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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.
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.
While in many areas of the country you are allowed to drive mountain electric bikes in urban settings, some local jurisdictions may limit their use as some models reach 28mph exceeding the on road accepted limit of 20mph. So before you purchase one of these bikes, make sure to check the local laws in your given area. These bikes are good for many different age groups including teens and adults.
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.
On the descents, the Commencal felt somewhat one-dimensional, great when up to speed, but with sluggish and less nimble handling hindering its performance in tighter, low-speed technical sections of trail. The Meta Power Race also had the shortest distance range in our head to head testing, another factor which kept this contender off the top step of the podium. That being said, this e-bike was built for charging, no pun intended, so if you're an aggressive rider who lives for eye-watering descents, then this might be the e-MTB for you. Read the full review to find out more about the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+.
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.