The downhill performance is our most highly weighted rating metric because we feel that the most important element of an e-bike is how well it performs out on the trail, especially when bombing down the hill. Each tester rode every bike numerous times and formulated their own opinions of each model, considering how factors like the component spec, geometry, and frame design play a role in its downhill performance. All of the e-bikes we tested were fun to ride, but they all had a different demeanor and trail manners. To test this, we rode the bikes downhill, a lot, and took them down a variety of terrain, from fast and flowing open trails to tight low-speed technical, and everything in between.
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.
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.
A: Electric bikes are designed with compact electric motors which are usually attached to the back of the front wheel and housed in a hub. There are a number of controls with a user interface which is where all the motor operation is done by the rider. Here one can control the speed, braking and other things such as battery management. Some e-bikes have other electric components such as a sensor which also help in geometry and stabilization.
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Last year, the Trek Powerfly 9 LT was one of the only ebikes with geometry and handling that came close to a modern enduro bike. For 2018, Trek has built on that winning formula with new frame. It’s lowered the battery in the downtube, while adding a stiffer Fox 36 fork, more powerful SRAM RE brakes and a stronger Bontrager wheelset. All welcome improvements to a really capable bike. The price has also crept up to reflect the changes. The biggest transformation however, is that Rocky Mountain has raised the ebike bar to a new high with the Altitude Powerplay.

The Bulls motor is claimed to have 90Nm of torque, but it was so smooth and quiet that it didn't feel outrageously powerful. The assistance came on smooth and strong thanks to the belt-driven system. The Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay Alloy 50 uses a drive system that claims to have up to 108Nm of torque. While their system felt quite powerful, it didn't feel stronger than the Bulls, and we noticed that it seemed to modulate its output in a way that the others didn't. The Rocky Mountain makes you work for it a little more than the rest. The Trek, Giant, and the Specialized motor systems felt slightly less powerful, still offering plenty of pedal-assist support mind you, but that also resulted in efficient motors and longer distance ranges than the models with more brute power. Despite having the same Shimano Steps E8000 pedal-assist motor, the Ghost felt less powerful than the YT Decoy. The YT felt as if it delivered more power more consistently and smoothly than the Ghost could.

After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the U.S., there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you’re pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec,” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without requiring a license. Class 2 models have throttles that don’t require the rider to pedal in order to get a boost. They’re allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but are less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because not only do we still love to pedal, we also prefer the greater distances that pedal-assist bikes can cover).

Today’s electric bikes come in a variety of sizes and styles,  many of which don’t look all that much different from traditional non-electric bikes. When you consider it alongside the annual costs of fueling, insuring, and maintaining an automobile, an ebike literally pays for itself over time. Here are five of the best electric bikes currently on the market — and one “just for fun” pick.
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.
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.
If you’re a fan of e-bikes, your relationship with Cannondale’s Synapse NEO will be love at first sight. If you’ve already claimed your disapproval of these zippy machines, whatever you do, do not take this bike for a test ride—you may just change your mind. Bosch’s Active Line Plus motor delivers up to 250 watts of pedal assist to a maximum speed of 20 mph. It does so in such a smooth, seamless way you can allow yourself to forget that you’re getting a little help. Of course, if you crank it up to turbo mode, the boost will be hard to ignore. But to cruise in eco mode is to get a sneak peak at what it feels like to be really, really fit. The motor kicks in nicely to provide a little extra boost, but has minimal drag so you can easily ride past the 20mph limit without feeling like you’ve hit a wall as soon as you cross that threshold.
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Foldable bikes are becoming ever more popular. Being foldable means that the bike is storable. This means that it does not take up unnecessary space in a house or a shed etc. It also means that it could be hung up on a wall, should this be a requirement. They certainly have advantages over bikes that cannot fold, and their overall integrity of strength and purpose is not compromised.

