When one of the world’s leading car brands enters the e-MTB space, you take note.
So when Honda debuted a new model recently we had to capture a look.
They aren’t the only big automotive player to be making strides the in e-MTB sector – Porsche also released a new ride in the summer, building on their collection of electric bikes.
Big automotive manufacturers, like these two, have deep pockets and have the ability to scale up production at a pace.
Meanwhile, in the case of Honda, they have a long and successful history of producing motorcycles and mopeds, so know their stuff when it comes to wheelers.
It’s an exciting development in the industry and you can imagine it will have some of the top e-MTB manufacturers looking nervously over their shoulders…
Honda E-MTB Concept – early thoughts
Price – To be confirmed
We haven’t had the opportunity to give the bike a test ride yet, as it’s still in its concept form and was only recently announced at the Japan Mobility Show.
However, the Honda E-MTB concept certainly does look the part and definitely leans towards a downhill mountain bike in appearance, rather than a bulky motorbike style concept.
It looks reasonably weighty though, with a bulky-looking aluminum frame, and from the outside looking in, it doesn’t ooze playfulness.
No weight figure has been released to the media yet.
Motor / Battery
It comes with a Brose motor – nothing has been said yet about the power output, but we would be surprised if it doesn’t pack a punch, given the company’s other two-wheeler experience.
It would also help explain the bulky appearance of the frame, which comes in polished white.
We are a little surprised the company didn’t opt for a custom battery/motor pairing, which could have really made heads turn.
Instead, they’ve stuck with existing e-MTB components, which although providing an element of reliability, take away a potential wow factor under the hood.
No expense has been spared when it comes to the suspension, the company has gone for a top-end FOX suspension set-up, but no mention has been made of the amount of travel at either end.
It certainly has a girthy pair of forks on first viewing though and the company announced it was made to perform well both uphill and while descending.
Honda has chosen to go with SRAM for their drivetrain, with an excellent 12-speed SRAM Eagle AXS fitted as standard.
We know what to expect from SRAM here, it will be smooth and responsive shifting, with an ability to continue performing highly, even when pushed at high speeds.
The bike also comes with a pair of reliable and high spec pair of Shimano brakes, which usually perform well on high-powered e-MTBs.
That will provide a firm bite when needed and cope with the rigors of descending.
The e-MTB comes with a chunky pair of DT Swiss XM wheels and a toothy pair of Maxxis Minion DHF tires, which tend to offer reliability in the corners and provide a firm footing on the trail.
It’s an interesting first venture into the market from the team at Honda and they will certainly be one to watch going forward.
With a lot of money at their disposal and a heck of a lot of two-wheel manufacturing experience, in other sectors, they have the potential ability to pull off some great products and scale up quickly.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments over in Japan, but the early indications are they’ve paired up with some very reliable components on the bike – with SRAM, FOX, and Shimano all in the mix – and with a little Honda flair too, that could create something very exciting.
Porsche E-Bike Cross Performance EXC e-MTB
Price – $15,350
The Porsche E-Bike Cross Performance EXC is the most advanced e-MTB the company has ever brought out.
It’s a collaboration project with the e-bike manufacturer Rotwild and designed to be a sporty cross-country style e-MTB, with pace and pedaling efficiency at its heart.
However, that partnership doesn’t come cheap.
It’s a carbon-framed e-MTB, which is designed by the Studio F team at Porsche, and as you can imagine it oozes the sleek elegance that the company’s cars are renowned for.
There are 6 color options available, all of which have sporty geometry, which are made to be thrown about and maximize pedaling efficiency.
The frame is particularly durable, helping to dissipate impacts smoothly and without putting too much pressure on the rider’s arms.
We found the bike comfortable during our review rides and we felt composed pushing out hour after hour at the pedals.
ℹ️ It only comes in 3 frame sizes though – small, medium, and large – we think that’s a slight downside and some riders (particularly very tall or small) could find it’s a poor fit.
