Ebikes and eMTBs, also known as pedelecs (pedal electric cycle), are bicycles that are equipped with an electric motor, a control system and a rechargeable battery. The control system ensures that the engine only supports when the driver pedals. If he stops pedaling, the support also stops. Some ebikes support up to 25 km/h, others will not switch off the motor support until 45 km/h are reached. But only models with a maximum speed of 25 km/h are permitted for off-road driving and biking in the forest and on dirt or mountain roads. Faster ebikes are only permitted on public roads and thus of no real interest for ambitious MTB drivers.
There are two different drive types: medium and rear engines. Each drive has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the driver’s needs and way of biking. For e-mountainbikes driven in different kinds of terrain, mid engines are best suited and thus recommended. Due to the central and low position of the engine, this construction type offers the best conditions for balanced handling. On the other hand, only hub motors allow energy recovery (recuperation).
You can also choose between a hardtail MTB or a fully. A hardtail has a sprung front wheel but no rear suspension. A fully offers full suspension and thus more comfort, but weight and manufacturing costs are higher. Besides, a fully consists of more moving parts that could turn into problems.
Pedelec or ebike?
Don’t let the different names confuse you: In the early days, most companies and professionals used the (correct) term “pedelec“. Nowadays the internationally common term ebike is often also used for electric bikes or MTBs with throttle grips. These types enable motor supported driving without pedaling at all. But due to legal reasons, a precise distinction can be important.
About 90 % of the electrically assisted two-wheelers sold in the EU are pedelecs due to EU-category L1e-A. Legally, these are bicycles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h (plus tolerance) and a rated continuous motor power of 250 watts. That is why no registration, helmet or driving licence is required. Some models have a start-up aid of up to 6 km/h, so that up to this speed, the driver needs no muscle power.
All pedelecs sold in the EU require an EU declaration of conformity including CE marking. Particular attention should be paid to this when you buy an imported pedelec or want to import one yourself.
Can a normal mountainbike be equipped with an electric motor?
In general, an engine can be retrofitted to conventional mountainbikes. The battery is placed in the frame triangle instead of the bottle holder. But as a mid engine requires a specially designed frame, the recommended drive type for MTBs cannot be refitted to a normal MTB because the frame is not strong enough to cope with the forces of the retrofit engine. You also have to take into account that the warranty of the frame (or generally of the bike manufacturer) expires, and the refitting is anything but trivial. So the best idea is to buy a complete eMTB with a good engine to ensure best performance and road feel and avoid technical and legal risks.
Does an eMTB need special attachments?
Currently, no manufacturer does have to install any special parts on an e-mountainbike. However, due to the added weight stable disc brakes with large discs or strong hydraulic brakes are recommended on E-MTBs, also a torsionally stiff suspension fork and stable wheels. Safety is more important than performance, and anyway, in motor assisted biking it’s not the lightweight construction that comes first.
Bosch for EMBT engines and electronics
The more power the driver supplies, the more can the engine add. Depending on manufacturer and support mode, the motor adds between 50 and 400 percent. Of course, the question which bike or drive is best cannot be answered in general. But due to practical experience, we recommend Bosch for the electric/electronic bike parts. With Bosch, you are definitely driving the best because the market leader has been offering reliable technology for years, which is constantly being supplemented with new innovations. In addition, there will be no problems with spare parts supply here in the future.
The Bosch Performance CX engine constantly measures the pedaling force, cadence and speed to perfectly adjust the added power. Lately, Bosch has introduced a software update to increase efficiency and (off-)road feel for the Performance CX motors. Now, the Bosch motors feel even more authentic, like riding a “real” mountainbike.