After riding some of the best electric mountain bikes currently on the market, the Bike Perfect team has been thoroughly impressed. The latest crop of pedal-assisted mountain bikes has reliable drive systems, great components, and excellent suspension, making them a blast to ride.
Riding an electric mountain bike is anything but cheating, and you can still finish a ride on an e-MTB just as gassed as when on a regular bike. They are an absolute blast to ride and allow people of all types to ride faster and farther.
On this page, we have listed what we reckon are the best electric mountain bikes currently available. If you head to the bottom of the page, there is even more useful information, such as what to look for when considering buying an electric mountain bike and important geographic regulations. If you have less cash to splash, we also have a guide for the best budget e-MTBs, as well as an article on the best women's electric mountain bikes.
Keep reading to see our choice of the best electric mountain bikes or skip to the bottom if you want to know how to choose the best electric mountain bike.
Best electric mountain bikes
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Whyte's e-MTB bikes have been getting praise from us and many other mags and websites since their launch and during testing we found that the E-160 RSX is a great example of why they work so well.
Taking learnings from the excellent Whyte E-150 series, at first glance the E-160 RSX has a very similar look to it's predecessor, but the frame is actually very different. It's been beefed up in all the right areas and the downtube now incorporates a sliding rail for easier battery removal. There are loads of weatherproofing details on the frame too.
Componentry choices are top notch for an e-bomber such as this and at the heart of the bike is a Bosch Performance CX motor powered by a large capacity 750Wh battery. Suspension comes in the form of a Fox 38 Float Performance Elite 160mm fork and a 44mm offset/ Fox Float X Performance Elite shock. It also boasts wireless shifting from a 1x12 SRAM AXS GX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM CODE RSC brakes with 220/200mm rotors and a DT Swiss HX1700 wheelset.
For more details, check out our full Whyte E-160 RSX review.
While the eONE-SIXTY is pegged as an enduro bike and certainly has the travel and clout to back it up, we had the most fun exploring areas and zones that we wouldn’t have otherwise explored on a regular bike. Simply hurling down a double black route misses the adaptable utility that Merida has instilled in the eONE-SIXTY.
Otherwise, torturous access is made possible with the eONE-SIXTY’s determined climbing ability which makes exploration fun rather than a hardship. Capable suspension alongside grounded geometry figures means that, whether the trail back down is flowing singletrack or littered with technical features, you are aboard a bike that can not only handle almost any track with composure but encourages playful riding that squeezes as much fun as possible from the returning descent.
Shimano provides the drivetrain and braking as well, with an XT derailleur and SLX shifter providing dependable performance that is synonymous with the brand’s benchmark groupset. The brakes are Shimano XT disc brakes with 203mm rotors. Bump taming is handled by Fox's DPX2 Elite shock and 38 Elite forks, both measuring in at 160mm of travel. The mullet setup of 29er front and 27.5in rear wheels use DT Swiss rims and Maxxis tires.
Read more about the Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000 on our review.
With the Crafty R, Mondraker has brought its signature geometry and handling characteristics to an e-MTB with an industry-leading Bosch motor and battery.
In addition to the Bosch drive system, the bike uses a mix of SRAM GX, NX, and SX Eagle drivetrain components and SRAM G2 R brakes. That's combined with Fox suspension front and rear, plus DT Swiss H1900 Spline wheels, for a bike that weighs just under 25kg.
The handling of the Crafty comes alive in the most technical terrain, and the drive system is smooth and efficient. Perhaps the only thing missing that would make this a near-perfect e-MTB are slightly smaller tires to improve handling precision - which can be easily swapped out if you want.
Check out our full Mondraker Crafty R to find out why it's such a superb all-round package.
The Bullit has been in Santa Cruz's range since 1998, but after 2011 the Californian brand put the model on hiatus. Now it's back in a completely new format: a burly, long-travel e-MTB.
The all-new Bullit has 170mm of travel front and rear, making this a long-travel bike meant for the gnarliest terrain. Santa Cruz's Carbon CC frame is built around a mullet wheel size setup, with a 29-inch wheel in the front and a 27.5-inch wheel in the back. Supplying the power is a Shimano EP8 motor with a full-size 630Wh battery so you can cover lots of ground.
While we've been impressed with Shimano's EP8 drive system, we're also impressed by the suspension performance, both on the downs as well as the ups. Santa Cruz's VPP suspension platform allows for burly downhill riding, while also providing a stable pedaling platform. Put together, this all means the Bullit is a beast of a bike.
