Electric mountain bikes are a rapidly evolving sector in mountain biking. Every year the bikes are better looking and more fun to ride. There’s a raft of new 2022 bikes that take eMTB to a new level, covering a wider range of bikes than ever before.
Electric mountain bikes have come a long way since the early days of assisted riding. There’s a gulf between the early days of clunky, heavy contraptions that really didn’t look very fun to ride and modern eMTB. The latest crop of ebikes are a new breed: designed specifically around the needs of an electric bike but with the trail feel of a unassisted bike in mind. They look more like normal mountain bikes than ever and they’re, well, they’re getting lighter every year.
Norco Sight VLT
Norco did a wholesale redesign of its VLT eMTB line for 2022, adding the Fluid to the line and updating the Range and Sight. Of the three, the Sight VLT is the mid-travel trail bike with the broadest capabilities. We’ve spent some quality time on the burlier Range VLT, a proper big mountain / enduro rig, but the Sight VLT covers everything from flowing trails to steeper, more challenging terrain. Norco’s added removable batteries, and offers three different battery sizes so you can pick what matches your needs best.
Rocky Mountain – Altitude Powerplay C70
Another Canadian brand putting serious effort into its eMTB is Rocky Mountain. For 2022, the Powerplay line comes with the new, quieter Dyname 4.0 drive system, developed by Rocky Mountain specifically for off-road riding. Sleeker tube shapes and a smaller motor make the new bikes look more normal, while smart parts selection, including pre-installed CushCore tire inserts on the Altitude Powerplay, match the added demand of eMTB riding. The Altitude Powerplay is the longer-travel option, leaving the Instinct Powerplay to take care of trail riding. The Altitude’s excellent balance and adjustable geometry, borrowed from its analogue sibling, make it fun and capable on the most demanding trails around.
Liv Intrigue X E+ 2
One of the few women’s-specific eMTB available, Liv boosted the Intrigue X E+ capacity over the earlier Intrigue E+ model. There’s still 140-mm of Maestro linkage rear wheel travel and a 150-mm Fox 36 Float Rhythm fork, but the updated eMTB now boasts a 625Wh battery to power its 80Nm Yamaha-Giant SynchDrive Pro motor. The Intrigue E+ was a powerful trail tool. The Intrigue X E+ extends the adventure to more trails and more kilometres.
Trek Rail 9.8 and 9.9
Trek didn’t overhaul the entire Rail eMTB line, it just boosted the top-end. The Rail 9.8 and 9.9 lead the Madison, Wisc. brand’s eMTB line with more capable geometry inspired by the Slash enduro bike. The two new models are powered by the all-new Bosh Smart System. There’s also an easily removable drop-out battery and top-end parts that super-charge your ride.
Specialized Turbo Levo
Morgan Hill hopped on the electric train early, and it shows. Specialized offers a wide range of eMTB, both standard-powered Turbo Levo and lightweight SL models. The Turbo Levo takes inspiration from the human-powered Stumpjumper EVO, including the adjustable chainstay length. To get the Turbo Levo to feel more like a pedal bike on trails, Specialized only offers the Turbo Levo with a 27.5″ rear wheel and 29″ front wheel, for faster handling and better cornering. The Turbo Levo’s belt-driven motor is quieter than many of its competitors, too, so you hear more nature and less whirring on your ride.