GCN tries the cheapest e-bike on Amazon

E-bikes can be pricey, but what are the really budget options actually like? Si Richardson found out

ClockUpdated 09:30, Saturday 3rd February 2024. Published 11:00, Sunday 10th September 2023

E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular, as a way to ride further or replace your car, but it's no secret that these battery-assisted bicycles can be expensive. Like any good normal bike, you're looking at several thousand pounds, Euros or Dollars for most e-bikes.

In 2022 e-bikes accounted for around 25% of the total global bike sales, with that number set to increase for 2023 and 2024. The sector is also valued at over $50 billion, with the assisted bike market the fastest-growing area of the cycling industry. However, cycling has historically had a fairly high barrier to entry and e-bikes have only reinforced this.

That said, there are some budget options out there. They're made by brands you've never heard of and are far from the sleek, more expensive models, but a quick trawl of some online stores and you will find e-bikes that come in at shockingly low prices - we're talking under £600 for some of the models we found.

What we wanted to find out, though, is do you really get what you pay for when it comes to e-bikes? Are the big-brand options so pricey because they are so much better, or are you partly paying for the name, design and marketing?

Of course, quality is perhaps extra important with a battery-powered bike, where the capability of the motor and construction is going to have a pretty big effect on your riding.

So, to find out how good - or bad - these ultra-cheap options can really be, naturally we got ahold of one for Simon Richardson to test out. Behold, the Myatu Ebike, found on Amazon UK for the comparatively tiny price of £549. It's not strictly the cheapest (as Si explains, some of the bikes available don't actually adhere to UK laws on e-bikes) but as e-bikes go, it's a very budget choice. How did it perform?

The bike

A bit about the bike itself. Once Si had got over the less-than-pleasing aesthetics of the Myatu, he went through the specifications of his new steed. The battery, mounted externally on the downtube, has an advertised capability of 250 watts and just under two hours of riding time. The motor has options for low, medium and high - and off, but coming in at a hefty 27kg, you probably don’t want to try and pedal this bike without any assistance at all.

The bike uses a hub motor that is not unseen on performance e-bikes but does complicate things when it comes to routine maintenance. Hub motors need to be disconnected when removing the rear wheel and also need to be correctly orientated when being installed. Once you have done this a few times it isn’t too much of a big deal but it certainly does complicate things.

It’s fitted with ‘all terrain’ tyres that are pretty fat and nobbly, and a range of 21 Shimano gears. It has cabled disc brakes, front suspension, and all the kind of componentry you’d expect on a pretty basic budget bike. The only difference is that budget components are seldom up to the task an e-bike can exert on them, with the increase in weight and speed, the brakes are likely to struggle and so too is the drivetrain going to wear quickly with the motor's added torque.

The performance

How did the Myatu actually fare? After getting used to the bike, the feel of the motor and its accelerations, Si took it out for a test ride, taking in some steep hills around Bristol, some descents, plus more challenging terrain, to try and test out all of the bikes claimed capabilities, from the motor to the braking to the tyres. Plus, he rode the bike down some stairs. Don’t ask us which part of the scientific testing process that falls under.

As you might expect with a bike so relatively cheap with a lot of componentry to fit into the budget some areas have seen more attention than others. Immediately after swinging a leg over the bike, Si realised that one such area that had felt the pinch was the ‘suspension’ fork. Although it does move up and down the damping qualities are questionable at best.

Si also had a good look at the battery, its performance and safety, which is a huge consideration when it comes to e-bikes, and perhaps the number one reason why budget options can be a risk, especially with recent reports of e-bike fires and poorly fitted batteries. Safety is key and if you’re carrying around a motor and a large battery on your bike, you want to be sure that it’s not going to overheat or malfunction in any way.

To find out how Si got on with his budget bike, and take a closer look at what battery quality you get for such a low price, have a watch of the full video above to join Si on his test ride. And whilst it might not be the best e-bike out there, Si shares his thoughts on how having e-bikes at more accessible prices can be a good thing.

If you want more content around e-bikes make sure to head over here to see all our e-bike content in one place.

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