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Need low-cost alternative to public transport? Great e-bikes for under $1,200

The first wave of stimulus checks for up to $1,200 are being distributed by the IRS right now. And believe it or not, $1,200 can actually buy some pretty useful electric bikes for yourself or someone in need.

Here are some of the best electric bikes we’ve tested that could be covered by all or part of the $1,200 stimulus check and still leave some cash in your pocket for other essentials.

To be clear, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, and cheap transportation isn’t a priority, your money is probably better spent elsewhere.

But for those that need a cheap and easy way to get around town and maybe avoid some gas, registration and insurance costs, an ebike is a great way to go.

And if the point of a stimulus check is to stimulate the economy, then these e-bikes from US companies will be happy to help you start stimulating.

Also, if you have a local bike shop, please support them first.

To see all of the bikes from this list in action, check out our video below. It gives a mini-review of each of these e-bikes back to back.

Lectric XP folding fat tire e-bike ($899)

It’s hard to find a better ratio of speed to dollars than the Lectric XP.

For just $899, you’re getting a 28 mph (45 km/h) e-bike that is both fast and powerful, thanks to that 750 W motor.

To be fair, the battery isn’t the biggest we’ve seen. At just 500 Wh, you’ll likely get around 25 miles (40 km) of mixed use from it. A bit of pedaling can increase that number, while hard off-road riding might drop the range futher.

Speaking of off-roading, the Lectric XP’s fat tires make it great for hitting both the asphalt and the dirt. There’s no suspension on this budget-level e-bike, but it will still handle nicely on gravel or dirt trails thanks to the large air volume in those fat tires. Think nature trail, not mountain bike course.

Check out our full review of the Lectric XP e-bike here, or see our review video below.


RadRunner electric utility bike ($1,199)

The Lectric XP is nice, but what if you want the ability to carry cargo and passengers, or want more battery capacity to ride further? The RadRunner from Rad Power Bikes would make a great step up.

It’s normally a $1,299 e-bike, which would place it outside the range of your stimulus check. But luckily for you, Rad Power Bikes just announced a higher-spec special edition of the RadRunner and subsequently placed the original RadRunner on sale for $1,199.

The RadRunner is one of the most versatile budget-level utility bikes on the market right now. Between the 750 W motor and 624 Wh battery, it has the power and battery capacity to handle pretty much any standard commute or e-bike trip.

The low standover height and rear bench seat (complete with foot peg option!) make it easy to toss a kid or two onto, and the bike rides nimbly and comfortably. The RadRunner is more road-oriented than trail-focused, so don’t plan on doing too much off-roading. However, I’ve ridden it on light nature trails where it has performed just fine.

Check out our full review of the RadRunner here, and see our review video below.


Super73-Z1 moped-style electric bike ($1,150)

Minibike, moped, e-bike… Call it whatever you want. There’s no denying the style points of the Super73 line of e-bikes. And while many of Super73’s e-bikes will set you back $2,000-$3,500, the Super73-Z1 is just $1,150.

For that price, you’re getting a 500W nominal motor with a peak output of 1,000W, a 420 Wh battery, a range of 20 miles (32 km) and a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).

The Super73-Z1 isn’t the best e-bike for pedaling, but most people will use this bike like a moped anyways. With a hand throttle and laid back ride geometry, the Super73-Z1 is a great e-bike for cruising around town. Those wide street tires make quick work of carving through turns.

While I would have loved to see a removable battery on this bike, it otherwise checks most of my boxes. And it’s hard to find a cooler looking e-bike than this one at a price that your stimulus check can cover.

Check out our full review of the Super73-Z1 e-bike here, and see our review video below.


Ride1Up 500 series electric commuter e-bike ($1,145)

While the first three e-bikes on this list were small wheeled fat-tire bikes, the Ride1Up 500 series takes us into commuter bike territory.

For just $1,145, the Ride1Up 500 series offers a nice set of specs. You’re getting a 750W peak motor, 25 mph (40 km/h) top speed, a 500 Wh removable battery and a range of 25-50 miles (40-80 km) depending on whether you’re doing pedal assist or throttle-only riding.

