The number of us female riders is growing! What role do light eMTBs play in this, and are they – intentionally or not – the perfect bikes for women? Amongst the hills of prejudice and curves of reality, I explore the world of light eMTBs through an unbiased women’s perspective.

Wheezing, sweating, and with a bright red face. You just can’t keep up. Frustrating, isn’t it? You go riding with a group that’s been doing this for ages – mostly men with a lot of riding experience who put on a show for the climbs. You will be mercilessly left behind, with no chance of keeping up. It just isn’t fun.

Okay, okay, I know I’m gonna step on some toes here, but I believe we need to address this topic because many girls feel this way, though few of them like to admit it.

It takes a lot of power to get ahead on the climbs on an analogue bike. This can be very discouraging for newcomers, especially if they aren’t the marathon runner type. In terms of strength, us girls in particular are often at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, there is no denying the genetic differences between men and women. In addition, girls have less muscle mass on average, and don’t build muscle as easily as their male counterparts. Of course, scrawny men can also benefit from the advantages of a light eMTB. However, the bike-to-body weight ratio is much more relevant for us women because we generally have to move the same amount of bike with less muscle. Although full-power eMTBs compensate for differences in performance, they can be difficult for weaker riders to handle due to their hefty weight.

A light eMTB makes light work of the climbs, even making them fun. The boys can hardly keep up on analogue bikes.

A tree fallen over onto the trail? A technical section that you prefer to push? Want to park your beloved bike in your upstairs apartment? It can be a real struggle to contend with a heavy, full-power eMTB.

The solution: a light eMTB! Due to their low weight, light eMTBs are significantly easier to handle in such scenarios. Be it on the trail or just when storing or transporting your bike. A little bit of assistance on the climbs can go a long way, so you don’t have to drain yourself completely just to keep up.

Thanks to the compact TQ-HPR50 motor, the Mondraker NEAT RR SL and SCOTT Voltage eRIDE 900 Tuned easily fly under the eMTB radar.

Light eMTBs – The secret weapon for women – and men?

Why do I keep talking more about us women than men? After all, we know from our survey that 95.7% of enduro readers are still guys. However, the upwards trend of women getting into mountain biking is unstoppable!

It takes a lot of training to ride effortlessly up the mountains. As a beginner with a circle of friends who’ve already put in the work, a little electric assistance can’t hurt. But that doesn’t automatically mean that light eMTBs are only for mountain bike newbies. In principle, they can be everyone’s secret weapon. If pedalling up mountains isn’t your idea of fun because you live for the descents, or you’re simply not comfortable pedalling, a light eMTB is your golden ticket.

Ultimately, anything that helps you have more fun on your bike is the right choice for you! If you’ve never ridden a light eMTB, then I recommend you do something about that as soon as possible ;).

Spare a drop of water for your partner aboard an analogue bike. They must pedal a lot harder than you with your TQ-HPR50 motor.
Take a short break and catch some sun.

Bridge the gap – Light eMTBs between analogue and full-power models

Bridge the gap… Where exactly do light eMTBs fit in between analogue and full-power models?

The analogue design of light eMTBs

Light eMTBs look significantly more slender compared to their full-power counterparts. Visually, light eMTBs are more closely related to analogue trail bikes. Placing the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ and the analogue SIMPLON Rapcon side by side, you’ll be hard pressed to spot the difference. Current full-power ebikes, on the other hand, still can’t hide the fact that they’ve got something going on underneath the hood.

2024 Canyon Spectral CF LTD vs Mondraker NEAT RR SL – can you spot the difference? Which bike hides the TQ-HPR50 motor?

Light eMTBs on the climbs

How powerful is a light eMTB? How much support do you need, and when do you need it? Heavier riders have the disadvantage that they generally have a higher battery consumption, especially on climbs. On a light eMTB, this means more of their own effort! Lighter girls with light bikes, on the other hand, can race up the mountain with the 50 Nm of support from the TQ-HPR50 motor, requiring little effort of their own. Technical climbs in particular are easier to master with a light eMTB compared to an analogue model because the gentle assistance of the motor helps you overcome obstacles in tricky situations. The feeling of being able to keep up increases your confidence on the bike – even if you’re relying on the support of a motor. However, fit trail enthusiasts who only want minimal support can also benefit from the combination of comfort and performance offered by a light eMTB. Either way, you don’t have to worry about which group you can or can’t ride with: bridge the gap!

When you encounter roots on a climb…
… light eMTBs make it a whole lot easier to conquer technical sections compared to an analogue bike.

