The rising popularity of e-bikes is the biggest development in the cycling world to have come along in years. If you’ve never thrown a leg over one, you should, whether you’re an urban commuter, avid mountain biker, or you just want to experience a completely new form of freedom that only a bicycle, electric-assisted or otherwise, can provide. While we love every aspect of riding our regular mountain bikes on our local trails and taking them to new locales for a day of shredding, we can’t deny the appeal of electric-assist mountain bikes. It’s right there in the name: ”assist.” These bikes don’t pedal themselves—they give back what you put in by serving up a little extra power to your legs. That little bit of extra pedal power goes a long way in a variety of scenarios, and it completely changes the experience of riding to offer something new to shake up your regular routes. We wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, it’s just different. And that’s a great thing. If you’ve never tried an e-mountain bike for yourself, there’s no better time. Here are ten reasons why.
This is the obvious reason why you should try an electric-assist mountain bike. You can travel with at higher speeds while putting out less energy than you would on a regular mountain bike. The sensation of speed is one of the greatest aspects of riding a bicycle. So you’ll be amazed at how faster you can be on an e-mountain bike.
We’ve all been there. You show up to a group ride and there’s some hot shot xc racer who proceeds to drop everyone up the first climb of the day, even though it’s supposed to be a “friendly” ride. Or perhaps you see things from the other side, and all too often you ride away from your mates who struggle to keep up with you. For many a riding group, electric-assist bikes can level the playing field by allowing riders of varying fitness levels to ride together, all while giving everyone a solid workout.
More speed means that you can cover more terrain in a given amount of time. Let’s say you’re limited to a one-hour ride this weekend. If you could only cover 10 miles of trail on your regular mountain bike during that window, you’d be able to enjoy around 12 to 15 miles in that same amount of time on your e-mountain bike. Now extrapolate that for those times when you have several hours to ride and explore your favorite trail system. Think about all of the extra trails you could enjoy. More trails equals more fun.
Increased range is one of the biggest benefits of an e-mountain bike. It lets you cover more ground in a given amount of time over your standard bike. But the added assist of the electric motor also means that you can cover your normal riding distance with far less energy. Rather than huffing and puffing to expend all of your energy in order to wrap up your ride before a deadline, you can save some energy and finish up your ride feeling fresh for a post-ride get-together or extra workout.
All things being equal, an e-mountain bike will be a bit heavier than a comparably equipped standard mountain bike. Most e-mountain bikes have mid-drive electric motors that reside in the bike’s bottom bracket area, while batteries are typically located along the downtube. This means that an e-mountain bike may be heavier than a standard bike, but its weight is located centrally and positioned very low on the frame, thereby giving the bike a very low center of gravity. This adds a tremendous amount of stability, particularly when descending, making for super predictable and confidence-inspiring handling.
The added power you get from an electric-assist motor isn’t just for extra speed along flat trails or up smooth climbs. That extra bit of power will help you clear a greater number of technical obstacles than you would on a standard mountain bike. It’s by no means a magic carpet that will propel you up and over every major rock or rut on the trail, but it can be the difference maker between clearing a section and hiking it on foot.
As we mentioned before, an e-mountain bike will weigh more than a standard mountain bike—all other things being equal. For climbing, that weight is negated by the electric motor, and you’ll actually be ascending faster than ever before. When it comes to the descents, a lot of riders love the feel of a lightweight, flickable bike. And that’s awesome. But truth be told, the e-mountain bike will be slightly more of a handful when you’re ripping down your favorite trail. That doesn’t make it worse, it just makes it a different experience. And this gives the rider an opportunity to adjust his or her handling style, learn a new way to shift their body positioning, and see certain lines in a whole new light. This in turn builds their bike-handling skills, which will translate to faster and more fun descending on every bike they’ll ride in the future, electric or otherwise.
When you take a few of the aforementioned reasons to try riding an e-mountain bike as a whole, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a whole new experience. Extra speed, increased range, and the ability to clear more trail obstacles all combine to transform your regular routes into all-new beasts. As much as we enjoy riding all types of bikes, following the same trails day in and day out can get a bit dull. Whether it’s getting to the top of a climb quicker, adding an extra stretch of singletrack, or finally clearing that gnarly rock garden, an e-mountain bike will transforms your perspective of every trail.
Let’s be honest: trail riding is the best. But other forms of pedaling can be fun, too. An electric-assist motor adds versatility to any type of bike. It makes it easier to commute to work or run errands either more quickly or with less effort. It also helps you bear the burden of heavy or extra gear if you’re looking to ride an all-day epic route, or doing some bikepacking trips.
Every single time we see someone try an e-mountain bike for the first time, they have an ear-to-ear grin. That’s because they’re fun, plain and simple. Remember that feeling you had as a kid, when you first experienced that rush of speed and the thrill or balancing on two wheels? It’s like that, but even better.
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