The Best in Test and Best Value tips do not result from the sum of star ratings, but by the assessment of the entire test team, taking into account the overall concept of the bike. It would be methodologically wrong to only add up the star ratings to make a final judgment in a scoring system – saying that something is “good” will not help anyone if they don’t know what it is for and for whom it is “good.” For this reason, we give a clear recommendation in every test result for which type of rider and purpose the bike is suitable and which not. The bikes themselves are as individual as the riders are – we just want to provide you with all the information you need to make a well-informed decision before buying. Here’s to long-lasting fun!
With an electric mountain bike (or e-MTB) that gives you assistance up to 25kph, it’s possible to pack twice as much riding into the same amount of time. Those five great trails that you normally ride after work can now be ridden twice. That boring singletrack climb on your lunchtime loop suddenly becomes the highlight of your day. With the extra push from the motor it’s easy to double the distance covered, or do the same ride in half the time.
As I said before, going up hills might require some pedaling, but it is SO MUCH EASIER with the motor running. I feel like a higher voltage is used on level 3 pedal assist than can be gotten just using the hand turn, though. It takes a few pedals for the pedal assist to kick in which can be annoying, but it does save some battery on initial acceleration. You also have to be careful pedaling around to park the bike or at a street corner waiting for traffic because you DO NOT want the motor to kick in and send you into a workbench or worse ... oncoming traffic.
"The eMTB mode is a fantastic alternative to the manually adjusted power settings found on most other e-bikes. The beauty is that eMTB mode works so well, you can forget about it entirely and focus on the ride instead. Having e-bike specific forks and four piston brakes for example is something that seems obvious, but surprisingly few companies actually make happen."
The least-expensive bike in this roundup and, at 48.6 pounds, our size large Haro Shift Plus i/O 5 is the second-lightest in this group as well. Only the $8,250 Specialized was lighter. The Shift Plus i/O 5 was nimble enough to traverse the most technical trails we could find, and it was much easier to manage on rocky climbs than heavier, longer-travel e-MTBs. The Shimano Steps motor has loads of torque. However, in Trail mode, the bike still lurches forward as soon as you get on the pedals, so you've got to point it where you're willing to go before clipping in. Haro has done well to keep the price down, but we'd pay a slight premium if the bike were to come with a dropper post, which makes it a little less scary to sling a nearly 50-pound bike down a mountain.
With most ebikes the choice of motor defines aspects of the frame geometry and to a lesser degree the suspension characteristics of the bike. Not with new Rock Mountain Altitude Powerplay. With its bespoke motor Rocky has been able to design an ebike that reflects the ride quality of a highly evolved 150mm trail bike. With instant power pickup, extended battery life and streamline proportions it’s not just the handling of the Rocky that will get you charged up for riding. It’s the best bike in this test by some margin, but we had an issue with the motor momentarily cutting and raising questions over it’s reliability.