What e-mtb? How much travel? Sizing and geometry

How to pick the best emtb for you

Words and photos: Steve Jones

The e-bike movement is gigantic and within it a range of bikes from town commuter through to eight inch downhill bikes. In terms of mountain biking the argument will probably go on forever regarding full suspension vs hardtail bikes. Many consider the latter as simple, pure, low maintenance and inexpensive whilst some think of them as antique bone shakers that simply rattle your body to bits.

Remember these bikes are restricted (the amount of restriction and rules dependant on what country you live in) but here in the UK the motors are limited to 25kph although unrestricting them is relatively simple.

Hardtail vs full suspension

Clearly having a motor will only exacerbate the beating your body will take but then again it depends on the trails you ride. If its smooth singletrack with fireroad climbs then a hardtail will be fine but given the huge potential, and added level of fun that can be had with climbing super technical terrain on e-mtb then if the budget is on the boundary we suggest you tip it in favour of the full suspension option.

We believe full suspension of 130mm and more to be the best option as it offers more comfort, more traction, more balance, more fun, more potential.

The full suspension option as mentioned brings the hill climbing challenge into the equation and while we are not saying you cannot do this on a hardtail, the practicalities of riding one at speed with no damping are not ideal. The full suspension option delivers more damping, more speed off road, more traction and we think more fun.

However due to the increased amount of riding you will be doing bear in mind the wear and tear on bike components, and linkage bearings will be particularly affected. Factor in some higher maintenance costs for a full suspension bike. It’s partly the reason you’ll see very few full sus’ rental bikes.

“We believe full suspension of 130mm and more to be the best option”

With a hardtail you are less likely to kill components because unless you’re really after punishment you’ll be avoiding the rougher tracks. Do bear in mind however there is a massive range of hardtail e-mtb’s out there at pretty good prices. That said, most hardtails are targeted at touring, relaxed riding and the beginner.

What travel? Shape and purpose

140-160mm travel with good do-it all geometry is a great option for e-mtb. This is because the riding isn’t quite as one dimensional as what you do on an uplift. You’ll likely be doing a mix of challenging uphill, technical downhill as well as ripping along singletrack.

For this the geometry of a good trail/enduro style bike is perfect for it will allow you to tackle a wide range of riding, still allows a huge amount of rider input into pumping the terrain and is comfortable for long rides.

If sessioning hard runs downhill style runs is your thing then bikes such as the Haibike DwnHll is a great choice for it will allow you to roam unhindered and not rely on waiting for riders to turn up at the uplift or queue.

Bear in mind the geometry of these bikes isn’t designed for climbing and as they don’t always come with a lock out that there is a rearwards weight bias on climbs.

In terms of sizing and geometry all the usual rules of rider size apply. It seems all the big players are offering bikes with a good range from small to extra large. As a general rule if you are around six foot then the extra large will be a good option so base all other heights from there as a general rule.

You’ll see in our bike reviews below the numbers involved. Pay particular attention to reach as this varies greatly between brands. A good benchmark is the Trek Powerfly at 478mm which is a good fit for riders around six foot.

Take a look at our bike test section to get a a good idea of the broad range of emtb’s currently available.

Cube Stereo Hybrid

Haibike XDuro DWNHLL

Lapierre Overvolt

Moustache Samedi

Scott e-Genius

Specialized Turbo Levo

Trek Powerfly

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