For outdoor enthusiasts, the appeal of an electric mountain bike is irresistible. The thrill of adventure, enhanced capabilities, and tough-as-nails durability are just some of the benefits of investing in an EMTB.
An EMTB gives riders more scope for adventure than a traditional MTB, allowing you to ride longer, explore further, and tackle mountains that a non-motorized cycle couldn't handle.
The best part is, all this exploration can be done with significantly less exertion!
That’s why more and more mountain bikers, hunters, overlanders, and outdoor enthusiasts are making the switch to electric mountain bikes.
If you're looking to dive into the exciting world of electric mountain biking then you've come to the right place. This EMTB 101 guide will help you learn about eBikes and select the best electric mountain bike for your lifestyle.
What is an electric mountain bike (EMTB)?
An EMTB is an eclectic mountain bike with off-road capabilities and pedal assist. These electric mountain bikes are more rugged than your average urban eBike, and can tackle challenging terrain, like the best traditional mountain bikes.
Top-quality EMTBs allow adventurous riders to explore the unknown, tackle backcountry conditions, and make steep inclines look easy using pedal assist. EMTBs use many of the same features of a traditional MTB, such as fat tires and advanced suspension so riders can comfortably traverse uneven terrain.
Do I need a license to drive an EMTB?
An electric mountain bike is a powerful vehicle, so the question of licensing comes up frequently. There is no federal classification for eBikes in the United States, so each state makes its own rules for eBikes. An electric mountain bike usually doesn't require a license, but there are some exceptions.
A handful of states classify eBikes as mopeds or scooters, so they require riders to get a license for EMTBs. At the time of writing, the states that require a license are Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Wisconsin. However, laws and regulations for eBikes are changing rapidly, so these laws may change. It's best to check your local eBike laws before buying an EMTB.
How much should you spend on your first electric mountain bike?
When it comes to buying an electric mountain bike, you get what you pay for. Most quality electric mountain bikes will range between $2,500 - $6,000. While the cost of a quality EMTB may cause some sticker shock, it's important to remember that electric bike maintenance is low-cost and eBikes come with almost no running costs.
You can certainly purchase inferior eBikes for less or get top-of-the-range bikes at higher prices. There are cheap eBikes available on the market, but these are not suitable for off-road use. A first-time eBiker who will ride occasionally will likely want to buy in the middle of the price range. A mid-range price will usually ensure you get a reasonably good quality experience without spending beyond your budget.
However, if you're more experienced and frequently ride for overlanding or hunting trips, you may want to invest in more sophisticated features. Of course, the more expensive models come with features that offer superior trail performance. Many riders will also recognize that a quality electric mountain bike is a more affordable investment than a quad bike or other off-road vehicle.
What is the best EMTB for a beginner?
Buying your first eBike can be overwhelming. Beginners may be tempted to start with cheaper models with fewer features. However, if you plan to enhance your skills and push your limits, you may want to invest in a more sophisticated model - or risk needing to upgrade after a short learning period.
Here are some important features to consider before choosing your first EMTB:
Sturdiness and durability: The reliability of an eBike is for beginner riders. A hardy eBike will shrug off any potential damage you encounter as a newbie exploring challenging terrain.
Hardtail vs. full-suspension: Hardtail EMTBs are often said to be more moderate, therefore suitable for beginners. However, if you intend to explore and push your limits, a full-suspension bike is more versatile on rough terrain.
Hub drive vs. mid-drive motor: This is a debate that comes up frequently with eBike enthusiasts. Both types of eBike motor feature in our bestseller list, and each comes with pros and cons. You can learn more in the hub-drive Vs. mid-drive guide.
Best electric mountain bikes for beginners
The QuietKat RidgeRunner is one of the best electric bikes on the market and our top pick for mountain biking at all levels. However, The Ranger is our pick as the best entry-level eBike for beginners. The new Ranger 5.0 is an affordable, quality option that offers great value for money.
Why is the QuietKat Ranger our ideal entry-level all-terrain EMTB? It's built to conquer rugged terrain, can handle long commutes, backcountry adventures, and more. This EMTB model includes a 500w hub drive motor, integrated battery, and premium components. These features, paired with single-speed gearing, make for a simple and easy-to-use electric mountain bike. The price is affordable mid-range, without compromising performance.
Our other top ten EMTB models include:
- 2021 Jeep Electric Mountain Bike
- 2021 RidgeRunner Electric Mountain Bike
- 2021 Warrior Electric Mountain Bike
- 2021 Ranger E-Bike
- 2021 Apex Electric Mountain Bike
How do you ride an electric bike for the first time?
Riding an electric mountain bike is an exhilarating experience. But for beginner riders, it can also be intimidating to ride an eBike for the first time.
At its essence, riding an electric mountain bike is just like riding any bike. The essential fundamentals of balancing, pedaling, stopping, and steering are the essential skills a rider must possess. But even experienced mountain bikers should be aware there are some differences that come with electric bikes.
EMTBs are typically heavier than regular mountain bikes because they have a motor, and therefore they handle differently. It's a good idea to get familiar with the weight and power of your e-bike in an easy setting before hitting backcountry trails.
Tips for e-Mountain bike beginners:
- Start off riding somewhere with plenty of space and no traffic.
- Try riding without the power first to get a feel for the weight and balance of the electric bike.
- Practice stopping and starting. The tires and weight of an electric mountain bike may respond differently to a traditional bike when braking.
- Make sure you know how to change to higher and lower EMTB gears, check your manual, or check out instructional videos if you're not sure.
