E-bikes do some of the work for you, but they still count as exercise, especially for people who have otherwise been sedentary. Colorado University researchers found that when 20 non-exercising men and women e-biked about 40 minutes three days a week, they improved their cardiovascular fitness and blood sugar in just one month. “Many people are not fit enough to ride long enough to get meaningful health and fitness benefits from biking,” Benjamin says. “Put them on an electric bike and they can go out and ride for an hour and get a significant amount of exercise.”
Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It's worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With rechargeable, battery-powered pedaling assistance, electric bicycles offer an increasingly viable alternative to fossil-fueled commuting, and e-bikes enable riders of various abilities to extend their cycling range. But the street legality of these hybrid machines remains a contentious issue, so be sure to check current state and local laws governing their operation before you hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric bike on Amazon.
It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. In Europe, where the e-bike market has exploded, the European Cycling Union announced that it will create a new racing circuit for e-bikes, including e-road and e-mountain bikes, for the 2019 season. Following suit, the UCI said it will include an electric mountain bike competition in the 2019 World Mountain Bike Championships. Yes, there will be a rainbow jersey awarded to the world’s best off-road e-biker.
The distance range of an electric mountain bike refers to the distance you can travel on a single battery charge given a specific set of circumstances. All of the e-bikes we tested have roughly the same battery storage capacity, but outside variables like rider weight, pedaling input, terrain, trail conditions, and weather conditions may all affect the length of time or distance that a battery charge will last. To compare the distance range of the four models in our test we took the bikes out in their highest support setting and did out and back laps on the same trail until the batteries ran down from fully charged to completely dead. When we finished we recorded the distance and vertical gain that each model was able to complete and easily and objectively determined our winner.
While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
**The eBike uses a quick-release battery system. Lightweight 200Wh Lithium-ion battery packs can be swapped in seconds at the roadside. Each pack weighs just 1.4Kg, so spare battery packs can easily be carried for longer trips. The range that can be achieved from each pack will vary according to the conditions and effort exerted by the rider. Ranges of around 30 miles are normal per each full eBike battery charge. Less fit riders may achieve ranges of 10 miles or less, particularly in challenging conditions like steep hills, strong head-winds or soft terrain. The conditions which affect the range are rider fitness, weight, size and seating position, head or tail winds, gradient, terrain, tyre pressure, what gear is used, number of stop/starts and the speed the bike is ridden.
If you haven’t ridden or even seen a modern eMTB, here is what I have discovered. They are sturdy rigs that come standard with quality mountain bike components including beefy forks and rear suspension systems, strong disk brakes, and a reliable drivetrain. They are heavy but not that far out of the old downhill bike weight class. The distinguishing “e” features are the electric motor at the bottom bracket (some have hub motors), the battery pack, and the handlebar-mounted computer that controls the system. They have adjustable assist modes: off, low (barely helps), medium, and the battery-draining high mode. When everything is put together, they are something to behold.
“Rather than bolt on a bulky off-the-shelf system, we struck out on our own to redefine the category. The Powerplay system is the result of designing an electric drive for the suspension and geometry needs of proper mountain bikes; in fact, the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay are identical to those of the new Altitude. In our opinion this is the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should.”
The Ancheer folding electric mountain bike does have a few weird quirks. The first is the handlebar mounted battery. It saves space for the folding mechanism, but looks odd. Fortunately it has very little effect on handling because it is mounted so close the head tube’s pivot point. It does raise the center of gravity of the bike a bit, but the difference is small compared to how much you raise the bike’s center of gravity.
Fast and fun on the trail, the SDURO HardNine handles rough terrain with ease, while its large tires roll over most obstacles without missing a beat. The pedal assist makes for quick, energy-saving climbing and the bike descends surprisingly well, too. Its front suspension provides a nice level of cushion on bumpy trails and while we missed having a full-suspension on this model, that would have added additional weight and costs.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike. The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.