10 Best Electric Mountain Bikes in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Times are changing fast. Every aspect of human life is moving towards some form of technology.

The aim here isn’t simply to reduce the carbon footprint but to make things much more efficient to use. This is why many factories are switching to robots while vehicles are switching from fossil fuels to electricity.

At the same time, bicycles aren’t being left behind.

There are various types of bikes already in existence that are electric by nature, meaning the cyclist doesn’t have to do much to use them. Nowhere has the need for an electric bike been more urgent than for the category that includes mountain bikes.

In this article, we’re going to explore the best electric MTBs on the market, their redeeming aspects, their weaknesses, and the things you’d want to look out for when buying an electric MTB.

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Electric Mountain Bikes

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the electric MTBs that most people buy).

  • Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR Top Pick
  • Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 RSV Runner-up
  • Bulls E-Stream EVO Runner-up

Top 10 Best Electric Mountain Bikes – Our Reviews:

1. Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR

The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp is an all-around e-MTB created by Specialized, who’ve had experience making great e-mountain bikes over the years. The bike is designed as a trail bike and is backed by a 180 mm travel Kenovo feature for dealing with gravity duties.

A lot of geometrical construction has gone into the design to factor in the extra added weight that helps the rider descend tricky slopes. This comes in the form of a technological feature called the Stumpjumper that makes the bike stable in slippery descents.

The Turbo Levo SL motor is a Bosch Performance Line CX that’s packed with 90Nm of pure torque, enough to climb any inclination without breaking any sweat. The primary belt drive on the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp e-bike makes some considerable noise, but when compared to most of the other electric mountain bikes, it’s less loud.

The Turbo Levo SL battery is also of the Bosch Performance CX and has the capacity to cover over 60 miles, even on challenging terrain.

Features

  • 150 mm rear travel
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Specialized 2.1 drive system
  • 29n wheel size

Pros

  • Powerful silent motor
  • Good power output
  • Mission control app
  • Good handling
  • Well-balanced with geometrical construction
  • Neutral set and forget suspension

Cons

  • Could do with better wheels
  • Needs a fork worth its price tag
  • Very expensive

2. Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 RSV

The Santa Cruz Heckler is one of the most widely known e-bikes in the cycling world, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s simply designed to near perfection.

The Santa Cruz company had already made it clear that getting into the e-bike market wasn’t in their plans, but seeing how good the reception was for other brands, it was only a matter of time before they also joined the fun. The Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 RSV was their response.

Despite the pressure, the company took its time to develop this bike, three years to be exact, and by the time it rolled out, the wait was worth it. The frame is made of carbon fiber that offers the strength and stiffness a mountain bike would need for the road.

The bike features internal cabling that’s connected to the motor and battery, which can be easily removed by a 4 mm Allen key.

The axles and bearings used are of very high quality, which beefs up the bike’s performance. It’d take very significant damage to this bike to need repairs.

The motor and the drivetrain parts are from Shimano, as well as the display screen. The bike also comes with an E7000 remote with two buttons.

Features

  • 155 mm rear travel
  • Shimano display units
  • Shimano battery and charger
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • SRAM shifters

Pros

  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Sleek design
  • Good power output
  • Reliable disc brakes
  • Nimble and fast on tricky terrain
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • The front end too low for most people
  • Low mileage
  • Can’t support heavy riders

3. Bulls E-Stream EVO

As far as motor and battery power are concerned, the Bulls E-Stream is king.

The e-bike packs a staggering 750Wh of battery that gives you hours and hours of uninterrupted riding across any terrain of your choice. This is the kind of battery power that every electric bike enthusiast dreams about.

It’s equipped with a Brose Drive S Mag motor system that packs mad torque that gives the bike enough power to eat any kind of road thrown at it. It’s a sporty type of motor that’ll come in handy for stunt mountain bikers who rely on instant acceleration.

All this power requires good brakes, which come in the form of the Magura MT5 brake that can stop at a moment’s notice, giving the rider the confidence to pull off anything without worrying.

