Many years of experience have clearly shown that it isn’t possible to make a universal and realistic estimate of an ebike’s range. The range of an eMTB depends on countless factors such as the support level, terrain, rider weight, environmental conditions, and cadence. Those who demand a lot of power from the motor consume a lot of electricity. If you want to travel far, you’ll have to save battery power. Read more about this topic in our article The truth about lab tests.
The quality of electric mountain bikes is changing dramatically. We set out to find the best ones you can buy today. After looking at 15 models, we narrowed it down to four in the $5,000-$5,500 price range. We then took to the trails. Over the course of several months, our team of testers rode these e-MTB's for thousands of miles and hundreds of hours to find out how each model performs on the trail, which one has the longest range, the most power, and most user-friendly controls. We rode these bikes hard, scrutinizing every aspect of their performance, exposing the strengths and weaknesses of each. We present our findings here in this detailed comparative review to help you find the model that's right for you.
After doing some research, I found that the article was correct: the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management both prohibit eBikes on their trails that allow mountain bikes. In the eyes of these national agencies, eBikes are “motor vehicles” and lumped in with motorcycles, ATVs, and even off-road vehicles like Jeeps. I have been riding knobby-tired motorcycles since I was in third grade and can clearly state that pedal-assist eMTBs and “dirt bikes” are completely different animals.
The removable 460 Wh battery is hidden in the downtube, and the custom-built-for-Specialized Brose motor is integrated around the bottom bracket, and develops 250 watts of power. A torque sensor detects when you’re applying pressure to the pedals, and provides assistance when you need it. Aside from the glowing green LEDs indicating charge levels and output settings, there is little indicating this Turbo is anything but a typical mountain bike.
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.
The Liv Amiti-E+2 is a low-priced but highly versatile e-bike. It’s just as much at home on the pavement as it is on bike paths and rail trails. But don't feel constrained to groomed paths. Front suspension and 42mm-wide tires mean you can take on off-road detour on your way home from work. Speaking of work, this e-bike makes a great commuter thanks to rack and fender mounts and integrated lights for riding after dark. Internal cable routing and a nicely integrated battery make for clean lines and 9-speed shifters give you plenty of gearing options for whichever type of terrain you decide to tackle. This do-everything bike is great option if you’re riding includes a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
In the pursuit of speed, all trails lead to Camber. We designed it to be the ultimate speed-loving trail bike, which means that having equal efficiency both up and down the trail is an absolute must. To make sure of it, Cambers feature our fully active & independent FSR suspension with our Position-Sensitive Brain technology. So if your rides see you going big and going fast, the Camber is tailor-made for you.
Sure, you train hard and eat right, but there’s just one thing missing—an edge. The Amira gives you two. First, there’s the performance edge you get from its FACT carbon frame and tapered head tube. The combination results in responsive handling and true get-up-and-go accelerations. Then comes the psychological edge. The feeling that, when teamed up with a lightweight, high-performance machine, there’s no limit to what you can achieve together.
All models of the Turbo Levo use a frame made from M5 aluminum alloy, with the motor and removable battery integrated inside. The frame and fork use 148mm (rear) and 110mm (front) spacing. Specialized 6Fattie Purgatory (front) and Ground Control (rear) 3-inch wide tires are laced to 38mm Roval Traverse rims. Rear stays and pivots are beefed up to handle the additional weight (48.5 lbs) and torque, and bridges are added to the stays, over the non-motorized Stumpjumper. The front fork is a RockShox Yari XC with a 15mm thru-axle. The 135mm rear travel is provided by a custom Fox Float Performance DPS shock with automatic sag adjust.
The first thing many cyclists do when checking out a new bike is give it a lift to gauge the weight. You’re in for a little scale shock if you try that with an e-bike. The battery, motor, extra components, and reinforced frame make e-bikes inherently heavier than standard bikes—to the tune of about 20 pounds. Modern geometry and engineering help them handle well despite their weight, and obviously the motor-assist makes the extra pounds disappear when you start to pedal. But you’ll need more muscle to get them on your car rack or up and down stairs.
While I was waiting patiently for my 2017 model eBike to be manufactured and delivered, I came across an article in the local paper about a woman with a degenerative muscle disease who wants to take her eBike on forest service trails that are designated for mountain bikes. “What the hell?” I said, completely floored (what I actually said isn’t fit for publication). When I ordered this bike, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that it would be illegal to ride on mountain bike trails with my new, albeit electric, mountain bike.
The Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+ was the best climber of the bunch. The bike had a comfortable climbing position, with a slightly longer reach than the competition, but the highlight was the Shimano Steps E8000 motor. The Shimano motor's power band extends for just a moment after the pedals stop turning, providing the rider with just a little more push to get over obstacles or carry speed when you stop pedaling for a second. This extended power was brief, but it made a huge difference when tackling technical uphill sections or playfully ripping berms or over rocks on the climbs. While it was agile and quicker handling, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie lost ground in this rating metric due to the somewhat abrupt pedal assist cutoff that occurred the moment you stop pedaling. This abrupt power cutoff caused awkward moves in slower technical uphill sections when jockeying pedals to avoid rock strikes. The HaiBike didn't climb as well as the Commencal, but it undeniably had traction for days and a motor that also extended the power band slightly beyond the last pedal stroke. The Trek Powerfly had a long wheelbase, reach, and chainstay length, giving the bike a long rear end that kept impressive traction while climbing as long as you kept your momentum, the overall length of the bike, however, made it a little tougher to negotiate in the tighter stuff.
By 1898 a rear-wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel, was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 U.S. Patent 627,066 by John Schnepf depicted a rear-wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle. Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.