Don’t put it off any longer, because with an e-bike you could be having the best riding experience of your life right now!
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.
What is an electric mountain bike?
An electric mountain bike has a battery and an electric motor. The motor only works when you are pedalling, as a ‘power assist’. The motor stops assisting once speeds of 25 kph (15.5 mph) are reached.
The best electric mountain bikes
Our favourite e-bikes of the moment. Full reviews below.
- Vitus E-Sommet, £3,199 – BEST BUY
- Vitus E-Escarpe VRX £4,999 – BEST BUY
- Rocky Mountain Powerplay 70, £7,299
‘Buy Now’ links
You will notice that beneath each product summary is a ‘Buy Now’ 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.
Our current pick of the best eMTBs
If you’ve been thinking about getting an e-bike but you’ve been holding out, waiting to see if the development process shows any signs of settling down. Don’t put it off any longer, because you could be having the best riding experience of your life right now.
We’re reviewing e-mountain bikes more and more these days. Here are our favourite e-bikes…
E-enduro bikes aren’t as different to regular bikes as one might imagine. All of the fundamentals are the same and by nailing the geometry and sizing Vitus has produced an amazing e-bike with the E-Sommet VR.Sure there are a couple of little things we’d probably change, like the STEPS Di2 mode shifter and rear tyre, but that’s about it. And given how much cheaper the Vitus is compared to the competition, you can easily afford to make these changes and even buy a spare battery. The E-Sommet VR is no golf buggy, but Vitus has it’s certainly hit a hole in one with this bike.
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX
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.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay 70
With most e-bikes the choice of motor defines aspects of the frame geometry and to a lesser degree the suspension characteristics of the bike. Not with new Rock Mountain Altitude Powerplay. With its bespoke motor Rocky has been able to design an ebike that reflects the ride quality of a highly evolved 150mm trail bike. With instant power pickup, extended battery life and streamline proportions it’s not just the handling of the Rocky that will get you charged up for riding. It’s the best bike in this test by some margin, but we had an issue with the motor momentarily cutting and raising questions over it’s reliability.
Other recommended eMTBs
Ebike technology changes quickly. As with anything based around software (which is a surprisingly large part of ebikes), it often benefits to buy whichever is the latest things released.
VooDoo Zobop E-Shimano
Fundamentally, the Voodoo Zobop is a good bike. It’s not pioneering in any way, and a couple of parts do let it down badly, but the truth is in the trail riding, and the Zobop was a blast to ride.
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9.0
Just like the previous model, this is a bike you can take by the scruff of the neck and throw down pretty much anything with casual abandon.
Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Carbon
To return my initial question then; does the Turbo Levo still represent the best e-bike investment? I’d say if range is your priority, it still edges the competition. But time marches on, and if you rarely ride long enough to trouble a 500Wh battery, and want your e-bike to be as capable as possible, there are other options worth considering – particularly those with the latest Gen 4 Bosch motor.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
Riders have been running triple clamp forks on the old Kenevo, so Specialized decided to offer it as standard on the latest version, and for good reason.
Specialized Turbo Levo SL
Superlight Turbo Levo SL creates all-new e-bike concept. We’ve ridden it and it’s very exciting indeed!
Whyte E-150 RS
Geometry and handling mirror a modern trail/enduro bike. The Bosch Gen 4 motor has power and control in equal measure. Durability is a key part of the design.
Mondraker Crafty Carbon RR
Mondraker Crafty Carbon is a weight-conscious enduro bike 29er with 160/150mm travel. The first Mondraker e-bike with their Stealth Air carbon construction.
YT Decoy Pro 29
YT set out to make the Decoy 29 more trail bike orientated than the Decoy 29. Instead they’ve made a bike that’s actually better on more aggressive terrain, despite packing 20mm less travel on the rear and up front.
YT Decoy CF Pro Race
YT designed the YT Decoy CF to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, to look like a conventional bike by disguising battery in the down tube. Hence the name Decoy.
Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 RSV
The Heckler is Santa Cruz’s first e-bike. It’s well made, has a couple of smart features, boasts a comprehensive warranty and the sizing is excellent.
