Electric mountain bikes are here, growing in popularity, and despite some access concerns—and perhaps because of them—continue to get better, more enjoyable to ride. Their small motors help you ride faster, farther, and can making challenging climbs less daunting. We tested 10 of the most exciting new models to help you find the right one for you. Read quick reviews of top five options below, or scroll deeper for helpful buying advice and longer reviews of every option.
Every bike on this list uses a mid-drive (instead of a hub) motor and for good reason. A mid-drive motor builds a bike with better weight distribution. Plus keeping the wheels light helps the rear suspension perform better, and they’re more efficient than a hub motor at the lower RPMs common in mountain biking.
The motors use sensors to determine their assist levels based on how much torque the rider applies to the pedals. In general, the harder you pedal, the more assist you get, however all these bikes have different power levels—usually three—to let you meter how much assist (and therefore battery), you’re using.
By far the most popular motors come from Bosch and Shimano. Combined, they appear on 85 percent of the bikes on this list. Other popular motors include Brose, and Yamaha. Some brands use customized motors: Specialized works with Brose for it’s motors, while Rocky Mountain developed a motor with with Propulsion Powercycle.
What You Need to Know About Power and Torque
Most brands list their bike’s power, but avoid putting too much emphasis on the number— there is no standard for measuring this, so the performance can vary wildly. Every motor on our list is rated to a continuous, or nominal, power output of 250 watts. But even this number isn’t always accurate. Instead, look for torque, which measures how much rotational force is being applied to move the motor. It’s the oomph, grunt, or kick you feel when you step on the pedals. More torque means faster acceleration and increased assistance.
How a motor doles out that torque is very important to the overall experience as well. Spikey and inconsistent power delivery makes an e-bike less fun to ride, and harder to ride in technical terrain. A well programmed motor will feel smooth, predictable and consistent in all situations.
Batteries: It’s All About Them Watt Hours
Watt hours (Wh) is the best number to use when looking at batteries —it takes into consideration battery output and life. (A higher Wh number equals bigger range). However, the bigger the Wh number, the heavier and more expensive a battery will be, which means the largest batteries are usually found in the most expensive bikes.
Geometry and Suspension Compromises
The physical size of a motor and battery means that it’s not always possible for a manufacturer to use the same suspension design and geometry on its electric bike as they do on its unplugged bike.
Trevor Porter, Kona’s e-bike manager, said that motors can demand longer chainstays and adding batteries to downtubes can require larger headtubes, increasing stack height. This is common across the range of e-mtbs we tested. The reach and head tube angle tend to remain similar to standard bikes, but the chainstay length, head tube length, and stack height are generally increased.
How We Tested
Every bike on this list was rigorously tested. To select each model, we researched the market, surveyed user reviews, interviewed product managers and engineers, and used our own experience riding these and similar bikes.
Our team of experienced testers rode them for weeks on our local trails—everything from flow trails, to technical singletrack, to our enduro courses. We self-shuttled DH runs and hit the bike path. To understand the differences between them, we rode them back to back on similar trails. We tested them against standard bikes on the same trails in the same conditions. And to evaluate their range, we charged them all and ran them on full power until their batteries flickered and died.
We rode these on trails where e-bikes are permitted, but because access varies from state to state (and trail system to trail system) always check with land managers before riding an e-bike off road.
Felt Redemption-E 50
Weight: 53.5 lb. (XL) | Motor: Shimano E8000 | Battery: 500 Wh |Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 140mm
The Felt Redemption-E 50 is a 140/150mm travel all-mountain bike. At 53.5 pounds, it is the second heaviest in this group, but bike rockets up non-technical climbs, which makes it awesome for shuttle runs, but it can’t disguise its heft when navigating tricky switchbacks and rock gardens. Rather than moving the bike around with your body, you learn to mash the pedals and let the motor bludgeon the trail, trusting the e-mtb-tuned suspension to handle the hits. The Shimano motor’s “trail” mode has all the power you’ll need, and quick surge of torque from stop means you have to be ready for the bike to take off before you get on the pedals. Everything on the Redemption-E 50 works well—the Shimano Deore brakes are powerful and the shifting is crisp—but the Redemption E-50 doesn’t work well everywhere. Buy it if you’ve got smooth and open trails to rip; skip it if you’re fond of crafting the perfect line through rough and technical singletrack.
