After many hours of painstaking – but fun – research, we’ve tracked down ten of our favorite 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.
Santa Cruz Heckler MX Carbon CC X01 Eagle Reserve E-BikeWhen you need to have the very finest of eMTBs, then the Heckler MX Carbon CC X01 is the bike for you. It’s a bike that oozes class from every pore. The full carbon frame and wheels help bring the bike in at a slimline 40lbs. Full suspension is provided courtesy of Rockshox top-of-the-range Pike Ultimate front forks and Santa Cruz’ tried-and-tested VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) rear sus, giving virtually frictionless travel at the front and back of 5.5”. The rear wheel is 27.5” for effortless control and the front is 29” to take you over any obstacle in your path. Electronic wizardry is provided by Shimano with their EP800 crank motor and E-8035 battery, giving a whopping 85Nm of torque and a top pedal-assist speed of 20mph. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you’re worth it.
Pros: a pro-level eMTB with a full suite of top-end components on a carbon frame
Cons: You’ll need deep pockets for this bike
Typical price: $12099
Diamondback Response e-BikeThe Response is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a versatile ebike that can do weekday commuting or grocery shopping, combined with light-duty trail riding at the weekend. Bike geometry is relaxed and the Rockshox Judy Gold front suspension smooths out the bumps in the trail (or the cracked pavement during the week!) The Bosch mid motor is solid, placed high up (to avoid getting bashed on rocks and tree roots), and delivers 350W of hill-climbing power. You’re unlikely to hit the maximum 28mph speed on the trails (though you might on the roads) but, if you do, then the German-engineered Magura MT4 brake system will bring you smoothly to a stop afterwards. Diamondback have designed an excellent bike with the Response and it’s a worthwhile consideration for your next eMTB.
Pros: versatile front-suspension eMTB for roads and light trail work
Cons: no rear suspension
Typical price: $4100
Intrigue E+ 1 ProMany “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
QuietKat RidgeRunner E-BikeChances are that, if you’ve been out hunting, then you may well have seen a fellow hunter approaching their stand on a QuietKat. Using ebikes for hunting is a relatively new and very exciting development. Back in the good ol’ days, you’d load your truck with everything you might need and head out but, funnily enough, everything with ears and a nose in the vicinity would hear and see you coming from a mile off and skedaddle. eBikes, like the RidgeRunner, are virtually silent, don’t belch out fumes, and can go anywhere and climb anything. That makes them perfect for hunters and an absolute delight for the gnarliest of single-track riding. Full suspension? Check. 1000W motor delivering a massive 160Nm of torque? Yep. 4.8” wide tires for snow, mud, and slippery tree roots? Natch. The RidgeRunner is a camo-painted work of eMTB art.
Pros: Silent but deadly
Cons: a heavy bike, so don’t try lifting it over your head
Typical price: $5999
Moustache Samedi 27 Wide 6While 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
Niner WFO E9 3-Star E-BikeThe WFO E9 is an intriguing combination of ultra-aggressive geometry, and asymmetrical tire sizing (29” front and 27.5” rear), combined with a powerful 625W Bosch motor. The result? It’s an ebike that is screaming to go up hills fast and down hills even faster. Remember those days when you didn’t go trail riding because you couldn’t face the leg-burning ascents to get to the top? Well, with a bike like the WFO you’ll now be looking as forward to going up as you do to coming down.
Pros: Beast Mode: ON
Cons: Not everyone can handle the Beast
Typical price: $6595
Intense Tazer – Pro Build ebikeIntense have a long history in the MTB game. In fact, their history as a company goes back to the very early days of mountain biking – in the early 90s they were already producing full suspension bikes (the iconic M1) that were dominating world championship podiums. A quarter of a century later and Intense are still producing amazing bikes and they’ve now turned their attentions to eMTBs. The result? The Intense Tazer. Fast, smooth, and intense, this is a bike that you’ll tazer the competition on. No puns intended.
Pros: World-class MTB heritage poured into ebike form
Cons: Slightly chunky looking downtube
Typical price: $7499
Trek E-Caliber 9.8 GX AXSOne of the biggest names in the cycling world, Trek have a portfolio with the kind of breadth, depth and reputation that makes other bike manufacturers weep with envy. At first glance, you might be mistaken in thinking that the E-Caliber is a hardtail. But, look a little closer at the top tube and you’ll notice something rather different. The difference is the IsoStrut Integrated suspension system. That’s a bit of a mouthful but what it means is that you get the benefits of rear suspension without the weight and complexity. Plus, it looks awesome. Combine this with a Fazua Evation motor and SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain and you have a package that will take on the toughest of trails with a smile.
Pros: Sleek rear suspension and low bike weight
Cons: Over 6’5”? Then you’ll need to look elsewhere
Typical price: $9200
Orbea Wild FSIf 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
Santa Cruz Heckler MX Carbon CC XT E-BikeIf you like the look of our recommended eMTB, the Heckler MX Carbon CC X01 Eagle Reserve, but don’t have the kind of relationship with your bank manager that might unlock the required funds for it, then the next-best option might well be this. The Heckler MX Carbon XX XT is essentially a very slightly toned-down version of the Pro-worthy CC X01. So, whilst the frame and major components are identical, a few of the drivetrain elements take a minor downgrade. Will you notice the difference in ride style between the two bikes? Probably not. Will you notice the huge price discount? Yes, definitely.
Pros: The kid brother to the high-spec MX Carbon CC X01
Cons: A lot of bike for a lot less than the MX Carbon CC X01
Typical price: $9899
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.