Countless others have popped up since all over the world, proving that the design has been popular with consumers. However, most people don’t know where the craze started. In fact, it can all be traced back right here to Coast Cycle’s original Buzzraw, which actually started life as Coast Cycles’ Ruckus bike. The Singapore-based company quickly changed the name to Buzzraw, probably fearing Honda’s lawyers.
I have been mountain biking since the late 1980s, when all I could afford was an entry-level Bridgestone MB-5 on my strapped college budget. Over the years, I’ve explored up and down the mountains of Washington and Oregon in search of the best singletrack. The bikes changed but our passion ebbed not. When I co-founded Trails.com in the late 1990s, mountain biking was still one of my top outdoor pursuits. Our employees were outdoors nuts as well and biking was simply a part of life.
The final appearance of both the FullSeven and the Yamaha PW-X on the countdown. This top notch 27.5″ wheeled shred sled is another perfect fire road rider for the intermediate rider looking to step their game up. One thing I didn’t mention before but I wanted to let you all know is that I think the FullSeven geometry this year allows the bikes to be more accessible to riders of all sizes. Traditionally, most companies offer one or two options for female riders. Haibike does offer the FullLife models, but the FullSeven series by and large offers better components and a very similar geometry. I think that’s great.
All the models we tested are full suspension all mountain/trail bike models with relatively similar amounts of suspension travel, geometry, and wheel/tire size. The addition of a large battery and a small motor adds significant weight to an e-bike and they generally weigh in the neighborhood of 50 lbs, approximately 20 lbs heavier than non-e-bikes, and the massive weight of these bikes makes them more difficult to ride without the support of the pedal assist motor.
There’s no getting around it: E-bikes give you yet another device to charge. Right now, you can expect your battery to last anywhere from 35-100 miles before it needs a recharge. Where you fall in that range depends on the size of the battery and how much power the motor draws. Obviously, if you buzz around on “turbo” all day, you’ll run out of juice faster than if you run on lower, more economical settings. But we also expect batteries to improve in the future.
The Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+ was the best climber of the bunch. The bike had a comfortable climbing position, with a slightly longer reach than the competition, but the highlight was the Shimano Steps E8000 motor. The Shimano motor's power band extends for just a moment after the pedals stop turning, providing the rider with just a little more push to get over obstacles or carry speed when you stop pedaling for a second. This extended power was brief, but it made a huge difference when tackling technical uphill sections or playfully ripping berms or over rocks on the climbs. While it was agile and quicker handling, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie lost ground in this rating metric due to the somewhat abrupt pedal assist cutoff that occurred the moment you stop pedaling. This abrupt power cutoff caused awkward moves in slower technical uphill sections when jockeying pedals to avoid rock strikes. The HaiBike didn't climb as well as the Commencal, but it undeniably had traction for days and a motor that also extended the power band slightly beyond the last pedal stroke. The Trek Powerfly had a long wheelbase, reach, and chainstay length, giving the bike a long rear end that kept impressive traction while climbing as long as you kept your momentum, the overall length of the bike, however, made it a little tougher to negotiate in the tighter stuff.
It was a close battle and the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie emerged as the winner of our Editor's Choice Award. Our testers universally agreed that it was the most well-rounded performer on the trail and offered a ride that felt the "most like a mountain bike" of the models tested. It was versatile, with a lighter and more nimble feel, yet it still managed to maintain its charging chops and stability at speed. Specialized has done a wonderful job designing their Turbo Levo models with the battery and motor cleanly and stealthily integrated into the frame. The Specialized 1.3 motor also runs so quietly that you'd almost forget you were riding an e-bike if it weren't for all that power. The Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie wasn't the most powerful e-MTB we tested, but it used its power efficiently and had an impressive distance range that bested some of the competition by 15% or more in our head to head range testing.