So you’re contemplating commuting to work on an electric bike. Maybe you’ve been taking a bus or ride-share service to get there and back. Or perhaps you’re like the throngs of drivers out there who are fed up with the escalating cost of car ownership. Gasoline prices are on the rise again, as are the costs of insurance, repair and maintenance. And let’s face it: Gas-powered cars leave a huge carbon footprint. There’s so much more to like about commuting on an electric bike. First, it doesn’t harm the environment. Second, it’s actually more fun than driving because you won’t sit in traffic and don’t need to seek out a parking spot (or pay for parking, for that matter). Talk about convenience! Third, it’s good for your health. And fourth, it’s a lot easier on your wallet than buying or operating a car. E-bike commuters often quickly discover that it doesn’t really take much more time than driving a car to work, as well, and they’re not sweaty when they get there as they may have initially feared. It really is a wise decision, when you examine all of the pros and cons.
What exactly is an electric commuter bike and how is it different from other e-bikes? Glad you asked. It’s one that’s optimized for negotiating urban and city communities quickly and easily. Rather than being designed and geared toward a specific niche usage, such as an ultra-light speed bike for racing, a mountain bike for off-road terrain, or a cargo bike for carrying around young children or heavy loads, a commuter bike is ideal for casual, safe city travel — although you can also use it as an adventure or travel bike on evenings and weekends. It generally has slightly wider tires than other e-bikes, which lends it stability and helps support the added weight of the motor and battery. Plus, it often has a sturdy frame, along with metal racks that you can use for carrying things. Yet it’s still light and deft enough to maneuver through traffic.
If you’re in the market for an electric commuter bike, let’s break it down to the basics by considering several factors.
The first thing to think about is the length of your commute. A good electric commuter bike will typically have a lithium ion battery that can get at least up to 70 miles per charge. Whatever your battery life, your round-trip commute should typically not exceed it. While you can always bring a charger with you to juice up the battery once you get to work, many riders prefer to leave the charger at home. And before you do the math on the length of your commute, you still need to factor in several other things that can abbreviate battery life -- such as the wind, hilly terrain, and your body weight. As for batteries, many e-bikes available on the market sport a 36- or 48-volt battery. That achieves modest power, speed and hill climbing performance. Ideally you want a higher capacity 52-volt battery that provides more efficiency and performance, and travels for a longer range. Just know that the higher the voltage, the more power you’ll get. Plus, electric motors naturally spin faster with high voltage. And a 52-volt battery commonly realizes a range of up to 100 miles per charge -- because of its higher efficiency level, the bike operates by drawing less current from the battery. Bottom line here: If you need a quick, no-nonsense ride to work and back, you'll be happy riding a relatively lightweight bike with a potent battery and motor.
Next consider the geography of your commute: If you plan to ride over any challenging or sloped terrain, choose a bike with plenty of traction, torque and power to navigate it smoothly and effectively. As for the style and aesthetics, a long commute will likely require a quick, efficient ride — so although a beach cruiser e-bike may look stylish, it may not be practical for a daily commute. Instead, you'll want a commuter-specific model with more performance built into it.
The second area you need to ensure is that any bike you buy has reliable, well-made and durable parts that will get you to work and back without any hassle. After all, you don’t want to have the bike break down during the commute, forcing you to walk the rest of the way. Commuter bikes often incorporate certain features from other traditional types of bikes, but ultimately look for an electric commuter bike bearing high-end components from well-known brands. Think parts like a Bosch electric motor, Shimano transmission, Suntour suspension and Scwhalbe tires. And also if you’re going to need to transport your commuter bike up and down stairs to a subway or your apartment, a lighter-framed model may be most ideal for you.
Then there’s the satisfaction of knowing that you and your belongings are safe while you’re commuting. That ties directly into having reliable, well-made parts but also in knowing that the bike is made of the best-possible craftsmanship. Whatever model you choose, make sure that all of the wires and cables are solidly connected, that the parts used are sturdy and secured well, that the brakes function smoothly and quietly, and that any moving parts are well-lubricated. If you're going to be carrying any items with you -- whether bags, boxes or briefcases, for instance -- you may want to invest in a sturdy bike that has or can support racks for easier transport. Investing in a side-view mirror that attaches to your left handlebar is also a smart idea -- a good model will only set you back about $10 but will make your commute so much safer. Finally, make sure the model you get has both a built-in headlight and tail light -- perfect for those early morning and early evening commutes.
Don’t sell yourself short on comfort, when buying an electric commuter bike. You’re going to be on it plenty, so you want the ride to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible. That means the bike needs to be sized perfectly for your body and posture, with the seat adjusted to the perfect height for you. And the handlebars also need to fit your needs. A commuter bike should be comfortable in all aspects and give you easy visual access to all of your surroundings. Then there’s the seat: Make sure that it has the proper cushioning and shape for your preference. If either is compromised, it can make an otherwise stellar commute somewhat miserable -- especially when you’re doing it five days a week. And don’t underestimate the convenience of a thumb throttle: When you’re just too tired to pedal or just want to relax, a thumb throttle can get you to where you’re going with zero effort on your part. It’s truly like cruise control for your e-bike.