Is it all about the motor?
Read these articles if you want to know more about specifics of ebike motors.
- E-bike motors: Shimano v Bosch v Fazua v Panasonic v Giant v Brose
- Brose, Bosch, Shimano: which ebike system has the most power, punch and reliability?
- New Brose e-bike system now offers motor, battery and display for the first time
- New Bosch ebike system is smaller, more powerful and has anti-tuning software
- New Shimano EP8 is lighter, quieter and more powerful
What makes for the best electric mountain bikes?
Our first e-bike special, just two years ago, was as much about changing attitudes as it was offering advice. E-bikes divided opinion like nothing mountain biking had ever seen – which is saying something considering how long we’ve been bickering about wheel sizes – but the landscape has changed dramatically since then, and more riders than ever are waking up to the extraordinary enjoyment an e-bike can bring. Just a few years ago we would see a smattering of early adopters whirring around our local trails.
Now, 50 or 60 per cent of riders can be on e-bikes. Yes, this is not reflected around the whole country – yet – but the market is growing exponentially and the bikes themselves are improving at a blistering pace. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to buy the best e-bike for you, help you make the most of its features, adapt your riding style, optimise its set-up and keep it in tip-top performance, whatever the conditions on the trails. We’ve also put together a rundown of the most popular motors, and a showcase filled with some of the latest models.
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.
Geek out on all the important numbers for the most popular motors on the market, along with our expert opinion on how the stats translate into performance.
Motor weight: 2.6kg
Modes: Eco, Trail, Boost
Power: 300% (Shimano won’t reveal the peak power figures)
Battery: 418Wh, 504Wh, 630Wh
Charging: 5 hours for 500Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: The new Shimano EP8 won’t win any drag races off the line, but it’s got sufficient power, a refined engagement, improved software and a really quiet operation, all wrapped up in a lightweight, compact package. All told, the EP8 is a worthy successor to the E8000, even if it’s more evolution rather revolution.
Motor weight: 2.88kg
Modes: Eco, Trail, Boost
Power: 300% (Shimano wouldn’t reveal the peak power figures)
Battery: 418Wh, 504Wh, 630Wh
Charging: 5 hours for 500Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: A game changer when it arrived on the scene, but the flagship E8000 system is now four-years old and has been overtaken in some aspects by its rivals. Chiefly it lacks power and torque compared to the Brose, and Shimano’s batteries offer less capacity, and therefore limit your range. The newly released 630Wh internal and external batteries are a step in the right direction, but if you already have a Shimano-equipped bike, it’s unlikely you can simply buy one of the new power packs and slot it into your bike, as they are physically larger. The motor can also be a bit slow to respond on picky, technical climbs. On the other hand, it’s light, compact, tuneable and boasts a superb display unit tucked neatly behind the bars. The control unit is small and easy to use, and the Hollowtech II crank interface is the best on the market. There’s also an E7000 unit that uses the same basic motor, but detuned to give less torque.
Brose S Mag
Motor Weight: 2.9kg
Modes: Eco, Trail, Turbo
Power: 410%/565W peak power
Battery: 500Wh or 700Wh
Charging: 7 hours for 700Wh battery
mbr verdict: Found on all the Specialized Turbo Levo and Kenevo models, the first thing that strikes you about the Brose S Mag is the whopping power on tap. It really is addictive, yet somehow never overwhelming or uncontrollable. Quiet (thanks to the belt drive), sensitive and responsive – so you can get going on any incline – it is also highly tuneable through the excellent Specialized Mission Control app. A discreet control unit takes up minimal bar space, and the capacious 700Wh battery means you never really have to worry about range again. Was the best system on the market, but Bosch and Shimano have caught up, and problems with the belt drive stretching or failing have harmed the reputation of the Brose motor.