The bike has comfortable grips and matching saddle, includes built-in lights and even offers an upgrade to a large 800 Wh battery – though the stock battery still gets plenty of range.

If you’re looking for a good commuter e-bike that won’t break the bank, this is probably my #1 recommendation right now. The bang for your buck is just unmatched in the commuter/hybrid e-bike category.

Check out our full review of the Ride1Up 500 series here, and see our review video below.


Swagtron EB12 700C electric road bike ($850)

If you’re looking for more of a hipster-spec electric road bike, Swagtron has you covered with the EB12.

The thin 700C wheels, the narrow steel tube frame and the stubby flat bars all scream fixie bike, yet you actually get a 7-speed Shimano shifter. The 16 mph (25 km/h) top speed isn’t going to make your eyes water, but you’ll want to be pedaling this bike anyways. There’s a throttle, but it’s not the zippiest of electric bikes under throttle-only operation. The pedal-assist works beautifully though, and these kind of road bikes want to be pedaled!

The slim battery in the rear is housed in the rack, leaving the top of the rack free for storage. You can even get all nostalgic for your youth with a stolen milk crate zip tied to the rack! Though with the $850 price of this bike (on sale from its normal $999 price), you’ll have plenty of change left over to buy a milk crate.

Check out our full review of the Swatron EB12 here, and see our review video below.


Schwinn EC1 electric cruiser bike ($898)

If road bikes aren’t your thing, a Schwinn electric cruiser bike might hit the spot. The Schwinn EC1 is just $898 and has the old-school charm of a classic Schwinn – except for the motor and battery.

There’s no throttle on this one, but cruiser bikes are fun to pedal with that laid back, easy-going ride stance. The pedal assist has five levels to choose from, with the highest power level taking you right up to 20 mph (32 km/h).

With a 30 mile (51 km) range, front and rear disc brakes and a 7-speed Shimano shifter, the Schwinn EC1 would make a great pleasure bike for cruising the boardwalk or the bike lane.

And it even comes with a 2-year warranty, which is longer than many other budget-level e-bikes.

See our full Schwinn EC1 e-bike review here, or check out our video review below.


Propella V3.4 single speed e-bike ($949)

Propella makes some very nice looking electric road bikes which are perfect for anyone searching for a lightweight e-bike.

The 18 mph (29 km/h) bike weighs just 34.5 lb (15.6 kg) and easily passed my one-finger lift test. The battery is modest at just 250 Wh, but with pedal-assist only operation you can still get 20-40 miles (32-64 km) of range out of the bike.

And you’ve got to love that blue anodizing! Not a bad look for a $949 e-bike.

Check out our full review of the Propella V3.2 single speed e-bike (the version that was available just a few months ago, now replaced by the V3.4). And see our review video below.


Swagtron EB7 Plus folding e-bike ($699)

The Swagtron EB7 Plus might look a bit funny, especially with those little 16″ wheels, but it’s actually a pretty awesome little e-bike.

It will hit speeds up to 18.6 mph (30 km/h) and can get a range of 20 miles (32 km) from its removable 250 Wh battery.

There’s no front suspension, but oddly enough you will find rear suspension. It’s not the smoothest ride out there, but it’s a nice addition for little bumps and obstacles.

The beauty of the bike is how small it folds though, seen in the video below. This is a great one for keeping in the trunk of your car or sticking under your desk at the office.

Check out our full review of the Swagtron EB7 Plus folding e-bike here, or see our review video below.

And that’s it! These are the best e-bikes we’ve tested so far that can be purchased with a $1,200 stimulus check.

Sure, there are nicer e-bikes out there for a bit more cash, but if all you have to spend is the cash that the IRS just laid out, these bikes will get you rolling in no time! And if you can avoid taking crowded public transportation, save tons on gas, registration and insurance and have a little bit of fun while doing it, why not?

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.

The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0, the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2, the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission, and the $3,299 Priority Current. But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.

You can send Micah tips at, or find him on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.