What Makes Electric Mountain Bikes Worth the Price?

Although many of us would love to own an electric bike for every occasion, unfortunately, budget constraints usually don’t allow it, making us choose leisure or off-roading. However, when shopping for an electric mountain bike, you might be shocked to discover how much they cost! Which leads us to ask, “Why are electric mountain bikes so expensive?”

Electric mountain bikes are more expensive than regular mountain bikes because of thicker frames, better suspensions, disc brakes, superior electronics, and other elements. These bikes require additional features and are powerful and durable to better cope with rough terrain.

Unfortunately, when dealing with electric mountain bikes, you must be prepared to pay a substantial sum for quality products. However, which components elevate the price tag? What role does the manufacturer play? And what are the best budget e-mountain bikes?

Understanding What Makes Electric Mountain Bikes Expensive

You’re not alone if you’ve looked at an electric mountain bike (e-MTB) and bulked at the price tag.

A middle-of-the-range e-MTB will set you back anywhere between $2000 and $5000, while the more expensive e-MTBs cost up to $15 000.

Although there are budget options, they are limited in what you might achieve, and we recommend not going under $2000 if you plan on spending any real time in the saddle.

The fundamental reasons for e-MTB prices are manufacturing costs and supply and demand.

Manufacturing Costs Of An Electric Mountain Bike

Manufacturers ask a lot for these bikes because of the development, resources, and time that goes into constructing a sturdy and effective e-MTB.

Research and development, testing/quality control, production, marketing, insurance, and many other business expenses that we, as consumers, don’t consider are factored into the cost of an e-MTB.

Companies need to turn a profit to continue producing goods that consumers want to buy, so investing resources into optimizing their products is essential, but it comes at a cost.

Popularity Increases The Price Of Electric Mountain Bikes

Another fundamental factor is supply and demand. As e-MTBs become more appealing to a wider demographic, manufacturers begin asking more from buyers.

E-MTBs open up a world of possibilities to a range of people, increasing their popularity.

While ardent adventurers (riders) benefit immensely from e-MTBs’ capabilities, people with physical limitations (like disease and injuries) who want to participate in off-road biking, but can’t use a regular bike, find themselves empowered to ride.

The Costs Of Components Of An Electric Mountain Bike

An e-MTB requires the correct components to be durable and have the required power for riding in rough terrain.

The significant increase in cost relates to the sturdy frame and the electronic components (the battery, motor, and control unit add roughly $4000 to mid and top-end e-MTBs).

E-MTBs are a product of their components, which (unfortunately) significantly add to the cost.

These components include:

The Wheels

An e-MTBs wheels take the brunt of impacts from rough terrain. The tires, rims, spokes, hubs, and fittings must be strong enough to prevent buckling, snapping, and the inevitable rider injury.

For example, the DT Swiss hybrid series wheels are specially designed for e-MTBs that ride longer and faster while carrying additional weight to regular mountain bikes. They have thicker spokes and wider, reinforced rims.

Overall, aluminum wheels are great for excessively rocky terrain, while carbon wheels are more comfortable on simple trails.

The Frame

Their thicker frame makes most e-MTBs heavy (between 44 and 66 lbs).

While this additional thickness is essential for durability (thicker metal does not bend or break as easily when bouncing over rocky terrain) and stronger mounting points, more metal/alloys mean a higher price tag.

Carbon and alloy frames are the most frequently used material for e-MTBs.

Carbon fiber is lighter than alloy, but it’s usually stronger (at the same weight), with less flexibility (i.e., carbon fiber is stiffer). However, it is more expensive. While stiff/flexible alloy and carbon frames benefit different situations, there is a fine balance where comfort is optimized.

The Suspension

The suspension is essential on an e-MTB.

You and your bike will have a limited trail riding experience without adequate suspension. Not only does a suspension “soften” the ride, but it is also fundamental in keeping the wheels in constant contact with the ground, improving handling and safety.

While front suspensions/shock absorbers (often called hardtail e-bikes) are the minimum requirements for mountain biking, you will be “sorely” disappointed without a full suspension (your behind will thank you).

Unfortunately, a full suspension is significantly more expensive than a hardtail.

The Brakes

When riding on mountainous and other rough terrains, you’ll want a set of hydraulic disc brakes. However, for a decent set, you’re looking at around $150 (if you want to add them yourself).

While mechanical disc brakes are cheaper, their performance is inferior to the hydraulic variety, a critical consideration when safety and comfort are essential.

The Motor, Battery, And Other Electronics

The quintessential reason for e-MTBs steep price tag is thanks to the electronic components. The bulk of the cost comprises the motor, battery, wiring, and central processing unit.

The type of motor used in an electric bike can significantly impact its price. Discover more about e-bike motors here.

The larger the motor and the better quality the components, the more expensive it is. E-MTBs require more power (torque) than regular e-bikes to propel their heavier frames up rough terrain.

Most e-MTBs are equipped with 250 to 500w motors, which provide sufficient power for climbing hills. However, some e-MTBs sport 1000+ watt motors. With more powerful motors come heftier price tags.

While riding far from the streets on grueling terrain, you want a battery with a decent capacity. However, much like motors, larger batteries cost more. Most e-MTBs have batteries between 300wh and 1000wh (watt-hours).

The cost of a larger battery can contribute to the expense of electric mountain bikes, but will it make your e-bike faster?

The central processing/control unit and how it links to your smart device are equally important. More expensive units give you a wider range of control/tweaking, often with a more user-friendly interface.

There are usually several pre-programmed assist levels on e-bikes. Riders select how much work they want the motor to do and adjust the levels accordingly.

Maintenance Costs

Unfortunately, an e-MTB is not a once-off investment. If you plan on purchasing one, expect to pay around $300 on replacement parts and servicing your e-MTB. However, replacing big-ticket items like a battery or motor can cost up to $1000.

While designed for rough terrain, these bikes are hard-wearing on wheels, suspension, drive train, and brakes and need constant maintenance to ensure the e-MTB functions optimally.

Quality Vs. Price Of Electric Mountain Bikes

Electric mountain bikes range from the (relatively) affordable $1200 to the astounding $9000 (and more) models.

While the top-of-the-range electric mountain bikes will remain expensive for the foreseeable future, there are good quality e-MTBs across the spectrum.

Below are a few examples of great e-MTBs in three price categories.

Electric mountain bike

Riding type

Price

Price bracket

VELOWAVE Electric Bike Adults 500W 27.5”

Trail

$1999

Budget

Cannondale Moterra Neo 5

Trail

$4550

Budget to Mid

Trek Rail 9.8

Enduro

$4800

Budget to Mid

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp

Trail/Enduro

$7500

Mid to Top

Berria Mako Hybrid GT LTD

Enduro/Racing

$12 199

Top

Your Goals Are Essential When Buying An Electric Mountain Bike

The purpose of an e-MTB contributes to its cost (where you ride and what you do).

There are three broad categories of e-MTB:

  • Downhill
  • Enduro
  • Trail

Are you taking your e-MTB on easy trails, or are you pushing the limits of your vehicle? If you’re happy to cruise on “easy” terrain, we don’t recommend spending exuberant amounts on a top-tier e-MTB when a “factory standard” mid-range e-bike is perfect.

However, if you plan on riding in rugged terrain, participating in downhill mountain biking, or planning on a lot of saddle time, a more expensive e-MTB is a wise investment.

Conclusion

Electric mountain bikes are significantly more expensive than other e-bikes because their frames are stronger, motors are more powerful, and batteries last longer. Manufacturers invest time and resources to create superb products, which (thanks to increasing supply and demand) sell at rates to turn a profit.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles