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 powered 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 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 to solely human-driven units.
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.
For some, the best eMTB is the best bike and if you are one of those people, you might want to buy the best action camera to record your off-road adventures. On a budget? We have a roundup of the best mountain bikes under £500, for your perusal.
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.
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.
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.
The best electric mountain bikes to buy right now
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.
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.
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.
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.
• UPDATE: this one seems to have sold out, sorry
Spanish brand Mondraker only really deals in the very highest end of the mountain bike spectrum and its madcap Crusher XR + boasts only the very best components on the market today. For that reason, it is predictably awesome to ride and the Shimano Steps E-8000 electric motor set-up delivers silky smooth assistance, while keeping the additional weight in the right areas to aid its centre of gravity and ride-ability.
There's a lovely little digital display for checking speed and remaining battery, while that serious Fox suspension wouldn't look out of place on a small motocross bike. It is hardcore, to say the very least but that obviously carries a rather hardcore price tag.
• UPDATE: this one seems to have sold out, sorry
The Trek Powerfly FS 7 certainly looks the part, with a frame that has been designed for some seriously punishing downhill runs and a battery range that outlives many other e-MTBs on this list.
Unfortunately, the slightly stingy specification (most notably the suspension) isn't really up to the task of handling the really challenging downhill stuff, but it's perfect for most other mountain bike uses.