A clean, light design, a slim package and no suspension or bike rack: These are the most common characteristics of a so-called urban e-bike.

A new breed of electric bicycle where the battery is often so subtle you can’t tell it’s there, these great-looking and comparatively light commuter e-bikes cost roughly between 1,000 and 3,000 euros or dollars.

Prospective buyers of city e-bikes should take a close look at the overall package, as there are some things you won’t want to do without.

One thing to look at is the maximum weight, which is often not particularly high, according to a recent test by Europe’s biggest car club, the ADAC.

The maximum payload is sometimes even less than 95kg, meaning little room for bags after a heavy cyclist.

Before buying, you should definitely take the bike out for a spin and pay attention to how the bike responds, how easy the screens are to read, whether the gears change quickly and how well it brakes, the testers advise.

It’s also vital that the battery stops pushing you forward as soon as you stop pedalling.

On a poorly made e-bike, you’ll notice that the motor is still trying to drive you forward even while you’re braking. This means you’ll need plenty of braking power.

Some less well-designed bikes give you battery boost in just three preset speeds, and not continuous support depending on your rate of pedalling. This can make it difficult to fine tune your speed to the rest of the people cycling in a group, for example.

Even if it’s an e-bike meant for a short daily commute, you’ll want to check out the range, which should be at least 50km to make sure you have enough juice for occasional day trips and aren’t constantly recharging.

The bike should also come equipped with lights, reflectors and a bell.

Another plus of city e-bikes is that the battery can often be removed and taken inside to make it easier to charge overnight. But this isn’t always the case, and you may want to avoid a bike where the battery can’t be taken out and you need to plug in from a nearby socket.

Before you buy, think of how many hills you’ll need to tackle. If you’re only cycling in a rather flat area, a single-speed bike (without gears) is your best bet.

Of eight electric bicycles tested, ADAC’s top-rated models were the the Ampler Curt and the Moustache Friday 28.1. – dpa