If you’re wondering how much does the Porsche e-bike weigh? The answer is 22kg, which isn’t bad, but it is far from jaw-dropping when you take into account the battery size.
Motor / Battery
The size of the battery depends on the frame size you opt for – the small frame comes with a 504Wh battery, meanwhile, the medium and large frames come with a 603Wh battery – all supplied by Shimano.
We found we could get up to 100km on one charge with the 603Wh battery, but we haven’t road-tested the smaller 504Wh battery yet.
The motor pairing is also courtesy of Shimano, with the company’s EP801 model fitted as standard – that can kick out up to 85Nm of torque and it feels light-footed on the climbs as a result.
Sometimes the motor can feel a little jerky and unnatural in its power delivery, which for a novice rider, might feel challenging to handle.
The e-MTB comes with 120mm at the front end and 100mm at the rear – a set-up geared for pace and designed not to give away too much sponginess at the front end.
It comes with FOX 34 Float Factory forks and a FOX Float DPS Factory air damper shock.
It’s a strong set-up in terms of performance, but isn’t made for the wildest terrain – the bike would soon get found out if things became particularly gnarly or lumpy on the trail.
The bike is designed for the XC market and it has a suspension set-up geared up to perform well in an XC environment.
The Porsche mountain bike comes with a 12-speed Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain, which offers extremely responsive shifting.
It’s highly tuned and copes well with the high speeds the bike can push out.
It even manages to reduce the impact of that jerky motor to a degree.
The Porsche e-MTB comes with a high-spec pair of Magura MT7s, which are some of the best available.
They have incredibly strong stopping power and are very responsive too.
They’re also durable, with good heat dissipation – allowing them to last a long time without needing replacing and they perform highly under serious strain.
The bike is fitted with a pair of lightweight Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro wheels.
They are made out of carbon and although they weigh very little, they provide a sturdy footing on the trail.
The tires are also provided by Crankbrothers offering an impressive amount of traction, but also capable of shedding quickly when you get out of the dirt and onto the more hardpacked terrain.
It’s Porsche’s best e-MTB yet and you have some tremendous components on there, along with a very sporty and sleek design.
It’s a seriously fast mover and nails the cross-country market, however, it’s a lot of money to pay for a bike with such a middle-of-the-road battery range.
You pay a premium for the name, but you do end up with a damn good looker.
How do the new Honda & Porsche e-MTBs compare to the other e-MTBs out there?
In the case of the Honda, it’s a little too early to tell.
It’s only recently been unveiled and quite a few slices of important information, which would help shape your opinion, including the battery’s range, weight, amount of travel in the suspension, etc. have yet to be revealed.
But there are some aspects which already excite us and that suggests it could stand up to the test against the competition.
However, we are yet to see the full package, so we won’t jump the gun and call it out or celebrate it too much just yet.
We know a lot more about the Porsche and there are a few aspects, which we think make it slip behind some of the conventional e-MTB manufacturers.
Firstly, it’s damn expensive, and if you’re paying more than $15,000 for a bike, then it has to absolutely nail it, in all departments.
The Porsche doesn’t – it’s weightier than some of its similarly priced rivals and has a smaller battery. Those are two important areas where the bike falters somewhat.
There are things to really admire – Porsche has paired up with some top e-MTB component producers and they’ve created a beautiful-looking machine – but it isn’t the lightest or the most powerful, yet you still pay an enormous price tag.
That’s a worry for us.
Final Overall Thoughts
We believe this is a sign of things to come in the e-MTB industry and we wouldn’t be surprised to see many more car/motorbike manufacturers heading into electric bikes.
Yamaha is another company making big strides into the sector, as is Hummer, but they often end up being quite costly.
These companies have a lot of money and the mass production capability to scale up quickly – this will be a wake-up call to the existing e-MTB manufacturers, but they do have years of experience and expertise in this field, ahead of the big automotive rivals.
It could well lead to new innovations coming through though and a more competitive market – so the likes of Honda e-MTB & Porsche e-MTB stepping into the arena can only be seen as a good thing for the future of electric mountain biking.