Despite initial skepticism, the Bike Perfect team has been thoroughly impressed after riding some of the best e-MTBs currently on the market. The new crop of pedal-assisted mountain bikes have 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 e-MTBs available today
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 stood out when railing turns.
For suspension, you get a 140mm RockShox Deluxe Select + RT shock paired with a 150mm RockShox Yari RC upfront. Shimano's dependable Deore groupset handles drivetrain and braking.
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.
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.
A semi-carbon frame on the Spectral 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.
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.
Putting out up to 80nm of torque and a claimed 360 percent of pedaling input Giant has tuned the Yamaha motor attached to the Trance E+ 1 Pro to provide consistent power, even at a low cadence.
The frame itself is made from Giant's ALUXX SL alloy with a 500WH battery integrated neatly into the down tube. At the back, the Maestro suspension design is supple, it simply glides over the small stuff, and the 140mm Fox 36 fork doesn't get squirmy under pressure. Rolling on 27.5-inch wheels and tires, the smaller hoops help to lessen the weightiness of the bike.
Finished with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, and Code R brakes, Giant also supplies the Trance E+ 1 Pro with tubeless valves and rim strips factory-installed - they even include sealant so you can take full advantage of the Maxxis Minion tires.
Are you looking for an e-MTB that still has that stiff hardtail trail feel? E-hardtails save a bit of weight and money by eliminating the rear shock. Multiple brands make an e-hardtail, including Marin.
The Nail Trail hardtail is powered by a Shimano Steps E8000 motor and 500Wh battery. The fork is a 140mm RockShox Revelation and gears are taken care of by SRAM. This bike also includes a 150mm dropper post from X-Fusion, so you don't have to worry about the seat getting in the way on the way down.
Pivot's new Shuttle is the pinnacle of e-MTB's, 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.
The Sight VLT 2 looks just like its analog cousin, with only a slight variation in the geometry; the BB is a bit higher, the reach is a touch longer, but the chainstays are the same length.
Using a Shimano STEPS E8000 drive unit, Norco has opted for a 630Wh battery over the typical 500Wh and integrated it cleanly into the down tube — though it's not removable. The STEPS motor provides plenty of power that kicks in without the jolt of some systems and is manageable even in turbo mode trying to navigate tight singletrack.
Specced with a Sram Eagle NX 12-speed drivetrain, the Guide brakes offer plenty of power and modulation with four positions and 200mm rotors. The Sight VTL also gets RockShox suspension with the base tune customized for the added forces that come with an e-bike.
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.
If you are wanting an e-MTB that doesn't break the bank, GT has you covered. The Force has a decent spec list with a Shimano motor and Shimano drivetrain and brake components.
The rear shock is a 150mm RockShox Deluxe Select R. On the other end, the fork is an SR Suntour Zeron 35, which is coil-sprung, but that's to be expected considering the price.
You also only get a 10-speed drivetrain, compared to the 12 gears you would get on a pricier bike. However, it's an overall decent spec for the price and includes a TranzX dropper post and Schwalbe tires.
Best e-MTBs: what you need to know
Most e-bikes will either use a drive system from Bosch, Shimano or Yamaha, however, depending on where you live, the wattage output and maximum speed will vary.
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; 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 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.
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.
E-MTB motors and batteries
While electric bike 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.
Frame and components
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.