Electric mountain bikes (e-bikes) are taking over the trails, and for good reason. They let you go further and faster in the same time as a regular mountain bike, which makes them perfect for the hectic pace of modern life.
We guide you through what to look for when buying the best electric mountain bike, with insight on battery and motor technology as well as our recommended models on sale now. Don’t put it off any longer, because with one of the best electric mountain bike models at your disposal, you could be having the best riding experience of your life right now!
On a limited budget? Well check out our buyer’s guide to the best cheap electric mountain bikes. And if you want to keep it traditional, there’s our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike, whatever your budget or discipline.
Read more great e-bike content on our E-Bike Live hub-page.
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Shop-bought e-bike of the year
Frame: Alloy or OCLV carbon, 150mm travel | Motor: Bosch Performance CX, 85Nm | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh or 750Wh | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Enduro-bike pace and composure coupled with superb motor Cons: Tyres don’t do the bike justice
The Trek Rail is as rewarding to ride as it is easy to live with. It dominates the descents and flattens the climbs, and in that respect it’s every bit as potent as Trek’s Slash enduro bike, but with its own built-in uplift. Now updated with a bigger battery (750Wh) on certain models, and different sizing with a longer reach, the Rail retains its versatile geometry, powerful Bosch motor and ultimate boss status.
Direct-sales e-bike of the year
Frame: Carbon, 165mm travel | Motor: Shimano Steps EP8, 85Nm | Battery: SMP YT 540Wh | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Shreds every trail Cons: The saddle’s a little firm
With mullet wheels and 165mm travel, the YT Decoy Shred sounds like a handful, but its bubbly personality and compact sizing guarantees that it is every bit as playful as it is capable. Big days out or just hot laps after work? The Decoy Shred has your back. Now updated with the latest Shimano EP8 motor, but the handling is just as agile and flattering as the original bike, while the suspension remains sublime, whatever you throw it down. So if it’s ride quality, not battery capacity that you prioritise, then the YT Decoy Shred should be your first choice. It’s certainly ours.
Nukeproof’s talent for producing big hitting analogue bikes has translated to a sweet enduro e-bike
Frame: Alloy, 170mm travel | Motor: Shimano Steps EP8, 85Nm | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh | Rating: 9/10
Pros: Superbly tuned suspension Cons: The XT brakes are grabby
By sticking to the fundamentals of bike design and focusing on ride quality, Nukeproof has supercharged its acclaimed Mega enduro bike and delivered a mullet e-bike that’s every bit as capable as it is fun to ride. And while £7K is still a stack of cash for an alloy e-bike, compared to what you get from the likes of Specialized, there’s no arguing that even the flagship Megawatt Factory-level build represents superb value for money from a bricks and mortar brand.
Pinnacle of lightweight eMTBs
Frame: Carbon, 150mm travel | Motor: Specialized SL 1.1, 35Nm | Battery: Specialized SL 320Wh, 48V | Rating: 9/10
Pros: Superb suspension and impressive range. Fantastic choice for lighter/smaller riders. Cons: All sizes could be longer.
The lightweight Turbo Levo SL joins a tight collection of e-bikes that offer the benefits of motor assistance with the purity and agile handling of an analogue bike. It’s more than a gateway drug though; it lets you tackle big loops with less fear of running out of battery, the speed restrictor is no longer a limiting factor on pedally singletrack, and the reduced weight means you need less muscle to get it turning and jumping – perfect for smaller and/or lighter riders then. In 12 short months the price and weight of the Levo SL have crept up. But having ridden both model year bikes, the handling and overall ride quality have also been improved, so the Levo SL is now more capable than before. Upgrades like the Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and DPX2 shock take the suspension performance to the next level and make the price hike a little easier to swallow. Factor in Specialized’s seamless e-bike integration and impressive range from the 320Wh battery and you have a relatively light trail bike that will let you ride further, faster and harder than ever before.
An addictively playful e-bike
Frame: Carbon, 150mm travel | Motor: Shimano EP8, 85Nm | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh | Rating: 9/10
Pros: Lightweight, sleek and super fun to ride. Cons: One-piece bar/stem has to go.
