December 3, 2023

Building a lightweight e-bike is a mission fraught with compromises. Forget about ride comfort, balloon tires, comfortable seats, suspension and other details. Forget about top speed and long range, which requires big batteries and heavy motors. Don’t go for cheap, because lightweight bike components are expensive.If you really want a lightweight e-bike, you’re going to have to pay for it with cash and ride quality…and probably forget about the high performance…the only thing exciting about these bikes is They’re lightweight…but most of them also give you stealth because they look Like a normal bike. Lightweight e-bikes have become a buildable and marketable possibility thanks to affordable lithium-polymer batteries and new e-bike motor technology. We can only expect this list to improve as lithium-polymer batteries get lighter, more powerful, and cheaper. We only considered fully functional e-bikes for this list… no small clown folding bikes etc.

240-WH lithium polymer battery. The bike was built in-house by Jean-Pierre Schiltknecht with the aim of being the lightest mountain bike ever built, a Guinness World Record. No expense spared, this very special bike cost over $15,000 to build. It’s a mid-drive that runs through gears using a tiny RC motor, and despite its light weight and deceptively delicate construction, this e-bike is a mountain bike.Read our article about this electric bike

$5,500 for a 160 WH lithium polymer battery.This bike uses the legendary Gruber Assist motor built into the seat post This is the most stealthy e-bike setup imaginable. Other than its push-button accelerator (which can also be hidden), there’s little way to tell the bike above is an e-bike.Gruber Assist is so stealthy it’s doubtful it’s being used as cheating device in big bike race. Read our article on Gruber Assist.

Hobby King LiPo 200-WH. The bike uses an innovative friction drive that turns the rear wheel via a tiny RC motor that actually rotates relative to the rear wheel. All electronics (except the dashboard and power switch) are clipped to the seatpost and can be easily removed at any time without tools. Visit the Commuter Booster website

96-WH Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). The $2,600 one is definitely our least favorite bike on this list, due to its outdated and small NiMH battery pack. VISIT THIS BIKE WEBSITE

205 Wh battery, $5,000. This is one of the sexiest bikes on this list, with a frame made of titanium and no paint. Titanium has a reputation for being sweet, lightweight, strong, and expensive, and e-bikes made of titanium are a rarity in e-bike porn. The bike is basically a modified bike made by a company. It can be built as easily as building a house. It would be sexier and cleaner if the rear had an internally geared hub (like a Rohloff). This is possible because this is a front-wheel drive e-bike. Get more information on this bike from the Prodego website

288-WH Panasonic Lithium, $4,000. Carbon is another sexy bike frame material that only a handful of e-bikes are made of. Not only is this one carbon fiber, but it also features a high-quality Panasonic mid-driver.

(300 watt-hours are usually included in a water bottle.) Nader is a talented home builder who is obsessed with building lightweight, hub-powered mountain bikes. He owns not just one, but an entire stable full of these gorgeous lightweight bikes.Check out the Naders range of lightweight mountain bikes

electric retainer 324-WH Panasonic lithium polymer battery. The cheapest e-bike of the bunch. The lightweight electric bike is priced at $1,650 including shipping from Australia. The e-bike maker bought 50 stationary bikes from China and retrofitted the motors themselves. Why so light? First, it’s a stationary bike, which means no gears and limited braking to keep it simpler and lighter. Visit the Solar Bikes website

competition build 343-WH Panasonic lithium battery $7,000. The Specialized Turbo has the largest battery on this list and, not coincidentally, the heaviest (and most expensive). The Specialized Turbo has it all (28 mph top speed, great components), but at an affordable price.Read our review of the Specialized Turbo

Because of the necessary compromises (high cost and low performance), not many manufacturers care about making lightweight e-bikes. It’s easy for most manufacturers to exaggerate the weight of an e-bike (a common trick is to specify weight without an e-bike battery). For example, the ridiculous $88,000 Blacktrail Bt-01 claims to weigh 40 pounds (yes, that’s right!). We learned from this list that building a lightweight e-bike usually requires a thin road bike, a simple battery pack, and a puny motor. The only thing that matters about these bikes is their price tag, since they use lightweight (and expensive) components. It turns out that building a lightweight bike yourself is pretty easy if you’re willing to spend the money and use a small geared hub motor. If you’re thinking of building a home yourself, check out the homebuilding on this list for inspiration. Most bikes are capable of carrying larger battery packs if the owner so chooses. Shown here is their most lightweight configuration. 3 of them are Australian bikes (Super Commuter, Commuter Booster, Solar Fixie), 8 are road bikes, 2 are mountain bikes, 3 are carbon fiber bikes (Montanara Volta, Super Commuter and BH eMotion), 4 are homemade bikes .One day we hope to be fully on the top ten list Production electric bicycle. But none of the 10 lightweight e-bikes on the market right now deserves this list. 3 of the bikes are medium drive (through gears). Mid-drive allows the bike to use a smaller (and lighter) motor and still be able to do decent hill climbs. BH eMotion, Vivax and Montonara Volta 2 are designed for e-bikes (Specialized Turbo, BH Motion Carbon), others are modified bikes. 1 of the bikes has no gear (Solar Fixie Bike). All but one of these bikes (Cannondale) have LiPo battery packs.

Eric has been involved in the e-bike industry since 2002 when he opened a 6000 sq. ft. brick-and-mortar e-bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a firm believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.

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