How to Choose an Electric Mountain Bike
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 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:
- Your budget
- Your Needs
- The motor
- Motor control
- Motor customization
- Your height
- Safety and Protection
- Choose Your Retailer
- Test Ride Several Bikes
- Check the Warranty
- Quality Counts but Service Counts as Much
- Factors to Consider While Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike
- 1. Your budget
- 2. Your Needs
- 3. The motor
- 4. Motor control
- 5. Battery
- 6. Display
- 7. Motor customization
- 8. Your height
- 9. Suspension
- 10. Wheels
- 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
- What does it cost to own an Electric Mountain Bike
- Why you Should Choose an Electric Bike vs an Ordinary Bike
- Benefits of Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike
- Precautions in Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike
- Final Thoughts
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 parts. Almost all the Mountain Bike brands use one of the following motor brands:
● Shimano motor
If you are a bicycle enthusiast you probably heard the name Shimano. This Japanese manufacturer makes good quality various bike parts. These are used by many low to high-end brands. You will not be surprised that an Electric mountain bike motor is one of them. The Shimano STEPS MTB motor is a compact system that helps to achieve a low center of gravity. It is among the lightest motors, but at the cost of torque compared with some of their competitors.
● Yamaha motor
Yamaha offers several electric mountain bike motor options. They are relatively light, provide good torque, and have multiple use modes. Like some other manufacturers, Yamaha started to use Bluetooth on some models. So you can use an app on your phone to control the motor, and change its behavior.
● Brose motor
If you are looking for a quiet mid-drive motor. One from the German brand Brose is a good choice. Their belt0driven system provides enough torque and produces less noise than most other brands.
● Bosch motor
Probably the most well-known brand is Bosch. They offer a wide variety of mid-drive motors that are extremely well suited for an electric mountain bike. I think that the Bosch Performance CX motor is the best choice. It is energy efficient and provides more than enough torque, even in challenging situations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 handling the weight of your bike(s).
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 to?’, ‘ 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 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 the case of an Electric Mtb, the cost is not only the initial cost of purchasing the bike, but there will also be maintained, and replacement of parts like the battery.
1. Initial Cost
In general, a normal bicycle will be cheaper than an electric bike (eBike). The cost of the motor and battery add a lot of additional costs compared to a regular bicycle. How much depends on the quality of the components, the size of the batteries, and the chosen brand. Cheaper brands will often use lower quality and more cost-effective components.
Better components often are more reliable and will last longer. Higher quality batteries are more expensive, but can also last much longer. And thus being more cost-effective in the long run.
2. Types of Electric Bikes
There are many brands and types of electric bikes. Ranging from models with large fully integrated batteries in the frame that can last for more than 80 miles per charge. And on the lower end, electric bikes have all components mounted on the back and using less sophisticated electronics.
● Up to $1,000:
There are several manufactures that make cost-effective electric bikes for less than $1000. In general, they use lower-quality materials for many parts like:
- The frame of the bike: Using steel instead of high tension steel, aluminum or even carbon components. The steel can break more easily, and is hevier than some of the alternatives.
- Battery cells: Cheaper battery cells have less capacity, are heavier and will last shorter. But they can be fine to use if you use them corectly.
- Drive electronics: Lowe end electric bikes often use less complex drive electronics. This means that the electric moter kicks in more abruptly.
- Motor: Many cost effective models use a lower end motor that has less power.
Tip: Check for last year’s models. Sometimes you can find really good deals on a model from last year that needs to go as new models are introduced.
● $1,000 – $1,500
The $1000 to $1500 is maybe the most competitive price range. Compared with the under $1000 you will find a larger battery pack with more range. A better motor with more power, and improved drive electronics.
You will see batteries with a higher voltage and other components. More or less, the bikes in this price range are going to have lithium polymer 36V 10ah batteries.
Some brands will go for a high range with larger capacity batteries. Others brands distinguish themselves with a lower weight due to using a better frame and a lower capacity battery pack.
● $1,500 – $2,000
For an electric bike up to $2000, you can expect really good engineering, high-quality components like hydraulic brakes. It will have higher capacity batteries that can give a longer range. The drive electronics will ensure that the motor adds power when needed.
You will see more and more models with crank drives instead of regular motors. Suspension is also one of the features that you will find on some models.
● $2,000 – $5,000
If you spent $2000 or more the electric bike will have really excellent components, like a crank dive or even line hub motors. Bikes will have full suspension, hydraulic brakes, and excellent drive electronics. Some brands have sophisticated anti-theft systems and can be controlled with an app on your phone.
Higher-end models going up to $5000 can be customized with special strong but low-weight frames. And will be built on order.
If you want the best of the best, expect to spend $5000 or more. These models will contain the best quality components and often are custom-made to your requirements. Don’t be surprised to see models that will cost more than $20,000 with new and innovative solutions.
3. Battery Lifespan/Replacement
The battery of your electric bike is one of the most expensive parts. With the introduction of Lithium-Ion batteries, the power-weight ratio has drastically been improved. But they can only be charged a certain amount of cycles. Good quality cells can be charged over 1000 cycles. Lower quality cells do not even reach half of that. I recommend for a long-lasting battery to only charge when needed.
Using a good charger is essential for a long life span. Try to avoid fast charging when possible. For fast charging a high current is needed that adds more wear and tear to the battery.
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. An electric bike is faster than an ordinairy bicycle
In principle, commuting in a car can be a perfect choice if you live in a more rural area. But in practice, due to traffic, the speed you can drive falls frequently below 10 mph in cities. Motorcycles can get around this to some extent, but they must still use the same lane as cars. Using a normal bike can be a good choice, as you can use part of the road that cars can not use. You can ride past lanes of cars, and depending on the location can use the sidewalk.
Using an electric bike instead of an ordinary bike has some additional advantages. You can reach higher speeds easily and are able to get up to speed faster. You can cope with hills and headwinds with ease. My experience is that using an electric bike is one of the fastest and predictable methods to reach your destination.
2. You will not arrive sweaty and exhausted
If you cycle to work you do not want to reach your destination exhausted and sweaty. Some firms provide a shower and other amenities. Many do not, or you do not want to go through the hassle of showering and changing. It is one of the biggest reasons why commuters do not like to use a bike. Using an electric bike is a perfect solution for this. The motor helps you ride with ease. You will still have to provide some energy to go forward as the motor will only kick in when the bike is moving, but this is more comparable to walking.
Compared with an ordinary bike it means you can travel at a higher speed without getting sweaty. Hills are no problem. And you can use a lower motor setting in case you do want to do some more exercise, like on the way back.
Benefits of Choosing an Electric Mountain Bike
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 their 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
Electric bicycles have more parts than regular bikes, increasing the probability of something going wrong.
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. Battery 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.
The Electric motorbike has been of great importance in the day-to-day lives of riders. Its 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.