There are various kinds and classifications of electric bikes on the market, but the most common type is the Class 1, or pedal assist, bikes which have motor units that are activated by pedaling and are limited to lower speeds. In the US, Class 1 electric bikes, the type tested and reviewed here, are limited to a top speed of 20 mph, and their motors are designed with a speed governor to regulate this. These types of e-bikes resemble modern mountain bikes, but they have significant battery packs, and small motor units integrated onto and into the frame design. The e-MTB pedal-assist motor is typically built around the bottom bracket and provides varying levels of pedaling "support" directly into the drivetrain while the cranks are turning. Most drive unit systems offer several support settings that provide pedal assistance between 25% and 100% of the user's pedaling input.
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 kind of motor that is found in the electric bike is one consideration to look out for when buying the bike. Here is a very powerful and convenient E-bike that delivers great speed. This is because the bike is powered by the 350W high-speed motor. Apart from this, it has 10Ah lithium-ion battery, which provides a longer runtime; hence the best pick for you.
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.
The class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.
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.
The Bulls E-Stream EVO AM 4 is a new addition to our electric mountain bike test and it didn't take long for our testers to fall in love with this new contender. This bike comes ready to rumble with a beefy enduro ready build with 150mm of front and rear wheel travel controlled by a stout RockShox Lyrik fork up front. Testers found this bike to come alive at speed with stable and confidence-inspiring trail manners that preferred to go fast, and big 2.8-inch wide Schwalbe tires that provided heaps of traction. Bulls has done a good job designing this beast, with a powerful and smooth Brose drive unit cleanly integrated into the frame along with a large 650Wh battery. The motor lays down very smooth power in all of its output settings and is one of the quietest models we tested. The large battery storage capacity provides the longest distance range of all the models in the test so you can stay out longer and ride farther than on models with smaller batteries. The e-bike controls have relatively good ergonomics and an easy to read display.
Looking for a ride that’ll have you hauling a$# in and out of the woods virtually without making a sound? You want the QuietKat 750W Ranger FatKat Hub Motor Fat Tire bike. It’s got a powerful 750w rear hub motor that can get up to 19MPH unassisted, and even quicker if you help by pedaling. Its mid-drive system is sealed for a quiet ride and to protect the motor from rainy, snowy, or muddy conditions.
Urban riding will never be the same, and cars will be in your way when you climb aboard the Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0. The zippy 28mph pedal-assist motor leaves you feeling invincible as you’re ripping along in turbo mode (which adds up to 320 percent of your power output). Although designed with female riders in mind—it comes with a women-specific saddle and grips, and a lower standover—the step-through frame is extremely convenient for anyone who doesn’t want to swing their leg over the back of a saddle while wearing street clothes. Slick, integrated lights, as well as fenders and a rear rack, add to the already-awesome features of this bike to make it the ideal combination of value, performance, and pep.
eMTBs appeal to a very broad audience, so in practice, the same model is used in very different ways. A final rating according to school grades does not do justice to the individual character of the bikes and doesn’t provide a sufficient system of orientation for new buyers (which is exactly what we aim to do). For this reason, there is a separate article for each bike in the group test; in each article we detail the most important points, informing you comprehensively about the bike’s strengths and weaknesses and the ideal type of riding it is suited for. We also have five-star ratings, which provide condensed snippets of information about the character of the bike for a quick and easy overview.
Unlike the manual mountain bikes where you would have to fully rely on pedaling, electric mountain bikes depend on an electric charge. As expected, the bike has a battery, which often determines how far one can go on a single charge. A good electric mountain bike should have a good storage capacity. Although most mountain bikes have nearly the same battery storage capacity, it is not uncommon to find one that falls below par. It is also good to know how it performs and uses the battery under different weather conditions terrain and depending on the rider’s weight.
Mountain biking is all about having fun, right? About getting out there, enjoying the great outdoors, exercising your body and freeing your mind. So what if we told you there was a type of bike that lets you ride further, faster, and have even more fun? One that even made you LOL on the climbs? You’d still have to work for your rewards, but by assisting your efforts, it allowed you to wring every little drop of enjoyment out of your rides. Are electric mountain bikes allowed on trails?