In fact, the manufacturers have already proven that what makes an e-MTB outstanding is not that much different to a regular MTB. Sure, there are slight differences in performance due to e-MTB’s heavier frame but both types share almost similar basics covering geometry, sizing, and balance. Also, the power-supplying motor comes into the forefront instead of the suspension in these bikes.
The F1-trained engineers at William Advanced Engineering assisted with the electrical parts and the result is a 250W motor that provides pedal assistance via the front hub – which is still a very unusual approach. It draws power from a 300Wh battery pack that sits in a bag and goes on the front where the Brompton luggage rack would normally sit. You can also opt for a larger bag that holds both the battery and your spare suit or laptop or whatever.
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For anyone looking for the best electric mountain bikes, it is advisable to consider the key features of the bike. Some of the main features to look out for include the battery life, which should offer 4-6 hours of runtime. Besides this, the motor is another essential consideration to look out for. There are bikes with up to 500W motors while others are powered by 350W and 250W. You also need to consider the tire sizes, the braking system for safety, and the saddle height, which needs to be adjusted. Lastly, also look out for the working modes, cost, and warranty of the bike.
We’ve got to give you a Haibike downhill option considering their excellent history with downhill and enduro models. Downhill models are traditionally incredibly expensive, but the DwnHll 9.0 offers a slightly lower price point for a top mountain bike. The build is incredibly slack so you can rip downhill in ideal positioning. The PW-X motor makes climbing much more enjoyable as well.
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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.
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.
Jan, I disagree with your carry as a prime reason/not be looking at e bikes. My primary reason for an e assist is age and medical problems. Carting a heavy bike around, trying to lift it onto a vehicle would not work, and riding from home is not a possibility. I know there are light-weight e bikes out there. Price, within reason, is not a big concern. Need a 2018 update. E bikes are common in Europe, will eventually be more mainstream in the US.
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Before this test we thought more travel on an e-bike would obviously be better. After all, with the motor flattening out the climbs, why not have the extra suspension firepower to smooth out the descents? Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But in the case of the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert, the extra travel and weight make the bike less effective and less engaging on all but full-on downhill tracks. And if that’s your bread and butter, the Kenevo could well be the perfect topping. Here in the UK though, the Vitus proved more versatile, just as capable and way better value.
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Jeremy Benson eats, sleeps, and breathes mountain bikes. This native New Englander started mountain biking in 1992. He got more serious in college and started racing bikes in 1999. After moving to Tahoe, Jeremy continued his obsession with riding. He continues to race mountain bikes and has racked up some impressive results in the expert class at the Downieville Classic and the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder. Jeremy authored Mountain Bike Tahoe which was published in 2017. Jeremy's riding statistics are eye-popping, to say the least. He rode over 5,000 miles in 2018 climbing nearly 600,000 feet. Oh yeah, he was also a sponsored skier for well over a decade. Jeremy has a very critical eye and is also good at breaking things. These are wonderful traits for bike testers.
@JoePah , Heat and humidity has its own challenges relative to degrading lithium batteries and some motors, too. It has been my experience that the manufacturers who learn from design & performance issues have come back with better bikes and batteries. The product that we sold 3-5 years ago didn't necessarily have the same resilience that today's do. Lifespan of the individual components will vary, so I find it difficult to say that a kit is going to be toast in 3 years time; maybe just not as cool as the latest greatest new unit.
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Thanks for your excellent article. I’ve been riding ebike for about 16 years. My first electric bike was a Meridian pedal assist bike. I just up graded to a new bike. I’m 73, so I wanted a pedal assist bike that had a throttle. I researched for several months and bought what I think is the best bike for the money. It’s a Rad Rover 2017 fat bike. It has a 750 watt mother with a 48 volt 11.6 amp battery. It’s a fantastic bike, that is a lot of fun to ride. You might want to check it out and add it to your list of bikes. Rad Rover also make a city commuter bike, a cargo bike and a folding bike. You can’t beat their price for a quality bike. Thanks again for both of your articles. They were very informative.