You can bag one of the best budget electric mountain bike models for around £3k nowadays... but are they up to the job of proper trail riding?

TAGS:

Where to start with picking the best budget electric mountain bike for you? It’s a daunting task but one that is perfectly manageable – once you’ve read this guide. With more and more lower budget electric mountain bikes hitting shopfloors and online portals, what’s the lowest price point you should consider? Whilst you can probably buy something called an ‘electric mountain bike’ for under £1,000, chances are it wouldn’t really be suitable or capable of doing some proper mountain biking.

How much to spend? You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. And for the purposes of this guide, we’re going to come out and state that any electric mountain bike worth getting must have a mid-drive motor and also be a full suspension bike. Which results in £3,000 being the real starting point for the best electric mountain bike options.

Shimano STEPS E-7000 motor

Mid-drive motors are a must-have

‘View Deal’ links’

You will notice that beneath each best budget electric mountain bike summary is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.


Decathlon E-ST STILUS e-bike

Decathlon E-ST STILUS e-bike

Decathlon E-ST Stilus 29in Electric Mountain Bike

Bargain full-sus e-bike with excellent Bosch motor

Wheel Size: 29in | Frame: Alloy, 130mm travel | Frame sizes: M, L, XL | Motor: Bosch | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 500Wh

Pros

  • Bosch motor with pokey 65Nm torque and 500Wh battery.
  • Air sprung suspension adjusts easily to different rider weights
  • 10-speed Shimano drivetrain and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes

Cons

  • Slightly old-school geometry with short reach.
  • Very long chainstays reduce maneuverability.
  • Narrow handlebar and lightly treaded tyres.

Click here for the deal at Decathlon


Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano studio pic

Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano

Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano

Fun and capable eMTB from Halfords

Wheel Size: 29in | Frame: Alloy, 140mm travel | Frame sizes: 18in, 20in, 22in | Motor: Shimano STEPS E7000 | Battery: Shimano STEPS BT-8010 504Wh

Pros

  • Good suspension fork and shock, works well with easy-to-setup suspension design.
  • Shimano STEPS E7000 motor is a nice little runner with discreet bar control and display.
  • Still a great handling fun bike with wide-range gearing to take you anywhere.

Cons

  • Looks a bit dated and the 2.8in Plus tyres don’t work so well on UK trails.
  • Slightly old school geometry, main issue being mediocre standover and dropper post insertion.
  • Underpowered brakes pretty much need upgrading straight away.

Read our full review of the Voodoo Zobop E-Shimano


Vitus E-Sommet VR studio shot

Vitus E-Sommet VR

Vitus E-Sommet VR

Affordable electric enduro rig

Wheel size: 29in f/27.5in r | Frame: Alloy, 170mm travel | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Motor: Shimano STEPS E7000 | Battery: Shimano E8035 504Wh

Pros

  • Mismatched mullet wheels (29in front, 27.5in rear) and plenty of suspension travel.
  • Progressive angles and top tube reach makes for an aggressive handling gravity-centric e-bike.
  • Excellent suspension performance and capable spec such as premium quality Maxxis tyres.

Cons

  • Some riders may fall between sizes.
  • Internally routed cables via proprietary headset is faffy and impairs dropper actuation.
  • Possibly too much bike for milder trails and riders.

Read our full review of the Vitus E-Sommet VRX


Giant Stance E+ 2 side on

Giant Stance E+ 2

Giant Stance E+ 2

Ideal for upgrading and XC mile-munching

Wheel size: 29in | Frame: Alloy, 120mm travel | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Motor: Giant SyncDrive Sport | Battery: Giant EnergyPak Smart 500

Pros

  • Integrated battery in down tube (yay bottle bosses!)
  • Available in loads of real-world bike shops so easier to deal with any teething issues.
  • Good contact points and large rotor disc brakes.

Cons

  • Undergunned for some rider with a modest 120mm travel (albeit with a 130mm travel fork).
  • Geometry is slightly old fashioned, as is the lack of a dropper seatpost.
  • Long chainstays won’t suit shorter riders.

Canyon Neuron:ON 6

Canyon Neuron:ON 6

Canyon Neuron:ON 6

Covers ground effectively yet still blasts flowing singletrack

Wheel size: 29in | Frame: Alloy, 130mm travel | Frame sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL | Motor: Shimano STEPS EP8 | Battery: Shimano STEPS 630Wh

Pros

  • 29in wheels works well to overcome modest 130mm of travel.
  • Shimano STEPS EP8 motor is a rela highlight at this price point.
  • Looks as killer as all the much more expensive Canyon models!

