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Best electric mountain bikes: e-MTBs that can get you up and down the mountain

Merida eONE-SIXTY best eMTB
(Image credit: Merida)

After riding some of the best e-MTBs currently on the market, the Bike Perfect team has been thoroughly impressed. The new crop of pedal-assisted mountain bikes has reliable drive systems, great components, and excellent suspension, making them a blast to ride. 

Riding an e-MTB is anything but cheating, and you can still finish a ride on an electric mountain bike just as gassed, if not more so, than on a standard mountain bike. They are an absolute hoot to ride and allow people of all types to ride faster and farther. 

On this page, we have listed what we think are the best e-MTBs 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 e-MTB and important geographic regulations. If you have a smaller price range, we also have a guide for the best budget e-MTBs

Best electric mountain bikes available today

Whyte E-150 S

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Whyte E-150 S

Whyte's E-150 S is an outstandingly sweet-handling chariot

Rear travel: 140mm | Frame material: Alloy | Drive system: Bosch Performance Line CX | Wheel size: 29in | SRP: $6,000 / £5,100 / €5,700

Outstanding handling
Bosch overdrive 
Shimano components 
Seat angle could be steeper
Brakes pushed to the limit
Fork damper struggles sometimes

The Whyte E-150 S really impressed us with its outstanding handling, a well-performing Bosch drive system, and a great build kit of Shimano components which is why we gave it 5 stars when we reviewed it. The E-150 stands out because of its low center of gravity and balance of stability and agility which really shone when railing turns.

For suspension, you get a 140mm RockShox Deluxe Select + RT shock paired with a 150mm RockShox Yari RC up front. Shimano's dependable Deore groupset handles the drivetrain and braking.

Find out more about why we awarded the Whyte E-150 S a full five stars out of five.

Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000 and Shimano EP8

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000

Sensible geometry, mullet wheel setup and playful characteristics make the eONE-SIXTY a superb all-rounder

Rear Travel: 160mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Shimano EP8 | Wheel size: 29in front 27.5in rear | SRP: $10,200 / £7,300 / €8,500

Playful descending characteristics suit a range of trail types
Controlled delivery of power helps with ambitious climbing
Conservative geometry
Could do with additional armor for the motor for added peace of mind

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.

Mondraker Crafty R review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Mondraker Crafty R

Signature Mondraker geometry in a great package

Rear Travel: 150mm | Frame material: Alloy | Drive system: Bosch Performance Line CX | Wheel size: 29in | SRP: $7,954 / £5,899

Mondraker geometry and handling
Awesome suspension
Bosch drive system
Drifty tire size
Slightly tall
Underside charging port

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.

Canyon Spectral:ON Review

(Image credit: Future / Guy Kesteven)

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8

A lightweight semi-carbon chassis with a mullet setup

Rear travel: 150mm | Frame material: Carbon mainframe, alloy rear end | Srive system: Shimano EP8 | Wheel size : 29in front, 27.5in rear | SRP: $7,000 / £6,000 / €6,000

Lightweight semi-carbon frame
Excellent suspension
Great wheels and tires
Coasting rattle
Low BB 
Long stem

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.

Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Santa Cruz Bullit X01

Old-school bike in a new school format

Rear Travel: 170mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Shimano EP8 | Wheel size: 29in front, 27.5in rear | SRP: From $8,250 / £7,500 / €7,700

VPP lower link suspension 
Lifetime frame, bearing, and wheel warranty
630Wh battery
Premium price
No smaller sizes

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.

YT Decoy Elite

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

YT Decoy Elite

Super-agile, corner-smashing mullet wheel size bike

Rear Travel: 165mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Shimano Steps E8000 | Wheel size: 29in front, 27.5in rear | SRP: £6,871.09 / €6,999

Compact agility and serious stiffness
Premium Fox Factory suspension
Awesome Crankbrothers carbon wheels
Benchmark Maxxis treads
Killer overall kit value
Proven, knock-free Shimano motor
Shortness reduces stability
Cramped when climbing
Older motor
Smaller battery than most
Relatively fragile tires
Long seat tubes remove ‘sizing up’ option

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.

