How to Choose an Electric Mountain Bike

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It took as little time as expected for the promise of electric bikes to take over the bike industry. The development of electric bikes in the past decade has been because of the significant technological advancements. An electric mountain bike is a bike that has electric assistance. Electric motor bicycles make use of the mid-drive, center-drive motors coupled to a power pack. 

To choose an electric mountain bike the following factors are important:

  1. Your budget
  2. Your Needs
  3. The motor
  4. Motor control
  5. Battery
  6. Display
  7. Motor customization
  8. Your height
  9. Wheels
  10. Suspension
  11. Weight
  12. Brakes
  13. Safety and Protection
  14. Choose Your Retailer
  15. Test Ride Several Bikes
  16. Check the Warranty
  17. Quality Counts but Service Counts as Much
How to Choose an Electric Mountain Bike 1

Factors to Consider While Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike

1. Your budget

It is always a good idea to start setting your budget. When you are looking for a new Mountain Bike it is easy to start with a cheaper one and end up with one that is much more expensive. Setting a budget at the start and keeping yourself to it is not easy, but it makes your journey easier.

2. Your Needs

Different people choose different electric bikes for various purposes. Do you want to use your bike for difficult trails or for commuting? How often do you ride? And for how long? If comfort is important, then the frame that is step-through would be the best. If climbing a hill is crucial, then a motor system that is middle or high torque hub motor may be the best. If your cup of tea is riding long distances, then consider a battery of 400 watt-hours or more. Understanding your personal needs will help you pick what features matter most on your electric bike.

3. The motor

The motor is the heart of your electric bike. Is it important to understand that not all the motors are the same, and it is not a part that you can just change, as you can with most of the other bike parts. Almost all the Mountain Bike brands use one of the following motor brands:

● Bosch

Bosch offers the broadest range of mid-drive motors with five useful variants. Bosch Performance CX motor is the best motor brand, and it provides 75nm of torque over a sustained power curve. Bosch Performance CX motor performs up to 20mph and offers shift detection with indicators on the display screen. It’s efficient in climbing slippery and loose terrain better and is a well-rounded motor to make it easier for climbing steep terrain.

● Brose

Brose is a German mid-drive motor maker and happens to be the quietest mid-drive motor in the market. It is a belt-driven system, which contributes to its whisper-quiet drive and offers 90Nm of torque. This motor provides four power modes indicated by 1 to 4 square lights on the display. The Brose motor can assist riders up to 20mph. Its only drawback is that at higher speeds, the power curve tends to flatten out. Brose motorized bikes come with standard size chainrings and can accommodate two chainrings for a more excellent gear ratio. Brose motors are the greatest for riders who have a higher modulation.

● Shimano

Shimano is arguably the biggest bicycle spare parts maker in the world, and it is no doubt that it offers a mid-drive motor. The new Shimano STEPS MTB, also known as the Shimano STEPs E8000 is a compact system, which allows for eMTB bike manufacturers to put smaller chainstays for a lower center of gravity, giving the rider the experience of a typical mountain bike. Although it offers the most economical torque motor on the market, it is also the lightest. Like the Brose motor, it allows for multiple chainrings for broader gear ratios and is ideal for cyclists who want a bike that resembles a regular MTB bike concerning geometry.

● Yamaha

Yamaha has three eBike motors on the market, but the new PW-X engine is best suitable for mountain biking over their older Yamaha PW motor. Lighter and quicker to respond over the PW motor, the PW-X system offers five color-coded support modes: +ECO, ECO, STD, HIGH, and EXPW. EXPW is Extra Power mode and unleashes 80Nm of torque when we need it on those long, steep hills. Also, like the Shimano and Brose motors, we have equipped an eMTB bike with multiple chainrings. The new Yamaha motor is ideal for the techie who wants to track stats via Bluetooth connectivity.

4. Motor control

For the motor to operate correctly it needs to know what it needs to do. Does it need to give you full power because you want to go uphill? Or does it only need to give you a little push when you are cruising to your work?

