Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular in the UK and Electric mountain bikes are no exception. Ideal for mountain bikers who want to cover more ground, want to get the hills out of the way so they can enjoy the downhills or just don't like, or can't, manage manage uphills. With this growing popularity, comes more and more choice (and potentially more and more tough decisions on which would be best for you). In this article, we will attempt to make this choice easier for you by detailing some of the main styles and differences between the electric mountain bikes available in the UK and then talk about some of our mainstream brands and models, with in depth looks at the main benefits of each. But first we will discuss the different styles and types of electric mountain bikes.
Main Considerations of E Mtb
- Hardtail Electric Mountain bikes
- Full suspension electric mountain bikes
- Battery capacity
- Wheel size
Hardtail Electric mountain bikes
Hardtail electric mountain bikes have suspension on the front but none on the rear. These make for great gravel and cross country style bikes as they climb very efficiently for mountain bikes as there is no excess movement on the rear. Hardtail ebikes are normally cheaper than their full suspension electric bike equivalent also so make for a good entry point. Where you start to see the difference is when you go on more technical and demanding terrain - hardtails are just not as forgiving as there is no travel on the rear to take the sting out of the bumps on the trail.
You are looking for a very comfortable ride and are expecting to ride on gravel and trails that are not too demanding and technical. Alternatively, buy this if you have excellent mountain bike skills or are looking to increase those skills as there is no better way to advance your mountain biking than on a hardtail.
Full suspension electric bikes
Full suspension bikes have a suspension fork on the front and a shock on the rear which allows you to go faster downhill due to the rear end smoothing out the rough terrain. If you are taking on the more advanced trail centres or full-on downhill performance, you will most likely need a full suspension electric bike. The downside of these bikes, especially Electric full suspension electric bike, is that they are more expensive than a hardtail due to all the extra technology required and the extra componentry.
Full-sus electric bikes come in a number of different shapes and which one is best will depend on where you intend to ride it. For more cross country bikes, you will likely require less travel (more on this further down) and will ideally look for a more upright front fork as this helps climbing performance and the more towards downhill performance you are looking, you will be going for a more slack geometry as you begin to point the bike downwards more.
You want to be as fast as possible downhill or are wanting the maximum forgiveness from a mountain bike.
Whether full suspension or hardtail, there are a great deal of options when it comes to suspension, travel in particular. As well as travel, you also get more as you invest more in your suspension. We have a blog about hardtail vs full suspension - which is right for me?
The travel of a mountain bike is the amount that the forks or shocks compress when riding or jumping over obstacles. For more cross country MTB riding, you can go as low as 80mm but for pure downhill riding, there are forks that are 200mm+. Usually, the more technical and downhill, the more travel required. The downside of more travel is that these bikes do not climb so well due to all the excess movement. With electric mountain bikes, the effficiency issue isn't quite so important as you have the motor assistance so with an e-bike you can afford to go for a bit more travel for forgiveness.
What does better suspension get you?
As you invest more in suspension, you are paying for a few more benefits. Higher spec will generally give you a thicker, and therefore stiffer, stanchion which means less lateral movement when cornering for more predictable handling and less fore/aft movement under braking, again, for more predictability when pushing the limits of your bike downhill. As with travel, where you are riding and your riding style will influence your decision as cross country mountain biking will likely not need a super expensive fork as you will not be requiring the extra stiffness a better fork gets you. Likewise, if you are concentrating on the downhill, then a wider and stiffer fork will benefit you greatly.
Aside from the stiffness, a better fork will generally give you more adjustability. Your most basic fork will be two springs which you can lockout. As you spend a bit more you will get an air fork which can be set up for rider weight with compression adjust (how fast or slow the fork/shock compresses) and rebound adjust (how fast or slow the fork/shock rebounds after impact).
For the most advanced forks, you will have low and high speed compression and low and high speed rebound. This is getting a wee bit teccy and I don't want to bore you so please come in to store to discuss if you are interested. But generally these forks are on the super-high end full suspension electric mountain bikes.
The size of a battery will determine how much distance you will get out of one charge. Measured in Watt/hours (Wh) with some as low as 320Wh for a 'super light' electric mountain bike all the way up to 750Wh for bikes that can manage multiple day riding on a single charge. The trade off with battery capacity is weight. The bigger the range, the heavier the battery (and the overall weight of the bike). Your lightest 'super light' eMTB will be in the region of 16kg while the larger battery versions will be, on average, 25kg.
