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Put Some Pep in Your Pedal With These Electric Bikes for Less Than $500

Add some speed to your travels without breaking the bank.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON February 28, 2022

Finding a decent electric bike doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, as there are plenty on the market for less than $500. Conventional cycling is a great form of exercise, but most commuters don’t want to arrive at work already in need of a shower. Adding a motorized bicycle to your garage also means you can go faster, for longer, and use less energy, so you’ll get to explore areas that would be out of reach on a conventional bike. 


There are a few things to consider before picking the right electric bicycle for you, so I’ve put together a buying guide to help you understand the features to look out for. I’ve also included a list of the best electric bikes on the market and ranked them under a variety of categories.

Best Overall

Vivi Electric 26-Inch Mountain Bike

Summary

It does everything just a bit better than the other models around this price point.

Pros
  • 350-watt motor provides 50-Newton meters of torque
  • 20 mph top speed in e-bike mode
  • Range up to 50 miles (assisted mode)
  • 21-speed Shimano gearset
  • Disc brakes
Cons
  • Just over the $500 price point
Best Value

Hyper Bicycles E-Ride Electric Pedal Assist Mountain Bike

Summary

There simply isn’t a less expensive way to enter the world of electric bicycles.

Pros
  • 20 mph top speed
  • Easily check speed via integrated LED display
  • 26-inch frame
  • Front fork suspension unit
Cons
  • 20-mile range
  • Pedal-assist mode only
  • Only a 6-speed gearset
Honorable Mention

Engwe Electric Mountain Bike

Summary

This is the most versatile electric bike on the market if you’re on a strict sub-$500 budget.

Pros
  • 250-watt motor provides 32-Newton meters of torque
  • Battery will last for up to 900 recharge cycles
  • Front and rear disc brakes
  • 21-speed Shimano gearset
  • High-strength Carbon steel frame
Cons
  • Just a 17 mph top speed in electric-only mode
  • Only an 18.5-mile range in electric-only mode
Put Some Pep in Your Pedal With These Electric Bikes for Less Than $500

Our Methodology

To choose the best electric bikes under $500 on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of electric bikes before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry. I visited the ebikes subreddit to get a more informed opinion of what e-bike enthusiasts felt about the products on the market.

Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were motor size, battery size, range, groupsets, size, brake system, battery durability, battery lifespan, charge time, and control systems. Bikes were immediately disqualified from consideration if their batteries degraded too quickly.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Electric Bikes Under $500 Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Vivi
  • Model: M026SH
  • Motor wattage: 350 watts

Pros

  • 20-mph top speed
  • Range up to 50 miles
  • 21-speed Shimano gearset
  • Disc brakes

Cons

  • More than $500


The Vivi Electric 26-Inch Mountain Bike is ready to tackle just about any situation you’ll find yourself in. This bike is just over our $500 limit, but if you’re able to spend slightly more, you’ll get quite a bit more bike for your money. Powering this model is a rear-hub 350-watt high-speed brushless motor, which produces about 37 pound-feet of torque and will assist you in reaching speeds of up to 20 mph. This model’s power can be delivered via three pedal-assist settings or by using just the throttle, meaning you don't need to pedal unless you choose to. You’ll also have a Shimano 21-speed groupset to help you find the right gear for the road ahead. When it’s time to stop, the front and rear mechanical disc brakes do an adequate job.


The lithium-ion battery gives this bike a 22-25-mile range in throttle mode and will take it up to 44-50 miles in pedal-assist mode. The battery lasts for up to 500 charge cycles and is removable and waterproof. Once drained, it takes 4-6 hours to charge. The combination of range and power make this an excellent bike for commuting, but it’s capable of much more than that. As long as the off-road trails aren’t too intense, the lightweight aluminum frame, mountain bike-style tires, and front suspension unit should be up to the task.

Specs

  • Brand: Hyper Bicycles
  • Model: HYP-E26-1104
  • Motor wattage: 250 watts

Pros

  • 20 mph top speed
  • LED display
  • 26-inch frame
  • Front fork suspension unit

Cons

  • 20-mile range
  • Pedal-assist mode only
  • Only six-speed gearset


If you’re looking for an electric bike on a tight budget, there’s simply no better option than the Hyper Bicycles E-Ride Electric Pedal Assist Mountain Bike. Its mountain bike-style light aluminum frame and front suspension fork make it suitable for light trail riding and commuting. It’s powered by a 250-watt rear-hub brushless motor, which propels it to a top speed of 20 mph. This motor, combined with the bike’s integrated flush-mount battery, gives it a 20-mile range or will assist while you pedal for about an hour. Relatively speaking, this bike’s range is much lower than the rest of the models on this list. From empty, the battery takes about four hours to fully recharge.