To know this the bike uses a sensor to measure what is going on. Some of the Electric Mountain bike brands still use spoke magnets that let the electronics of the motor know how fast you are going. The problem with these spoke magnets is that they can easily twist or fall off while you’re riding. This can lead to an unintended behavior of your bike and can be dangerous. Now there are several more integrated solutions that do not have the sensor exposed.

5. Battery

What battery is best for you depends on how you are going to use your bike. A bigger battery will give you more range, but will have a higher weight and will take longer to charge. If you use your Mountain bike for longer distances you probably would like to have a bigger battery than if you use shorter downhill trails. Choosing the correct battery is not easy. Check if the brand you are looking for has multiple options for both a bigger and a smaller battery.

6. Display

What type of display does the bike have, and what do you really need? Some brands have a complex display with a lot of information, others have a more minimalistic approach. What is best for you depends on your own preferences. But take care that the display is easy to see, the buttons are within reach, and that it is protected when you fall.

7. Motor customization

With most brands, you can customize the motor settings with a controlled display or a smartphone app. You should ask yourself how often you really are going to change these settings, as often you pay more for those with more and complex motor control. For the smartphone app, you can check if you have options to upload your data to one of the platforms like Strava if you are into that.

8. Your height

If you are a tall person check that the bike is ok for this. The most important aspect is the dropper post. Not all brands have a long dropper post, and thus will not be suitable for some longer riders.

9. Suspension

The suspension of your bike is also an important factor. This is an even more important Mountain Bike. Depending on what you want to do with your bike, difficult and more extreme trails, or more long-distance where comfort is more important. Before you purchase your bike it is important to know how you will be using your bike. Some more expensive bikes give you the option to change some of the behavior of the suspension.

10. Wheels

The size of your wheel is not that important. If you are tall you probably are choosing a bigger frame, and that often has bigger wheels. The handling of your bike does not depend on the wheel size, but more on the type of tire that you use. And most tires are sold for different wheel sizes.

The material of the wheel is a different story. You have wheels made from aluminum, carbon, and even other metals. One of the important differences between those materials is the weight, but this is less important on an eMTB as the motor and battery are much heavier. For an eMTB, we would not choose a more expensive carbon wheel. Also, carbon wheels are more fragile, and when they break you have to replace them, wherewith aluminum wheels you often can continue.

11. Weight

Check the weight limit for the Mountain Bike. How much is left for you and your gear? For some bikes, this is less than 220 pounds (100 kg). But for others, like Giant with its 286 pounds (130 kg) limit, it is much higher.

Another weight issue can be transporting your bike(s). Check that your method of transport is capable of handeling the weight of your bike(s).

12. Brakes

With its higher weight, an eMTB needs good brakes and is an important safety feature. Check what type of brakes the bike has. Four-piston brakes would be a good choice.

13. Safety and Protection

Make sure that you take safety seriously. The speeds with an eMTB can be even higher than with a normal Mountain bike, so a good helmet and other protection like knee pads are an important addition. How much protection you need will also depend on how you are using your bike.

14. Choose Your Retailer

You should choose and judge your place of purchase wisely considering the following three points: vibe, commitment, and quality. When you walk into a shop, there is a feeling you get, which is known as the vibe. Is the staff friendly, knowledgeable, and friendly? Commitment is the shop’s visible enthusiasm for electric bikes. Do we have many e-bikes in stock or just have a few in the back of the shop? When the shop is committed to the electric bicycle movement, that means we will be willing and wanting to help you make the most of your electronic bike years down the road. Lastly, quality refers to the types of electric bikes that the retailer is selling. It could be the brand names that the customer can research or the bikes on which information is hard to come by. This is because you want to be sure your retailer is in the business for the right reason and not just to make a quick buck.