Motor power output
E MTB motor output is measured in Newton/metres (Nm) and is a measure of the amount of torque that assists you from the bottom bracket when you pedal. The range of Nm on the bikes we sell will go as low as 35Nm all the way up to 90Nm+. How you decide on which would be right would, again, depend on your intended use - for cross country with not too many steep hills, a lower Nm value would be acceptable but if you are doing steep hills regularly or want to expend as little effort as possible on climbs, then the recommendation is to go for a higher power output. The exception to this is if you are considering lighter weight electric mountain bikes where the max torque will be between 35-50N/m and as mentioned above, the battery will be smaller too to keep the weight at a minimum.
The eternal question - which wheel configuration do I need? It used to be that the standard for mountain bikes was 26" but these have all but disappeared with 27.5" (650b) and 29" being the two choices available for front or rear wheel (or a mix)
27.5" Wheel front and rear.
In this configuration, this will be the shortest, and therefore, most nimble version of a mountain bike. Great for cornering on technical downhill sections for those that want responsive handling and a bike that is easy to 'throw about'. The trade-off of these smaller wheels is that you lose out on straight line stability which is why the 29" standard has come about.
29" Wheel front and rear
So if you have read the above, it will be fairly obvious what will be said here - 29" wheels give incredible straight-line stability and speed and the ability to roll over tree roots and bumps is increased so forgiveness is a benefit too. Your trade off (as you've probably guessed) is the cornering on the most technical trails. The 29" set-up is incredibly popular on electric mountain bikes due to the extra weight and most riders appreciate the stability at high speeds. For years, the standard has been either 27.5" or 29" - but wait! Isn't there a way to get the best of both worlds??
Mullet wheel set-up
Such a simple idea but like all the best innovations - simplicity is key. "Why don't we combine a 29" front and 27.5" rear wheel" (thought the cycling industry experts) to give the best of both worlds. So, taking the nimbleness of a 27.5" and combining this with the stability and smooth rolling of a 29" front wheel gives you the best of both with many of the top brands deciding that this set-up makes for the best electric mountain bikes. If you're interested in how it got the name 'mullet' it's because it's 'business in the front, party in the back'.
As battery and motor system technology advances, some companies offer the ability to connect with your bike to view metrics, adjust the output and behaviour and even track your bike should the worst happen and it's stolen. Below are some of the ways you can connect with your electric mountain bikes.
Left to right, Specialized App, Bosch eBike connect, Giant Ridecontrol, Shimano eTube ride
Brose motor and battery system
For most of Specialized Turbo bikes, you can connect to your bike through the Specialized App to adjust motor output, power delivery and battery output. You will also receive notifications when your bike needs a firmware update. There really is too much to describe here but if you want to have maximum control of your electric mountain bikes, Specialized would be an excellent choice.
Bosch motor and battery
With Bosch, you can connect with 'ebike connect' to customise routes, view your health data and on the premium function, you can 'lock' your bike so that it offers no assistance for would-be thieves.
Liv and Giant
Yamaha motor system
Giant and Yamaha offer the Ridecontrol App that allows you to connect to compatible bikes to customise the motor output and also to set up turn by turn navigation on compatible displays.
Shimano battery and motor system
Shimano have their etube ride app to connect to your electric bike to view metrics and plot routes.
Top bikes by brand
Here, we will have a look at the top brands we sell with an overview of the different bikes available and then dive in to some individual models.
Specialized are the brand we stock that offer both a 'superlight' and a full power/heavier version. The differences are the maximum motor output and the battery size. For example, the Specialized turbo levo sl range weigh in the region of 16kg with a less powerful motors and smaller batteries but the plus is that lighter electric e mountain bikes will handle better on the downhills while still giving enough of a boost mode to get you up the hill. The Specialized turbo levo on the other hand offer full power motors and large batteries for effortless climbing performance and all day riding. Specialized also produce the Turbo Tero which are their hardtail mountain bikes and are available in different motor powers and battery capacity depending on which model you opt for. The Turbo Tero X is a slightly different take as this is a full suspension electric mountain bike but with the emphasis on gravel and cross country or cycle touring off-road. For something a little more enduro, there is the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL for a super-lightweight downhill machine.
