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.
It used to be you’d have to shell out a pretty penny to grab a piece of the e-bike fun. And while high-priced models still and always will exist—you can own a Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo mountain bike for a mere 12 grand—there are now some very affordable options that weren’t available a year ago. If you’re in it more for the fun than you are for high performance, you likely won’t notice where that extra money is being saved. For example, every bike on this list uses a hub-drive motor versus a mid-drive type, is designed with less integration (think battery and lights), mixes in some lower-quality parts, and has a top speed of 20 mph (save for the Aventon Pace 500 that boosts up to 28 mph). The trade-off: Every bike on this list—save the $1,699, which we included for its relatively high value—is sub-$1,500. Here’s what you’ll typically get with an e-bike in this price range.
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.
The Moterra Neo is one of the shorter travel e-bikes we've tested. It has a 140mm Rockshox Pike fork and 130mm of rear travel. That was enough travel to handle everything we encountered on the trail and the shorter travel was welcomed on less technical terrain. It uses a Bosch Performance Line CX motor with 500 Wh battery integrated into the downtube. In testing, we've found Bosch's E-MTB mode works very well, offering a quick and hearty kick when you need to accelerate quickly, but gentle assistance in tricky sections. The lower travel stopped the bike from bogging down in technical uphill rock gardens, making them easier to ride through, and the 160mm cranks also help to reduce pedal strikes so you can keep the power on. The agile handling and stable ride make it one of the easier e-bikes to adapt to, and one of the most versatile.
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain to see how they handle, and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.
After that, changes mostly come down to purpose. Moterra riders have 160mm of travel, 29-inch wheels and "beefier" components, with the descent-focused Moterra SE packs a 180mm fork, a Super Deluxe Piggyback Shock and stickier Maxxis Assegai tires. You won't have quite as rough a ride down the hill, then. The Habit NEO shares the same wheel size, but switches to 140mm front and 130mm rear suspension to make it nimbler. All of the new bikes tout carbon fiber frames and a "proportional response" suspension that changes with the size of the frame.
Versatility Electric bikes are great for helping a rider keep up with a significantly fitter person. You will be able to go further with much less effort. And, eBikes make it practical to do things like effortlessly carrying a basketfull of groceries or ridiing with kids. You will soon find that electric bicycles make your life easier and more convenient in many ways. There are no special requirements since eBikes classified as bicycles, so no license or registration is required. Even more, eBikes let you sneak through gridlocked traffic and are very easy to locate parking for. You can recharge the battery to about 75% in 45 minutes, so they are always ready to go. How fast do electric mountain bikes go?