E-bikes remain a subject of controversy in mountain biking circles. You may not be able to take one on your favorite singletrack right now, as most non-motorized trails prohibit them. However, things have been tilting in a more permissive direction. Most recently, IMBA, the sport’s largest public advocacy group, shifted its stance to support allowing access for some pedal-assist e-bikes (those that top out at 20 mph) on some trails. With every major manufacturer making e-mountain bikes, more access is likely only a matter of time. “In a few years, people will realize that electric mountain bikes have no more trail impact than a regular mountain bike,” Benjamin says.
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.
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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.
Update: Well I've had an opportunity to take the bike on some longer trips now 10 miles back and forth a few times, and the bike performed well, so I am raising my rating to 4 stars. I got a larger seat and raised the angle of the handle bars and it is more comfortable to ride than it was, but still a bit awkward for someone of my size. I've been leaving the bike charging all the time I'm not using it and this seemed to make a big difference with the indicator light not coming on as soon, and the biggest difference is made by me riding the bike the way it was meant to be ridden, ie: pedaling, I was treating it more like a scooter and just staying on the throttle before, but if you use it as a peddle assist bike, the way it's meant to be ridden it performs quite well. The bike is not great going up hills and you still have to work but it does make hills a lot easier. It is also frustrating not having more gears, you basically just leave the bike in 6 gear all the time, and peddle when you can ie: when your slow enough you can peddle. I have no problem with the weight of the bike and it is solid and well built and it will work for my purposes, fortunately the town I live in is only about 5 miles end to end so I don't need the bike to be able to go super long distances, and fortunately I don't mind peddling some, so I don't mind the bike being a peddle assist bike and not a more scooter type. One other gripe I do have is the bike does not have the standard holes to mount a back rack to, one of the main reasons I got this bike was to carry groceries and stuff more easily, so I'm disappointed that it will be difficult for me to mount a rack to, but I'm sure a front basket would work. Anyway, 4 stars, I like it, the price is great, it's well constructed, you will have a hard time finding an electric bike of this quality at this price, but it is not without a little sacrifice.
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.
The second type of electric bike is a much smaller, often foldable unit designed for convenient urban (or suburban) commuting and for easy storage in minimal space. These compact electric bikes are perfect for trips of a few miles, and many are small and lightweight enough to be carried onto trains or buses, allowing their rider to make use of multiple types of transportation in a single trip, and to store their bike in a closet or even under a desk at work, at school, or at home.
Even if you’re in excellent shape and very fit, you still can get exercise by e-biking. When I did a head-to-head comparison of commuting with my cross bike versus a recreational e-bike, I found that my relative effort was much lower, and I burned about half as many calories, on the e-bike. But I still burned something—up to 200 calories per hour, the equivalent of what you burn by walking. And I opted for quick e-bike rides to town where I would usually drive, which means I was considerably more active overall.
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.
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.