The best budget e-mtbs can provide you with all sorts of fun without costing an arm and a leg.
The last few years have seen massive advances in e-bike technology and performance, but things have settled down noticeably now, making this a great time to buy a power-assisted mountain bike. If you don't want to spend a fortune, then we've rounded up the best budget e-mtbs available, to help you choose the right one for you.
Evolved motor and battery technology mean the best electric MTBs are now more reliable, more powerful and quieter. Designers are also understanding that going faster everywhere is a lot safer and more fun with progressive geometry and handling. There are more e-bike friendly but still affordable components available for them to work with too.
But which brands are making the best job of it and which bikes do we recommend?
Best budget e-mtbs
Orbea pitches its Wild FS series as a do-everything bike that's as fun on flow trails as it is capable on technical terrain. Orbea has gone for 29er wheels front and back for improved rolling ability although the low bottom bracket and 160mm cranks brings rider weight lower for a planted feeling in the corners. The steep seat angle will help keep the front wheel under control and the rear wheel gripping as gradient steepens, especially with Bosch's excellent Performance CX motor providing full assistance. A 500Wh battery is mounted in the downtube although for big days Orbea's 2Pac system allows an additional battery to be mounted inside the triangle for a whopping 1125Wh of power.
The suspension is a joint responsibility between RockShox and Fox, there's a RockShox 35 Gold up front and a Fox Float DPS Performance Trunnion shock with a three-Position Evol LV custom tune in the rear. The drivetrain is from Shimano and is a dependable mix of Shimano Deore and XT although Sunrace provides the 12sp cassette which is an 11-52T. The finishing kit is all from Orbea including the wheels which have Maxxis Minion tires fitted.
Cube does have 120- and 160mm e-bikes in their Stereo Hybrid range, but for all-round usability and agility the 140mm bikes sit bang in the middle.
Incredibly, the entry-level Race 625 still gets the HPC High Performance Composite carbon front end to keep weight under 25kg, even with a full-size 625Wh Powertube battery. You also get a full spec Bosch Gen 4 motor with 85Nm of torque and all the latest power surge features for technical climbs.
The suspension comes from RockShox with the stout, steel-legged 35 Silver up front, while a SRAM NX/SX Eagle gear mix and powerful Magura MT30 four-cylinder brakes with 200mm rotors keep everything running. There’s a full-size range from XS to XL with 27.5-inch wheels on the XS to keep things proportionate and 29er on everything else. You get tubeless-ready Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6in tires to match the all-rounder vibe, but you might want something tougher on the back. The dropper seat post-stroke is also a bit short.
Crucially Cube has updated its geometry, so the Stereo Hybrid handles in a really well-balanced way whether you’re climbing, hustling singletrack or loving the descents. There are three color options too.
The Vitus E-Sommet has been a go-to bargain full-suspension e-bike for several seasons, but this new version takes performance and aesthetics up a whole extra level.
The new frame has a fully internal 504Wh battery with an underside trapdoor if you need to remove it for charging. Geometry is fully up to date with a 64-degree head angle, 77-degree seat angle and a 478mm reach on a large frame. A 45mm stem and wide Nukeproof bars mean responsive steering, while Maxxis Assegai and High Roller II tires in grippy 3C MaxxGrip DD format are an awesome bit of spec at this price.
A 27.5-inch rear wheel keeps the back end really tight for agility while still allowing a massive 167mm of travel. The extra e-bike weight means the X-Fusion Pro 02 rear trunnion shock feels okay, and up front you get a 170mm travel version of X-Fusion’s stiff Trace 36 fork.
This entry model is powered by Shimano’s E7000 motor (while VRX and VRS get the new EP8 motor with a larger 630 Wh battery) which means slightly less grunt than some bikes but well-proven reliability. The lower powered motor also means more range from the mid-sized battery. A Shimano 1x11 Deore drivetrain gives crisp shifting and longevity while the MT520 brakes are given much needed 203mm rotors to boost stopping power.
Unlike some brands that only offer limited sizing, Vitus produces the E-Sommet in S, M, L and XL so most riders should be able to get onboard their fully e-enduro ready monster.
Thron2 is the shortest travel and most affordable range from Focus, but you’re still getting really neatly designed, quick 29er trail bikes based around a full 85Nm power Bosch Performance CX Gen 4 motor. A 500Wh battery keeps cost and weight down, but the fast-rolling Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 29 x 2.6in tires will boost range and efficiency. The overall weight is low for the price at 23.5kg.
