Buying a new bike involves many decisions. 27.5” or 29”? Shimano or SRAM? RockShox or Fox? Trail or Enduro? However, if you’re thinking of buying a new bike this year, then there’s a bigger question you need to ask yourself. Should my next bike be an eMTB?

The eMTB market has enjoyed exponential growth over the last five years. However, it’s fair to say that the first generation of eMTBs had limited appeal to trail or enduro enthusiasts. The game has changed. You can now purchase an eMTB that weighs under 17 kg, about the same as some of the heavier enduro bikes around. Hopefully, you’re already well informed and perhaps you’ve already scratched an E-curious itch with our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE Magazine? If not, your understandable misconceptions of eMTBs as clumsy, fragile and heavy need a refresh. If you think eMTBs are just for the overweight and lazy, you should chat with racing legends like Jerome Clementz and Fabian Barel or even the new-school shredders like Olly Wilkins and Sam Pilgrim. They’re all having a blast on their eMTBs.

Just look at the social media feeds of pro mountain bikers – eMTBs are being used for everything from towing kids’ trailers to throwing backflips.

The best of the current eMTBs will not hold you back on the descents. In many cases they are faster and safer downhill.

However, you have to consider how much technology you want on your bike. Some eMTBs push integration to the max, while others keep it low key.

We are not trying to sell you an eMTB

Our editorial team enjoys both mountain bikes and eMTBs, with both together expanding the variety and unlimited potential of our sport. With ENDURO and E-MOUNTAINBIKE Magazines existing in harmony, we have no need for bias or ulterior motive to promote one over the other, we simply want to make sure you are on the best bikes for your needs. Even amongst our ride-mad editorial team with access to both options, we have some riders that choose to ride eMTBs, some who choose analog bikes for their personal riding and some that do both. The advantages of eMTBs are clear: you will ride more, cover more ground and squeeze in more descending over a shorter amount of time. However, some of our team still enjoy earning their turns and thrive on the simple pleasure of getting around on leg power alone. When it comes to eMTB versus mountain bike, there is no perfect choice for everyone, but for everyone, there is a perfect choice.

Downhill, eMTBs and non-motorised bikes get on great, but when it comes to the uphills it’s harder to mix groups.

Our lives are saturated with electronics, whether it’s at homes, in our offices, or even our cars. Some of us love the connectivity, while some of us ride to disconnect.

Jonas (31)

“I like to incorporate after work rides or lunch rides in my daily routine. They give me my daily dose of nature and keep me fit. With my analog bike this was possible three to four times a week, and, to be honest, I don’t ride much in the winter with my non-motorised trail bike. With an eMTB, riding every day, all year long is no issue anymore. Best of all: the eMTB doubles downhill time and halves the uphill time on the fire roads.”

Trev (41)

„While I love testing eMTBs with the team, I’m not ready to hang up my enduro bike just yet. In a perverse way I actually quite enjoy slogging up hills. During our weekly dads’ enduro rides, trying to hold a conversation while killing ourselves on the climb is part of the tradition. Call me weird if you like, but just like backcountry skiing, the extra effort I put in on the climbs makes the descents all the sweeter. I love eMTBs, but I couldn’t be without my regular mountain bike.“

Christoph (32)

„I’m totally into new stuff and I love the latest gadgets. I have no problem with electronic products like SRAM AXS and totally enjoy riding an eMTB whenever there’s the chance. However, I’ve always seen it as a totally different sport, almost like comparing mountain biking with road cycling. However, times are changing. With bikes like the Levo SL offering the same handling on the downhills, this won’t be a deciding factor anymore. However, as I don’t mind the physical challenge, appreciate the simplicity and all my friends are still riding analog bikes, I’ll stick with a classic enduro bike for now.“

Robin (29)

„I used to spend every weekend at the race track – either competing in downhill or enduro. But times have changed. Today I enjoy spending (riding) time with my family or catching some fresh air during busy days in the office. To me, an eMTB pushes the limits of time, motivation and strength after a long day at work and opens up many new possibilities. It’s the ultimate versatile weapon.“

