Punch 'lightest e-mtb' into your browser and some crazy headline weights pop up, but not all of them are quite what they seem.


It stands to reason that even the best e-bikes are going to be heavier than the best analogue bikes for the simple reason that they come with the additional weight of batteries, motors, controllers, and wiring. So when manufacturers start touting e-bike weights that are comparable with non-assisted models, it starts to smell a little fishy.

For mid-power bikes 16kg builds are becoming increasingly common and lots of full power e-bikes now claim to weigh in under the 20kg barrier. But few, if any, actually deliver on their promise because there’s no escaping the simple mathematics of it all. So let’s do the sums. If the lightest e-bike motor is currently 2kg with the display and wiring, which is being very generous, and a 360Wh battery typically weighs 2kg, then adding the lightest e-bike system to any platform means that you instantly pay a 4kg weight penalty at the bare minimum. Often it’s more as the frame also needs reinforcing.

Focus Vam2 SL e-bike

The Focus Vam2 SL e-bike claims a 16.2kg headline weight, but that’s not without compromise.

So is your 16kg e-bike with its Category 4 rated frame really a trail bike? No, it is a lightweight XC bike with the e-bike system attached. And the real problem with that approach, is that most of the components on the bike weren’t designed for the rigours of trail riding or for the extra payload.

Merida eOne-Sixty

The new Merida eOne-Sixty is 22.2kg (claimed) with a full power motor and 600Wh battery.

Working backwards from a headline weight is a useful method for sniffing out bogus weight and category claims. Because, if the best analogue enduro bikes typically weigh 16kg, then lightweight e-bike versions are going to have to weigh 20kg. Remember, it’s a minimum of 4kg for a battery and mot0r. Hop up to full power e-bikes and you add 0.8kg to the motor weight and an extra 2kg to get a 750Wh battery, which makes 23kg a realistic weight for a lightweight full power e-bike.

So until battery tech improves, and motors get lighter, there’s simply no avoiding the weight increases when adding electrical assistance. But that hasn’t stopped manufacturers trying to offset the extra weight of the e-bike system elsewhere. Some of the solutions are smart, others are painfully dumb, so we thought we’d outline the 13 key ways bike brands try to reduce the weight of their e-bikes, so you don’t get sucked into those headline weight claims.

Transition Bikes

Smaller sizes mean less frame material and less weight

1. Weighing smaller size bikes

Virtually all manufacturers are guilty of this cheap trick. Smaller frames use less material which in turn makes them lighter. They also have shorter steerer tubes on the forks, narrower handlebars and shorter seat tubes, all of which help melt away excess flab to deliver erroneous weights for the other size bikes in the range.

Canyon Neuron:ON 2023

The Nobby Nic tyres on the Canyon Neuron:ON keep the weight low, but will flat easily

2. Fitting wafer-thin tyres.

This is the cardinal sin of e-bike weight saving. Manufacturers nearly always fit thin sidewall tyres to hit their target weight with no regard for performance or durability. It’s like a weight cut before a prize fight, but the fighter never gets to rehydrate before taking the hits. Flat tyres aren’t as serious as a concussion, but they are a sure-fire way to ruin a ride.

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL 2

The Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL 2 is super cool, just don’t forget your range extender

3. Scrimping on battery capacity

If you take a full power e-bike and swap the standard 750Wh battery for a 360Wh, which is typical for a lightweight mid-power e-bike, you can instantly lop over 2kg off the headline weight. Obviously you also effectively half the range, and then need to spend more money on a range extender which means the weight and price both go up. Smaller diameter down tubes associated with smaller batteries also reduce frame material and save some weight too.

The Whyte E-Lyte 140 has less travel, and less weight, but is also less capable than the Whyte E-Lyte 150

4. Reducing frame travel

This one is subtle, but it all adds up. By fitting a smaller eye-to-eye length and shorter stroke shock, like on the Whyte E-Lyte 140 Works, e-bike manufacturers cut weight and shift the bike into a shorter travel category which is often more fitting of the lightweight components that have also been fitted to help reduce the overall weight.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp 2023 - shop bought eMTB of the year

The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp was our shop-bought eMTB of the year in 2023, and also the lightest bike in the test.

5. Designing the bike around a 27.5in rear wheel

Smaller diameter rims, shorter spokes and smaller tyres associated with a 27.5in rear wheel that’s popular on MX bikes like the Specialized Turbo Levo all help bikes look impressive on the scales. They also allow for shorter chainstays, which saves on frame material, and you can fit a smaller brake rotor and retain the same stopping power as a 29in wheel with a bigger rotor.