Your battery vs the bike’s battery

An important point to consider is your physical battery capacity compared to that of your bike. After all, the range always depends on you. Your weight and fitness play a particularly important role on a light eMTB. The more power you can generate on your own, the less support you need to maintain the same speed. So you can get a long range out of a light eMTB, provided you can ride with minimal support. Your own battery will definitely drain slower than with an analogue model. Not to mention, many light eMTBs have the option of a range extender, which allows you to increase the battery capacity by a considerable amount. If you prefer very long and intense rides, full-power eMTBs have the upper hand because you’re unlikely to develop range anxiety with such a large battery. That said, on a day trip with multiple climbs and descents, a small battery with minimal support will suffice in most cases. If you choose an analogue bike without a motor, you may find your own battery drained before you know it – unless you’ve got the legs for an all day ride!

You can always keep an eye on the battery, and you should on long rides. In case of emergency, pack a range extender if you’ve got one.
No one says no to a little snack in between. Whether analogue bike, light, or full-power eMTB.

The day-to-day handling of a light eMTB

For us women, handling a bike plays a crucial role, especially as it relates to weight. A lightweight bike makes life easier in many ways. If you have to carry the bike downstairs into the basement, or upstairs into your apartment, to charge or stow away, for example, a light bike helps. It lets you manage life’s little chores with a lot less effort.

Picking up a light eMTB to put it on a carrier is easier than with a full-power eMTB!

You’ll also notice the lower weight when you head to a bike park with a chair lift or a gondola. Getting the bike onto the rear carrier of your car gets easier too. If you’re old school and still remove the front wheel to stow the bike in the trunk, you’ll also have an easier time here. Light eMTBs simply are less of a chore to handle than full-power models.

Right, a stairway to heaven, the perfect scenario mid-ride, just before you get to that viewpoint. We’re sure glad about those few kilos less to push up.
Success!

How do light eMTBs fare on the descents?

A bike’s performance on the trails depends on a wide variety of factors. However, weight plays a crucial role, and for good reason. A heavier bike offers clear advantages in certain situations. When it comes to a feeling of confidence and maintaining contact with the ground, a heavier bike can make a positive difference. Especially on fast, straight sections, or on rough terrain, the additional weight increases the bike’s stability and composure, which gives you more confidence and control.

Whether analogue or light e-MTB, the main thing is that you have fun with your buddies!

On trails with lots of sharp turns and tight sections, less weight makes for more agile handling, and a quicker response to any input from a light rider. Women can also benefit from less weight when it comes to moving the bike around on the trail or jumping because it’s easier to get airborne. A light eMTB is a good compromise: heavier than an analogue bike and thus more planted on the trail, and lighter than a full-power eMTB and therefore agile enough to manoeuvre around tight corners.

If things get tight and tricky on a trail, less weight means more agility, allowing you to manoeuvre your way through!
Nevertheless, it still feels planted and confidence inspiring because it’s not quite as light as an analogue version.
Use obstacles as kickers? Or feel like hitting a jump? No problem at all with a light eMTB!

A light eMTB also proves to be superior to a full-power eMTB when tackling unexpected obstacles on the trail. Imagine you’re standing at a difficult section full of rocks and roots. It’s all a bit wet and slick from yesterday’s rain. Your head might be in the wrong place and you’re just not feeling it, even though you know you probably could do it. So you choose to play it safe and push through the difficult section. It can also happen that obstacles like trees block the trail, forcing you to pick your bike up and carry it over to the other side. In situations like these, a light eMTB is easier to handle and requires less effort.

If there’s a section you’re not feeling brave enough to tackle, you’ll have to lift the bike and carry it over.
After that, you can carry on with a grin on your face, with enough strength left to master the rest of the descent.

Light eMTBs bridge the gap between analogue and full-power eMTBs. Their sleek design is barely distinguishable from analogue bikes, and they provide the necessary assistance uphill without negating your own performance. Small tours and easy handling in day-to-day life included. Even on the descents, light eMTBs prove their versatility, combining stable handling with agility in tricky situations.

Smiles all around: everyone should have fun, whether they’re riding an analogue bike, light, or full-power eMTB.
Whether female or male, what ultimately matters is being able to go riding together.

Our (female) conclusion on light eMTBs

Bridge the gap! That’s what light eMTBs are here to do. They are the link between analogue bikes and full-power eMTBs, bringing everyone together, regardless of whether you’re a woman or man, light or heavy, powerful or petite. Every type of rider can benefit from a light eMTB, though it offers big advantages for us women. So, what are you waiting for, go grab your light eMTBs and hit the trails, ladies!


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Words: Antonia Feder Photos: Mike Hunger