The Turbo Tero 4.0 is an electric mountain bike equipped for everyday rides. You can commute on it, go cross country mountain biking on it, load it up and do some bikepacking or turn it into a touring bike. This really is an exceptionally versatile hardtail electric mountain bike. With a 70Nm motor for ample help uphill and a 710Wh motor, you can ride long days or even multiple days in a row without the need to charge your battery. The Turbo Tero comes with a full 29" wheel set up because of what this bike would be used for - the extra stability would come in very handy when this bike is fully loaded and heading over yonder hills. Finished off with reliable and robust SRAM NX groupset and powerful 4-piston hydraulic brakes for sharp stopping in all conditions and terrain. The Tero model is also available in a 3.0 which costs less for a slightly less powerful motor and smaller battery and the 5.0 which comes with the same battery size but the most powerful motor for effortlessly taking on the steepest inclines.
The Specialized Turbo levo SL comp comes is the superlight version with a carbon frame to aid stiffness and give a comfortable ride when tearing up the trails. Initially set up as a mullet (29" front wheel and 27.5 rear wheel) but such is the ingenuity of this bike that it can be changed to a full 29er with no extra parts required. An adjustable geometry allows the bottom bracket and head angle to be changed dependent on personal preference. Well specced with Fox 36 Rhythm 160mm travel forks for downhill performance and a Fox Float performance rear shock, there are not many trails that this bike can handle. As mentioned above, the reason this bike is superlight is that the battery is a 320Wh but if you ever feel that this is not enough, Specialized make a battery range extender that fits to a bottle cage that adds 160Wh of battery capacity for when you are doing longer days.
The full power version of the above offering effortless climbing on everyday trail riding and the steepest of climbs and a full carbon frame for stiffness and excellent handling on the way down. Connect to the app and customise the power supplied by each of the power modes or set up the on board computer to give you 10% increments of power for more fine tuned assistance. Coming with a massive 700Wh battery you will be able to ride farther and the 90Nm motor gives all the oomph you require on any trail. Unlike the SL model, the battery completely comes out of the frame for easier charging.
On the trail, this bike is well equipped to deal with technical runs with Fox 36 Rhythm and Fox Float X rear shock for plush and predictable handling and talking of handling, you can take advantage of the adjustable geometry to make the bike slacker or more upright depending on where you are riding and your personal preferences.
SRAM GX gearing and hydraulic four piston brakes give everything you need for shifting and braking performance.
Whyte Mountain bikes take advantage of the ability to place the Bosch motor and battery lower down in the frame to allow the bike to give more responsive handling than bikes of this weight should give.
As you can see from the picture, the motor and battery are pushed down further to allow that lower centre of gravity that gives this bike its excellent handling and it is hard to believe that this houses a Bosch Performance Line CX 85Nm motor and a whopping 750Wh battery. Even the steepest hills are a breeze and with that size of battery, you can keep on riding and riding.
Set up with the beefy Fox 38 fork for more predictable handling and braking, this bike can be used on most trails. At times, almost enduro bike like and at other times, pure cross country. The gearing on this bike is the exceptional SRAM GX AXS Eagle electronic and wireless shifting - one less thing to worry about when the shifting his this good. SRAM four piston brakes with 220mm rotors front and 200mm rear, tells you all you need to know about the stopping power for maximum confidence on all trails.
The Whyte E-506 SUV is something a little different - it is still a hardtail with capable front suspension but with slightly slicker tyres, mudguards and rack, this bike crosses over into bike packing or touring hardtail with the ability to load it up with tents, sleeping bags and the rest. Supported by the powerful and reliable Bosch Performance Line CX motor, you will get up any hills regardless of how well stocked the bike is. Also doubles as an excellent city commuter or leisure gravel bike for those that want to travel in comfort. The Whyte E models come in a variety of different options also - the 'compact version' for people who prefer a shorter reach and a higher front end for a more comfortable ride or there's the 'non-SUV' which is more along the classic Electric mountain hardtail e bikes with knobbly tyres and no guards and rack so there's less chance of mud clogging up on sloppier rides.
The main selling point of Liv bikes in general is that they are designed by women, for women, and their Electric mountain bikes are no different. Liv give excellent value for money as almost all of the frames and components are designed and manufactured 'in-house' by Giant in Taiwan. Liv batteries and motors are designed with Yamaha and can give up to 85Nm of torque.
