After riding many 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 have reliable motor systems, great components, and excellent suspension, making them a blast to ride on all manner of trail types.
E-MTBing has become massively popular and if you head out on the trails you'll see loads of riders hammering around with electrical assistance. There are a many reasons why riders would opt for an e-MTB rather than a regular bike, whether it's packing in as many runs as possible, fitness issues, or simply preferring the different riding style of an e-MTB.
All the bikes here are full-suspension models as we reckon hardtail e-MTBs are not quite up to the job of proper mountain biking. They can still be a blast to ride on easy trails or fire roads though.
We've fully tested all the e-MTBs in this guide and have comes up with a list that we reckon are the finest around. Our best electric mountain bike is also our top lightweight e-MTB – the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL II, weighing at a featherweight 17.6kg (38.8lb). If you want an e-MTB with a full fat motor though, our top rated option is the Whyte E-160 RSX.
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. And if you need more advice before taking the plunge on an e-MTB, you'll find buying advice at the bottom of this article.
Best electric mountain bikes
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1. Best overall
Specialized’s latest S-Works Turbo Levo SL II has more power, more suspension travel, rad adjustable geometry and a rowdy mixed wheel build, but it’s still seriously lightweight.
A 10mm increase in travel to 160mm front and 150mm rear matches the non-electric and excellent Stumpjumper Evo. The Levo SL II also adopts the Stumpy’s super easy to switch headset inserts and shock link flip-chip so you can switch from the default 64.25-degree head angle to 63 or 65.5 degrees. A second pair of eccentric flip-chips let you run either a 29in or 27.5in rear wheel without disturbing other geometry. Interestingly, the SL II comes with a 27.5in rear as standard, while the Evo is a 2 x 29er by default.
The frame is Specialized’s well proven Fact 11 composite with different “Rider Engineered” layups designed to give a consistent ride character for each of the S1 to S6 sizes. There are also proportional geometry changes to the different frames and you get a bottle cage that’ll take a full size bottle and soft chain quietening/ rock shrugging armor where you need it.
The custom 320Wh capacity battery is unchanged from the previous model and you still get a 160Wh bottle style range extender supplied 'free' with the S-Works. However, the SL II gets an all new SL 1.2 motor. This uses a two-piece honeycomb motor casing and a greater gain gearbox, increasing maximum power up to 50Nm and 320W. That’s a 43 percent increase in potential poke over the previous motor while actually reducing weight and dramatically reducing noise.
Overall, our trail testing showed that the result is super adjustable, enduro-confident yet agile fun-focused shredder with excellent pedaling manners, a very natural feeling range and speed boosting motor, class leading electronics and dealer support. It’s very light too. This S-Works version does come with a serious price-tag, though the range starts with the Comp Carbon version at $8,000 / £7,000.
For more info, see our full Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL II review.
2. Best full power
Whyte's e-MTB bikes have been getting praise from us and many other mags and websites since their launch and during our 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 its 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. The 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.
Guy found it hard to fault in his review, "it’s got a killer spec and the suspension tune is truly phenomenal however hard you ride. Most of all this beautifully blended package is just super easy, natural, and hugely entertaining to rave around the trails on". For more details, check out our full Whyte E-160 RSX review.
3. Best all-rounder
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, 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.
The geometry might not be as progressive as some other e-MTBs out there but as Graham points out, it's the versatility that makes the eONE-Sixty such a good bike. "Some of the geometry numbers might be conservative on paper but they don’t ever feel like a sticking point when riding hard and definitely make it feel more lively and fun on less extreme trails as well." Read more about the Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000 in our review.
4. Best sorted geometry
With the Crafty XR, Mondraker has brought its signature geometry and handling characteristics to an e-MTB with an industry-leading Bosch CX motor and battery.
The Crafty XR comes with Bosch's Smart System suite. This includes a new 3D multi-button remote control just inboard of the left grip and a new highly customizable, high-clarity Kiox 300 head unit on an ‘out front’ mount. The 750Wh battery is new for this year, but the ‘racers favorite’ Bosch CX Gen 4 motor is still the same well-proven unit, albeit with Mondraker custom covers. The big suspension news on the XR is that you get the latest RXF 38 M.2 fork and TTX Air piggyback rear shock from Swedish damper legends Ohlins. The XR front fork also has a 170mm stroke while other Crafty bikes use 160mm forks of different types.
Mondraker has done a typically awesome job of marrying up two seemingly conflicting characteristics in the Crafty XR. The Ohlins fork and shock offer superlative damping control and sensitivity to flatter an already excellent suspension setup.
The frame, cockpit, geometry and relatively low weight keep the ride feel very alive, responsive and hugely entertaining to play and slay on and tester Guy "finished every tech section with a really big grin." A bigger battery and better display/management will multiply the amount of time you’ll be getting those grins, too.
The Crafty XR gets the Ohlins suspension comparatively cheaply compared to buying it separately. The only downside is the non-removable battery.
For more, see Guy's full Mondraker Crafty XR review.
5. Best long travel
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.
