What could very well be the newest frontier of all-electric transportation, electric mountain bikes are by no means non-confrontational. On the contrary, they’re also hailed as great power assisted means to conquer those tough to nearly impossible trails you’ve been trying effortlessly to tackle. Which, after all, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re a die-hard analog fan who only believes those with true grit and dedication should be attempting the most impossible of backcountry trails.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
On the 8.0 specifically, Haibike sets you up with the brand new Yamaha PW-X motor. This motor comes standard with a 500 watt hour battery, Bluetooth connectivity, and 80 nm of torque out the gate. The PW-X also boasts the benefit of a dual chainring up front. This means you’ll save some battery if you’re willing to work a little harder and use those gears! Speaking of gears, you’ll get a Shimano Deore XT drivetrain. Pair that with Fox 34 Float Performance front suspension and a Fox Float DPS rear shock (150mm travel) and you’ve got a fully-capable, all-around ride.
In our head to head range test, the Specialized took the win by travelling 20.6 miles and 3,455 vertical feet, 10% farther than the Trek at 18.6 miles and 3,076 vertical feet, 15% more distant than the HaiBike at 17.8 miles and 3,215 vertical feet, and 17% more than the Commencal at 17.1 miles and 3,100 vertical feet. Each of these electric mountain bikes can take you a long way out on the trail, but the Specialized uses its power the most efficiently and can keep you out to play for longer than the competition.
The Benno e-Joy promises to be as fun to play with as it is to look at. Benno says it took inspiration from the timeless style of vintage Italian scooters and classic German cars. Add in the functionality of front and rear cargo racks and the 250w pedal-assist motor and you have a beautiful bike that's ready for anything. Cruise into town for groceries, wander comfortably along a gravel path on 2.35-inch balloon tires, or add the child seat attachment and take your kid along for the ride, and beach-goers will appreciate the surfboard rack. Whatever your cycling pleasure pursuit may be, the e-Joy can be your ticket to fun.
With almost as many awards as technical features, it’s no secret why we opted to include HaiBike’s SDURO HardNice 4.0 in the list. First and foremost, this sleek aerodynamic ride doesn’t even initially come off as an electric mountain bike. That is until you experience first-hand the integrated Yamaha PW Drive Unit offering dynamic support and a top speed of 20 mph. Also, the bike features a shock-resistant skid plate that works to protect the motor from harm, and a Yamaha LED display that’s small yet robust and works to keep you informed on the bike’s status and functionality.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.