If there’s one overriding conclusion, it’s that the best electric mountain bikes are flipping great! We had so much fun testing these bikes that we’re embarrassed to call it work.
We guide you through the process of buying the best electric mountain bikes, from explaining what they do and don’t do, through to recommending key bikes. Don’t put it off any longer, because with one of the best electric mountain bikes you could be having the best riding experience of your life right now!
Read more: Best deals on mountain bikes and ebike
It’s about time we introduced an annual e-Bike of the Year award to complement the Trail Bike of the Year and Hardtail of the Year tests that we’ve been running since 2013. A wind of change can be felt as more and more riders draw on first hand experience of e-bikes, they are slowly becoming more accepted, even by the die-hard sceptics. In fact the comments we hear out riding – at least the ones within earshot – have turned from accusations of cheating to a ‘if I can’t beat them, join them’ attitude.
Some of that mind shift can be put down to riders trying them out and feeling the benefits for themselves, and partly it’s because the bikes have got so much better in terms of aesthetics, geometry, suspension performance and motor/battery technology. The waters are a lot calmer and clearer now though, with all the big advances in frame design and component choice having been made. And with Shimano and Bosch comprehensively updating their flagship motors in the last 12 months, you’re unlikely to be left behind by a power increase or leap in battery tech, for at least a couple of years
Our favourite e-bikes of the moment, split into shop-bought and direct-sales.
Top five best e-bikes: shop-bought
- Trek Rail 9 – E-Bike of the Year
- Whyte E-160 RS V1
- Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
- Merida eOne-Sixty 8000
- Cannondale Moterra SE
Top five best e-bikes: direct-sales
- YT Decoy Shred – E-Bike of the Year
- Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8.0
- Radon Render 10.0
- Vitus E-Escarpe VRX
- Vitus E-Sommet VRX
‘View Deal’ links
You will notice that beneath each product summary of these best electric mountain bikes 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.
Trek Rail 9
Our Shop-Bought E-Bike of the Year!
Price: £5700 | Frame: Alpha Platinum 150mm travel | Motor: Bosch Performance CX | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
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. True, the Whyte nudges ahead by a few percentage points in terms of suspension performance, but the Trek beats it hands down for convenience, and yet never lets it get out of sight out on the trail. In fact, in terms of pure downhill speed, the Trek has so much stability that we were continually shocked just how fast we could ride it. The Rail dominates the descents and flattens the climbs, and in that respect it’s every bit as potent as the Slash, but with its own built-in uplift.
Whyte E-160 RS V1
Delivers massive fun and huge confidence
Price: £5750.00 | Frame: 6061-T6 alloy, 150mm travel | Motor: Bosch Performance CX | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
Pros: Hits the ride and handling sweet spot.
Cons: Getting the battery out is a pain.
For those of you with power in your bike storage area, the E-160 RS is guaranteed to supercharge your ride. If not, you’re more likely to blow a fuse. In fact, if it wasn’t for the arduous and nerve-wracking process required to remove and install the battery, the Whyte would easily be a 10/10 bike. It’s in situations like these that we wish we did half marks, because it rides so well that it feels overly harsh to mark the E-160 RS down. With a few improvements the E-160 RS would not only be easier to live with, a perfect 10 rating would be within its reach.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
Not just slapping on a Boxxer fork and calling it a day though; completely redesigned frame
Price: £7000.00 | Frame: M5 Premium alloy, 180mm travel | Motor: Specialized 2.1 Rx Trail Tune | Battery: Specialized M2-700 700Wh
Pros: Progressive sizing and geometry.
Cons: Needs a lighter shock tune
Specialized has raised the bar with the latest Kenevo Expert. Not only is the sizing progressive, it proves that you don’t need to resort to carbon manufacturing to make a fluid looking frame. It’s not quite perfect though. Yes, the geometry and build kit are both perfectly focused on making the most of the descents, but we feel that the shock tune could be lightened up to make the bike more lively and manoeuverable. That; our you could just seek out the roughest, steepest trails and let raw speed bring the Kenevo Expert to life.
Merida eOne-Sixty 8000
New Shimano EP8 motor hit the market and Merida’s new eOne-Sixty was the first e-bike to get it
Price: £6000.00 | Frame: CFAII Carbon/6061 alloy, 150mm travel | Motor: Shimano EP8 | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh
Pros: A blast to ride. Smooth, unobtrusive motor.
Cons: Rear wheel fragility. Basic fork.
