Best electric mountain bike 2021: eMTB to make off-road climbs easy

The best electric mountain bikes make tearing up the wilderness a breeze

best electric mountain bike best eMTB
(Image credit: Trek Bikes)

The best electric mountain bikes – or best eMTBs for short – are almost de rigueur now, but it wasn't always so. There was a time when battery assisted e-mountain bikes were frowned upon by those who take their cycling 'seriously'. Thankfully, those days are gone and now you can effortlessly whizz up your local climb on a busy Saturday or Sunday morning without having to listen to panting pedal-power enthusiasts shouting 'Cheat!' as you take them over.

A large proportion of the mountain bike community – road bike users still need some convincing – have come around to the fact that the best electric mountain bikes offer a completely different riding experience.

The additional power typically equates to more speed, particularly on the flatter, technical runs, while the added boost of a powerful electric motor makes cruising back to the top of a sweet downhill trail a great deal easier. So we've rounded up a selection of our favourite electric mountain bikes (let's call them e-MTBs for brevity) to suit a range of budgets, abilities and disciplines.

Not convinced? Head to our general best mountain bike guide for some entirely human-driven units (or our best mountain bikes under £500, for some budget-friendly picks). In case you clicked on this article by accident and what you are actually looking for is the best e-bike or best e-scooter, not to worry, we have a guide for those too.

Still looking for the best mountain bike and keen to get a discount? Lookout too for best Black Friday deals on two-wheelers where big brands like Specialized, Merida and Cannondale often enjoy hefty discounts. Shopping for a bike in amongst the Black Friday deals could be time well spent if you're after a new e-MTB.

What is the best electric mountain bike to buy?

T3's top pick of eMTB: Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR

For us, there is one bike that manages to blend various mountain biking disciplines into one excellent frame, while offering near-bulletproof reliability and a motor assisted ride that's as smooth as a buttered baby.

A generous specification list, that includes SRAM PG-1130, 11-speed gearing, SRAM Guide hydraulic disc brakes, a Praxis crank, Roval Traverse 29-inch alloy rims and Butcher tyres are just a few highlights.

Granted, there are slightly more hardcore machines out there, but the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR sits in the perfect middle ground between downhill battle-axe and comfortable mountain cruiser.

Hey, psst, you, yes, you! Do you want to know how to choose the best electric mountain bike for you? Click on the jump link and it will take you to the right section. Now check out the best eMTBs below.

The best electric mountain bikes to buy right now

Best electric mountain bike: Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR on white backgroundT3 Best Buy Award badge

1. Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR

The best electric mountain bike at the more premium end of the scale

Frame material: Alloy
Fork: RockShox Revelation Charger
Rear Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
Wheel size: 29 inch
Motor: Specialized 2.1 Rx
Battery: Specialized Integrated 500Wh
Reasons to buy
+Fast+Precise +Efficient e-motor
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of digital display-Some ergonomic foibles

Specialized offers a really tempting blend of reasonable (ish) price tag, excellent build quality and superb handling in its Turbo Levo Comp FSR, while the list of kit will be massively appealing to those who like to tackle tough terrain.

Assistance from the 250W motor is smart and its 'go-anywhere' attitude is massively addictive. This is aided by an excellent app that allows riders to juggle levels of assistance on the fly, set the battery to last a ride or map routes to suit the range.

The geometry and suspension set-up are straight out of the Downhill book of mountain biking but the sharp handling and clever assistance means this is a bike that is savvy (and light) enough to be used for a multitude of different rides.

Granted, the lack of digital display and the slightly naff user controls let the side down a little bit here, but these are very minor niggles and this machine offers a genuine mountain bike experience with the added bonus of some serious firepower.

