Electric road bikes are booming, and none more so than these 'stealth' models whose designers have tucked the battery and motor inside the frame so that they don't look like electric bikes, but like regular road and gravel bikes.
Electric road bikes like these are being bought by riders coming back from illness and injury, older riders who are finding the hills they once romped up rather more of a chore, and folks who just want that zoomy road bike experience without having to get Tour de France fit first.
Like all electric bikes that you can ride legally in the UK without licence and insurance, these electric road bikes deliver up to 250 watts of continuous power assistance and stop helping when you get to 25km/h (15.5mph)
Lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium frames help keep down the weight of electric road bikes so they're not a huge chore to ride unassisted
To save weight, electric road bikes tend to have lower capacity batteries than urban e-bikes; the idea is that you use the assist sparingly rather than blatting around everywhere on full power
Electric road bikes make excellent commuter bikes too, with a handy burst of speed away from the lights; many have provision for mudguards and a rack as well as wide tyres
Electric road bikes — often referred to as ‘e-road’ bikes — are arguably the newest bike genre, with Haibike’s now discontinued Xduro Race being one of the first commercially available electric bikes with drop bars back in 2014.
Another early example was Giant’s Road-E+ (2020 models now available), although like the Haibike this has a pretty noticeable battery integrated into the downtube. In the last few years we’ve started to see e-road bikes that are difficult to distinguish from unassisted ones to the untrained eye, and the weights are coming down too.
The thing that's enabled the new wave of stealth e-road bikes is the introduction of motor and battery systems that can easily be incorporated into a road bike without the result screaming "E-BIKE!".
There are two main suppliers of drive systems. Germany's Fazua was founded in 2013 specifically to make integrated motor-and-battery packs and you'll now find its Evation system on many e-road bikes.
Mahle GmbH is a large supplier of components to the automotive industry that bought Spanish company ebikemotion Technologies S.L. in 2018. The most common Mahle ebikemotion system you'll find is the X35, which has a battery concealed in the frame powering a compact rear hub motor. Mahle/ebikemotion also makes mid-drive motors, as used by Specialized in its Creo bikes.
Both manufacturers continue to develop their platforms. Fazua has recently announced a software upgrade it calls Black Pepper, which is claimed to yield more power and a more natural ride feel from the existing Evation unit.
Both systems have 250Wh batteries, which is rather less than the 500Wh of typical utility e-bikes, but because they're lighter, built into lighter bikes and can be set to metre out their power assist very conservatively you can still get a decent range out of them.
If range is a real worry for you, you can get a range extender (essentially an extra battery) or the Mahle ebikemotion system. On the other hand, you can drop the battery unit and motor completely out of a Fazua-equipped bike and ride without it, or just make it lighter to load on a rack.
Here is our pick of the stealthiest electric road bikes out there, to give you an extra nudge up the hills but less of a drag when your motor cuts out.
Here's a shiny new entry in the stealth electric road bike field, from long-standing aluminium specialists Kinesis. The Range uses the Fazua Evation motor and battery system, which has become a really popular choice among bike makers who don't want their drop-handlebar electric bikes to look like electric bikes.
We called it a road bike for its drop handlebars, but to be more precise the Range is a gravel bike, intended for exploring dirt roads and Britain's frost-ravaged back lanes. Of course you could slap slick tyres on it and use it on Tarmac too, but arguably you'd be squandering the potential of a bike that has clearance for tyres up to 50mm wide.
Launched in March 2019, the E64 is inspired by Colnago's high-end C64 road racer. It comes in two colourways – grey/black/yellow and black/white/orange – and is built around a full 11 speed Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset. The assistance is in the form of a 250 watt hub-based motor courtesy of Ebikemotion, and the full bike plus electronics is just 12kg in weight.
The e-765 Optimum is Look's first electric bike of any description, and has been endorsed by Look ambassador and five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault. Like the Pinarello Nytro and the Focus Paralane2 they've selected the Fazua Evation mid-motor system to provide the motor and battery, which gives you up to 250 watts of power on tap when you need it with three levels of assistance.
The geometry of the frame is described as 'endurance-bred', with a stiff and responsive high modulus carbon frame that's made to feel comfortable for day-long rides. Look's latest 3D Wave design is used in the seatstays, which incorporates deflections that they say adds up to an extra 15% of vertical compliance compared to their pre-3D Wave frames, adding further comfort. With the battery and motor included the bike weighs in at 13.2kg.
The Impulso is Bianchi's first electric road bike, and positioned itself as a happy medium between heavier bikes with bigger batteries and sleeker e-bikes with reduced power. It has a Polini motor that has a comparable power output to a Bosch Performance Line CX unit, and there's a 490Wh internal battery in the down tube. All this and the bike weighs in at around 16kg for a large frame, not bad for such a powerful motor. Read Dave's full review on eBikeTips here.
