Over several months, our team of four professional mountain bike testers rode each of the electric mountain bikes in our test selection on a variety of trails and terrain in a range of weather conditions. We had each tester ride each of the bikes numerous times, often riding the different models back to back for the sake of comparison. We didn't go easy on them. Instead, we treated them all as if they were our own, putting them all through the wringer to identify their strengths and weaknesses. We scrutinized every aspect of each e-bike's performance and scored them all on several rating metrics, e-bike controls, downhill performance, uphill performance, power output, and distance range. Each metric are described in greater detail below. It is important to note that during our testing our impressions of these e-bikes changed dramatically. Our first impressions didn't exactly stick. It was essential for us to test the different models head-to-head and make direct comparisons to flush out the differences. For example, everyone was initially a little underwhelmed with the Specialized's power and more excited about the Haibike, but after hundreds of miles of testing our impressions changed. We go into more detail on this below.


Mountain bikes have come a long way since the 80s. Rock Shox showed up and eventually everyone had a hardtail bike. Then came dual-suspension bikes for all sorts of riding styles. My choice was a cross-country bike so I could climb fast and descend fast without the need for big air. Brakes have gone from simple calipers, to grippy Shimano V-Brakes, to bomber hydraulic disk brakes. While all this was going on street-focused eBikes were evolving too. It should be no shock that the technologies would merge to create eMTBs. A lot of people who were part of the mountain biking revolution in the 80s are getting older and eBikes allow them to continue the sport they love later in life. Whether it’s riders dealing with health issues or injuries, or simply just getting older, the emergence of eMTBs makes total sense.
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The first functioning electric motor was displayed in the early 19th century, though the device constructed by British scientist Michael Faraday did little more than swirl a wire around a magnet when an electric charge was introduced. Still, the concept proved that electricity could do work. Functional electric motors would follow in many forms after that achievement in 1821. Soon scientists and tinkerers around the world, including visionaries such as Nikola Tesla, were experimenting with all manner of electric motors -- some worked with DC power, others with AC. By the end of the century, myriad electric motors had been produced, capable of exerting enough force with enough reliable control that they were practical for use in myriad applications.
eMTBs appeal to an extremely broad target group: some use their eMTB for daily commuting, others for after-work or weekend rides on maintained gravel roads, and others plan to do an electrified alpine traverse or even an action-packed visit to the bike park. The good news is that many eMTBs are jacks of all trades, covering a very wide range of uses. Others, unfortunately, may disappoint with poor spec or nervous handling.
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you're pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn.[14] In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.[15]
All too often, tech breakthroughs are measured in wattage efficiency and seconds saved, but we asked ourselves, 'What about the other things that make for an awesome ride?' The answer takes shape in the Alibi, with tires that'll never go flat, a chain that won't rust, and a geometry that just screams comfort. It's everything you need to hit your goals, whether they're to get in shape or get around town in style.
First of all, you’ll get a RockShox Lyrik RC Boost solo fork with 150mm of travel. You don’t find this fork on many electric mountain bikes at this price point. The new Brose Drive S motor is also featured on this bike. This is great for e-MTBs because it has 5 nm more torque than last year’s Brose bikes. You’ll also get a top-of-the-line derailleur with a Shimano Deore XT 11-speed drivetrain.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
…but currently offer only very few advantages, such as a cleaner design and the option to mount a bottle cage in a front triangle. If you want to take a spare battery in your backpack, you will have to struggle with the larger dimensions of the integrated batteries, or you won’t have the possibility to take one with you at all. Depending on the integration, handling the integrated rechargeable battery (e.g. the on-button for Shimano-Intube) can be awkward. Also, the longer battery results in a higher centre of gravity. The fact is that there are good reasons for continuing to use a standard external battery.
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.
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