The Best Electric Bikes for Small People

Bicycles can be a wonderful tool for saving money, staying in shape and connecting with your community but you need one that fits properly to be safe and that can be a challenge for smaller riders. Electric bikes can make pedaling easier which reduces the need for a “perfect” ergonomic fit but they also add weight which makes transporting difficult. I’m an average sized guy but not especially strong or heavy… After testing dozens of ebikes over the years I’ve realized that finding the right bike means more than just frame size, but of course that plays a role too!

Petite cyclists confront a unique set of challenges that not every manufacturer is aware of… I’ve talked with people who want slower, less powerful electric bikes while the mainstream seems fixated on more power and speed. Other individuals simply cannot deal with the added weight of large motors and batteries. My goal with this guide is to point out some of the best products I’ve seen and tested for small people. Whether you’re physically weak or stronger with short legs I hope there’s something here to get you pointed in the right direction.

Good Electric Bikes for Short Riders

These models are specifically designed to work well for short people, the smaller wheel size keeps the center of balance low and the step-thru or mid-step frame makes mounting and standing over much easier.

Easy Motion Evo Street Review

  • MSRP: $2,999
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

A feature complete city style electric bike that's well balanced, beautifully designed and easy to mount and ride. Comes with dynamo powered lights, fenders, a rear carry rack, suspension fork and tool-free adjustable…...

Pedego 24″ Step-Thru Interceptor Review

  • MSRP: $2,995
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

A smaller version of the Interceptor that's easier to mount, it offers great power thanks to its smaller wheels paired with a 500 watt geared hub motor and 48 volt battery. Offers twist throttle and five levels of assist for increased range, throttle override puts you…...

BESV Panther PS1 Review

  • MSRP: $3,250
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

Compact form factor is easy to mount and stand over, extremely light weight frame (carbon fiber and aluminum build). Responsive torque sensing pedal assist offers three levels of smooth power, 250 watt motor is…...

Kalkhoff Sahel Compact i8 Review

  • MSRP: $3,699
  • MODEL YEAR: 2014

While not officially a folding bike, the stem does pivot and pedals do fold to create a slim profile. Rigid frame paired with oversized Schwalbe Big Ben ballon tires creates a solid but comfortable…...


 

Smaller Folding Electric Bikes

I hear from many shorter riders that folding electric bikes offer the small form factor and light weight that works well for them, this can be especially true for transporting the bike on busses or trains and each model listed here has a removable to make it even lighter

EG Vienna 250 EX Review

  • MSRP: $1,399
  • MODEL YEAR: 2014

Full suspension folding electric bike with four levels of pedal assist and throttle mode. Rear heavy design with geared hub motor and battery pack in the back...

Gocycle G2 Review

  • MSRP: $4,999
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015, 2016

A premium folding electric bike with an internally geared three speed hub in the rear and a 500 watt geared hub motor in the front for "all wheel drive" pedaling + motor support. Extremely light weight at ~36 lbs, unique quick-release wheels, lots of upgrade options for added…...

Green World Bike E-Trolley Review

  • MSRP: $1,299
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

A compact folding electric bike available in two trim styles (Standard and Pro) for increased power and range, and easier folding. Fairly comfortable to ride thanks to 2.125" diameter tires, padded comfort saddle, padded grips and…...


 

Light Weight Electric Bikes

These models might not come in the smaller sizes or have step-thru frames but they are super light weight making them much easier to handle and lift. This is the type of electric bike I prefer even though my body type is more average in terms of height

Freway VR-01 Review

  • MSRP: $1,199
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016

A light weight, super affordable electric mountain bike launched on Kickstarter in 2015, available on Amazon and Newegg now. Available in two frame sizes, a 19" diamond in black or a 17" mid-step in…...

Faraday Porteur S Review

  • MSRP: $2,799
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

A light weight "minimalist" city style ebike with two levels of pedal assist, full length steel fenders and integrated LED lights. Optional front and rear cargo racks add utility, extremely well balanced motor, battery and five…...

GenZe Recreational e102 Review

  • MSRP: $1,499
  • MODEL YEAR: 2014, 2015

A good balance of affordable options (weaker motor, entry level parts and one color) with a thoughtful custom design (mid-mounted battery, multiple frame sizes, integrated wires). Large display panel is easy to read but not removable, independent button pad is convenient…...