Cons

  • There will always be the ‘gamble’ of buying an e-bike via direct sales in the eventuality of any issues.
  • Conservative geometry for such an otherwise modern machine.
  • Some overly XC finishing kit and the RockShox Recon forks aren’t the stiffest.

Read our full review of the Canyon Neuron:ON 7.o


Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC Pro 625

Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC Pro 625

Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC Pro 625

Great value for a carbon frame, Bosch motor and big battery

Wheel size: 27.5in (XS, S)/29in (M, L, XL) | Frame: Carbon, 140mm travel | Frame sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL | Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh

Pros

  • Bosch Performance Line CX motor combined with 12-speed drivetrain opens upe very trail.
  • 140mm suspension travel and 29in wheels make this pretty much a classic trail bike that happens to be electric.
  • Good suspension feel and is impressively fun to ride.

Cons

  • Relatively long chainstays may not suit you – especially if you’re not tall.
  • Well-thought out and sensible spec yes, but it does all add up to a hefty overall bike.
  • Own-brand finishing kit won’t appeal to brand snobs.

Read our full review of the Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC TM 625


Should I buy a hardtail e-bike?

Electric hardtails are fine for general mixed riding at a casual level (gravel roads, towpaths etc), but there’s no getting over the fact that they are rather uncomfortable to ride on proper MTB trails. You get really quite battered by the back end in your feet and your back and you will probably suffer quite a few rear punctures. One of the whole points and joys of riding the best mountain bike models with pedal assist is covering loads of miles with minimum discomfort. Hardtails just don’t quite cut it.

Kinesis electric hardtail standing proud

Sorry, but e-hardtails aren’t quite there for us

Staying within this full-suspension remit, you’ll currently do well to keep the price tag below £3,000. Well, without ending up with a ropey old off-brand eMTB  – probably with a hub motor and assorted awful components – that doesn’t really bear thinking about.

External battery on an ebike downtube

Vitus are putting together some impressive eMTBs

The good news is that there are now a few good mid-drive full-suspension e-bikes available around the £3,000 -£4,000 mark. And although the direct sales mail order brands still dominate, there are more proper bike shop bike brands making more affordable  eMTBs.

There are however still a two things to look out for with such entry-level electric mountain bikes: cost-cutting specs and poor geometry.

Entry level Shimano disc brakes

Be wary of under-powered low-end brakes

Examples of corners being cut to hit the price point include: no dropper post, skinny leg suspension forks and budget-end brakes. To be frank, there will be nothing that isn’t budget OEM stuff but these items listed are the biggest problems to look out for because they have the biggest negative impact on your ride experience and also cost the most money to upgrade.

Having said that, one great thing about eMTBs is how they reveal how excellent most bike componentry works on the trail. Entry-level kit generally works fine, it’s just heavier and doesn’t look as swish. Neither of which really matters here.

Whyte ebike in the woods

Great geometry is a winner

Geometry however, is not upgradeable. You’re stuck with it. No matter how tempting a deal is, don’t get an eMTB that is out of date in terms of its dimensions. Geometry numbers to look out for: head angle, chainstay length and standover. The latter two dimensions are especially important if you’re a shorter rider. Find out what numbers to look for and why they’re important with our comprehensive guide to mountain bike geometry.

Similarly, you may find all sorts of deals on eMTBs with relatively modest amounts of travel. We’d be very wary of getting an eMTB with less than 140mm of travel. E-bikes take a lot of (ab)use and also give a lot back straight back into the componentry. With bikes this heavy, that can cover ground at such speed (uphill, downhill and along-hill!), the componentry takes a hammering. A hammering that perhaps 120mm of travel isn’t quite cut out for.

Let’s have a closer look what budget electric mountain bikes are out there at the moment.

Should I wait to buy an electric mountain bike?

No.

As we’ve said before, you could be having the best time of your whole bike riding life right now. Don’t wait. Time is precious.

On a less dramatic note, although still rapid, the rate of technological advancement isn’t as crazy quick as it was a couple of years ago. We often hear people saying that they’re going to wait to buy an e-bike until the market has matured. The thing is, this isn’t like the early days of full-suspension bikes for example. E-bikes are never going to stop advancing fast with their tech. Not having an e-bike now because of what will be available in a few years is a bit like not having an iPhone until the iPhone 6 came out. Sure, the iPhone 6 was better than the iPhone 1, but you just missed out on years of… you know, actually having an iPhone. Equally prices are only going one way – up. So if you can get hold of one now, then don’t procrastinate or you’ll likely pay the penalty later.