Having a motor bolted to the bottom of a mountain bike that provides pedal assistance is an amazing leveller. The constant torque it applies to the chain rounds out the squarest of pedalling actions, which in turn helps stabilizes the rear suspension and counter pedal induced bob, seamlessly shifting your focus from pedalling efficiency to battery life.
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The Ghost SL AMR scored relatively well in this metric, with a small digital display mounted by the stem. Both the Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay and the Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro fell short of the bar set by the competition with their all-in-one shifter/display units. The Giant outperforms the Rocky Mountain here, but both attempts at LED displays integrated into the control unit are more challenging to read than digital displays.
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You've gotta get up to get down, and one of the purposes of e-bikes is to make it much easier to do so. Since we spend significantly more time climbing than descending, we felt it was important to rate how well these bikes perform when pointed uphill. Climbing on an e-MTB with pedal assist support is somewhat different than climbing on a bike without a motor. These bikes are capable of carrying some serious speed uphill, changing the climbing dynamic with a much faster pace, often tossing finesse out the window in favor of power and momentum. The heavy weight of these bikes and plus-sized tires gives them incredible traction, keeping them planted on the ground, and dampening switches can be left wide open to enjoy the added traction benefits of active rear suspension. Each bike's geometry, handling, and power output all played a role in how well these bikes performed on the ascents, and we had plenty of time to test them while rallying back uphill for more downhill laps.
On the AM 4 you get 150mm of travel via a Fox Factory 36 Float fork, 11-speeds from a Shimano Deore XT drivetrain, and Magura MT-Trail hydraulic disc brakes. They also don’t gip you on the dropper with a wonderful, wonderful KS Lev. In terms of geometry, the build is pretty dope. It’s a nice slack feel, so you can do some solid downhills. A DT Swiss wheelset along with Magic Mary tires give you a lightweight and smooth ride.
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In the end, the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp proved to be the tester favorite, offering the most versatile downhill performance that felt the "most like a mountain bike" that the other models couldn't match. The Specialized proved to be the most nimble and agile by far, yet still managed to be confident and stable at speed. We were also thoroughly impressed by the versatility and confidence-inspiring manners of our Best Buy winner, the Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro. The Trance's modern geometry and quality component spec are the primary factors that help it outperform some of the competition. The Bulls E-Stream has a more one dimensional downhill performance, a stable and planted feel that absolutely charges downhill and excels as the speeds increase.
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The Bulls E-Stream EVO AM 4 is a new addition to our electric mountain bike test and it didn't take long for our testers to fall in love with this new contender. This bike comes ready to rumble with a beefy enduro ready build with 150mm of front and rear wheel travel controlled by a stout RockShox Lyrik fork up front. Testers found this bike to come alive at speed with stable and confidence inspiring trail manners that preferred to go fast, and big 2.8-inch wide Schwalbe tires that provided heaps of traction. Bulls has done a good job designing this beast, with a powerful and smooth Brose drive unit cleanly integrated into the frame along with a large 650Wh battery. The motor lays down very smooth power in all of its output settings and is one of the quietest models we tested. The large battery storage capacity provides the longest distance range of all the models in the test so you can stay out longer and ride farther than on models with smaller batteries. The e-bike controls have relatively good ergonomics and an easy to read display.
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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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.