 

This guide isn’t comprehensive and new models come out every year but I hope it serves as a starting point and guides you towards brands that make e-bikes that work well for small people. One of the best ways to relax, connect with your community and stay healthy (either by reducing stress or getting a cardiovascular workout) is cycling. You can do it almost anywhere and work it in to a busy schedule by making it part of your transportation routine… even if that’s just running to the local store or riding to a friend’s house. I spoke with my Uncle about his experience riding to work and back every day in this video interview and it was really inspiring to hear how his health had improved and how he has saved some money since he started (and how much he enjoys it).

29 Comments

warp
1 year ago

I understand that you're only showing bikes that you reviewed, but so I would like to add a few suggestions of my own.

The reason is that I have been looking for a e-assist bike for my wife. The options are quite limited for extra short people. My wife is 5' and her inseam is around 28 inches. She likes to have a bit of clearance when straddling the bike.

A lot of the e-bikes that come in only one size are non starters. In the regular bicycle world, many bikes come in at least 3, often more. That's why it's frustrating to shop for e-bikes, they usually start at a men's medium or large. For my wife, she needs a bike made for petite women, and even then she needs XS or XXS to enable her to comfortably straddle the top bar (top tube). Although the folding models would probably work, we want to go with a full sized wheel for more stability

And it's not just matter of standover clearance, a low step over frame doesn't mean a great fit either....for example, we tried out the Easy Motion Evo Easy Street, and she was way stretched out on that frame, even though she can easily straddle the frame. She looked a bit lost sitting on that bike....coming from her 44cm road bike frame, the one size fits all Easy Motion looked like a tank.

The companies that are real bike companies often the best range of sizing. Examples that would probably work for her:

Raleigh Detour iE Step-Through - comes in a small size in a low step frame.
Trek Conduit+ - Small size would fit somebody who's around 155cm (or just over 5')
Trek Lift+ - has a men's and also a low stepover model and comes in small size
Devinci Newton S Bionx - comes in three sizes. The WF is a women's model and comes in a Small (which is smaller than the men's Small)

In the end, I'm probably going to build my own bike for my wife around a Bionx kit, we can choose an XS frame and use the rack mount Bionx kit. Ideally we would have liked to buy a complete e-bike, but this way gives us the best option for getting a fit she's comfortable with.

Court Rye
1 year ago

Hi warp, I can understand your frustration... It's uplifting to hear how much energy and time you've spent trying to find a perfect fit for your wife and I think the BionX option is a good one. Kits definitely have their place but I can understand the desire to have a more turnkey solution as well. The good news is that more and more electric bikes are being produced each year and a wider variety of sizes and shapes have come to market. Companies like Pedego have started selling more models with 24" wheels and the step-thru frame. I realize reach may still be an issue but with a bit of effort adjusting the bars (or even a replacement bar) the bikes can become more accessible to petite riders.

warp
1 year ago

Yes, we're looking for a "regular looking" fitness style hybrid, and even though some of those cruiser designs would fit, we'd prefer a design that is geared toward sporty riding. e.g. she'd riding with me when I'm on my full carbon road bike, for both speed and giving her a boost on the hilly parts.

Ralph Liniado
11 months ago

Warp, I just read this thread. My wife is petite at 5' just like your wife. We stopped into Small Planet Bikes in Dallas last season, the day after Court was there doing some tests. I was excited that they had the Evo Street as I had heard it was just what a small framed women would like, but my wife hated the bike. It didn't fit. We tried everything he had and nothing worked. The salesman than suggested the Easy Pedelar T350, and inexpensive bike that is the heart of their rental fleet. My wife rode the bike and loved it. It was under $2,000 and we bought one on the spot to be shipped to us in Florida. I had never heard of the brand, yet I bought it without any research. Turns out Court tested the same bike just the day before as I came to find out when he posted his review.

This is a small step thru bike. It has lights, a rack, a bell, and it is built like a tank. My wife thinks it is beautiful. Obviously the reason why they have a rental fleet of them at Small Planet, which is a great shop and all electric bikes. They had everything you could imagine on the floor. Fantastic. My wife loves it because it fits her small frame. It's not as elegant as some of the other big name bikes, but it fits and it works great. I had it shipped to my local LBS who charged me $25 to put the handle bars on it and away we went. Hope this helps.

