E-MTBs are consistently getting better as technology quickly advances, however the best e-bike accessories and upgrades will still greatly improve its performance, as well as your enjoyment of it.
While some upgrades do require further expenditure, the cheapest accessories and upgrades on this list actually yield some of the biggest performance gains out on the trail, and are all pretty simple tasks you can do at home and don’t require any special tools either. That means you can easily improve your e-MTB whether you are looking to eke out more speed, find extra control on slippery trails or improve comfort as you rack up the miles.
In this list of the best e-bike accessories and upgrades, we focus on the demands of e-MTBs, however many of the points on this list actually cross over to e-gravel and e-road bikes too, as the fundamentals still hold true no matter what sort of e-bike you ride. So keep reading to find out what the best e-bike accessories and upgrades are and how they can make your e-bike better.
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1. Go tubeless
Going tubeless should be the first upgrade you do to any bike, but it’s one of the best e-bike upgrades you can make to get the most performance from your e-MTB. The reason tubeless is so good is down to the ability to run lower tire pressures without risking punctures. On an e-MTB that not only means more grip on the descents but also on the climbs, allowing tires to deform to the ground and really dig in for grip.
As e-MTBs are specced with tougher casing tires and are less concerned with rolling resistance, riders are able to run extremely low sub 20psi pressures to maximize grip.
Lastly, gone are the days of complicated tubeless fitting; nowadays most rims and tires pair perfectly together, making fitting tubeless tires so easy that it should be a no-brainer. In most cases, all you need to do is buy some tubeless sealant, valves and in under an hour you could be benefitting from more grip and control on the trail.
Surprisingly manufacturers of e-MTBs across the board are very good at speccing high-quality tires, something that can’t always be said about regular mountain bikes. That doesn’t mean the tires that came on your bike are going to be the best option for you or your local trail, however.
The best e-MTB tires have a massive effect on how a bike rides, and with such a wide range of different trail conditions, it’s unsurprising that no tire is a master across the board. Most tires will be fairly specialist, whether it's low profile yet fast-rolling tires for hardpack dry conditions, or narrow spikes designed to cut through the slop. The robustness of a tire should also be considered, while human-powered bikes might be able to get away with light tire casings, e-MTBs require a more robust carcass. Brands like Maxxis, Schwalbe and Pirelli all have e-MTB-specific tires and provide performance charts to help you pick the right tire for your style of riding.
3. Flat pedals
Flat pedals win medals, or so they say. On the racing front that hasn’t been true for a long time. While clipless pedals can offer some notable improvements in efficiency and control, considering most of us aren’t racing, we can stop worrying about small gains in speed and instead enjoy the freedom that comes with flat pedals.
The biggest advantage is climbing confidence, flat pedals allow you to charge at ultra-steep climbs with the confidence that you can quickly eject rather than tumbling back down attached to a 20kg bike. While you don’t have the pull-up power of clips it doesn’t matter as much on an e-MTB as the motor, which benefits from different pedaling styles and overrun features, makes climbing techniques very different from a regular bike. On the downhills, the extra centered weight makes e-MTBs extremely planted, so you're not going to be blowing feet off pedals as much as you would be on a regular bike. So you can enjoy the 'foot out, flat out' playful descending experience. Bear in mind that the best MTB flat pedals will benefit from being used with the best MTB flat pedal shoes as the stiff and grippy soles greatly improve connection and control with the pedal platform.
4. Experiment with motor settings
E-bikes are getting increasingly more sophisticated and many of the best e-MTB motors come with a supporting smartphone app to allow riders to customize the characteristics of the bike. While the factory settings of the motors are usually pretty good for general riding, these apps allow riders to control support levels and modes to tailor the bike’s performance to the type of riding you do.
These apps allow you to tune the amount of support and torque levels, so for example if your rides involve a lot of technical climbing, you can boost the output for ultimate rock crawling performance, but if mileage is more important, power can be reduced for better efficiency.
The way the motor performs also depends on the rider's preference or ability, some riders might be looking for a little extra boost but still get a workout on the climbs, whereas others might want to go full attack mode and rally up the hills to fit as much descending as possible into their limited available riding time.
5. A shock pump
While you are experimenting with motor settings, why not also experiment with suspension settings? For those new to mountain biking, suspension not only absorbs bumps but also has a massive effect on cornering and the ride characteristics on your bike. Retailers are pretty good these days at providing accurate baseline settings based on a rider’s weight, but there's a lot to play around with to finetune your ride.
Most bikes come with air-sprung suspension, so to set it up you will need a shock pump to accurately add or remove air from the fork or shock. More experienced mountain bikers might already be well versed in the setting up of suspension from riding regular mountain bikes, however e-MTBs have quite a different ride characteristic and therefore benefit from a different setup. With a higher weight and a noticeably low center of gravity, e-MTBs are considerably more stable on rough trails so the suspension needs to be adjusted to account for this.
There is no magic number though, so once you have your bike tuned to the manufacturer’s settings, don’t be scared to make small adjustments to air pressure, rebound and compression and see how they positively, or negatively, affect the bike’s performance. Just remember to try and be methodical and not change too much at once so you can get a better grasp of how each adjustment affects the bike on rough sections, corners and jumps.
6. Cleaning kit and routine
We all know that it’s important to clean your bike after a ride if you want to keep it working better for longer. As e-bikes have more moving parts, it’s arguably even more important to give your ride a good wash if it’s been a wet or muddy ride.
Cleaning your e-bike is no different from how to clean a mountain bike and you don’t need an e-bike-specific cleaning kit. We recommend investing in a good kit from the likes of Muc Off or Peaty's Products to make the job easy. That’s not to say you can’t use the old bucket of soapy water and a sponge, we just find that the bike-specific formulas work a little better.
Any bike cleaning guide will recommend taking some time to inspect the bike while you get deep and personal during the post-ride clean down. With e-bikes it’s particularly important to pay close attention to your drivetrain, since the added torque from the motor means your chain, cassette and chainring will have a hard life, and replacing parts before they become too worn will keep your bike running smoothly and be cheaper in the long run.
It isn’t a bad idea to keep a spare chain in your riding pack either, as it isn’t uncommon for a chain to snap, so having a spare means you won’t be finishing your ride early.
When it comes to upgrading saddles it’s almost always a comfort-based decision, but with e-MTBs there is actually a little more going on than might meet the eye.
For a start, riders remain seated far more on an e-MTB than a regular mountain bike as this puts more weight on the back tire to help maintain grip when climbing. Much steeper ascents are also possible, so a rider's positioning on the saddle demands a different shape too. Some brands like Fizik have released e-MTB-specific seats, although many of the best MTB saddles will work equally well.
Look for saddles with raised rear lips for support on steep climbs, cut-outs for comfort and shorter shapes with pronounced wing shaping to provide support, control and stability when climbing technical ascents seated.
8. A spare battery
Batteries are getting bigger and motors more efficient, but if you are wanting to head out on an all-day epic then having a spare battery at your disposal is going to extend your range and allow you to be a little more generous with boost mode too.
Some bikes have auxiliary batteries, while for others it's simply a case of dropping the empty one out and popping a fresh one in. Batteries are expensive though, so it’s only going to be something worth investing in if you are putting in serious miles.
You will also need to choose from one of the best cycling backpacks for MTB to carry your spare battery around, as batteries are heavy and the extra weight requires a backpack that distributes and stabilizes loads well.