With the increased range of the 630Wh battery, the latest Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8.0 can take on new challenges that were previously out of reach. And while the one-piece bar/stem combo that comes on the two top-tier bikes looks cool, it locks you into a fixed handlebar position, which is far from ideal, especially for the more performance oriented rider. It’s still an amazing package though; the frame geometry, finish and the rest of the build kit is first rate and it’s a blast to ride. The battery is a doddle to remove and by downgrading the cockpit, you could easily unlock its true potential.
Stays true to its enduro roots
Frame: Alloy, 167mm travel | Motor: Shimano STEPS EP8, 85Nm | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh | Rating: 8/10
Pros: Modern enduro bike geometry. Cons: EP8 motor rattle. Front end a little tall. Cable routing goes through headset.
With progressive sizing and geometry, the E-Sommet VRX closely mirrors the shape and fit of the best analogue enduro bikes. And with the addition of a 630Wh battery you won’t need to worry if the chairlift or shuttle isn’t running. With the extra weight comes extra stability, so you may want to consider downsizing to gain a more dynamic ride, even considering the mullet wheels. Consider also the terrain that’s typical for you – while the travel here is similar to the YT Decoy, the Vitus doesn’t feel as versatile, even if we found that it’s more capable in big-mountain terrain.
Brit-backed e-bike leads the charge
Frame: 6061 Alloy, 140mm travel | Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX, 85Nm | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh | Rating: N/A
Pros: Happy to take on long adventures as well as winch-and-plummet enduro laps. Cons: Battery can’t be removed easily. Limited size range. Needs an upper chain guide.
This is the 29er version of the popular Whyte E-160 RS V1 (review) that we tested and rated highly in our E-bike of the Year shoot-out. Designed for general trail riding adventures more than all-out enduro laps, we found that the E-150 is actually very adept at both. The Bosch motor allied to 625Wh battery ensures impressive power and range as well as an instant response when ratcheting up technical climbs. Whyte has worked hard to reduce the centre of gravity by clocking the motor at an angle, helping to ensure the battery is slung-low. This helps it turn and jump with an agility that defies its weight. The 150mm travel fork paired with 140mm out back may not seem like much, but the E-150’s low centre of gravity and burly frame mean it rarely gets out of its depth. While they’re almost identical twins, the E-150 and E-160 are very much unique individuals. The E-160 is a marshmallow-plush screamer at home on the roughest and steepest tracks. The E-150 a shrewd plotter and schemer that uses cunning rather than brute force to pick off its prey; an all-rounder on both track and field – the heptathlete of e-bikes. Both a blast to ride, just choose the one that suits your style.
All the agility of an enduro bike with helping hand on the climbs
Frame: Carbon, 170mm travel | Motor: Specialized Turbo SL 2.2, 35Nm | Battery: Specialized 320Wh | Rating: N/A
Pros: Can descend with the best enduro bikes and leave them for dead on the climbs. Unobtrusive motor. Cons: Battery can’t be removed easily. Seat tube lacks insertion depth. Price.
Specialized’s highly regarded Enduro gets a lightweight motor and battery and the result is more than the sum of its (not inconsiderable) parts. Agile and powerful, every turn, every jump, every drift, every burst of acceleration – and they come thick and fast – felt natural and familiar on the Kenevo SL, yet also somehow more intense and satisfying than either a pure analogue bike or a full power e-bike could deliver. It inspired us to give more and it gave me more back in return. Every joule of energy we invested turned to profit – more speed, more control, more engagement, more fun. We really don’t want to be this gushing about a push bike that costs twelve and a half grand, but it’s everything we hoped for and more.
State of the full-power art
Frame: Carbon or alloy, 150mm travel | Motor: Specialized Turbo Full Power 2.2, 90Nm | Battery: Specialized M3-700, 700Wh | Rating: 8/10
Pros: Takes the e-bike to another level in terms of engineering and ride quality. Dynamic handling and adjustable geometry. Reliable (so far). Cons: Takes the e-bike to another level in terms of price. Shock yoke can cause issues with leaking air over time.
