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.
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.
Over several months, our team of four professional mountain bike testers rode each of the electric mountain bikes in our test selection on a variety of trails and terrain in a range of weather conditions. We had each tester ride each of the bikes numerous times, often riding the different models back to back for the sake of comparison. We didn't go easy on them. Instead, we treated them all as if they were our own, putting them all through the wringer to identify their strengths and weaknesses. We scrutinized every aspect of each e-bike's performance and scored them all on several rating metrics, e-bike controls, downhill performance, uphill performance, power output, and distance range. Each metric are described in greater detail below. It is important to note that during our testing our impressions of these e-bikes changed dramatically. Our first impressions didn't exactly stick. It was essential for us to test the different models head-to-head and make direct comparisons to flush out the differences. For example, everyone was initially a little underwhelmed with the Specialized's power and more excited about the Haibike, but after hundreds of miles of testing our impressions changed. We go into more detail on this below.
In a friction drive motor, a small, solid wheel rotates against the side of the tire in order to drive it. The first motorcycles used the same concept, with a motor mounted above the front wheel. The problem is that the drive rubs at the side of the tire. It's inefficient, and it quickly wears the sidewall away. Tires need to be replaced every couple hundred miles. For this reason, you'll seldom see electric bikes with this type of drive anymore.
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.
The Moterra is Cannondale’s biggest and baddest e-mtb and just looking at this thing you can see that it’s built to withstand some wicked downhills and big drops. With 130mm of front and rear travel, paired up with 27.5-inch wheels and trail-grabbing 2.8-inch tires, along with a KS LEV Integra Dropper Post make this pedal-assist mountain bike a great option if you want to climb farther to shred longer, but don’t want to lug your bike uphill for ages. The 250w motor, placed slightly farther forward than most other bikes to optimize weight distribution and handling, will give you a nice boost so you can enjoy the ride up and not be too gassed when you get to the top. After all, it’s all about the ride down, right?
In our view, e-bikes are approaching a crossroads in concept and design. Heading off in one direction are longer travel, enduro-style e-bikes, which are largely designed for cruising up and then blasting back down. Plotting a slightly different course is the idea of a lightweight model that rides much more like a normal mountain bike, but requires more work from the rider. Of the two approaches, both have their benefits, but it’s the latter that gets us the most excited. Once the overall weight falls into the 16-17kg range (the lightest bikes are currently19-20kg) it’s going to be really hard to tell the difference between an e-bike and a regular trail bike on the descents and the flat, but you get the benefit of a gentle push up the climbs.
Name a type of riding, and there’s an e-bike for that. If you have zero interest in an electric road bike, you may find yourself head over heels for a high-capacity e-cargo bike that can haul 400 pounds of stuff while still cruising at a cool 15 mph. E-bikes are available in fat, cargo, commuter, recreational, hardtail, full-suspension mountain, and even performance road bike styles. For proof, here are a dozen e-bikes we love for every type of cyclist.
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Electric Hybrid Bikes- As the name suggests, these bikes combine the properties of mountain and fat-tire bikes. They are built to be fast and tough at the same time. They are lighter than electric mountain bikes, so you don’t have to deal with the excess weight when going up hills. You can use the bike to carry heavy luggage or cycle through rough trails.
Electric bikes are here in a big way. Liberated from some of the normal constraints of standard bike design like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded; if you can imagine it, someone has built it. From cargo bikes to city bikes, messenger bikes to mountain bikes, road bikes, and even beach cruisers, there is something for everyone. The beauty of e-bikes is they make the joy of cycling accessible to so many people in so many ways.
The Netherlands has a fleet of 18 million bicycles. E-bikes have reached a market share of 10% by 2009, as e-bikes sales quadrupled from 40,000 units to 153,000 between 2006 and 2009, and the electric-powered models represented 25% of the total bicycle sales revenue in that year. By early 2010 one in every eight bicycles sold in the country is electric-powered despite the fact that on average an e-bike is three times more expensive than a regular bicycle.
Generally speaking, e-bikes are bicycles with a battery-powered “assist” that comes via pedaling or, in some cases, a throttle. When you push the pedals on a pedal-assist e-bike, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can zip up hills and cruise over tough terrain without gassing yourself. Called “pedalecs,” they feel just like conventional bikes—but better, says Ed Benjamin, senior managing director at the consulting firm eCycleElectric. “You control your speed with your feet, like with a regular bike,” he says. “You just feel really powerful and accelerate easily.”
