E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.
There are many places in the U.S. where you can legally and responsibly ride e-MTB's, and take it from us, they are a heck of a lot of fun. Check with local land management agencies to find out where you are allowed to use an electric mountain bike before taking to the trails. One thing we do know, e-MTB's can be used on any trails that are legal for motorized use, so we took advantage of the wealth of OHV trails in the greater Lake Tahoe area for our testing purposes and had more fun doing it than any of us expected.
In the end, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie proved to be the tester favorite, offering the best downhill performance that felt the "most like a mountain bike" that the other models couldn't match. The Specialized proved to be the most nimble and agile by far, with the lowest center of gravity, shortest wheelbase, less rear wheel travel, and shortest reach, yet still managed to be confident and stable at speed. By contrast, the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+, our Top Pick for Aggressive Riders, felt much more one-dimensional with its long and slack geometry and ultra plush suspension, excelling at speed, but sluggish at lower speeds or technical downhill sections. The HaiBike XDURO AllMtn 8.0 proved to be a less inspiring downhill performer, with a massive feel, rattling battery, and a generally unrefined feel, although it was good at going straight and fast. The Trek Powerfly 7 FS was our least favorite e-bike to ride downhill, with a less impressive component specification that held it back and didn't inspire confidence on descents.
REBEL electric bikes powered by the Yamaha central motor create Dynamic and Responsive Power. It also enables the use of a conventional groupset and offers no resistance in «no assistance» mode. The eMTB bikes range have an “External DT System” battery, located in the front triangle and integrated with the design of the frame. The relative position of the less lightweight parts of the system (motor and battery) enables a low center of gravity, guaranteeing a reactive and stable ebike. See the REBEL electric bike models...
Our high performance electric bikes offer high power, predictable handling and near silent operation. If your rides take you up steep single track trails or you just want a bike as light weight as possible, a mid drive system will offer the best hill climbing performance, lighter weight, and better weight distribution. A hub motor system will offer the most reliable day in and day out operation, faster speeds, more power, and is a better overall platform for everyday commuting.
Descents on such a heavy bike are less fun. Getting the rear wheel off the ground on short notice, or whipping it around turns is very hard. I like to use my rear tire and brakes to steer—locking the brakes in tight corners at speed, then letting off and pedaling out. On very loose and exposed trails, using that approach on the Turbo Levo doesn't work, once the rear starts to loose traction, it’s just all over. Perhaps this could be combated with lower rear tire pressures; we were running 20 PSI.
China's experience, as the leading e-bike world market, has raised concerns about road traffic safety and several cities have considered banning them from bicycle lanes. As the number of e-bikes increased and more powerful motors are used, capable of reaching up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), the number of traffic accidents have risen significantly in China. E-bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision, and because e-bikers use conventional bicycle lanes they mix with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians, increasing the risk of traffic collisions.
The time or distance an electric bike battery will run between chargings is impossible to judge with much accuracy. There are too many variables: terrain, speed, rider weight, bike load (shopping, kids, luggage), and more. However, we can make a few generalizations about an e-bike’s recharge time and overall working life. These generalizations should be used for comparison purposes only.
The Espin is powered by a 350-watt motor that’s rated for trips up to 50 miles (depending on the terrain and assist level). Once depleted, the battery fully charges in roughly five hours. Thankfully, Espin makes it easy to remove the battery, allowing you to quickly recharge it at home or in the office between trips. A backlit LCD control hub displays your basic metrics and battery life while in transit and LED headlights add a touch of light when needed.
While GM and Tesla are getting their toes wet, or at least implying that they might, and Ducati is at the table with a serious range of electric bikes, Yamaha is the Japanese entrant to the market. But this isn’t new news. The company has sold over 2 million electric bicycles globally, as well as 4 million drive units. It is a big player in this space and has been since it started. As with Ducati, you can’t buy an electric motorcycle from the motorcycle-heavy brand, but you can power up hills on road and off with one of their motorized products.
**The eBike uses a quick-release battery system. Lightweight 200Wh Lithium-ion battery packs can be swapped in seconds at the roadside. Each pack weighs just 1.4Kg, so spare battery packs can easily be carried for longer trips. The range that can be achieved from each pack will vary according to the conditions and effort exerted by the rider. Ranges of around 30 miles are normal per each full eBike battery charge. Less fit riders may achieve ranges of 10 miles or less, particularly in challenging conditions like steep hills, strong head-winds or soft terrain. The conditions which affect the range are rider fitness, weight, size and seating position, head or tail winds, gradient, terrain, tyre pressure, what gear is used, number of stop/starts and the speed the bike is ridden.
Getting an e-bike can dramatically increase how often you ride, according to a recent survey of nearly 1,800 e-bike owners in North America. Beforehand, 55 percent of respondents said they rode daily or weekly. After buying an e-bike, that number soared to 91 percent. It makes sense: Even if you’re super fit, you still get tired (likely from training or racing) and remounting your bike can feel like a chore. If you have an e-bike, you can continue riding while giving your knackered legs a bit of a break. You can also go faster, which makes biking for longer trips more attractive, even when you’re pressed for time.
The distance range of an electric mountain bike refers to the distance you can travel on a single battery charge given a specific set of circumstances. All of the e-bikes we tested have roughly the same battery storage capacity, but outside variables like rider weight, pedaling input, terrain, trail conditions, and weather conditions may all affect the length of time or distance that a battery charge will last. To compare the distance range of the four models in our test we took the bikes out in their highest support setting and did out and back laps on the same trail until the batteries ran down from fully charged to completely dead. When we finished we recorded the distance and vertical gain that each model was able to complete and easily and objectively determined our winner.
In a friction drive motor, a small, solid wheel rotates against the side of the tire in order to drive it. The first motorcycles used the same concept, with a motor mounted above the front wheel. The problem is that the drive rubs at the side of the tire. It's inefficient, and it quickly wears the sidewall away. Tires need to be replaced every couple hundred miles. For this reason, you'll seldom see electric bikes with this type of drive anymore.
Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.