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Guide to Electric Mountain Bikes

It's an exhilarating feeling to ride an electric mountain bike. An electric mountain bike offers the same thrill and scope for adventure as a non-motorized bike but lets you ride longer, further with less exertion.

With an eBike, you can tackle mountains that a traditional mountain bike couldn't handle (think 10% grades). That’s just one of the many reasons that more and more riders choose electric mountain bikes. Read on to learn about the other benefits of an EMTB, and how they stack up against motor cross bikes as a cheaper and safer alternative. 

What is an electric mountain bike (EMTB)?

Ever heard of an EMTB? An EMTB is an eclectic mountain bike that has an integrated motor that assists with pedaling. The EMTB gears provide different levels of motor assistance to the rider when needed and as desired. 

You may have seen rental electric bikes out and about in your city. But an electric mountain bike is not like these lightweight city bikes. An electric mountain bike is a more sophisticated model of eBike that's designed for off-road use, like a traditional mountain bike. 

Electric mountain bikes can take riders to the earth's far corners, survive backcountry conditions, and tackle steep inclines using pedal assist. Most cheap electric bikes are suitable for simple city use, but an eclectic mountain bike comes with additional features like fat tires that can comfortably take riders deep into the backcountry. 

Electric mountain bikes VS motocross bikes

An electric bike has many advantages over a motocross bike. Both vehicles let riders go off-road and enjoy an exhilarating experience. However, an eBike allows you to get more exercise, is cheaper to run, and more environmentally friendly. 

An eBike is also easier to transport than a motocross bike and is safer for older riders or those with less physical ability. They're lighter and easier to lift without straining yourself and require less heavy protective gear. An electric bike is also easier on the rider's knees and hips, so they're more accessible than a regular bike.

Do I need a license to drive an EMTB?

In most cases, you don't need a license to ride an EMTB. Most states will categorize electric mountain bikes as either electric bikes or as a bicycle. However, in a few states, you may be required to get a license and registration to ride an electric bike. 

Some states classify eBikes as vehicles akin to mopeds or scooters, and they usually require licensing and registration. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. 

American states using the three-tiered classification system outlined below usually exempt electric bikes from registration, licensure, or insurance requirements. In most other countries, there is also a maximum speed an electric mountain bike can reach before it is no longer classified as an eBike. 

What are the different classes of electric mountain bikes?

Twenty-six states in the USA have adopted a three-tiered classification for electric bikes, including electric mountain bikes. This system designates eBikes as either Class 1, 2, or 3. Class 1 and 2 bikes are the most common class of electric mountain bikes for riders who enjoy off-road riding, hunting, or exploring outdoors.

Class 1 eBikes: An eBike or electric mountain bike with a top speed of 20 miles per hour. Class one electric bikes must have an electric motor that only works when pedaling.

Class 2 eBikes: A class two eBike or electric mountain bike is equipped with a throttle-actuated motor. The bike's engine must cease to assist when the electric bike reaches 20 miles per hour.

Class 3 eBikes: Class three eBikes or electric mountain bikes are bicycles with a motor that assists only if the rider is pedaling. The engine on these eBikes or EMTBs should cease to assist the rider when the bike has reached 28 miles per hour. Class three eBikes may also be called "pedelec bikes." A Class three EMTB is the most restricted classification. Some states do have additional safety restrictions for riders using Class three EMTs.

The states which use this three-tiered classification for eBikes and electric mountain bikes usually have near-identical definitions for eBikes. They also have very similar laws for eBike safety and operation. Check out our guide to eBike regulations for more details on the rules for eBikes by state.

What are the main components of an electric mountain bike?

Electric mountain bikes have the same components as a traditional bike but with extras that give the bike its power. These components are:

Motor: The motor powers your eBike, and the placement will determine whether an engine is either hub-drive or mid-drive. The bike’s motor’s power output will be specified in watts

Sensor: The speed sensor on an eBike will automatically engage the motor to assist with your ride. A torque sensor is the most sophisticated as it evaluates your riding style to determine the amount of power it needs to match your style and the surroundings. These torque sensors, found in our Ridge Runner and Jeep Ebikes, provide a more fluid riding experience and power versatility.

Battery: The battery stores the power for your eBike and can be recharged with either electricity or a solar power charger. The eBike battery will be located either in the bike's luggage rack or on the frame. Electric bike batteries can generally last five to six hours. If you're Overlanding or cycling longer distances, you can easily carry a spare battery or a solar charger.

What is the best motor for an electric mountain bike?

There are two kinds of motor available for electric mountain bikes, a mid-drive motor or hub-drive electric bike motor. QuietKat bikes use both models, and both motors have pros and cons. However, when you're mountain biking up steep hills, a mid-drive motor will have better hill-climbing capabilities. 

A mid-drive electric mountain bike also has superior balance because the engine's weight is in the center of the bike. This style of the motor makes for better riding on technical, off-road terrain. However, both hub-drives and mid-drives are great motor designs with proven performance and reliability, so you won't go wrong with either choice. 

What is the range of an electric mountain bike?

Most electric mountain bikes have a range between 20-50 miles. The range will depend on the power mode you use, terrain, and riding conditions. If you're tackling steep hills, your range will be lower. QuietKat's longest-range electric bikes are the RidgeRunner EBike with a range of 64 miles and the JEEP and Apex eBikes, both with ranges of up to 58 miles.

What is the difference between a hardtail and a full-suspension electric mountain bike?

Just like traditional mountain bikes, an EMTB can be either full suspension or hardtail. The type of suspension you choose from your electric mountain bike will impact the eBike's control, traction, and comfort levels. Full-suspension mountain bikes will feature both a suspension fork up the front of the bike as well as a rear shock. 

A hardtail bike will have only a suspension fork. One of the big differences between these two styles is the weight. Hardtails are good eBikes, for light off-road use, but they're usually less comfortable than full-suspension EMTBs. On the plus side, a hardtail mountain bike can be significantly lighter than a full suspension bike because it doesn't carry the weight of pivots, a rear shock, or suspension linkages. 

Which electric mountain bike is best for me?

Unlike traditional mountain bikes, QuietKat EMTBs are built with powerful, heavy-duty motors so they can propel riders up the steep trails, so you can climb hills even when riding with cargo. While all QuietKat bikes are designed for off-road riding, our best electric mountain bike model is the 2020 RidgeRunner Electric Mountain Bike.

Why is this our best eBike for mountain bikers? The RidgeRunner comes equipped with full suspension, Tektro 4-Piston Hydraulic Disc Brakes, a high-powered 1000w BAFANG Ultra Mid-Drive Motor, and a range up to 64 miles. The RidgeRunner is also equipped with massive, 4.8-inch wide tires, making it a smooth and comfortable ride. 

The RidgeRunner is one of the best electric mountain bikes on the market. Our other top 4 electric mountain bike models include: 

  1. 2021 RidgeRunner Electric Mountain Bike
  2. 2021 Jeep® Electric Mountain Bike
  3. 2021 Quantum Electric Mountain Bike
  4. 2021 Ripper Kids EBike

Hit the trails!

QuietKat eBikes are some of the best electric mountain bikes available on the market. Our rugged models like the RidgeRunner, Jeep eBike, or Apex take riders on wild adventures. Check out our entire range and explore our variety of off-road eBikes for mountain biking, Overlanding, hunting, or fishing.

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