- Experiment with using pedal assist, starting with the lowest setting and gradually working your way up to full power so you can get used to the control of the throttle.
- Practice turning, balancing, and getting past obstacles without power first, then try with increasingly difficult pedal assist and throttle levels.
EMTB basic techniques:
The ability to climb hills easily is one of the biggest selling points of electric mountain bikes. When climbing hills, beginners should start in a lower gear and at a consistent cadence. Stay seated in the bike saddle, which will give you more momentum, but shift your weight forward and lower your shoulders towards the handlebars.
QuietKat's are ideal for tackling steep descents, but riding downhill, especially on a curve, is still one of the more challenging techniques of electric mountain biking. When tackling a descent, be sure to use the bike's suspension and keep your tires in contact with the ground. Keeping your tires in contact with the trail will help you brake, corner, and handle technical terrain on the descent with more control.
Brakes are an essential bike feature, so you should always test them before hitting the trails. When braking on an EMTB, you should try and reduce speed first and you will need to shift your center of gravity higher. The battery and engine cause the bike to have a lower center of gravity. Your riding position is important. If you're hunched down when braking, the bike may push stronger over the front wheel and could cause it to block or slip sideways.
Managing Battery Power:
It's tempting for eBike beginners to hit the trails at full power. But you'll quickly learn that conserving your battery allows you to ride further and for longer. Use as little battery as possible, but as much as needed to manage your battery power.
Remember that assents are the best time to use the motor. You should also avoid excessive stopping and starting because eBikes consume a lot of energy when you accelerate from each stop. Monitor the battery status on the bike's computer, so you're not caught off guard with a drained battery.
What EMTB gear does a beginner need?
There are lots of accessories available for eBikes. Experienced riders can transform an eBike into a hunting e-bike or Overlanding bike with the addition of pannier bags, trailers, and other add-ons. But most beginners will only need a few essential bits of kit for electric mountain biking. Here are some of the crucial gear a beginner will need to make riding an electric mountain bike safe and fun.
Safety gear is extremely important for all bike riders, and especially for beginners. Many states require eBikers to wear helmets, but regardless of local laws, we strongly recommend that all riders wear helmets. An electric mountain bike can reach high speeds, and riders need to protect their heads in case of accidents.
It's also advisable for bikes to wear obvious clothing whenever they share the road with other vehicles or pedestrians. Brightly colored jackets or even high vis clothing are a wise choice, especially if you plan to ride at night or in low light. (Naturally, hunters are an exception here and may prefer to wear camo when hunting on an eBike).
Lights are another essential safety accessory for first-time riders. It's inadvisable to ride in low light if you're still new to eBiking. But if you do ride at night, make sure you're equipped with front and tail lights.
All-weather gear is excellent for riders who want to explore at all times, even in wet or adverse conditions. Pogies and fenders are two of the essential eBike accessories riders will need if they wish to ride in wet or cold conditions. If you plan to ride your eBike in the snow (yes, you can!), you should switch to studded tires.
If you're heading out on a long eBike ride or an overnight trip, you may need some extra power. Newer riders may not have a good sense of how much battery they are consuming as they ride. Therefore it's advisable to travel with a spare battery or a solar power charger.
Where can I ride my EMTB as a beginner?
Bike parks are a great place for beginner eBikers to get a feel for their bikes and practice riding. There are many dedicated mountain bike parks around the county that riders can enjoy.
Locations such as Mammoth Mountain Bike Park in California are excellent locations to ride for the first time. You can rent an electric mountain bike at some of these bike parks and test them out before purchasing your own bike.
A dedicated mountain bike park is an excellent place for beginners to learn more about electric mountain biking. Riders can safely experience the thrill of eBiking without having to share trails with cars, hikers or ATVs. Not all mountain bike parks will allow electric bikes, so be sure to check the local rules before you head out to earn your turns.
However, much of the appeal of a mountain bike is the opportunity to explore off the beaten track. So, once you've grasped the basics, you'll likely want to head off-road and get away from the bike park crowds.
Spending the day outdoors exploring trails on your EMTB is a fantastic feeling. The versatility and durability of electric mountain bikes allow eBike riders to navigate off-the-beaten-track in beautiful outdoor settings. But beginner riders should be aware of the rules and regulations for eBikes on bike trails and national parks.
Recent changes to eBike legislation have made national parks and BLM land more accessible to eBiker riders, but access is by no means guaranteed everywhere. Beginners should look up their local regulations to get a good understanding of where they can and can't ride an EMTB.
Are there any electric bike clubs I can join?
Bike riding can be a great solo or social activity. If you're looking to hit the backcountry trails on an eBike or head off Overlanding, it's often safer to go in a group. So if you're looking to meet other enthusiasts and beginner riders, a club or meet-up can be a good place to meet new rider friends.
There are plenty of riding groups and clubs across the country. Websites such as Meetup.com are a good place to find local eBike meet-ups in your area. You can also find local groups and eBike clubs on Facebook or other community boards.
Start eBiking Today!
Electric mountain biking is an exhilarating way to explore the outdoors. With ever more spaces becoming available to EMTBs, there's never been a better time for eBike beginners to learn to ride.
QuietKat electric mountain bikes are some of the best EMTBs available on the market. Our rugged off-road models are ready to take new riders on wild adventures. Check out our entire range of eBikes for mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and Overlanding.
Still not sure if an EMTB is right for you? If you want to try out an electric mountain bike you can test QuietKat eBikes risk-free for up to 30 Days or 10-miles.