For many bikes, battery range is more important that total power (because they're all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist kicking in anywhere from 25 percent of you pedal power to 200 percent boost. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you'll be using your bike for long commutes.
You've gotta get up to get down and one of the purposes of e-bikes is to make it much easier to do so. Since we spend significantly more time climbing than descending, we felt it was important to rate how well these bikes perform when pointed uphill. Climbing on an e-MTB with pedal assist support is somewhat different than climbing on a bike without a motor. These bikes are capable of carrying some serious speed uphill, changing the climbing dynamic with a much faster pace, often tossing finesse out the window in favor of power and momentum. The heavy weight of these bikes and plus-sized tires gives them incredible traction, keeping them planted on the ground, and dampening switches can be left wide open to enjoy the added traction benefits of active rear suspension. Each bike's geometry, handling, and power output all played a role in how well these bikes performed on the ascents, and we had plenty of time to test them while rallying back uphill for more downhill laps.
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What is a road bike? A machine? A tool? Or is it a continuation of the body—a paintbrush completing a picture of your true self? We believe it's more than this, as words can't describe the feeling it gives you to ride, nor can they encapsulate the dedication behind our innovative designs. It requires years in the Win Tunnel, on the road, and in the lab perfecting aero and carbon, and it's worth every drop of sweat to deliver you the perfect ride.
The three bikes we tested all use a different e-bike motor system, and the controls, the primary user interface, are an important element that we rated but didn't weight as heavily as some of the others. Each motor system and their associated controls are different. Our primary interest is in how user-friendly is it to interact with the system, how intuitive and ergonomic are the shifters, how good and easy to read is the display, and how easy is it to charge the battery? Each drive system also has a smartphone app that is intended to allow the user to fine-tune the motor's support settings, create custom settings, monitor battery charge and health, and a whole lot more. While we don't feel the apps are necessary for the use of any of these e-MTB's, those with an affinity for technology or personalizing your ride may be inclined to use them.
The demands for the best eMTB are high. It has to climb efficiently, be comfortable to ride, be very stable and composed, yet, on top of that, be a lot of fun on the descents. Also, its integration, ease of use, and motor performance must set the benchmark. Although all the motors perform at a high level, the Bosch Performance CX is unable to keep up with the competition due to the high internal resistance it generates at over 25 km/h. It’s a pity for the Moustache Samedi Race 11: it’s by far the best Bosch bike we’ve ever ridden, but it’s slowed down by the motor. With a price tag of € 5,999, the Trek Powerfly 9 LT Plus is clearly the cheapest bike in this group test. It climbs very efficiently, but is held back on the downhills by a poor choice of tyres and slow handling – you should consider a tyre upgrade in your budget. The Haibike XDURO Nduro descends with the stability of a freight train, but it has to let the competition overtake it when going back up. With its long 180 mm travel and high weight (24.54 kg), it even feels cumbersome on the downhills.
…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.
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.