We loved the handling of the Merida. It was seriously fun to ride, with a great balance between slow-speed agility and high-speed stability, and the Maxxis tyres let us get away with lines that simply weren’t possible on the other bikes in stock trim. But the Merida’s abilities eventually highlighted the shortcomings of the fork. For a better shot at the top spot, Merida would have been better off saving money on lights and mudguards and investing that budget in a better fork damper or stronger wheels.
Cannondale Moterra Neo SE
Modified for more extreme riding
Price: £6200 | Frame: BallisTec carbon/aluminium, 160mm travel | Motor: Bosch Gen4 Performance Line CX, 75Nm, 250W | Battery: Bosch Powertube, 625Wh
Pros: Great suspension response
Cons: Switchbacks are its nemesis, no reverse mode!
With its black Boxxer fork and emerald green carbon front end, the Moterra Neo SE certainly looks the part. Get down to brass tacks however, and it’s clear that this bike wasn’t designed around a dual crown fork. The seriously limited steering lock makes three-point turns a must and a reverse button would probably be more useful than walk mode. All is not lost however, as the superb rear suspension on the Moterra Neo SE lets you ride hard enough to warrant that burly Boxxer fork. You’re going to need tougher casing tyres though, if you don’t want to be fixing flats every run.
YT Decoy Shred
Our Direct-Sales E-Bike of the Year!
Price: £5399.00 | Frame: Carbon/alu, 165mm travel | Motor: Shimano Steps E8000 | Battery: SMP YT 540Wh
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. Yes, it’s running the older Shimano E8000 motor, but you’d be hard pressed to detect any loss of power or acceleration when compared the new EP8 equipped bikes. So if it’s ride quality, not battery capacity or torque that you prioritise, then the YT Decoy Shred should be your first choice. It’s certainly ours.
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX
High-spec and impressive value-for-money in a versatile package
Price: £4999.00 | Frame: 6061 alloy, 140mm travel | Motor: Shimano STEPS E8000 | Battery: Shimano 504Wh
Pros: Function over form makes for a rewarding, engaging ride. Top end components at a great price.
Cons: Smaller battery and older motor don’t quite match the competition. Standover could be better. Cable routing could be cleaner.
The Vitus E-Escarpe electric mountain bike doesn’t get a hidden battery or carbon frame, but it delivers an addictive ride at an impressive price. The E-Escarpe feels just as agile and fun to chuck into a corner as it does to deathgrip across some moto whoops. There’s plenty of stability low down in the frame, so you can really hammer it over braking bumps and big holes, but the centred weight and 27.5in rear wheel means it switches direction rapidly and intuitively and can be thrown into all sorts of shapes when the opportunity arises to leave the ground. It’s not the cleanest, sleekest design on the market, and the external battery might be unfashionable, but the configuration has its advantages and the alloy frame manages to compete on weight with the latest carbon models.
Radon Render 10.0
Knows how to let its hair down when it comes time to party
Price: €5799 | Frame: Render carbon/aluminium, 140mm travel | Motor: Bosch Performance CX 85Nm | Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625Wh, removable
Pros: Bosch motor and stellar build kit
Cons: Only three frame sizes
The Radon Render 10.0 is an incredibly versatile trail bike. It’s fast on slower trails and it’s not so big as to feel unwieldy when darting through tighter turns or making last minute line choices. Combine the long rear end and extra support in the rear shock with the power of the 85Nm Bosch Performance CX motor and you’ll quickly discover a newfound love for steep, technical climbs. Flip the script however, and ride down the same trails and the Render can feel a little tipped forward due to the longer rear end, but thankfully the Fox 36 FIT4 fork helps mitigate that.
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8.0
Great option for the more distance-focused e-bike rider
Price: £5999 | Frame: C:62 carbon front, 6061-T6 alloy rear, 150mm travel | Motor: Shimano EP8, 85Nm | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh
Pros: Lightweight and sleek
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. The battery is a doddle to remove and by downgrading the Cockpit, you could easily unlock its true potential.
Vitus E-Sommet VRX
Stays true to its enduro roots
Price: £5499.99 | Frame: 6061-T6 double-butted alloy, 167mm travel | Motor: Shimano STEPS EP8 | Battery: Shimano E8036 630Wh
Pros: Modern enduro bike geometry
Cons: EP8 motor rattle
With the most progressive sizing and geometry in test, the E-Sommet VRX closely mirrors the shape and t 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. 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 it’s more capable in big-mountain terrain.
Which e-bike 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…
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 pedalling?
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.
How far can I go on a single charge?
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.
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.