It’d be great to see dual disc brakes, but this model features front and rear V-brakes, which is understandable at this low price point. A six-speed Shimano grip shifter helps make the bike somewhat more versatile but is lacking compared to other groupsets on this list. The maximum load capacity of 275 pounds is a tad limiting when compared to other bikes on this list.

Specs

  • Brand: Engwe
  • Model: Mbt26
  • Motor wattage: 250 watts

Pros

  • Battery will last for up to 900 recharge cycles
  • Front and rear disc brakes
  • 21-speed Shimano gearset
  • High-strength carbon steel frame

Cons

  • 17 mph top speed
  • 18.5-mile range


The Engwe Electric Mountain Bike is priced at a little less than $500 and is built to last. You’ll get up to 900 charge cycles out of the lithium battery, which equates to roughly three to five years. The only downside to this model’s battery is that it gives the bike a somewhat low maximum range of 18.5 miles (electric-only mode). Another part that’ll stand the test of time is the high-strength carbon steel frame, which makes this bike durable enough for off-road use. The mechanical spring front shock absorber and 26-inch wheels work together to keep things smooth when the road ahead gets rough. A 250-watt brushless rear motor producing 26 pound-feet of torque will move you briskly along to a top speed of 20 mph in electric mode only. 


When you’re in pedal-assist mode, you’ll be able to get the most out of the electric motor via the 21-speed Shimano groupset. If you use pedal-assist mode, you'll also extend this model's range up to 25 miles. The charger takes the battery from empty to full in about five hours. Bringing everything to a halt are dual mechanical disc brakes, which seem to do the job quite well. The bike comes 85 percent assembled, so you’ll need to do some basic assembly before you can hit the road.

Specs

  • Brand: Kent
  • Model: 20-inch Torpedo Kids Ebike
  • Motor wattage: 180 watts

Pros

  • Three pedal-assist settings
  • 20-inch tires
  • Handlebar-mounted LED unit

Cons

  • 15-mile range
  • No electric-only mode


The Kent 20-Inch Torpedo Kids Ebike is a relatively inexpensive introduction to the world of electric bikes. This model uses a steel frame and 20-inch tires, making it suitable for children that are 45 to 54 inches tall. The 180-watt rear-hub motor works with the bike’s six-speed groupset, which is operated via a grip shifter. This model doesn’t have a throttle-only mode, so it requires the rider to pedal to activate the motor. There are three power modes to choose from: full, medium, and low. 


The small battery gives this model a 15-mile range when it’s in low-power mode. The battery is removable, making it easy to transport. When it is time to charge the battery, you’ll be waiting for about six hours to bring it from empty to full, which is quite a while considering its small capacity. A handlebar-mounted unit with an LED indicator displays the battery level and allows the rider to choose their preferred power mode. The front suspension makes this bike suitable for some light off-road use and, although the V-brakes do an adequate job of stopping it, it’d be nice to see discs at the front and rear.

Specs

  • Brand: Sailnovo
  • Model: 14-inch Electric Bike
  • Motor wattage: 350 watts

Pros

  • One-step folding 
  • Weighs 55 pounds
  • Range of up to 45 miles
  • Throttle-only and pedal-assist modes

Cons

  • Only one gear
  • 18.6 mph top speed


Anyone who’s short on space, whether that be on public transport or at home, should consider the Sailnovo 14-Inch Electric Bike. This model is small yet still has a maximum load capacity of 264.5 pounds. It’s powered by a removable lithium battery, which gives it a range of 28-45 miles, depending on whether you’re using the throttle-only or pedal-assisted mode. It tops out at 18.6 mph in throttle-only mode, which seems slightly low considering it has a 350-watt rear-hub electric motor, but this could be due to this model’s 14-inch wheels. 


Bringing everything to a halt is a dual disc brake system, which is great to see on a bike at this price point. Although this model is small, Sailnovo has done a lot to ensure it’s comfortable, including fitting it with a high-density sponge saddle and a rear shock absorber. An LCD screen shows your speed, distance traveled, and battery capacity, so you won’t run out of steam without warning. The one-step folding system makes it quick and easy to fold this bicycle, and carrying it around isn’t too difficult either, since it weighs just 55 pounds.

Our Verdict

I’ve chosen the Vivi Electric 26-Inch Mountain Bike as the best overall electric bike for less than $500. This model offers the best combination of power and range in this category and is versatile enough to tackle light off-road trails or be used as a daily commuter. If you’re on a tight budget, then check out the value pick, the Hyper Bicycles E-Ride Electric Pedal Assist Mountain Bike. You really can’t get into the world of electric bikes at a lower price point.

