by Wil Barrett
December 20, 2016
This week’s poll question is a simple one: have you ridden an e-MTB?
We want to know if you’ve ridden before, and what your thoughts are about the e-MTBs that you’ve ridden. Were they any good? Would you be interested in buying one? What do you think could be improved about the ones you’ve got experience with?
Scroll down to voice your opinion in this week’s Singletrack Reader Poll!
Firstly though, a brief introduction. By “e-MTB”, we mean an off-road version of an e-bike, otherwise known as a pedal-assist mountain bike. If you’re not familiar with e-MTBs, they’re basically a mountain bike with a 250 Watt motor and a rechargeable battery pack strapped to them. However, there is no throttle like you’d find on a motorbike.
Instead, the 250 Watt motor is only activated under your pedalling, therefore giving you a ‘boost’ on the trail. The other defining factor of an e-MTB is that (at least in the UK), they are speed limited to 15 mph (25km/h). Once you reach that speed, the motor cuts out and you’re on your own. Those parameters are what defines an e-MTB, and it’s what separates these pedal-assist bicycles from full-blown electric motorbikes.
We’ve had the chance to ride numerous e-MTBs here at Singletrack. In fact, we ran a full-blown feature on three different e-MTBs back in Issue #98 of Singletrack Magazine nearly two years ago, where we pitched a Scott and two Haibikes against each other on an epic ride around the Howgills, just outside the Lake District in the middle of nowhere.
It was an eye-opening experience for many test riders as to just how much fun these pedal-assist bikes could be. They’re certainly not for everyone, just as a downhill or a slopestyle bike isn’t for every mountain biker. And they certainly have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re wondering what those are, Hannah put together an excellent article about some of these quirks in her article titled “E-Bikes: Good, Bad, Or Just Ugly“, and it is well worth the read if you’re not sure about these new-fangled devices.
Regardless of those quirks, every test rider who’s had a chance to swing a leg over one of the many e-MTBs that have passed through Singletrack Towers has come away with a shit-eating grin. Which is why most of us take to the trails for in the first place.
Despite our collective experiences, we’re well aware that e-MTBs strike up a hefty amount of online hate whenever a news story or review breaks loose. Any e-MTB article is quickly adorned with opinions like “burn them all!“, “not on my trails!” and “only the disabled should be allowed to ride them!“. However, there are also many opinions from riders who are genuinely interested in e-MTBs, with a lot of the positive comments coming from the people who have had a chance to actually ride an e-MTB in the first place.
With that in mind, we’re interested to know whether you’ve ridden an e-MTB. And if so; was it a good experience? And if not, why not?
Tell us your opinion in the poll below;
Not into Facebook? Then you can cast your vote in the Singletrack Reader Poll here;
Have you ridden an e-MTB?
- No - But I'd like to try one out (43%, 263 Votes)
- No - I have no interest in trying one (38%, 230 Votes)
- Yes - And it was a lot of fun (17%, 103 Votes)
- Yes - And it was awful (3%, 17 Votes)
Total Voters: 613
With less e-MTB experience than some of the other Singletrack test team, Hannah reviewed the Lapierre Overvolt AM earlier this year. Since then, she’s become utterly addicted to tackling stupid-steep tech climbs and covering more trails in a shorter space of time. With a young family in tow, a road cycling-addicted partner and limited time to get out for mountain bike rides, Hannah appreciates the map-expanding abilities of an e-MTB and being able to access the sort of descents that would be impossible to reach on a regular mountain bike in the same given timeframe.
Previously skeptical of e-MTBs, Wil tested the Focus JAM² trail bike and was thoroughly impressed with the new Shimano STEPS E8000 motor system. It’s super smooth under power, and a lighter custom battery inside the downtube makes the JAM² handle more like a normal trail bike, albeit one that is a LOT faster up the climbs, and a LOT more stable on the descents.
As technology improves, e-MTBs are getting lighter, sleeker and smoother to ride. The Focus JAM² is part of this new generation of e-MTBs, and with its hidden battery and minimalist approach, it doesn’t look like a pregnant dog taking a shit – which many e-MTBs do. And whether we like it or not, aesthetics play a massive role in the bikes that we choose to buy.
Another good looking e-MTB that’s winning a lot of riders over is the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR. Having been ridden by the likes of Matt Hunter and the Coastal Crew in ‘Skeptical’, more riders are changing their minds as to what an e-MTB is capable of. It helps that the Turbo Levo FSR is a very suave-looking bike thanks to its integrated battery and drive system, and much like the Focus JAM², looks can make all the difference.
More and more companies are working on new generation e-MTBs that will continue to change riders perceptions of what an e-MTB can look and feel like. BMC showed off a prototype e-MTB at Eurobike, and it garnered a huge amount of attention with its striking carbon frame and Shimano STEPS E8000 driveline. Expect to hear more from BMC in 2017…
With all of this industry progression and growing consumer interest, we decided the time was right to create a dedicated Facebook page for e-MTB content. We understand that not every mountain biker out there wants to know about e-MTBs, but there are plenty that do. If you’re interested in learning more about e-MTBs and what’s new on the market, then check out the Singletrack Charged Facebook Page.