Totally updated with aggressive, adjustable geometry and a broad 6-frame size range, the new Turbo Levo raises the e-bike bar another couple of notches. There have also been updates to the motor (sturdier belt and different software), better water sealing around the battery connection and a new display screen located in the top tube. The first two are aimed at improving the old bike’s notorious Achilles heel – its reliability – while the final update just extends Specialized’s lead over the competition in terms of its interface and user experience. If you hadn’t clocked it already, we’re totally smitten by the new Turbo Levo. It’s a completely different beast – and beast is the right word – from the previous generation. It’s insanely capable, addictively dynamic, beautifully designed, masterfully integrated, completely adaptable and brilliantly easy to live with. Is it twice as good as the e-bike of the year winning YT Decoy or Trek Rail? No. Would we choose the Turbo Levo over either if we had the money? Absolutely.
Which of the best electric mountain bike choices is right for you?
As e-bikes are making up an increasing market share of new bike sales, so they are starting to diversify in order to meet varying consumer demands. At one end of the scale are the bike park bombers, with massive travel, coil-sprung suspension and even dual-crown forks. Also emerging slowly are the lightweight, ‘diet’ e-bikes with less power and smaller batteries. While in the middle are the all-purpose ‘trail’ e-bikes with air suspension, versatile geometry and around 150mm of travel.
With most e-bikes weighing between 22-25kg, small weight differences between different models are barely perceptible. Suspension performance, sizing, component choice and geometry play a far greater role in defining the handling of an e-bike. That was until last year, when Lapierre brought out the eZesty weighing an impressive 17.9kg, and e-bikes took a huge leap closer to their non-assisted cousins. The Lapierre uses a Fazua motor, with reduced power, torque and battery capacity, so you have to do a larger share of the work, but it takes much less effort to turn, jump, accelerate and decelerate. Because you put more energy in, the range is similar to full-power e-bikes with double the battery capacity, and with no extra friction in the system, it still responds to pedal efforts above the motor’s legal cut-off of 25kph. You can even remove the whole battery and motor to make a 15.6kg enduro bike. Since then, Specialized has released the Turbo Levo SL at a similar weight, and newcomer Forestal the innovative Siryon. If you like the thought of a boost on the climbs, but want to retain the lively handling and pure response of a regular bike, a diet e-bike could be the best of both worlds.
Haibike was probably the first mainstream brand to start designing long travel e-bikes and equipping them with dual crown forks, but the spotlight really swivelled onto this category of bike with the introduction of the Specialized Kenevo. With coil-sprung suspension, heavy-duty tyres, four-piston brakes and masses of travel, it was part shuttle vehicle, part downhill bike. More recently, Cannondale has joined the party with the Moterra SE, while Specialized has pushed the boat out even further with the outlandish new Kenevo.
Most full-suspension e-bikes fall into this bracket and typically they run around 150mm of travel, but fitted with burlier forks up front to cope with the extra weight and leverage of the frame. Four-piston brakes are common, again to decelerate the additional mass, and they usually have slacker head angles and slightly smaller sizing – the extra weight adding stability that non-assisted bikes make up for in length. Although there are models with 29in wheels and 27.5in wheels, you’ll see plenty of bikes mixing the two into what’s called a mullet configuration. The 29in wheel up front giving good rollover while the smaller 27.5in wheel at the back increasing agility. Usually this is paired with a large volume 2.6in or 2.8in rear tyre that stretches the footprint and increases traction on steep or loose climbs. The most popular motors are built by Bosch, Brose and Shimano, with most battery capacities ranging from 500Wh to 700Wh.
If you’re riding consists solely of tow paths, fire roads and country tracks, then e-hardtails make a lot of sense, since they can be cheaper and there’s less to go wrong. But for hitting proper singletrack, bike parks and trail centres, we wouldn’t recommend one. The reasons are simple. You remain seated far more on an e-bike than an analogue bike – mostly because the motor prefers a high cadence, and the up-down piston motion of your legs when standing up doesn’t mesh well with the smooth, consistent power delivery of the motor. So without any rear suspension you’re in for a punishing ride on anything but billiard-table smooth trails. E-bikes let you ride up climbs you wouldn’t dream of on a regular bike, but if you can’t get traction – because the rear wheel is bouncing over bumps and roots – you’ll be off and pushing. Finally, on fast, rough or technical descents, it’s much harder to get an e-bike off the ground, so rear suspension not only helps reduce the impact at the wheel, it also helps you pop the bike over square-edge hits. Which is why most e-hardtails we’ve seen on technical trails are being pushed – with a flat back tyre.
