Whether you’re riding across campus, commuting to work, or traversing the trails, learn about e-bikes and the best electric bikes made in the USA.
American Made Electric Bikes
A few weeks back my husband and I were on a large university campus near our home. While walking to our location, we noticed over a dozen different electric bicycles, or e-bikes, students were riding. These e-bikes were quiet, and the students appeared to be enjoying them as they rode to the cafeteria or classroom buildings. We met up with a couple of students at our destination: a Shakespeare drama. (Yes! There is hope for the world when a student watches Shakespeare!) This observation made me quite curious about what these bikes are and if there are any made in the USA.
Interested in a bike that’s not electric? Check out: American Made Bikes: From Trikes to High-Performance, Our Ultimate Source List
Are Any Electric Bikes Made in the USA?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Made in USA” means that ‘all or virtually all' the product has been made in America. That is, all significant parts, processing, and labor that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. Products should not contain any — or only negligible — foreign content.”
In a nutshell, no electric bike fits the Federal Trade Commission’s description of “Made in the USA:”
Every electric bike company in America sources some of its parts somewhere other than the USA for one primary reason: For one, Some of the BEST components aren't made on American soil. For example, Outrider USA shares a long list of parts made in the USA that it uses on its electric bikes, but they buy a motor part from Germany. A second reason is that some parts necessary for electric bikes aren't actually made in the USA.
Like Outrider USA, some e-bike companies do better than others when it comes to explaining where they get their parts. Others aren't so clear.
So if I'm following the FTC's definition of “Made in the USA,” then it’s my opinion that the companies I list fit the category of “Assembled in the USA” as opposed to “Made in the USA,” but with the caveat that a few list where they actually get their parts.
I’ve tried to discern from my research which American e-bike companies do more than screw nuts and bolts into a frame. For example, one company makes its own motors. Another company’s owner actually bought a battery company, and although the batteries are made overseas, the profit goes back into the US economy. So while my approach isn’t an exact science, I’ve tried to include those e-bike companies that strive to come as close to “Made in the USA” as they can.
What Is an Electric Bike?
Simply stated, an electric bike, an e bike, or an e-bike, is a bike with a motor. This battery-operated, encased motor sits on a bicycle and assists the rider in pedaling. E bikes require you to pedal with the motor assisting in that pedaling.
These bikes not only are delightful to ride, but they’re also good to use if you’re commuting and don’t want to get overly tired or sweaty. Many people use an e-bike instead of a second car. Many of our communities, whether urban or suburban, have paths and trails you can ride on, enabling you to stay off busy highways with your e bike.
They’re appropriate if you struggle with asthma or knee pain. One ebike brand listed below makes electric bikes for those with mobility issues.
In the USA, many states require the rider to be at least 14 years of age to drive an e bike. Other states up the age limit to 16. Be sure to check your state’s age requirements to operate an electric bike.
The different types of electric bikes and their uses
Some e-bikes allow you to bicycle over difficult terrain, while companies build others to help you ride on smoother surfaces, such as commuter lanes.
- Cruiser E-Bike: Made for casual riding along paved roads and paths.
- Electric Cargo Bike: This bike is ideal for carrying items, so it might have a rear rack or side racks. This is a great choice if you live in the city and make deliveries.
- Commuter Bike: Similar to the cruiser but made for longer trips.
- Mountain Bike: Has wide tires for off-road biking.
- Folding E-Bike: As the name suggests, it folds in half for easy storage. Road E-Bike: Similar to the cruiser bike but goes faster.
- Road E-Bike: Similar to the cruiser bike but goes faster.
History of the Electric Bike
Electric bikes aren’t new. Their history goes as far back as the late 1800s. Then, when gasoline-powered engines came onto the scene, these battery-operated bikes grew less and less popular as a mode of transportation. In the mid-1900s, e-bikes gained popularity in countries where bicycle commuting is more prevalent.
