Which of the latest and greatest e-mtbs are we most excited about going into model year 2024?
It’s been a big year for e-bikes already, with SRAM joining the motor wars, Bosch launching a lightweight system, and huge growth in the diet e-bike sector, with fresh mid-power options from a smorgasbord of mainstream brands. But 2024 is shaping up to be even more significant, with more choice in the entry-level sector and some wild new concepts being shown from household names such as Honda and Yamaha.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, let’s take a closer look at the hottest e-bikes for 2024 that we can’t wait to ride (even if we’ve ridden a few of them already!). How many of them will make it onto our buyer’s guide to the best electric mountain bike?
Norco Fluid VLT
One of the most talked about motors for 2024 is Bosch’s lightweight Performance SX unit. Promising near full-fat levels of power and Bosch’s reputation for reliability and support in a 4kg package, will definitely make it a popular choice for manufacturers looking to dip their toes into the lightweight e-mtb market. One of the first brand’s to show off its new SX-equipped diet bike is Norco, with the Fluid VLT.
There are three models, C1, C2, and C3 where the C1 uses a full carbon frame and the C2 and C3 use a carbon front triangle with alloy stays. It’s a mixed wheel size platform and travel is 130mm or 140mm depending on the spec. In terms of assistance, the SX unit claims to produce 600W of peak power and 55Nm of torque, all powered by a 400Wh internal battery with optional 250Wh range extender.
Availability on the Fluid VLT is scheduled to be Spring 2024.
By far the most beguiling Whyte we’ve clapped our eyes on in quite some time, the upcoming E-Lyte is the UK brand’s stake in the ground of the diet e-bike market. With a carbon front triangle, Bosch’s punchy new Performance SX motor and 400Wh battery, and a claimed weight of 15kg, it promises to be a total weapon on UK singletrack. We’ve already swung a leg over the E-Lyte, and you can read our first impressions here.
Another UK brand that’s hopped on board the Bosch SX train is Orange with its new Phase EVO. At 19.5kg, this is by far the lightest e-bike Orange has made, and we’d say it’s definitely the best looking, too. It’s also the first e-bike we’ve come across with a storage compartment in the down tube, thanks to a clever internal bulkhead above the battery.
Like all Orange’s full-suspension models, the Phase EVO chassis uses folded sheet aluminium, and is hand-welded in Halifax. Travel is 160mm at the rear, and it uses an MX wheel configuration to maximise agility.
SRAM Powertrain/Nukeproof Megawatt/Propain Ekano 2 CF/Transition Repeater/GasGas ECC
SRAM’s entry into the motor market was always a matter of when, not if, but few could have imagined that the brand’s new Powertrain system would integrate a motor and battery with a wireless drivetrain and automatic shifting. Rather than just compete with its rivals on power and torque, SRAM has tried to deliver a whole raft of benefits to the rider, including wireless control, user-customisation, and the ability to put an algorithm in charge of gear shifting. Which all sounds a bit 1984, but actually gives you the opportunity to concentrate fully on the trail ahead.
The motor itself is from the Brose stable, and similar to the unit used by Specialized in the Turbo Levo. So it’s quiet, it’s got stacks of power and torque, and the range from both the 630Wh and 720Wh batteries is impressive.
At the moment the motor can only be found in a handful of models. There’s the Nukeproof Megawatt, the Propain Ekano 2, the Transition Repeater, and finally the GasGas ECC. While Shimano was first to market with an auto shift system, SRAM’s Eagle powertrain has swooped in and stolen the limelight by making it both sleek and convenient.
Remember when Santa Cruz publicly stated it would never make an e-bike? Well, after what was a slow, cautious start to its e-bike program the boutique barons have really started to deliver the goods. Case in point is the new Heckler SL, a bike that we think might just be the best-looking and most exciting Santa Cruz in the range.
A stealthy silhouette hides Fazua’s Ride 60 motor and battery, so neatly integrated that only a CSI technician could tell the difference. Mullet wheels, 150mm of travel, and a claimed weight in the sub 19 kilo range point to a bike that should make you cackle with joy. We can’t wait to get our mitts on one.
While we reckon Mondraker should have taken inspiration from the Welsh when naming its new lightweight e-bike and called it the ‘Tidy’, we can’t take anything away from the Spanish brand’s execution. It really is a stunning looking bike, with a wafer-thin sloping top tube, bags of standover clearance, and a reclined shock that references its latest Summum downhill bike. And by choosing the microscopic TQ motor, the Neat is another e-bike that flies under the radar when it comes to cruising past analogue riders on the climbs.
