After many hours of painstaking – but fun – research, we’ve tracked down the top ten Best of the Best electric mountain bikes to be found on the planet. We’ll take you through these in a moment, but before that, we’ll cover some of the main factors to consider when picking one of these awesome machines.
There’s been a big shift in the mountain biker community recently towards electric mountain bikes (eMTBs). Until a few years ago, they used to be rather frowned-upon and it wasn’t uncommon for riders to hear cries of “Cheat!” as they pedaled along the trails on their ebikes. Thankfully, things have changed for the better as MTBers have realised what a difference they can make to their riding.
So, why are they so good? One reason is they allow so many more people to get out onto the bike trails – that dodgy left knee may have held you back before but now with an eMTB you can hold your own on the uphills. Similarly, senior riders don’t have to switch from pedaling a bike to swinging a golf club when they get a little low on stamina in their later years. And, at the end of the day, eMTBs can give all of us so much more fun on the downhills – the best bit – because you’ve got way more energy left over from the uphills. What’s not to like?
How to choose an eMTB
Think all mountain bikes are much the same? Think again. There’s a wide range of bike brands to choose from and they all come with their own parts list of components and features. Some of these will be important for your trail riding, while others you wouldn’t feel the benefit of. How do you choose between them? First up, you’ll need to have a think about the sort of trails you’ll be using the bike on – gnarly black runs or gentle blues? Then there’s numerous other areas to bear in mind, which we’ll go through now.
Suspension – full sus or hardtail?
This is a debate that has raged since the early days of the sport. Mountain bikes can have shock absorbers (just like a car) on either the front wheel (AKA Hardtail) or both wheels (AKA Full Sus). This makes a bumpy trail much smoother and gives you less vibration. Trouble is that suspension can add considerably to the weight of the bike. On a standard mountain bike this will make it harder to pedal uphill. On an electric bike it will run the battery down faster.
At the lower end of the price range, bikes tend to have heavier components fitted, so it’s generally better to opt for a hardtail ebike to cut out the weight from rear wheel suspension. At the top end, bikes have super light components and frames so you can confidently choose a full suspension eMTB.
The motor on an ebike can go in a number of different places, the main ones being the rear wheel hub and the crank (where the pedals are). For bikes that go on smooth pavements it doesn’t really matter which you go for. However on an eMTB a rear hub motor can lead to you popping wheelies on steep uphills and losing traction. Much better to choose a bike that has a compact crank motor, keeping the power centralised and avoiding damage from rocks or other trail features.
Battery power and range
Battery tech has taken quantum leaps forward in the last few years, with most ebikes now having powerful lithium-ion batteries fitted. That’s great news because these deliver more torque to get you up those inclines, more juice to take you further, and they last longer before needing to be replaced.
It can sometimes be difficult with cheaper bike brands to get replacement batteries. With batteries lasting around 3-5 years, that can be a problem. More expensive bikes tend to use well-known battery brands like Bosch or Samsung and you can easily source replacements from either the bike company or battery manufacturer. A second battery can also be handy when you’re planning on tackling longer bike trails, as you can swap them over when the first runs out of charge.
The Best of the Best electric mountain bikes
So, which eMTBs get our vote for the Best of the Best category? Let’s dive in and take a look.
Kona Remote 160
We’re massive fans of Kona bikes and this is our recommendation for the best eMTB. Up until recently, yours truly had an old hardtail Kona that was the go-to set of wheels for heading down to the store for a few groceries. Old, a little rusty, and quite battered (much like its owner) it was a bike that could always be relied upon. So, with the Remote 160 it was love at first sight. This is a MTB that takes all the best bits of Kona and adds a powerful motor and battery. The aluminium frame keeps the weight tight and the 27.5” wheels give superior rolling performance. The 160 in the name refers to the travel on the front sus and this combined with the 2.8” tires, Shimano E8000 mid-drive motor and 504Wh battery give an awesome ride.
Pros: Kona heritage, aluminium frame, 160mm travel, dropper seatpost
Cons: It’s a Kona – there are no ‘Cons’!
Typical price: $7,400
Neat, tidy, and fully capable of handling whatever you and the trail can throw at the Pivot Shuttle. Cabling is routed through the frame to keep them out of the way (and avoid snags). Plus, the Shimano STEPS E8010 battery is tucked inside the downtube and delivers a massive 504Wh of power through the mid-drive motor into those big old 29er wheels. The geometry of the superlight carbon frame is slack and open at the front and tight and fast at the back. Wrapped in your choice of Black / Sterling Silver or Steel Blue (our favourite) paintwork this is a thing of beauty.
Pros: Low weight, geometry, great mid-drive motor
Cons: Not a cheap option, battery fiddly to remove
Typical price: $7,900
Intrigue E+ 1 Pro
Many “women’s bikes” are just a standard-sized “unisex” bike frame and components with a pink paint job and, if you’re really lucky, a sparkly basket on the handlebars. Not so with Giant bikes, who created an entirely separate brand, LIV, for their new range of female-specific bikes. The Intrigue E+ 1 Pro is their top-of-the-range eMTB and comes with an eye-watering array of features – and not a pink basket in sight. The Giant 500 Wh battery gives a tonne of power into the mid-drive motor. You can see what assistance you’re getting from the motor by looking at the LED display on the handlebars – that’s more basic than the fancier all-singing all-dancing LCD displays some bikes have, but we actually prefer it as it’s less distracting. One great feature that you won’t see on the photos is the size options available: from Large all the way to XSmall to suit the widest possible height range of riders.
