E-mtb vs mtb – downhill

Which is faster down a hill, motor or no motor?

Words and photos: Steve Jones

There are many variables affecting the performance of e-mtb on descents none more so than the steepness of track, the shape and the surface conditions.

Overall the e-mtb is quite similar to a standard bike but riding them requires a different approach.

The timed training results was a massive curve ball for us. To begin the testing we hit a downhill stage with the e-mtb in ‘power off’ mode simply to see how much slower they were. We took in two stages, both with the same start point but with different endings – one steep, one relatively shallow and pedally.

“remember the more you climb the more you can potentially descend and that’s where there can be even more of a work out”

The top sector to the minute mark comprised of medium speed, flat corners with lots of root, the terrain natural. The e-mtb even in ‘power off’ felt like it was carrying good momentum, the grip consistent and the exit speeds comparable, corner entry braking simply needed good management. Transferring to the mtb, the ride was more lively, although slightly more boney with more chassis feedback and bounce. Weight transfer was more noticeable.


The times were startling. That the powered down e-mtb was quicker totally threw us and clearly led to more testing, however the results were consistent with different bikes and different weather conditions. Our conclusions are that it was on flatter but rougher ground where e-mtb makes time.

Care needs to be taken with the results however. These were simply a few different bikes on a certain track with one rider. Other conditions, tracks or riders might highlight alternative results. But just remember the times are with ‘power off’ because with power on there’s simply no question they are faster.

“the powered down e-mtb was quicker”

In short e-mtb maintains good momentum, with good grip and stability and the chassis producing less weight transfer. With the plus tyres (2.80/3.0) there’s even more grip. What the plus tyres also offer is an element of fizz or ‘lift’ to the bike which enables the rider to pick the bike and move it when on the hoof enabling airing the bike over root and rock relatively easy.

Overall our conclusions are that there is more poise riding a 160mm e-mtb compared to a 150mm mtb on downhill stages but braking and entry speed to corners needs adjusting too. It also proved just how much a work out riding downhill can be and when you factor in that e-mtb ultimately means more descending than that has a huge impact on the work out. 

Dry Timed DH Sector

Turbo Levo (POWER OFF)       1:13/1:27/2:32

Orange Alpine                         1:15/1:30/2:35

Wet Timed DH Sector

Turbo Levo (POWER OFF)      1:18/1:32/2:39

Specialized 6 Fattie                1:20/1:34/2:44

Enduro Stage

Trek Powerfly (POWER OFF) 1:15/2:23/3:00                        AVE 138bpm   MAX 150bpm

Specialized 6 Fattie                1:17/2:27/3:03                        AVE  141bpm  MAX 151bpm

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