How to choose an electric bike: a comparison guide

Moving Well | David Morley | Posted on 24 November 2019

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) make riding easy. We've compared four popular models.

Increasing environmental awareness suggests we should cycle more and drive less. But we’re also an ageing population with increasingly creaky knees. Two facts at odds with each other?

Not if you consider the rise of e-bikes. Basically a conventional pushbike with an electric assist-motor, an e-bike allows you to leave the car at home, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, yet gives you a helping hand up those long (or short) hills.

An idea whose time has come? Almost certainly. So, if you're keen to get back on your bike, we've compared four of the latest electric bicycles to help you find the right pedal power for you.

Close up of electric bicycle battery pack and reflector lights


Top-selling e-bikes: a comparison guide

Ordica Neo electric bicycle in red


The easy rider – Ordica Neo

$2390

This is the bike for those who aren’t perhaps as flexible and strong as they once were. The Neo is lighter and features a step-through frame for easier mounting/dismounting. Even the wheels are available in a 24-inch size to further reduce the bike’s height.

It comes with panniers and a lock and, used on the lower-assistance setting, can be good for an 80-kilometre range between charges. It’s also good value.

Thumbs up: Less physically demanding.

Thumbs down: Not as sporty as others.

Side profile of Earth AntEbike e-bike in red with black wheels


The contortionist – Earth AntEbike 

$2290

The AntEbike tackles the problem of bulk. Which it does by folding down in about 10 seconds to a bundle of rubber and metal that will fit in a hatchback or – importantly for the grey nomads – a camper-trailer or caravan.

The big fat wheels give a good ride and it comes with a pack-rack, basket and lights. There’s even the option of a second battery which can extend its range beyond 100 kilometres.

Thumbs up: Folds up and fits anywhere.

Thumbs down: Uses a slightly less efficient rear-wheel-drive system. 

Giant Explore E electric bicycle in black


The all-rounder – Giant Explore E 

$3199

Unfortunately, e-bikes are not, on a kilo-per-dollar basis, cheap. But you don’t want to buy anything sub-standard, so the clever buying starts at around the $3000 mark. Which is exactly where the Giant Explore E sits.

A 250-watt machine (like the others here) the Explore E has front suspension, takes about five to six hours to charge and will cover around 40 or 50 kilometres on the medium-assist setting. It's aluminium frame also has a step-through design, making it easier to mount and dismount.

Thumbs up: Can do it all on a budget.

Thumbs down: No rear suspension.

Merida eOne-Sixty electric bicycle in mint green


The sophisticate – Merida eOne-Sixty 

$10,000 to $11,999

We’re getting towards the very top of the democratised e-bike world here. The Merida brand is a huge one and this bike includes all the gear you could want, including the high-end suspension that gives it huge off-road potential.

But what you’re really paying extra for is the quality of the driveline, brakes and frame. The gearsets are all top-end and the drive-motor and its electronics are likewise at the top of the heap. Even the frame is carbon-fibre to reduce overall weight.

Thumbs up: You’re cycling on Quality Street.

Thumbs down: Price of admission.

The Verdict

While the world is obsessed with autonomous cars and alternative fuel sources, the e-bike will quietly create its own revolution in coming years. It has the ability to reduce not only road congestion and emissions, it might just produce a shift in global wellness also.

But like any electric vehicle, it’s full impact will only be recognised once renewable energy sources have become mainstream.

And don’t forget to wear your helmet: It’s the law.

Did you know we have roadside assistance for bicycles?