Read our detailed review of the Santa Cruz Bullit 101 to see how it earned a spot in this guide.
On the Focus website, the THRON2 6.9 is described as suitable for "...trail tours through alpine terrain to your daily commute and bikepacking", which is a pretty wide range of applications.
This ‘mountain tour/utility MTB’ category is far more popular in Europe than the UK and US. Mainly because we’d rather pretend we kick ass every ride than admit a kickstand is actually really useful on a bike that’s a beast to heave off the floor. The THRON2 definitely has a limit to how hard you can push it on steeper, more testing terrain, while the blunt frame and bars can also be bruising on rougher trail surfaces. It’s way more fun on blue/red grade trails though, with really well judged rear suspension and enabling, engaging handling.
The Bosch Smart System setup continues to impress more every time we used them, especially with the improvements added in the latest update. In other words, the THRON2 is definitely a properly balanced, long range XC/trail e-bike with bonus ‘lifestyle’ versatility and value rather than a town bike playing dress up in the dirt.
For more info on this genre-straddling bike, have a look at out full length Focus THRON2 6.9 review.
If you are looking for the cutting edge in e-MTB features then Scott's newest Patron E-Ride should be top of your list. The all-mountain bike features 160mm of travel front and rear and is powered by a Gen4 Bosch Performance CX motor with 85Nm of torque and a 750Wh. According to Scott, that should be enough to give you 2,000m of climbing in ECO mode.
It's clear from simply looking at the Patron with its futuristic aesthetic that Scott has put a lot of work into the design of the frame. Centrally Scott has focussed on lowering the center of gravity as much as possible by rotating the motor and dropping the battery as low as possible in the downtube. The shock is hidden within the top tube, keeping it away from dirt penetration and maintaining the futuristic look.
On the integration front, a one-piece bar and stem that routes all the gear, brake, motor and Twin-Loc suspension controls into the frame. Scott has mounted the Bosch Kiox 300 display above the stem for easy reading while riding. There are also fenders that feature integrated LED lights.
The result is a superbly well-rounded bike that climbs and descends with composure and confidence, vital when you are tackling big days out and are likely to experience a wide variety of terrain.
Read our thoughts on the Scott Patron E-Ride 900 Tuned when we took it for a first ride.
It's well known that what works for the pro riders often doesn't necessarily work for the weekend warrior. That's because speeds, line choice and the types of trails ridden are hugely different from the average rider.
Focus has looked to cater for new and intermediate riders with the Jam2 which means the 150mm of forgiving suspension adds comfort and control. Big brakes and tires help make the most of the FOLD linkage suspension system too so you can feel confident to push into increasingly difficult trails. The offset is that more radical riders who are hitting things hard might find that the suspension is overall eager, but ultimately we found the Jam2 stayed calm when the trail became chaotic.
Shimano's new EP8 motor is paired with a custom slimmer-shaped 720Wh battery which packs neatly in the downtube. The overall geometry is pretty neutral as well with a 65-degree headtube, 76-degree seat angle and 480mm reach (large) to make the bike predictable and easy to handle on the trail.
For more details, check out our Focus Jam2 7.0 review.
At first glance, the outdated geometry and motor on the YT Decoy Elite e-MTB would be easy to overlook. However, a build featuring strong and lightweight carbon wheels along with one of the best dropper posts, the Fox Transfer Factory, makes the Decoy a solid option that's also cheaper than the Decoy Core 4 model. A short reach makes climbing a bit twitchy, but it's that same geometry that makes this bike a riot on tight, corner-filled trails.
A mullet setup with a 29er front wheel and 27.5in wheel in the back means you can flow through twisty trails with ease while still gobbling up rock gardens and roots. Maxxis Assegai and Minion DHR II tires hook up in all kinds of conditions, and Fox Factory suspension keeps the bike planted and supple, adding to the build's value.
For more details on how the YT Decoy Elite performed during testing, read our full review.
A semi-carbon frame on the Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8 keeps things light, while a mullet wheel size setup keeps things fun and shreddy. The bike is kitted out with a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain and XT M8100 brakes. The suspension is handled by Fox's Performance line, with 150mm of travel in the rear and 160mm in the front. DT Swiss H1700 Hybrid rims are outfitted with Maxxis rubber.
Overall, the Spectral is a lightweight e-MTB with a solid drive system, components, and suspension. One downside is that Canyon is a direct-to-consumer brand, so it's not possible to look at one in person before you buy it, but it will be shipped right to your doorstep.