If low weight and sleek looks matters to you more than huge battery power, then look no further than the Bianchi Aria e-road. Its Inner Power Drive System weighs just 3.5kg in total, and makes use of Ebikemotion’s X35 V.2 pedal assist technology in the form of a rear hub motor. The 250W battery can take you up 1,200 metres of elevation gain on a full charge, and there are three levels of assistance working at 30%, 60% or 100% of the total power.
While the main talking point of the top-of-the-range S-Works version might be the £10,999 price tag (making it the most expensive bicycle of any genre road.cc have ever reviewed) this e-road machine also features the SL 1.1 motor system – built by Specialized in collaboration with Mahle of Germany from the ground up – and has the Future Shock 2.0 damping system for extra comfort. Weighing in at 13kg it's not the lightest e-road bike there is, but is certainly one of the lightest out there with a mid-motor. If you haven't quite got 11 grand to spend on your next steed, you'll be pleased to know the Turbo Creo SL range starts from £5,499 with a carbon frame.
This high-end electric road bike ranges from £5,399 up to a whopping £9,299 for the Paralane² 9.9. It uses the Fazua Evation motor system and is full carbon, and Focus say it's versatile enough to be used for road riding, gravel or bikepacking adventures. Focus claim the bike weighs under 13kg, and the whole Fazua system other than the gearbox is removable – doing so means you'd have a bike of around 9kg in weight if you want to use it as a standard road bike.
Another electric road bike that uses the Fazua system, so you can ride it without assistance when the situation calls for it. With all the gubbins it weighs in at 13kg, and as well as a full carbon frame you get Sram's second-tier Force groupset with FSA crankset and finishing kit, plus hydraulic disc brakes.
Coming in various specs, the Agree Hybrid takes Cube's all-round lightweight race bike and adds some extra oomph. This comes in the form of the Fazua system (that can again be removed) and the total bike weight comes in at around 14kg. The tyre clearance is big enough for some cross tyres should you want to briefly take it off-road, and overall it's very well integrated. Check out the test report on eBikeTips here.
Launched with plenty of fanfare late in 2017, the Italians have blended assistance with aero pretty seamlessly in their Nytro electric road bike. Find out more in the video above and read the full review over on eBikeTips here.
Another well known conventional road bike with a motor added, Wilier's Cento1 Hybrid claimed to be the lightest e-road bike when it was launched back in May at 12kg (although things are moving fast, as you'll read below). It has a full carbon frame and fork, and uses the ebikemotion system to provide assistance with a rear hub motor. Wilier also have their own app to control the bike's functions, and you can also, for example, link up a heart rate monitor to your smartphone and set a limit, so the bike will feed power in from the motor when you start going above it.
Read the review on eBikeTips here
The Gain was first launched with an aluminium frame, and now the new carbon version has a claimed weight of just 11.3kg in its top spec version. Using the Ebikemotion X35 system, the Gain's battery sits neatly inside the down tube and the assistance is controlled via one simple button unit integrated into the top tube.
Read the review on eBikeTips here
Launched this summer and evolved from Cannondale's popular SuperSix lightweight road bike, the SuperSix Neo uses a Mahle ebikemotion X35 battery and motor that helps make it one of the stealthiest e-road bikes.
Wilier and then Orbea's claim to the lightest electric road bike didn't last too long, as out of nowhere British bike brand Ribble popped up at the Cycle Show and revealed the Endurance SLE, weighing a claimed 11kg. The top spec comes with a SRAM Red eTap groupset and carbon wheels from Vision, for £5,500, and the range starts from £2,800. It's pretty much indistinguishable from a conventional road bike, and is another that uses the discreet ebikemotion system.
Read the review on eBikeTips' here
Another from Ribble, this time it's an all-rounder that they say is "as at home on the road as it is on the most adventurous of trails". CGR stands for 'cross gravel road', and the bike uses the same Ebikemotion system as the Hybrid AL e. It can run either 700c or 650b tyres, with the latter pushing the tyre clearance up to a massive 2". It also has mudguards and rack mounts for commuting and bikepacking duties, and build options start from £1,899.00.
The Domane + is an electrified take on Trek's popular Domane endurance bike. It has Trek's IsoSpeed technology to absorb bumps in the road, and riding assistance courtesy of a Fazua motor and 250Wh battery.You don't get the range of Trek's previous Bosch-powered electric road bikes, but at 14.7kg it's significantly lighter, and you have the option of leaving the drive pack at home.
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After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.