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.
Installing an electric bike kit is easy to do, can be done in just an hour or so and can last for many years if done right initially. Deciding on the right electric bike conversion kit, the one that suits your riding style and your bike best, is the most important decision you’ll make during this process. Good news... you’ve come to the right place!
After 2 months of online research and talking to people that owned e-bikes I walked into the Glendale, Arizona Pedego store. I met the owners Sherry and Steve. They suggested I try the Ridge Rider as it might be a fit for me. I test rode it for about 45 minutes to an hour and was somewhat convinced this could be the bike for me. I went home and did more research on the Ridge Rider. After careful thought I decided to purchase one the next day. Since then Steve, the owner, has worked with me to personalize my bike so that it is as comfortable on the trails as it is on the road. I cannot say enough about the after sale experience I have received from Sherry and Steve. I would recommend them and their store to anyone interested in an e-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.
In addition to the pedal-assist feature, some e-bikes come with a throttle that engages the motor with the press of a button. These belong to a separate class of e-bike that, obviously, doesn’t offer a pure cycling experience; they’re also illegal in some municipalities. Interestingly, Benjamin says, people who aren’t already “cyclists” tend to gravitate toward throttle bikes at first, but then turn around and choose a pedal-assist for their next purchase.
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 three bikes we tested all use a different e-bike motor system, and the controls, the primary user interface, are an important element that we rated but didn't weight as heavily as some of the others. Each motor system and their associated controls are different. Our primary interest is in how user-friendly is it to interact with the system, how intuitive and ergonomic are the shifters, how good and easy to read is the display, and how easy is it to charge the battery? Each drive system also has a smartphone app that is intended to allow the user to fine-tune the motor's support settings, create custom settings, monitor battery charge and health, and a whole lot more. While we don't feel the apps are necessary for the use of any of these e-MTB's, those with an affinity for technology or personalizing your ride may be inclined to use them.
Descents on such a heavy bike are less fun. Getting the rear wheel off the ground on short notice, or whipping it around turns is very hard. I like to use my rear tire and brakes to steer—locking the brakes in tight corners at speed, then letting off and pedaling out. On very loose and exposed trails, using that approach on the Turbo Levo doesn't work, once the rear starts to loose traction, it’s just all over. Perhaps this could be combated with lower rear tire pressures; we were running 20 PSI.
With more and more compelling reasons to experience the benefits of e-bikes, we’ve put together this special issue packed with information on how to get the most from an e-bike, a guide to the main motors and batteries and a showcase of the latest models on the market. So read on, watch the accompanying videos on our YouTube channel and book a test ride to try one for yourself. We guarantee you’ll be hooked.
Between the 4″ fat tires, full suspension and the powerful 750W motor option with the Buzzraw X750, this e-bike should roll over just about any obstacle. While I’d love to give you more specifics about pricing and exact options/availability, Coast Cycles isn’t quite ready to release that info. But you can already contact the company about getting in line when they open up pre-orders.
The Spectral:ON 7.0 helps you to try new ways, to shift boundaries and to sit in the saddle more often. The Enduro configuration with rigid RockShox Lyrik RC suspension fork and RockShox Deluxe R shocks tames the roughest trails. The E-MTB-specific DT Swiss H1700 Spline wheels are fitted with robust Maxxis Minion tyres that offer maximum grip and control downhill. The Shimano Zee brakes from the freeride sector with 200 mm large brake discs at the front and rear are very powerful - there is no more control and safety in this class. The 165 mm short cranks guarantee the best possible ground clearance. The Kind Shock Lev Integra SI Vario seat post can be lowered at the push of a button when it gets steep. All in all, the Spectral:ON 7.0 is your ticket to trails that otherwise might not have been accessible.
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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.
The Spectral:ON is our most challenging development project to date. With the focus on the essentials, it was our clear goal to design an E-MTB that rides like the perfect trail bike. The result is already award-winning: modern trail geometry, wheel concept with 29/27.5" wheels front and rear, plus Shimano's powerful Steps E8000 drive. With the support of the engine, Spectral:ON expands your horizons: more trails per hour, trying out new ways and pushing the boundaries. You master even steep, technical climbs playfully and enjoy the agile handling and the outstanding smoothness in fast passages downhill. Space for bottle holder, geometry adjustment and lightning-fast battery change? Standard! We've taken every detail into account to give you the ultimate E-MTB driving experience.
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.