The concept of minimalist electric bike is not a new thing. Ever since the earlier version of e-bikes with big motors and bulky batteries came out engineers and designers have been looking for ways to make them lighter, using different materials and ditching all the parts that are not absolutely essential. The result was often less than impressive, with products that seriously lacked in quality, and still were significantly heavier than their non-electric counterparts.
With the lithium battery technology advancing, a lot has changed. Cycling culture in European countries like Holland or Germany, has spawned many great e-bike brands like Gazelle, or VanMoof that produce amazing stealth electric bikes. Unfortunately, many of these the companies do not ship to the US, and for those that do, the total price of the bike, shipping and all, is just too high.
If you have unlimited budget, you will probably have no problem finding an electric bike that is powerful, yet lightweight, made with quality materials like carbon fiber and top-shelf parts. But for most of us $5K+ is just too much to dish out on a bicycle, even the electric one. To be honest even the $2000 is a bit of a stretch. That is why we have made it out mission to find the best under 40lbs e-bike that can be put under “affordable” category. If your main concern is budget, you might consider expanding the weight limit, as there are plenty of excellent cheap bikes that weigh under 50 lbs, from brands like Ride1Up, Aventon or RadPower.
1. Roadster V2 – Minimalist Street E-Bike
Lightweight, minimalistic and affordable – you can barely tell that the Roadster V2 is an electric drive. Ride1Up is known for their reasonably-priced quality e-bikes, and this one is their most affordable yet, priced under $1K. This bike is designed for commuters who prefer an e-bike that look like lighter city bikes, but with the added benefit of an electric motor.
There is not a thing that’s unnecessary on this minimalist bike, There is no throttle, and the only way to engage the 350W (500W peak) rear hub motor is by pedaling. This is the only way to achieve over 25 miles range, because in order to keep the weight down, battery is smaller. The 36V, 7Ah battery has a capacity of 252Wh and it’s hidden in the frame.
Minimalist cockpit features a small LCD display that shows current speed, battery life, and distance. Instead of a chain drive Roadster V2 features a single-speed belt drive, and instead of standard disc brakes, there are Tektro’s R315 dual-pivot V-brakes. There is no suspension, no fenders, and no chain guard. All of this contributes to Ride1Up Roadster weighing only 32 lbs.
2. Qualisports Nemo – Lightweight Folding Bike
Nemo is the smallest and the lightest of the Qualisports electric bikes. It is small, folding, and the battery and all of the electronics are hidden in the frame. It’s got a lower capacity battery, only 36V, 252Wh, but it is lightweight.
The 250W motor is in the front. This is not the setup I prefer on the electric bikes, but with the proprietary motor and tuned in speed controller, this bike accelerates so smoothly, that you won’t experience spinning out at all.
There are lots of smart decisions put into the design of Qualisports Nemo. The battery is placed in the center of the frame, while the motor is in the front wheel, meaning that Nemo is one of the best balanced folding e-bikes at the moment. The wheels are small 16”, but they are wide, which adds to the stability.
Have in mind that this bike is intended for smaller riders. If you are heavier than 180-200lbs you might want to check out the Qualisports Dolphin, which has 20” wheels, more motor power, and double the battery capacity of the Nemo.
3. GigaByke Swift – Light Commuter Bike
GigaByke have been around for as long as electric scooters have, but this is their first attempt to claim a spot at crowded e-bike market. After the moped-like electric scooter with pedals, here comes the GigaByke Swift – a feature-packed affordable electric bike that weighs only 36 pounds.
A quiet 350W motor will easily get you to speed of 20mph. The motor is controlled through thumb throttle on the handlebar, or pedal assist with 5 levels of assistance. Gigabyke Swift is fitted with Carbon Drive CDX Belt Drive, which is a more low maintenance solution compared to chain drive. There are two Li-Ion battery options: 7.5Ah with a range of up to 25 miles and 10.4Ah battery that has a range of 30+ miles, and adds about $100 to the price. But even with the bigger battery, this e-bike is one of the most affordable on this list.