Today’s resurgence really began as far back as the late 1990s with America’s neo-urbanization. More people who live in highly-populated areas use e bikes to commute to work. They choose e-bikes because they’re cheaper than cars or even electric motorcycles. Electric bikes also don’t emit pollution, a huge reason some choose this mode of transportation. Still others rely on e bikes FOR their work as they deliver goods to homes and businesses. As technology continues to improve on these items, so will their popularity.
An Electric Bike’s Components
An electric bike consists of a bike frame that looks and operates similar to that of a traditional bike (but lighter), along with four other primary components:
Unlike a moped or motorcycle that runs on a gasoline-powered motor, an electric bike’s motor runs on a battery. The motor turns the battery’s energy into forward motion. The motor should offer a quiet ride. Look for a brushless motor.
The motor is situated either near the center of the bike’s frame, called a mid-drive motor, or at the front or back, called a hub-driven bike.
The battery gives the electric bike its energy to make the motor run. The battery determines how far you can ride on a single charge. Choose a lithium-ion battery. The voltage and amp hours (Ah) determine the outcome. Look for around a 75-watt battery with around 13 amp hours. You can charge the battery at home.
Some motors are “pedal assist,” meaning you still have to pedal, but the motor takes away the effort. Other motors connect to a throttle on the handlebar. When you engage the throttle, the motor takes over and you no longer need to pedal.
One company, Outrider, makes some of its electric bikes for the person who’s physically challenged. It makes a throttle inside a seat to help these individuals engage the motor. I’ve provided quite the explanation about this company in my list below.
The controller is the heart of the electric bike. It's where all the electrical components come together to make the bike work just the way you want it to.
Want to do more outdoors? Check out this article: Best Lawn Games for Outdoor Fun Made in USA
Some states assign “classes” of their electric bikes that reflect the speed and operation of the bike. For example, a class 1 e-bike has only a pedal assist with a top speed of around 20 mph. A class 2 e-bike goes to around 20 mph, has pedal assist, and may have a thumb throttle. A class 3 e-bike goes a little faster than a class 2. Bikes that go faster are more specialized. Be sure to check your state’s laws for any limitations on electric bikes.
How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?
Basic e-bikes run with a top speed of 20 miles per hour (mph). Others hover between 30 and 45 mph, and one has a maximum speed of 60 mph. These higher speeds can be ridden only in certain contexts.
Prices of Electric Bikes Built in the United States
American-made e-bikes vary greatly in price, depending on the different models and their use. The least expensive bikes start at around $1,000. If you’re looking for an American-made e-bike for a more reasonable price, check each website for sales, pre-used, or demo e bikes. I’m also noticing many of these makers offer Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals.
About our E-Bikes List
You’ll find plenty of e-bikes on the U.S. market. There are many electric bikes made in other countries and shipped to the USA. Most of these e-bikes are made via mass production, typically with sub-par components, and definitely without detailed attention given to each e-bike. That’s why they sell at a lower cost.
Some of these companies are American companies that build their bikes in other countries and ship them to the United States.
You’ll hopefully not find any of the above companies on my list. And while I’ve mentioned not a single electric bike sources all its parts in the USA, some companies do make a concerted effort to source most of their parts from US manufacturers. I speak to that in my list below.
The remainder of the companies on the list assemble their electric bikes in the USA from global components with the goal of controlling the quality of their end product.
When an American company makes an electric bike, each company oversees production to the highest standards. That means you’re getting the best e-bike that can be built.
I’m grateful that each of these companies uses American workers to make their ebikes. From engineers and designers to welders, painters, machinists, and packagers, the electric bikes we list employ hard-working Americans, paying them a fair wage and providing dignity to their work.
Have you visited our Made in USA Shopping District? It is the place to start your shopping when you want to find the best of American-made.
Enjoy these other recommended articles from USA Love List:
- Made in USA Sneakers & Athletic Footwear: The Ultimate Source List
- American Made Outdoor Toys and Games We Love
- Four Hobbies for Tweens and Teens Featuring American Made Products
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