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Our Guide to Buying: Electric Mountain Bikes

 

What is an Electric MTB?


In a nutshell


An electric mountain bike is a just like a normal mountain bike but equipped with an electric motor that gives you additional power to your pedalling action to help you tackle any terrain and enjoy the ride.

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How did electric mountain bikes come about?

Electric mountain bikes are a fairly new concept and although the first electric bike was patented in the United States, in 1895, the idea of an electric mountain bike has only been around since the early 90’s. Systems used in those early years were normally homemade, with it not being until the early noughties, that we started to see full production bikes.


Types of Electric Mountain Bike


What types of electric mountain bike are there?

Enduro, cross country, trail, singletrack, downhill, aggressive trail and all mountain bikes - whatever you call the discipline - the lines between them all become a little more blurred when talking about electric bikes.

Why? I hear you ask.

Thanks to the motors, weight and the pedals, the discipline styles are all but eliminated. It therefore comes down to the type of terrain you plan to tackle on your electric bike. The more technical and aggressive the terrain, the more travel you will probably need.

Full Suspension – this is the area that has had the most development over the last couple of years, this is to accommodate all the things we take for granted on a conventional mountain bike. Short chainstays, longer front centres, lower bottom brackets and even the bottle brands have had to re-think how they design these to fit onto an electric mountain bike. This development in the full suspension electric bikes does mean that these bikes have some of the most advanced technologies the industry has ever developed, allowing you to tackle the most gruelling of terrains.

Hardtails – Hardtails have had an easier transition to the electric bike market meaning integration of batteries and the progression of geometry has moved quicker. Hardtails will appeal to a much broader spectrum of people. Not only are prices considerably lower but also because of the lack of suspension, the bikes can be made considerably lighter. This means they are more manageable for all ages and abilities on the track or trail; to get it in and out of cars, or on and off bike racks.

SUV’s – to the untrained eye a lot of these bikes will look very similar to most of the other hardtails on the market. In most cases, they use the same frames, wheels and gearing as most hybrids or hardtail mountain bikes but with a different function. SUV’s are designed to be more utilitarian than a hardtail mountain bike and more robust than a hybrid.

With additions such as racks, mudguards, lights and slightly more upright riding positions, these are your off-road commuters. Towpaths, unpaved or old roads, cobbles and light singletracks can all be covered on an SUV.

Electric MTB vs Conventional Mountain Bikes

Why would you buy an electric mountain bike when modern mountain bikes are so amazing? Ever been at a trail centre with a group of friends, who are all XC whippets and you are there on your trail bike, busting a gut to keep up, then you get stuck behind them on the singletrack?

Have you ever considered taking on a big peak but just don’t have enough hours in the day to spend pushing up for hour after hour. Maybe time isn’t a luxury you have much of, so covering greater distances or more singletrack, in a smaller space of time is just what you dream off. What about that one climb or obstacle you just can’t get over? If any of these things sound like you, then an electric mountain bike is something to consider. Electric Mountain Bikes allow you to have more fun more of the time.


All you need to know about Electric Mountain Bikes


What are the differences between a MTB and an Electric MTB?

As with most Electric bikes the Drivetrain, Brakes and Suspension components change very little from conventional bikes. So whether you are a convert to electric bikes or new to them all these things will be familiar or you will be able to get help from any mechanic in your local Evans Cycles store.

One thing manufactures of electric mountain bikes have worked incredible hard to make sure of though is that electric bikes ride as well, if not better than their non-electric counterparts. There are some very subtle differences like the increased use of ‘plus’ sized tyres and 1 x drivetrains as standard, on almost all electric mountain bike systems, but otherwise these can just be considered mountain bikes with a motor.


How far can you ride an electric mountain bike?

The amount of range you get from an electric bike is dependent on a multitude of factors. Terrain, undulation, level of assistance, tyres and even the gear selection can affect the amount of battery life you get from your electric mountain bike. Not to worry, most motors will give you a couple hours on full power to get the riding in that you want, not forgetting the amount of assistance can be adjusted depending how much you need for a given situation, so there should be plenty of range for your desired requirements.


Do electric mountain bikes need a lot of care?

As a kid were you always told to keep water and electric as far apart from each other and always make sure that you have dry hands before operating appliances? So you might think that an electric mountain bike, in what UK mountain bikes call ‘the slop’, might be a bad idea. Well not to worry, all the normal bike parts like gearing, bearings and suspension are all maintained in the same way you would on a conventional bike - by keeping things clean and well lubed.

As for the electrics, these are completely sealed units and can handle way more than our English weather conditions can throw at them. To get technical, all electronics on electric bikes are rated to IP56 or higher.


Are there any laws surrounding electric mountain bikes?

The same laws apply for electric mountain bikes as they do for any other electric bike. You must be 14 years of age or older to ride an electric mountain bike plus the bike must not assist you to over 15.5mph or 25.kmh. Additionally, as always, the Highway Code must be abided by at all times.

As electric mountain bikes or Pedelecs (their official name) are classed as bicycles, there are no additional rules for mountain bikes. So that means you can take your electric mountain bike anywhere you would take a conventional mountain bike.