The mountain bikes with electric motor seem to be such a controversial topic among cyclists. E-bikes for trail are often met with disdain, with many “avid mountainbikers ” claiming that pedal-assist bikes are making the world a lazier place, causing all kinds of trail conflicts and closures, and are generally just ruining a beautiful sport. However, despite all the rage and controversy, market for electric mountain biking is exploding, countless brands, both well known and new-comers, are getting involved and investing in development of electric bike designed for mountain trails and off-road.
Whether you like them or hate them, it’s a fact that e-bikes are just getting better and better. Electric mountain bike has given the biking experience unexpected, new perspectives. We do believe that electric-assisted mountain bikes have a place in outdoor sports and recreation. They can serve as great haulers, for any bike-packing, camping, or hunting trips. They also open the door to people who might not be able to enjoy this great sport for physical reasons.
Easy Page Navigation
- Affordable Electric-assist Mountain Bikes – Top 6
- Off Road Bikes (e-MTB) Under $2000
- Folding Electric MTBs
- Best of the Bunch – Mid-Drive Mountain Bikes
- E-MTBs vs Regular Mountain Bikes
- Is E-MTB a bike or a “motorcycle”?
- Where can you ride an electric-assisted mountain bike?
*PAS only /** On most trails top speed while using pedal-assist is limited to 20mph. You can go faster, but only if you can achieve it by pedaling only.
Are e-MTBs really that expensive? While some top quality ones cost several thousands of dollars, unless you really need a beefy gravity-defying machine, there are plenty of very affordable options to choose from. These are not necessarily for blasting treacherous trails, but rather vehicles that you can use to commute, and also take off the beaten path and have some fun over the weekend in the great outdoors.
Ancheer Power Plus Mountain E-Bike
Power Plus is the most popular model of the Ancheer brand. The battery is a 36V. 8.8Ah, which will give you a range of roughly 18 miles on average, but it of course depends on various circumstances. The 250W high speed brushless gear motor will get you to 18mph if you use the throttle only, and with pedaling you can get to 20-22mph. It has two working modes – throttle only and Pedal Assist, and the PAS mode has three speed modes: low, medium and high.
The Ancheer Power Plus MTB front fork is made with carbon steel and the rest of the parts – the handlebars, saddle tube, wheels and pedals – are made with corrosion resistant aluminum alloy. Both of the mentioned materials are sturdy and light, so it does not feel heavy to maneuver. This bike can take on the challenge of going through rugged terrain.
Merax 26″ E-MTB
Merax EMTB is a lightweight, basic e-bike, that gives everything you need, on a budget. Featuring a 350W hub motor, it’s got enough power to get to the top speed of 19 mph. There are two different travel modes – PAS and full electric mode. 36V 8.8Ah Li-ion battery is conveniently placed for easy access and charging, but it is also removable and securely locked by key. It takes about 6-8 hours to fully charge, and you can expect to get up to 28 miles range out of it. Once the battery’s drained, you can pedal just like on a regular bicycle, but it is not going to be easy, as it is pretty heavy. Merax mountain bike features a 7 speed Shimano gear system, aluminum alloy frame, front fork suspension and CST Jet brand tires.
Considering the price, you should expect some flaws, but in this case they are not a deal-breaker, at least not for us. Comfort was an issue, because handles feel hard over bumps, and the seat is uncomfortable as well. However, both can be easily replaced and you can get more than a decent ride for an amazing price. If you can, take the professional assembly, it will make your life so much easier and your bike will be instantly ready to ride.
Addmotor HITHOT H1 Full Suspension
The AddMotor HITHOT H1 is a full-suspension e-bike built for the trails. It features a 500W Bafang hub motor in the rear, and the 48V 10.4Ah Lithium battery is positioned in the middle of the downtube, which helps to counterbalance the weight of the motor. The front Suntour XCT suspension fork and the rear coil suspension perform well on small jumps and bumpy trails, while tires are pretty standard Kendas 27.5 inch, without any puncture protection. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes with a 180 mm rotor in the front and a 160 mm rotor in the back. This isn’t as powerful as 180 mm rotors with hydraulic lines that you’ll see on more expensive e-bikes, but it gets the job done for light trail range.
