The best electric mountain bike – or best eMTB for short – is almost de rigueur on tough hills now, but it wasn't always so. There was a time when battery assisted electric mountain bikes were frowned upon by those who take their cycling seriously. Thankfully, those days are largely 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-pushers shouting 'Cheat!' as you overtake them.
The best electric mountain bikes offer a completely different riding experience to standard MTBs. 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. However, the bikes are also way heavier and more expensive – and it's not as if non-electric MTBs are exactly cheap. We've rounded up a selection of our favourite electric mountain bikes or e-MTBs to suit a range of budgets, abilities and disciplines, but none of them is cheap.
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, we have a guide for those too. Looking for the best road bike? Yes, we have that covered too.
The best electric mountain bikes to buy
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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.
How we test electric mountain bikes
As with all our reviews, the ones we do on electric mountain bikes are conducted in real world settings by experts in the 'field' both literally and figuratively. It's exactly like reviewing steam irons, only about 1 million times more enjoyable. E-MTBs are put through their paces on trails, roads and of course up and down mountains.
Want to know more? Discover how we test at T3.
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.