When you hear “electric bicycle” you normally don’t think off-road. Add to that the phrase “hunting” into the mix, and all of a sudden the idea of an “electric hunting bicycle” seems a little strange. We don’t blame you because when manufacturers started producing e-bikes decades ago that was certainly the case: any bit of moisture or debris could short even the most powerful electric bike motor back in the day. How are you supposed to hunt with something that can’t even go off-road?
With different degrees of assistance at your fingertips, riders of varying fitness levels are easily accommodated on the same ride too. Which, depending on who’s setting the pace, can bring a social aspect back to big days out, because you can all ride together and the assistance from the motor makes it that much easier to string a coherent sentence together even on the steepest climbs. How do you ride an electric mountain bike?
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.
Merax e-bike features a 7 speed Shimano gear system, aluminum alloy frame, front fork suspension and CST Jet brand tires. This bike is absolute great value for the price, although it does not come fully assembled and it does take some time to get the disc brakes sorted and the shifting tuned. But directions provided were accurate, tools are provided, and you will be able to take it out on trails or around town in no time.
When you buy a new bike at full RRP from rutlandcycling.com, you can now benefit from the added reassurance of our Rutland 30-day test ride. Once your new bike arrives, you can ride it as your own for 30 days, and we're confident you'll love it! However, if it's not right for you, we'll exchange it for another model. (There's a nominal charge of £10 for us to collect your bike - just make sure you keep the box your bike arrived in.)
You'll have to wait until the fall to pick up one of Cannondale's new offerings, and it's clear that high-performance mountain e-bikes don't come cheap. The Habit NEO ranges from $5,500 to $7,000, and you're looking at between $6,000 to $9,000 for the Moterra line (the Moterra SE costs $8,500). These are for riders determined to overcome most any terrain and don't mind paying a premium.
Imagine all the fun you had on your cruiser bike as a kid, and then slap a motor on that bike: That’s what online retailer Bikes Direct has done with the Gravity X-Rod 8-Speed E, and it’s a lovely combination. We’ve been pedaling one of these bikes for nearby errands, and the wide saddle and riser handlebar make for a comfortable, upright riding position. The LED display is easy to read and the 250-watt Bafang rear hub motor is powerful enough to—on the highest e-assist setting—keep you at a steady 20mph in a headwind without much effort from your legs. The 27.5x2.4-inch WTB Riddler Comp tires smooth out bumps in the road, and the Shimano hydraulic discs are a high-value inclusion at this price. And despite the fact that it’s a beach cruiser, the 8-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain makes it capable on hilly terrain, too.
As long as you can do without some of the perks that pricier models offer—like a detailed display unit, integrated lights, and a torque-sensor motor—the August Live! LS is a solid, stable, comfortable, and really freakin’ cute (have you seen those polka-dot fenders?) e-bike. Its 8-speed twist shifter, chopper-style handlebar, Touch Down Geometry (for a more laid-back ride), and three levels of assist keep this bike within the realm of “cruiser.” But with a 250-watt Bafang rear-hub motor, a top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph, and reliable disc brakes, the August is no joke. It’ll get you to the top of relatively steep climbs without forcing you out of the saddle, and it feels super stable on the way back down, too. It has a battery range of 20 miles, but that’s enough to take it where it’s happiest: tooling along at the beach, around town, and through the park.
The distance range of an electric mountain bike refers to the distance you can travel on a single battery charge given a specific set of circumstances. All of the e-bikes we tested have roughly the same battery storage capacity, except for the Bulls E-Stream, but external variables like rider weight, pedaling input, terrain, trail conditions, and weather conditions may all affect the length of time or distance that a battery charge will last. To compare the distance range of the models in our test we had the same tester take each of the bikes out in their highest support setting and do laps on a very steep paved hill until the batteries ran down from fully charged to completely dead. When we finished, we recorded the distance and vertical gain that each model was able to complete and easily, and objectively determined our winner.