Liv Tempt E+ Sport is a hardtail e mtb that can as easily be used for commuting as heading off along fire roads as an off-road bike. Value for money wise it is hard to beat. 70Nm motor for taking on the hills and a 500Wh battery for longer riding between charges. Provided with a coil sprung fork for lock/unlock simplicity and robust and reliable Shimano 9-speed gearing make this an all-round value package.
An excellent full suspension women's ebike with an incredible impressive range of the 800Wh battery that makes this bike perfect for longer distances, more trails or cycle touring and bikepacking. 85Nm motor that makes even the steepest hills a breeze. 12-speed Shimano Deore gearing for a wide range and smooth shifting with 4 pot Tektro hydraulic disc brakes for all the stopping power you need. To add to the true versatility of this bike is the addition of rack and mudguard mounts to turn this from trail bike into a touring and trekking adventurer.
A very similar story to the Liv bikes - excellent value for money and excellent reliability and power for long days trail riding or bikepacking and touring adventures. There are a number of different styles of Giant e mtb bikes depending on what you will likely be doing on them.
The Giant Reign E+ 0 MX Pro is more in the cross-country category but with leanings towards the downhill. With 170mm travel of the thick and stiff stanchions provided by the Fox 38 fork and the smooth and adjustable Fox Float X2 shock mean this bike can take on all but the most gnarly of trails - coated with Kashima too so not only do they look great, they give a super-smooth compression over all terrain. Mullet set up gives the balance of straight line speed and stability against the enhanced manoeuvrability of the smaller wheel. Equipped with the incredibly impressive SRAM X01 groupset and powerful but sensitive SRAM Code RSC make this an overall impressive bike.
The Trance X range of Giant E mtb is more in the pure cross-country electric MTB category with 150mm front and 140mm rear travel for those who do not need the pure downhill setup of the Giant Reign and being more cross country, it makes sense that this comes with the full 29er setup for that straight-line stability and forgiveness. Again, an 85Nm motor gives excellent assistance up every climb and a 625Wh battery gives the longer range for touring and adventure cycling. As with many modern electric mountain bikes, this bike comes with flip chips to allow the geometry to be slackened or steepened depending on rider preference.
Ride rough roads, paths or singletrack with power and control. This trail-friendly hardtail E-bike helps you conquer hills and challenging terrain in a whole new way. 625Wh EnergyPak is integrated into the downtube but is easily removable for charging indoors if required. The RideControl ONE handlebar has EVO display compatibility and control buttons that connect with an E-bike-specific App for health, fitness and navigation functions. SyncDrive Pro 80Nm motor gives you 360 percent tunable power so you can adjust your E-bike to ride just the way you like. Another versatile bike that gives you options to ride trails or load up for an off-road bikepacking adventure.
And last but not least, come Merida. One of the biggest bicycle manufacturers in the world. The e mountain bikes Merida produce come with Shimano motors and batteries for exceptional reliability and smoothness. Available in the eOne-forty for excellent cross country mountain biking or in the eOne-sixty for more enduro riding with more travel and slacker angles for added stability when pointing downhill.
The eOne-Sixty is a hard-hitting enduro-ready ebike that offers 85Nm of torque for getting you up hills and gives you 160mm/150mm front/rear travel for bombing down any trail centres with ease.
The eOne-Sixty is built around compact Shimano Steps motors, the Shimano design ethos is around natural riding, and the physical design of the motor allows designers to create very short chainstays which deliver agile and “regular bike” geometry while the battery is a large 630Wh to give you the ability to get more loops of your favourite trail or go farther on a single charge.
To give the e-full sus bicycles precise steering, fantastic rolling over obstacles behaviour yet maximum traction, Merida have combined a 29er front wheel with a 2.5" tyre and a 650B rear wheel, equipped with a slightly wider 2.6" tyre. The perfect combination of precision, playfulness and traction allowing you to feel planted when tackling the most demanding of trails.
Shimano's e-Tube app allows you to tailor power delivery to suit your riding style, and even set two profiles, one for shredding and one for cruising.
This is the eOne-Sixty's bigger sibling in that the motor, battery and the amount of travel (160mm/150mm) remain the same but it is the rest of the specifications that are improved - the eOne-Sixty 700 comes with Marzocchi Bomber forks and a Fox Float DPX2 rear shock and also gets an upgrade in gearing and brakes. Shimano XT 12-speed gearing provides effortless and reliable shifting while the hugely impressive and sought-after Shimano SLX give incredibly efficient braking on all terrain and all conditions (and the brake levers are about as good looking as a bike component gets)