Silent and deadly, this stealthy assassin wields its 150mm travel like a ninja’s nun-chucks, whipping around corners and changing direction in the blink of an eye. The only potential fly in the ointment is the range. You’ll need to invest in the 160Wh range extender if you don’t want to get caught short on a big ride.
As top end e-bike prices float away into the stratosphere, one brand that has kept its feet firmly on the ground is Vitus. And its new E-Mythique LT is not some cobbled together bike on a budget. It’s a new model designed from the ground-up to bring the ultimate performance to a realistic price point.
To accomplish that, the 160mm travel alloy frame gets a Bafang M510 motor and 630Wh battery rather than a premium unit from the likes of Shimano or Bosch. But it still packs a healthy 95Nm of torque and over 500W of peak power, while the range is equivalent to a Shimano EP8 unit with similar-sized battery. Mullet wheels and a carefully curated spec give the E-Mythique serious bang for buck on the trails, and with prices starting at £3,299, this bike will hopefully usher in a healthy influx of new riders.
Not to be outdone, giant sports superstore Decathlon has a new enduro e-bike that looks to be its best yet. Priced at an ultra-competitive £4,499, this burly bike park bruiser has 170mm of travel front and rear, coil-sprung suspension, mullet wheels, and, wait for it, a genuine Bosch Performance CX motor and 750Wh battery.
While previous Decathlon e-bikes have been top of the league for pricing, but in the relegation zone for geometry, this new E-Big Mountain looks to be bang on the money in both senses of the word. A 64º head angle, 445mm chainstays, and 475mm reach on the size large all sit within established norms, while the Marzocchi suspension should be just the job for rumbling down runs at BikePark Wales.
The one elephant in the room is the weight, which raises a few eyebrows at a claimed 27kg.
Designed for the sole purpose of winning Enduro World Series e-bike races, the original Lapierre Overvolt was a window into the mind of racing legend and notorious bike geek Nico Vouilloz. Nico’s talent as a racer and development rider, constantly striving for the ultimate in performance, gave the Overvolt a unique look, where the motor and battery huddled in close proximity at the centre of the frame.
By centralising the mass, Lapierre aimed to make the bike as manoeuvrable as possible, something Nico no doubt picked up during his time racing rally cars. Form defers to function once again on the third generation Overvolt GLP, building on that radical silhouette, but adding further motor cooling and a larger battery. That power pack is still external, nestled within the frame above the motor, but it uses Bosch’s PowerPack 725Wh battery, dramatically increasing range.
Lapierre has also integrated the colour Kiox screen into the top tube, so you get a comprehensive data feed without the clunky and easily damaged bar-mount. We really admire the Overvolt GLP 3’s uncompromising approach, and would love to ride one to find out whether this strategy has paid off in terms of performance on the trail.
Honda/Yamaha concept bikes
You can’t actually buy the last two bikes on our rundown as they are purely concepts, but that actually makes them more intriguing. Both are from brands better known for producing motorcycles than pedal cycles.
The first is from Yamaha and it’s imaginatively called the Y-00Z MTB. Now, Yamaha already makes both motors and complete e-bikes, and this concept bike takes elements from its production models, including the split alloy frame, where the battery and shock sits between voids in the top and down tubes. But it goes one step further with what looks like a die-cast frame made from two halves bolted together down the middle.
There’s a high pivot suspension design with the drive coming from a small motor powering the idler pulley. While flashy KYB suspension adorns the electric blue frame.
But perhaps the most controversial feature is an electronic power steering unit mounted in front of the head tube. This is a system Yamaha has been developing for its motocross bikes, and aims to make the steering more stable at high speeds, and lighter at low speeds.
Already in the last couple of years we’ve had ABS and automatic transmission systems appear on mountain bikes, and now power steering seems to be on the horizon. What next? Auto-pilot?
Not to be left out of the game, Japanese rivals Honda also showcased a E-MTB concept bike recently. Which immediately got us all misty-eyed for the iconic RN01 downhill bike with its secretive gearbox and trick Showa suspension. But sadly the inspiringly-named E-MTB Concept has neither the innovation nor the instant desirability of the 20 year-old downhill bike.
Sure, there’s a thinwall die-cast alloy frame using a clamshell design, but the single-pivot suspension and minimal standover clearance will bring massive compromises in performance. Honda could have brought the RN01 bang up to date, with a motor and gearbox combined, like Pinion’s E-Drive MGU, but instead the E-MTB Concept looks more like a graduate design study than a viable production bike. Come on Honda, we know you can do better than that!