—BEST ALL AROUNDER—
Scott Genius eRIDE 920
Weight: 52 lb. (XL) | Motor: Shimano E8000 | Battery: 500 Wh |Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 150mm
Scott’s Genius eRIDE 920 is another bike with Shimano’s excellent Steps E8000 motor. The narrow width of this motor—same as a standard Shimano mountain bike crank—is a nice feature, as is the support and customization offered by Shimano’s e-Tube apps. Boost mode lets you cruise comfortably at up to 20 miles per hour on pavement, while Trail mode doles out torque more smoothly and increases range. But compared to the Bosch in e-mtb mode (comparable to Shimano’s Trail mode), Shimano’s faster and harder hitting torque is less desirable for navigating technical terrain. The 29-inch wheels and 150mm of travel provide the ability to straight-line some really gnarly stuff. This bike is meant for riding big and riding hard. The big travel, long trail, and slack head angle give you a bike that loves to go straight and gobble up rowdy trails. And despite being such a long bike, it still handles technical terrain well.
–BEST ALUMINUM E-MTB–
Kona Remote CTRL
Weight: 54 lb. (M) | Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX | Battery: 500 Wh | Travel: 132mm | Fork Travel: 150mm
The Remote CTRL is a playful ride that’s great for varied trails with rock gardens and flow sections, and that excels on fast trails with steep, punchy climbs and tight, twisty descents. It isn’t just for riders who may need a little assistance; the E-MTB mode creates an organic riding experience that allows you to take the skills you already have and ride faster and harder. It has a 150mm RockShox Yari fork and a 132mm RockShox Monarch Plus R shock with good mid-stroke support and a progressive finish to help prevent bottoming out on big hits. The 27.5×2.8-inch Maxxis Recon tires offer plenty of traction and also help to absorb smaller hits. The Remote CTRL’s excellent Bosch motor accelerates smoothly to be more manageable when pedaling through rocky sections and has more oomph at low cadence than other motors, so you can more easily ride out of tough situations if you get bogged down.
Specialized Turbo Levo Expert
Weight: 46 lb. (M) | Motor: Specialized 2.1 by Brose | Battery: 700 Wh | Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 150mm
Specialized has e-bikes figured out. Its e-bikes are better looking and better sorted than almost anything else. This Turbo Levo has a clean interface: just a mode switch and a few LEDs for status. To dig deeper, you use Specialized’s Misson Control app, which lets the user customize the motor’s tune, and has a clever Smart Control mode. This mode lets the rider set and time or distance, and the amount of reserve they want to be left over. The app then automatically adjusts the motor’s output to meet those settings, reducing battery anxiety. The custom motor is extremely smooth and quiet, with awesome torque. We found the highest mode too powerful for finesse riding, but great for flying up smooth climbs and cutting time off transfers. The e-bike tuned RockShox fork is somewhat harsh, but the rest of the parts are excellent and suit the bike’s capabilities—something we can’t say that about every e-bike.
Cannondale Moterra Neo 1
Weight: 52 lb. (M) | Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX | Battery: 500 Wh | Rear Travel: 130mm | Fork Travel: 140mm
The Moterra Neo is one of the shorter travel e-bikes we’ve tested. It has a 140mm Rockshox Pike fork and 130mm of rear travel. That was enough travel to handle everything we encountered on the trail and the shorter travel was welcomed on less technical terrain. It uses a Bosch Performance Line CX motor with 500 Wh battery integrated into the downtube. In testing, we’ve found Bosch’s E-MTB mode works very well, offering a quick and hearty kick when you need to accelerate quickly, but gentle assistance in tricky sections. The lower travel stopped the bike from bogging down in technical uphill rock gardens, making them easier to ride through, and the 160mm cranks also help to reduce pedal strikes so you can keep the power on. The agile handling and stable ride make it one of the easier e-bikes to adapt to, and one of the most versatile.
Norco Sight VLT
Weight: 49.8 lb. (M) | Motor: Shimano E8000 | Battery: 630 Wh | Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 150mm
As with most bikes on this list, the Norco Sight takes it’s design cues from a non-motorized sibling. The regular Sight is an aggressive, all-mountain ride with a 160mm fork and 150mm of rear travel. The VLT electric version adds a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and downtube integrated 630 Wh battery. The geometry is not the same as the unplugged Sight—due to the motor and battery—but still goes low and slack with a longer wheelbase for added stability. The 66 degree head tube angle, 440mm reach (size medium), and and 75 degree seat tube angle are what you would expect from such an aggressive bike. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain gives a wide gear range so you can shift down into a comfortable low gear before needing to move up to the next assistance level. The Code R brakes are powerful enough to handle the speeds that come from the forces of braking a 50 pound bike at high speed and they can be used lightly to maximize your control over the bike through turns. The Sight VLT is for hard-charging, technical riders who are looking for the fastest route down the mountain and want to turn around and ride back up to do it again.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Alloy 70
Weight: 52.9 lb. (M) | Motor: Dyname 3.0 by Propulsion Powercycle | Battery: 632 Wh | Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 160mm
The Altitude Powerplay is one of three bikes on this list (Specialized Turbo Levo and Liv Intrigue E+ are the others) to use a custom motor. The Dyname 3.0 motor offers 100Nm of torque and is also compact enough that Rocky can use the same geometry and suspension-pivot placement as an unplugged Altitude, so the Powerplay feels more like an unplugged bike than most e-bikes. With the motor off it rides like a standard, albeit heavy, trail bike. The motor responds more quickly than some of the more popular systems and the increased torque offers increased acceleration, which, depending on the trail situation, can be welcome or a hindrance.
