Let’s face it, top-notch e-bikes can cost more than a decent used car, and they definitely don’t fit everyone’s budget. For first-time owners and beginners, the price of a full-size e-bike can look like Mt. Everest. On the bright side, where the sun does shine, there is hope. In this guide, we took a trip all the way down the price ladder to bring you our Top 5 best budget electric bike models.
Our collection is currently as good as it gets in this range, and we’re actually impressed by what we found. This year, we’ve done a lot of testing and research to confirm which budget e-bike brands are trustworthy, and we were happy to see that a couple of our favorite budget brands offer solid budget models.
Let’s get started with a helpful chart that shows you all the key specs to consider for each of our five picks. After the chart, be sure to stick around for the reviews of each bike to make your final decision easy-peasy.
Top 5 Budget E-Bikes
|#1) NAKTO Skylark Folding Electric Bicycle
|#2) ANCHEER Folding Commuter E-Bike
|#3) Swagtron EB-5 Pro Plus Folding City E-Bike
|#4) Jetson Bolt Electric Bike
|#5) Swagtron SwagCycle Classic Pedal-Less Electric Bike
Reviews of the Best Budget Electric Bikes
As you probably already noticed, once you venture into the budget realm, folding e-bikes are the norm. The key is to choose a larger folding model such as the Skylark or Ancheer models to get as close to a full-size bike as possible without breaking the bank. If you prefer a full-size e-bike, our list of best mid-range electric bikes has some good options.
Next, bikes in this price range typically feature 250W motors, which isn’t a bad thing since the batteries on these bikes charge quickly and provide enough juice to climb moderate hills. For commuters, city dwellers, and people who want a simple e-bike to cruise around town, all the bikes in this guide are awesome budget options. Now, let’s get rolling with the reviews.
#1) NAKTO Skylark Folding Electric Bicycle
Of the budget brands in this guide, we like Nakto the most. At the time of this writing, Nakto’s Skylark is the only model the company offers at this value. One thing we like about Nakto is the company is good at efficiency. You’ll find that the Nakto Skylark delivers the quickest acceleration of the bikes in this guide. Another key factor to consider when shopping for bikes in this price range is whether the bike offers a full-electric mode.
Full-electric mode allows the rider to ride the bike without pedal assistance, which is a key feature to have for effortless riding. The Skylark offers both full-electric mode and pedal-assist mode. Additionally, this bike reaches speeds up to 15 mph with its 36V 10Ah battery, which goes back to what we mentioned about the Skylark being the most powerful and fastest of the five bikes in this guide. The other bikes’ batteries are all below 10Ah (ampere-hour).
A couple of final highlights are the height-adjustable comfort seat, folding frame, 16″ wheels, and dual disc brakes. Comparatively, this bike offers the smoothest ride with its larger 16″ wheels, more stopping power with its disc brakes, and a more comfortable ride with its adjustable seat. All in all, you get the most value for the money with this bike in the budget category.
- The fastest and most powerful of the bikes in this guide
- Larger tires for a smoother ride over uneven terrain than the other bikes offer
- Disc brakes rather than V-brakes
- Height-adjustable seat and handlebars
- Folding handlebars and a rear rack to secure your belongings
- Easily switch between pedal-assist and full-electric mode to extend the range per charge or ride completely unassisted
- Smooth throttle with a good acceleration range
- Fenders to block moisture from splashing up
- Removable battery for charging away from the bike
- Heavier than the other four bikes
- The seat post is short and may need to be changed depending on your height
- The pedals aren’t folding but can be replaced with folding pedals
#2) ANCHEER Folding Commuter E-Bike
Ancheer is another good budget electronics brand that manufactures a wide range of electronic goods, from exercise equipment to e-bikes. Essentially, this bike is a budget version of the Swagtron EB-5, which is already one of the cheapest folding e-bikes. A couple of reasons we chose Ancheer’s bike over the EB-5 are the 36V 8Ah battery vs the 7.8Ah EB-5 battery, the disc brakes rather than V-brakes, and the lower price at the time of this writing.
Next, you’ll be happy to hear that this bike offers full-electric and pedal-assist modes, similar to Nakto’s Skylark. In full-electric mode, Ancheer’s bike travels up to 15 miles with about the same max speed as the Skylark, and it goes up to 30 miles per charge in pedal-assist mode, which is the longest range of the bikes in our Top 5. Expect to get about the same or a bit more range with Ancheer’s bike than the Skylark.
Additional points we like are that this bike weighs about the same as the Skylark, it features folding pedals, a completely collapsible frame for quick & easy storage, 16″ tires, and a height-adjustable seat to find your sweet spot. The biggest drawback, however, is that the handlebars are not height-adjustable, unlike the Skylark.
- Front & rear disc brakes, no V-brakes
- 8Ah battery vs the EB-5 7.8 Ah battery
- 16″ tires are bigger than the Jetson Bolt and SwagCycle models
- Folding pedals
- Great range of up to 30 miles with pedal-assistance
- Full-electric mode with unassisted speeds up to 15 mph
- Removable battery for convenient charging anywhere
- The handlebars are not height-adjustable
- Requires some assembly and the instructions aren’t the best
- It’s pretty light for an e-bike, but not fun to carry upstairs every day if you plan to
#3) Swagtron EB-5 Pro Plus Folding City E-Bike
Now for one of the most popular folding budget e-bikes, the Swagtron EB-5 Pro Plus. As we mentioned in the Ancheer review above, Ancheer’s bike and the EB-5 are very, very similar. In reality, Swagtron created this model, which led to Ancheer releasing its own version for a lower price with a couple of upgrades, such as the disc brakes. Having said that, Swagtron’s Pro Plus is still one of the best budget electric bikes currently available.
