E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque, and others, like Bosch’s Active Line, are nearly silent. But, generally, all four make good options. Look for motor output (in torque), which will give you an idea of total power. Just like car engines, more torque equals more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a more important figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a more accurate reflection of power (higher Wh equals bigger range).
What's The Best Electric Mountain Bike? ▼
The Bulls motor is claimed to have 90Nm of torque, but it was so smooth and quiet that it didn't feel outrageously powerful. The assistance came on smooth and strong thanks to the belt-driven system. The Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay Alloy 50 uses a drive system that claims to have up to 108Nm of torque. While their system felt quite powerful, it didn't feel stronger than the Bulls, and we noticed that it seemed to modulate its output in a way that the others didn't. The Rocky Mountain makes you work for it a little more than the rest. The Trek, Giant, and the Specialized motor systems felt slightly less powerful, still offering plenty of pedal-assist support mind you, but that also resulted in efficient motors and longer distance ranges than the models with more brute power. Despite having the same Shimano Steps E8000 pedal-assist motor, the Ghost felt less powerful than the YT Decoy. The YT felt as if it delivered more power more consistently and smoothly than the Ghost could.
The frame is constructed of 6061 aluminum that’s more responsive with some bit of flex to it. A step-thru design makes getting on and off a breeze. The frame supports a more upright posture for improved comfort and visibility. A front fork suspension and rear spring suspension make for a smooth ride on uneven surfaces. It actually adds an aggressive look to the overall design.
At 42 pounds for a size medium frame (exceptionally light for an urban e-bike), this step-through model’s silent, mid-drive Bosch Active Line motor provides pedal assist up to 20 mph. And its 400Wh battery lasts a (claimed) 30 miles to a whopping 110 miles, depending on e-assist mode, speed, terrain, rider weight, and cargo. With 26-inch wheels, 2-inch tires, round aluminum tubes, a swept-back handlebar, Shimano Sora 9-speed components, and an 11-32 cassette, the Parkway looks like an everyday, non-motorized city bike at first glance. But with an array of Bosch e-components—motor, battery, and Purion display—it has the zip to take you farther, faster.
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.