MORE POWER, MORE FUN?
Big-travel e-bikes are designed to amplify your riding. We test four to ind out which is the most electrifying
Electric bikes are the most divisive development in our sport’s history. They have their downsides, including high pricing and weight. But in our experience, most e-bike sceptics change their tune once they’ve ridden one – they’re just a blast!
The evolution of the bikes has a lot to do with this. No longer do all e-MTBs have lengthy chainstays, awkward weight distribution and hopeless handling. They’re getting sleeker, more integrated and better balanced. Some ride almost like normal bikes, but with an added boost on the climbs.
When choosing between e-bikes, the most important considerations are the same as with any bike – geometry, suspension and spec list. But there are other things to think about too. The motor has a huge effect on the ride. While all the bikes in this test only provide assistance when you’re pedalling and at speeds below 25kmh (otherwise they’d need to be registered, insured and taxed), there are big differences in the smoothness and ferocity of the power delivery. Some are easier than others to pedal without assistance too – both when above the 25kmh limit or if you run out of battery. All four bikes here have around 500Wh of electrical energy to help you up the climbs – enough for most rides if you use it sparingly. While some batteries can be removed for charging, others have to be left on, which means you’ll need a plug socket in your bike shed.
The usual drawbacks of long-travel suspension – weight, pedal bob – are less troubling when you have electrical assistance, so we’ve tested four bikes with a generous amount of squish. We’ve chosen a price range of £5,000 to 6,000, because this is a popular price point for full-sus e-bikes. You can pay even more, but there’s also a small but growing number of e-MTBs that cost less.