Got a question about riding, setting up or caring for your e-bike? All the answers are here…
Are e-bikes worth it?
Do you want to ride much further and climb much faster in the same amount of time as you can on a regular bike, then the answer is absolutely YES! E-bikes allow you to cram in two or three times as much climbing (and descending) into a typical two hour ride as you can on an analogue bike, and with everyone juggling busier lives than ever, that’s an attractive prospect. Of course there’s no such thing as a free ride, and in the case of e-bikes you’ll have to consider the high initial price, the extra wear and tear on components and the additional weight of the bikes themselves before deciding whether they are right for you. If you’re an experienced rider, it will take some time to adapt your riding style to that extra weight, but after the initial adjustment period, you’ll be addicted to the extra runs you can get in. And, while it’s possible to let the engine take the strain, you can still get a great workout by toning down the power or not stopping for a breather at the top of every climb. And if you’re just starting out, those intimidating climbs will no longer be such an obstacle to exploring the countryside.
How long do e-bike batteries last?
Although there are plenty of online range finder tools, there are so many variables in play that they can only ever be considered a rough guide. The best way of finding out how far your new e-bike will go on a single charge is experience. Record your rides and make a note of the trail conditions, power levels used and the battery remaining, so you can cross reference it against the distance covered and elevation gained. Once you’ve built up a data bank of rides, you’ll have a much better idea of your range when you go somewhere new. To give you an idea of what to expect in the real world, for a rider weighing 70-75kg with dry trail conditions, we get around 1,800m of climbing from a 600-700Wh battery in a middle power setting. Why metres climbed instead of distance traveled? Well, the motor puts a much higher drain on the battery when climbing, and theoretically the battery would last forever if you rode along the flat above the speed limiter.
How do I keep my e-bike lubricated?
E-bike drivetrains have a hard life, with huge power and torque running through the chain, and shifts being made under the kind of loads unimaginable on a regular bike. Which means it’s crucial to keep the chain and jockey wheels well lubricated. After washing, make sure the chain is clean and dry. Put a 5mm Allen key into one of the chainring bolts and pedal the crank backwards until it hits the tool. Now you can pedal the chain backwards and run a bead of lube over every chain link. We’d recommend a heavy-duty wet lube. Once every link has been oiled, get a rag and run the chain back through it to remove any excess. Don’t forget to take the Allen key out!
Should I charge my e-bike outdoors?
In a perfect world, you should always charge your e-bike’s battery indoors at room temperature (between 10-20°C, out of direct sunlight). If your battery is not removable, try your best to charge the whole bike in the house.
How can I maximise the life of my drivetrain?
Assuming you’ve been cleaning and lubing your e-bike properly, the single biggest thing you can do to increase the life of your drivetrain is to shift a single gear at a time. Most SRAM-equipped e-bikes won’t let you shift more than one sprocket at a time anyway, but the latest Shimano drivetrains do not have a single-shift option. So, don’t force the chain across the block in one hit, go one at a time and try to back off the pedals as much as possible.
How do I tune my e-bike to go faster?
This is actually a trick question, because the answer is you shouldn’t tune it, however tempting it is. The reasons are three-fold. One, it’s illegal (France has announced a €30,000 fine or jail time for anyone caught riding a ‘chipped’ e-bike) and if you have an accident involving someone else, you may well be liable. Secondly, it will void your warranty. And third, it will definitely accelerate wear and tear on all your bike’s consumables, including the motor – which could get very expensive if it goes pop and you’re not covered by the warranty. We’d also argue it’s not actually that much of an advantage, and for most e-bike riding we do, 25kph is enough.
Why is my motor noisy?
There’s no getting around the fact that e-bikes are noisier than non-assisted bikes. Some motors are noisier than others though (the Brose is the quietest in our experience), which mostly comes down to the speed the motor spins at and the size and weight of the unit.
What happens if my motor stops working?
As long as it’s within warranty, and you haven’t tuned your motor, it should just be a matter of contacting the manufacturer and getting a replacement. Most motors are simply swapped out rather than repaired or refurbished. The belts in Brose motors can be replaced, and Specialized says it’s working on a refurbishment plan, but it seems that for the most part, faulty motors are analysed then recycled.
