|To build a lightweight electric bike is a mission full of compromises. Forget ride comfort, balloon tires, comfy seat, suspension and other niceties. Forget top speed and long range, which would require a large battery and heavy motor. Forget doing it on the cheap, because lightweight bicycle pieces are expensive. If you really want a lightweight electric bike you are going to have to pay for it with cash and ride quality…and might as well forget high performance…the only thing exciting about these bikes is their light weight…however most of these also give you stealthiness because they look like normal bikes. Because of the onset of affordable LiPo batteries and new ebike motor technologies, lightweight ebikes have become a build-able and sell-able possibility. As LiPo batteries become lighter, more powerful, and more affordable we can only expect this list to improve. We only considered complete functioning electric bikes for this list…no tiny clown folding bikes etc.
#1 Montanara Volta, 19 pounds
240-WH of LiPo. This bike was home-built by Jean-Pierre Schiltknecht with the purpose of building the lightest mountain bike ever, and setting a Guinness Book of World Record. No expense was spared, this very special bike cost over $15,000 to make. It is a mid-drive running through the gears using a tiny RC motor, and despite its lightweight and seemingly delicate construction, this ebike is a mountain climber. Read our article on this ebike
#2 Vivax Veloce, 21.5 pounds
160-WH of LiPo $5,500. This bike uses the legendary Gruber Assist motor which is built into the seat post which is the stealthiest ebike set up imaginable. Almost no way to tell the above bike is an electric bike except for its push button accelerator (which also can be hidden). The Gruber Assist is so stealthy that it is suspected of being used as a cheating device in a big bicycle race. Read our article on the Gruber Assist.
#3 Super Commuter, 28 pounds
250-WH of Hobby King LiPo, $3,000 spent in parts with a carbon frame (It would be $1,000 cheaper and only 2 pounds heavier with an aluminum frame). This bike was home-built by Kepler who decided to sell his modified 50mph Stealth Bomber and build this bike with the funds. Read our article on the Super Commuter and Keplers decision to go with a lightweight ebike.
#4 Adrian’s Commuter Booster, 28 pounds
200-WH of Hobby King LiPo. This bike uses an innovative friction drive which turns the back wheel with a tiny RC motor that actually spins against the back wheel. All the electronics (except for the dashboard and power switch) are clamped to the seat post for easy removal at any time without tools. Visit the Commuter Booster Site
#5 Cytronex Cannondale Capo, 30 pounds
96-WH Nickel metal hydride battery (NiMH). $2,600 This one is definitely our least favorite bike on this list because of its outdated and tiny NiMH battery pack. Visit this bikes website
#6 Prodego 29er Titanium, 31.8 pounds
205-WH battery, $5,000. One of the sexiest bikes on this list, the frame is made from Titanium with no paint. Titanium is known for being sweet looking, lightweight, strong, and expensive, and an ebike made up of it is a rare piece of ebike porn. This bike is basically a conversion bike built by a company. It can easily be built the same way as a home build. It would be even sexier and cleaner with an internal gear hub in the rear such as a Rohloff. This is possible because this is a front wheel drive ebike. Get more info on this bike from the Prodego website
#7 BH eMotion Carbon, 35 pounds
288-WH Panasonic LiPo, $4,000. Carbon is another sexy bike frame material that only a few ebikes are made of. This one is not only carbon but also has a high-quality Panasonic mid drive.
#8 Nader’s Mountain E-bikes, 35-40 pounds
(typically 300-WH contained in a water bottle) Nader is a talented home builder who became obsessed with building lightweight hub powered mountain bikes. He does not have just one, but an entire stable full of these magnificent lightweight bikes. See Naders lightweight mountain bike collection
#9 Solar Bike Fixie, 38.6 pounds
324-WH Panasonic LiPo. The bargain ebike of this bunch. This lightweight electric bike will cost you $1,650, including shipping from Australia. This ebike builder bought 50 of these fixie bikes from China, and does the motor conversions himself. Why is it so light? For one it is a fixie bike which means no gears and limited braking in order to make it simpler and lighter. Visit the Solar Bike Website
#10 Specialized Turbo, 45 pounds
343-WH Panasonic LiPo $7,000. The Specialized Turbo has the largest battery on this list, and is by no coincidence also the heaviest (and most expensive). The Specialized Turbo has it all (28-MPH top speed, excellent components) except for an affordable price. Read our review on the Specialized Turbo
Not many manufacturers are concerned with building lightweight ebikes because of the necessary compromises (high cost and low performance). For most manufacturers its easier to exaggerate how light an electric bike is (one common trick is specify weight without ebike battery). For example the ridiculous $88k Blacktrail Bt-01 claims to be 40 pounds (yeah right!). What we learn from this list is to build a lightweight electric bike usually takes a thin road bike, a skimpy battery pack, and a puny motor. The only thing big about these bikes is their price-tag, because they use lightweight (and expensive) components. As it turns out it is very easy to build a lightweight bike yourself if you are willing to spend the money, and if you use a small geared hub motor. Look to the home builds on this list for inspiration if you want to build one yourself. Most of these bikes have the capacity to carry larger battery packs if the owner so chooses. They are shown here in their most lightweight configurations. 3 of these bikes are Australian (Super Commuter, Commuter Booster, Solar Fixie) 8 are road bikes 2 are mountain bikes 3 are made of carbon (the Montanara Volta, the Super Commuter, and the BH eMotion) 4 are home builds. Someday we hope to make a top 10 list entirely of production electric bikes. But at the moment there are not 10 lightweight production ebikes on the market worthy of this list. 3 of these bikes are mid-drives (through the gears). Mid-drives allow a bike to use much smaller (and lighter) motors and still be capable of decent hill climbing. BH eMotion, Vivax, and Montonara Volta 2 were purpose built to be ebikes (Specialized Turbo, BH Motion Carbon), the others are conversion bikes. 1 of these bikes does not have gears (the Solar Fixie Bike) All of these bikes except for one (Cannondale) have LiPo packs.