Another type of electric assist motor, often referred to as the mid-drive system, is increasing in popularity. With this system, the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. In more typical configurations, a cog or wheel on the motor drives a belt or chain that engages with a pulley or sprocket fixed to one of the arms of the bicycle's crankset. Thus the propulsion is provided at the pedals rather than at the wheel, being eventually applied to the wheel via the bicycle's standard drive train.
Whether you need a bike to help you stay fit and active, or you just want something comfortable to get around town on, we have a hybrid bike that's tailor made for however and wherever you ride. Each bike represents an intuitive design that's purpose-built for the task at hand. So get out and get exercising, rolling through woods, commuting—whatever. All that we care about is that you're having the time of your life on the perfect bike.
What could very well be the newest frontier of all-electric transportation, electric mountain bikes are by no means non-confrontational. On the contrary, they’re also hailed as great power assisted means to conquer those tough to nearly impossible trails you’ve been trying effortlessly to tackle. Which, after all, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re a die-hard analog fan who only believes those with true grit and dedication should be attempting the most impossible of backcountry trails.
Bosch’s flagship mountain bike system uses a mini drive ring with internal gearing to send its power to the drivetrain. There’s some resistance in the system over 25km/h, but when you first press down on the pedals there’s an impressive surge of power, and it offers good support over a wide cadence range. Its size has an impact on the width of the cranks (the Q-factor) as well as the chainstay length of the frame, and it’s not the lightest system on the market at 4kg for the motor. On the other hand, Bosch is the most established player on the market, and its system has proven itself over many years.
There are various kinds and classifications of electric bikes on the market, but the more common type is the Class 1, or pedal assist, bikes which have motor units that are activated by pedaling and are limited to lower speeds. In the US, Class 1 electric bikes, the type tested and reviewed here, are limited to a top speed of 20 mph and their motors are designed with a speed governor to regulate this. These types of e-bikes resemble modern mountain bikes, but they have significant battery packs and small motor units integrated onto and into the frame design. The e-MTB pedal-assist motor is typically built around the bottom bracket and provides varying levels of pedaling "support" directly into the drivetrain while the cranks are turning. Most drive unit systems offer several support settings that provide pedal assistance between 25% and 100% of the user's pedaling input.
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.
In the pursuit of speed, all trails lead to Camber. We designed it to be the ultimate speed-loving trail bike, which means that having equal efficiency both up and down the trail is an absolute must. To make sure of it, Cambers feature our fully active & independent FSR suspension with our Position-Sensitive Brain technology. So if your rides see you going big and going fast, the Camber is tailor-made for you.
Though aside from the extra battery and abundance of included accessories, Riese and Muller’s use of a Gate’s belt drive means no shifting of gears, no greasy maintenance, and much higher durability. If you have the money to spend, Riese and Muller’s Delite nuvinci is one of the best on the market and an ebike we just couldn’t get enough of during our own tests.
Both land management regulators and mountain bike trail access advocates have argued for bans of electric bicycles on outdoor trails that are accessible to mountain bikes, citing potential safety hazards as well as the potential for electric bikes to damage trails. A study conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, found that the physical impacts of low-powered pedal-assist electric mountain bikes may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.
Fast and fun on the trail, the SDURO HardNine handles rough terrain with ease, while its large tires roll over most obstacles without missing a beat. The pedal assist makes for quick, energy-saving climbing and the bike descends surprisingly well, too. Its front suspension provides a nice level of cushion on bumpy trails and while we missed having a full-suspension on this model, that would have added additional weight and costs.
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.
With most ebikes the choice of motor defines aspects of the frame geometry and to a lesser degree the suspension characteristics of the bike. Not with new Rock Mountain Altitude Powerplay. With its bespoke motor Rocky has been able to design an ebike that reflects the ride quality of a highly evolved 150mm trail bike. With instant power pickup, extended battery life and streamline proportions it’s not just the handling of the Rocky that will get you charged up for riding. It’s the best bike in this test by some margin, but we had an issue with the motor momentarily cutting and raising questions over it’s reliability.
We’ve got to give you a Haibike downhill option considering their excellent history with downhill and enduro models. Downhill models are traditionally incredibly expensive, but the DwnHll 9.0 offers a slightly lower price point for a top mountain bike. The build is incredibly slack so you can rip downhill in ideal positioning. The PW-X motor makes climbing much more enjoyable as well.
French brand Moustache doesn't take itself too seriously – which shouldn't come as much of a surprise when talking about a brand named after an item of facial hair – but they certainly don’t mess around when it comes to e-bikes. The Samedi 27 Trail is a highly acclaimed steed that comes in a range of price points, but the top-of-the range, carbon-fibre Trail 11, really steals the show. At a snip under £8k, this zippy trail bike features a proprietary (to Moustache) rear shock and carbon rims, both designed specifically for e-MTB. The full carbon frame, with its sleek Bosch PowerPack battery integration, is a work of art.
The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.