What is a road bike? A machine? A tool? Or is it a continuation of the body—a paintbrush completing a picture of your true self? We believe it's more than this, as words can't describe the feeling it gives you to ride, nor can they encapsulate the dedication behind our innovative designs. It requires years in the Win Tunnel, on the road, and in the lab perfecting aero and carbon, and it's worth every drop of sweat to deliver you the perfect ride.
Finally, if you’ve been waiting for the electric mountain bike to come of age, we’re happy to report that just happened. The combination of the 27.5+ platform with long-lasting batteries, and the remarkably smooth and elegant motor, all integrated into one sharp-looking design, and augmented by user-friendly software has finally delivered a slick, no-compromises product that you’ll want to own. I know we do, the entire IndefinitelyWild team is fighting over who gets to borrow it next.
The Liv Amiti-E+2 is a low-priced but highly versatile e-bike. It’s just as much at home on the pavement as it is on bike paths and rail trails. But don't feel constrained to groomed paths. Front suspension and 42mm-wide tires mean you can take on off-road detour on your way home from work. Speaking of work, this e-bike makes a great commuter thanks to rack and fender mounts and integrated lights for riding after dark. Internal cable routing and a nicely integrated battery make for clean lines and 9-speed shifters give you plenty of gearing options for whichever type of terrain you decide to tackle. This do-everything bike is great option if you’re riding includes a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
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.
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.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.
In full-electric mode, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is capable of moving at up to 20 mph for anywhere from 15 to 30 miles. There are two further options: power-assisted pedaling or fully "unplugged” riding. Renowned Shimano gears are easy to select. Seldom do we come across a product so universally praised by owners. It's not cheap, but comments like "Everything I hoped for!" and "Outstanding!" tell us that it's money well spent.
When all was said and done, the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+ proved to have everyone's favorite e-bike controls. Commencal uses the Shimano Steps E8000 motor and system which features ergonomic thumb shifters, a small but easy to read digital display and a secure and straightforward charging connection. The ergonomic shifter of the Shimano system is better than the electronic buttons found on both the Specialized, HaiBike and Trek. The Commencal's best-in-the-test digital display also proved to be a favorite for its small size and out of the way mounting location, easy to read at-a-glance information, and color-coded support settings information. The HaiBike's Yamaha PW-X motor and system also featured a digital display, but testers thought it was a little too big, displayed too much information, was more challenging to read, and generally felt a little more clunky and less refined than the Shimano system. That Trek Powerfly's Bosch Purion shifter and display unit was easy to read and had a bright screen, but was in a less visible location on the left side of the handlebar. Our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie scored the lowest in this rating due to the lack of a handlebar mounted display and a less user-friendly charging connection.
All the models we tested are full suspension all mountain/trail bike models with relatively similar amounts of suspension travel, geometry, and wheel/tire size. The addition of a large battery and a small motor adds significant weight to an e-bike and they generally weigh in the neighborhood of 50 lbs, approximately 20 lbs heavier than non-e-bikes, and the massive weight of these bikes makes them more difficult to ride without the support of the pedal assist motor.
Just a few years ago, the thought of a hardtail conjured up images of Lycra®, not all-out trail ripping. Today, however, the Fuse hardtail trail bike has turned that notion on its head. It all starts with our new 6Fattie wheel system and ends with our revolutionary Diamond Stay design. And when you mix it all with low, slack geometry, you get a bike that climbs like a hardtail and inspires confidence like the best trail bikes we've ever made.
A carbon frame shaves off several hundred grams of weight, of course. However, this is largely irrelevant when it comes to eMTBing. The two major advantages of carbon on eMTBs are, on the one hand, greater freedom in optimising the frame design and, on the other hand, increased stiffness. Thanks to carbon, smooth transitions can be achieved, better facilitating the integration of motor and battery. Unfortunately, the magical black material also has a few potential disadvantages. Carbon has poorer thermal conductivity, which means that heat is dissipated less efficiently with a fully integrated motor, and stiffer is not necessarily always better. Frames and wheels require a certain amount of flex to be comfortable and to generate enough traction through curves. Buying a carbon eMTB can currently only be justified by aesthetics rather than functionality.
When I started looking beyond the legal regulations, I discovered something that further disturbed me: the mountain biking community is predominantly anti-eBike and quite vocal about it. Maybe it’s a minority that is louder online, but either way, I was shocked to see that mountain bikers and mountain bike organizations, such as International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), are against sharing the trails with eBikes. While some of the online community spoke up in favor of eBikes, they were outnumbered by hardliners.
E-Bikes are a new segment of cycling in Moab. Since an E-Bike is considered motorized by the local BLM and Forest Service, there are rules and laws on where you are allowed to ride. E-bikes are not allowed on most of the singletrack trails in and around the Moab area including the paved bike paths running along highway 191, the river road (HWY 128) and throughout the city of Moab.