The display on the Hithot H1 is an Addmotor branded LCD backlit display from Bafang showing a four bar battery indicator and the surrounding battery box counts as a fifth bar (so you get 20% increments), a trip timer, pedal assist level(0-5), current speed, max speed, average speed, odometer, tripometer, wattage output and ambient temperature. On the handlebars there is a small bell that’s built into the left brake lever. Overall, it is a nice mountain bike, and despite some entry-level parts, it’s worth buying. We doubt you can find a double suspension, and a whole lot of other features for a better price.
CIVI Bikes Predator Hardtail
Predator by CIVI BIKES is an affordable, entry-level fat tire electric bike able to tackle some moderate off-road trails, as well as trek through the city. Featuring a 500W geared hub motor, and a fairly high capacity 624 watt hour, 48V battery you can drive to a top speed of 20 mph, which seems to be a conscious decision on CIVI BIKES’ part to keep the Predator as a Class 2 eBike. Furthermore, there are mechanical disc brakes in the front and rear, a Shimano derailleur, front suspension with 120mm of travel and 4 inch fat tires.
It only comes in one frame size, 20 inches, which means that some extra tall or extra small riders may find it uncomfortable. Thankfully, the top tube does swoop downward to provide a stand over height of 30” and the saddle drops all the way to the bottom with a minimum saddle height of 34 inches, which can come in handy for someone with shorter legs. The Predator comes in a few different colors: Matte Black, Pearl White, and Matte Platinum Grey. Overall, Predator feels like a good value buy and it comes with pretty much all the essentials and even has front suspension to help soak up some of the bumps.
What’s better than a powerful, affordable electric MTB? One that folds and is lightweight enough so you can toss it in your trunk and take it to an adventure. Here are our favorite foldable bikes that you can ride comfortably on different terrain, but also nicely tuck into your car when you go camping or traveling with your family.
Swagtron EB-8 Outlaw
Swagtron Outlaw EB-8 is a great little compact ride, ready to tackle paved roads, as well as dirt trails. It is fitted with 350W motor which allows you to obtain 18mph top speed, with an expected range of 21 miles on a single charge. Frame is made of reinforced aluminum that makes it durable and lightweight, capable of supporting almost 300 pounds.
It weighs 56 pounds and it’s got three modes, which include motor-only, pedal assist, and a regular 7-speed geared bike if you turn the motor off. EB-8 had 20” fat tires, 4” inches wide, that can travel on gravel, sand, dirt and maybe even snow. The Shimano assist 7 speed system allows you to adjust for the terrain and the level of work you would have to put in.
Ancheer Folding 26″
With the Ancheer Folding EMTB you get a full-suspension, a powerful motor, and the ability to fold it down and pack it in the trunk of your car. Lightweight frame is made of anti-rust aluminum, and super lightweight 26” wheels are made from very strong magnesium alloy and are equipped with anti-slip resistant thick tire that can go across any terrain. 36V, 8Ah Lithium battery is tucked in the little pouch on the front of the bike, not on the frame like on other models.
The range you can go on a full charge is about 31 miles in Pedal Assist mode, and a 250W motor will get you to the top speed of 15.5 mph. It’s got two working modes E-bike mode for cruising around by twisting the throttle, and PAS if you still want to get some exercise. LED front light and horn are included and it has got shock suspension on the front and on the back, which makes the ride smooth over bumpy ground. Mechanical front and rear disc-brake provide safety and 21-speed Shimano professional transmission system provides a decent climbing ability.
A hub motor bike is the more affordable, and a great entry-level option, but a proper e-MTB uses specially designed mid-drive system located near the bottom bracket. On a mid-drive eBike, the motor is positioned directly in between the pedals at the bottom bracket. This ensures a low and central center of gravity, providing better weight balance and creating the experience similar to riding a traditional bicycle. Flat tires, which is something that tend to happen more often on mountain trails than on tarmac, is a quick fix with a mid-drive just like it would be with a regular bike, as the wheels can be taken off without affecting the motor. The only downside to mid-drive eMTBs is that they are two or three times more expensive than the hub motor ones.
Grace MX II Trail
Grace MX II Trail is basically a Grace MX II Urban, fitted with some nice off-road tires and a nice suspension fork by RockShox. This bike uses the Bosch drive system, really efficient and great for off-roading. It comes in medium and large frame size, so it can accommodate riders regardless of their height. The tires are 26” by 2.2”, and the brakes are avid Elixir 5 with full aluminum cockpit.
LCD display by Bosch is front and center so you can easily see and track your stats. Features include a bash guard that protects the front chainring on the motor, the double leg kickstand, which is something not a lot of mountain bikes have, led lights on the front and in the rear. This is an awesome machine that brings the best technology to a more affordable platform, and still looks amazing.
