An electric mountain bike is an exciting purchase; choosing the right features can improve the experience. You will appreciate that your bike is more comfortable and safe to ride and can easily tackle uneven terrain.
We will be talking here about electric bikes with mountain bike geometry. They are popular because they are usable on both paved roads and off-road. You can use them as a daily driver and bring them on challenging trails without big modifications.
First, let us answer the question: “What is an electric mountain bike?” Well, there is no definite answer. The consensus is that mountain bikes (also known as MTBs) typically have some type of suspension, a durable set of rims and off-road tires, and a wide gearing ratio for varied land terrain. In addition, MTBs are made durable enough to withstand sport or trail riding.
Note that we intend this article to be useful for electric mountain bikers who travel harsh terrain or do off-roading and trail riding. Such adverse conditions require bikes to have features for added durability and more control. But if you are using it for leisure or on short rides on hard surfaces, most electric bike models will suffice.
Give yourself some context about what options are available by heading over to our Electric Bike Paradise store. You’ll be able to see our entire selection of electric mountain bikes, including models rated for downhill trails and endurance rides. Now, let’s dig into the must-have features you should look for in your next electric mountain bike.
Look for a Powerful Motor
A powerful motor is a must since you will probably take your bike to places other electric bikes cannot go. Most electric bikes have built-in motors in the frame or wheel hub and cannot be changed to another type. You will get stuck with that motor in a particular electric bike for its entire lifetime, so you must take extra time to choose your electric bike carefully.
The motor is the engine of your electric bike, and you will appreciate the extra ‘horsepower’ when riding on tough, uphill trails or rocky terrain, as well as speed up on the streets. Electric bikes with more powerful motors are typically more expensive, but in exchange, they achieve exciting speeds, carry more weight, and so are better in value.
Generally, electric bike motors are termed ‘powerful’ when they can put out at least 350 watts and have a 48-volt power supply (or battery). If you can recall elementary school physics, the watt is a unit of power. In electric bikes, more watts generally means higher top speeds and carrying capacity.
An electric bike with a 48-volt, 500-watt motor will travel faster than a model with a 36-volt, 250-watt bike. Our Electric Bike Paradise store has several MTBs equipped with 500-, 750-, and even 1,000-watt motors. We even have some models with two electric motors (like the Rambo Megatron pictured above), which allows for excellent speeds and torque for going uphill. Get the bigger motor and enjoy higher speeds.
A Proper Suspension Setup
Your electric bike can only be called a mountain bike if it has a suspension setup. It has much to do with your bike's ride quality and off-roading capability. Like in a car, get the suspension right, and your bike will be the most comfortable it has ever been. The good news is that suspension systems can be changed in most electric bikes using components also used in ordinary bicycles.
For the front fork, selecting one with a lot of travel and higher damping is needed for downhill riding and mountainous terrain. Some well-designed forks have buttons to adjust the damping and the preload so the fork does not feel spongy.
A good amount of travel absorbs more shocks, which is important for comfort and gives you good control of the handlebars when riding fast on rocky terrain. Note that huge shock travel tends to cause significant energy loss on paved surfaces or uphill rides, so well-designed forks have a lockout that locks the travel when needed.
Let’s proceed to the rear suspension, which keeps the rear wheel on the ground and adds to the comfort factor. Most rear suspension setups have a single coilover (shock absorber and spring combo) and linkages. Well-made electric bikes with a complex rear suspension (like the Greenbike Electric Motion Enduro Mountain Electric Bike pictured above) have a linkage system that prevents the ‘pedal bob,’ where pressing the pedals activates the rear suspension. Choose rear suspension setups that have adjustments like in front forks. When done correctly, you can travel fast on rocky surfaces without getting shaken around.
A Large Set of Wheels
Note that you cannot easily change the rims of certain electric bikes as some are equipped with rear hub motors, so that’s one aspect you must keep in mind. For MTBs, large wheels are preferable over 26-inch rims because they roll well on uneven terrain. Wheel sizes 27.5” and 29” are good and will work well with electric bikes, as you don’t have to worry about pedaling hard to roll these large wheel sizes. The 27.5” wheels have quicker acceleration and offer nimbler handling, while 29ers have more grip and are great for high-speed runs.
You don’t want your rims to break or bend on the trail, so look for ones with double-walled rims and thicker spokes. These rims are more durable and can absorb a lot of punishment while offering a more stable ride as a bonus. Although they are heavier and require more power to gain momentum, that does not matter when you have electric propulsion.