Affordability is obviously key to many people. With e-bikes -- and particularly electric commuter bikes -- you typically get what you pay for. Most models costing less than say $1,200 are generally not built to last. And that’s a very real problem for electric commuter bikes which will typically experience a lot more usage and mileage than other types of e-bikes. Thus, your electric commuter bike should be a high-quality model. In fact, a good rule of thumb: Get the most commuter e-bike you can that’s within your budget. Don’t get seduced by bargain-priced models from unknown brands: They often are slapped together with cheap parts and will fall apart rather quickly.
What This All Means...Our choice for the best electric commuter bike for 2021: The Juiced CrossCurrent X. Sure, we’re biased. But by the time you finish reading this blog, you’ll understand why. And perhaps you’ll be excited and motivated enough to go the extra step and join the fast-growing group of e-bike commuters.
Priced in the sweetspot for top commuter bikes at $2,299, the Juiced CrossCurrent X has 5-star reviews across the board from throngs of people who have purchased it. Riders commonly rave about the power, smoothness, comfort, maneuverability and craftsmanship. And why wouldn’t they? That’s exactly what it’s built for. Throttle speed tops out at 28 miles per hour, and the bike has a typical battery range of more than 80 miles. By the way, the battery is a 52-volt, 19.2 Ah model that’s secured into the frame. It can be easily removed by a key if you want, but doesn’t need to be for charging. The bike’s offered in three sizes -- fitting anyone 5’4” and taller -- and is available in orange, black or light gray.
The absolute pinnacle of e-bike commuting, the CrossCurrent X is a carefully refined micro-mobility masterpiece engineered to provide distance, speed, comfort and safety. This powerful electric commuter bike comes fully loaded with premium features -- 750W Bafang Geared Hub Motor, Cadence and Torque pedal assist, Schwalbe Marathon Plus 28"x1.75" 700C Flatless tires, rear rack with 50-pound capacity for cargo, front and rear fenders, advanced LCD display, custom aluminum heat-treated frame, Tektro Hydraulic Disc brakes, Double Walled Aluminum wheels, Suntour NCX Suspension Fork, Shimano Altus 9-speed transmission, 1,050 Lum LED headlight, Star Union rear LED tail light, Pro Wheel 52T/170MM chainring, Platform pedals, handlebar bell, Hardtail Configuration rear suspension, flat handlebars, and Gel Selle Royal seat. It’s genuinely ready to hit the street rolling, as soon as you receive it. And it comes with one-year warranty coverage on electrical components, plus one-year coverage on mechanical components.
Riders find that the CrossCurrent X can accelerate quickly to high speed -- even climbing up steeper hills or gliding into wind gusts. It’s extremely quiet, as well. While you can hear other bikes strain under these conditions, this model simply thrives. Shifting gears is super simple with your right hand, as is navigating the six pedal assist levels (including eco mode, to save battery life) with your left. To do the latter, just press the plus and minus buttons next to the LCD display. You will instantly feel the change in assist level, with zero lag. And of course, you’ll see your speed on the display -- along with the odometer, battery meter, and the amount of electric power you’re using at any given time. You can also turn the headlight on and off by holding down the plus button. Operation is almost intuitive right from the start, and will be second nature after just a few rides.
Obviously, the most common use for an electric commuter bike is to get to work and back. The assisted cycling, easy speed and comfortable ride are addicting. But the CrossCurrent X can serve other purposes, too. It brings your surroundings closer, letting you run errands (even mundane tasks within walking distance will be more fun and exhilarating) during your lunch hour. And in the evenings or on weekends, you can visit friends or explore areas you normally otherwise wouldn’t -- all without breaking a sweat or burning a drop of gasoline. And the health benefits are fantastic: With pedal assist, you can start small and gradually increase your fitness goals until you're pedaling harder -- via low-impact exercise. Just because you have an electric motor helping you doesn't mean you're not working — studies have proven that e-bike riders often get more exercise than traditional bike riders. You’ll simply feel and look better than if you were driving your car everyday. And you’ll have more fun, for sure.
In the end, the best electric bike for commuting day in and day out is the one that you feel most comfortable on. The most important thing you can do is consider your particular needs and preferences, and then proceed from there. While it is extremely nice to save money and get some fresh air and exercise by riding an e-bike everyday instead of a car, you will ultimately want a reliable electric commuter bike that’s going to get you where you need to go. And for that reason, we are beyond confident in recommending the CrossCurrent X.