The popularity of electric bikes has been on an upward trajectory for much of the past decade. With the continual advancement of e-bike technology and design, their performance has improved and, as such, the market of potential customers has grown. However, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, electric bike popularity has accelerated quicker than ever. As a result, more people are wondering where to buy an electric bike.
If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. The demand for electric bikes has increased rapidly and, as a result, millions of new cyclists are shopping for an electric bike for the first time, wondering how and where to shop. However, at the same time as the increase in demand, factories were closed causing delays and while many are now operational again, COVID-safe protocols mean many are operating at a reduced capacity and are struggling to meet the demand.
In the meantime, there have also been countless business startups looking to capture some of the market share. Many of these businesses are genuinely good places to buy an electric bike but with such an abundance of options, it can be hard to decipher between what’s hot and what’s not. Especially if you’re new to the scene.
In ‘normal’ times, the answer to ‘where to buy an electric bike’ would be very similar to buying a normal bike, but in the warped sense of reality in which we currently reside, the bike-buying landscape is a little more complex. Like normal bikes, demand for e-bikes is high and supply is low, but with electric bikes, there are countless start-ups that promise the world and occasionally fail to deliver.
As ever, there are things you can do to speed up the e-bike buying process. To counteract the shortage in supply, being more flexible with your wishlist will help you find a bike more quickly that meets your needs, wants and expectations.
To ensure you get a bike that you know will stand the test of time and won’t fail after two weeks, don’t take a risk on an unknown brand. Of course, this is easier said than done if you’re new to cycling as all brands will likely be unknown, but you can quickly learn a household brand name by Googling the brand, looking for review sites like TrustPilot, checking out the brand’s history, and seeing if they are recommended in our buyer’s guides. Also, be sure to check out the warranty on offer with any potential purchase.
If you’re shopping online, stick to the reputable retailers (we’ve rounded up the best below) and avoid crowdfunding sites, especially if you’re new to cycling.
Another step in the direction of e-bike buying brilliance is arming yourself with knowledge of the options of where you can actually buy an electric bike, because the more places you know to look, the faster you’ll find the right e-bike for you.
To try and ease the process, we’ve highlighted the best e-bike buying methods and we’ve rounded up a selection of online retailers that currently have electric bikes in stock so that you have a quick hitlist of places to look.
When it comes to buying an electric bike online, there is an almost endless list of websites that make it possible. This might sound like a great thing at first, but in reality, the abundance of choice can become a minefield and quickly lead to the wrong choice being made.
Without the guidance of a sales assistant, it’s all too easy to be tempted into buying something totally unsuitable for your needs, and with the high-priced world of e-bikes, a cheap one can be hard to ignore, however unsuitable it may be. But remember, spending half as much money doesn’t represent good value if it never gets used.
Our recommendation is sticking to the ‘highway’; the mainstream websites that have a reputation to uphold. They will only ever sell products that are of genuinely good quality, built to the necessary safety standards, and within the law.
In the list below, we’ve rounded up our pick of the mainstream retailers that currently have electric bikes in stock.
Where to buy an electric bike online
USA only: Competitive Cyclist is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and despite the worldwide bike shortage, they’ve still got a few bikes in stock, across both road and mountain categories.
USA only: Jenson USA is another USA-based retailer that covers electric bikes for road, mountain and commuter use. The commuter offering is limited, but it does currently have one of our best lightweight electric bikes for sale – the Gain M30 from Orbea.
USA only: REI is an outdoors retailer based in the USA, and its electric bike section is well stocked with everything from road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel, commuter, folding and even a couple of cargo bikes.
Worldwide: Wiggle is an well-renowned retailer that covers most of the globe. Their electric bike stocks are currently limited, but there’s still options covering the needs of road, mountain, gravel and commuter cyclists.
USA only: Backcountry is connected to Competitive Cyclist, so many of the same products are on offer across both sites, but it’s always worth checking both sites as there are occasionally site-wide discounts that can help you save money.
Worldwide: Chain Reaction Cycles is connected to Wiggle, so you’ll often find the same electric bikes on both sites, but we recommend checking both sites, since you might find differing prices.
UK only: Cyclestore is a small UK retailer with a big collection of electric bikes. There are options from loads of reputable brands like Specialized, Cannondale, Kona and more.
UK only: Evans cycles is one of the longest serving bike retailers in the UK with stores around the country. It has a reputation to uphold, and will do so with high levels of customer service, therefore, should your bike ever have an issue, you can be sure they’ll look after you.
UK only: Tredz is a UK retailer with over 100 electric bikes on its website, catering to all cycling disciplines.
UK only: Rutland Cycling is one of the best-stocked electric bike retailers in the UK. With stores around the UK and a long-serving reputation, you can be sure to trust the bike and the customer service will be solid.
UK only: Hargroves Cycles is well stocked with electric bikes, and has options covering all disciplines, including road, gravel, commuting and mountain biking use.
UK only: Leisure Lakes is another UK retailer with plenty of stock. It’s also one of very few that currently have the Brompton electric folding bike available.
