There are various kinds and classifications of electric bikes on the market, but the most common type is the Class 1, or pedal assist, bikes which have motor units that are activated by pedaling and are limited to lower speeds. In the US, Class 1 electric bikes, the type tested and reviewed here, are limited to a top speed of 20 mph, and their motors are designed with a speed governor to regulate this. These types of e-bikes resemble modern mountain bikes, but they have significant battery packs, and small motor units integrated onto and into the frame design. The e-MTB pedal-assist motor is typically built around the bottom bracket and provides varying levels of pedaling "support" directly into the drivetrain while the cranks are turning. Most drive unit systems offer several support settings that provide pedal assistance between 25% and 100% of the user's pedaling input.


As with all these bikes, the assisted speed is capped at 15mph, but unlike some of them, the Gtech eBike City or its identical (spec-wise) sibling the eBike Sport (this just has a standard frame rather than a step-through one) is light and agile enough for you to be able pedal harder without feeling like the weight is fighting you back down to 15mph. You can even, at a push, use it without the motor on flatter roads.

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Bottom Line The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp returns to our e-bike test with a well rounded performance that earns it our Editor's Choice Award, again. The Bulls E-Stream Evo AM 4 is a brawler on the descents with an impressive distance range thanks to its large battery storage capacity. The Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro is well rounded and reasonably priced earning it our Best Buy Award. The Instinct Powerplay Alloy 50 is close to greatness but is held back by its controls and components. The Ghost Hybride SL AMR S1.7+ looks interesting on paper but doesn't come together well on the trail.
The bikes we tested all use a different e-bike motor system, and the controls, the primary user interface, are an important element we rated but didn't weight as heavily as some of the others. Each motor system and its associated controls are slightly different. Our primary interest is in how user-friendly is it to interact with the system, how intuitive and ergonomic are the shifters, how good and easy to read is the display, and how easy is it to charge the battery? Each drive system also has a smartphone app that is intended to allow the user to fine-tune the motor's support settings, create custom settings, monitor battery charge and health, and a whole lot more. We don't feel the apps are necessary for the use of any of these e-MTB's, but those with an affinity for technology or personalizing your ride may be inclined to use them.

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However, Emu sells a little foldable number if that's your bag. The Emu Crossbar is for  town commuters that require a sweet ride that's backed up by solid Shimano Nexus hub gears and Tektro brakes, which are adequate if not the best on the market. Riding is smooth and easy, with the crank moving sensor doing its best to iron out any gaps in power delivery.

It’s important to note that because this is an electric bike, not all trails are legally accessible. You’ll need to check with the federal, state, or local land management agency in charge of the trails you want to ride to see if it’s possible. You may also face some resistance from holier-than-though cyclist types. Those guys are best avoided anyway, and the glowing LEDs on the down tube should at least help you identify them quicker. 

The Trek Powerfly's Bosch Purion shifter and display unit was easy to read and had a bright screen, but was in a less visible location on the left side of the handlebar. The Bulls E-Stream has a similar system to the Trek, but with better button ergonomics and more information available on the display on separate screens. Our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp scored the lowest in this rating due to the lack of a handlebar mounted display and a less user-friendly charging connection.

Chris McNamara spends a whole lot of time in the saddle. This rock climber turned mountain cyclist loves huge rides covering obscene distances. He is working on a few gigantic rides including a singletrack route around Lake Tahoe and a ride from South Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes. Paul Tindal is a versatile rider who spent years in the elite ranks in the road, downhill and enduro disciplines. Paul is now the lead mechanic and shop manager at a busy bike shop in South Lake Tahoe. Joshua Hutchens has spent decades in the bike industry. He has been a racer, bike shop owner, mechanic, and a guide. Joshua has a great eye for the subtleties of a bicycle.
Definitely not a downhill option, but still great for mountain camping, fire roads, loose and packed dirt, and trail commuting, the R&M Delite Mountain definitely makes the list. This is a mountain bike version of the very popular full-suspension commuters offered by Riese & Muller. The main reason that this bike makes the list is thanks to it’s 1000 watt hour battery potential with a dual battery system.

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Ego 26” bike is perfect for everyday commute. It features a 500W motor with 10AH lithium-ion battery. The E-go 26″ allows up to 20 miles with a speed up to 20 MPH. The design has a large display for speed and distance, as well as the battery life. Built with an aluminum frame with built-in battery, seat post suspension and Shimano gears. This bike is really one of the best cheap electric bikes on the market.
The Haibike AllMtn line makes an appearance again with this incredible price-point option. The AllMtn 6.0 is a nice option with entry level components but the same aggressive build as the rest of the AllMtn line. And when I say entry level components, I definitely don’t mean that as a negative. You still get 150mm of travel with a Suntour Aion 35 RC suspension fork, a RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock, Magura MT32 hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano Deore M6000 drivetrain with 20-speeds.

