Choosing the best electric mountain bike makes for much easier riding uphill and on the flat, letting you get to the downhills that much quicker and enjoy more ride time. That's made e-MTBs extremely popular worldwide, diminishing stocks.
Finding an electric mountain bike to buy isn't easy at the best of times, but the problem has been made worse recently by shortages of components and supply chain issues.
There are basically four different options to find an e-MTB: online retailers, bike brands' websites, high street stores and second-hand. All have their pros and cons, which we'll go through. We'll also look at how to broaden your options and maybe find a better deal.
Approach and timing
If you've set your heart on a specific e-MTB, you may find that there are few opportunities to even find one, let alone find a bargain. So it's worth thinking about alternatives and drawing up a shortlist of bikes you'd be happy to live with. Read the reviews and look for equivalent specs from different brands at similar prices.
How flexible is your budget? Most bike models come in several spec options on the same frame. Can you afford to go for a higher spec? Can you live with a step or two down in the groupset hierarchy? Check out our guide to the best mountain bike groupsets if you're not sure about this. Are you prepared to buy the bike, ride it, then upgrade components as they wear out?
Some things you're not going to be able to change. You need a bike that fits you and that has the right amount of travel for the riding that you plan to do, so there will be limitations on what is acceptable.
Another area where you may reap benefits is if you're prepared to wait, or alternatively ready to seize an opportunity. Bike retailers will time their sales, so before Black Friday the best deals may not be around until the holiday season really kicks off. Likewise, retailers may discount bikes in post-Christmas sales - assuming they still have any stock.
The more places you search for a bike, the more likelihood there is of finding it in stock, so it's worth searching online and seeing who has what available and, if they're expecting stock, checking back regularly to see if it becomes available.
Below we've listed online retailers who regularly have electric mountain bikes available and may even have a discount on last year's models, particularly if you're looking for a bike at the top or bottom end of the size spectrum.
If you know the bike model you're looking for, a quick trawl with Google will usually find you a number of retailers both large and small selling some variant of your target e-bike. That may not be quite the spec you're after (see above), the bike might be the wrong size (don't go for a bike that's not the right size for you just because it's a bargain) or it may be out of stock.
What you're not going to be able to do is actually ride the bike before buying, unless there's a bike physically available somewhere locally or you know someone whose bike you can try out.
Some retailers deliver for free, but you may need to add significant delivery costs to the price they're advertising. Some online retailers have physical stores as well, so if there's one local to you you may be able to click and collect, again often for free.
Once you buy the bike, it will usually be delivered to you in a large box and you'll have to assemble it. Often that just means removing internal packaging materials, turning around the handlebars, setting the saddle height, fitting pedals and charging up the battery, but some bikes require more work than this.
You'll almost certainly require multiple sized hex wrenches and possibly Torx ones as well. Many bike bolts specify a maximum torque value. If you're not confident that you can tell 5Nm from 40Nm, you might need a torque wrench or a torque key to get it right.
The alternative is to ask a bike shop to assemble your e-bike for you. You may get a frosty reception and have to pay a premium for the service though, since online retailers are slowly putting them out of business. If you're not confident you can assemble a bike, you need to budget for this cost when buying a bike online.
Where to buy an electric mountain bike online
USA only: Jenson USA is a US-based retailer that stocks a wide range of mountain, gravel, road and hybrid electric bikes. Currently, they stock e-MTBs from brands including Devinci and Orbea, although as everywhere availability is limited.
USA only: Competitive Cyclist is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and despite the worldwide bike shortage, they've still got a few electric mountain bikes in stock.
USA only: REI Co-Op is a general outdoors retailer based in the USA. Since they aren't solely focused on bikes, their stock isn't as comprehensive as other websites and they have a limited range of electric bikes, though they do have own-brand bikes for members.
USA only: Walmart stocks budget e-MTBs, rather than full-featured rides from the major brands, so if you're just looking to dip your toe into e-MTBs without spending too much and your ride ambitions aren't too great, it's an option.
Worldwide: Wiggle sells and delivers globally, although it's not currently selling e-MTBs in the US. Its clout means that it often has stock of e-bikes from well-regarded brands and its in-house Vitus e-MTB range offers quality rides at sharp prices.
Worldwide: Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle are now one company and like Wiggle it's not currently selling e-MTBs Stateside. You'll usually find the same stock and prices at both, but Chain Reaction does focus on MTBs, so it may have different availability and possibly prices as well.
Worldwide: French company Decathlon has a presence worldwide and sells its own brand bikes under a range of names, including Rockrider e-MTBs. Its products tend to be well designed and good value, particularly if you're looking for an entry-level model, although it's another vendor not currently selling e-MTBs in the US.
UK Only: Cyclestore is a small UK retailer which sells lots of reputable brands and often has a better stock of Specialized e-bikes and at better prices than its larger competition.
UK only: Evans Cycles is one of the longest-established bike retailers in the UK with stores around the country. It has a wide range of bikes including electric mountain bikes, with full stock availability visible on its site.
