Descents on such a heavy bike are less fun. Getting the rear wheel off the ground on short notice, or whipping it around turns is very hard. I like to use my rear tire and brakes to steer—locking the brakes in tight corners at speed, then letting off and pedaling out. On very loose and exposed trails, using that approach on the Turbo Levo doesn't work, once the rear starts to loose traction, it’s just all over. Perhaps this could be combated with lower rear tire pressures; we were running 20 PSI.
Just recently my son came to me with this idea of getting an eBike so we could ride together again. He shared some YouTube videos of guys riding these new bikes on technical terrain I dreamed of doing again. I was intrigued enough to test ride an eBike at a bike shop near my home. The salesperson took me out for a long hilly spin on a dual-suspension demo bike and I was impressed. The motor is adjustable from barely noticeable to seriously helping on the uphills. It doesn’t propel a rider like a motorcycle does, instead it just gives a boost to the rider’s normal pedaling of the bike. This assist mode can be turned off too.
Bottom Line The Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie was the most well rounded bike in our test, the winner of our Editor's Choice Award. Commencal's first foray into the e-bike market was worth the wait with a hard charging ride that utilizes their Meta frame design and Shimano's E8000 motor. The HaiBike XDURO AllMtn features a powerful pedal assist motor, but in a less refined package. The Trek Powerfly 7 FS is a good electric mountain bike, but its component specification is holding it back from reaching its potential.
While we’re on this thread, I want to go ahead and throw in the most tricked-out shred sled in the AllMtn line. Haibike spared no expense wit the XDURO AllMtn 10.0. It’s a premium bike, and here is why. A Fox Factory 34 front suspension fork with 150mm of travel and Kashima coating starts things off. That’s followed by a 20-speed drivetrain brought to you by Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus. Then you’ve got DT Swiss rims, KS LEV-DX dropper seatpost, Magura MT7 HD brakes, and a Yamaha PW-X motor. ‘Nuff. Said.
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, way more fun than any of our non e-bike riding test team ever expected, 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.
In addition to the pedal-assist feature, some e-bikes come with a throttle that engages the motor with the press of a button. These belong to a separate class of e-bike that, obviously, doesn’t offer a pure cycling experience; they’re also illegal in some municipalities. Interestingly, Benjamin says, people who aren’t already “cyclists” tend to gravitate toward throttle bikes at first, but then turn around and choose a pedal-assist for their next purchase.
Due to high total weights of over 20 kg, it doesn’t matter whether the scale stops at 21.44 kg or 22.2 kg for a modern eMTB. In our test, the difference between the lightest and the heaviest bike was just under 4 kg. This is not to be ignored… but a little extra weight in the form of functional, reliable componentry is better than an ebike designed and constructed to be as light as possible, at all costs, but which ends up in the workshop more often than on the trail.
Weight isn’t anything like a critical as one would assume. Weight distribution however is a different matter and this is where geometry, specifically the ratio of the front centre measurement to the chain stay length really comes into play. Battery placement is important too, and smaller batteries give an edge in the handling stakes while robbing the bike of range.
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In the end, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie proved to be the tester favorite, offering the best downhill performance that felt the "most like a mountain bike" that the other models couldn't match. The Specialized proved to be the most nimble and agile by far, with the lowest center of gravity, shortest wheelbase, less rear wheel travel, and shortest reach, yet still managed to be confident and stable at speed. By contrast, the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+, our Top Pick for Aggressive Riders, felt much more one-dimensional with its long and slack geometry and ultra plush suspension, excelling at speed, but sluggish at lower speeds or technical downhill sections. The HaiBike XDURO AllMtn 8.0 proved to be a less inspiring downhill performer, with a massive feel, rattling battery, and a generally unrefined feel, although it was good at going straight and fast. The Trek Powerfly 7 FS was our least favorite e-bike to ride downhill, with a less impressive component specification that held it back and didn't inspire confidence on descents.
Electric bikes are here in a big way. Liberated from some of the normal constraints of standard bike design like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded; if you can imagine it, someone has built it. From cargo bikes to city bikes, messenger bikes to mountain bikes, road bikes, and even beach cruisers, there is something for everyone. The beauty of e-bikes is they make the joy of cycling accessible to so many people in so many ways.
With an electric mountain bike (or e-MTB) that gives you assistance up to 25kph, it’s possible to pack twice as much riding into the same amount of time. Those five great trails that you normally ride after work can now be ridden twice. That boring singletrack climb on your lunchtime loop suddenly becomes the highlight of your day. With the extra push from the motor it’s easy to double the distance covered, or do the same ride in half the time.
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The first step in deciding which Electric Bike is for you is to determine the right style for your type of riding. Want to take things off road? We have a full range of Mountain Electric Bikes, Hunting Electric bikes, and Fat Tire Ebikes that’ll have you going on and off trails with ease. Looking for a low impact but super fun ride? Our line of Comfort E-bikes, Commuting E-bikes, and even folding bikes will have you zipping around town, on the beach, or anywhere you can ride- no problem.