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Mountain Bike vs eMTB – Which is best?

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New trends and developments often have the purists up in arms and that has certainly been the case with electric mountain bikes. There are some who believe that eMTBs are cheating, but there is plenty to be said in defence of these electric machines. In this blog we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of riding each type and ask the all-important question – which one’s best?

choosing an electric mountain bike

How does an eMTB differ from a traditional mountain bike?

Without wanting to state the obvious (but we’re going to) the biggest difference is that one is powered by a motor! With the power assistance provided by the motor, your pedal power can be increased by up to 300%, depending on the mode you choose. What this means, in simple terms, is that you can ride that same tough terrain without breaking as much sweat.

The motor doesn’t do all the work for you, and you’ll still need to put in plenty of muscle to do those hill climbs, but it will help keep your momentum going. So with an eMTB, you can take on more of that trail, going further than you can with a traditional mountain bike, and yes you will still bust a sweat.

The great leveller!

One of the great things about the motor assistance on eMTBs is that it doesn’t matter about your fitness level as much as with a traditional MTB. If you’re taking on a fairly hairy trail, or you’re a little out of shape compared to your MTB clique, you’ll still be able to keep up with that motorised assistance.

But, that doesn’t mean eMTBs are just for the old or unfit, far from it. Hardcore trail riders also find that eMTBs give them a whole other perspective on mountain biking, especially on challenging terrain.

That said, it’s worth pointing out that eMTBs are not motorbikes. Contrary to some people’s belief, the motor doesn’t act like an engine. You don’t start it up, hit the throttle and off you go. The motor adds power to the pressure you apply when pedalling, meaning you’re amplifying your pedal power rather than letting the motor do all the work. You are still the engine! The only throttle assistance that is allowed, and you may find on some eBikes, is “starting” assistance which allows for the bike to be propelled up to 6km/h (3.7mph).

The weight issue

With that motor and a slightly chunkier frame and tyres, you do definitely notice that eMTBs are heavier to ride, especially on the downhill. And if you need to nip off the saddle to carry your bike over a river, up steps or any other obstacle, then you’ll definitely notice that they’re not exactly featherweights like most modern mountain bikes. In fact, eMTBs weigh around twice as much as traditional mountain bikes, with 25kgs pretty much the standard.

Out of battery!

You’ve come to expect it with your phone, but what about when your bike runs out of battery? Considering a battery of 500 watt hours, if you ride for around 2 hours on your eMTB, you could find that battery pack running out.

Another thing is, we’ve all experienced battery degradation over time with our smart devices. Electric mountain bike batteries are subject to the same depletion, which means that eventually, you’ll need to buy another battery. Now, you don’t get that on your trusty mountain bike!

eMTBs are lots of fun!

Despite these downsides, honestly, riding an eMTB really is a whole lot of fun. As you’re not having to put in so much of your energy resources into pedalling, you can take your time to enjoy the view, tackle trails you might have shied away from before or have some fun with drifting and doing wheelies.

So which is best?

At the risk of sitting on the fence, when it comes to choosing between a traditional mountain bike or an eMTB, we don’t think either comes out on top. They’re great for different things. Non-electric mountain bikes are always going to be great for hitting the trails, are lighter and don’t run the risk of running out of battery (although your own ‘motor’ may struggle at times!). On the other hand riding an eMTB means you can let the motor take the strain on taxing climbs allowing you to go further, and perhaps keep up with your super fit mates. In short, having an eMTB just gives you another option, and we don’t think it’s cheating. In fact, they’re great fun and if you haven’t ridden one before, we can highly recommend it.

rider on mountain bike

Choosing eMTB insurance

Whether you ride electric or not, all of these modern bikes don’t come cheap, so insuring your new pride and joy is an essential step before you hit the trails. It can actually be pretty tricky to find good comprehensive eMTB insurance cover, with many insurers adding restrictions and strict conditions.

Pedal Cover offer home & bike insurance that covers all of your bikes, whether they’re powered or not, with the cover also including traditional home building and contents insurance. Find out more about the full range of benefits of PedalCover’s mountain bike insurance and electric bike insurance, and get a quote today to see how you can protect all your bikes, with one simple policy.


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