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While we liked the value, component specification, and versatile all-around performance of the Trance E+ 2, it wasn't all gold stars. E-bikes are heavy, that is a given, but the Trance is a little heavier than most at 52 lbs 3 oz. This weight is one of the reasons this bike feels somewhat sluggish at times, especially in low-speed sections of trail. It also has mediocre e-bike controls. Sure, they are functional, but the all-in-one control's display in the form of small LED lights is difficult to see by the left grip and near impossible to read when riding in bright light conditions. Beyond that, we feel the Trance E+ 2 is a quality e-bike offered at a reasonable price.
Ancheer has become an icon in electric bikes and this mountain bike has earned itself a spot as the best electric mountain bike to ever grace the market. The electric bike comes equipped with a 250 Wat motor and a 36-Volt removable battery that pushes this bike to the extreme. It has an amazing pedal assist functionality which makes it an excellent bike for outdoor and leisure riding. 

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Jan, I disagree with your carry as a prime reason/not be looking at e bikes. My primary reason for an e assist is age and medical problems. Carting a heavy bike around, trying to lift it onto a vehicle would not work, and riding from home is not a possibility. I know there are light-weight e bikes out there. Price, within reason, is not a big concern. Need a 2018 update. E bikes are common in Europe, will eventually be more mainstream in the US.

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As with all these bikes, the assisted speed is capped at 15mph, but unlike some of them, the Gtech eBike City or its identical (spec-wise) sibling the eBike Sport (this just has a standard frame rather than a step-through one) is light and agile enough for you to be able pedal harder without feeling like the weight is fighting you back down to 15mph. You can even, at a push, use it without the motor on flatter roads.

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The adjustable front shock offers smooth cushioning and buffers the jerks when cycling on uneven surfaces. However, the rear shock is rigid and hard to move. The Shimano 21-gear shifters will allow you to enjoy great speed with a maximum of 20mph. But, it would be better to have at least 24 gears at that speed, because you will feel almost no resistance when cycling at the max speed in the highest gear.

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Descents on such a heavy bike are less fun. Getting the rear wheel off the ground on short notice, or whipping it around turns is very hard. I like to use my rear tire and brakes to steer—locking the brakes in tight corners at speed, then letting off and pedaling out. On very loose and exposed trails, using that approach on the Turbo Levo doesn't work, once the rear starts to loose traction, it’s just all over. Perhaps this could be combated with lower rear tire pressures; we were running 20 PSI. 
It is not a off-road motorbike with an electric engine and a throttle. Electric mountain bikes have motors that only work when you’re pedalling. The motor tops-up your pedalling input. It’s called ‘pedal assist’. There are differing levels of assistance (called things like ‘eco’ and ‘turbo’) that you select via a handlebar-mounted control unit. The motor also cuts out once you reach 25km/ph (or faster). There are strict limits on the power of electric mountain bikes; 250w is the maximum nominal power. More powerful than that and the bike requires tax and insurance (like a car/motorbike) and is also not allowed on bridleways at all.

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Jan, I disagree with your carry as a prime reason/not be looking at e bikes. My primary reason for an e assist is age and medical problems. Carting a heavy bike around, trying to lift it onto a vehicle would not work, and riding from home is not a possibility. I know there are light-weight e bikes out there. Price, within reason, is not a big concern. Need a 2018 update. E bikes are common in Europe, will eventually be more mainstream in the US.
@JoePah , Heat and humidity has its own challenges relative to degrading lithium batteries and some motors, too. It has been my experience that the manufacturers who learn from design & performance issues have come back with better bikes and batteries. The product that we sold 3-5 years ago didn't necessarily have the same resilience that today's do. Lifespan of the individual components will vary, so I find it difficult to say that a kit is going to be toast in 3 years time; maybe just not as cool as the latest greatest new unit.

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We’ve got to give you a Haibike downhill option considering their excellent history with downhill and enduro models. Downhill models are traditionally incredibly expensive, but the DwnHll 9.0 offers a slightly lower price point for a top mountain bike. The build is incredibly slack so you can rip downhill in ideal positioning. The PW-X motor makes climbing much more enjoyable as well.
Thanks for your excellent article. I’ve been riding ebike for about 16 years. My first electric bike was a Meridian pedal assist bike. I just up graded to a new bike. I’m 73, so I wanted a pedal assist bike that had a throttle. I researched for several months and bought what I think is the best bike for the money. It’s a Rad Rover 2017 fat bike. It has a 750 watt mother with a 48 volt 11.6 amp battery. It’s a fantastic bike, that is a lot of fun to ride. You might want to check it out and add it to your list of bikes. Rad Rover also make a city commuter bike, a cargo bike and a folding bike. You can’t beat their price for a quality bike. Thanks again for both of your articles. They were very informative.

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None of this would matter if the VanMoof Electrified S2 (and its close relative the X2) wasn't fun to ride, but it is a blast. Like the Brompton, it pulls off the neat trick of powering you along but giving the illusion that you're doing the work, reacting quickly and cleverly to the speed of your pedalling and the difficulty of any incline you're on. 

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324-WH Panasonic LiPo. The bargain ebike of this bunch. This lightweight electric bike will cost you $1,650, including shipping from Australia. This ebike builder bought 50 of these fixie bikes from China, and does the motor conversions himself. Why is it so light? For one it is a fixie bike which means no gears and limited braking in order to make it simpler and lighter. Visit the Solar Bike Website
In theory, an electric bicycle battery can undergo several hundred charge cycles. How much exactly? That depends on the battery type concerned. The way you take care of your battery will also affect its life. For example, if you store your battery somewhere dry and protected from temperature fluctuations, you will keep it longer. In general, with regular use, an electric bike battery becomes less efficient after 3 to 5 years.

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