The tires on the bike are impressively thick; they’re teetering close to the fat tire realm at first glance. They’re tubeless 28-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampf SpeedGrip tires with treads built for gripping the ground to avoid sliding even on loose gravel.

Features

  • 120 mm rear travel
  • 6061 Aluminum Alloy frame
  • Shimano shifters
  • 28-inch wheels
  • Kalloy handlebars

Pros

  • Powerful battery
  • Long mileage range
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Comfortable ride
  • Stiff and durable frame

Cons

  • Lacks a dropper post
  • Has a limited payload capacity

4. YT Decoy CF Pro Race

YT is another bike manufacturer that approached e-bikes differently. While the rest of the players were going for the most powerful or the best electric mountain bike, YT focused its energy on making a gravity bike.

Basically, the YT Decoy CF Pro is an eMTB that can race down a steep incline without flipping way over, thanks to a well-balanced design that holds the rear end down even when the rider is hurtling down at dizzying speeds.

The bike has borrowed heavily from a Capra enduro bike but has tweaked some features like lowering the BB to create a lower center of gravity responsible for keeping the bike grounded in situations where any normal bike would immediately flip over.

It uses a Shimano STEPS E8000 hub motor and an in-house 540Wh power battery that apparently employs the same workings you’d find in a Tesla car.

Features

  • 165 mm rear travel
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Shimano drive system
  • 27-inch wheels
  • Renthal handlebars and stem
  • Removable custom battery

Pros

  • Can handle sharp descents
  • Good handlebar grip
  • Decent suspension
  • Varied wheel options

Cons

  • The STEPS remote could do better
  • Heavy

5. Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Alloy 50

Rocky Mountain took a lot of time before entering the electric bike market, and by the time they did, many other brands had already established themselves. However, that didn’t prevent them from making a huge splash when they finally launched the Rocky Mountain Powerplay Alloy 50 e-MTB.

The e-bike uses an in-house drivetrain system created around a conventional crank and a bottom bracket. They simply designed something new using locally available parts.

The frame of the bike is solid aluminum and is crafted geometrically for maximum balance. It’s powered by a 500Wh battery that can last for almost 60 miles on one charge, a considerable distance since mountain hikes are never that long like road treks.

Features

  • 150 mm rear travel
  • Aluminum frame
  • Rocky Mountain Dyname 3.0 drive system
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • SRAM Guide T-brakes
  • Dyname 3.0 500Wh lithium battery

Pros

  • Two frame material choices
  • Beautiful design
  • Strong construction
  • Decent handling
  • Readily available hub motor parts
  • Balanced geometry

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Undeforked
  • The battery is non-removable
  • The motor tends to cut out

6. Vitus E-Escarpe Electric Mountain Bike

The Vitus E-Escarpe has a unique design. Where most e-bikes go out of their way to conceal the battery, the Virtus simply places it out in the open, without compromising the general design of the whole setup.

It’s an agile e-MTB that has received raving reviews from riders who’ve had the chance to use it. It has a low frame that increases the center of gravity, giving it a rare kind of stability that will help you deal with tricky mountain terrain, especially sharp cliff drops.

The 27-inch wheels are thick and reinforced with a protective layer that shields the tires from punctures on the way trail. The frame material of the bike is made using the strong 6061 aluminum alloy frame that also houses the Shimano E8000 motor where you’d normally find the water bottle holder.

The 540Wh battery is powerful and has the juice to cover a decent distance, so you won’t have to worry about it dying out on you a short distance into the wilderness.

Features

  • 140 mm rear travel
  • 6061 aluminum alloy frame
  • Shimano motor
  • 540Wh external battery
  • 27-inch wheels
  • A Fox Float DPS rear shock absorbers

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Strong and durable frame
  • Can handle challenging roads
  • Engaging ride
  • High-end components
  • Great price

Cons

  • The battery and the motor don’t match well
  • External battery is cumbersome
  • The cable routing’s too shoddy

7. Merida eONE Sixty Bike

The Merida eONE Sixty is an e-bike that’s considered to be more of an enduro bike and has the bite and the bark to back its claim as one of the best electric MTBS you’ll ever come across. It matters less how torturous or hard a climb may be; this bike will manage to conquer it as fast as it can without putting a strain on itself or the rider.

