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.
Generally speaking, e-bikes are bicycles with a battery-powered “assist” that comes via pedaling or, in some cases, a throttle. When you push the pedals on a pedal-assist e-bike, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can zip up hills and cruise over tough terrain without gassing yourself. Called “pedalecs,” they feel just like conventional bikes—but better, says Ed Benjamin, senior managing director at the consulting firm eCycleElectric. “You control your speed with your feet, like with a regular bike,” he says. “You just feel really powerful and accelerate easily.”
Over several months, our team of four professional mountain bike testers rode each of the electric mountain bikes in our test selection on a variety of trails and terrain in a range of weather conditions. We had each tester ride each of the bikes numerous times, often riding the different models back to back for the sake of comparison. We didn't go easy on them. Instead, we treated them all as if they were our own, putting them all through the wringer to identify their strengths and weaknesses. We scrutinized every aspect of each e-bike's performance and scored them all on several rating metrics, e-bike controls, downhill performance, uphill performance, power output, and distance range. Each metric are described in greater detail below. It is important to note that during our testing our impressions of these e-bikes changed dramatically. Our first impressions didn't exactly stick. It was essential for us to test the different models head-to-head and make direct comparisons to flush out the differences. For example, everyone was initially a little underwhelmed with the Specialized's power and more excited about the Haibike, but after hundreds of miles of testing our impressions changed. We go into more detail on this below.
As the weather begins to drop and the snow starts to fall, it is increasingly important to know how to properly care for your electric bike and its Lithium-ion battery. It may be possible for some people to ride their bikes during the winter months, while others must pack them away until the warmer weather returns. Whether you plan to ride in the cold and snow or if you decide to...
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.
Bottom Line The Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie was the most well rounded bike in our test, the winner of our Editor's Choice Award. Commencal's first foray into the e-bike market was worth the wait with a hard charging ride that utilizes their Meta frame design and Shimano's E8000 motor. The HaiBike XDURO AllMtn features a powerful pedal assist motor, but in a less refined package. The Trek Powerfly 7 FS is a good electric mountain bike, but its component specification is holding it back from reaching its potential.
Every major bike manufacturer—and literally dozens of smaller ones—is already in the e-bike game. Car companies aren’t far behind. Ford is already bankrolling an electric bike-share system in San Francisco, and plenty of others are eyeing up the e-bike market. “The car business is jumping in with both feet,” Benjamin says, “because they realize that cars in high-density urban areas, where more than half the human race lives, just aren’t working anymore.” With big transportation players like Uber looking into e-bikes, and cities searching for ways to relieve traffic congestion, programs may only continue to expand.
On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.
Stop and go with care. Because you’re heavier and faster, it will take longer to slow down and stop. Squeeze your brakes well ahead of intersections. Remember that the bike will accelerate faster than normal, so don’t start pulling out into traffic until it’s fully clear. Also, because the bike has some heft, you may feel wobbly the first few times you get going or slow to a stop. Practice mounting, dismounting, and stopping in safe places before hitting heavily trafficked roads.
A 2008 market survey showed that the average distance traveled in the Netherlands by commuters on a standard bicycle is 6.3 kilometres (3.9 mi) while with an e-bike this distance increases to 9.8 kilometres (6.1 mi). This survey also showed that e-bike ownership is particularly popular among people aged 65 and over, but limited among commuters. The e-bike is used in particular for recreational bicycle trips, shopping and errands.
The Allez range shows off the capabilities of aluminum, from Win Tunnel-tuned and ultra-stiff race rockets to fully capable all-rounders that serve as the perfect introduction to road riding. Our engineers have decades of experience with alloy, developing innovative welding and hydroforming techniques that allow them to craft the ideal balance of responsiveness, comfort, and handling.
Our job is to make sure you enjoy your EVELO for many years to come. That’s why they are backed by a 4-year/20,000-mile warranty – double the industry average. If a problem comes up, you are just one call away from our U.S.-based customer service. Combined with our network of partner bike shops around the country for on-the-ground support, you are covered for anything a bike path can throw at you.
The final appearance of both the FullSeven and the Yamaha PW-X on the countdown. This top notch 27.5″ wheeled shred sled is another perfect fire road rider for the intermediate rider looking to step their game up. One thing I didn’t mention before but I wanted to let you all know is that I think the FullSeven geometry this year allows the bikes to be more accessible to riders of all sizes. Traditionally, most companies offer one or two options for female riders. Haibike does offer the FullLife models, but the FullSeven series by and large offers better components and a very similar geometry. I think that’s great.
Mountain bikers and their associations (which I used to be a proud member of), should reconsider their anti-eMTB stance, realize there is a need and demand for Type 1 eMTBs, and focus their efforts on keeping trails open for all mountain bikes. Mountain bikers deserve the right to ride more of our public trails than we are currently allowed. I won’t open a can of worms with my strong opinions on where I believe mountain bikes should be allowed, but suffice it to say that we don’t have near enough access as we should.
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.