Santa Cruz Heckler SL

Santa Cruz has long been using two different carbon lay-ups to save a few grams in one direction, or a few bucks in the opposite direction.

6. Using higher specification carbon fibre

This one clearly bumps up the overall price of the bike but reduces the frame weight without compromising strength, handling or performance. Santa Cruz has its CC and lower grade C carbon layups, Canyon has CF and its higher grade CFR models. Both options use the exact same frame moulds, it’s just that the lighter frames use higher-modulus carbon fibres. How much does it save? The weight difference between the Spectral:On CF frame and the CFR is typically 300g so not to be sniffed at.

orbea rise

The original Orbea Rise was light, but it needed bigger brakes

7. Speccing underpowered XC brakes

This one could be downright dangerous. Even the lightest mid-power e-bikes still weigh 16kg which is just like your typical enduro bike. So fitting brakes with smaller rotors and organic pads, yes they are lighter than metallic pads, is insane. Especially given that the favourable unsprung mass ratio of an e-bike, even a light one, means you can ride it harder than an analogue enduro bike.

2024 Canyon Spectral:ON CFR

The 2024 Canyon Spectral:ON CFR was our e-bike of the year winner in the direct-sales category, and it came with slimmer Fox 36 forks.

8. Fitting suspension forks with smaller legs

Simply replacing a RockShox Zeb with a Lyrik, or a Fox 38 with a 36, can typically lop 250g off the headline weight. Which is almost as effective a diet measure as the new GLP-1 receptor against drugs for weight loss, but without any negative side effects. In fact, the two winning bikes in our e-bike of the year test, both had slender Fox 36 forks fitted, so they can benefit the overall handling too, especially for lighter riders.

Pivot Shuttle SL 29 XTR is the 2023 MBR Lightweight Electric Mountain Bike of the Year

The mechanical drivetrain on the Pivot Shuttle SL is lighter than SRAM’s wireless AXS equivalent.

9. Using mechanical drivetrains

The top end Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 AXS that we tested in 2023 highlights this point perfectly. The all singing, all dancing, SRAM AXS bike was actually almost 1kg heavier and way more expensive than the next model down that used a mechanical Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain. Clearly Trek had specced its flagship “lightweight” e-bike for headline features and pricing, not actual weight savings. This is where the Pivot Shuttle SL had a real edge in our Lightweight e-Bike Test.

Focus Vam2 SL e-bike

Focus Vam2 SL e-bike with Fox Transfer Factory SL dropper post

10. XC dropper posts

Shorter travel dropper posts save weight, but given how hard you can ride an e-bike, even one with a sketchy XC build kit, it seems crazy to limit the bike’s ability by simply scrimping on seat post drop. How much weight does a XC dropper actually save? Well, if we compare the 200mm Fox Factory Transfer to the 100mm drop SL version, it’s almost 300g lighter, making it an easy win for massaging the numbers on the scale.

Alan Muldoon test riding the Mondraker Crafty Carbon R eMTB 2023

The Mondraker Crafty’s fixed internal battery saves weight by minimising frame material and fixtures and fittings.

11. Non-removable batteries

Integrating the battery into the frame like on the Orbea Wild or Mondraker Crafty RR can offer substantial weight reductions as you eliminate all of the hardware associated with making the battery removable. It’s the primary reason why most lightweight mid-power e-bikes have fully integrated batteries. It can be a major inconvenience though, especially if you don’t have a power source for charging where you store your bike, or want to run a two battery approach for extended ride time or when racing.

Scott Voltage eRide 900 Tuned

Scott’s Voltage eRide 900 Tuned comes with a one-piece carbon bar and stem

12. Using one-piece bar stem combos

Weight weenies love a one-piece carbon bar-stem combo, so it should come as no surprise that most flagship bikes use them to save weight. Swapping your standard bar and stem for a fancy integrated design like the Syncros Hixon iC Carbon that is used on bikes like the new Scott Voltage eRide Tuned and weighs a scant 327g, clearly helps the chip away the excess flab.

Cannondale Moterra SL

The Cannondale Moterra SL uses the flex of the carbon stays to eliminate suspension pivots and save at least 100g.

13. Eliminate pivot points in the suspension design

Take a look at any modern XC bike and flexstay designs are almost universally employed to save weight. Eliminating pivots, bearings and any associated hardware is an instant win on the scales. Cannondale is no stranger to using flexstays and it does this to great effect on the new Moterra SL, a full power e-bike with a claimed weight of 19.5kg. How many other weight saving measures can you spot on the Motterra SL?

Cannondale Moterra SL

Cannondale’s Moterra SL is one of the lightest full-fat e-bikes on the market