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Do You Need E-Bike Specific Components On Your E-MTB?

Do You Need E-Bike Specific Components On Your E-MTB?


– It seems every month that goes by, more and more e-bike
products get launched. But do you actually need
e-bike-specific components on your bike, or are they pure marketing? In short, are they fact or are they fad? It’s time to find out. (upbeat rhythmic music) (electronic buzzing) So to find out, then, we’ve
partnered with Fox suspension to look at the ins and outs
of e-bike specific components. Why Fox, well arguably they
were ahead of the curve when they came out with the
e-bike fork many years ago, probably before many people
had even thought about it. (rhythmic music) But it’s not actually quite
as straightforward as that because the demands of
your e-bike components are going to vary massively. Take for example e-bike touring
compared to e-bike downhill. Now, the tourist rider, they’re
going to need such things as comfort and range on their e-bike, whereas say the downhiller
is going to need a bike that’s going to be able
to take those collisions and brakes that’s going to
anchor you up on the downhills. Now, you only have to
look at the differences between an e-bike and a traditional bike, such things as more
distance, more descending, more system torque, more vertical gain, higher power outputs and
also higher average speeds. I tell you what, if my body’s feeling it, those components are going to be. So whether it’s shuttling,
touring your kid, a doctor doing the rounds, an asthmatic, and old or young ripper
hitting some big gaps, component requirements
are specific to the use that that type of riding demands. It’s only really e-bike specific if it does the job that you want it to do. In many ways, the same as
say a cross-country fork would not be specific to a downhill bike or a normal acoustic mountain bike. So whether it be wheels,
tires, chains, or suspension, in theory it’s just a
question of working out what intended use warrants an
e-mountain bike specific tag and what doesn’t. In short, what is fit for purpose? (rhythmic music) Now, a good place to start,
or should I say stop, when it comes to the
specifics of e-bike products, I think braking is a key one. Now it doesn’t really matter
whether you’re talking steep descents or mellow descents, heat management on brakes on e-bikes is really, really important and we actually found
this out for ourselves on the recent Tour de Mont Blanc. We were doing about 60,000 feet
of descending in three days. Now, an e-bike is in
general slightly heavier than a traditional bike, which means it’s going to
carry a lot more speed, which in turn needs more braking power. When it comes to products, we’re seeing a lot of
products on the market, and one of the key things
is managing the heat, the heat dissipation
systems on these brakes. We’re seeing 200mm rotors, 220mm rotors even on some brands, four-part piston, thinned pads, and in general a far more
durable, bulky system you’re getting on say a
lightweight cross-country bike. Because, let’s face it, on
e-bikes you’re going to be doing a ton more descending
than a traditional bike. (rhythmic music) So, e-bike suspension,
why is it important? Well, first of all, as I mentioned e-bikes are heavier
than traditional bikes, and that means you need more braking. And of course, braking is very
closely linked to suspension. Good suspension equals good braking. The second thing is that suspension is very closely linked with traction. And as we all know, we’re doing a lot of
climbing on our e-bike, so having a very compliant suspension is going to have a positive effect on your climbing technique, as well. I think we can look at four main areas to help you identify
whether your suspension is actually fit for purpose. I think the first thing to look at is actually the type of riding you do. Because let’s face it, we all do different types of e-biking. Some of us do touring style e-biking on fire roads and tarmac roads, whilst other riders spend their time on roots, rocks, and
really steep descents. The second thing is the integrity of the product that you’re dealing with. Let’s face it, we’ve ridden
some questionable bikes in some questionable places. In other words, they weren’t really fit for the purpose that was intended. Now, number three on my list is actually to do with rideaways. I’m saying this from a
common sense point of view rather than any rules and
regulations that surround it. Take this bike I have here. It’s an e-bike, obviously,
