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.
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.
Hikers on Mt. Tam used to say we're crazy. Roadies called it a fad. Clunkers, tension discs— we left our eyes open, heads down, and kept designing. We kept evolving, and today, the Men's Turbo Levo FSR embodies a design unimaginable 40 years ago—a trail bike with pedal-assisted power on the climbs. A trail bike that gives you the power to ride more trails.
It was a close battle and the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie emerged as the winner of our Editor's Choice Award. Our testers universally agreed that it was the most well-rounded performer on the trail and offered a ride that felt the "most like a mountain bike" of the models tested. It was versatile, with a lighter and more nimble feel, yet it still managed to maintain its charging chops and stability at speed. Specialized has done a wonderful job designing their Turbo Levo models with the battery and motor cleanly and stealthily integrated into the frame. The Specialized 1.3 motor also runs so quietly that you'd almost forget you were riding an e-bike if it weren't for all that power. The Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie wasn't the most powerful e-MTB we tested, but it used its power efficiently and had an impressive distance range that bested some of the competition by 15% or more in our head to head range testing.
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.
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.
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.
The Pedego Ridge Rider allows me to get the level of workout I desire, see and spend more time outdoors by riding 2-5 times the distance I would on a manual pedal bike, ride more often (almost every day), and enjoy my rides to the fullest. It helps my neuropathy, I have less pain. It helps control my diabetic sugar levels. It also is very therapeutic mentally. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.
As a household name, Specialized is to be trusted in this world without a doubt. That’s because, in addition to their inventory of pedal-powered machinery, they’ve gone ahead and introduced us to their S-Works Turbo. Here, in conjunction with their custom Trail-tuned motor for off-road use, the Levo FSR frame is constructed entirely of FACT 11m carbon fiber allowing for both a lightweight and stiff ride through the local wilderness. Additional features include instant engagement, heat management, and a silent output for good measure. Not bad Specialized. Not bad at all.
The quality of electric mountain bikes is changing dramatically. We set out to find the best ones you can buy today. After looking at 15 models, we narrowed it down to four in the $5,000-$5,500 price range. We then took to the trails. Over the course of several months, our team of testers rode these e-MTB's for thousands of miles and hundreds of hours to find out how each model performs on the trail, which one has the longest range, the most power, and most user-friendly controls. We rode these bikes hard, scrutinizing every aspect of their performance, exposing the strengths and weaknesses of each. We present our findings here in this detailed comparative review to help you find the model that's right for you.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.