Built to last, the durable R750XP G3 Carbon eBike has a solid aluminum alloy 6061 frame and dipped in carbon paint.  While this bike can handle the pressures of the trail, it only weighs in at 69 pounds.  This model comes with an efficient Bafang 750-watt BBSH02 high torque mid drive electric motor that is powered by a Panasonic 48V 11.6AH battery. 


Wide tyres are an absolute must on an eMTB. They offer more traction, provide extra comfort, increase stability, and they simply look cooler. Tyres with a width of 2.5″ – 2.8″ have proven to be the ideal size. The performance of the MAXXIS Minion tyres is particularly impressive; they provide the best grip and stability. To get the best performance, tyres should be ridden at approx. 1.2 – 1.6 bar air pressure.

Specialized has a celebrated history within the mountain biking scene, and they’ve elaborated on their well-rounded catalog with the addition of the Turbo Levo Comp. The Levo is a great alternative for those who are looking for all of the coveted characteristics of a proper trail bike, wrapped up with a slew of new, innovative technologies. Here, you’ll find a similar geometry to the company’s flagship Stumpjumper, albeit, with a redesigned alloy frame, improved kinematics, and internal cable routing to keep things nice and clean. In the bike’s most recent iteration, a Specialized 2.1 Rx trail-tuned motor has been implemented, providing instant engagement, unrivaled heat management, and consistent output throughout the Levo’s entire assisted range. When it comes to peripherals, a set of dependable SRAM accessories, a Praxis 2D cold-forged alloy crankset, and Roval Traverse 29 wheels round things out.


Keeping track of speed and battery life will be easy because this bike comes with a Bafang LCD color display.  This eBike can stop on a dime by utilizing a set of powerful hydraulic disc brakes.  Built to last, this model comes with a strong aluminum alloy frame.  Driving the Storm down hard to reach trails and other backwoods locations will be a smooth ride thanks to the Shimano Altus 8-speed gearing system. 
Its quiet motor is perfect for coming up on a kill without scaring animals away. You can travel up to 19 MPH on this bike, which means you’re not breaking a sweat zipping on and off roads (which is great for animals sensitive to human aromas). Not only that, but it can carry up to 300 lbs, which is great for hauling your hunt in without a car or dirt bike. At only 66lbs, the Rambo R750XP is one of the lightest yet hardest performing e-bikes we’ve seen- definitely consider this bike if you plan on carrying lots around with you on your next trip.
There are many places in the U.S. where you can legally and responsibly ride e-MTB's, and take it from us; they are a heck of a lot of fun. Check with local land management agencies to find out where you are allowed to use an electric mountain bike before taking to the trails. One thing we do know, e-MTB's can be used on any trails that are legal for motorized use, so we took advantage of the wealth of OHV trails in the greater Lake Tahoe area for our testing purposes and had more fun doing it than any of us expected.
By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best e-bikes available for those who are interested in new technology combined with traditional bikes. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best electric bicycles currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
Pros versatile, fits water bottle, least e-bike looking, good battery life, low center of gravity Good controls, huge distance range, confidence inspiring at speed, good component spec Very nice build, stealthy looks, hard-charging downhill performance Reasonably priced, good distance range, well rounded performance, solid component spec Smooth and consistent power output, modern geometry,
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.
There is no suspension, so the fat bike is not ideal for downhill. Also, you will feel more shocks than usual while doing large drops or crossing big tree roots. The fat tires are helpful for keeping it accurate and quick on sand and snow but don’t run it on ice. The tires simply don’t have enough traction to stay steady on ice. Studded tires may solve the problem but the safer option to steer clear of icy tracks.

I’m overwhelmed by all the options available. My wife and I would like to go to e-biking. Both age 72. Wife has arthritis and needs hydraulic brakes. I have no preference. At a minimum front suspension. Also would prefer a bike on the lighter side for both of us. Step thru is a necessity since our agility is waning. Front and rear lights with fenders. Very difficult to decipher quality, pricing, and reputation with so many mfgs. Pricing seems to be all over the map. Can you provide a recommendation for quality e-bikes less than $1000 with the options I mentioned above.

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.
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.
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