The RockShox Recon RL forks aren’t over-stressed at 130mm of travel, and the Focus FOLD rocker suspension is a great way to get the best out of the Suntour shock. It creates a really neat looking and tight tracking frame, too. Angles are okay for a shorter travel trail bike, but reach is on the short side at 450mm on the large so it’s more of a cruiser than a carver in character. That means it’s more agile on the flats and climbs, and the 760mm bars and 60mm stem is sized to suit that, too. A SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain and the extra 1/2 kick surge from the motor make short work on technical climbs, and the four-piston Shimano brakes pretty much flawless. It doesn’t have a dropper post, though, so if you can stretch your budget to the JAM2, it’s worth the cost. On the pricier model, you'll get more up to date geometry, 150mm of travel, a full-size battery, RockShox rear damper, Shimano SLX and a dropper post.
While there are some cheaper options in Haibike's e-mtb lineup, we think it’s worth digging a bit deeper into your wallet to get the 160mm travel ALLMtn 1.
That gets you a distinctive angular alloy frame built around a Yamaha motor. Max torque is behind top-end Shimano, Bosch and Brose at only 70Nm, but that’s competitive with Shimano E7000. It also means tons of range and run time from the full-size internal battery. The steel-legged RockShox 35 Silver is certainly working hard at 160mm, but it’s tough enough to cope, and the Suntour shock is supple but not the best option.
A 38T front chainring means gearing is relatively high even with an 11-51T cassette at the back, but the Shimano Deore shift kit is super durable, and the Tektro Orion 4 piston brakes get 203mm rotors for extra power. Heavy-duty Rodi 35mm wide rims are wrapped in Continental Trail King tires for decent grip on the mullet set up. Haibike’s own wide bar, short stem and dropper post take control of a decent 65-degree head angle and 460mm reach on a large frame.
While most of the bikes here are in the Trail/Enduro category, Trek is doing something deliberately different with its brand new Powerfly FS 4 XC e-MTBs.
By keeping rear travel to just 100mm and squeezing the rear shock behind the seat post it creates a really sleek looking back end. It also leaves bottle cage room inside the main frame, even with the big side loading RIB internal battery down tube. A super sloped top tube and extended seat tube with a dropper post give the front end a slightly ‘seahorse’ aesthetic. Geometry is a balanced XC mix of 66.5-degree head angle, 76-degree effective seat angle and 460mm reach on the large. 29er wheels on M-XL sizes are fast and easy rolling, while the XS and S sizes get 27.5-inch wheels for proportional agility. On either end, the Bontrager XR3 tires are fast but smooth over intermediate trails.
Getting up to speed and blasting the climbs is definitely no problem thanks to the full power Bosch Performance CX Gen 4 motor, and if you want more range than the 500Wh battery there’s a 625Wh battery FS 4 model.
Both get the same stiff but numb Suntour fork, slightly limited 10-speed Shimano Deore gear range and limp Tektro brakes, which means the Powerfly is best suited to less technical, rolling trails. On the other hand, the Trek Rail 5 is an absolute e-enduro beast with 160mm RockShox 35 forks, 150mm of RockShox Deluxe damper rear travel, 12-speed SRAM Eagle, four piston brakes and a slack head angle for $4,999.99.
Giant has pulled out all the stops for its entry level full-suspension budget e-MTB, and it’s a really good looking bike with some neat features. There are some compromises to work around, though.
Getting a frame with an internal battery is definitely a major plus at this price, but the 500Wh Giant EnergyPak cell can still be removed for recharging if necessary. Giant also uses its own SyncDrive Sport motor with 70Nm of torque. That’s less than Bosch and Brose but is on par with other budget brands. The RideControl Plus display and phone app give tuneable support options, and Giant have an impeccable reputation for super reliable components.
The alloy frame uses a rocker driven RockShox Monarch shock with a flex stay system, giving a ride-smoothing, if not boulder-eating 120mm of travel. The Suntour fork delivers a 130mm stroke through stiff 34mm legs, and you get a 15mm front axle.
29er wheels help with rough play, and you get decent, although not reinforced, Maxxis Rekon tires for easy speed. Shimano Deore is an older 10-speed drivetrain so there are no super low winch gears, but you do get an MRP chain guide. Tektro Orion brakes with 200mm rotors give reasonable power, although the feel is a bit wooden.
Despite this being a relatively recent frame the angles are conservatively steep, and it’s very short in reach at 444mm for a large. You get a less secure QR rear wheel ($4,200 Pro version gets a 148mm bolt through axle), and you’ll need to add a dropper post for any sort of descending confidence.
The Shimano motorized version of GT’s Force play bike delivers plenty of travel and proper aggro geometry, but the stop and go componentry is gagging for upgrading.
You’re getting a STEPS E7000 motor rather than the latest EP8 so power is mid-level, but that means proven durability and plenty of run time from the internal 504Wh battery. The Force based chassis really scores with a stiff, strong construction and the 150mm of X-Fusion controlled four-bar suspension to keep pace with usefully progressive geometry.
