The Surly Big Easy is the Cadillac of the bike lane. The company’s new longtail e-cargo bike exudes a “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” stature, thanks to a beefed-up chromoly steel frame rolling on tough 26x2.5-inch tires. And because it’s a class 1 e-bike, you can actually ride it in the bike lane, too. The 7-foot-long, 67-pound bike won’t play well with your third-floor walk-up, so it’s best to think of it as a car supplement or replacement—that’s what Surly intended, anyway, as evidenced by the $5,000 price tag. However, if you’re ready to commit to the cargo bike life, you’ll struggle to find a stronger platform for achieving bike commuter nirvana.
For anyone looking for the best electric mountain bikes, it is advisable to consider the key features of the bike. Some of the main features to look out for include the battery life, which should offer 4-6 hours of runtime. Besides this, the motor is another essential consideration to look out for. There are bikes with up to 500W motors while others are powered by 350W and 250W. You also need to consider the tire sizes, the braking system for safety, and the saddle height, which needs to be adjusted. Lastly, also look out for the working modes, cost, and warranty of the bike.
In our head to head range test, the Rocky Mountain took the win by traveling 20 miles and 4,297 vertical feet. It is worth mentioning that our tester felt that he worked a little harder while range testing the Rocky Mountain than the other bikes we tested. The Giant wasn't far behind at 19.02 miles and 4,000 vertical feet, and the YT Decoy almost tied that with 19.01 miles and 4,039 vertical feet. The Specialized was nipping at their heels with 18.71 miles and 3,949 feet. The Ghost Hybride SL AMR was the least impressive with a range of just 16.75 miles and 3,559 vertical feet. The outlier in this comparison is the Bulls E-Stream with a 650Wh battery. We were not able to test the Bulls directly against these other competitors, but we did notice that you can ride it significantly farther than any of these other contenders. During one of our test rides, we rode the Bulls 24 miles and 4,500 vertical feet, and the battery still wasn't depleted. More battery storage equals longer rides; it's just that simple.
With mountain bikes already sporting hefty price tags, the cost of adding an electric pedal-assist motor might be enough to send the value-conscious rider's head spinning. In many cases, you get what you pay for and the most expensive models are the highest performing. This isn't always the case, however, and bikes like our Best Buy Award winner, the Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro cost less and perform nearly as well as the more expensive competition.
The Ghost SL AMR scored relatively well in this metric, with a small digital display mounted by the stem. The YT Decoy uses the same drive unit and controls as the Ghost and scored equally well for having easy to reach controls and a digital display mounted by the stem on the handlebar. The Trek Powerfly's all-in-one 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.
The motor is powerful enough to allow you to hit up to 35kmh on a 10.4ah battery that stays alive for 50km. With the fat Kenda tires and suspension fork, the bike does not need any pedal assistance to smoothly roll on even surfaces. The PAS provides five levels of assistance and even the first level is quite powerful. The fifth level will just blow you away with speed and torque and there is no way that you can pedal fast enough to meet any resistance.
The Riese & Müller bills its Load Touring HS as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes” and the claim holds up. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels), the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28 mph, when it cuts out. Two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.
A carbon frame shaves off several hundred grams of weight, of course. However, this is largely irrelevant when it comes to eMTBing. The two major advantages of carbon on eMTBs are, on the one hand, greater freedom in optimising the frame design and, on the other hand, increased stiffness. Thanks to carbon, smooth transitions can be achieved, better facilitating the integration of motor and battery. Unfortunately, the magical black material also has a few potential disadvantages. Carbon has poorer thermal conductivity, which means that heat is dissipated less efficiently with a fully integrated motor, and stiffer is not necessarily always better. Frames and wheels require a certain amount of flex to be comfortable and to generate enough traction through curves. Buying a carbon eMTB can currently only be justified by aesthetics rather than functionality.
Usually, the cheaper the bike the cheaper the parts. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be riding around on a rattling tin can. It just means that the bike’s designers took into consideration where they could include lower-level parts without sacrificing safety while putting the money where it counts most—hydraulic disc brakes, decent tires, a reliable e-system. And although the electrical components on some of these bikes might not be plastered with a familiar name, like Bosch or Shimano, that doesn’t mean they’re not capable. Aventon, for example, uses a custom e-system (rather than a complete one) that was pieced together specifically for the Pace 500 because the designers didn’t want to limit the bike’s design specifications.
You can take it to anywhere you like as the bike is perfect for exploring wild trails, discovering the nooks of city streets, and daily commute. The motor produces no noise, so there is no way to disrupt the tranquility of natural trails. The more than 4-inch wide fat tires will roll over even on snowy and sandy tracks. The width of the tires and the full-suspension design will cushion the paths for you and help to cruise through the climbs and bomb down the descents.
If you really want to see the future take a look at the Fazua Evation, with a battery and motor this system weighs an incredible 4.7kg! The battery only has 250wh, but at 1.3kg you could easily carry a spare in a pack. The really interesting thing about this system though, is the motor and the battery can be removed from the frame, so you really do have two bikes in one.
eMTBs appeal to an extremely broad target group: some use their eMTB for daily commuting, others for after-work or weekend rides on maintained gravel roads, and others plan to do an electrified alpine traverse or even an action-packed visit to the bike park. The good news is that many eMTBs are jacks of all trades, covering a very wide range of uses. Others, unfortunately, may disappoint with poor spec or nervous handling.
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the U.S., there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you’re pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec,” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without requiring a license. Class 2 models have throttles that don’t require the rider to pedal in order to get a boost. They’re allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but are less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because not only do we still love to pedal, we also prefer the greater distances that pedal-assist bikes can cover). What are the best electric mountain bikes?