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.
I have been mountain biking since the late 1980s, when all I could afford was an entry-level Bridgestone MB-5 on my strapped college budget. Over the years, I’ve explored up and down the mountains of Washington and Oregon in search of the best singletrack. The bikes changed but our passion ebbed not. When I co-founded Trails.com in the late 1990s, mountain biking was still one of my top outdoor pursuits. Our employees were outdoors nuts as well and biking was simply a part of life.
Name a type of riding, and there’s an e-bike for that. If you have zero interest in an electric road bike, you may find yourself head over heels for a high-capacity e-cargo bike that can haul 400 pounds of stuff while still cruising at a cool 15 mph. E-bikes are available in fat, cargo, commuter, recreational, hardtail, full-suspension mountain, and even performance road bike styles. For proof, here are a dozen e-bikes we love for every type of cyclist.
Over the course of our testing, our testers universally agreed that the HaiBike XDURO AllMtn 8.0 had the most responsive and robust motor. The system felt almost twitchy, raring to go with a torquey feel that started the moment you pushed on the pedals. It got up to speed quickly and felt like it had the fastest top speed of all the models we tested. The power output was smooth and consistent, and shifting between the system's 5 support settings went off without a hitch. Testers also loved that the power band extended for a moment after you stop pedaling, not quite as long as the Commencal, but enough to still be a benefit on the climbs. The Commencal has a similarly strong motor, but couldn't quite match the torquey feel of the HaiBike or the top speed, although it has an even longer push of the power band when the pedaling stops. Both the Trek and the Specialized motor systems felt slightly less powerful, still offering plenty of pedal-assist support mind you, but that also resulted in the most efficient motors and longer distance ranges than the models with more brute power. Note that our Turbo Levo showed up with a top speed limit of 16mph and not the 20mph. We were very disappointed with 16mph as a max speed. Luckily, we were able to get it adjusted back to 20 and were then quite happy. If you buy a Specialized, make sure it's set to 20mph.
It’s hard to ignore the growing popularity of electric bikes. Commuters and hybrid riders have already embraced the technology, but what about when it comes to mountain shredders? MTB fans are certainly beginning to realise the benefits of electric – an electric mountain bike can give you all the thrills you want from a normal MTB but with the extra power you need to get back to the top and give the trail another go.