Best Electric Bicycles Under $500: Put Some Power in Your Pedal

Add some speed to your travels without breaking the bank.

byMichael Febbo|
Best Electric Bicycles Under $500: Put Some Power in Your Pedal

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BYMichael Febbo/ LAST UPDATED ON August 10, 2023

The price of bicycles has risen dramatically in the last decade and the big spike in demand during lockdown certainly didn't do consumers any favors. Finding a non-electric bike for less than $500 isn't easy, so finding an E-bike is even harder. But, we're here to help. We've found a collection of bikes that'll get you going on your daily commute, grocery runs, or even just getting some fresh air. Adding a motorized bicycle to your garage 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

ANCHEER 48v Electric Commuter Bike

Full-size E-bike with up to 45 miles of range and a will charge in 3.5 hours. The step-thru frame makes it more convenient for commuting as will the lights and racks.
  • Disc brakes and a 7-speed Shimano rear gearset
  • 20 mph top speed in e-bike mode
  • 5-levels of E-assist including pure EV mode
  • Height and reach adjustable stem
  • Check and torque every nut and bolt on the bike before taking it for a spin
Best Value

Sailnovo Waterproof Collapsible Electric Bike

This is just about the least expensive way of getting an E-bike, but it's also easy to store, offers decent performance and looks futuristic
  • Costs less than 5 tanks of gas for my car
  • Easily check speed via integrated LED display
  • Quiet and smooth motor
  • Just 30" x 26" when collapsed down
  • Taller riders will feel cramped with low seating position
  • Although ti easily fits in most trunks, it's 50 lb
  • Only a single speed
Best Folding E-Bike

Vivi Foldable 7-speed Electric Bike

Folding bike size without compromising on range or speed makes this an ideal E-bike for the commuter or traveler
  • 7-speed Shimano drivetrain for higher speeds and easier climbing
  • Front and rear suspension
  • UL certified
  • 500 watt motor provides 20 mph top speed
  • It's 55 lb even with aluminum frame and wheels
  • Throttle is too sensitive and basically an all or nothing switch

Summary List

Our Methodology

To choose the best electric bikes under $500, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of electric bikes before choosing the top contenders. My selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge gained from many years of cycling.

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, brake system, battery durability, battery lifespan, charge time, and control systems. Bikes were immediately disqualified from consideration if their batteries degraded too quickly.

Best Electric Bikes Under $500 Reviews & Recommendations


Looks and rides like a real full-sized commuter bike

Adjustability allows fitting to a wide range of sizes without changing components

Shimano hardware can be serviced at any regular bike shop


Some owners reported sloppy assembly at the factory

Users complain of poor customer service from manufacturer

I know, this isn't the raddest bike you've ever seen, but it's designed to be functional not fashionable. The step-thru frame makes it easy to get on and off the bike, especially if your in work clothes. Even though this is a good value to begin with, the bike also includes lights, fenders and a rack, that most more expensive models make you buy separately. The electrical assist is limited to 20mph, but that's substantially faster than you'd be able to go on just a pedal powered commuter.

The 10.4Ah battery can deliver up to 45-miles of range with your help, but if you're feeling lazy and aren't pulling your own weight, you won't get half that. On a 3amp charger you can charge the battery in 3.5 hours, which if you are unfamiliar with E-bikes, is pretty fast. The 1x drivetrain has a 7-speed cassette and the driveline is from Shimano, the biggest name in bike components. If you're looking for an E-bike for commuting or doing more than just around the block, this is going to be your best choice in the price category.


It looks as fun to ride as it is

Compact size comes from a collapsible head tube instead of folding frame

Not as loud as some competitors


It might be a tight fit if you're over 6-feet tall

Some people may not appreciate the sci fi aesthetic

The cycling industry is struggling to build entry level road or mountain bike with a list price anywhere close to $1,000. This E-bike Sailnova is literally a fraction of that price while still delivering a top assisted speed of 18 mph and up to 50-miles of range in pedal assist mode. It'll get you there in comfort as well thanks to the rear suspension.

I realize the design may not suit everyone's taste, but the futuristic looks seem Tron than Revenge of the Nerds to my eye. Being able to collapse the extra long stem means it can fit easily in your car's trunk and even under your desk at work. Charging times aren't bad, at 5 to 6 hours. It's not as fast as the Ancheer, but you'll still be able to plug this i when you get to work and full battery by quitin'time.

It might be hard to find performance bike tires in 14-inch sizes, but at least what is out there is very affordable. The biggest downside is the weight, but that's inherent in E-bikes. For the price, you are going to have a tough beating this thing without dropping down to a scooter, and even then, you're looking at something entry-level.


Front and rear suspension

500 watt motor for 20 mph cruising

UL certified


Throttle control basically acts as on/off switch

Some riders complained of speed wobble on downhills

Folding bikes have been a staple of the commuter for several decades. Not everyone has the space for a bike at the office or in their Manhattan studio apartment. Vivi has taken the concept and updated it with a 500 watt motor and a 7.8 Ah battery. The combination, along with a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain are claimed to provide a 50 mile range, the same as the Ancheer, but with a significantly smaller battery. Maybe Vivi's test route has more downhill.

Folding bike enthusiasts, and yes they exist, swear by 20 inch tires and the upright riding position for commuting and urban riding. It provides great vision and they claim riders in a more natural position are more visible to drivers as well. The front and rear suspension will you comfortable on the bike longer and the included fenders help keep you cleaner when splashing through puddles. It may not look as cool as the Sailnovo or be as utilitarian as the Ancheer, but this is a good compact package that fits in between the other two in its mission.


Three different levels of pedal-assist

Front and rear racks for carrying cargo

Step-thru frame for mount and dismounting


Less powerful than some of the other choices

No suspension, so watch for bumps when riding home with groceries

If you aren't looking for a commuter, but are more interested in a quick run to the shops, the Nakto might be the ideal E-bike for you. The 250 watt motor is less powerful than the other bikes in the guide, but it will certainly get you to and from the farmers' market. What it lacks in speed, it makes up for in cargo ability with a basket on the front and a rack on the rear.

The maximum load capacity of the Nakto is rated at 300 lb, which is substantially more than other bikes in this price category. It doesn't offer suspension, but the 20 x 1.75 inch tires should provide a decent enough ride for paved roads or even gravel bike paths. You aren't going to win any races on this E-bike, but that isn't the idea. The price is right and it'll get you around the neighborhood with a respectable amount of cargo.

Our Verdict

I’ve chosen the ANCHEER 48v Electric Commuter Bike as the best overall electric bike for less than $500. This model offers the best combination of power and range and unlike so many other E-bikes, it actually looks and functions like a normal commuter bike. If you’re on a tight budget, then check out the value pick, the Sailnovo Waterproof Collapsible Electric 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. 

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.


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.


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.


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.

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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