The e-MTB has a dependable suspension designed around a geometrical construction that gives the bike the ability to take on any kind of terrain with ease while enjoying the ride. The drivetrain is Shimano made as well as the braking system; all coupled up with an SLX shifter and an XT derailleur.

The wheels of the bike use Merida’s proprietary wheelsets that have an internal rim width of 29 mm.

Features

  • 160 mm rear travel
  • Aluminum frame
  • Shimano E8000 drive system
  • 29-inch wheel size
  • Shimano MT-520 disc brakes

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Handles climb with ease
  • Powerful proprietary motor
  • Power saving
  • Excellent rear suspension
  • Good battery and motor integration

Cons

  • Limited handlebar reach
  • Loose dropper post
  • The motor needs a stronger casing

8. Commencal Meta Power 29 Ride

As a bicycle maker, Commencal has been producing bicycles of all types that are loved by bike enthusiasts worldwide. As the tide turned towards e-bikes, the company dived in, and among the best electric mountain bicycles they have produced so far, the Commencal Meta Power 29 Ride ranks highly.

Slapped with a fair and affordable price tag, this bicycle has an easily removable battery that can be detached using a 4 mm Allen key. The bicycle has actually chosen to do away with a battery lock to ensure the removal process is smooth.

It has a rear triangle for stiffness and strength that works with Enduro bearings to give anyone using the bike a very comfortable and almost noiseless ride up any tricky pathway in any weather. The charging port is protected with rubber seals to stop any moisture from getting inside as that could spoil the whole system, and replacing it isn’t easy or cheap.

Features

  • 140 mm rear travel
  • Aluminum frame
  • Shimano STEPS E8000 drivetrain
  • 29-inch wheels
  • E8010 500 Wh battery

Pros

  • A very good trail bicycle
  • Powerful motor
  • Reliable brakes
  • Weight distribution is balanced
  • High-grade suspension
  • Best value for money
  • Handles all types of terrain

Cons

  • Lacks battery integration
  • Tires struggle when pushed to the limits

9. Norco Sight VLT 2

It’s almost impossible to tell the Norco Sight e-bike apart from other analog versions under the same brand; even the battery compartment is so lean that you’d be hard-pressed to assume that it isn’t another part of the frame.

The bicycle employs a Shimano drive system made up of an E8000 motor, shifters, and SRAM brakes.

The motor packs enough power to take you further than higher-priced e-MTBs in the market. It has torque, which comes in handy when dealing with an impossible climb in bad weather.

RockShox suspension systems ensure that the rider is always protected from the side effects of running into unexpected bumps and ditches; you’d barely feel anything as you hurtle past them.

At about 26 pounds, the e-bike is pretty light when you consider the fact that many that fall into this category range between 30 to 40 pounds. This gives the Norco Sight VLT 2 a slight edge because it’s always a good idea to go with the lightest bicycle you can get your hands on.

Features

  • 150 mm rear travel
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Shimano drive system
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • SRAM Guide T-brakes
  • A RockShox Pike fork travel

Pros

  • Dependable carbon frame
  • Lightweight
  • Good handling
  • Beautiful construction
  • Powerful motor and braking systems
  • Long mileage range
  • Decent rear shock absorbers

Cons

  • Lacks a water bottle compartment
  • Non-removable battery

10. Trek Rail 9

The list wouldn’t be complete without a Trek bicycle. The company’s made great strides and established itself as a manufacturer of high-grade bikes.

It was no surprise that they were among the very first to embrace electric bicycles. Their catalog has an impressive line-up of the best e-bikes, but the Trek Rail 9 trumps them all.