What happens if my BB bearings wear out?
Again, these are not service items on most motors, so a knackered BB bearing means a new motor. To avoid any issues, the key is to prolong the life of the bearings by following our earlier advice about washing your bike. So no jet washing and no degreaser products.
Why does my motor still turn when I stop pedaling?
Some motors, most notably the Brose, continue to give assistance briefly when you stop pedalling. Usually this is most obvious in full-power mode, and can be useful to get up stepped climbs, rock gardens or over patches of roots where you need to coast in order to prevent pedal strikes. Officially under EU law this assistance cannot last for more than 2m, although we’ve experienced considerably more than that in the real world.
What’s the lifespan of my battery?
This varies by manufacturer. Giant says you should have 80 per cent capacity left after 1,000 full charge cycles (equivalent to a big ride almost every day for three years). Shimano guarantees 60 per cent battery capacity after 1,000 full charge cycles. Specialized promises 60 per cent after 500 full cycles.
What happens to my battery when it needs replacing?
An EU directive requires that all batteries must be recycled. In the case of Lithium-Ion e-bike batteries, this involves recovering as much of the materials as possible for reuse. However, this is a complex and expensive process, and the amount of materials that can be recovered varies hugely between recycling plants.
How do I bunny hop my e-bike?
If you’re struggling to get your e-bike off the ground, you can tweak your bike set-up in the ways we’ve suggested to improve your manuals. Then focus on how much force you’re driving through the bike to get it off the ground. Think about it in terms of pushing the ground away from you rather than lifting the bike. The pop depends on how hard you preload the bike. Another tip is to try running clip-in pedals if you normally run flats. They do take a bit of getting used to, and you can’t be as loose on the bike when you are clipped in, but they definitely help pick it off the ground – provided you don’t let your technique get sloppy.
What tyres should I run?
If you’re looking to get as far as possible from a single charge, go for a fast-rolling tread with a harder compound. For outright grip, a soft-compound front and a mid-compound rear with a dual-ply casing makes sense as the motor will keep the bike from feeling sluggish, even if it will put more of a drain on the battery. For an all-round package, run an aggressive soft compound up front with harder rubber at the back. Be sure to check your tyre pressures before every ride – we run between 20-24psi depending on conditions and rider weight in most modern 2.4-2.5in tyres with reinforced casings – the front is always a touch softer than the rear.
Should I run flat pedals or clip-in?
While flats let you dab a foot if the bike starts to slide, and often help you feel more confident and loose on the bike, there’s a school of thought that recommends riding clipped-in on an e-bike. This is for two reasons. Firstly, now that you are attempting more technical climbs, clip-in pedals let you drive the bike forward on the upstroke as well as the downstroke – useful if you have to power up a stepped climb. It also allows you to pick up the back of the bike to get it over an obstacle on the climb – a rock or root, for example. Secondly it makes it easier to bunny hop obstacles on the trail, especially if they are big or you are going fast.
What frame size should I go for?
Because all that low-down weight means e-bikes are so much more stable than their naturally-aspirated counterparts, it’s less important to search for stability through frame length and slack geometry. That’s not to say you should get the smallest bike you can, but if you’re between sizes, it’s worth considering the smaller option. As always, the best course of action is to try before you buy, so find out about demo days and shop fleets before you commit.
Why am I struggling to ride my e-bike like my non-assisted bike?
E-bikes take some getting used to, there’s no escaping that fact, and the key to getting to grips with them is working out how much extra effort is required. The extra mass of an e-bike means you need to step up your efforts to get it to respond in the same way as a non-assisted bike. You’ll notice it’s not your legs and lungs that are aching after a long e-bike ride, but your whole upper body. In fact it’s sensible to look into some kind of strength training to help your body adapt to the more physical nature of e-bike riding.
Is it OK to wash my e-bike?