Court Rye
11 months ago

Awesome advice Ralph, thanks for taking the time to help and share your experience :)

Ray T
11 months ago

thanks for the comment....the bike you bought seems like a decent value for under $2K. Looks pretty comfy and it seems like a great choice for a small rider with its downsized wheels and low step frame.

I went ahead with my original plan to build my own. So I took a 13" Trek 7.4 FX Womens, and added a Bionx rear mount kit. This is pretty much the smallest adult bike that Trek makes (and smaller than many other brands offer). I would have much preferred the battery to be on the frame but the bike frame is so small it wouldn't fit. The rear battery rack makes the bike very rear heavy but that's the tradeoff to get a bike that fits. here is a picture of it.

It ended up costing about $3K, which is higher than I wanted to spend, but at least we got a bike that fits right with a good e-assist system from a proven manufacturer. Now we're itching to put some miles on it

John Heslin
1 year ago

Hi - really enjoy your reviews! Wondering if I can ask for your opinion. Are 20" folding bikes too cramped for the average rider? I saw your E joe video and I think I can probably "fit" but at 5' 10" / 220 lbs. I'm not really sure. I'm a recreational user and ride mostly for exercise so pedaling is important. The key issue for me is whether the typical 20" folding bike be pedaled normally with full leg extention? Thanks.

Court Rye
1 year ago

Great question John, folding bicycles tend to have longer seat posts to reduce that cramped leg feeling... My knees get sore and feel sensitive if they aren't extending fully so I can relate to your concern (I'm 5'9" by the way). On of the folding ebikes that felt lager to me was the Pedego Latch (notice the first photograph shows the seat fully extended). The downside here is that the Latch is heavier and has a rear-mounted battery, but at least it's removable for easier transport. The founderf of Pedego are larger guys who weigh a bit more and I feel like the motor power and overall strength of the frame are designed to accommodate them. The Gocycle also felt large and had suspension to soften the bumps and the Tern Node D8 is also a bit larger with 24" wheels vs. the standard 20" that lifts the frame up higher and improves ride quality a bit given the narrower tires. I hope these ideas help you find a good product that will work well for your intended use, folding bikes usually present a compromise but there is a nice variety to choose from these days :)

Alastair Campbell
11 months ago

These are good reviews but none of them focus in on my requirements. Are there any ebikes with the following attributes: Pedal assist only, top speed on hills of 10 kms (6mph), 100 km. range (60 Miles), panier. puncture proof tires, small frame, minimum bike weight up to 45 pounds, can fit on a standard bike rack. This bike will be needed on bike trips with ordinary pedal bikes so no need to go fast up hills. Price up to $3,000 US. Want financial stability of manufacturer and a 'vast' dealer network in North America. Reasonable quality of components not made in China.

Court Rye
11 months ago

Hi Alastair! Thanks for sharing your detailed list of "must haves". No ebikes I know of even come close to what you're asking here because they are mostly all produced from parts made in China... especially in the sub $5,000 range. Most weigh at least 45 lbs and the vast majority are 50+ lbs and the speed up hills is so dependent on rider weight, cargo and environment (like wind) that I cannot say for sure. My first thought for you was the Kalkhoff Sahel Compact but it's heavier than you want. A light weight ebike that isn't as powerful but fits your other requirements (besides price) is the Faraday Cortland S. Hope this helps! You can use the advanced search tool on the right rail of each page here to narrow down by price, weight etc.

mark
10 months ago

GOOD JOB COURT !!!

Court Rye
10 months ago

Hey mark, glad you enjoyed this article! Thanks for the props :D

Fred
5 months ago

Old thread but I thought I'd share. I have the same challenge for my wife. She's 4'11". We went with an XS Specialized Vita paired with a Bionx system with the battery mounted on the down tube. They had to drill a hole in the batter bracket mount given the odd position of the bottle cage mounts, but it fits great and balances the weight out nicely. Call the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point and ask for big Scott. They are a dealer for both specialized and bionx.

If your wife has a 28" inseam without shoes, she might fit on a Specialized Turbo for women. Standover is about 29" in the Small. I'm going to beg them to make an XS and also ask if they have plans to motorize the fat boys. The Helga has a 26" standover height and should be able to fit the bionx as well if the down tube triangle is at least as big as the Vita.