Best electric mountain bikes: Merida EOne-Sixty 800 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

2. Merida EOne-Sixty 800

The best electric enduro mountain bike for most people

Frame: Triple-butted, hydro-formed Prolite aluminium
Fork: 160mm RockShox Yari RC Boost
Shock: 160mm RockShox Super Deluxe R
Wheelsize: 27.5+in
Reasons to buy
+An e-bike that can get you anywhere and tackle any trail+Decent enduro geometry and spec+Plus-sized wheels and tyres give loads of grip

Merida’s EOne-Sixty 800 is the electric version of the company's standard enduro bike. Its strong points on there – 160mm of travel, a long, low design and Boost width wheels on 2.8 Maxxis DHRII tyres for plenty of of traction and grip – are here supplemented by Shimano's excellent Steps 8000 motor, giving up to 250W of power and three levels of ride assistance.

Range depends on terrain and whether you use the Eco, Trail or Boost assistance level, but you can expect to get a good few hours of bliss in most situations. The EOne-Sixty 800 can literally take you anywhere and is a BLAST to ride. The motor and battery add a lot of weight, as ever, yet the bike is still a lot of fun. 

Best electric mountain bike: Cannondale Trail Neo on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

3. Cannondale Trail Neo

Best cheap electric mountainbike

Frame material: : Alloy
Fork: : RockShox Judy Gold RL
Rear Shock: : N/A
Wheel size: 29 inch **Motor:** Bosch Performance CX
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 500W
Reasons to buy
+Tried and tested electric motor+Hardy frame+Approachable ride
Reasons to avoid
-Cog swaps not the crispest-No rear suspension

For those that prefer to tackle a few challenging trails, rather than hurtle along an obscene downhill course, the Cannondale Trail Neo is a great place to start. Its electric motor and battery packs are up there with some of the best on the list, even if some of the other components let the side down.

With 100mm of travel at the front suspension, there's enough give to handle the occasional jump or two, but this bike is mainly about ironing out hills and keeping riders happy for longer.

The larger 29-inch wheels and chunky tyres offer a great blend of speed, grip and bump-soaking ability. 

Best electric mountain bike: Haibike xDuro NDURO 3.0 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

4. Haibike xDuro NDURO 3.0

Light and fast for those that like their riding racy

Frame material: : Aluminium
Fork: : RockShox Yari RC
Rear Shock: : RockShox Super Deluxe RC3
Wheel size: 27.5 inch **Motor:** Bosch Performance CX
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 500W
Reasons to buy
+Fast but versatile+Nicely styled
Reasons to avoid
-Specification is average

As the name might suggest, this machine is designed to be ridden hard and fast, keeping up with the purely leg-powered Enduro models on sale but aiding the rider when it comes time to shift mass back uphill.

Although the Bosch CX motor and battery set-up sits among the most popular on the market, the Sram NX 11 gearing and Magura MT5 brakes are only middling. Perfectly fine for most riders, but those more experienced Enduro lunatics will likely find it gives up before they do.  

How to choose the best electric mountain bike for you

Just like regular mountain bikes, there is a wide variety of choice when it comes to frame geometry, suspension type and specification, all of which are typically designed to favour a certain discipline. (If you're not full sure exactly what features define a MTB in the first place, our mountain bike vs road bike explainer might be the best place to start.)

These disciplines typically fall into three categories, Trail, Enduro and Downhill, and it pays to have a think about what you will be doing most of before committing to buy. 

Trail bikes make excellent all-rounders and are generally used for tackling tricky technical trails, climbing hills clambering over a few obstacles, while Enduro bikes are stiffer and lighter for those taking their racing seriously.

Finally, Downhill bikes are more akin to something you'd see on the motocross track (minus the lairy exhaust note), as they are deliberately beefed up in all areas to handle a beating during fast downhill descents and mammoth jumps. The downside here is that they tend to be heavier and power transfer from crank to wheel is poor, thanks to the springy suspension, making the ride back up the hill a pain.

But at least the latter isn't too much of a worry, seeing as you have a nice electric motor to push you along when cramp kicks in.

Of course, budget is going to be a concern and prices can vary wildly in the E-MTB world, with those more expensive models generally packing the superior battery and motor technology, as well as the top quality components that are built to last.

Leon Poultney
Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. If he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing.