop people from enjoying the benefits of riding a bike.
Please feel free to leave a comment below and I will aim to respond within 24 hrs. Thanks for reading!