with 150mm travel. Weighs in at about 20 kilos. I’m 90 kilos. Now, I tend to ride more
gravity-oriented riding, and I’m always going to choose
a sturdier, bulkier fork than a skinnier fork. In this instance, I’ve got a
36 millimeter Fox Fork in here as opposed to their 34
millimeter stanchion e-bike fork, which you might be using
for trail-style riding. Now that doesn’t mean to say
that if you’re a lighter rider or ride at different speeds, you cannot ride black-style trails on a 34 millimeter stanchion fork, that’s simply not true. It just comes down to the
type of rider you are, the type of riding you
do, and your weight. You need to use your common sense when you’re putting this all together. Now the final, and arguably
the most important, consideration to take into
account is the system weight. Now by the system weight, I mean the combined weight of
you, the rider, and the bike, because there is in fact some manufacturing
regulations surrounding this. Suffice to say that my
Fox fork meets those. (upbeat rhythmic music) Whoa! I tell you what. When it comes to descending, you definitely need the bigger fork if you’re a bigger rider. But Fox don’t only do the Fox 36 fork, they also do the 34. I think it’s about time to head
over to Doddy in the studio to give us a rundown of both forks. – So when it comes to
suspension on e-bikes, really it comes down to them
needing to be much stiffer and a bit more appropriately
tuned for e-bike riders and the weight of the bikes. So typically, you get a
Fox 32, a 34, and a 36. The 32 doesn’t exist for e-bikes, it’s simply not beefy enough to handle the additional strain of the heavier bikes and the way that you’re going to ride them with regards to the bikes. There’s a 34 and a 36. The 34 basically deals
with bikes like this. It’s a trail-riding fork. And it also takes in the
lower end of the market where you’re a bit more XE-biased riders, so down to 120 mil travel, bit
more simple in damping terms. The similarities between the 34 and the 36 is the fact that the
steerer is reinforced, it’s heavier duty. The crown is heavier duty. And the upper legs, the
stanchion tubes on them, same on the 36, they’re beefier. They’re thicker, they’re
much stronger and stiffer, which is really important for handling, especially when you’re braking because you put so much
more load through that bike. They also have a slightly
different compression tune, again, to stop the bike
feeling so wallow-y. When it comes to the bigger 36, this is what you want for jumping, riding, the sort of stuff that Chris and Steve do quite regularly, really rough terrain. Two options, you’ve got
Performance and the Factory. The Performance has
the black legs on there and it has a slightly more
basic grip-down part on there. When it comes to the Factory, of course this has the
Kashima-coated uppers, just better performance
all around with that. And it has the GRIP2 damper, so this has got four-way damping. Super high performance. It has adjustable high-
and low-speed compression and high- and low-speed rebound. A very, very high performance fork. Yeah, so clearly it’s a fact. These are e-bike speficic. And of course the reason for that is all about the stiffness
and that strength, it really does make a big difference. Now you could put a normal fork on there and it will have a bit more flex. You’re still going to be
able to ride the fork, it’s not suddenly not
going to work on a bike, but really you will notice that extra flex and it’s going to feel
a lot more wallow-y. You’ll end up having to
add on loads of compression to stop it feeling wallow-y. And you’re actually going
to make the fork feel worse by doing that. (rhythmic music) – You could argue, I suppose,
that if you’re riding flat fire roads such as this, you don’t really need
e-bike specific wheels. But think again. As I mentioned earlier, you’re going to be doing higher distances, you’re going to be doing more descending, you’re going to be doing
more vertical gain. And crucially, there’s going
to be more system torque and more power going through those wheels. So I think when it comes to wheels, you’re going to be looking
at stronger free hebs, oversized bearings, and
stainless steel ratchets. So when it comes to e-bike
specific wheels, fact or fad, I very much feel that it’s fact. (rhythmic music) Gears and chains, where do we
stand with those components? Well, there’s several on the
market, such as SRAM’s EX-1. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I probably do way more
climbing and descending than I’ve ever done. So that has a massive effect on my body. It’s also going to have a huge effect on the drive train on your e-bike. I think when it comes