Finlay (19)

„Don’t get me wrong, ebikes are rad! I love powering up techy climbs and wheel-spinning through uphill corners in turbo. However, the versatility of my enduro bike is also hard to beat. I can ride it on downhill tracks, compete in races all over the country and also take it on monster days in the backcountry. Therefore, if I could only have one bike, it would be my pedal-powered enduro. If I were offered a free eMTB to ride in addition to my enduro bike, I’d say yes right away! However, buying one is a different story. Ebikes are pricey and currently way out of my budget.“

Andreas (34)

„I go biking for one reason: having fun! With the Levo SL, I get the same trail performance on the downhills with the added benefit of some extra power on the uphills. Here in the alpine mountains, all the uphills are super steep and the compact motor makes life way easier without overpowering the character of the bike. I wouldn’t buy a classic eMTB as I find them too heavy and cumbersome, but the Levo SL bridges the gap perfectly and would be my personal go-to choice – the only reason I don’t own one yet is the price.“

The increased weight and low centre of gravity of an eMTB can be a great help when charging main lines. You will feel it in tight turns though.

Going full gnar! eMTBs aren’t just for touring, they are capable of everything an analog mountain bike can do, if you dare!

Everything you need to know about eMTBs in one paragraph

eMTBs don’t have a throttle, they add additional power as you pedal up to a maximum speed of 25 km/h (in Europe). Modern eMTBs mostly use the same components as regular bikes, and most modern motors (see our motor group test) offer resistance free pedaling above the 25 km/h motor cut off. Currently there are three main categories of eMTBs. Power eMTBs that boast huge torque and power. The SUVs of the biking world, Power eMTBs are heavy and clumsy off road but will push you up any hill without complaining. Then we have All-round eMTBs which still offer ample power packaged in a lighter 20–25 kg bike that offers balanced performance up- and downhill. Most mountain bikers will most enjoy the new Light eMTB category, which offers non-motorised bike handling and agility, made possible with a smaller battery and lower levels of assistance. All-round eMTBs are perfect for riders wanting to enjoy long rides and take on challenging uphills, while Light eMTBs are better suited to riders who prioritise the downhill and want to ride with people who don’t own eMTBs. All categories of eMTB offer enough range to accommodate the general riding (think 2 hour rides) that we enjoy. If you want to learn more about eMTBs you should check out our eMTB buyers guide.

Times have changed. The lightest eMTBs now come in at under 18kg, not much heavier than a non-motorised enduro bike

The status quo – eMTBs are awesome

eMTB’s have evolved rapidly and now you really can have it all, both up- and downhill. Hard-hitting bikes like the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert and Whyte E-180 RS V1 can handle even the toughest downhill tracks, while featherweight bikes like the Specialized Levo SL boast agile handling and can go toe-to-toe with the best trail bikes, as our group test has shown. We pitted a Specialized Levo SL against 15 of the best bikes in our 2020 trail bike group test and in the end, many of the test team were left scratching their heads as to why we would buy a bike without a motor. If you are planning a big bike purchase this year, the decision has certainly got a lot harder.

eMTB vs. MTB – How do you choose?

To understand if an eMTB is the best bike for you, you need to consider how you ride, who you ride with and what you want from your riding. To help guide you, we have created a list of reasons why an eMTB may be the optimum choice for your next bike, and equally why it may not be the best fit for your riding.

An eMTB would be perfect for me because…

I want to ride more

It’s a fact. An eMTB makes riding more accessible. With an eMTB your ride frequency and distances will increase. An eMTB will open up new routes, help you explore new trails and also act as a motivation boost. If you’re tired after a long day at work, it’s easier to get out of the house knowing that the motor will help you up the climbs.

I want a multipurpose tool

Aside from being really good fun, you will also find you use the eMTB for commuting, as a family tool, as an SUV and will ride more frequently when the weather isn’t as great. Having a motor opens up limitless new potential that non-motorised bikes can’t equal.