Court Rye
5 months ago

Hey Fred! Sounds like you and your wife got set up at the Hostel Shoppe, thanks for sharing your tips and ESPECIALLY the measurements around the small Turbo for women. I've been really impressed with the Specialized lineup of ebikes in different styles and sizes so far... maybe we will see an XS and a motorized fat boy someday :)

Fred
5 months ago

That would be sweet! You're welcome for the info. The guys at the hostel shoppe are top notch. People come from all over the Midwest to go there.

Gil
4 months ago

I want my wife to be able to ride with me - at least 20 miles with light hills. She's 5'2 about 250 lbs and has a bad knee. We've been looking at ebikes and understand we'll probably need a small frame (15 inch?). She wants to look at options and try them out in the Chicago area - or southwest Michigan. Want pedal assist for physical therapy but also full throttle to coast. What models do you recommend we check out? Can you recommend a store(s) to try them out? Also, I want to be able to transport the ebike on my car. I only have a trunk mount bike rack - no hitch. Other option to consider is a folding bike that could fit inside the trunk or back seat. What recommendations do you have for such bike carrying capability?

Court Rye
4 months ago

Hi Gil, thanks for explaining your goals so well... I think I understand and can relate given that my own girlfriend is about 5'2" and has had some struggles with mid-step models (even women's frames) that we've tried. Since you're in the Chicago area, one brand that comes to mind is Volton, they're based there and the founder Joe is really cool. I just reviewed their latest model which is a mid-drive step-thru but they sell a very similar one with a hub motor that's less expensive and has throttle on demand. I'd recommend going to their website and calling him. To carry this model or many of the step-thru ebikes out there with your trunk mount bike rack you'll probably need a crossbar adapter like this and I'd recommend taking the battery off the bike before loading to reduce weight... and always mount it close to the car so it's not hanging way out since even the frames tend to be heavier than normal bicycles. A couple other low-step models with assist and throttle that might be worth exploring are the e-Joe Gadis, and the Easy Motion Evo City Wave which looks beautiful but costs a bit more... given that they are a larger company (with a great warranty) and were sold in 2015 and 2016 you might be able to get a deal on "last year" inventory at your local ebike shop :)

As far as folding bikes go, they do tend to be smaller but not always lighter. Here's the full list of models I've reviewed recently and you can also use the advanced search to look for compact models that don't fold but are smaller and lighter. One consideration with folding is that they tend to be less comfortable due to the smaller wheels. If you can get a regular bike with 24" or 26" with the deep step-thru design that would probably be more enjoyable for your wife. I hope this helps! I realize there are a lot of options out there... Consider asking in the forums, there's a section called "help choosing an electric bike" I made for this exact sort of situation :D

Gil
4 months ago

Thanks for your thorough reply. Most helpful was the recommendation for a crossbar adapter.

I think I may have the choice down to the final 2: X-treme Malibu Beach Cruiser or Prodecotech Stride 300. The Malibu front wheel can easily be removed so I can put the bike in the back seat. The Stride comes in a fold-able model so I could put it in the trunk. The challenge remains that there's no place close to home for my wife to try out either one prior to a purchase.

One other thing suggested by the guy at FarBike.com is that I wait til early Spring to make a purchase as riding in Chicago's winter is unlikely. Purchasing closer to the time of use means a fresher battery.

Court Rye
4 months ago

Hey Gil, glad my tips helped you a bit. The Spring will bring all new models to bear and give you some time to think. In the mean time, feel free to poke around the EBR Forums and share your experience or ask more questions. I've made a few real life friends there and it's fun to geek out about bikes and consider different options :)

Annette Nelson
2 months ago

I am 4'9" and 67 yrs old and trying get out of my house a little more. LOST MY HUSBAND 2 1/2 yrs ago and have suffered from depression and need sunshine. I thought an electric bike would be a good way to do it and guarantee my ability to get home should I go a little too far..I HAVE HAD 11 back surgeries and still have some back pain.

