For pavement or dirt, or a little of both

My how times have changed! Just over a year ago there were very few drop-bar bikes to talk about. Not anymore, as the market has become flooded with choices. Key to the category’s growth has been the influx of gravel bikes, which act as a great dual-purpose option. Sure, we’ve heard all the naysayers’ comments and the reasons why they think pedal-assist road bikes are pointless. The good news? They are all wrong! Like any other e-bike, e-road bikes (especially) should not be compared to a standard non-assist bike. Our experience with all the electric drop-bar bikes we’ve ridden is that they are not only practical, but both efficient and fun to ride. 

Just as it is with mountain bikes, there are a wide variety of motors being used throughout the different bikes shown here. The key point to consider is what kind of riding you plan to do, which will fundamentally impact what size motor you’ll need. Although the majority of e-road bikes use Class 1 (20-mph assist limit) motors, if you have any inclination to go on group rides with your friends who ride non-assist bikes, a Class 3 (28mph assist limit) motor is the only way to go. While any e-road or gravel bike with a Class 1 motor will work fine for general recreational riding, the (less) power-to-(added) weight ratio will definitely leave you getting dropped on a group ride where speeds typically average above 25mph.  

You might think the difference between a 40 N/m and 85 N/m motor is a lot, and you’d be right. A 40 N/m hub-driven motor tends to not have the mid-drive feel that mid-mount motors do. All the mid-drives shown here have reputable, high-level performance motors. There is no shame in a hub-driven motor, as they have proven to have good longevity. The hub-drive units do have a bit of a lag, meaning it takes half a rotation of the cranks before power will kick in. It can be frustrating if you’re starting from a dead stop or on a steep climb, particularly in the dirt. 

The hub-driven motors are spec’d on bikes that have integrated batteries in the frame to help maintain a slender, traditional road bike profile, which often appeals to many road cyclists who tend to be more self-conscious of how they look! The benefit of hub-driven bikes is roughly 10–20 pounds of weight savings that provide quicker, more agile handling. Again, if speed is still your game, a Class 3 motor is the only way to go.     


Talk about bang for your buck, this bike offers a lot for the price tag. Maybe not quite as beautiful and sleek as some others, but it comes with a Class 3 motor and a GRX groupset. A standout feature is the Bosch Kiox display that gives the premium amount of info and data, including the ability to load routes and a power meter, which could be a great training tool. The Current has to be at the top of your list if you’re looking for value, performance and practicality.

Price: $4100

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed 

Battery: 500 Wh 


Not the lightest or most integrated-looking e-road/gravel bike on the market but it won’t disappoint when you need some extra oomph on a steep hill. It features a Bosch Gen4 Performance Speed motor (28 mph) in an aluminum frame with a 500Wh battery stuffed in the downtube.

Price: $6299

Motor: Bosch

Battery: 500 Wh


Like all Niner bikes, their e-gravel bike is built to mountain bike test standards. The carbon gravel bike is powered by a Bosch Performance CX motor with a PowerTube 500 battery and a Shimano GRX drivetrain. Available in four sizes.

Price: $5995

Motor: Bosch 

Battery: 500 Wh


This bike is still one of the most comfortable e-gravel bikes we’ve tested. It has that precious gravel bike commodity, which is suspension. If the impressive 30mm-travel Lefty Oliver fork isn’t enough, the Topstone also utilizes Cannondale’s Kingpin rear suspension, which is minimal but adds a small amount of flex from the chainstay. The icing on the cake is the fact that it can go 28 mph. The Lefty 3 is the more economical build of the three models.

Price: $6300

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed 

Battery: 500 Wh


One of the most incognito e-road machines we’ve seen with an aggressive race bike geometry. Bianchi will offer their classic Celeste color on the top e-road version, an aluminum women’s version and an e-Impulso e-gravel bike. All these bikes come with a 250-watt Ebikemotion motor with a hidden 250 Wh.

Price: $6500

Motor: Ebikemotion 

Battery: 250 Wh 


This bike comes in one mid-level component build and shines in the dirt, considering the limited 20-mph Shimano STEPS e7000 mid-drive assist unit. With 60 N/m of torque in the motor and a relaxed geometry, you will find plenty of new possibilities.

Price: $4999

Motor: Shimano Steps e7000 

Battery: 500 Wh


For 2022 Yamaha is rolling out an all-new purpose-built pure gravel bike. It now uses an integrated downtube battery design with a 500Wh battery and their tried-and-true PWseries mid-drive motor. You’ll get 70 N/m of torque with five assist modes and a top speed of 28 mph, making it a Class 3 e-bike. A Shimano GRX component group adds great value to the already fair price tag.

Price: $4099

Motor: Yamaha PWseries

Battery: 250 Wh 


This is still one of the most beautiful bikes we’ve had roll through our office. Orbea offers a variety of build options for the Gain that all started with this frame and a wide price range. When we tested the Gain, we fitted it with gravel tires, although we felt the bike suited the road better. The Gain can be bought as a flat-bar bike, which could be more convenient for some people.

Price: $6499

Motor: Ebikemotion

Battery: 250 Wh


3T’s standard pedal version of their Exploro gravel bike was designed with aerodynamics being the lead cause. The Italian brand was able to use the same beautiful aero frame without changes to accommodate the internally mounted battery in the downtube. Although the aero factor may be minimal, it stands out as an eye-catching bike that works for road or gravel. The bike is also available in a flat-bar version.

Price: $6999

Motor: EbikeMotion

Battery: 250 Wh 


In you’re in the market for a more obscure and exotic version of an e-road/gravel bike, look no further than those built by Italian brand Favaloro. Handcrafted from the factory overlooking Lake Garda, the frames can be made of steel, aluminum or carbon fiber to your custom specs, and all are powered by the Italian-made Polini powerplant. In addition to the Excaliber model powered by a single 250-watt motor, Favaloro has frame options that can carry up to three batteries for the really long-haul riders.

Price: $8490

Motor: Polini

Battery: Polini 


We think the Fazua motor is great for an e-road bike like this with a lightweight purpose in mind. The Fazua in a mid-drive splits the difference between hub-driven motors and mid-drives (with class-leading torque). The Fazua has the intuitiveness of a mid-drive with a little more natural power than hub-driven bikes. This carbon fiber bike comes with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and will suit the more dedicated road riders looking for some practical pedal assist.

Price: $7500

Motor: Fazua 

Battery: 250 Wh


Designing bikes is an understatement with Pivot, and when it came time to make an e-gravel bike, they made some decisions that didn’t surprise us. Utilizing a Fazua mid-drive is brilliant, because for many people an e-gravel bike with a Class 3 mid-drive such as a Bosch unit can be too much to handle. Plus, making it a lightweight carbon bike with a motor designed for a lighter-weight e-bike is a good marriage. The bike comes in two different builds and colors. ν

Price: $9999

Motor: Fazua

Battery: 250 Wh