Guy got really stuck into the details in his review saying that "optimizing it for a mixed wheel setup has also injected an addictively playful and involving aspect whether you’re hustling rolling singletrack or snaking down near-vertical black runs. The suspension kinematic means the extra travel is always a bonus and never a precision- or power-sapping wallow and with the impressively low weight it’s as grin-splittingly fun on an epic ‘all the best trails’ day out as it is throwing it down in the park without waiting for an uplift."
Read our detailed review of the Santa Cruz Bullit 101 to see how it earned a spot in this guide.
6. Best easy to ride
If you're looking for the cutting edge in e-MTB features then Scott's 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 focused 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. Something which was clear when Mick tested the bike saying, "the Patron feels more like the e-trail bike it’s designed to be, disguising its weight very well where it matters most on the fun bits and will prove a versatile do-it-all rig for the all-mountain rider who doesn’t need to shred every downhill within an inch of its life."
Read our thoughts on the Scott Patron E-Ride 900 Tuned when we took it for a first ride.
7. Best for flowy trails
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.
8. Best agile ride
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.
9. Best online only
Canyon’s Spectral:ON CF is a do-it-all trail bike that has evolved over the years with continual updates, but always maintained a reputation as being a riot to ride. 2022 saw the Spectral get a full carbon frame, redesigned geometry and beefier battery capacity, and the 2023 Spectral brings in a 160mm fork and a motor upgrade from Shimano’s STEPS EP8 to the lighter and quieter EP801.
We reviewed a medium test model of the 2022 CF 8 with a 900Wh battery, which weighed in at a competitive 23.74g. The mullet wheel setup (29 front with 27.5-inch rear) keeps things fun and shreddy, while the low bottom bracket height helps give the bike a very planted and stable feel on the trail, and the 76.5 degrees seat angle enabled an efficient pedaling position on steeper climbs.
The bike is kitted out with a Shimano Deore XT M8100 12-speed drivetrain and SLX M7120 brakes. The suspension is handled by Fox's Float line, with 150mm of travel in the rear and 160mm in the front. Sun Ringle Duroc SD37 Comp rims (DT Swiss HLN350 on 2023 model) are outfitted with Maxxis rubber.
Right from the off the Spectral:ON felt like a proper trail hoodlum that wanted to smash trails pointing up, down and across in equal measure. With its low slung motor and center of gravity, the Spectral:ON plants you right in the heart of the bike more than most. That means a super secure out of the saddle position which massively boosts descending confidence which, in turn, encourages you to hammer the bike ever harder. The low BB height does mean more pedal strikes than most though.
Overall Rich concluded that, “The Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8 does a fantastic job straddling the line between being a highly capable e-MTB while still giving an agile and engaging ride. 150mm travel suspension isn't massive, but the bike will happily take enduro and DH runs in its stride. The really impressive range means your legs are likely to run out of juice long before the battery.”
Want to know more? Check out our Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8 review.
10. Best enduro
With 13 years of downhill and enduro race experience, Nukeproof knows a thing or two about building bikes that are able to get the most out of gravity-fed riding. Nukeproof has electrified the enduro Mega to create the Megawatt, a 170mm mullet e-MTB.
The huge amount of travel does a great job of calming hard and fast trails with big features. We found the suspension characteristics offered the initial suppleness and midstroke support needed to track through rooty or rocky sections without blowing deep into reserves when slamming high-speed bike park berms. The grip and support in corners are further enhanced by the agility offered by the mullet wheel setup, which cuts corners tighter and makes it easier to pop the front wheel up.
If your looking for a self-uplift cruiser and a gravity slammer back down Guy reckons the Nukeproof Megawatt is one of the best e-MTBs around. "When it comes to gravity biased, super-dynamic ride quality, the Megawatt has very few competitors. It’s relatively light, naturally agile, and perfectly poised to make the most of the insanely planted and controlled handling and suspension in every extreme situation."
For more details, check out Guy's full review of the Nukeproof Megawatt Elite.
11. Best utility bike
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.
While we more commonly think of e-MTBs as more of a self-uplift than a utility vehicle, there are plenty of riders who are looking to invest in a comfortable and enjoyable e-MTB that can ride red and blue trails but also leisurely riding too. That does mean the geometry and componentry isn't going to be as capable as other bikes, but it's still engaging enough to light up and flow at a trail center.
It's certainly not going to be a bike that will appeal to everyone, particularly UK or US riders where there is more of a send-it-only culture, but in Europe there is far more demand for the mass-appeal utility ATB type of bike.
In Guy's 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 our full-length Focus THRON2 6.9 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.
How we test electric mountain bikes
All the e-MTBs we've tested here have been put through many hours of riding on different terrains and in varied weather conditions. We test the bikes within their intended use, but we also push them to their limits to fully assess their components, build, battery and motor, ride and performance.
Meet the testers
Guy's been testing and writing about mountain bikes since the 90s. He’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear.
Graham is all about riding bikes off-road with almost 20 years of riding experience covering downhill, enduro, and gravel. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep.
An ex-elite downhill racer, Mick's been mucking about and occasionally racing mountain bikes for over 20 years. Racing led to photo modeling and testing kit for magazines back in the day, and, nowadays, he's mostly riding enduro-style terrain on conventional and electric bikes.
Rich has been riding mountain bikes for more than 30 years and testing bikes and kit for over a decade. A jack of many trades, he has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance MTB races.