The electrification of bikes is the most recent super-trend in the cycling industry. But in which stage of development are eMTBs now? Is this segment still in its infancy or is the development curve slowly flattening out?
It was only a few years ago that eMTBs were still ridiculed and considered a means of transportation for senior citizens — at best! Today, they represent the spearhead of technological development and some visionaries are even predicting the eventual extinction of non-motorised bikes. Yet, there is still a lot of scepticism among buyers. Many of them are wondering whether current eMTBs have reached their full technological potential buyers or whether we can expect to see more groundbreaking developments over the next few years. We take a look at the current state of things and dare a glimpse into the future.
Now is the best time to buy an eMTB
Higher, faster, further! With each model year, the industry promises new improvements. But how critical are these improvements really? The bottom line is that eMTBs have become a lot better in recent years. Initial teething issues have been addressed and severe technical failures are becoming increasingly rare — the big brands have done their homework.
The story of eMTBs reminds us a little of the iPhone. In the early years we saw huge developments but after this first phase, the improvements started to become increasingly less significant. In recent years, the basic concept of these devices has hardly changed and most people won’t even take full advantage of the performance increase. Of course, advanced users will notice the difference between current models and their predecessors and can be willing to spend lots of money to upgrade. However, most users will be satisfied with the performance of current models for many years to come.
Potential buyers fear that within a couple of years ebikes will double their range, weigh 10 kg less and cost half as much as they do now. You can relax, these concerns are totally unfounded. Of course, eMTBs will constantly evolve but the current generation is already very advanced and leaves very little to be desired for most of its users. Revolutionary innovations in motor and battery technology are not foreseeable in the near future.
The motor still plays a crucial role
We should never judge a bike just by its motor. That said, the motor sits at the heart of every ebike and should therefore play an important role in our purchase decisions. Most buyers will get enough power for their money with any current motor from one of the big manufacturers, but since model development cycles tend to last several years it’s worth doing some thorough research before buying — it’s hardly surprising that some motors are a little outdated and can no longer keep up with the latest competitors.
Brose is currently setting the benchmark: Their brand-new Drive S Mag offers the best compromise between compact design, natural power delivery and high performance — an overall package that is hard to beat and has been awarded with the Design & Innovation Award 2019.
eMTB specific components make the difference
Ever since eMTBs have become established on the market, eMTB specific components are popping up like mushrooms. From the e-wind vest to specific components of all kinds everyone is trying to get a piece of the cake. Some of the products make a real difference in performance or allow for better durability, others are good marketing at best.
There’s no other product category where the differences are as apparent as with tires. Most eMTB manufacturers are now relying on solid, good quality tire models for their eMTBs but there is still a lot of room for improvement especially when it comes to grip and puncture resistance. With their new eMTB specific Eddy Current, Schwalbe presents the first eMTB specific tire that is truly different from all other MTB tires. This proves that sometimes only a radical approach can bring real progress. Not only does the Eddy Current take on a pioneering role but also secures the Design & Innovation Award 2019.