While I was waiting patiently for my 2017 model eBike to be manufactured and delivered, I came across an article in the local paper about a woman with a degenerative muscle disease who wants to take her eBike on forest service trails that are designated for mountain bikes. “What the hell?” I said, completely floored (what I actually said isn’t fit for publication). When I ordered this bike, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that it would be illegal to ride on mountain bike trails with my new, albeit electric, mountain bike.
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.
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.
Many years of experience have clearly shown that it isn’t possible to make a universal and realistic estimate of an ebike’s range. The range of an eMTB depends on countless factors such as the support level, terrain, rider weight, environmental conditions, and cadence. Those who demand a lot of power from the motor consume a lot of electricity. If you want to travel far, you’ll have to save battery power. Read more about this topic in our article The truth about lab tests.
The Haibike AllMtn line makes an appearance again with this incredible price-point option. The AllMtn 6.0 is a nice option with entry level components but the same aggressive build as the rest of the AllMtn line. And when I say entry level components, I definitely don’t mean that as a negative. You still get 150mm of travel with a Suntour Aion 35 RC suspension fork, a RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock, Magura MT32 hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano Deore M6000 drivetrain with 20-speeds.
A good hardtail can be your answer to both the perfect trail bike and the perfect on-road bike. Their lighter weight also means a faster ride off-road. Haibike offers a full range of 27.5 and 29er wheel size bikes for trails and cross riding. The XDURO and SDURO lines mean a selection of drive systems and a range of power that only Haibike offers.
The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
The seat is a long, tapering bench-style saddle common to this genre of e-bike. The design allows the same size frame to fit multiple sized riders. While it’s not quite the same as having a fully adjustable frame, e-bikes don’t require the same precision fitment due to their electric assist. When you’re using the bike like a motorcycle, you just kind of sit wherever is comfortable.
Mountain bikers and their associations (which I used to be a proud member of), should reconsider their anti-eMTB stance, realize there is a need and demand for Type 1 eMTBs, and focus their efforts on keeping trails open for all mountain bikes. Mountain bikers deserve the right to ride more of our public trails than we are currently allowed. I won’t open a can of worms with my strong opinions on where I believe mountain bikes should be allowed, but suffice it to say that we don’t have near enough access as we should.
Merida has done an amazing job with the EOne-Sixty 900E. It has a fun, playfully ride quality that few ebikes can match, and the price is simply unbeatable. It’s also the only sub 50lb bike in this test, and that’s without a single strand of carbon. It could be even better though. With a two degree slacker head angle and a little more power from the Shimano motor the EOne-Sixty would be able to keep up on the climbs, only to drop the competition on every descent. The biggest issue though, is actually getting hold of one.
Aluminium alloy frames and downtube mounted batteries with integrated motors provide a budget friendly introduction to these motor-assisted bikes, allowing riders who would struggle to keep up to enjoy the stamina of the pros. For those hard hitters, fully integrated battery and motors combine with lightweight alloy and carbon frames to deliver a ride that’ll take on the most demanding trails.
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear wheel, or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.