15. Test Ride Several Bikes

The most important and fun part of buying an electric bike is test riding. Trying an electric bike allows you to put aside specifications and reviews and research and answer the most basic question, which includes: ‘Do I love this bike for sure’? If the answer is yes, then you go ahead and ask a few other issues like; ‘ Does it climb hills in the way I need it to?’, ‘Does the bike fit me in the way I would like it too?’, ‘ Does it have the quality and functionality I would like?’

16. Check the Warranty

Buying an electric bike is a significant and huge investment, regardless of whether it is $1500 or $10000. With a warranty, you can be rest assured that your investment is worth the investment. For example, a two-year warranty on parts, motor, and a battery, that is, with no exclusions for regular use, is reasonable to expect from most electric bike manufacturers with products selling for over $2000.

17. Quality Counts but Service Counts as Much

Electric bikes are not toys but a form of transportation. The quality of the bicycle itself, irrespective of its drive system, is paramount, and doubly important if you are planning on riding it day in and day out. It can be a little more challenging to judge the quality of the bicycle component by looking over the listing of parts, motors, and batteries. Research on the motor and battery brands every time you are in doubt. Always keep in mind that the quality of the components will not make much of a difference if your electric bike is not set up and tuned correctly. Your local independent bike dealer is your ally in maintaining the quality components which you invested in.

What does it cost to own an Electric Mountain Bike

The budget can be an important factor in selecting an electric mountain bike. And in case of an Electric Mtb, the cost are not only the initial cost of purchasing the bike, but there will also be maintenance, and replacement of parts like the battery.

1. Initial Cost

Under normal circumstances, an electric bike (eBike) is more expensive than an ordinary bicycle. We need to add the cost of the battery, motor, design, and electrical equipment over the costs of regular bicycle specifications. Of course, the cost factor depends on the brand, size of the battery, and the components. The initial cost usually depends on how we can afford and our budget, but as the saying goes, ‘you pay for what you get’ is the rule in the electric bicycle world. When it comes to electric bicycles, we would often hear people say that buying cheap is buying twice. Therefore, if we spend a little bit more, we would generally be paying for something more reliable, which could, in turn, serve us better in time, reducing our costs overall. Also, we need to remember that when we buy an electric bike, we will not need to pay any road tax,  no need to pay for congestion charges, no need to pay for insurance, and the batteries are relatively small and do not cost much to charge them.

2. Types of Electric Bikes

The kind of electric bicycle has a massive role because some electric bikes cost more to run compared to others. An electric bicycle that is going to take us further on a single charge is going to reduce running costs. Usually, depending on the model, an electric bike is going to cost roughly 8 cents to charge an electric battery. Some models are going to take you 15 miles on a charge while others can get you to 100 miles per charge. The capacity of the cell determines the range and how efficient the electric bicycle applies power. Therefore, the cost of recharging, even if small on every charge, could work out a lot in the bigger picture. The kind of electric bicycle could also influence the wear and tear as well as the maintenance costs.

Up to $1,000:

In buying a bicycle, we need to factor the electric system. They are characterized by:

* Low-grade manufacture – a frame out of cheap alloys or even high tensile steel. Cheap alloys could snap while high tensile steel could be weighty.

*Unbranded batteries – Branding is a matter of trust and necessity, but still, we can run electric bicycles on unbranded ones. A lot of electric bicycle users are quite happy with unbranded batteries.

*Warranties- Warranties on the low-end of the price range might not be as comprehensive or as long for cheap bikes, so we need to understand the details of the warranties of these bicycles.

$1,000 – $1,500

It is the price range that most people aim for and is the most competitive price range on the market. Again, we need to focus on the battery, the motor, and the controller of these bicycles. More or less, the bikes in this price range are going to have lithium polymer 36V 10ah batteries. A single charge enables one to cover an approximate distance of 20-40 miles. A few manufacturers are offering a more extensive range of cells now with this price range. We could also be getting a few nice bits at this price range, such as Nexus 8-speed hub gears. A few bicycles are well-engineered at this price range, with inexpensive materials that clearly. Batteries are usually branded and typically cost $300-$400.

