Chris McNamara spends a whole lot of time in the saddle. This rock climber turned mountain cyclist loves huge rides covering obscene distances. He is working on a few gigantic rides including a singletrack route around Lake Tahoe and a ride from South Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes. Paul Tindal is a versatile rider who spent years in the elite ranks in the road, downhill and enduro disciplines. Paul is now the lead mechanic and shop manager at a busy bike shop in South Lake Tahoe. Joshua Hutchens has spent decades in the bike industry. He has been a racer, bike shop owner, mechanic, and a guide. Joshua has a great eye for the subtleties of a bicycle.
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.
On a trip to Palo Alto we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado, and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. With a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.
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.
Due to high total weights of over 20 kg, it doesn’t matter whether the scale stops at 21.44 kg or 22.2 kg for a modern eMTB. In our test, the difference between the lightest and the heaviest bike was just under 4 kg. This is not to be ignored… but a little extra weight in the form of functional, reliable componentry is better than an ebike designed and constructed to be as light as possible, at all costs, but which ends up in the workshop more often than on the trail.
The bikes we tested all use a different e-bike motor system, and the controls, the primary user interface, are an important element we rated but didn't weight as heavily as some of the others. Each motor system and its associated controls are slightly different. Our primary interest is in how user-friendly is it to interact with the system, how intuitive and ergonomic are the shifters, how good and easy to read is the display, and how easy is it to charge the battery? Each drive system also has a smartphone app that is intended to allow the user to fine-tune the motor's support settings, create custom settings, monitor battery charge and health, and a whole lot more. We don't feel the apps are necessary for the use of any of these e-MTB's, but those with an affinity for technology or personalizing your ride may be inclined to use them.
As with anything, there is still room for improvement. There is no handlebar mounted digital display, and the only way to tell your speed is to mount a phone or bike computer to the bars. Specialized has changed the location of their battery charge and output mode display, however, which is now conveniently located on the top tube where you can see it while riding. The new motor is an improvement over the previous, but it still lags a little in engagement compared to the competition and the climbing performance is hampered by the drive unit's slightly more abrupt cutoff. Overall though, the Specialized still proved to be the test team's favorite for its versatility and well-rounded performance. We loved it, and we think you will too.
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. Who makes the best electric mountain bike?
Canyon’s Spectral:ON 8.0 is an attractive platform that weighs in at just under 50 pounds. It was built with durability in mind, thanks to a strengthened aluminum 6061 frame, RockShox’ lauded front and rear suspension, and a top-of-the-line SRAM X01 Eagle groupset, helping it to face a variety of different terrains with ease. At the cycle’s core, you’ll find a powerful Shimano Steps E8000 motor, giving the 8.0 all the gumption it needs to navigate the steepest, harshest terrain known to man. To round things out, a brand new set of DT Swiss H 1700 wheels provide the quintessential weight to capability ratio, offering a perfect middle-ground for riders who are looking to blast up and down the trail while maintaining a perfect true. If you’re interested in a bike that combines the best of the best when it comes to modern trail geometries and high-performance groupsets, the Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 is a definite contender.
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.
This trike can easily be an alternative to your car for local journeys, if you want to do grocery getting or commuting you can now ditch the car, save money on fuel costs, help the environment, and stay in shape (pedal assist modes) or just have more fun by using your electric power trike over the car and then, best of all, it will pay for itself over time.
Electric mountain bikes are here, growing in popularity, and despite some access concerns—and perhaps because of them—continue to get better, more enjoyable to ride. Their small motors help you ride faster, farther, and can making challenging climbs less daunting. We tested 10 of the most exciting new models to help you find the right one for you. Read quick reviews of top five options below, or scroll deeper for helpful buying advice and longer reviews of every option.
The bike looks a no different than a regular mountain bike. The 36 V, 8Ah Li-Ion battery is very cleverly designed and disguised as a thermos, so you will not be able to tell whether this is an e-bicycle or a regular one unless you get really close. It is very nicely build, and pretty sturdy; the frame is 100% alloy and the front fork is made with high-grade carbon steel. The bike itself weighs about 45 lbs.
Yes, there are less expensive ebikes on the market but most come with a few serious caveats. The Espin Sport delivers on the full promise of an electric bike, but in a more affordable fashion. This bike isn’t going to tow you around for a 60-mile round-trip endeavor but those seeking their first ebike will get plenty of return on their investment with this model.
The charts below show our recommended sizes based on height, but there are some other factors, like arm and leg length, that determine a great fit. That’s why you’ll see some overlap in our recommendations. Not every rider who’s 5´8˝, for example, will fit on the same size bike. The best way to find your perfect fit is to consult the experts at your local Trek retailer.
The 250W motor and the 36V battery is built into a frame that also includes 26 inches wheels, anti-slip power-off brake, and Shimano 21-speed shifters. An integrated LCD screen shows power, speed, battery charge, and a few other statistics. It is suitable for adults as it can carry up to 360 lbs weight. However, the bike itself is almost 51 pounds, so keep that in mind.
The Altitude Powerplay is one of three bikes on this list (Specialized Turbo Levo and Liv Intrigue E+ are the others) to use a custom motor. The Dyname 3.0 motor offers 100Nm of torque and is also compact enough that Rocky can use the same geometry and suspension-pivot placement as an unplugged Altitude, so the Powerplay feels more like an unplugged bike than most e-bikes. With the motor off it rides like a standard, albeit heavy, trail bike. The motor responds more quickly than some of the more popular systems and the increased torque offers increased acceleration, which, depending on the trail situation, can be welcome or a hindrance.
Ebike’s are much faster than walking in and out of your hunting area: It may be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people think hunting means either riding gas-powered bike or walking. But with an e-bike, there’s no need to strap everything to your back and go back to your campsite or car. With a rack on the front or the back of an e-bike, you can throw your gear and your kill on your bike and get going.