Another nice feature on this bike are the TEKTRO High-Pressure Disc Brakes in the front and in the rear, with heavy-duty calipers and oversized discs. This bike comes in two sizes to accommodate riders ranging from 5’4” to 6’4”. The tires are decent 700x28c, providing just enough traction and comfort. The command center of Swift bike is the backlit LED display, showing all the important data like speed, battery level, pedal assist level and mileage traveled.
All things considered, GigaByke Swift is a versatile commuter e-bike that is well worth the price.
4. Propella V4.0 Single Speed
Propella is a company that has always strived for simplicity, eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the essentials. That is why it comes as no surprise that the latest e-bike in their lineup, the Propella V4.0, scores a place on our list of the best minimalist electric bikes in 2020. There is a single-speed and 7-speed version of this model. A single speed version weighs only 35 pounds, and it’s a very good, affordable Class 1 electric bike.
Propella V4.0 is a nice-looking bike. Budget e-bikes tend to look pretty clunky and unsightly, but with this bike you can tell that the company didn’t backed down when it comes to the aesthetic. The lightweight battery is practically indistinguishable from a water bottle, and there are no cheap plastic parts that you can find on many of under $1000 commuter e-bikes. There are some compromises that come with the price; there are no fenders, no chain guard, and no suspension whatsoever.
As for the performance, it is as expected, nothing more, nothing less. The battery is fairly small, 250Wh, which means somewhat shorter range, but 20 miles in the urban environment covers a lot of ground. The 250 W (350W peak) Rear hub Bafang motor gives good amount of power, and in PAS level 5 you will get to 18 mph with barely any pedaling. The digital handlebar display shows level of pedal assist and battery life, speed, time of day, and mileage.
Because of it’s a single speed and has a smaller battery, this bike isn’t good for hilly terrain, but if your commute is relatively short and on mostly flat roads, and you value the way your ride looks, Propella is a great on the budget option for you.
5. Luna Fixed Stealth
Upon first glance, no one will guess that this is an electric bike. The only telltale sign is the large central hub where the motor is. The battery is hidden in the downtube, there is a very discreet display, and the matte black finish on the frame adds to the stealth appearance of the bike.
While it looks like a fixed gear bike, this is actually a three speed bike. There are three levels of pedal assist that set how fast and how much motor power is delivered. The Luna Fixed’s mid-drive doesn’t have a top speed cutout (though you can set one through the display) so it will continue to provide power as fast as you can possibly pedal it. With a 250 Wh, 36V 7Ah battery pack this bike can only reach a maximum range of around 20 miles, with some pedaling.
The ride is very smooth, with carefully paced power delivery. Luna Fixed features a torque sensor, which makes riding so much more intuitive than on e-bikes with cadence sensor. Anyone can ride this bike, just get on and start pedaling. The bike uses a Gates Carbon Drive CDX belt drive system, which is very quiet and also easy to maintain. There are some entry-level components, like Tektro hydraulic brakes, or Kenda tires, but they are functional.
The price is actually under $2000, but there are couple of tricks Luna uses to make it happened. First, there is a direct-to-consumer model, cutting out the middleman, but you’ll have to pay additional $150 fee to get the bike delivered to your door. Also, if you want warranty you will have to pay extra, because there is none other than a 30-day guarantee against defects or dead-on-arrival bikes. And once the bike has been opened, the company does not accept returns.