Merida eONE FORTY 9000 e-MTB

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Merida eONE FORTY 9000

A really enjoyable and agile all-rounder

Rear Travel: 133mm | Frame material: NanoMatrix carbon front, hydroformed alloy rear | Drive system: Shimano EP8/Shimano BT-E8036 | Wheel size: 29in front, 27.5in rear | SRP: £7,250 / Not available in the US

Low weight for a full-battery bike
Stiff fork and mainframe
Short, lively handling character
Excellent wheels
Super plush suspension
Fully tuneable dampers
Maximum function minimum fuss spec
Extensive frame feature
Shimano motor rattle
Nervy in steeps and at speed
Shock needs tweaking for harder riders
Light is feeble

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.

Pivot Cycles e-MTB

(Image credit: Pivot Cycles)

Pivot Shuttle Team XTR

The e-MTB for those where budget is no issue

Rear Travel: 140mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Steps DU-EP800 | Wheel size: 29in | SRP: From $11,700 / £10,600 / €10.500

Handles itself in challenging terrain
Suspension
Build quality 
Battery removal

Pivot's new Shuttle is the pinnacle of e-MTBs, with a high-end carbon frame, Kashima coated Fox Factory suspension and Shimano XTR. The Shuttle gets a DW-link rear suspension setup for best-in-class pedaling and traction, plus a 140mm rear shock, which is mated with an e-bike specific Fox 38 160mm fork at the front. 

Tipping the scales at a little over 20kg, the Shuttle comes with a Steps DU-EP800 drive unit and a 726Wh battery to cover lots of ground. Pivot's two-bolt release system makes swapping batteries or charging easy as well. 

Norco Sight VLT c2 2022

(Image credit: Norco )

Norco Sight VLT C2

Nimble and techy

Rear Travel: 150mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Shimano STEPS EP8 | Wheel size: 29in | SRP: $7,348

Option for multiple battery sizes
Battery is a separate charge

The Sight VLT C2 has been redesigned for 2022. Now it uses a horizontal shock placement rather than a vertical placement on the previous design. That suspension design uses a 160mm RockShox Lyric fork along with a custom-tuned
RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock. 

Using a Shimano STEPS EP8 drive unit, Norco has opted to give the customer the choice between three battery sizes: 900Wh, 720Wh or 540Wh.  The batteries are sold separately, which is a bit of a confusing way of doing it instead of just including it in the final price of the bike. 

The bike is specced with SRAM Eagle SX and GX 12-speed drivetrain components, Shimano brakes, and Maxxis tires. 

Orbea e-MTB

(Image credit: Orbea)

Orbea Rise M20

Sleek-looking trail bike

Rear Travel: 140mm | Frame material: Carbon | Drive system: Shimano EP8 | Wheel size: 29in | SRP: $7,000 / £5,600 / $ 6,300

Great look
Nice spec list
No Display

The Orbea Rise looks surprisingly like a normal trail bike. That's because the Shimano EP8 motor is hidden into the lower portion of the frame. In addition to the Shimano motor and battery system, Shimano also supplies an SLX drivetrain and M6100 disc brakes. 

The electric-assist is designed to power riders up to 20 miles per hour, and with all that speed you'll need some suspension. Fox Float Performance suspension takes care of all vibrations and impacts, with 140mm in the front and rear. 

This is possibly the best-looking bike on this list and you'll fool other riders out on the trail into thinking you're riding a normal bike. 

How to choose the best e-MTBs

Are there e-MTB restrictions? 

US

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.

Australia

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.

Everything you need to know about e-MTB motors and batteries

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.

What to look for in an e-MTB frame and build 

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 34mm stanchions.

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. 

Colin Levitch

Born and bred in Colorado, and now based in Australia, Colin comes from a ski racing background and started riding as a way to stay fit through the summer months. His father, a former European pro, convinced him to join the Colorado State University collegiate cycling team, and he hasn't stopped since. It's not often he pins on a number nowadays, and you'll likely find him in search of flowy singletrack, gravel roads and hairpin corners. Colin has worked at BikeRadar.com and is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike and Cyclist magazines. 

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