I found that by sticking it on 'Turbo' or 'Sport' mode (the upper 2 of the 4 electrical assistance levels) and leaving it in a middle gear, the Centros felt zippy when in full flight, but able to pull away from the lights with no problems. Less lazy riders than me might want to actually use the 10 gears, and will find that in the top gear, it's quite easy to push past the mandated 15.5mph electrical limit.
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Speaking of which, if you're used to non-electric cycles, be aware that e-bikes are heavy and capped at 25kph or 15.5mph. In many cases, that means the bike starts to feel like its actively fighting against you, if you try to push the speed higher than that by pedalling. That's especially true with heavier bikes, for obvious reasons, and can take a while to get used to.
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Merida has done an amazing job with the EOne-Sixty 900E. It has a fun, playfully ride quality that few ebikes can match, and the price is simply unbeatable. It’s also the only sub 50lb bike in this test, and that’s without a single strand of carbon. It could be even better though. With a two degree slacker head angle and a little more power from the Shimano motor the EOne-Sixty would be able to keep up on the climbs, only to drop the competition on every descent. The biggest issue though, is actually getting hold of one.
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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.
Power delivery is smooth and easy to predict, once you get the hang of it. We’re not sure if integration is better on the Turbo road bike, or if the slow, technical nature of trail riding just highlights some quirks. The motor shuts off less than a second after you stop pedaling, and the onset of power delivery is momentarily delayed once you begin pedaling. And this did mean we had to adapt our riding style a little bit to deal with that slight lag.
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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 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.
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 22.5kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
The durable bike has been designed from the best quality of material for longevity. It is constructed from the high-strength carbon steel frames, which keeps it stable. Besides this, it also an adjustable saddle that can be moved up or down depending on the users’ height. With the wider tires, the bike moves smoothly for a great ride. Lastly, it is also very safe and available in different colors.
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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. Fear not! We created a chart to help you sort through which bike has the best performance to price ratio. Bikes that fall lower and further to the right, such as the Best Buy winning Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro, represent the best value.
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.
More and more people are switching to electric bikes for a lot of practical reasons. It provides convenience because you do not have to wait in traffic or look for the perfect parking spot. That saves you time and money for gas. As for health benefits, you can squeeze in some exercise and manually pedal your way to work then switch to the electric motor when you get tired.
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Mountain biking is all about having fun, right? About getting out there, enjoying the great outdoors, exercising your body and freeing your mind. So what if we told you there was a type of bike that lets you ride further, faster, and have even more fun? One that even made you LOL on the climbs? You’d still have to work for your rewards, but by assisting your efforts, it allowed you to wring every little drop of enjoyment out of your rides.
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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.