Is it sensible to buy an eMTB for well over € 5,000? Probably not. Will you feel cool buying one of these bikes? You most definitely will! These bikes are the supercars and luxury sedans among eMTBs, where the best bike manufacturers in the world have pulled out all the stops regarding design, detail, and technical sophistication. Yet, while some of them tend to remind of a 911 when it comes to handling, others ride like a Hummer H2 – the price tag alone doesn’t predict anything about the actual performance of a bike. In our search for the best eMTB of 2018, we tested the twelve most promising models.
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.
The Spectral:ON 7.0 helps you to try new ways, to shift boundaries and to sit in the saddle more often. The Enduro configuration with rigid RockShox Lyrik RC suspension fork and RockShox Deluxe R shocks tames the roughest trails. The E-MTB-specific DT Swiss H1700 Spline wheels are fitted with robust Maxxis Minion tyres that offer maximum grip and control downhill. The Shimano Zee brakes from the freeride sector with 200 mm large brake discs at the front and rear are very powerful - there is no more control and safety in this class. The 165 mm short cranks guarantee the best possible ground clearance. The Kind Shock Lev Integra SI Vario seat post can be lowered at the push of a button when it gets steep. All in all, the Spectral:ON 7.0 is your ticket to trails that otherwise might not have been accessible.
Elon Musk had a good 2018, at least in retrospect. Coming out of production hell, Tesla’s Model 3 is now the #1 selling car in the USA by revenue, along with various other signifiers that Tesla is now a real, high-volume car manufacturer. Tesla itself declared a $300 million USD profit for Q3, delighting the stock market and its investors, if not the many shorters who continue to lose money and credibility.
Like the Bolt, the GM bikes are very much urban-oriented, which as the ongoing CleanTechnica series shows is a strong sweet spot for electric two-wheelers. One thing that leaps out of its contest page is part of its vision for the bike: “Zero crashes.” As a recent CleanTechnica article pointed out, there have been a growing number of injuries and some fatalities associated with electric bikes globally. What GM means by ‘zero crashes’ is unknown, but perhaps it’s more than just an interesting throwaway line in marketing.
There are many places in the U.S. where you can legally and responsibly ride e-MTB's, and take it from us, they are a heck of a lot of fun. Check with local land management agencies to find out where you are allowed to use an electric mountain bike before taking to the trails. One thing we do know, e-MTB's can be used on any trails that are legal for motorized use, so we took advantage of the wealth of OHV trails in the greater Lake Tahoe area for our testing purposes and had more fun doing it than any of us expected.
It’s always good news to hear a gasoline carmaker is continuing its electric mobility adventure, and what better way to do this than to stray from low-hanging fruits such as SUVs and pickup trucks. GM is no stranger to bold moves and we hope it will continue with the same determination to bring us more Volts, Bolts, and why not electric folding Jolts? (No, Jolts is not my personal entry for the $10,000 prize.)
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.
Whether the terrain is flat or hilly impacts the distance you can travel, as does the weight of the bike, your own weight, the gearing available on the bike, and how much juice you give it. We suggest that a distance of 10 to 20 miles is a realistic expectation. Of course, if you're prepared to do at least some pedaling, you can extend that dramatically.
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.