Another type of electric assist motor, often referred to as the mid-drive system, is increasing in popularity. With this system, the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. In more typical configurations, a cog or wheel on the motor drives a belt or chain that engages with a pulley or sprocket fixed to one of the arms of the bicycle's crankset. Thus the propulsion is provided at the pedals rather than at the wheel, being eventually applied to the wheel via the bicycle's standard drive train.
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear wheel, or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.
The frame itself incorporates a series of mounts allowing you to easily trick-out the Road E+1 with a rack, fenders, or panniers to more aptly meet your touring requirements. Again, most touring purists will certainly scoff at the mere notion of pedal-assistance, however, individuals looking for more of a guided tour and less of a tour de force will swoon over the Road E+1.
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.
As a household name, Specialized is to be trusted in this world without a doubt. That’s because, in addition to their inventory of pedal-powered machinery, they’ve gone ahead and introduced us to their S-Works Turbo. Here, in conjunction with their custom Trail-tuned motor for off-road use, the Levo FSR frame is constructed entirely of FACT 11m carbon fiber allowing for both a lightweight and stiff ride through the local wilderness. Additional features include instant engagement, heat management, and a silent output for good measure. Not bad Specialized. Not bad at all.
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.