What You Need to Know About Electric Mountain Bikes

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Electric Mountain Bike Guide for All Levels

Whether you’re pedaling to work, or riding through the wilderness in a breeze, electric mountain bikes open up endless possibilities. Offering a powerful boost to your natural cycling pace, all types of electric bikes enable you to enjoy the hardest of rides to the fullest. Still, the huge market of e-bikes has left many with confusion and uncertainty.

While there are many questions to be answered, there is one thing we can say for sure. Electric bikes are here to stay. Therefore, in our guide, we will pass on some useful information to shed light on electric bikes with the focus on e-MTBs.

What is an electric bike?

For those who have yet to join the new movement of electrically assisted bikes, e-bikes are regular bikes with battery-powered pedal assistance. You ride them as you would a regular bike.

Now that you know what an e-bike is, let’s move on to discuss electric mountain bikes – the most powerful e-bikes on the market. Often referred to as e-MTBs, e-mountain bikes let you accelerate easily without wearing yourself out. In other words, you could have the ride of your life without having to worry about your energy levels.

When you mount your electric cycle and push the pedals, an electric motor engages and acts as a power assist. You can switch between several power modes as most e-bikes come with a power switch that lets you adjust the level of assistance. Take a look at these electric mountain bikes to see the different types.

Most models will support the ride with up to a 3-fold power increase over your natural performance. While this sounds impressive, you should know that the electric motor on e-bikes is governed to stop assisting when a certain speed is reached – we will discuss this in more detail later in the article.

Aside from the power assistance that ebikes provide, there are many more benefits as well to discuss.

What are the benefits of an electric mountain bike?

The advantage mentioned above of getting extra power inspires a growing number of people to choose electric bikes instead of regular bikes. And whenever there is a “revolution,” there is always opposition.

A rising concern that electric bikes, in a way diminish the hard work of naturally powered cycling, often surfaces. After all, the motor assist allows achieving a faster pace with less fitness and hard work. This means that e-bikes give you a push to achieve the same wattage while skipping most of the manual work.

And while for some people this seems like cheating, the truth is that e-bikes have the power to enhance our physical endeavors without diminishing them. According to the results of an online survey that followed over 10,000 subjects, those riding an e-bike actually got more exercise compared to those on a regular bike. The predictions were true – e bikers reported taking longer distances as well as riding their bike more often.

Another study conducted specifically with electric mountain bikes suggests that while covering the same distance over a shorter period of time, riders were still getting very similar exercise benefits in terms of heart rate.

This evidence, among many others, leads us to acknowledge that riding an electric mountain bike or any electric cycle for that matter might actually increase the amount of exercise we are getting.

Aside from the amount of exercise, one of the biggest advantages of E MTB’s is that they help to overcome performance differences.

Before the electric mountain bikes became an option, it has been mainly homogeneous groups seen in the mountains. Often within a similar age group, fitness levels, and BMI. Now, thanks to the electric support, the lack of fitness is not presenting as many challenges.

Another issue e-bikes are tackling is the uneven workload of riding tours lasting several hours. Even trained athletes can run out of breath while riding MTBs. Running out of breath often means that your body works fully anaerobic. A healthier and more efficient approach to fat burning and exercise is a permanent workload, i.e. aerobic training. This makes e mountain bikes the perfect solution for maintaining control over the workload.

With E MTB’s, you are in control of the amount of support. That being said, it is a very fun activity to explore with your bike while having extra options for exploration without getting exhausted. Electric mountain bikes allow you to pass uphill passages or other blockages without getting stuck. And even if you get stuck, starting up on a steep mountain slope is a piece of cake with an E MTB.

The fun is ever-present, even in the downhill part of the tour. The center of gravity on ebikes is much lower due to the weight of an electric motor. This makes your ride downhill more stable, and therefore, you have more room to experiment while still being in control.

While there are many more advantages to e-mountain bikes depending on your preferences, these are the three main advantages of riding electric mountain bikes:

  1. E MTB’s are more accessible to people across all fitness levels;
  2. A more even workload is achieved;
  3. Riding uphill as well as downhill with an E MTB is really fun.

Now, apart from the advantages of riding a mountain e bike, there are other important things to address. One such example is the legality of such bikes.

Are electric bikes street legal?

