Best cheap e-bikes and electric scooters under $500

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There’s a wide range of e-bikes and electric scooters available at an equally wide range of prices. The more you spend, the better the bells and whistles get as does performance. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals to be found. Here’s a list of the best electric rideables I’ve tested for $500 or less. 

You’ll find both e-bikes and electric scooters on this list. Most of them are designed for short-distance trips, like getting you through that last mile of your commute or a quick errand. They aren’t meant for a long-distance traveler nor for any speed demons.

Because of their popularity right now and production slowdowns due to COVID-19, availability can be hit or miss. I’ve listed the prices they normally sell for, too, so you can keep an eye out for price gougers. 

Joseph Kaminski

The Mongoose React E4 electric scooter — one of three it currently offers — is designed specifically for kids 13 years and older and supports riders up to 176 pounds. The specs are good for its $230 price, including a travel distance of up to 6 miles with a top speed of 15 mph. It has a single hub motor powered by a lithium battery that takes around 3 hours to charge or you can use it as a kick scooter. The rubber wheels on the E4 are a hair under 6 inches (152 mm), so steer clear of any potholes. 

Even though this scooter is recommended for teens, my 7-year-old handled testing for this one; I am well beyond the recommended weight for this product. She’s tested out others with me though, and its height-adjustable handlebars made it easy for her to ride. 

The take-off was smooth and, with her being so light, the battery life lasted longer than Mongoose’s claims for heavier riders. The one area she needed to be careful was with the electric brakes: They were extremely responsive for her size and weight. The rear spoiler brake was a safer choice since both braking options cut the motor. 

The scooter has a kickstand but can be folded down for storage and weighs just under 19 pounds. It is built from aluminum and feels very sturdy. My only knock would be the plastic throttle and thumb tabs for the brakes. Being a device aimed at teens, I would like something as kid-proof as possible.

Mongoose Toy Fair announcement.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Great for a commuter with limited storage space. The Swagtron EB5 Pro is a folding pedal-assist bicycle with an electric motor that also has its own throttle (so you don’t really have to pedal at all). With a full battery, it can travel up to 15 miles at a speed of 15 mph. This folding electric bicycle is a single speed, and you can even turn all the powered features off and use it like a regular bike. It weighs a solid 37 pounds and the seat supports riders up to 264 pounds, but when the seat is folded down, this ride is surprisingly small. See our Swagtron EB5 Pro gallery.

Sarah Tew

The Levy Electric Scooter slides into this list due to its price-to-practicality ratio. An electric scooter that can hit 18 mph, costs around $500, weighs just under 30 pounds and has a removable battery is a pretty good all-around deal. Levy also has scooters available for rent through its iOS and Android app. 

The Levy has air-filled tires that make for a comfortable ride. The battery is located in the steering tube, unlike a lot of other scooters, so you get some body flexibility similar to a longboard for those bumpy roads. I really appreciate that the battery is removable as well. Anyone with a yard or stairs can leave it locked, and remove the battery to take into charge. 

The Levy is rated to travel about 15 miles on a full charge but that’s not at top speed. I would say most riders would get realistically about seven to 10 miles. But because it’s removable, you can buy a second battery for $139 and carry it with you.

For a closer look, check out our gallery of the Levy Electric Scooter.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite is the least expensive product on this list, and that’s its greatest feature. This folding e-scooter doesn’t outperform any of the products mentioned here, but at $299 it’s hard to complain about it not being the best electric scooter in the overall marketplace. It has a single 250-watt motor that doesn’t put out much torque but can reach a smooth ride speed of 14 to 16 mph. The listed travel distance is approximately 11 miles on a fully charged battery, with a lithium-ion battery that will charge in 3.5 hours. The maximum weight supported is 320 pounds and the e-scooter weighs 26 pounds. Although it supports larger riders, due to its low-powered motor, you may get a slower takeoff and slowdowns on inclines. It may also lose its charge faster. See our gallery of the Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re in an area where riding year-round isn’t an option, Unagi offers a subscription service for its E500 scooter which happens to be one of our favorite last-mile scooters. 

Equipped with dual, 250-watt motors, the E500 is comprised of carbon fiber and aluminum, weighing a hair under 27 pounds. The scooter retails for $990 but will cost $39 when paying month-to-month or $34 a month if you pay annually. It’s currently available in New York and Los Angeles with more cities to be announced. There is a one-time setup fee of $50 and the scooter will be hand-delivered within 24 hours of signing up along with a basic tutorial of how to safely operate it. And if you ever encounter any performance issues, Unagi can have a replacement to you within a 24-hour window also. 

The electric scooter can support riders up to 270 pounds, hit a top speed of 18 mph, and a travel distance of 15 miles. To stop the scooter, just use the ABS electric brake or put a little pressure on the rear spoiler brake for those steep hills.

Other nice features include the bright display that’s easy to see in sunlight, and instead of sticking a bell on the scooter, they’ve put on an electric horn that’s loud enough to be heard through a closed car window. For a closer look at this electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Unagi E500. Read more on the Unagi E500.

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