The 630 Wh battery is larger than similarly priced bikes for more play time. Like the Specialized, the Rocky forgoes an LCD display and instead uses green, yellow, and red lights to indicate mode and battery life. Further info and customization is accessed through a companion app on your smartphone.
Despite it’s prodigious descending talents the short (426mm) chainstays make tight corners and lifting the front end easy. That also makes flying through flow trails and popping off rocks a staple of the Altitude’s arsenal. With uncompromised suspension and geometry, a powerful motor and big battery, and excellent trail manners, the Rocky offers a compellingly unique e-package that performs well in all situations.
–BEST VALUE ALUMINUM E-MTB–
Haro Shift Plus i/O 5
Weight: 48.6 lb. (L) | Motor: Shimano E8000 | Battery: 504 Wh | Travel: 140mm | Fork Travel: 140mm
The least-expensive bike in this roundup and, at 48.6 pounds, our size large Haro Shift Plus i/O 5 is the second-lightest in this group as well. Only the $8,250 Specialized was lighter. The Shift Plus i/O 5 was nimble enough to traverse the most technical trails we could find, and it was much easier to manage on rocky climbs than heavier, longer-travel e-MTBs. The Shimano Steps motor has loads of torque. However, in Trail mode, the bike still lurches forward as soon as you get on the pedals, so you’ve got to point it where you’re willing to go before clipping in. Haro has done well to keep the price down, but we’d pay a slight premium if the bike were to come with a dropper post, which makes it a little less scary to sling a nearly 50-pound bike down a mountain.
Haibike XDURO ALLMTN 6.0
Weight: 56.2 lb. (M) | Motor: Bosch Performance CX | Battery: 500 Wh | Travel: 150mm | Fork Travel: 160mm
The ALLMTN 6.0 comes with quality name-branded components in all the most important places and some in-house parts that complete a well-rounded build. But we’re a bit disappointed by to see just a 500 Wh battery on a $6,700 bike. A SRAM GX Eagle cassette is paired with the Bosch Performance CX motor so the wide gear range and excellent E-MTB mode enabled motor give you everything you need to get up and down rocky trails. Maxxis DHF and DHRII 2.8″ tires offer plenty of grip no matter the conditions and the TRP G-Spec brakes can handle fast and steep trails. The ALLMTN 6.0 has a short 433m reach (M) so is a little less forgiving on the steep stuff but feels more responsive on flatter, slower trails and the 1204mm wheelbase feels stable on most trails. Although it is capable on enduro trails, it is better suited to flowing trails.
–BEST WOMEN’S E-MTB–
Liv Intrigue E+
Weight: 50.1 lb. (S) | Motor: Giant Syncdrive Pro by Yamaha | Battery: 500 Wh | Travel: 140mm | Fork Travel: 150mm
The 150mm (fork) and 140mm (shock) suspension allows you to hit double-track ruts without veering from your line and are tuned for the added weight of the motor and battery. That makes the bike easier to handle than a bike this heavy might otherwise. The motor is powerful and torquey meaning you can stay in the lower two assist levels of the five available to save battery and still get enough kick to ascend just slightly faster than on a regular bike. The highest setting really has some oomph, with a little too much power to use on tight or technical trails. It’s better for fire road climbs or cruising on pavement to the trail head or back home after a ride.
The Yamaha’s motor with 80 Nm of peak torque has generous kick to get over small rises or tough spots on the trail. And the boost can hit quickly; Liv says you get full boost (based on your power setting) in just 190 milliseconds and that that quick response time was noticeable, but not welcome in every situation, by our testers.
The Liv feels lighter than other e-mountain bikes. The heft of one will always make it harder to maneuver on technical trails, but the lower weight, good geometry, and torquey motor of this one made it feel less so. That makes this bike a good option for women looking for some balance between power and maneuverability.