Due to high total weights of over 20 kg, it doesn’t matter whether the scale stops at 21.44 kg or 22.2 kg for a modern eMTB. In our test, the difference between the lightest and the heaviest bike was just under 4 kg. This is not to be ignored… but a little extra weight in the form of functional, reliable componentry is better than an ebike designed and constructed to be as light as possible, at all costs, but which ends up in the workshop more often than on the trail.
Your friends: We all have friends we wish wanted to pedal up hills with us. Many of who might be capable of leaving us in their dust on descents. These are young and old riders; riders lacking the fitness, time, motivation, or who just aren’t interested in climbing alone, at the back of the pack. You’ve done everything to get them back out riding with your regular crew, but pride and reluctance to hold the group back is keeping them away.
However, if your friends are riding a bigger single battery pack, you’ll have to either choose to cut the ride short or conserve battery life while they run in turbo. If your local rides are short, fast blasts but you want to benefit from the ability to take on longer tours, the Sam2 could be for you. We love the Pro version, but it’s also available at a range of price points.
There’s no getting around it: E-bikes give you yet another device to charge. Right now, you can expect your battery to last anywhere from 35-100 miles before it needs a recharge. Where you fall in that range depends on the size of the battery and how much power the motor draws. Obviously, if you buzz around on “turbo” all day, you’ll run out of juice faster than if you run on lower, more economical settings. But we also expect batteries to improve in the future.
Direct-to-consumer Italian brand Thok’s MIG bike has reviewers falling at its feet. Why? It simply offers a superb package – its geometry and construction are as on-the-ball as its choice of Shimano motor, battery placement – giving low centre of gravity – and quality build kit. At under £4k, the MIG is great value too (there is also a pricier MIG R, featuring upgraded components). Thok knows its stuff, which is hardly surprising when you look at its founder. Former champion downhill racer Stefano Migliorini understands what makes a good bike, and he personally leads the charge on bike development at Thok.
The Men's Tarmac doesn't do one thing well, it does everything exceptionally—which is why it's been ridden to victory in all three Grand Tours. The new Tarmac's advanced materials and aerodynamic design add a modern edge to the lively character of a classic race bike, while its Rider-First Engineered™ design ensures that the Tarmac sprints, corners, and descends with uniform excellence across every size.
With its steep seat tube angle and powerful motor, the Rotwild E+ Ultra masters even the steepest climbs. Its high centre of gravity, however, negatively effects downhill handling. The GIANT FULL E+ 0 is a very solid eMTB where what you see is what you get, although the rather slack seat tube and bulbous-belly isn’t exactly pretty. Not so with the FOCUS SAM²: With its clean silhouette it is a bike for design lovers. But only if you get by with the small integrated battery. As soon as you mount an additional battery, not only the appearance suffers, but also the handling. The BMC Trailfox AMP has minor weaknesses in the componentry, finish and downhill handling – at a price of € 12,000 we expected considerably more. The Thömus Lightrider E1 fares better, it’s no bargain either, but the handling is outstanding. It’s a pity that the bike isn’t available outside of Switzerland. Another exotic specimen is the FANTIC XF1 Integra Enduro 160. The bike from the Italian motorcycle brand can’t deny its roots, tremendously composed and capable on the descents, though it cannot keep up with the competition when going back up – the 180 mm version of the Fantic is significantly better overall.
If you’re looking for even more performance and an even more refined bike, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Specialized. Their bike embodies the company slogan “Innovate or die” in a perfect way and is full of smart solutions. Many of them, such as the specially developed app for tuning the motor, the integration of the battery, and the small remote lever for selecting the support level, are obvious. Some, on the other hand, only become clear when you take a closer look – such as the Autosag valve on the shock for a simplified setup process, or the omission of a spoke magnet. The Levo also won us over with its outstanding riding characteristics, obviously. It rides comfortably, climbs quickly and efficiently, and has exactly the right mix of agility and stability. It’s the ultimate machine that promises to bring a huge smile to every rider’s face after just a few metres on board – no matter whether beginner or a pro. The Specialized Turbo Levo S-Works Carbon is currently the eMTB offering the best overall package, and thus the deserved Best in Test! The best eMTB of the 2018 season!
If exploration is the new black, then the Ariel is a bike dressed for adventure. Versatile and reliable, hit the road with purpose as you chase down your fitness goals, then satisfy your inner explorer as you veer onto the dirt with confidence. Its Women’s Custom tuned suspension and Multi-Circuit Damping fork turn rough to smooth, while giving you more control as you explore your world on two wheels.
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.