Jetson Mini Bike
Top 5 Lightweight Electric Bikes Under 40 lbs Compared
|Name||Ride1Up Roadster V2
||Qualisports Nemo||GigaByke Swift||Propella V4.0||Luna Fixed Stealth
|Speed||24 mph||16 mph||20 mph||18 mph||25+ mph|
|Range||20 miles||15-30 miles||18-25 miles||20-35 miles||20 miles|
|Battery||36V, 7 Ah lithium battery||36V, 7 Ah||36V, 7.5 Ah Li-Ion||36V, 250Wh||36V, 7 Ah lithium battery|
|Weight||32 lbs||30 lbs||36 lbs||35 lbs||39 lbs|
|CHECK PRICE||CHECK PRICE||CHECK PRICE||PRE-ORDER ONLY||CHECK PRICE|
The Lightest Production E-Bike – Gogoro Eeyo
This electric bike is super lightweight, with carbon frame mode weighing only 26lbs, and possibly the lightest electric bike that is not just a prototype, or a project, and can actually be purchased. The feathery load is achieved by manufacturing many parts out of carbon fiber, like the frame, fork, seat post, rims, and handlebar, but also by dropping many usual accessories like fenders, or a chain guard.
There are a lot of compromises that you have to make if your priority is getting the e-bike that weighs as little as possible. First, there are the obvious lack of fenders and chain guards, and even the kickstand. Also, this is not the bike for you if your commute is long and bumpy one, because Gogoro Eeyo does not have any suspension, has zero flex in the frame, so any vibration will go straight into the saddle, with very underwhelming padding.
However, on flat ground this bike shows what is made for. The Eeyo Smartwheel, which is the motor, battery and sensors combined together into one incredibly smart and compact piece, is agile and delivers optimum amount of power. Riding this bike feels totally intuitive, mainly thanks to the top-notch torque sensor that detects pedaling power and instantly delivers pedal assist that provides increased control, power, and speed in a very balanced and natural-feeling way. It has up to 40 miles of range, but only if you keep the speed under 12mph and ride on level ground.
Despite being the most lightweight electric bike of all, it didn’t make our list just because it is way more expensive than all the other bikes. But, it still deserves to be mentioned.
What affects how much an e-bike weighs?
Putting all the extra features aside, the weight of an electric bike comes down to three factors: battery weight, motor weight, and tire size. E-bike batteries usually weigh between 4.5 – 8 lbs, depending on its construction and its capacity: the bigger the capacity, the more it weighs. The electric motor and drive system also adds about 15- 18 pound to the total weight, but this is not such a big thing because more weight means more power. The demand for lightweight electric bicycles is on the rise, there are lots of innovative technology and minimalist design solutions, and electric bikes are weighing less with every new model.
Does electric bike weight matter?
With traditional bikes it is simple: less weight usually means better performance. However, this is not as straightforward with e-bikes, because less weight means smaller battery, which means less range. Weight of an electric bike is more about practicality than it is about performance. Does weight of your bike affects your riding? Not really. You will get an extra push if you are riding uphill, but on flat ground difference is unnoticeable. On the other hand if your commuting includes carrying your bike up the stairs, a lightweight bike has an obvious advantage. Imagine hauling a 60-pound e-bike up 3 flights of stairs! Those 20+ pounds less really make a difference.
Which is the lightest electric bike in the world?
The Freicycle, the lightest electric bicycle prototype weighing 15 lb 2.40 oz (6.872 kg) was made by Dennis Freiburg in Dortmund, Germany, and noted in the Guinness Book of World Records on 3 December 2019. It is based on Merida Scultura – a carbon-framed climbing racer with a sub-1kg (2.2-lb) frame and rim-mounted brakes to cut down on weight as much as possible. Freiburg took things up a notch with a full carbon crank and 3D-printed pedals, and barely-there carbon rims. Dennis took the small motor powering the main rotor of a model helicopter and fashioned it into a friction drive that rests against the rear wheel under power, and swings out of the way when it’s not in use.
Is a minimalist ebike the right choice for you?
The obvious appeal of lightweight electric bikes is in their sleek design. Some people love the idea of an e-bike that looks like a traditional street bike. Also, if carrying your bike is something that you will be regularly doing, you want a bike that weighs as close as 30lbs as possible. If you need a bike that you can take with you to public transport, take look at one of the folding options. Find a bike that hits the sweet spot with being light and having all the features you need, because adding the equipment means adding more weight to your bike.