$1,500 – $2,000

At this point, we would expect to see better engineering than the previous price ranges. Build quality, longevity, and finishing kits are more consistent. Batteries with more extended price range are a regular occurrence in this price range because they come from top manufacturers with hydraulic brakes and better motors. As of 2014, this price range also offers crank drives. 2013 was the year of the Bosch motor, but we need to spend a couple of thousand dollars to get these motors on our bikes. Some people believe that crank drives are for everybody, but this is not always true, as always, we have to try it out ourselves and see.

$2,000 – $5,000

If we have more than $2,000 to spare, we could start looking at Bosch crank drives or really top of the line hub motors. We are going to see a lot of more hydraulic brakes, full suspension, state of battery charge meters, and European or even British manufacture. We can also do some customization on our end if we are capable and build a high-end electric system fitted to a decent bicycle. If we are really into electric bikes, this is the price range that gets e-bike enthusiasts excited. As expected, bicycles at this level could be very accomplished.

$5,000+

A few years ago, it would have been impossible to say anything about electric bicycles at this price range. Surprisingly this is also known as the superbike range. There are hand-built, garage-made electric bicycles out there that could cost as much as $30,000. Speed and power are what we’ll get at this end of the price spectrum.

3. Battery Lifespan/Replacement

Battery lifespan is essential if we plan to use the electric bicycle for an extended period. Today, battery performance has dramatically improved because of advancements in Lithium cell technologies. As batteries have advanced, so have the ranges and lifespan. Some batteries need replacement more often than others. Some batteries can last up to 8-10 years or 1000 cycles depending on how we take care of them, while others can last for only 18 months. With that said, longer-lasting batteries cost more initially but might save our money in the long run. So, if we plan on using an electric bicycle for a couple of years, a cheaper cell option could lower the overall running costs

4. Maintenance/Wear and Tear

Anything mechanical (cars, bicycles, cameras, watches) needs servicing and repairs. An electric bike requires an annual budget of around $50 for service, $10 for brake pads, and $40 for tires every two to three years, depending on our mileage. If we go for 100-150 miles every week, then we have to service the electric bicycle twice a year, and we need to change brake pads, tires, chains, etc. more often. Also, secure locks for the bike as well as waterproofs, lights, helmets, and panniers.

Why you Should Choose an Electric Bike vs an Ordinary Bike

1. Faster Travel

In theory, a car can average a high speed, but in practice, the rate often falls below 10mph in cities due to congestion. Motorcycles get around this to some extent but are still have to use the road network. An electric bike can maintain a higher average speed than a bicycle, yet take advantage of the full system of cycle facilities, giving access to routes that cars and motorcycles cannot reach. The result is often a faster door-to-door journey time than any other mode. And by nipping along the relatively uncongested cycle network, but eliminating hills and headwinds, electric bikes tend to be the most consistent mode of travel.

2. No Sweat!

Sweat may not be a severe issue when you’re out for a leisure ride, but it’s more important if you’re cycling to work, and arriving at work sticky puts a lot of people off cycling. Although some employers are somewhat grudgingly providing showers and other facilities for cyclists, the vast majority have no intention of doing so. An electric bike eliminates the problem at the source. Oddly enough, you won’t sweat on an electric bike, even if you put in the same amount of effort as you do on an ordinary bike. It is a matter of physics as well as exertion – higher road speed and more excellent airflow mean instant sweat evaporation. In hot weather, it’s possible to maintain a regular schedule by transferring a bit more load to the electric motor. In colder climate – or if you feel in need of exercise – just throttle back, or turn the engine off.