What to Consider When Buying Electric Bikes for Less Than $500

Buying an electric bike for less than $500 is tricky because it’s an extremely tight budget for this niche. I’ve listed a few features to look out for before choosing the bike for you. 

Key Features

Motor Power

Two figures are important when discussing an electric bike’s power: wattage and torque. Think of wattage as horsepower in a car. A bicycle with a high-wattage motor will be better at climbing steep hills, and it’ll also produce less heat when tackling minor inclines compared to a lower-wattage motor. 

If you like to get off the line quickly, then you’ll need an electric bike with plenty of torque. Having more torque will also benefit people who hit off-road trails, as it makes it easier to accelerate quickly over rough terrain. If you use a bike with a lot of torque and a rear-wheel-drive motor, it could result in an unwanted wheelie from time to time.

Motor Type 

There are three types of motors you’ll encounter on electric bikes: rear-hub drive, mid drive, and front-hub drive. For less than $500, you’ll probably only encounter rear-hub-drive motors. Front-hub-drive motors are reliable and easy to perform maintenance on, but they’re limited in terms of power because they lose traction easily. Front-wheel drive hubs also produce an unnatural pulling sensation and have a strange gyroscopic feel at high speeds. 

Rear-drive hubs can handle more power without losing traction since more weight sits over the back tire. These hubs also produce a natural pushing sensation and offer more feel to the rider. Some of the downsides to rear-drive motors: It’s more difficult to perform maintenance on them, and it’s harder to fit them if they’re not already pre-assembled. 

Drive Types

There are two drive types on an electric bike: throttle/electric-only mode and pedal-assist mode. Many electric bikes will give you the option to use either mode, but the electric-only mode is usually restricted to 20 mph. Some models only feature pedal-assist mode, so if you want a bike with an electric-only mode, carefully check the features listed by the manufacturer before making your decision.

Battery

An electric bike's battery is one of its most crucial components, and there are a few things to look out for when purchasing one. You’ll want to know how big you need the battery to be as this, combined with the motor size, will largely determine the bike’s range. Most manufacturers will state a model’s range, so check this out before making your decision. Batteries will have an estimated number of cycle charges before they degrade. Some will have 500, while others will have up to 900. So, if you want a battery that’s going to last for a few years, consider its charge-cycle capacity. 

Some batteries are removable, and this is a feature worth having if you ever need to ride your bike while the battery is charging. Anyone who rides through wet weather should look for a battery that’s waterproof.

Groupsets

When we talk about groupsets, we're speaking about the gears on an electric bike. Some of the electric bikes at this price point will use Shimano groupsets, which is great because it’s one of the biggest brands around and regarded as reliable and well priced. The more gears a groupset has, the more versatile it makes the bike, especially in pedal-assist mode. If you’re riding up a hill and you have 21 gears to choose from instead of six, you’ll be able to find a more suitable gear for the effort that you want to exert.

Brake System

At this price point, you’ll only have a choice between two brake systems: mechanical disc brakes and V-brakes. V-brakes are less expensive, easier to maintain, and don’t place any strain on the hubs or spokes. But in terms of performance, they won’t work as well as discs in wet or muddy conditions. Although disc brakes offer more consistent performance, they’re heavier and more expensive than v-brakes.

Extra Features

Anyone who commutes on a bus or train along with cycling might be interested in a folding model. Folding electric bikes are also good options for people who don’t have a lot of space to spare at home. Most electric bikes will have some kind of battery-indicator unit, but some units will display a lot more information than others, such as speed, distance traveled, and range remaining. Finally, if you often ride during dusk or nighttime hours, it could be worth looking for a bike with built-in front and rear lights.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How long do electric bike batteries last?

A: How you charge and use an electric bike’s battery will have a significant impact on its lifespan. In general, a battery on a new electric bike can last anywhere from 2-5 years. 

Q: Do electric bikes charge when you pedal?

A: Some electric bikes can recharge the battery while you pedal, but this is uncommon. You’ll also find some bikes that feature regenerative braking, but most electric bikes don’t have them.

Q: Can you ride an ebike without the battery?

A: Yes, an electric bike will work without the battery, but it’ll be more difficult to ride due to the added weight of the motor.

Q: Do you need a license to drive an electric bike?

A: Electric bikes that meet your state’s specific technical requirements normally don’t need to be registered or insured. You can see the legal requirements in each state here.

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