UK only: Tredz is a UK online retailer offering a good range of e-MTBs from the likes of Giant, Scott and Specialized.
UK only: Rutland Cycling is one of the best-stocked bike retailers in the UK, featuring bike brands like Specialized, Giant, and Scott. Its stores are clustered around the Midlands, so it's pretty easy to travel to if you want to see before you buy.
UK only: Hargroves Cycles is based in the South of England and again has retail stores as well as its online presence. It usually carries a good range of e-MTB options.
UK only: Leisure Lakes is another UK retailer with a wide variety of e-bike options and a physical store network.
UK only: Halfords is more focused on the leisure side of cycling, specializing in the more budget side of things including a few own brand e-MTB options. Its physical stores mean that you can usually find the bike you're interested in locally to you.
UK only: Pure Electric is based in the UK, but it has stores elsewhere across Europe. It just sells electric bikes, so if you're looking for an e-MTB or e-gravel bike, you'll get specialist advice as well as a good range of options.
There are two types of brand direct site: those like Trek who also distribute via physical stores and those like Canyon who only sell direct.
If you are looking at the former, some will deliver to your address while others offer the option for delivery to a local stockist, who will build the bike for you. Brands' websites tend to have the complete range of bikes available, often before retailers, although they may sell out at the end of a model year, whereas retail stores may still have stock.
With brands like Canyon, your bike is delivered direct to you and, like delivery from online retailers, you either have to build the bike yourself or pay a bike shop to do it for you.
You're not going to be able to try before you buy and you're going to have to know your sizing.
There's likely to be limited discounting too, particularly for brands like Specialized that have a large store presence, as they won't want to undercut their retailers. Surplus bikes at the end of the year are usually sold on in bulk to retailers to clear rather than being sold on the manufacturer's site.
Where to buy an e-MTB vendor-direct
Trek Bikes is based in Wisconsin, but sells its bikes worldwide, with direct sales via its website. You can usually specify delivery to a local Trek dealer where it can be built up by a professional.
Canyon is one of the biggest direct-to-consumer brands, with well-priced, high quality products. It has electric versions of its popular MTBs, which it sells worldwide, now including the US.
YT Industries is another German direct sales brand. It sells a couple of electric MTBs alongside its well-regarded pedal-powered mountain bikes and is known for quality specs at sharp prices.
If you want advice on which type of electric MTB to buy, features like motor power output and suspension travel, there's no better place to look for an electric mountain bike than your local bike shop.
It will be staffed by keen cyclists, who will be able to advise on the bikes they stock that would suit you, as well as help with sizing, fit and possible component swap-outs. They'll know your local area and where to ride too.
Many stores have upped their game with options like test rides, store ride-outs and bike fitting, which may be offered as part of the sale or as a discounted add-on.
Your bike will be built for you, there's someone to ask if you have a problem and a follow-up service will often be part of the deal. Plus stores affiliated with bike brands may have access to central stock as well as what's held in store. They may offer a discount on the cycling equipment you'll need like a helmet and shoes.
Often a store will have its own website, where you can browse stock too, express an interest and ensure a bike is in stock before you travel to the store.
If you're buying second-hand, by definition the bike will have been ridden. You need an expert eye to spot problems. Has it been crashed? Are components or bearings worn and in need of replacement? Are the shocks shot?
For an electric bike it's even more difficult. Is the motor and battery in good shape? Are the electronics functioning properly? There's more that could go wrong and electric drivetrain components are typically pricey to repair or replace. Usually the manufacturer's warranty only extends to the original purchaser, so you'll be on your own if there is a problem.
On the other hand, there are a fair few people who buy a bike and don't really take to riding, selling off what was a pricey purchase a year or two later, hardly ridden at a deep discount to what they paid for the bike and an even greater one to the same product new.
There are lots of options online for a second-hand purchase, including eBay and Facebook Marketplace as well as niche sites like The Pro's Closet. Bike retailers will sometimes sell nearly-new, ex-demo or used bikes at a discount too.
Be careful when making a purchase from an online ad though, as they're one way that bike thieves dispose of stolen goods and there's a risk of being scammed. Check the bike's frame number to see if it's been reported stolen. There are stolen bike registries in many countries including the US, UK and Australia. And remember, if the deal seems just too good to be true, it probably is.
Don't arrange to meet someone somewhere isolated, don't meet after dark and don't take wads of cash. Go with someone experienced who can help you check out the bike. If you're not sure, walk away.
The Pro's Closet is an online bike marketplace in the USA that acts as the intermediary between sellers and buyers, The Pro's Closet ensures that all second-hand bikes are inspected, serviced and then sold at a fair price, removing all concerns about the bike's condition as well as any concern around scammers. It covers bikes of all disciplines for all ages at the full spectrum of budgets, and will even allow you to trade in your old bike.
Check out our deals roundups
At BikePerfect, we regularly update our roundups of deals from across the online vendors, so if you're after more than an e-MTB check out our deals pages for the best equipment and clothing at the sharpest prices.
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