Designed in the true fashion of an e-mountain bike, the Trek Rail 9 has a unique frame, with the top bar slanted backward instead of the usual forward hunch found in conventional MTBs. This slant gives the rider the upper hand when scaling a steep incline.

It makes use of a Bosch Gen 4 motor that’s specialized to take you on a ride as far as 70 miles on a single charge, an impressive mileage range. The electric mountain bicycle has that customary Trek orange color that’s dotted with sleek artwork giving it a stunning look.

The full-suspension on the bike is one of the best on the market, efficient enough to see you and the bike through the deepest ruts and rough bumps without as much as a creak. The bike also comes with a Kiox display unit that isn’t just legible but fits snuggly on the handlebar without intruding into the rider’s space.

Features

  • 150 mm rear fork travel
  • Alpha platinum aluminum
  • Bosch Performance Line CX motor
  • Bosch PowerTube 625 Wh battery
  • Mino Link geometry
  • Internal cable routing

Pros

  • Powerful battery
  • Affordable, features considered
  • Strong construction
  • Great handling
  • Beautiful design
  • Fast on challenging tracks

Cons

  • They need better tires

A Guide to Buying an Electric Mountain Bike

Electric bicycles are the future, and sooner or later, they’ll be the only options available. However, before that happens, you may entertain the possibility of owning one soon.

The following are some of the features you need to look at when selecting an e-MTB.

Type

Electric mountain bikes can be grouped into three specialized groups; Light, All-round, and Power e-MTBs.

Light electric mountain bikes weigh a lot less and don’t pack a lot of power in terms of the motor or the battery. Basically, they’re a stripped-down version that gets the job done but with fewer specs.

All-rounders are a breed between a stripped-down Light MTB and a powerful one. It can be used on any type of terrain without any need to re-adjust any part.

Power eMTBs are the biggest, the heaviest, and the most powerful of the three types.

They have huge batteries and are equipped with high-grade components. They cost the most too.

Battery Capacity

The average battery capacity in most of these bikes is about 540Wh, which is a good amount. However, a bigger battery is always better as that determines the bike’s mileage.

A 540Wh battery will give you about 60 miles of uninterrupted ride, which is a good distance but it’d be much more beneficial if you could be able to cover over 100 miles on one charge.

Travel e-bikes with 750Wh are starting to come out in numbers. Have a look at them before making a decision.

Construction

Electric mountain bikes operate like motorbikes, which means you have less control when it comes to judging how damaging some obstacles on the road may be. For this reason, electric bikes are built with strong materials.

From the frames to the wheels, always ensure that the materials used, be it aluminum or carbon, can withstand anything without the need for emergency repairs.

Read Also: Steel vs Aluminum Bike: Which Should You Buy?

Controllers and Apps

Being electric vehicles, eMTBs require more than the driver’s intuition to get the best out of them. You’ll need controllers to help you adjust the amount of power you need from your motor, or you risk overshooting distances, and this could lead to serious injuries.

The same applies to mountain biking apps. Some bikes come with their own apps that make the task of adjusting your controls much easier. These combine well to make the e-bike a safer and more fun riding experience.

Motor

This is the engine, the part responsible for transmitting power to the pedal-assist to effect movement.

Many bikes come with proprietary mid-drive motors that can’t be switched out for another model; therefore, when you choose an e-bike, make sure that the motor is the best you can find. At the moment, some of the best on the market are the Bosch Performance CX motors.

Of crucial note is the integration between the motor power levels, the pedal assist, and the battery; it has to be seamless for the bicycle to perform as it was intended to.

The Bottom Line

Electric mountain bikes aren’t cheap, but they’re worth the investment and are fun to ride. Many people may consider them an unnecessary luxury right now, but those sentiments will change way down the line.

There are countless other electric bikes to choose from outside this list, each with their own specialized features. It’d be hard to go through each and everyone one of them, but this guide gives you a rough idea of what to expect.

The choice to go for the best electric mountain bike on the market shouldn’t pressure you too much. Take your time to look around so that by the time you find something, it would satisfy everything you want from an e-bike.