It’s hard to ignore the growing popularity of electric bikes. Commuters and hybrid riders have already embraced the technology, but what about when it comes to mountain shredders? MTB fans are certainly beginning to realise the benefits of electric – an electric mountain bike can give you all the thrills you want from a normal MTB but with the extra power you need to get back to the top and give the trail another go.
Riding a pedal-assisted road bike may seem counterintuitive but during longer training sessions, the minimal addition of power helps prevent overall muscle fatigue and injury. Similarly, those looking to enjoy longer scenic routes will appreciate the general boost an electric drive provides. With a top speed of 28 mph, the Road E+1 uses three power modes to give you ultimate control over your ride and assistance level. A four-point sensory system monitors the pedaling force allowing the motor to amplify your movements seamlessly.
Since the pedal assist doesn’t engage while coasting, climbing is where this bike really shines. We tested the bike on southern California’s fire roads, undulating traverses, and on some very steep, rocky, loose, and technical trails—the kind of stuff even the most skilled and fit riders would normally find themselves hiking up—and on the Turbo Levo we were able to ride all of it, and have a blast doing so.
Whether the terrain is flat or hilly impacts the distance you can travel, as does the weight of the bike, your own weight, the gearing available on the bike, and how much juice you give it. We suggest that a distance of 10 to 20 miles is a realistic expectation. Of course, if you're prepared to do at least some pedaling, you can extend that dramatically.
It’s important to note that because this is an electric bike, not all trails are legally accessible. You’ll need to check with the federal, state, or local land management agency in charge of the trails you want to ride to see if it’s possible. You may also face some resistance from holier-than-though cyclist types. Those guys are best avoided anyway, and the glowing LEDs on the down tube should at least help you identify them quicker.
The removable 460 Wh battery is hidden in the downtube, and the custom-built-for-Specialized Brose motor is integrated around the bottom bracket, and develops 250 watts of power. A torque sensor detects when you’re applying pressure to the pedals, and provides assistance when you need it. Aside from the glowing green LEDs indicating charge levels and output settings, there is little indicating this Turbo is anything but a typical mountain bike.
eMTBs appeal to an extremely broad target group: some use their eMTB for daily commuting, others for after-work or weekend rides on maintained gravel roads, and others plan to do an electrified alpine traverse or even an action-packed visit to the bike park. The good news is that many eMTBs are jacks of all trades, covering a very wide range of uses. Others, unfortunately, may disappoint with poor spec or nervous handling.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike. The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.