“I’d like a Bosch bike!” This is what bicycle dealers hear several times a day from new customers – and it’s the biggest mistake you can make when buying an ebike. Sure, the motor is important. However, you don’t buy a car just because of its engine. If you want to be happy with your eMTB in the long term, you have to consider a bike as an overall concept. This group test will help you to find out which bike is best for which type of rider, terrain, and riding style. The motors of the big names in the industry all work extremely well, but differ in their purpose and functionality.
With its steep seat tube angle and powerful motor, the Rotwild E+ Ultra masters even the steepest climbs. Its high centre of gravity, however, negatively effects downhill handling. The GIANT FULL E+ 0 is a very solid eMTB where what you see is what you get, although the rather slack seat tube and bulbous-belly isn’t exactly pretty. Not so with the FOCUS SAM²: With its clean silhouette it is a bike for design lovers. But only if you get by with the small integrated battery. As soon as you mount an additional battery, not only the appearance suffers, but also the handling. The BMC Trailfox AMP has minor weaknesses in the componentry, finish and downhill handling – at a price of € 12,000 we expected considerably more. The Thömus Lightrider E1 fares better, it’s no bargain either, but the handling is outstanding. It’s a pity that the bike isn’t available outside of Switzerland. Another exotic specimen is the FANTIC XF1 Integra Enduro 160. The bike from the Italian motorcycle brand can’t deny its roots, tremendously composed and capable on the descents, though it cannot keep up with the competition when going back up – the 180 mm version of the Fantic is significantly better overall.
Power delivery is smooth and easy to predict, once you get the hang of it. We’re not sure if integration is better on the Turbo road bike, or if the slow, technical nature of trail riding just highlights some quirks. The motor shuts off less than a second after you stop pedaling, and the onset of power delivery is momentarily delayed once you begin pedaling. And this did mean we had to adapt our riding style a little bit to deal with that slight lag.
E-enduro bikes aren’t as different to regular bikes as one might imagine. All of the fundamentals are the same and by nailing the geometry and sizing Vitus has produced an amazing e-bike with the E-Sommet VR.Sure there are a couple of little things we’d probably change, like the STEPS Di2 mode shifter and rear tyre, but that’s about it. And given how much cheaper the Vitus is compared to the competition, you can easily afford to make these changes and even buy a spare battery. The E-Sommet VR is no golf buggy, but Vitus has it’s certainly hit a hole in one with this bike.
While I was waiting patiently for my 2017 model eBike to be manufactured and delivered, I came across an article in the local paper about a woman with a degenerative muscle disease who wants to take her eBike on forest service trails that are designated for mountain bikes. “What the hell?” I said, completely floored (what I actually said isn’t fit for publication). When I ordered this bike, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that it would be illegal to ride on mountain bike trails with my new, albeit electric, mountain bike.
The suspension works, but there isn’t any true dampening. That means you’re just riding around on springs. On a real full suspension e-bike (i.e. a few thousand dollars) you get actual oil-dampened shocks. Those absorb bumps and dampen the shock. With springs, the bike bounces a few times after bumps, with the energy dissipating through the spring stretching and compressing.
“People are buying electric bicycles as a way to reduce car trips,” Benjamin says. The data backs him up: 28 percent of survey respondents said they bought an e-bike specifically to replace driving a car. And many other reasons buyers listed for wanting an e-bike—including carrying cargo and kids, avoiding parking and traffic, and environmental concerns—also indicate a desire to get out from behind the wheel. Plus, you don’t need to change clothes or clean up when you arrive at your destination, because you don’t have to work up as much of a sweat.
Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) are relatively new on the scene and mountain bikers are freaking out. “They shouldn’t be allowed on our trails.” “They are going to ruin the sport.” It reminds me of when the first mountain bikes started popping up on trails and hikers were panicking with visions of crazed bikers running them over. Well, their fears never materialized and mountain bikes have become popular tools for exploring the outdoors responsibly.