Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) are relatively new on the scene and mountain bikers are freaking out. “They shouldn’t be allowed on our trails.” “They are going to ruin the sport.” It reminds me of when the first mountain bikes started popping up on trails and hikers were panicking with visions of crazed bikers running them over. Well, their fears never materialized and mountain bikes have become popular tools for exploring the outdoors responsibly.
When looking for the perfect ebike, there are a lot of things to consider. There’s price, weight, capabilities, performance and something that’s hard to quantify: feel. That’s a combination of factors that is affected by the geometry of the bike, its materials, components and other nuances. I took a ride on the crowd-funded Carbo folding bike this week and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as comfortable on a folding bike in the city as I did on this extremely light, yet powerful ebike.
Not all e-bikes take the form of conventional push-bikes with an incorporated motor, such as the Cytronex bicycles which use a small battery disguised as a water bottle. Some are designed to take the appearance of low capacity motorcycles, but smaller in size and consisting of an electric motor rather than a petrol engine. For example, the Sakura e-bike incorporates a 200 W motor found on standard e-bikes, but also includes plastic cladding, front and rear lights, and a speedometer. It is styled as a modern moped, and is often mistaken for one.
It’s always good news to hear a gasoline carmaker is continuing its electric mobility adventure, and what better way to do this than to stray from low-hanging fruits such as SUVs and pickup trucks. GM is no stranger to bold moves and we hope it will continue with the same determination to bring us more Volts, Bolts, and why not electric folding Jolts? (No, Jolts is not my personal entry for the $10,000 prize.)
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.
I saw an early version of the Carbo and was impressed. Although it looked thin and flimsy — the entire frame looks like you can bend it on a bad curb — it was very resilient and withstood my urban abuse. There are multiple modes, including Sport, which takes you almost immediately up to about 20 miles an hour with pedal assist, a great feeling. The battery is hidden inside the seat post and can be swapped out.
And he’s had some fun on a set of lengthy interviews with Joe Rogan, among others. But the pertinent tidbit comes from his recent appearance on Recode, the Silicon valley tech media outlet, now part of the Vox media group. He recapitulated some of his earlier near-death experiences on dirt bikes and motorcycles, effectively answering the question regarding whether Tesla might make a motorcycle. But then he dropped this little snippet that made two-wheel fans’ ears perk up when asked about whether a Bird competitor might be in the offing:
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.
Fat E-Trike from Sun and E-BikeKit™ at Interbike 2014 Fat bikes and electric bikes were all the rage this year at interbike in Las Vegas. It seemed almost every bike vendor at the show has at least one fat bike model in their booth this year. On top of the fats were the electric bikes. And I think it goes without saying that nobody wants to actually pedal a fat...
The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots", in which e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.
The demands for the best eMTB are high. It has to climb efficiently, be comfortable to ride, be very stable and composed, yet, on top of that, be a lot of fun on the descents. Also, its integration, ease of use, and motor performance must set the benchmark. Although all the motors perform at a high level, the Bosch Performance CX is unable to keep up with the competition due to the high internal resistance it generates at over 25 km/h. It’s a pity for the Moustache Samedi Race 11: it’s by far the best Bosch bike we’ve ever ridden, but it’s slowed down by the motor. With a price tag of € 5,999, the Trek Powerfly 9 LT Plus is clearly the cheapest bike in this group test. It climbs very efficiently, but is held back on the downhills by a poor choice of tyres and slow handling – you should consider a tyre upgrade in your budget. The Haibike XDURO Nduro descends with the stability of a freight train, but it has to let the competition overtake it when going back up. With its long 180 mm travel and high weight (24.54 kg), it even feels cumbersome on the downhills.
The Pedego Ridge Rider allows me to get the level of workout I desire, see and spend more time outdoors by riding 2-5 times the distance I would on a manual pedal bike, ride more often (almost every day), and enjoy my rides to the fullest. It helps my neuropathy, I have less pain. It helps control my diabetic sugar levels. It also is very therapeutic mentally. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.
Motorcycle manufacturer KTM has long produced bicycles too, but it is in the e-MTB category that the brand’s heritage is really employed. Motocross fans and riders looking to get into e-MTB riding will appreciate KTM’s decision to use a ‘precise’ 29er front wheel and ‘traction rich’ 27.5-Plus rear wheel (MX bikes also feature different front/rear wheel sizing), an approach some other manufacturers have also adopted (e.g. Canyon). The bike is adorned with a solid build kit including e-MTB-specific parts like SRAM’s EX1 drivetrain.
The need to develop a high-performance e mountain bike provoked the launch of the ATOM X project over three years ago. A team of experts was put together from the fields of MTB geometry, suspension and performance, advanced motor, battery and IT technologies. That is how the innovative and patented “X System” came about, which represented an integration that was both ergonomic and different. It was developed until it became the best eMTB with the best of both worlds: high performance and the most advanced electric technology. See the ATOM X e mountain bikes...