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.
Direct-sales German brand Canyon’s entry into the e-MTB market came with a bang. The Spectral:ON is a stunning bike with a superb build kit, decent geometry and respectable weight (21.2KG listed weight). As with anything Canyon, it’s hard to find better value for money. The entry-level 6.0 is down there with the lowest-cost serious e-MTBs available, yet its build kit, including RockShox Yari fork, Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres and Shimano Deore XT derailleur, ensures the bike punches well above its price.
Over the course of our testing, our testers universally agreed that the HaiBike XDURO AllMtn 8.0 had the most responsive and robust motor. The system felt almost twitchy, raring to go with a torquey feel that started the moment you pushed on the pedals. It got up to speed quickly and felt like it had the fastest top speed of all the models we tested. The power output was smooth and consistent, and shifting between the system's 5 support settings went off without a hitch. Testers also loved that the power band extended for a moment after you stop pedaling, not quite as long as the Commencal, but enough to still be a benefit on the climbs. The Commencal has a similarly strong motor, but couldn't quite match the torquey feel of the HaiBike or the top speed, although it has an even longer push of the power band when the pedaling stops. Both the Trek and the Specialized motor systems felt slightly less powerful, still offering plenty of pedal-assist support mind you, but that also resulted in the most efficient motors and longer distance ranges than the models with more brute power. Note that our Turbo Levo showed up with a top speed limit of 16mph and not the 20mph. We were very disappointed with 16mph as a max speed. Luckily, we were able to get it adjusted back to 20 and were then quite happy. If you buy a Specialized, make sure it's set to 20mph.
Both land management regulators and mountain bike trail access advocates have argued for bans of electric bicycles on outdoor trails that are accessible to mountain bikes, citing potential safety hazards as well as the potential for electric bikes to damage trails. A study conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, found that the physical impacts of low-powered pedal-assist electric mountain bikes may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.
For Canyon’s first e-mtb the Spectal:ON 8.0 hasn’t simply hit the trail running, it’s power up it in Boost mode. The geometry, sizing and handling are all on point, and details like the adjustable geometry, odd wheel sizes, tyre specific rim widths and short cranks make Canyon a market leader rather than a brand that’s simply playing catch up. With a Fox 36 Fit4 fork the Spectral:ON 8.0 would probably have won the test, the more basic Grip damper never having the measure of Canyon’s superb rear suspension.
Ethics aside, that’s not to say we don’t at least admire where the technology has taken us thus far – and where it appears to be heading- thanks to some of the best electric mountain bikes on the market today. Some, naturally, are more rugged and built to withstand greater beatings than others. While some feature a price tag similar to that of a new Harley-Davidson. Whatever the case, if the disposable income is there, as well as the integrity not to abuse the power these electric machines offer, then they’re certainly yours for the taking. Just have a look at our eight favorite picks below and see for yourself.
An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike, powerbike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.