Electric bikes are here in a big way. Liberated from some of the normal constraints of standard bike design like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded; if you can imagine it, someone has built it. From cargo bikes to city bikes, messenger bikes to mountain bikes, road bikes, and even beach cruisers, there is something for everyone. The beauty of e-bikes is they make the joy of cycling accessible to so many people in so many ways.
Probably the only readily available, mass-production downhill-specific e-MTBs on the market… well, downhill preferred anyway. Don't be afraid to test the limits on this one! Haibike’s xDuro Downhill’s intention is to assist with the pedal back to the top so riders can self-shuttle, instead of taking chairlifts or vans to the top. If you are Haibike pro rider Sam Pilgrim, you could also use this bike to go upside down over enormous jumps. The e-DH bike is a good idea – who can argue that fewer shuttle buses needed to ferry gravity fiends is a bad thing?
Of course, there is room for improvement. There is no handlebar mounted digital display and the only way to tell your speed is to mount a phone or bike computer to the bars. To see your battery life, you have to stop and look to the side of the frame (or risk crashing). The climbing performance was hampered by the drive unit's more abrupt cutoff when the pedals stopped turning. The charger connection is poorly designed and located: we spent a fair amount of time carefully removing mud to get the bike to charge. Overall though, the Specialized still proved to be the test team's favorite for its versatility and well-rounded performance. We loved it and we think you will too, read the full review to find out more about our Editor's Choice Award winning e-MTB.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
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.
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.