A Simple Guide To Electric Mountain Bikes | What Makes E-Bikes Great for Commuting and Choosing the Right E-mtb Bicycles
Without a doubt, the demand for electric mountain bikes is increasingly growing every year. The growth of mountain e-bikes opens up more innovative electric drive systems and better component technologies. With various models available in the market, first-time e-riders may find it difficult to purchase an electric mountain bike.
Mountain e-bikes are best for climbing challenging terrain, steep mountain trails, and riding around dirt paths. They also make a perfect commuter bike, which often performs better than the typical city bikes. Below are the reasons that make electric mountain bikes perfect for commuting:
Electric Mountain Bikes Are Comfortable
Electric mountain bicycles, they may have extra weight, but they are simply more comfortable than your average city e-bikes. They have shock-absorbing suspension that saves you from the tension on bumpy terrains. They also have a wider gear range best for driving on steep hills. With these features mentioned, electric mountain bicycles indeed are greatly capable of commuting faster and more efficiently.
Electric Mountain Bikes Have More Power
Due to the demanding features that electric mountain bicycles are designed for, they are usually built with higher-power motors. Powerful mountain e-bikes with dual motors give your daily commute extra speed and power.
E-mountain Bikes Have Better Batteries
Electric mountain bikes are designed around quality battery packs. Riding on challenging or higher terrains will draw higher currents from the battery. As a result, you will need a higher-quality battery cell from shutting the battery off or sagging the voltage too low. Mountain e-bikes have large-capacity batters to help you ride further, especially when hill-climbing. A high-quality battery means more years of good riding with your e-bike.
Electric Mountain Bicycles are Robust
Great quality full-suspension mountain e-bikes come with robust parts such as better chains, frames, bearings, pedals, paint jobs, etc. However, you must keep in mind that buying cheap electric mountain bikes with the same components will differ in many ways from those expensive bikes.
What Are The Downsides of Electric Mountain Bikes?
To help you make an informed buying decision, it is necessary to include these two common downsides of electric mountain bicycles:
1. E mountain bikes are heavy.
Bigger frames and batteries, stronger motors, suspension components, and other high-end parts often add weight to the vehicle. So, if carrying your bike daily is a part of your commute, this weight factor might be a deal-breaker.
2. Electric mountain bikes can be expensive.
Given the quality parts, it is no surprise that e-mountain bicycles will cost you much penny than regular commuter bikes.
How to Choose The Right Electric Mountain Bicycles?
There are important considerations when choosing an electric mountain bike, which we will discuss further in this article. But before moving any further, we must first discuss the ins and outs of electric mountain bikes.
Earlier e-mountain bike models come with bulky hub engines. However, the earlier models no longer make a practical option since mid-drive motors are lighter and easy to drive on. They also lower the center of gravity to your bicycle – the factor that influences balance. Similar to regular mountain bikes, electric mountain bikes (e-MTB) usually have front fork suspension, while many advanced bikes have rear suspension.
What are the Bike Motor Systems of an E-mountain Bike?
Before diving into which model or brands to buy, you will need to know the different types and classes of e-mountain bike motors.
Hub VS Mid-Drive Motors
There are two main classes of motors for electric bikes. Hub motors were the first motor available on the market. Today, we have mid-drive motors that are designed to give you that safe and optimum ride.
The hub motor, also known as wheel-motor, has its tires, spokes, and rim attached to the rear wheel. Hub motors are not ideal for an electric mountain bike, due to their unequal weight distribution towards the rear. Hub motors are also believed to overheat when used during longer climbs.
What are the three classes of electric mountain bikes?
You will likely opt for Class 1 e-mountain bikes since they are the most common class available on the market. Commonly known to be pedelecs bikes, Class 1 includes a motor that does not go beyond 750 watts, having a top speed of 20mph. They also do not include throttle. Also, Class 1 mountain e-bikes will require you to pedal to engage with the motor, regardless of your e-bike motor type.