Now more than ever, you have to be aware of the laws pertaining to e bikes (including electric mountain bikes). Depending on the region you come from, applicable laws on ebikes will vary. In fact, many of these laws have developed very recently – several nations around the world have yet to adopt such legislation.

Due to various perspectives across different nations, adopting single legislation is nearly impossible. For example, in Europe, bicycles are often viewed as a mode of transportation rather than a way of exercise like in the United States. This difference in perception is the reason behind the varying legislation regarding electric cycles. Below, you can find the current basic laws for ebikes in Europe, United States, Canada, and Australia.

 

Country Motor Allowance Maximum allowed speed Throttle Allowed
Europe
L1e-A 1’000 W 25 km/h Yes
L1e-B 4’000 W 45 km/h No
USA
Class 1 750 W 20 mph No
Class 2 750 W 20 mph Yes
Class 3 750 W 28 mph Yes (< 20 mph)
Class 4 > 750 W > 28 mph Yes
Canada
All 500 W 32 km/h Yes
Australia
All 200 – 250 W 25 km/h Yes

 

You can find more information about other regions here. However, keep in mind that many countries have yet to settle legislation regarding e-bikes.

Components of e-mountain bike

To fully understand how an electric bike works, it’s good to have an understanding of the essentials in e-bike mechanics. All electric bikes have the components of a normal bike, with the addition of some crucial extras to add power.

First, let’s see the three key components that differentiate an electric bike from a regular one. Starting with motors, we will then move on to discuss pedaling sensors and batteries.

Motor

There are three possible positions where a motor could be located on your mountain ebike. The position is dependent on the type of motor system. In general, there are two types of motor systems – hub-drive and mid-drive motor systems.

Hub drive motor systems position the motor either on the front or on the rear wheel hub. This type of motor placement provides propulsion by spinning the tire it is placed. While this is suitable for regular road rides, putting the motor weight either on the front or on the back of the bike has a significant impact on the front to back balance. When you get offroad on the trails, this can negatively impact the handling of your E MTB.

Then, at the top of the range, there is the mid-drive motor system. By allowing an even weight distribution and directing all the energy through the drive system, this type of motor system makes the ride feel more stable. Furthermore, instead of having the feeling of the motor either pushing or pulling you, the mid-drive motor system simulates the experience of a regular mountain bike.

Pedaling sensor

The second key component is the sensor. There are two types of sensors – a speed sensor and a torque sensor. The speed sensor ensures motor engagement once you start pedaling. You can sense the engagement with an on-off feeling that it gives.

A more intuitive alternative to a speed sensor is the torque sensor. This sensor distributes the amount of power to assist you depending on the effort you put in. It helps with speed maneuvers while making your experience more authentic. With these advantages, a torque sensor is recommended for electric mountain bikes. Most major E MTB system providers (Bosch, Yamaha, Impulse, others) base their systems on torque sensors.

The battery

The last component making the electric bikes possible is the battery. It can be located either on the lower part of the frame or in the luggage rack. Similarly to motors, the central location on the frame provides a more natural distribution of the weight, making it perfect for E MTBs.

The capacity of the battery, as well as its type, is responsible for the range your electric mountain bike can cover.  Nowadays, most E MTBs use light and high capacity lithium-based batteries. We will cover more on the range, battery life, and maintenance later in the article. Now, let’s see other components of electric bikes.

Drivetrain

Gearing has long been a headache in the industry of E MTB. The complexity that goes in aligning the power input, cadence, as well as sensors and gearing is incredible. This is where many gear systems break down. However, the gear market is evolving, and tougher and stronger systems come along each year.

The first-ever E MTB specific drivetrain, the SRAM EX1, was developed to solve most common issues with the help of innovation. Having only eight gears and an 11-48 tooth gear ratio, SRAM EX1 gives a 436% gear range. As each gear has a 30% wider radio than the previous one, it is easier to avoid multi-shifting – the primary cause of frequently snapped chains and excessive wear of bike components.

Other

Aside from the motor, pedaling sensor, battery, and drive train, there are other components of an electric mountain bike that keeps the forces and weights in check. These include:

  • Powerful brakes;
  • Robust tires;
  • Stable wheels;
  • Fork;
  • Dropper post;

Investing in the right e-bike components will save you a lot of repair time. Each of the key components, as well as the above-listed additional components, serve to enhance your riding experience and minimize the wear and tear of your electric mountain bike.