3. Safety

It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But mathematics is compelling. Think of a steep and busy road, with cars climbing at 30mph. If you previously slogged up the hill at 6mph but can tackle the same gradient at 12mph with an electric bike, you will see 33% fewer cars, and they will pass you at 18mph rather than 24mph. Or at least, we think that’s correct. Whatever the figures, there’s no doubt that an electric bike helps to keep you out of danger. The same general principle applies to road junctions and roundabouts – the faster your acceleration, the sooner you can get out of trouble. And with no need to rush the hills, you won’t be tempted to ride downhill at breakneck speed another useful safety feature.

4. Hill Climbing

The primary advantage of an electric bike is hill climbing. A good electric bike effectively flattens hills, increasing your average speed and eliminating the ‘groan’ factor when a gradient comes into view. Provided you supply a reasonable amount of effort, you can expect to climb hills of 1:10 (10%) on an electric bike with ease, and clear a maximum gradient of 1:7 (14%), or even 1:4 (25%) with the right bike. In hilly country, the effect is nothing short of miraculous.

Benefits of Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike

1. Speed

Electric bikes generally have a higher top speed than ordinary bicycles with the same rider. Speed makes electric bikes more flexible as compared to the usual or regular bikes. Passengers can take advantage of the multi-purpose cycle lanes and paths, which are traffic-free, to cut down your commuter time.

2. Great for Commuting

An electric bicycle requires little to no effort to ride. Just twist the throttle and steer the bike where one wants to go. It makes it so the rider doesn’t have to break a sweat in their work clothes on the way to work. Its ability to skip traffic is also advantageous. Electric bicycles use designated lanes, through a park or down an alley allowing it to beat the traffic and, in many cases, to a destination faster than a car.

3. Improve fitness

An electric-powered bicycle allows riders who are physically less able or out of shape to keep up with younger and more in shape people. E-bikes also allow for long comfortable bike rides when the rider doesn’t feel exhausted or in any type of physical pain at the end. Just a comfortable ride at a pace the rider enjoys. Hence electric bikes are good for your health both mentally and physically.

4. E-Bikes are cool

Be ready to answer questions to the many curious onlookers that are interested in what one is riding and how it works.

5. They are the future

Electric Mountain bikes are the future of transportation. In essence, we are living in the future, and due to advancements in technology and also considering that this invention will improve continuously over time, there is a big future for electric bikes hence need to embrace it.

6. Environmental friendly

As compared to motorcycles and cars, electric bikes emit lower pollution per kilometer. Therefore, to improve air quality either caused by climate change or global warming, we can help by using an electric bike. 

7. Wide variety of designs

An electric bike has a wide range of designs to choose from due to the advancement in technology. Therefore, companies dealing with producing electric bikes provide a variety of designs that accommodates your needs.

Precautions in Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike

1. Complexity

Electric bicycles have more parts than regular bikes, increasing the probability of something going wrong.

2. Weight

Electric bicycles add an electric motor, battery, and controller, among other things, hence doubling the importance of the bike when the battery is in use. The weight isn’t a problem when the battery charges and the rider is using the electric motor, but it can make it harder to pedal when the battery is out of use.

3. Batteries Maintenance

It is good to charge the electric bike battery after each ride. It is also important not to let the electric bike sit unused for an extended period because the battery capacity will fall due to its chemistry. It is best practice to use the electric bike at least once a month to keep the battery in good shape. Electric bicycle batteries don’t last forever, a Lithium-Ion Battery will last 2-5 years, and an SLA battery will last 1-2 years before the cells need replacement. However, proper battery maintenance extends the life of the battery for as long as the bike in most cases.

Final Thoughts

The Electric motorbike has been of great importance in the day-to-day lives of riders. It’s utmost comfort, ability to use it on the roughest of terrains, and the ability to skip traffic are among the benefits of using an electric bike. The economic reality is that modern electric bikes are durable, require little maintenance, and can now travel for up to 50 miles or more on literal pennies worth of electricity. Therefore, more people need to consider either purchasing, leasing, or renting it, so that they save time in traffic.  An electric bike is a good investment that no one will regret using it since its benefits outweigh the costs.