Perhaps you’ve seen a local rider bombing down a trail on a shiny new e-bike and it made you wonder, “Should I get an electric mountain bike?” Well, I had the same question, and after getting past the fear of being “that guy”, I realised there are few more comfortable ways to enjoy a trail.
Now, I won’t lie to you, it’s not a cheap hobby to pick up, but man does it pay off. There are some trails out there that are as gruelling as they are beautiful, and an eMTB helps to tip the scale in your favour, so you can see the sights without having to push your body to the limit.
We’re sure some of you only clicked on this article to get to the bare details, so don’t worry we’re not a cooking blog that’s going to make you read our life story before you can get to the recipe; if you scroll down to the bottom you’ll find our pros and cons list, so you can get straight to the point and spend less time wondering “Should I buy an e-bike or a regular mountain bike?” and spend more time riding.
A Quick Dip Into E-bike History
Though the trend of e-bikes is relatively new, its predecessors are old, and the first electric bike was patented all the way back in 1895 by Ogden Bolton Jr, and there were a few more inventors trying their hand in the late 19th century, but e-bikes never really found their place until the 90s, when there was a resurgence from companies like Yamaha and Panasonic.
These original e-bikes spiralled in popularity, eventually creating enough demand for more niche styles like mountain bikes with their telescopic forks and rugged designs. These bikes are more than just pet projects of some inventors, they actually come with a whole host of benefits that even the most diehard purists have to respect.
Electric mountain bikes can be a game changer for some and a hindrance for others, that’s why we’ve written this guide to find out if the world of electric mountain bikes is the right one for you. From giving you the confidence to ride a tough trail to giving you a way to commute without breaking a sweat, this list covers all grounds and doesn’t hide from the finer points either, we don’t want to take you for a ride, that’s what the bike’s for.
Without further adieu, let’s get started with the list, so we can get you on your way to the trails.
The 10 Reasons you should buy an electric mountain bike
1. It saves you energy on the way up
I’m sure you’ve gone out for a ride up some particularly steep terrain and found that by the time you got to the top your legs are too wobbly to even think about a ride down, we certainly have. That’s where electric mountain bikes come in; you can simply use the power assistance on the way up, and let gravity assist you on the way down.
2. It makes for a cheap commute
You can 100% commute on E-mtb. With regular rising fuel prices, it’s hard not to think of ways to get the best bang for your buck on a new purchase, we know, we’re guilty of it too.
These bikes work just fine for a daily commute, and they’ll let you choose how hard you want to work to get there. A little bit of exercise helps to wake you up for the day, but you probably don’t want pit stains when you’re giving a quarterly report, or maybe you do, we don’t judge
3. They’re good for the environment
Let’s be honest, you knew this one was coming. Of course, they can’t be more energy efficient than a pushbike. Still, if you’re using electric assistance to carry you into the wilderness without the use of a car, then you’re definitely doing your part to save the planet. If you’re spending time out in nature a lot, chances are you’re someone who cares.
4. You can push yourself harder
We’re talking about more than just top speed here. It can make it easier to rip a difficult route when you know there’s a motor backing you up if you sustain an injury. No longer will you have to hobble along the road at a snail’s pace after tweaking a muscle from an awkward landing, you can just let your battery do the work for you.
5. They’re easy to move when dismounted
Maybe there’s a fallen tree in the way and you don’t fancy practising your bunnyhop skills. Most electric mountain bikes have a walking mode, which uses just enough power to let you manoeuvre your bike through unrideable terrain without having to drag some dead weight. It’s only a small feature, but it can feel like a lot when you’re in a tough spot.
6. It opens up longer routes
If you’ve been riding for a while, chances are that you’ve got a trail on your list that seems great aside from the fact that it’s just a bit too long to be enjoyable. Well, with a little bit of help from a battery, you can cruise through new terrain without breaking too much of a sweat. It can even be helpful to purists who want to do the trail unassisted because you’ll get to know the route before challenging yourself.
7. It’s easy to keep up with stronger riders
No one likes to feel like a drag when a mate who’s a bit crazier about mountain biking is taking you on a new trail, and it’s not cheating to use a bit of assistance to keep pace; this isn’t the grand national, it’s a hobby you’re enjoying with a friend.
