In recent years, electric mountain bikes have become increasingly popular. Most top bike brands have an e-bike of some kind. With pedal assist, riders of all levels can now enter the sport. But it's not just newcomers opting for e-bikes, experienced riders are as well.
As with any bike, there are many aspects to consider when picking an electric mountain bike. In addition to the usual components such as brakes, geometry, suspension, and travel, you also need to consider the motor and battery. With these adding extra weight, other components such as the need for shocks become even more important to consider. So, think about some of these questions before purchasing:
- How long does the battery last and how far do you want to ride?
- What type of mountain biking do you want to do?
- Do you need a hardtail or full suspension?
- Why do you need an e-MTB?
In this guide, we will take a look at all the main considerations to take into account when selecting your e-MTB.
What is an e-mountain bike?
Just like regular mountain bikes, e-MTBs are designed for off-road biking. The main difference here is that they have an integrated motor to help riders get more mileage with less effort. These can be mounted on a rear rack, integrated into the frame, or on the downtube.
- Motor type — in the past, many eMTBs had a hub motor, however, this was found to overheat on ascents and has almost entirely disappeared from the market in favour of mid-drive motors. Mid-drive motors have a huge variation in terms of weight, size and power.
- Battery power — power versus energy is important here. High power motors need lots of battery power which means they run out faster or require a bigger battery. Conversely, a lower power battery needs less battery power, which can mean a lighter battery that can last for longer.
- Capacity — battery capacity refers to the watt-hours (Wh) and this can vary from as little as 250 Wh to 1000 Wh.
- Range — depending on the power of the battery, there are different ranges available. Ranges should be checked before purchase, but you can extend your e-bike's range by keeping it clean and oiled with the tyres pumped up properly and using eco mode if it has it.
- Assist levels — there are two main classes of e-MTBs in Europe, and which you get will impact what you get out of the bike. Both levels still offer pedal assist, but the highest assisted speed possible according to EU regulations is 25 km/h.
- Display and controls — a clear display is a must. The best bike displays should have the exact battery life percentage, data options, customisable views, be reliable and easy to read. Without a solid display, you can find your riding enjoyment considerably impacted, particularly if you're unclear how much battery you have left.
- Torque sensor — different levels of assistance can be provided by an e-MTB. With a good torque sensor, the bike can provide the correct assistance by measuring your pedal power not how much force is being applied to the pedal. It makes adjustments in real time, increasing or decreasing the output from the motor alongside the pedal power of the rider.
- Charging time — different sized batteries have varying charging times. The larger and more powerful the battery is, the longer it will take to recharge fully.
- Integration — smartphone pairing is a must, as is pairing and integrating with GPS. Successful integration will vastly improve any ride you're on as you'll be able to get the same information on your phone if the display is not easy to read.
The combination of these components is all down to you and your preferences. However, these features listed here help to give you more pedal assist, better speed in some areas, and the ability to maximise your efficiency for a long day of riding. Even though mountain bikes are already heavy, eMTBs add further weight through the motor and battery. As such, this should be carefully considered when selecting other components.
What to consider when picking an e-mountain bike
Choosing an electronic mountain bike based on the right features and components is a must. Looking at the motor power and capacity, battery integration, assist levels and more are a necessary part of picking your bike. We provide in-depth information about all these features, and more, so you can accurately choose the bike for you.
Types of electronic-MTB bikes and frame geometry
Preference and riding style and terrain are some of the first things you need to consider when choosing your e-MTB. With different categories of e-bikes for mountain biking, it's essential you pick a bike suited to your needs.
Fast and aerodynamic, cross-country bikes are one of the lighter mountain bikes out there already offering efficient pedalling. With the inclusion of a motor, e-cross country MTBs elevate the ride even further. They're good for smoother tracks and trails where the ascent is important. Combining assisted pedalling on this type of bike helps you go further for longer, maximising your strength and ability.
One of the most versatile e mountain bikes, it's good as an all-around bike. It's able to climb and descend effectively. With shorter shocks, it's lighter, handles well and has high travel. This can be as much as 130mm to 150mm both front and rear. This makes steeper descents easy to handle and is an ideal option for more recreational or single track riding.
A newer form of mountain bike, the e-enduro allows riders to pedal to the top to then race down technical and steep descents. Enduro racing is all about the speed and timing of a downhill run, which means that traditional enduro bikes are not great for long climbs and will make these tough and slower. With an e-enduro, that aspect is removed making these mini downhill bikes a great option for first-timers and experienced riders alike.
Originally, these bikes could only be used in areas with lifts as they are not suitable for uphill pedalling. With an e-downhill bike, you can use the pedal assist to get you up the hill for the steep descent. These bikes are heavy though, so consideration into the size and power of the battery should be forefront in the decision here. With the extra battery weight, you will hit higher downhill speeds which means you may need to compensate with additional suspension and 180mm minimum of fork and suspension.