I’m buying a second bike

There is a saying in the bike world that the perfect number of bikes is N+1, where N is the number of bikes that you currently own. If you are lucky enough to have enough expendable cash to invest in an additional bike, then buy an eMTB.

I want to ride technical trails in more safety

In the early days of their development, eMTBs did suffer from dubious handling, with a high centre of gravity and awkward geometries. Now, with sublime balance, stable handling and agile responses, eMTBs shred. While the tightest switchbacks may still be a little more difficult on a heavier eMTB, almost everywhere else the low centre of gravity will make the eMTB feel safer and more stable.

With their inherent stability and improved suspension performance, an eMTB will crush gnarly terrain in more confidence and comfort.

I want to keep fit

Buying an eMTB won’t make you fat. If anything, the power to quickly escape into the hills will see you riding far more, enjoying more trails and putting in more kilometres each week. Yes, an eMTB takes some of the load from our leg muscles, reducing the power output needed to conquer steep slopes, but it also switches us from anaerobic to aerobic exercise. While we may not build the same lean muscle mass in our legs, the potentially longer and more aerobic activity is excellent for building stamina and burning fat. Also, the higher total weight of the bike results in a greater upper body workout when shredding trails. If you want to know if eMTBing is cheating, you can check out our in-depth test

I am falling off the back of the pack

Leisure time is shortening and we all face a constant struggle for fitness. Sometimes it’s impossible to squeeze in the required 2–3 rides a week to keep strong. If you’re the sort of rider who lives for the descents, but often falls off the back of the pack on the climbs or has even started avoiding group rides, an eMTB will level the playing field. You’ll be able to have all the fun, without the frustration of trying to keep up with your fitter buddies.

I have a family

In a family unit, an eMTB is as useful as a grandparent with ninja babysitting skills. An eMTB will allow you to share the load of parenthood, offering a fast escape if you need time for yourself or as a mule to transport all the paraphernalia you need for family rides out. Combined with the latest kids’ seats and bike trailers, an eMTB will give you more options to ride together as a family. For inspiration, check out our three generation ride where we bridge the generation gap, or when we spent a weekend in Münsingen with the family.

If you have a young family, an eMTB will become as indispensable as a helpful grandparent

I’m a trendsetter

If your riding crew is warming to the idea of eMTBs but you already know that your rides would be more fun on an eMTB, then you could be the trendsetter. In the early days you could help your group by carrying the spares, cameras and snacks, but soon you will find that after having a little go on your bike, your buddies will start to appreciate how an eMTB may benefit their own riding lives.

An eMTB is not for me because…

I enjoy earning my turns

While for some of us climbing is just a means to an end to get your downhill kicks, and if so an eMTB will rock your world. However, if you enjoy the relaxed pace of a long gentle climb, or the achievement of reaching a summit under your own steam, why make it faster, or easier? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take your time and going for quality over quantity.

I am buying on a budget

An eMTB is more expensive than an equivalently specified mountain bike. Motors and batteries add significantly to the cost. If you shop carefully, a good mountain bike can be bought for €2,500, whereas even the most basic eMTB will need you to spend at least €4,000 (ideally more) to get something without any compromising flaws. With their added complexity, an eMTB will require more regular servicing and the increased torque will consume drivetrain parts faster compared to an un-motorised bike ridden the same distance.

€ 11,199. Just think about that for a minute! To buy a top-of-the line eMTB you will need deep pockets full of money

I hate electronics and want to disconnect…

If the thought of Di2 and AXS electronic drivetrains fills you with dread, an eMTB is not for you. There’s nothing wrong with a purist approach. It’s like driving a Porsche 911 G-model from the 80s and a time when there was no ABS or other electronic driving aids. You might not be as fast as with a new one, but the raw, purist driving experience is incomparable.

I don’t live on the ground floor

While they may feel relatively weightless on the trail, the same cannot be said for transporting an eMTB. If you normally transport your bikes on top of your car, have to carry your bike up stairs to your flat, or have to frequently lift your bikes, the excess weight of an eMTB will become a pain. For those who take frequent cycling trips overseas there is still no good way to fly with an eMTB battery and innovative solutions still need to be found.

