Over the past few years, electric mountain bikes have exploded in popularity. Our team researched the top models on the market and purchased seven models in the $4500-$6000 range to test and review. Our testers rode these pedal-assist mountain bikes for thousands of miles, countless hours, and many tens of thousands of vertical feet. In the process, we scrutinized each model's uphill and downhill performance, tested their distance range, paid close attention to the user-friendliness of their e-bike controls, and analyzed their power output. We rode of each of these bikes hard in an effort to expose their strengths and weaknesses and determine the key ride characteristics of each one, and most importantly how they compare to each other.
The Remote CTRL is a playful ride that’s great for varied trails with rock gardens and flow sections, and that excels on fast trails with steep, punchy climbs and tight, twisty descents. It isn’t just for riders who may need a little assistance; the E-MTB mode creates an organic riding experience that allows you to take the skills you already have and ride faster and harder. It has a 150mm RockShox Yari fork and a 132mm RockShox Monarch Plus R shock with good mid-stroke support and a progressive finish to help prevent bottoming out on big hits. The 27.5x2.8-inch Maxxis Recon tires offer plenty of traction and also help to absorb smaller hits. The Remote CTRL's excellent Bosch motor accelerates smoothly to be more manageable when pedaling through rocky sections and has more oomph at low cadence than other motors, so you can more easily ride out of tough situations if you get bogged down.
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.
When it comes to hunting, you want an eBike that you can trust to get you from point A to B with ease. You also want an bike that can carry not only the weight of the rider but also enough gear to make the hunt successful. The BackCountry Storm fits that bill and so much more! This model comes in two different power options including a 750-watt addition and a 1000-watt addition.
Trevor Porter, Kona's e-bike manager, said that motors can demand longer chainstays and adding batteries to downtubes can require larger headtubes, increasing stack height. This is common across the range of e-mtbs we tested. The reach and head tube angle tend to remain similar to standard bikes, but the chainstay length, head tube length, and stack height are generally increased.
As electric bike options continue to expand, brands are integrating the batteries more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there’s a good way to lock the battery to your bike if you’ll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won’t feel that much when you’re riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.
This bike comes in black, white or tan and is the only compact folding hunting eBike of the list. It’s lightweight and compact folding size makes extremely easy to take with you, stick it in the boot of the car and pull it out when you’re ready to enter woods to reach your blind or stand. It has 20” wheels compared to the standard 26” that the other full size eBikes use.
The aluminum, step-through eJoy is the happy medium between traditional-looking townies that don’t transport much more than the rider and often-cumbersome cargo models that are challenging to store. With 26-inch wheels, full fenders, a Shimano Alivio nine-speed drivetrain and disc brakes, a wheelbase similar to the average townie, and a big, comfy seat, it has the appearance of a practical everyday cruiser. But its oversize rear rack, silent Bosch Active Line motor, heavy-duty head tube with front-tray mounts (the tray is an add-on), integrated Supernova E3 lights, and roll-over-anything balloon tires hurtle it into hmm-this-could-actually-replace-my-car status. It’s one of the quietest, most convenient, most stylish, and easiest-to-operate e-bikes available.
The motor is incased in the frame of the bike which gives you better ground clearance. A long lasting eBike, this model comes standard with a Panasonic 48V 14.5AH battery that can be quickly recharged while not in use. This gives you a total range of 20 miles without the need for pedaling. A thumb throttle allows you to easily control the bike while you are ascending difficult terrain.
You'll have to wait until the fall to pick up one of Cannondale's new offerings, and it's clear that high-performance mountain e-bikes don't come cheap. The Habit NEO ranges from $5,500 to $7,000, and you're looking at between $6,000 to $9,000 for the Moterra line (the Moterra SE costs $8,500). These are for riders determined to overcome most any terrain and don't mind paying a premium.
The Hyper E-Ride Electric Bike is an excellent example of a great city commuter electric bike. It has several design features. The electric bike has a step-through frame which makes it very easy to step on and ride it. Also, the bike comes with fenders in the front and the back. To make it more a casual-riding bike in the city, the handlebars are swept back a little bit. The e-bike has a Rear Hub Brushless 36volt 250W motor and the top speed is 20 mph which is enough for a city e-bike. Battery charging time is 4 hours and the total running time is 1 hour which is about 20 miles.
Specialized has e-bikes figured out. Its e-bikes are better looking and better sorted than almost anything else. This Turbo Levo has a clean interface: just a mode switch and a few LEDs for status. To dig deeper, you use Specialized’s Misson Control app, which lets the user customize the motor’s tune, and has a clever Smart Control mode. This mode lets the rider set and time or distance, and the amount of reserve they want to be left over. The app then automatically adjusts the motor’s output to meet those settings, reducing battery anxiety. The custom motor is extremely smooth and quiet, with awesome torque. We found the highest mode too powerful for finesse riding, but great for flying up smooth climbs and cutting time off transfers. The e-bike tuned RockShox fork is somewhat harsh, but the rest of the parts are excellent and suit the bike’s capabilities—something we can’t say that about every e-bike.
Both options are great, while the derailleur will give you more options to choose from when climbing hills the rear cog is an internal component with less moving parts so it's a fraction quieter and requires no oiling or regular maintenance, some prefer the rear cog as it's one less component to get snagged in the thick brush but that is almost never an issue. whichever system you choose you will have fun!
With different degrees of assistance at your fingertips, riders of varying fitness levels are easily accommodated on the same ride too. Which, depending on who’s setting the pace, can bring a social aspect back to big days out, because you can all ride together and the assistance from the motor makes it that much easier to string a coherent sentence together even on the steepest climbs. How do you ride an electric mountain bike?