According to advice from Bosch, you should wash your e-bike as frequently as you’d wash an analogue bike (ideally after every ride), but you should never use a jet wash. This is because the high-pressure water can get past seals and into delicate electronics, as well as into non-serviceable areas such as the bottom bracket. Equally, avoid degreasers and bike shampoos – use water from a garden hose, or bucket, and a range of brushes to get into those awkward areas around the chainset and the motor. Advice varies around what to do with the battery – Specialized recommends leaving it in-situ, but Bosch suggests removing it, then replacing the battery cover. Either way, we’d remove any displays (or cover with a plastic bag), dry the bike immediately after washing, particularly battery terminals, and then switch the bike on to check everything’s working.
How do I get up steep climbs?
An e-bike can make impossible climbs possible, but only if you use the right technique. On really steep climbs the problem is less about traction and grunt than keeping the front wheel on the ground. To weight the front end, lower your saddle – how much depends on the gradient. The lower the saddle, the more your body weight shifts forward, which adds weight over the front axle, and although that’s not the most efficient pedalling position, you only have to keep the cranks turning to ensure the motor stays engaged. Drop your elbows too – this allows you to get your head further over the bars. If you’re struggling for traction, try dropping your tyre pressures. And keep your eyes on the prize, don’t get distracted by obstacles you want to avoid, and keep those cranks turning.
Where should I store my battery?
Keep your battery stored between 10-20°C and out of direct sunlight. If that’s not possible, consider getting a thermal blanket – basically an insulated sleeve – to store it in. If you drive to go riding, keep the battery in this sleeve en route, as it will maintain a more optimal temperature. If you’re not planning on riding for a while, remove the battery from the bike, and store in the house with around 60 per cent charge (the exact amount varies between brands). Charge fully before use.
How can I extend my range?
Firstly, make sure your battery is close to optimal temperature before you ride – it’ll heat up once you get going. Don’t leave it in the car or garage overnight during the winter, for example. Then, it’s a case of managing the power – so, use Eco as much as possible. Sorry – there are no magic tricks here! Keep your bike properly lubricated, make sure the brake rotors don’t rub, check the tyre pressures are correct, keep your suspension set up properly and choose the right tyre combination. Look at a faster-rolling tread pattern out back, and maybe a harder compound. Keep your cadence optimised – sometimes a slower cadence actually draws less power from the motor – or tune your system to reduce the maximum power in Eco mode. Finally, try and find smooth, hardpacked climbs and don’t get lost!
How should I set up my shock?
E-bike suspension doesn’t need to be as stable under pedalling loads as it does on non-assisted bikes because you’re not trying to minimise energy wasted through bobbing – the motor compensates for that. Therefore, you want your rear suspension to be as active as possible. We’d try running minimal low-speed compression damping to let your shock better track the ground. Taking this a step further, we’ve actually tried running shocks with lighter damping tunes on our e-bikes, and really enjoyed the extra grip they produce. You may even want to think about getting your shock retuned with less compression damping to achieve a similar effect.
How do I get the front wheel off the ground?
It’s not so much that the extra weight of e-bikes makes the front wheel harder to lift over obstacles or manual, it’s more the weight distribution. Having a big battery in the down tube plays a big part, as do the longer chainstays typically found on most e-bikes. To help get the front end up, adjust your riding position and weight distribution backwards. Try running a shorter stem and/or a higher bar position. You can add a bit more air pressure to the fork and take a bit out of the shock. Make sure your rebound damping is not too slow, and consider adding volume spacers to give you more progression to push against in the preload phase of the move. Even a smaller rear tyre or larger front tyre can help. In terms of technique, work on increasing your power and effort. Move your hips back forcefully and thrust your heels forward with real purpose. Don’t be subtle.
Do I need e-bike specific components?
As e-bikes have become more popular, so brands have reacted quickly to develop specific products to fit them. In some cases they’re a waste of time, in others they’re well worth considering if not fitted as standard to your e-bike. For example, Fox’s e-bike specific 36 forks use a thicker steerer tube and stanchion tubes to better resist the increased loads. SRAM’s Guide RE e-bike brakes use a simple lever with four-piston calipers for additional braking power. Canyon’s SD:ON saddle has a flat nose and broad, kicked-up tail to give you something to push against on steep climbs. Also think about reinforced casing tyres, bigger brake rotors, stronger wheels, more robust freehub internals. Look for components that offer the best value and durability rather than weight saving or bling factor, as e-bikes tend to chew through consumables much faster than analogue bikes.