For tires, remember that thinner ones are great for speeding, while wide tires offer better grip. Bikes with fat tires (like the Aostirmotor S18-1500W Electric Mountain Bike pictured above) are popular because they are wide and have good gripping power. The extra width also offers excellent riding comfort akin to a bike suspension.
Must-Have Safety Features
Improve your safety on the road by investing in a good set of brakes and lights. Hydraulic disk brakes are the best bet over mechanical brakes for good stopping power. Such brakes make the bike safer, and you will need them if you have a high-wattage electric motor.
Hydraulic brakes are easy to activate. A little squeeze is all you need to slow down when you’re at high speed or traveling downhill. Unlike cable-operated brakes, each squeeze activates the brakes on point and without delay. There are no issues with stretching cables or getting them dirtied when you bike into mud or dust. These brakes are usable even if your hands are tired.
Purchasing a good set of bike lights will improve your safety if you cover long distances with your electric bike. They are useful in the dark or when riding in environments with poor visibility, like fog or woods. Lights are also useful when riding in urban areas. You will find a lot of good aftermarket bike lights that will fit your electric bike. Click the following link if you want to see the best electric mountain bikes in our store.
A Big Lithium Battery
Now, let’s proceed to the battery. A powerful electric bike motor is nothing without a big battery. The battery provides electricity for the motor, and bigger motors simply need more electric supply.
Lithium batteries are more expensive but will give you the most value. Such batteries are lighter and have more usable life than lead-acid ones. It also weighs significantly less and delivers more power, lasting around five years rather than two or three years.
Another good thing about lithium is that it can reach 80% of capacity from zero in an hour or two. You can simply plug the bike in when you grab lunch or make a stopover to add mileage. Higher battery capacity also means you don’t have to charge often, like having to charge it two times a week only, so you can use your bike whenever you need.
Get a battery with higher voltages (48 volts and higher) and higher capacities. Lower voltages just cannot supply enough power to the motor. You can easily notice large voltage drops when you start from a stop or reach high speeds. A large battery can easily sustain large electricity draws and supply more electricity to the motor to achieve higher speeds and torque.
Your electric bike can only go as far as its battery can allow. Battery capacity is measured in amperes per hour (Ah), with higher values meaning higher capacities; a 20 Ah battery can last more than a 10 Ah battery. Keep in mind that switching to a higher voltage or higher capacity battery may not be possible with some electric bikes.
Below is a video that details some of the best features of Electric Bikes for Off-Roading.
Electric Mountain Bike Frames and Other Accessories
A well-designed frame makes a great difference in ride quality and durability. Most decent electric mountain bikes come with a wide-tube frame, either lightweight aluminum or more durable but heavier stainless steel. Most frames are made with a good degree of rust resistance and waterproofing factor. Some frames are made of 6061 aluminum alloy with incredible corrosion resistance and strength.
Other important accessories include drop/riser handlebars, pedals, and the derailleur. The handlebar design should be comfortable on your hands and posture. Drop and riser handlebars are popular; you can choose one depending on your comfort.
Lightweight pedals make the ride feel like a breeze. Clipless designs (specialized pedals that stick to cycling shoes) keep your feet in place, so more energy makes its way into every stroke, which is good for long-distance rides. It also ensures your foot stays on the pedal, even in wet or muddy conditions. The good thing is that pedals can be changed in most electric bikes with simple hand tools.
Another important feature that separates ordinary from sport electric bikes is the cogset. Most mountain bikes come with seven-speed cassettes and higher. A wide gearing ratio means you can choose to have added torque or speed. Although you already have an electric motor, the additional gears are helpful when traveling uphill with added cargo or using pedal assist in extending the range. If you want to see a good list of sport-oriented electric bikes, I invite you to check out this blog, “Best Electric Mountain Bikes for Adventuring.”
When it Comes to an Electric Mountain Bike, Make Sure You Know What You Need
Every electric mountain bike has components you must check first. Do examine your needs and lifestyle before making the purchase. Will you use your electric bike mainly for action-packed downhill trail riding or conquering the urban landscape to go to work? Or both?
There are many brands and accessories out there. Browse our collection of electric mountain bikes and see which ones have the features you need for commuting or adventures. Or check out this YouTube playlist of 50 Electric Mountain Bike Reviews.
If you want some direct help, please contact us and chat with our support team. We are more than happy to help you select the best electric bike models for your needs and give you additional help when ordering, delivering, and assembling. Start enjoying more adventures with your very own electric mountain bike to ride!