Pros: Backed by the Giant brand, Truly female-specific bike, XS size available
Cons: Not available in pink…
Typical price: $5,000
Liteville Product 301CE Pro
It’s no surprise if you’ve heard the name ‘301’ before as the 301CE Pro has an older brother who goes by that name. The 301 was first launched in 2004 and is a veteran of the mountains, now on its 15th generation. That’s a great heritage and all Liteville had to do was boost the power. The 301CE Pro has a carbon frame that helps keep the weight low at 22.7 Kg. It uses the Shimano STEPS E8000 mid-drive motor to give the most natural pedal feel available and has oodles of power with the 630 Wh battery pack. An All Mountain ebike that is truly All Mountain.
Pros: Powerful natural-feel STEPS motor with bike spec from its older brother
Typical price: $10,100
Orbea Wild FS
If you’re never happy with an off-the-shelf bike then the Orbea Wild FS might well be the one for you. At first glance it looks great and the spec list appears fantastic but peak a little closer at the detail and you’ll see that this is a highly customisable eMTB. Orbea gives you the opportunity to swap out many of the components (such as the dropper seatpost and rear shocks) and there are a couple of paintwork options as well (I’m a big fan of the Orange Gloss with Matte Black detailing). The Wild FS is a nippy and responsive eMTB on the way up as well as on the way back down.
Pros: Great customisation options including shocks and dropper seatpost
Cons: Those options can up the price considerably if you go too Wild
Typical price: $9,500
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
While some ebikes feel like a pushbike with a motor tacked on, the Turbo Kenevo Expert feels like a proper eMTB that’s been engineered to do the job it’s intended for. It’s heavy (at just over 24kg) and while that can make it a little tricky to hoist up onto the car roof rack it makes it as sure-footed as a mountain goat once it’s on the trails. Specialized have been knocking out awesome bikes (remember the Stumpjumper?) since 1974 and were one of the founding fathers of the International Mountain Bike Association. With a heritage like that it was inevitable that they’d make a big splash in the eMTB market. With the Turbo Kenevo Expert they’ve done that in spades.
Pros: Specialized know their stuff, upgraded Specialized motor delivering more power
Cons: Frame shape may not appeal to all riders – it’s heavy at >24kg
Typical price: $7,500
Moustache Samedi 27 Wide 6
While the company name may leave you stroking the whiskers on your upper lip in bemusement, the bike itself will turn the corners of your mouth up into a big grin. Moustache have a staggering 17 different bikes across 4 models in their Samedi eMTB range – so why do we like this one so much? Well, the Wide model has (in our humble opinion) one of the most gorgeous and fluid frames on a mountain bike. Every part of the tubing seems to flow into the next. Forget unsightly welds and instead just look at the point where the top tube meets the seat tube! Beyond the beautiful form this bike also functions beautifully. The 27.5” Maxxis tires are grippy, the Fox/Moustache suspension keeps them firmly on the ground, and the Bosch motor and 625Wh battery ensure that there’s plenty of power available.
Pros: Crazy name, awesome bike
Cons: Dropper post can sometimes be a little niggly – but easy to upgrade this
Typical price: $6,200
Mondraker Crafty Carbon
For enduro lovers hunting for the right ebike, this might be the one you’re looking for. Mondraker have combined some really solid enduro-specific componentry (big travel on the front and rear shocks, sturdy and responsive carbon frame) with ebike goodness (Bosch Performance Line CX motor and 625Wh Bosch PowerTube battery) to create a bike that performs superbly on the twistiest and gnarliest of downhill tracks. Wrap this up in the chunky square downtube and the contemporary-yet-classy paint job and it’ll take all the available Style points too.
Pros: An Enduro rider’s dream ride, power with style
Cons: Pricey, battery not easy to dismount
Typical price: $12,000
Vitus E-Sommet VRS
Solidly built and capable of handling the toughest of tracks, the E-Sommet VRS is a great bike from French manufacturer Vitus, who’ve been on the go since the 1940s. We like this eMTB because it does what you ask it to, without having any unnecessary features (that come with unnecessarily high price tags). This makes the E-Sommet a superb entry-level eMTB and it comes with some fantastic components hidden under its “Miami Sunrise” painted hood. Take the Shimano Steps E8000 motor, for instance, which gives smooth pedaling, or the enduro-ready geometry. In fact the only thing we’re less keen on is the bolted-on look of the battery on the downtube. But, if it’s a choice between having the battery on show or paying twice the price for a bike that hides it in the frame, then you may well decide to opt for the Vitus.
Pros: Enduro-ready, Great value for the spec
Cons: Battery not integrated into frame
Typical price: $5,200
Lapierre Overholt HT 9.5 Women Series
The second female-specific bike on our list and this one differs markedly from LIV’s Intrigue E+ 1 Pro. The Overholt has many different configurations in its range and the HT (i.e. Hardtail) is its base-level model designed for women. If your MTB adventures are at the more horizontal and less oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die end of the spectrum, then the HT 9.5 could be a great option for you. The Bosch mid-drive motor and 500Wh battery will give your legs some assistance on the uphills so that you can enjoy the downhills more. And you will enjoy those downhills, because the Nobby Nic tires and RockShox forks with 120mm of travel will soak up the terrain, while the Shimano hydraulic brakes will bring you to a swift stop at the bottom, ready for a breather before Lap 2.
Pros: Female-specific hardtail with good spec at a fantastic price
Cons: No rear suspension – do you need it?
Typical price: $3,400
Ben Jones is a lover not a fighter, a cyclist not a DIY-er, and the founder of BicycleVolt a handy resource for cyclists from Tour-de-France wannabees to those just starting out on their bicycling journey.