Quietkat is a well-known brand of silent, electric-drive hunting vehicles. When it comes to navigating the rough terrain while not disturbing wildlife, QuietKat gets the job done. Warrior is an outstanding fat tire electric bike that will help you overcome even the most difficult terrain. Featuring a mid-drive Bafang BBSHD 1000W motor, it gets to the top speed of 25mph unassisted. A spring Coil Hydraulic Suspension will provide you with a smooth e mountain biking. The Warrior comes with a 48V/11.6Ah battery. A digital display will help you keep track of battery life.
Warrior is equipped with mechanical disc brakes, a front suspension fork for a smoother ride and an 8 speed gearing system to handle most situations. All in all, the QuietKat Warror is a heavy-duty bike built for better access to the great outdoors, providing clean, green and silent power to navigate all types of landscapes.
In many ways e-bikes are no different than regular bicycles. They have the same wheels, handlebars and body geometry as regular ones. The mechanical elements also all function in the same way, including the pedals and brakes. The only difference in appearance is the addition of the electrical drive system – a motor and a battery.
While e-mtb bikes are improving, getting lighter, and riding more like regular bikes, the issue of weight is still there. On smooth rides it doesn’t matter but on technical climbs, it can get a little frustrating.
An e-bike is not like any other bicycle. You can glide up hills without getting out of breath and tackle strong headwinds with ease. You can also dial up or down the pedal assistance provided by the motor, changing the way the e-bike feels to ride. With electric mountain bike you have the choice whether you want to pedal a little, a lot or not at all. There are many that have put to the test how different is riding an e-MTB compared to the regular MTB.
The two-wheeled electric assist mountain bikes kinda fall into that “no man’s land” category between a bike and a motorized vehicle. I mean, they do have a motor, but should be classified as motorized vehicles? Well, not exactly – e-bikes resemble traditional bicycles in both appearance and operation and do not function similarly to mopeds, scooters and other motorized vehicles.
The key question is whether they are closer in practice to conventional MTBs or to engine-powered vehicles like motorcycles. Electric-assist amplifies your pedaling power. It doesn’t propel a rider like a motorcycle does, instead it just gives a boost to the rider’s normal pedaling. A machine helps with the work, but that doesn’t mean you’re not doing your part.
After years of being lumped together with dirt bikes as motorized vehicles, eMTBs finally emerged from shadow of motocross, gaining expanded trail access thanks to the tireless efforts of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), local clubs and trail access advocates worldwide. In order to draw a clear distinction between bicycles and motorized vehicles, the bicycle industry has developed a classification system to define types of e-bikes based on their function and speed:
- Class 1: Pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: Bikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted.
- Class 3: Pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
All classes limit the motor’s power to 1 horsepower (750W).
Class 1 ebikes are generally treated like traditional bicycles, legally allowed where bicycles are permitted, including bike lanes, roads, multi-use trails and bike-only paths. Class 2, with throttle, are often allowed most places a traditional bicycle can go, though some states and cities are opting for additional restrictions. However, they may be better suited for multi-use OHV trails designed for more rugged off-road vehicles, than for singletrack mountain trails. Class 3 are typically allowed on roads and on-road bike lanes, and operators must be 16 or older and wear a helmet.
Are e-mountain bikes even allowed on trails?
Previously e-bikers have assumed they could use trails that weren’t specifically posted as non-motorized. In fact, no statewide regulation existed, and until now, e-bikes were treated as motorized bikes by most land managers. With the new legislation, the law lets municipalities decide whether to allow e-bikes on pedestrian and bike paths. However, these regulations only apply to e-bike use on roadways, paved infrastructure, and “bike paths.” E-mountain bikes are not addressed in state vehicle codes and the difference between a “path” and a “trail” is open to interpretation. To be on the safe side, always double check with your local land manager or park ranger to see whether you can take your electric bike on a particular trail.
The fact is that technology isn’t going to slow up, it is only gaining momentum. Rather than ignoring it and trying to push aside, we need to educate, and identify. More important than regulating which bikes are allowed on trails is educating all cyclists and trail users about trail etiquette. In order to maintain a safe experience for everyone, cyclists (on e-bikes and regular bikes) must respect the experiences of pedestrians, other cyclists and other trail users by using safe speeds and signaling when passing. It is user behavior, not the technology of an e-bike, that determines the trail experience.