Why choose EB-5 Pro Plus over Ancheer? A couple of reasons you may want to stick with the EB-5 are almost no assembly required with less of a chance of quality control issues, height-adjustable handlebars, it’s over 10 lbs lighter, and the heavy-duty seat post. Of the five bikes in this guide, the Swagtron adjusts the most easily to accommodate the widest height range. Plus, the seat post is long and strong to hold up to 264 lbs. It’s definitely the best seat post of the five bikes.
As far as performance, the EB-5 Pro Plus performs similarly to Ancheer’s bike with a max speed of 15 mph. The biggest drawback to the EB-5 standard model is no full-electric mode and this is very important to consider should you choose the standard version.
Without full-electric mode, the bike automatically enters pedal-assist mode, and you must pedal to activate the bike’s power. Then, you must take into consideration that the max range is 15.5 miles, which doesn’t match the Skylark or Ancheer models.
- Height-adjustable seat and handlebars offer the widest rider height range
- Folding pedals and frame for easy storage
- The longest and most diesel seat post of the bikes in this guide
- Removable battery to charge on the go or away from the bike
- Weighs over 10 lbs less than the Ancheer bike for easier carrying upstairs and to store inside a car
- Integrated carry handle
- Short max range of 15.5 miles per charge
- 14″ wheels are smaller than the Skylark and Ancheer bikes
#4) Jetson Bolt Electric Bike
Of the five bikes in this guide, the Jetson Bolt and SwagCycle Classic are the smallest. Be sure to consider the size of the tires on these bikes and the level of comfort compared to the bikes above before making your final decision. The biggest advantage of choosing the Jetson Bolt over the three bikes above is its compact size. The Bolt is easy for almost anyone to lift and fold, making it great for commuters & city dwellers with short trips between home and work.
A couple of points to be aware of about this bike are that the frame does not fold, yet it is one of the lightest e-bikes on the market. Instead of a full folding frame, the Bolt features folding handlebars only. While this may seem like a drawback, it’s not 100% necessary for a frame to be folding for a bike this size, and the bike is easier to carry while unfolded since the weight is evenly distributed. Plus, the top carry handle makes this bike easy to pick up and bring with you anywhere, including to store beneath your desk at work.
Lastly, one thing that does impress us about this little bike is its top speed of about 15.5 mph. For people who are worried about how much zip the Bolt has, it does compare to the bikes above as far as top speed. Although, compared to Nakto’s Skylark and Ancheer’s bike, the Bolt doesn’t accelerate as quickly, and the small tires make for a bumpier ride over uneven surfaces.
- Lighter than the first three bikes in our guide
- Offers a bit more range per charge than Swagtron bikes
- Impressive max speed of 15 mph for a bike this size
- LED headlight and LCD display w/ battery life indicator
- Built-in carry handle makes it easy to bring upstairs or to store inside a trunk
- Small enough to bring along on international trips
- An excellent choice for people living in busy cities like LA and NYC who want to avoid scouring for a parking spot
- Height-adjustable seat and handlebars
- The frame is not folding, only the handlebars
- Small tires
- Larger folks may have trouble getting up some hills
#5) Swagtron SwagCycle Classic Pedal-Less Electric Bike
Now for the lowest-cost model in our guide, the SwagCycle Classic. Make no mistake, this is a small bare-bones e-bike that’s built to get the job done, not for performance. People who want a very simple e-bike to go from point A to point B over mostly-flat surfaces will appreciate the convenience this bike offers. Perfect candidates are city dwellers, commuters, and people who live close to the stores they frequent. With this bike, you’ll undoubtedly save gas money and skip having to find a parking spot.
Similar to the Jetson Bolt, the SwagCycle Classic is incredibly lightweight for an e-bike, weighing in at a mere 29 lbs. Compared to the Jetson Bolt, this bike is even easier to carry upstairs and to lift to put inside your car at 5 lbs less. Though, it’s important to compare the performance of the SwagCycle to the Bolt. The SwagCycle Classic maxes out at about 10 mph and 10 miles per charge, which doesn’t match Jetson’s 15 mph and 17 miles per charge.
Like the Bolt, the SwagCycle does not feature a folding frame. Simply fold down the handlebars when you want to store it. One missing feature that we can’t understand why Swagtron skipped is a carry handle. Unlike the Bolt, there’s no designated space on the SwagCycle Classic to pick it up by the frame. Lastly, keep in mind that the seat & handlebars are not height-adjustable, and there are no pedals on this bike, just front pegs to rest your feet.
- The lightest of the five bikes in our guide
- Fully charges in just 2.5 hours
- No need to worry about pedaling, simply use the throttle to go
- Integrated headlight and battery life indicator
- Currently the most affordable of the five models in this guide
- Easy to pick up and put in a trunk or backseat
- Add a basket to make it perfect for running errands close to home
- A comfortable, easy ride for seniors
- Good, responsive brakes
- Recommended for use in NYC
- Seat & handlebars are not height-adjustable
- Does not climb hills well
- No carry handle
- Front-heavy design
When shopping for the best budget electric bike, folding models are as good as it gets. The closest you’ll get to owning a full-size e-bike is by choosing the Nakto Skylark or Ancheer models because they feature the largest tires. Keep in mind, the smallest and cheapest e-bikes won’t climb hills or roll over bumpy surfaces as well as the Skylark or Ancheer models.
Despite the bikes in this price range all being folding models, you definitely get a ton of value for the money. Compared to people who dish out 1000s on their first e-bike, you’re saving a ton and getting a good taste of what it feels like to own an e-bike.
Finally, one of the greatest advantages of these bikes is their low weight compared to heavy full-size e-bikes. For commuters and people who plan to carry their e-bikes upstairs every day, the bikes in this guide are all perfect options.