What you need know to find the right electric mountain bike (eMTB) for you.
Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) open up a whole new world of off-road exploration, allowing you to travel longer distances and tackle steep terrain more easily. Whether you want to venture deep into the backcountry wilderness or simply smooth out bumps in the road on your way to work, eMTBs empower you to take on new adventures and less-traveled roads.
Electric mountain bikes are great for daredevils who wants to go farther or climb higher on their favorite trails. Additionally, the electric assist expands accessibility for riders with limited experience or physical abilities.
eMTBs are also good for everyday commuters navigating rough urban terrain. The upright seating position and wide handlebars make it comfortable to look around at traffic while you ride. And many models can be outfitted with racks to carry groceries or a gym bag.
Benefits of eMTBs
An electric motor added to a mountain bike makes traveling farther on your off-road adventures easier. Most eMTBs will provide you with between 30-160 miles of assisted power, depending on the size of the battery and the level of assist you use.
Climb hills that you never could before
Another major benefit of having an eMTB is that you can ride up hills and mountains that may have previously been too difficult or too far away. With an electric motor amplifying your pedaling energy up to 400%, you can climb steep inclines far more easily.
Pedal-assist vs. throttle power
There are two types of electric assist, pedal and throttle, and which one you choose will greatly impact how you ride your eMTB. (Learn more about the different classes of ebikes)
With pedal assist, the harder you pedal, the more the motor will amplify your efforts. It's a very natural feel. This is important when navigating a tight, technical single-track trail. Pedal assist is typically integrated with mid-drive motors.
A throttle allows you to accelerate the bike by pushing a button or twisting a grip. This replicates the feel of riding a moped or motorcycle. Throttles tend to be less sensitive for speed control and may be better suited to wide-open trails and streets. You’ll often see throttle systems paired with rear hub drive motors.
To absorb the bumps of off-road terrain, most mountain bikes are equipped with suspension shocks. Your typical eMTB will have at least a front suspension fork. More advanced models will also have a rear shock to provide additional support for the rider.
eMTB suspension ranges from 80-160mm (3-6.5”). By contrast, commuter-oriented mountain bikes usually have between 80-120mm (3-4”) of front suspension, whereas more aggressive trail eMTBs feature 120-180mm (4-7”) of suspension in the front and rear.
To provide a secure grip on rocky trails, the tires on eMTBs tend to be wider with knobby tread patterns. Fat tires let you roll over rocks, roots, and curbs with ease.
Considerations of eMTBs
In many areas, eMTBs are not allowed on trails. Make sure to review the regulations in your area before investing in an eMTB.
Watch your battery levels
Keep an eye on your battery level while you ride, especially when taking longer trips in remote areas. If the battery dies, you’ll be riding home on a heavy 50-70 lb bike with no assistance.
Get the bike that fits your needs
The electric mountain bike category is broad. As you’ll see below, it can include everything from fat-tire utility commuter bikes to aggressive trail bikes designed to handle 8-foot drops on technical single-track trails.
Are you commuting to and from the grocery store on rough dirt roads? A bike with fat tires, mudguards, and racks to hold your bags may be all you need. If you are exploring rugged trails with obstacles like boulders and creek crossings, a dedicated full-suspension mountain bike will provide the most comfort and performance for your adventures.
eMTBs can range in price from around $1,500 up to $13,000 and even more. The price is related to the quality of the frame and component materials, the durability and weight, and the accessories and options.
With less expensive eMTBs, you can expect front suspension, limited sizing, and less durable, off-brand components. As the prices increase, eMTBs feature lighter-weight carbon or aluminum frames, more plush suspension in the front and rear, and premium brand componentry that can withstand the prolonged abuse of serious trail riding.
Which Electric Mountain Bike to Pick
Here are some examples of different types of bikes in a range of price levels to suit your budget and riding preferences. You can browse dozens more electric mountain bikes here.
The Sondors MXS is an entry-level class 2 eMTB. The air-shock front suspension soaks up small bumps on light trails or rough roads, while the 750-watt motor provides up to 60 miles of pedal-assisted power.
The RadRover 6 is equally well suited to city streets as wooded trails. This versatile Class 2 bike is available in a High-Step or Step-Through frame design, making it friendly for riders of different sizes. The low maintenance 750-watt geared hub motor easily powers you up hills. Plus, you get to stay dry and clean on wet terrain thanks to full-coverage fenders. Lastly, Rad Power offers three rack and accessory kits, so you can customize your bike for your exact cargo-carrying needs.
The Magnum Peak T5 is a mid-priced eMTB with front suspension. As a Class 3 model, this eMTB lets you choose between pedal or throttle assist. The hydraulic brakes offer plenty of smooth stopping power.
The Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance is a mid-drive light duty mountain bike. This Swiss made Class 1 eMTB is designed for urban riding with its integrated lights and fenders, but the 100mm of front suspension and wider tires are suitable for light trails and dirt roads too. The Bosch motor and battery will provide reliable performance for all of your adventures.
Get full suspension at a reasonable price with the Cannondale Moterra Neo 5. This Class 1 alloy frame eMTB is equipped with trusted Shimano componentry, including STEPS mid-drive motor and hydraulic brakes. Get up to 60 miles of electric assist with the Shimano 504 wH battery
The full suspension Nduro 7 eMTB is designed to tackle the gnarliest trails with 180mm (7”) of front and rear suspension. It has a long-lasting Yamaha 720Wh battery and high torque PW X3 motor. This bike is perfect for hardcore riders and downhill mountain bikers.
Tackle any terrain with the Canyon Spectral: ON. This all-trail bike features a lightweight and responsive carbon frame as well as a Shimano Steps EP8 mid-drive motor that delivers a smooth pedal assist. The battery is integrated low on the frame, reducing the center of gravity for improved performance. And the Fox front and rear suspension eat up rocky terrain.