Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) are relatively new on the scene and mountain bikers are freaking out. “They shouldn’t be allowed on our trails.” “They are going to ruin the sport.” It reminds me of when the first mountain bikes started popping up on trails and hikers were panicking with visions of crazed bikers running them over. Well, their fears never materialized and mountain bikes have become popular tools for exploring the outdoors responsibly.
Beach cruiser fans rejoice with the Raleigh Retroglide iE Step Thru. Cruise the boardwalk with maximum style and minimum effort as you enjoy the perks of a 350 watt motor and a top pedal-assisted speed of 20mph. Enjoy the comfort of an upright riding position thanks to the backswept handlebar and take advantage of the cargo-carrying capacity, thanks to the rear rack, to run errands around town or commute to work. With a claimed range of 35 miles, the Raleigh Retroglide is a great choice for anyone who wants to add a little speed to daily cruise.
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.
A carbon frame shaves off several hundred grams of weight, of course. However, this is largely irrelevant when it comes to eMTBing. The two major advantages of carbon on eMTBs are, on the one hand, greater freedom in optimising the frame design and, on the other hand, increased stiffness. Thanks to carbon, smooth transitions can be achieved, better facilitating the integration of motor and battery. Unfortunately, the magical black material also has a few potential disadvantages. Carbon has poorer thermal conductivity, which means that heat is dissipated less efficiently with a fully integrated motor, and stiffer is not necessarily always better. Frames and wheels require a certain amount of flex to be comfortable and to generate enough traction through curves. Buying a carbon eMTB can currently only be justified by aesthetics rather than functionality.
After 2 months of online research and talking to people that owned e-bikes I walked into the Glendale, Arizona Pedego store. I met the owners Sherry and Steve. They suggested I try the Ridge Rider as it might be a fit for me. I test rode it for about 45 minutes to an hour and was somewhat convinced this could be the bike for me. I went home and did more research on the Ridge Rider. After careful thought I decided to purchase one the next day. Since then Steve, the owner, has worked with me to personalize my bike so that it is as comfortable on the trails as it is on the road. I cannot say enough about the after sale experience I have received from Sherry and Steve. I would recommend them and their store to anyone interested in an e-bike.
And so in 2015 it partnered with Bianchi, another fabled Italian brand, one which has been building racing and road bicycles since 1885. They introduced a Ducati-branded series of bicycles, engineered by Bianchi. Now the company has included electric bicycles for every adult purpose. It’s possible that at this point, Ducati is selling more bicycles with electric motors than it is motorcycles globally. They are certainly at a better price point, while not being cheap by any means, with the pictured TT Evo S roughly a quarter of the price of a Ducati Monster Anniversario edition.
Power delivery is smooth and easy to predict, once you get the hang of it. We’re not sure if integration is better on the Turbo road bike, or if the slow, technical nature of trail riding just highlights some quirks. The motor shuts off less than a second after you stop pedaling, and the onset of power delivery is momentarily delayed once you begin pedaling. And this did mean we had to adapt our riding style a little bit to deal with that slight lag.
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.
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.
Basically, there is no reason to ride an eMTB with less than 130 mm of travel. With classic bikes, more travel usually means both less efficiency and poorer climbing characteristics, but this is not true with eMTBs – at least not up to a certain point. The best example is the Specialized Turbo Levo, which with its 135 mm of travel at the rear handles much better than most of the other, longer travel bikes in the group test. Also, eMTBs with suspension travel of 180 mm or more are often noticeably less efficient, as clearly exemplified in this test by the Haibike XDURO Nduro. It climbs a lot slower than other bikes using the same motor and the same level of assistance, an experience you will find with almost all other long-travel bikes from other manufacturers. The exception is the BULLS E-CORE EVO EN Di2: in direct comparison, it climbs a lot more efficiently, even though it also offers 180 mm of travel. The ideal compromise between uphill and downhill performance usually lies somewhere between 130 and 160 mm of travel.
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.
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.