Powerful brakes are fundamental to keep the force and weight in control. While heavier tires can increase puncture resistance and improve stability, the robust tires will need a set of stable wheels with thick spokes, wide flanges, wide rims, big hubs, and a strong freewheel to provide stability and endurance. Furthermore, since E MTBs face bigger forces, a stiffer fork with consistent damping will give you greater control over your electric mountain bike. To get more stability and comfort, you should also invest in a decent dropper post. Finally, a short and wide cockpit will ease the handling of your e-bike.

How far can you go with E MTB?

One of the common questions regarding electric bikes is how far can you go with a single charge? There are several things you need to consider to get an answer to such a complex question.

The distance you will be able to cover with your electric cycle will vary depending on multiple factors. First, you must consider the battery capacity of your e-bike. Then, you should ask yourself what is the style of your riding, how much assistance will you use, what sort of terrain will you be riding on, and what environmental factors could influence the distance you can cover.

Most electric bikes are designed to assist you with power only while you pedal. Therefore, the more muscular energy you use, the less power is drained from the battery. This means you can cover longer distances at the cost of your energy levels.

Under a full-load, riding uphill, and with maximum power support, the reach of your battery can be around 10 km. However, the distance can vary to over 100 km with moderate support.

You can also get an overview of how this works with a “range calculator” made by Bosch.

How long does the battery last for?

Another concern regarding the rising movement of electric bikes is the ebike battery life expectancy. It is calculated in charge cycles, meaning that the life expectancy of an ebike battery will depend on the number of full charges it can undergo before the original effectiveness starts to diminish.

In general, most electric bike batteries can undergo a few hundred charges. The exact amount will depend on the battery type. A quality battery pack should last for over 1000 charges. Therefore, if you require a charge once every week, then your battery should last for over 3 years. That, of course, is assuming that you are not neglecting basic care of the battery.

The battery life is affected by the way you take care of it. For example, storing your battery in a dry place away from temperature fluctuations will prolong its life. You can also prolong its life by charging it at a slower charge rate. In general, it is useful to know the correct way to care for your batteries.

How do you charge the batteries?

Depending on the manufacturer of the battery, the process of charging an ebike battery can vary. However, here are some guiding principles that you can follow.

  1. Remove the battery pack from your ebike;
  2. Turn off the battery pack;
  3. Connect the battery pack with the charger;
  4. Plug the charger into a power outlet;

To prolong the lifespan of your e-mountain bike battery, you should keep it in good shape. There are several things you should keep in mind to do so. First, whenever you get a new electric bike, take the time to charge the battery fully. This could take up to 12 hours. Then, you can follow these steps to care for the battery properly:

  • Always use the charger and the battery from the original purchase;
  • Allow your battery to cool down before charging;
  • Don’t use your battery directly after charging it;
  • Recharge your battery when it is between 30 and 60 percent with an occasional full discharge;
  • Avoid any temperature extremes;
  • Don’t overcharge the battery.

If you ever need to store your battery without using it, it is best to do so with about 40 to 70 percent of its full capacity. By following these basic guidelines, you should be able to maintain the health of your electric bike battery.

How fast does electric mountain bikes go?

Another topic often discussed in the e-biking community is the speed of E MTBs or regular electric bikes, for that matter. All ebikes, including E MTBs, are restricted in the maximum speed of assistance.

As previously mentioned, the maximum allowed speed of assistance is normally up to 28 mph in the USA and 45 km/h in most of Europe. However, the exact speed will vary depending on the country as well as the class of your e-bike. Don’t worry though! You can still go faster than the allowed assistance speed by pedaling on your own.

Last words

The market for E MTBs is exploding. The power boost, a more even workload, and more stability and control on E MTB tours have led many professionals to choose electric mountain bikes over regular MTB’s.

Like with many hobbies and sports, choosing the right electric mountain bike for your riding style is important if you want to get the most out of your riding experience. Take a look at the ancheer folding electric mountain bike review to learn more if electric ebikes are right for you.

You will find both high-quality and low-quality electric bikes on the market. Therefore, we advise you to take into consideration the knowledge about the key components as well as other crucial information that you just learned.

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