Chances are, you’ve come across this article after doing quite a bit of research. So, you might already know that there are many practical reasons why the lion’s share of purpose-built electric mountain bikes have a high-powered lithium battery checking in at somewhere between 750 and 1500 watts.
But while watts gives you a good indication of what to expect from your fat tire e-bike, there are a few other terms to keep an eye on to help you understand what bike is right for you.
Disclaimer: while there certainly is a relationship between the numbers below and how powerful, fast, and responsive an electric mountain bike will feel, the particular configuration of an e-bike will affect all of the above. In short: not all bikes are created equally—even those identical watt, volt, and amp ratings. For an excellent crash-course in how e-bike motors work, read through EBike Motors, Explained on Bicycling.com.
Now, onto terminology:
Watts: Pay attention to this rating to understand how much energy the motor can consume continuously. Oftentimes, the first rating you’ll see for an e-bike is indicative of the continuous watt rating which differs—and is less than—the peak rating.
Amp: Think of e-bike amps as kind of like the horsepower of your car—it tells you what your bike’s max output is. The higher the amps, the more powerful your bike will be when you jump off the proverbial starting line.
Amp Hours: Let’s keep using the convenient comparison of your e-bike to your car. If amps are like horsepower, amp hours is like your fuel tank. The higher the amp hours, the more life your battery will have left after you rip uphill as hard as you can for an hour.
Volts: Just like in any other electric system, vots indicate how much pressure can be contained within the battery. Batteries created specifically to serve electric mountain bikes typically have volts in sequences of 12, going up incrementally to 48. When it comes down to it, volts basically equate to power, indicating how powerful a battery can be and giving you a fairly good idea of the projected top speed.
So, let’s put it all together, using the impressively powerful, designed-to-go-anywhere QuietKat 2020 RidgeRunner EBike. Here are the quick stats:
Watts: Choose between 750w and 1000w (for the purposes of this article, we’ll choose the Bafang Ultra Mid-Drive Motor).
Amp: The max amp output for the RidgeRunner is 133.33a.
Amp Hours: The RidgeRunner comes standard with 16ah.
Volts: The RidgeRunner comes standard with 48v.
Now, here’s what that practically means when you take a purpose-built electric mountain bike out into the toughest terrain.
How Far Will a 1000 Watt EBike Take You?
Of course, predicting how many miles your e-bike will carry you is dependent on the type of terrain, the steepness of your climbs, how heavy you are on the throttle (or strong you are on the pedals), and several other factors. The folks at Ebike Portal put a modern lithium battery to the test, and though the one they used in the test is not quite as sophisticated as the one you’ll find in the RidgeRunner, it’s still valuable read to understand what factors can really affect the performance of a battery.
When it comes to our aforementioned RidgeRunner, though, if you’re traveling on a relatively flat or moderately hilly trail going at a leisurely pace, expect to get up to a whopping 64 miles round trip. As you become a more experienced rider, you’ll become more attune to how to conserve battery as you ride to really maximize your travel.
How Fast Will it Go?
The 1000w Bafang Ultra Mid-Drive Motor was deliberately chosen because it’s a beautiful feat of engineering. When 1600w of peak power meets 160nm of torque, amazing things happen. Traveling over flat terrain, an average sized rider can easily hit 30mph using the thumb throttle. Top speed on a pedal-assist version of the same bike will be slightly less.
Will it Tow Weight?
When we set out to design the RidgeRunner, we knew we wanted to make the most powerful and capable bike that we could possibly dream up. In short, we’re proud to say we succeeded. Not only that, we crafted it specifically for rugged off-roaders and deep-woods hunters to use in their most ambitious pursuits. With 120 millimeters of rear suspension travel and 150 millimeters of travel up front, when paired with the 4.8-inch fat tire, the very edge of the map starts to feel like home.
Together the electric motor and rugged frame are designed to be loaded down with our full suite of accessories from the rugged two-wheel cargo cart to a stuffed-full pair of pannier bags. With the right mindset and enough grit, you can pack out an elk and be home in time for dinner.