8. You can rest whilst you ride
There are few better feelings than finding a new limit for yourself, but those of you that have gotten off a bike to cool off know how hard it can be to get back on. With different levels of assistance, you can choose how hard you want to rest, without getting off the bike. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of low-intensity riding to build your energy back up.
9. Daily rides are a breeze
Waking up with legs quivering like a new-born horse is a sure sign that you had a beastly ride yesterday, but it’s also a sign that you’re gonna struggle to match that pace today, We can’t be blamed for feeling fatigued, we’re only flesh and bone. An e-bike on the other hand is ready for another adventure after only a matter of hours, so you can keep ripping with speed, even when your legs are half asleep.
10. Maintenance is easier than you’d expect
If this is your first time looking into eMTBs, you’ve probably found it a struggle to figure out why there are so few guides on how to maintain the battery and motor, well the answer is easy, you don’t really have to maintain them.
Of course, you have to keep everything in order that you’d have to for a normal mountain bike, but as far as the electronics go, it’s pretty much only keeping it charged, and you’ve probably got the hang of that from your phone.
What are the pros and cons of electric mountain bikes?
- It’s easy to reach high speeds
- Longer routes are more accessible
- They often come with great parts
- More freedom to choose the intensity of a ride
- They’re not cheap
- Significantly heavier than a normal mountain bike
- Most bike mechanics only service traditional parts
- Their high speeds can damage softer trails
As you can see, electric mountain bikes have their caveats, but we think that for the right person the benefits are more than worth it.
The truth is, anything that’s going to allow someone to enjoy a beautiful trail is a win in our books. There’s a bit of stigma around electric mountain bikes, but as long as the bikes are used in a way that keeps our beloved trails in good nick, we’re more than happy to welcome eMTB riders into our world.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the point of an electric mountain bike?
Though there are many different benefits of using an electric mountain bike, the purpose really comes down to one simple thing: giving your bike extra power. Whether you choose to use that to get you up some brutal terrain or relax with a sweatless ride is up to you.
How reliable are electric mountain bikes?
Electric mountain bikes have sophisticated designs and are built to be rugged and long-lasting, with batteries that will still retain about 80% capacity after 500 charging cycles. Whilst it is true that electric motors can wear out the drivetrain a little more, a good e-MTB should last you for a long while, and they usually come with great warranties too.
Are e-bikes good for mountain biking?
That very much depends on what you want to use the bike for, as we’ve mentioned in our pros and cons, electric mountain bikes are necessarily heavier because of the battery and motor, which makes them less suitable for trick-oriented mountain biking. But, if gorgeous trails interest you more than bunny hops, then e-bikes are a great addition to your arsenal.
How far do e-mountain bikes go?
Most electric mountain bikes are in the ballpark of 20-40 miles without pedal assistance, but factors like rider weight and quality of terrain make a difference.
Of course, if you’re not relying exclusively on the motor, you can expect much longer rides. Kalkhoff claims some of their bikes can reach up to 125km, so if it’s range you’re after, there are most certainly options for you.
How much easier is an electric mountain bike?
Regular mountain bikes are easier in that you don’t have to charge them, but an electric mountain bike can make the actual riding much easier, all the way from a little bit of pedal assist to lighten the work to a full-throttle system that requires no pedalling at all.
How do e-bikes work?
The principles behind e-bikes are actually really simple. They’re not like dirt bikes that have to deal with carburettors, ignition, and all that jazz; all they need is a motor and a battery to power them.
Of course, modern e-bikes have plenty of tweaks that give them a bit more quality of life, but the principle is the same. If you want a more in-depth explanation, we have a detailed guide on how e-bikes work.
Electric mountain bikes have something for everybody, contrary to the purists, it’s not just a toy that allows newbies to defile your hardcore trails; it’s a machine that lets you ride as easy or as hard as you want to. This new generation of bikes gives you the option to enjoy the trails at whichever rhythm you choose, even if you’re injured, tired or just want to relax a bit.
Remember, if you want to go hard, you can still go hard. After all, a bike is a bike, it’s all up to you. Go tear up some slopes.