Motorcycle manufacturer KTM has long produced bicycles too, but it is in the e-MTB category that the brand’s heritage is really employed. Motocross fans and riders looking to get into e-MTB riding will appreciate KTM’s decision to use a ‘precise’ 29er front wheel and ‘traction rich’ 27.5-Plus rear wheel (MX bikes also feature different front/rear wheel sizing), an approach some other manufacturers have also adopted (e.g. Canyon). The bike is adorned with a solid build kit including e-MTB-specific parts like SRAM’s EX1 drivetrain.
In the year 1885, a British man named J.K. Stanley introduced what can fairly be described as the first modern bicycle. His Rover bike had wheels of equal size in the front and back and used a chain connecting the pedals and the rear wheel as a propulsion system. It was often marketed as a safety bike in contrast with the unstable Penny Farthing, and was a smashing success. The company went on to develop motorcycles and automobiles, remaining in business until the year 2005.
For those who aren’t frequent riders, e-bikes open up a whole new world. While you may not be conditioned to ride 5-10 miles at a time, you can cover those distances easily with an electrical assist, which is a great way to build endurance and confidence. That same survey found that 94 percent of non-cyclists rode daily or weekly after getting an e-bike.
The seat is a long, tapering bench-style saddle common to this genre of e-bike. The design allows the same size frame to fit multiple sized riders. While it’s not quite the same as having a fully adjustable frame, e-bikes don’t require the same precision fitment due to their electric assist. When you’re using the bike like a motorcycle, you just kind of sit wherever is comfortable.
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.
The harder you pedal, the bigger the boost, the faster you’ll ride—to a point. E-bikes let you hum along at a brisk clip, but they aren’t motorcycles. You’ll never jackhammer down the road at 45 mph. The motor is governed to stop propelling you further when you hit 20-28 mph, depending on the bike. So you’ll save time on your commute (I shave about three minutes off a five-mile trip) but still enjoy the scenery.
Commencal has only just recently entered the electric mountain bike market, and their Meta Power Race 650B+ is a well designed and hard-charging contender, the winner of our Top Pick for Aggressive Riders Award. Commencal has integrated the Shimano Steps E8000 pedal assist motor into their proven Meta frame design, creating a bike that climbs well and also charges downhill. This bike comes to life at speed downhill thanks to a progressive long and slack geometry and a great component spec which is highlighted by a stout Rock Shox Lyrik fork and a plush Super Deluxe Coil rear shock. The Meta Power Race took top honors for its climbing performance, mostly due to the Shimano Steps E8000's consistent power output and extended power band, and testers also loved its e-bike controls, with an ergonomic shifter, best-in-test digital display, and user-friendly charging connection.
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.