Similar to regular mountain bikes, it's essential that you consider your suspension needs. Either get a hardtail with only front suspension, or a bike with full suspension. There are pros and cons to both depending on what trails and riding you're doing.
Operating only with a suspension fork, a hardtail eMTB is more rigid in the back. This does make them the lighter version of an electric MTB, subsequently becoming more affordable as well. Ideal for less challenging rides, or cross country biking where pedal efficiency is prized. Even though the suspension is reduced, it's still able to easily handle diverse terrain giving you more confidence on unfamiliar routes. Better still, as there are fewer components, it requires less maintenance.
An electric mountain bike with full suspension means getting the most comfortable ride wherever you are. Not only that, but this type of bike offers versatility and more stability. It's a strong option for riders of all proficiency levels, allowing riders to increase their speed as well as control. With more suspension throughout, there's greater bounce which makes long rides more comfortable, but reduces traction on ascents. But, in general they are great for more technical terrain, though they are more expensive and have more maintenance requirements.
Multiple power modes
Depending on the e-MTB, there are multiple power modes in place. Typically, these include Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo. Eco offers the lowest assistance power. If you want to get the longest range and mileage from your bike, this is the mode to use.
At the other end of the spectrum is Turbo, which works the battery and motor hard. As such, the overall range of the bike decreases. It goes really fast in this mode and can be a lot of fun, but as it is power-hungry, it's a good idea not to use it continually.
It's a simple process to switch between modes on a ride as well. Turbo can be used to blast or power through hard sections or uphills, while Tour or Sport are best suited to get you through the easier bits of a ride. It's a good way to manage the battery and get the most out of your bike.
It is important to make the distinction between electric mountain bike frame options. These are carbon fibre and aluminium. While both are excellent options, carbon fibre is the more expensive of the two, which can impact which frame material you end up with.
For regular mountain bikes, frame weight is a major consideration. But, with an e-MTB, you already have a battery and its components adding a considerable amount to the overall bike weight. As such, choosing between these two frame materials may not be such an important decision with an electric bike.
Carbon fibre frames do tend to look nicer, and they offer a stiffer rider than aluminium. As such, they're better for speed on flat or smooth terrain. They tend to provide more comfort over longer distances, and keep things softer on rough terrain. However, as mentioned, they are more expensive.
Aluminium is slightly heavier, but as we mentioned, this might not be that noticeable depending on the battery and suspension you're using with the bike. It's also a good frame for downhill as it's got a more positive force for the descent. Aluminium also offers a little more flexibility with harder riding for a more forgiving ride. But it's not quite as comfortable as carbon, though similar in strength. It's also not as aesthetically pleasing, but it is budget friendly.
What gears does an eMTB need?
These days, most mountain bikes have a single chainring in the front and use drivetrains comprising of cassettes with 8 to 12 gears. This setup means you can enjoy a similar gear range as older models with 20 to 30 gears, but it reduces slipping and offers more reliable shifting. A 500% range is excellent because anything lower, with too small a cassette means missing out on an easy gear for steep climbs.
Tyre size and tread
Wheels need to be durable on an e mountain bike as these e-bikes are heavy which puts more force on the wheels. Tyres need to be strong and resistant with strong sidewalls alongside bigger knobs to protect from punctures. Large tyres with deep treads are a must as these can cope with off-roading and loose surfaces, preventing slipping. Typically, this means 29" wheels with 2.6" wide tyres. Although there are various configurations with some opting for a wider rear wheel.
These bikes are heavy, so when heading downhill, powerful brakes are a must. All eMTBs use disc brakes so that there is adequate modulation. This type of brake is consistent and strong. Some electric mountain bikes have regenerative brakes which recharge the battery when slowing down.
Which e-MTB is best for you?
At the end of the day, you need to know exactly what type of riding you intend to do before you can choose which electric mountain bike is best for you. Once the model and frame is chosen, you need to ensure the eMTB fits you correctly by checking the size chart. The bike size directly relates to your height, so checking these simple charts is a must if you want a comfortable ride.
Where to rent and buy electric mountain bikes in the Canaries
If you're looking for an e mountain bike then here at Free Motion we have a range of different brands and bikes to meet all your needs. With ten bike shops across Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote, we're guaranteed to have something that suits your needs. All our bikes are top of the line, plus you can try them out before you decide which one to purchase.
Additionally, we make sure that you have all the gear necessary for riding around the islands. Plus, we will ensure that the bike is perfectly measured to fit your height, as well as adjusting the suspension specifically to you. Find out more about our e-MTBs and what we can offer you by contacting us today.