This article first appeared in Electric Bike Report in June of 2013. Since then, we’ve made some changes to our motor selection - our Direct-Drive motors are now all High-Torque 6x9 wound, so they run slower (approximately 15mph at 36v or 20mph at 48v), and our Geared Motors have been replaced by a 500w version, (approximately 20mph at 36v or 28mph at 48v). The Direct-Drive is now our Heavy-Duty motor and the...
An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike, powerbike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.
Whether you're riding in the backcountry or racing enduro, you need a bike that's capable and efficient. After all, to ride 'all mountain' necessitates riding the entire mountain. That's why our Enduro line of all mountain bikes, both in 650b and 29er options, come equipped with loads of travel, lightweight constructions, and geometries that can handle themselves on anything from downhill tracks to stomach-wrenching climbs.
If you haven’t ridden or even seen a modern eMTB, here is what I have discovered. They are sturdy rigs that come standard with quality mountain bike components including beefy forks and rear suspension systems, strong disk brakes, and a reliable drivetrain. They are heavy but not that far out of the old downhill bike weight class. The distinguishing “e” features are the electric motor at the bottom bracket (some have hub motors), the battery pack, and the handlebar-mounted computer that controls the system. They have adjustable assist modes: off, low (barely helps), medium, and the battery-draining high mode. When everything is put together, they are something to behold.
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.”
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It is important to note that the less power you use while riding your e-bike, the longer the battery will last, makes sense right? All of the pedal-assist drive units we tested also have smartphone apps that can be used to customize your support settings, and such changes may allow for more or less range on your electric mountain bike. Specialized's Mission Control app has a feature that lets you set a predetermined route, and the app then regulates the motor's support to ensure power lasts to finish your ride.
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.
One of the primary purposes of an e-bike is transferring power from the motor to the drivetrain to "support" your regular pedal stroke. All of the different motors do this in relatively the same way, although subtle differences in their power output make them all feel slightly different. It is important to note that all of these systems work impressively well, the differences between them are relatively subtle but noticeable. We tested this metric primarily based on feel, as opposed to any sort of scientific measurement, and our testers could all notice the differences between the various models. All of the e-bikes we tested have several support modes offering varying levels of pedal assist support. The Commencal and Specialized models both offer three, the Trek has four, and the HaiBike has five levels of pedal assist support. All four models also have a walk-assist setting which provides up to 3.7 mph of support in the event you have to hike-a-bike to help you push these heavy bikes uphill.
Electric mountain bikes have garnered a lot of attention for their ability to help riders go higher, further, and faster on the trail. As a result, there have been some impressive new eMTB models to hit the market in recent years, making it easier than ever to head off-road. Our favorite is the Haibike SDURO HardNine, which comes equipped with a 350-watt Bosch Performance CX drive and a 500 watt-hour battery. This gives it a range of up to 70 miles, along with a top speed of 20 mph, which is plenty fast on singletrack.
A couple of days ago I went out with my 16yo son on our regular bikes. I soon realized that I can, at 52, no longer keep up with him and pushed myself way beyond what I should have. When we got home I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack and had to lie down. I was very upset as it dawned on me that as my son got faster and faster I would get slower and slower and that meant I would hold him back on our rides. I decided to investigate and went online to see what was available to help me. I had never heard of Pedego but on a search a Pedego store came up that was a few miles from my home in Fort Worth, TX. I called and spoke to owner Vicky. I asked what time the store stayed open till and she said 5pm. I said j worked until 5pm and she immediately volunteered to stay open later for me to go down to the store. I arrived at 5.30pm and by 5.45pm after a test ride I had purchased my brand new Ridge Rider!! WOW! What a spectacular machine! I drove home perhaps a tad faster than I should have and my son and I went out for a ride. We did the same ride from a couple of days earlier and although I broke a sweat I got back home and felt great! Thanks to the amazing torque of the APS and buttery smooth gear changes I managed all the hills and slopes with ease and saved the flats for actual pedaling under my own steam. Thanks Pedego, you might just have saved my life!!
Just recently my son came to me with this idea of getting an eBike so we could ride together again. He shared some YouTube videos of guys riding these new bikes on technical terrain I dreamed of doing again. I was intrigued enough to test ride an eBike at a bike shop near my home. The salesperson took me out for a long hilly spin on a dual-suspension demo bike and I was impressed. The motor is adjustable from barely noticeable to seriously helping on the uphills. It doesn’t propel a rider like a motorcycle does, instead it just gives a boost to the rider’s normal pedaling of the bike. This assist mode can be turned off too.
“Rather than bolt on a bulky off-the-shelf system, we struck out on our own to redefine the category. The Powerplay system is the result of designing an electric drive for the suspension and geometry needs of proper mountain bikes; in fact, the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay are identical to those of the new Altitude. In our opinion this is the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should.”
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.
Our twelve-person test team not only tested the most exciting eMTBs of the 2018 season in the cold German winter, but also took them to the south of France for two weeks (we will spare you the mandatory muddy photos at this point). We climbed to the top of peaks, rummaged through deep mud, rode over countless roots and ruts on the way up and even more on the way back down, laughed, cursed, lived through many unforgettable moments, and took the bikes – and sometimes ourselves – to the limit.
On mine I got the Topeak front and SKS rear mud guards, an Axiom rear rack, front and rear lights. They didn’t have a headlamp with the lumens I wanted, so Tommy the owner went ahead and ordered one for me! He was always available for any question I may have had through his mobile phone, and updated me with pictures showing me different possible setups to see if I would like it.
All too often, tech breakthroughs are measured in wattage efficiency and seconds saved, but we asked ourselves, 'What about the other things that make for an awesome ride?' The answer takes shape in the Alibi, with tires that'll never go flat, a chain that won't rust, and a geometry that just screams comfort. It's everything you need to hit your goals, whether they're to get in shape or get around town in style.
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.
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.
Installing an electric bike kit is easy to do, can be done in just an hour or so and can last for many years if done right initially. Deciding on the right electric bike conversion kit, the one that suits your riding style and your bike best, is the most important decision you’ll make during this process. Good news... you’ve come to the right place!
Two bikes clearly set themselves apart from the rest of the test field: the brand-new BULLS E-CORE EVO EN Di2 and the Specialized Turbo Levo S-Works Carbon. Both brands are huge players with great innovative power, and you can tell this from their bikes. The BULLS impressed with its cleverly thought-out modular battery concept, top-end, well-considered spec, and very balanced handling. “Climb aboard and feel at home” is its tagline. Thanks to the 180 mm of travel, the bike offers plenty of reserves for those larger hits, yet still feels agile and playful. With this brilliant combination, the € 6,499 BULLS secures itself the desired Best Value tip!
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.