Europe: Pure Electric is based in the UK, but it has stores elsewhere across Europe. As its name suggests, it’s a retailer dedicated to electric bikes, and as such, its stockholding is rich in choice.
When it comes to making a high-value purchase, it’s always wise to get advice from an expert, especially if your own knowledge is limited. Therefore, when buying an electric bike, it makes sense to use the staff members within your local bike shop(s) to gain as much advice as possible.
However, with COVID protocols in place, not all bike shops allow you to go in and browse at your leisure. With this in mind, the best (and sometimes only) way to shop, is to speak to the sales staff (at the door, or over the phone), explain your needs, and heed their advice.
As with anything, the quality of the advice offered will depend on the knowledge and experience of the advisor in question. If you don’t feel 100 per cent confident, be prepared to do your own research too, take your time with the purchase, and utilise as many bike shops as you have access to.
Some shops will also operate a website, which could enable you to virtually browse the store without ever stepping foot inside. Larger stores – such as Evans Cycles in the UK – operate a highly connected eCommerce business that allows you to buy online and collect in-store, allowing the convenience of online shopping without the worry of having to build the bike yourself.
The other benefits to buying in person are the relationships you can build with the staff at your local bike shop. They are likely keen cyclists themselves with years of experience. There will no doubt be mountain bikers, road racers, audaxers bikepackers, and others who simply enjoy the convenience of two wheels. So when you inevitably have a question about good routes to ride, ways to save battery life, the safest places to lock it up and the easiest way to lift it onto your bike rack, they’ll probably have the answers.
Furthermore, if you’re new to cycling or you’re in need of some accessories alongside your new bike, there’s every chance they’ll do you a deal.
If you know the brand – or specific model – of electric bike you’re after, a great way to shop is to go direct to the brand that makes it. The exact process will differ depending on the brand in question. Some will offer delivery direct to your door, while others will deliver to your local bike shop so that it can be built up by a professional mechanic.
The benefits of buying directly from the manufacturer are that they typically have stock before shops or online retailers, and typically have a better spread of sizes and colours. However, the downside is that previous-model-year bikes and discounts are almost impossible to find, as their usual tactic is to sell those onto to retail stores in bulk, so they can focus on the current crop.
The list of potential places to buy second-hand goods online is enormous, from popular outlets such as eBay and Facebook marketplace, to lesser-known cycling-specific outlets like The Pro’s Closet, Bikesoup, and so on. However, with the enormity of the opportunity comes an increase in risk.
If you know what you’re looking for, these second-hand marketplaces can be the best place to shop by far, but if you don’t, they can quickly lead to disappointment, and possibly worse.
The biggest concern in any online marketplace is criminals and scammers, and if you’re not careful with how you pay, you could quickly fall victim to a scam.
But in the more common instance where the seller is genuine, the everpresent issue when shopping second hand is the unknown quality of the product you are buying, and the lack of any warranty support if things go wrong. This rings truer than ever with electric bikes, as you cannot simply take the motor or battery apart to check its condition.
Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, and this degradation can be accelerated with more frequent use and poor care. When it comes to buying second-hand, assess the bike’s overall health to try and gauge how much use it has had.
Also, try to gauge the seller. While not directly relevant to the bike, you can usually get a feeling for how likely they are to have looked after the bike that you’re about to buy. Did they arrive in a car that’s not been cleaned in years? If so, there’s a good chance their bike has lived a similarly maltreated life. Are they knowledgeable in e-bike care and maintenance, or do they seem laissez-faire about the whole process? There will be hundreds of subtle clues you can take from the seller which helps, but most importantly, don’t feel pressured to buy. That way, you’ll be empowered to walk away if it doesn’t meet your needs.
So if you’re going to shop second-hand online, ensure you do your research and your due diligence, only pay using a protected method, and if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also, never meet a stranger with thousands of pounds/dollars/euros in your pocket unless you’re 100 per cent confident they’re legitimate, and even then, meet somewhere public and take a friend.
The Pro’s Closet is an online bike marketplace in the USA that does things a little differently. By acting as the intermediary between sellers and buyers, The Pro’s Closet ensures that all second-hand bikes are inspected, serviced and then sold at a fair price, removing all concerns about the bike’s condition as well as any concern around scammers.
It covers bikes of all disciplines for all ages at the full spectrum of budgets, and will even allow you to trade in your old bike.
Similar to leasing in the car industry, bicycle subscription schemes allow you to pay monthly to lease the bike of your choice. There are plenty of benefits to electric bike subscriptions schemes, not least the lack of upfront cost, but many also include maintenance as part of the deal, and some also supply locks, helmets, and even insurance as part of the monthly cost.
Of course, the monthly cost never stops and you never actually own the bike, so one of the downsides is that there’s no opportunity to recoup the expenditure when you no longer need the bike.
Most schemes include a provision for the normal wear and tear of a bike, but anything beyond reasonable wear is likely to cost extra when the bike is eventually returned. The terms and conditions of each subscription scheme will differ, and we recommend reading the small print if you’re considering going down this route.