I bought a PRODECO MARINER 500. online and received it the day after Thanksgiving. Thank goodness my sons were here to help me put it together and watch me ride it. THE SALESMAN ON THE PHONE TOLD ME THAT I should have no problems riding it even hough I TOLD HIM MY HEIGHT AND THE concerns I had being able to lift my leg over the tall center bar. WELL! THERE WAS NO WAY I could lift my leg that high to get onto the bike. MY SONS HELD THE BIKE WHILE I lifted my leg using my hands and rode it down the block. Then to get off of the bike. I stopped, then my sons each grabbed the bike while I used my hands to lift my leg...when I STARTED FALLING BECAUSE I couldn't get my leg over. One of my sons grabbed me and his fingers broke my ribs. I CONTACTED THE STORE AND THEY RECOMMENDED A STEP TROUGH BIKE? What can you recommend

Court Rye
2 months ago

Hi Annette, sounds like you've had a rough experience with electric bikes so far... they do tend to be heavier and many of the cheaper models only come in one frame size and style. ProdecoTech has a range of options but it sounds like you would do better with a true step-thru like the Pedego Boomerang. This particular brand has a bunch of dealers across the US so you can actually try the bike before deciding to buy. Also, the rest of my tips and suggestions on this page still stand. You can get further suggestions by connecting with others in the forums or using the advanced search tools here on the site. I Hope this helps!

Trish
3 weeks ago

Hi, I am an older(50+) rider. I don't feel as comfortable on my 26" wheel bike anymore as sometimes my sense of balance just feels a bit off. I also have some problems with arthritis etc. But I still want to go on adventures for as long as I can! So I am looking for an ebike that can go on trails, (there are some very cool rail trails here in BC, but sometimes there are portions that are a bit rough.) so probably a fat bike style for comfort. I am thinking a 350W motor should be plenty? I need a rack for my camping gear. My issue is that I am only 5' and want a bike I can comfortably put my feet down if I feel wobbly. Even the 20" tire bikes seem to have quite a high seat. I am not rolling in cash LOL, so don't want to spend more than 1500.00 CAN. I was thinking of cobbling together some bikes we have around and putting a hub motor on it. But it looks like hub kits plus battery is going to cost me over 1000.00 CAN anyways? Seems its the batteries that cost the most by far. Any ideas? Thanks!

Court Rye
3 weeks ago

Hey Trish! I was thinking the Pedego 20" Trail Tracker would be a good fit in terms of lower stand-over height and having those fat tires... but it is priced a bit higher. I can't think of too many kits that work with small fat tires but I'll keep my mind on it and perhaps you can ask in the forums to see if anyone else has an idea for you :)

Mae
2 weeks ago

I'm interested in going to an ebike, but I don't want to jump into a large investment until I know that I like them. So I'm thinking about starting off by purchasing an ebike conversion kit to put on my current bike. I am only interested in pedal assist. Does anyone know of a conversion kit that offers pedal assist? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Mae

Court Rye
2 weeks ago

Hi Mae! There are many kits out there to choose from but I've reviewed a few here. I realize it can seem like a big investment but purpose built ebikes tend to just work better... I know a few people who tried to get a deal the first time around and had buyer's remorse pretty quickly then upgraded to a more well-built ebike. This is part of the reason I don't review kits as much these days. If you have a local ebike shop, I'd highly recommend visiting and doing some test rides before pulling the trigger on anything. In any case, good luck and please share your experiences :D

Mae
2 weeks ago

Hi Court. Thanks for the advice on purpose built ebikes. Wondering if you have ever reviewed the x-treme Sedona step through ebike. It is quite affordable at $1100, but I don't see where it has been reviewed or has any buyer comments. I'm also considering these ebikes: Izip Vibe plus, Raleigh Sprite iE, Prodecotech stride series, Genze recreational e102, Tidal Wave, and Magnum ui5. Any helpful information you can offer about any of these bikes - good or bad - would be appreciated. I love your reviews and your love of this sport.

Court Rye
2 weeks ago

Hi Mae! I had a pretty good experience with the GenZe and Magnum products. Raleigh Sprite iE is also a good product from a larger company (with more dealers and a good warranty). I haven't seen as much ProdecoTech stuff lately and have never seen X-Treme products... They caught my interest of course, people ask occasionally but I just don't see them in shops and don't know anyone who has bought one. Here's an interesting video interview I did with the President of Raleigh Electric talking about the value of more expensive ebike products as I realize the trade off in cost can raise some questions.

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