I’m a mountain goat

Yes, you read that correctly. Many people will say that your eMTB will take you to places where your mountain bike cannot. However, if you and your buddies are hardcore mountain enthusiasts who regularly shoulder your bikes over obstructions on the climbs, or hike challenging mountain passes, then a 20kg + All-round eMTB will not make your life easier. The latest Light eMTBs do make carrying possible, but it is still harder work than a non-motorised bike. If you regularly need to carry your bike or cross styles and fences, an eMTB may not be for you.

If this is you, then an eMTB will be the thorn in your side. “I like carrying an eMTB” said nobody, ever.

I want to ride free of restrictions

No we’re not talking about trail access. It’s easy to estimate the range of your ebike when commuting on tarmac, but things get a little more complex when riding offroad. The range you can eke out of your ebike’s battery is dictated by many factors, including terrain type, wind, weight, support mode used, the amount of climbing and more. While most eMTBs are easily capable of 30-50 km rides offroad, if your Sunday outings involve longer 3–4 hour rides, then using an eMTB will require carrying another battery. Multi-day bikepacking trips also become a lot more complex. Worrying about the battery capacity can go against the very reason you ride.

I hate maintenance

If you’re a ‘wash it and chuck it in the shed’ kind of rider, looking for maximum fun with minimal maintenance, you need to think carefully before you invest in a new eMTB. While the components of an eMTB are no less reliable than a non-motorised bike, the complete system is more complex with a motor, wires and battery. As such, it will inevitably need extra servicing. The increased torque of an eMTB also puts increased load on the drivetrain, accelerating wear. You will likely ride an eMTB more and further, meaning your bike upkeep costs will go up.

Do you have buddies who ride eMTBs? If so, what are you waiting for? If not, you will be held back on the climbs

My friends aren’t interested in eMTBs

What good is the best bike, if you have nobody to ride with? Ultimately, this is the factor that may shape your decision the most. With an eMTB, you will ride further, enjoy more descents in the same amount of time and fly up the climbs. However, if your friends don’t have eMTBs, you will be on your own. Or, instead, you will be soft-pedalling on your group rides while your mates cough up their lungs trying to keep up. Mountain biking is a social activity and to fully enjoy an eMTB or mountain bike, you need buddies. If your regular riding group is growing E-curious, then maybe it’s the perfect time to be a trendsetter in your group and start a revolution. If your friends already have eMTBs, then what are you waiting for?

Ultimately, whether an eMTB will be the best bike for you depends on your riding style, habits and most importantly, your friends.

The emotional connection

Bikes mean different things to different people. For some, a bike is merely a tool, a way of moving around. For others, a bike is a cherished member of the family, loved and cared for as well as the family dog. We’ve all lusted after bikes we’ve seen online, channelling our inner child to imagine the amazing adventures we could share together. For some, an eMTB will represent a passport to endless explorations, to more trails and fun. To others they will lack the beautiful simplicity of an un-motorised mountain bike. Buying a new bike will always be an emotional decision. However if you’re a riding enthusiast who’s been sitting on the fence, waiting until eMTBs could offer downhill fun to match their uphill superiority, then yes, now is the perfect time to invest. Ultimately, there is no ‘best’ solution, just the one that’s right for you. If you think that your next bike will be an eMTB, there is no better place to start than our eMTB buyer’s guide.

There is a strong emotional connection when buying a new bike. Do your research, then buy the bike that gets you most stoked.


Like our analog bikes, an eMTB is another tool that can be used to help us explore new places in our pursuit to ride the best trails with our friends. If you’re considering buying an eMTB but are worried that it will ruin your fun on technical trails, have no fear. EMTBs are now amazing on the descents, open up endless new possibilities and will get you riding more. However, if you feel you’re a purist at heart and prefer the simplicity and achievement of going places under your own steam, then that’s perfectly alright too.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Photos: various