Electric mountain bikes have garnered a lot of attention for their ability to help riders go higher, further, and faster on the trail. As a result, there have been some impressive new eMTB models to hit the market in recent years, making it easier than ever to head off-road. Our favorite is the Haibike SDURO HardNine, which comes equipped with a 350-watt Bosch Performance CX drive and a 500 watt-hour battery. This gives it a range of up to 70 miles, along with a top speed of 20 mph, which is plenty fast on singletrack.
There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
Bicycles featuring pedal power were developed during the subsequent decades of the 19th century, with the most emblematic example being the bicycle we know today as the Penny-Farthing. The bike was named based on the substantial difference in its wheel size resembling the larger and smaller Penny and Farthing coins, respectively. These bicycles were wildly popular among the well heeled upper classes of Europe and America despite their penchant for launching riders head first over the large wheel, not to mention their relative difficulty to mount and dismount.
Another reason I chose the Lacuba Evo E8 is because of its overall geometry. First, check out the upright position you’ll be riding in. This positioning is ideal for bike touring because you’ll be traveling long distances. You’ll be much more comfortable in this position than you probably would be hunched over a road or hybrid bike. I also love how the Brose battery integrates completely into the downtube. Not only does this hide the fact that you’re getting a little extra help (if you’re self-conscious about that), but it also leaves you space to mount water bottle cages, a frame pump, or even a frame-mounted bag. These are sometimes crucial items during a bicycle tour, and many electric bikes cannot accommodate these due to the protrusion caused by a battery.
Certainly not for the entry-level e-bike buyer, those who need to strap cargo to their back now have a new option with the Riese & Muller Load option, with full cargo space on the front of the bike. While over $6,000, the full-suspension bike has adjustability to allow for differing loads. Safety features include LED headlights and premium components abound.
As far as battery life goes, e-bikes get their juice from a rechargeable battery usually located on or integrated into the frame, and many are removable, so you can power up wherever it’s convenient. The length of your ride and how often you use the bike will determine how frequently you have to charge up. “An e-bike battery can last anywhere from 15 to 60 miles depending on the terrain, how much assist you select, and the rider’s weight, among other factors,” says Jonathan Weinert, North American sales and marketing manager for Bosch eBike Systems. “With a dual battery [like the one Bosch has], you can double that range [around 20 to 120 miles], so it’s very feasible to commute for a week without charging.”
For many bikes, battery range is more important that total power (because they're all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist kicking in anywhere from 25 percent of you pedal power to 200 percent boost. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you'll be using your bike for long commutes.