Class 2 electric bikes are throttled bikes with their motor capable of exceeding up to 750 watts and its speed up to 20mph. Most class 2 e-bikes have hub motors too and due to their high wattage, they often lead to overheating. Also, keep in mind before buying a class 2 e-bike is that they are not allowed on most trails.
If you are looking for a ride that takes you up to 28 mph, a Class 3 e-bike is right for you. Other manufacturers build full-suspension Class 3 electric mountain bikes, but these are suited for commuters that encounter challenging terrain on a daily basis. Also, other states will require you to use a helmet when riding a Class 3.
Mountain e-bikes come with a battery that is situated on the bottom tube. Now, more motor manufacturers are producing in-tube batteries that lower the center of gravity, giving your bike a smoother look.
If battery placement doesn’t bother you much, you may opt for a Lithium-Ion power pack that goes with a minimum of 500 watt-hours. Other manufacturers offer single battery packs with 650 Watt-hour, while others offer dual battery packs that can give you 1000 Watt-hour.
Most e-mountain bikes come with a minimum of 400-watt, 36Volt battery packs. The great thing about e-MTBs is that they give you a choice to turn off the engine and use it as a normal mountain bicycle if favored.
Frame and Components
Most mountain e-bikes come with strong aluminum framesets. However, manufacturers are producing more carbon options to get hang of these e-bikes segments. When buying electric mountain bicycles, search for robust suspension and a fork with 34mm stanchions or more.
Given the extra weight from both the battery and motor, it will take you more force to slow an e-mountain bike. You will want four-piston brakes with 200mm rotors when hurtling toward an unexpected vehicle or when riding through a hairpin corner. The additional weight means the wheels are built solid, with spokes, and wrapped in bigger tubeless tires. Since rolling resistance isn’t more of a common option, brands opt for more aggressive tread and puncture-resistant casings.
Hardtail or Full Suspension
- Hardtail bikes are bikes with front suspension and rigid frames.
- Full-suspension bikes have suspension on both their frame and front fork.
The best thing about full suspension is that it has a leech-like grip.
If you often ride on bumps or go hurling over rocks and roots, you’ll very much appreciate a full-suspension e-bike. With its power brakes, extra damper, and pivot points within the frame, it is no surprise that full suspension e-bikes will surely cost you more.
The weight of your mountain e-bike may influence your ability when riding on a bike in rough terrain. Most especially when you run out of battery and rely on your energy left to pedal back home.
The e-bike’s suspension and the boost of its motor improve control and stability in overcoming obstacles. However, these parts mentioned may add more weight when running out of battery. Ensure that you also have a battery charge indicator before choosing your electric mountain bicycle.
Brakes are essential for all kinds of vehicles. Most mountain e-bikes come with hydraulic brakes with 18-mm disc rotors. Others have double piston brakes which have better-stopping power. Like most things, you only get what you pay for. Cheap models are set up only for flat terrains and aren’t tubeless-ready. While higher-end models have longer suspension travels, seat posts installed, and are tubeless-ready.
Suspension & Tires
Fork suspension and tires play a critical role in terms of safety and comfort when driving single-track trails. We suggest 150mm or more of fork and rear suspension and 27.5-inch tires with a width of 2.35 inches when single-track riding.
The wider your tires, the lower the pressure you will use to grip the ground when driving at higher speeds. The rear suspension is highly suggested for single-track since it absorbs jumps and bumps on the road.
Most electric mountain bicycles come with multi-pivot linkages that assist the rear wheel to stay intact on the ground. Single-pivot link rear suspension, on the other hand, are less expensive. With a single-pivot option, you don’t have to worry about keeping multiple bearings in every pivot point.
Our Verdict on E-mtb
The reasons for buying an e-mtb bike are similar to those buying a regular bike. Sure, they’re best for riders returning from injury and for commuters with more hills on their route. But the fundamental reason is similar for common outdoor pursuits: they’re fun and exciting. Without a doubt, e-mountain bikes get more people outdoors more often and surely will keep every rider driving for a long, long time.