Want to know more? Check out our Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8 review.
Some e-MTBs are designed to push the limits, either in suspension/general performance or in battery life and range. But the eONE FORTY 9000 is designed to occupy the middle ground as an enjoyable all-arounder.
Merida does this by using a mullet setup with DT-Swiss HX1501 Spline ONE 30 Hybrid wheels along with Continental tires. The suspension is from Fox, using a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork with 140mm of travel, ideal for smoothing out nearly any trail. In the rear, there is a Fox DPS Performance Elite shock with 133mm of travel.
Shimano's BT-E8036 630Wh battery is powered by a Shimano EP8 motor attached to a 34T chainring. Shimano also takes care of the shifting and braking with its XT 12-speed drivetrain and 4-pot brakes with 200mm rotors.
Read more about this bike in our full Merida eONE FORTY 9000 review.
How to choose the best electric mountain bike
Are there e-MTB restrictions?
In the US, rules for e-bikes vary from state to state; with 30 states classifying e-bikes as ordinary bicycles, while the remaining 20 label e-bikes as mopeds, scooters or something else altogether.
Federal law defines an electric bicycle as a "two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of fewer than 750 watts, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20mph."
It's worth noting this statute defines the maximum assisted speed of the bike propelled solely by the motor, not when it's being pedaled. To make things more confusing, state regulations can supersede the federal statute.
The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association has proposed a three-class system that divides electric bikes up based on their maximum assisted speed:
For all three classes, the motor can only put out a max of 750 watts, and the class needs to be clearly labeled.
Even still, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Parks Service categorize e-MTBs as 'motorized', and they are only permitted where motorized vehicles are allowed. This means that the trail networks near your house might not be open for electric mountain bikes, however, some local and state land management agencies have made exceptions.
Our friends over at People for Bikes and MTB project have put together a pretty comprehensive map of trails where electric mountain bikes are permitted. You can see the full map here.
UK and EU
The UK adopted a lot of the EU's regulations regarding e-bikes, but considering Brexit, it's hard to say if these restrictions will change as things move along.
The 'Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EPAC) Amendment Regulations' mandates that electric assistance can only provide 250 watts of aid and must cut out at 25kph. It also stipulates the rider must be at least 14-years old and the bike must be in motion before the motor kicks in.
Electric bikes (and riders) that meet these standards have the same legal standing as regular bicycles and are allowed on roads, bike paths and singletrack.
In Australia, e-bikes are split into throttle operated and pedal assist. Both systems must be limited to 25kph, and the throttle-operated motors can only output 200 watts while pedal assist is legal up to 250 watts. Anything that exceeds these figures is considered a motorbike and must be licensed and insured.
Are mid-drive ebikes better?
While the best e-MTB motors can be placed in either wheel or at the bottom bracket, e-MTBs should have a mid-drive motor system. The motor and battery are the heaviest parts of the bike, and with this weight between the wheels and close to the ground, it doesn't throw your center of gravity out of whack.
Mid-motor systems also perform more efficiently at a lower cadence and have sensors to measure how hard you're pedaling to tailor the level of torque and maintain grip. The motors are optimized for trail use, with a few levels of assistance ranging from low-watt 'eco' modes to gradient flattening 'turbo'.
Batteries will be described in Watt-hours or Wh, taking both output and capacity into account — a bigger number means the battery will take you farther on a single charge, but those with more capacity are heavier which will impact the ride characteristics.
Are electric mountain bikes good for trail riding?
Improvements in design and geometry mean that the best electric mountain bikes are extremely cable and fun to ride off-road. That said there is a lot of spec considerations that will affect the way a bike performs off-road.
Many e-mountain bikes come with robust aluminum framesets, but brands are rolling out more carbon options as they get the hang of this new segment of bikes. As with analog mountain bikes, full-suspension reigns supreme when it comes to e-MTBs, and with the right suspension tune, the extra weight can improve descending. Look for robust suspension and a fork with at least 36mm stanchions for proper trail riding.
With the extra weight from the motor and battery, it takes considerably more force to slow an e-MTB down, and when you're hurtling toward an unsuspecting hiker or a hairpin corner, you're going to want four-piston brakes and 200mm rotors.
The additional weight also means the wheels will be built solid, with more spokes and wrapped in 2.5in (or bigger) tubeless tires. With rolling resistance being less of a consideration, manufacturers opt for puncture-resistant casings and more aggressive tread.