In terms of numbers, there's a 65-degree head angle, 75-degree seat angle and a decent 475mm reach on the large frame. A short 45mm stem and 780mm bar offer an appropriate cockpit, and you get a TranzX dropper. WTB 32-spoke, 30mm, 29er rims with Addix compound Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 2.6in tires are decent rolling stock for covering ground with reasonable grip. You might want to upgrade to tougher rubber at the rear, and the gears and brakes are definitely below par. It’s not that Shimano Deore isn’t smooth and massively durable, but you’re only getting the 10-speed version here. Plus the Shimano MT200 brakes aren’t up to the task of taming a bike that gains speed and encourages limit-pushing as much at the Force GT-E Current.
Halfords' own brand, Voodoo, has done well to get their full-suspension e-bike under £3,000 and still sell them from retail shops, but that does come with some compromises.
The obvious one is that the battery sits on top of the down tube rather than being integrated into it. It looks a bit outdated and potentially isn’t as stiff, plus external batteries tend to be more prone to rattling as the miles accumulate. The plus point is very easy removal for recharging.
The older style frame also has older style geometry with a relatively steep 67-degree head angle and 74-degree seat angle at either end of a short 456mm reach on the large size. A very long, kinked seat tube means there’s not much potential for sizing up to get extra stretch, and the dropper seat post stroke is limited, too. While we’re on the downsides, the bar is very narrow, and the Shimano Altus brakes aren’t anywhere near powerful enough for an e-bike, even with big rotors.
The good news is that there’s also lots of good news. The Shimano E7000 is a mid-power motor so you’ll lose out in drag races, but it’s quiet and you’ll get plenty of range from the 504Wh battery. Gears are SRAM NX Eagle for plenty of ratio range, and you get wide double-wall DH rims supporting the top quality 27.5 x 2.8 wide Maxxis Rekon Plus tires for plenty of float. The 32mm legs of the RockShox Recon RL forks get a bit twangy under the extra weight of the frame, but they’re steel for strength. The Monarch RL shock works fine even if it’s previous generation spec.
For under £3,000 it’s still a lot of fun, and it doesn’t have much competition aside from the Giant Stance.
How to choose the best budget e-MTB
1. Hardtail or full suspension
If you want an e-bike for tackling properly technical trails with serious rocks, drops and other challenges, then you definitely want full suspension. Otherwise, all that extra battery and motor weight is going to be smashing into stuff with nothing to absorb the impact, which will affect your ride quality. That makes even the best hardtail E-bikes quite a battering experience.
In contrast, that extra weight actually makes even basic rear suspension feel much better thanks to the greater contrast in sprung-to-unsprung weight ratio. Or to put it another way, all that bike mass (the sprung bit) is harder to move so the unsprung bit (the wheels, rear swingarm etc.) move more, making even basic dampers feel more supple and sensitive.
We always recommend sticking with big brand motors, such as Bosch, Shimano and Brose, to get the best level of support and to make it easier to find help if you have an issue. Each brand has a range of motors available so you might find that some budget e-MTBs use less powerful versions that are designed for town bikes. That doesn’t have to a deal breaker. Just be prepared to pedal a little harder than riders on full-power bikes.
Batteries are really expensive, too, so some designs use less cells in their batteries to save cost. A smaller battery will also be lighter so you could actually see that as a bonus. How the battery is mounted doesn’t make a huge difference in performance, although it may affect the practicality of removing the battery for charging or mounting a water bottle. Some internal battery frames are stiffer than external mount frames but most aren’t. External battery designs are simpler and therefore cheaper to design and make, and they are almost always easier to remove for charging off the bike. They don’t look nearly as slick though, and external batteries are more prone to loosen and rattle.
If you’ve added about 10kg of motor and battery weight to your bike, then you may as well have enough travel to enjoy those extra descents it’s gifting you. We think there should be at least 130mm of rear travel and 140mm or more in the front. Make sure you still pay attention to quality, not just quantity, as a bike that blows through its travel or has really mushy pedalling will never feel as good as a properly controlled machine that you can push your limits on.
You’ll generally be going a lot faster if you’ve got a motor helping you and a lot more gravity on your side when descending. You’ll have to wrestle a lot more bike mass through corners and tech sections, too, so you need all the help you can get. That means a head angle of 66 degrees or less and a generous reach for stability at high speeds. You don’t want it to feel like a total barge, though, so you want a wide bar for leverage and a short stem for quick reactions.
With more weight and speed to control, brakes are the obvious thing that needs to be more powerful and reliable than normal on an e-MTB. Look for 200mm+ rotors on either end to be sure of stopping. Tires, particularly at the back, take a pounding even with full suspension, so if you don’t get reinforced casing set up tubeless then definitely upgrade ASAP. Wheels are important too. Not just strong rims and build quality, but also rear hubs that can take all the extra torque being delivered by the motor. You might not get all of this when looking at budget bikes, but if it comes down to a choice between otherwise similar machines, make sure you check the details.