Giant/Yamaha Syncdrive Pro
Motor weight: 3.1kg
Modes: Eco, Basic, Active, Sport, Power
Power: 360% (no figures for peak power)
Battery: 500Wh (made by Panasonic, 250Wh range extender available)
Charging: 3.5 hours for 500Wh
mbr verdict: Found on Giant’s range of e-bikes, the Yamaha Syncdrive Pro motor has been upgraded significantly for 2020 with improvements to its rideability. The new Smart Assist technology uses six sensors with the aim of delivering exactly the right amount of power and torque at any given moment. The old system struggled at high cadences, with power dropping off noticeably, but this new version delivers whether you’re spinning or grinding. There’s a weird trembling when you rest your foot on the pedal and the bike is stationary and the motor hangs really low, so is prone to sumping out where clearance is an issue.
Motor weight: 3.23kg
Modes: Breeze, River, Rocket
Charging: 5hours for 500Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: Fazua’s Evation was the first system to offer a lower level of assistance in order to reduce weight and deliver a more natural ride experience. Widely adopted on road and gravel bikes, uptake among mountain bike brands has been slower than we’d expected, although it can be found on the Kinesis Rise hardtail and Lapierre eZesty enduro bike. Offering a very different ride experience to a full power motor, there is virtually no extra resistance, so you can still accelerate when the motor cuts out, and you can even remove the battery and motor altogether if you want a completely pure MTB – for travelling or racing, for instance. Splits the MBR office down the middle – some riders love it, others don’t see the point.
Bosch Performance Line CX
Motor weight: 2.9kg
Modes: Eco, Tour, eMTB, Turbo
Power: 340%/600W peak power
Battery: 500Wh or 625Wh (1,250Wh available with dual battery)
Charging: 3.7 hours for 625Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: Revamped for 2019, the new Bosch Performance Line CX is a formidable package. Compact, lightweight and intelligent, the brilliant eMTB mode means you can set and forget the power and let the electronics sort it all out for you. Responsive, natural feeling and energy efficient, the 625Wh battery will easily give you 1,500m of ascending from a single charge. A new software update for 2020 has brought more power and an impressive overrun feature that helps you flow over ledges and obstacles on tricky climbs. The biggest chink in its armour are the clunky and overly obtrusive cockpit displays and control units.
Specialized SL 1.1
Motor weight: 1.95kg
Modes: Eco, Trail, Turbo
Battery: 320Wh (160Wh range extender available)
Charging: 5 hours for 500Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: The Specialized SL 1.1 is found on its Turbo Levo SL range of full-suspension bikes and sets out to achieve similar goals as the Fazua system – namely less weight and reduced power to make the bike pedal and handle more like a regular mountain bike. The difference here is that the motor and battery are not easily removable, so charging is less convenient. The motor is almost drag-free, draining only 2.8W from your efforts according to Specialized. That’s only 1W more than a regular bottom bracket unit. Although you do notice the lack of torque at low revs compared to the Fazua Evation, it’s also tighter and more refined, and the battery range and integration are a notch above its rival. During testing, we have achieved 73km and 1,720m of climbing from the internal battery along, with 16% remaining. That’s with a 73kg rider in dry, still conditions using Eco mode for 44km and Trail for 29km.
Rocky Mountain Dyname 3.0
Motor weight: 3.7kg
Modes: Eco, Trail, Turbo
Battery: 500, 632, 672Wh
Charging: 3hrs 50mins for 672Wh battery, with fast charger
mbr verdict: Just look at those numbers! The Dyname motor used in Rocky Mountain’s range of Powerplay bikes is truly unique and extremely impressive. Instead of integrating the bottom bracket into the motor, power is fed to the drivetrain via a pulley wheel just above the chainring. This means you can use a standard BB and crank, so it’s serviceable and replaceable. It also allows Rocky Mountain’s designers freedom to put the suspension pivots exactly where they want, and keep the geometry identical to its non-assisted counterparts. So far, so impressive, but the real party trick here is the incredible power and torque. Head-to-head, it crushes even the Brose S Mag fitted to Specialized’s e-bikes, yet the aggressive geometry keeps the Powerplay bikes playful and rewarding. It’s a bit rough and ready compared to the refined Brose, but the power is nothing short of addictive.
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.
Words: Danny Milner Photos: Roo Fowler, Harookz, Markus Greber