If you’ve taken even a passing glance at the news today, you’ve seen non-stop headlines about the COVID-19 outbreak, plus, as an added bonus, the stock market is plunging because of fear of the virus and an economic tiff between Saudi Arabia and Russia. It certainly feels apocalyptic. And even though the best thing you can do is stay calm, wash your hands, and work from home if you can, it’s totally normal to panic buy stuff that you don’t need. I certainly did.
As cool as these bikes are, though, I want to be clear: the COVID-19 outbreak is serious, but there’s no reason to panic, and buying an electric bike won’t actually save your skin if the worst happens.
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a prepper — I don’t have any MREs or a pre-packed bug-out bag — but in the midst of a wave of depression about the climate crisis last year, I bought the Sur Ron electric bike shown below. Why? I mean, what if I need to get out of the city and the roads are blocked? Is that a rational fear? Absolutely not. But with non-stop news coverage about pandemic, it certainly feels good to have.
So, in the spirit of irrational panic buying, I’ve prepared a list of very sick electric bikes that you could use to escape your urban area of choice. The qualifications are pretty simple: you’re going to need a bike that’s at home on the roads, but has the power and suspension to go off-road if need be. The thinner and cleaner commuter electric bikes, like the VanMoof, certainly are nice, and are probably a great buy under normal circumstances, but our design brief is clear: these are the bikes to get before the shit hits the fan.
- Availability: Beginning of April
- Price: $3,600
- Top speed: 45 mph
- Max range: 40 miles
This is the bike I have and it’s amazing. It’s smaller than a real dirt bike but includes beefy front and rear suspension so you can really eat bumps, cracks, and pot holes for lunch. I'm using mine in street-legal mode, which limits it to 20-25 mph, but in my experience going any faster on the road is asking for trouble. These bikes are also pretty popular, so you can get replacement parts if you have to, and with Segway becoming the second U.S. distributor (after Luna Cycle,) those parts will only be more and more common. I got mine from Luna Cycle and opted for the belt drive conversion, so it’s as silent as it gets.
- Available now
- Price: $14,000
- Top speed: 56 mph
- Max range: 53 miles
Cake’s electric bikes are easily the best-looking bikes on the market, and they’re also the most expensive at around $14,000. But this isn’t without merit: the Kalk& is one of the few electric bikes with fully custom parts — most of the bikes on this list use dirt and mountain bike parts, and that’s fine at lower speeds, but may not be at sustained high speeds. The 53-mile maximum range is fairly standard in these sub-motorcycle electric bikes, but the top speed of 56 mph is definitely premium.
- Available now
- Price: $6,999
- Top speed: 50 mph
- Max range: 174 miles
The Delfast Top 2.0 is one of those electric bikes that use a lot of off-the-shelf parts, but it has an extraordinary max range of 174 miles on a single charge. I would personally be cautious about riding at the top speed of 50 mph, but 20-30 mph is a lot faster than migrating on foot when things go south. Fun fact: the police in Baja California, Mexico, decided to buy these, so you know they've got some power.
- Available now
- Price: $3,650
- Top speed: As fast as you can pedal
- Max range: “30-50 mile range with moderate pedaling”
Unlike the rest of the pseudo-dirt bikes on this list, the Luna Cycle X1 Enduro is an electric mountain bike for people who actually ride bikes in the mountains. It has a throttle, but it’s made to be used in pedal-assist mode. That said, it does satisfy our main requirements: it has a full suspension, so you can ride on almost any terrain, and it comes with off-road tires. And for $300 extra you can have Luna Cycle enable “ludicrous mode,” which gives you 2,000 watts of power instead of the stock 750 watts.
Not for nothing, the Luna Cycle X1 Enduro is also a really nice bike. Assuming the apocalypse doesn’t come, you probably wouldn’t regret snagging this sleek electric ride.
- Available now
- Price: $5,999
- Top speed: 30 mph
- Max range: 75 mile range
The Ubco 2x2 isn’t a bike Batman would ride, that’s for sure. But with 75 miles of range and room for cargo, this cute little ride caught my eye. With all the other bikes on this list, you’re going to need to carry whatever you’re taking with you in a backpack, which can get tiring on long rides. With the Ubco 2x2 you can mosey your way out of disaster with a lot more gear. Think about it: you’re going to need food and water, right?
And you might be thinking: with only 40-60 miles of range, what happens when I get out of the city and run out of power? That's up to you my friend. You're out of the city, now you've got to navigate the suburbs and rural America, and that's a whole other guide. Just have a friend with a Cybertruck wait for you on the outskirts of town. It'll be fine... probably.
Again, there's no reason to buy one of these bikes for disaster purposes, but I have one, and let me tell you something: it’s rad as hell. It’s some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. How you rationalize the expense is up to you.