to drive train, though, I think I’m now going to hand you over to our tech wizard, Andrew Dodd. – Okay, so e-bike specific transmissions. Yeah, actually, this one is a fact. You could use a regular
transmission on a bike, but you’re in danger, really,
of snapping the chain. That’s your first thing. And the reason for that is you’re just accidentally going to shift too much, you can chew through stuff. The same goes for the rear mech there. So the first thing that really
sets the transmissions apart is the shifter. So SRAM make an e-bike specific shifter, and the thing that makes it different is you can only shift up one at a time and down one at a time. It’s for self-preservation. It does mean your shifting
feels really punchy and nice and because you’re not
riding a normal bike, you don’t really need to go
handfuls through the gears because you’ve got that
assistance with the power. So it’s a very sensible idea. It works really effectively and essentially preserves
your drive train. The cassette is the next
thing that does have a few different things going on. So they make an e-bike specific one with eight speeds on there because sometimes you don’t
need that full spread of gears. Now it’s a bit tougher, it’s heavier duty. But you can also have the
bigger spread of gears if that tickles your fancy. For example, if you wanted to
run a 12-speed Eagle setup, you couldn’t do it really. Well, you could do it with
the basic Eagle cassette, but you risk stripping the thing because it’s very lightweight. It’s not designed to have
this torque going through it, in which case you want the steel version as you can see on this bike here. So it doesn’t have the 10-50
spread, it has an 11-50 spread because the design is
very slightly different. But it’s much heavier
duty, much more durable. And really, you think what
you’re doing to that bike with that transmission, you’re absolutely putting
so much torque through it the whole time. You definitely need a
steel cassette on the back. So that is definitely a fact. E-bike chains, they’re mostly the same. But some brands like KMC actually offer an e-bike specific chain which is slightly different. A bit heavier, and the
pins themselves are bigger. The downside, of course,
obviously the chain is a quite heavy component anyway. They’re very heavy. But it could potentially be a lot stronger and resistant against snapping chains. So if that sounds like
something you’re doing, maybe you should check ’em out. (rhythmic music) – Now I’m going to dive
straight in and say that e-bike specific saddles
are very much a fact and not a fad. Okay, we’re at the early
days of their development. But nevertheless, there
are some key features which make them e-bike specific. I guess the only way you can find out whether it’s specific or not is to go to the places
you’ve never been before and do the kind of distances you might not have covered before. What about the detail? Well, there’s many companies
on the market making them. You’ve got SQlab, you’ve got
Proxim, and you’ve got Ergon. Now, let me just show
you a couple of features on this Ergon saddle. You’ve got the tilt on the
back of the saddle there, which helps you get up
those super steep climbs. Also, it keeps your bum in place. Now when you’re climbing on an e-bike, you definitely tend to sit down a lot more than when you’re on a non-e-bike. There’s another part of that
which we need to cover as well is that you need to keep your
bum firmly on the saddle. Because if you’ve got a
seat which is too hard, then you’re going to be
bouncing around quite a lot, which is going to in turn
lead to a loss of traction. E-bike products, then. Well, we’ve often seen
it’s not just a case of them being fact or fad. There are actually
manufacturing regulations governing the products on your e-bike such as the tires or the suspension. Where is it all going? Well, I have no doubt there
will be a ton more products coming on to the market
in the near future. But ultimately, it’s actually
down to you and the rider, and are those parts, are
those components suitable for the purpose that they were made for? If you’re going to Red Bull Rampage, maybe you’d need a Fox 40 on
your bike rather than a Fox 36. I don’t know. Depends on the type of riding
you’re going to be doing in the Utah desert. For me personally, I’ve just been on a
big trip to Mont Blanc, it was the Tour de Mont Blanc, and I learned a load of things there which I’d never dreamt of before. Let’s hear your thoughts
about this discussion about e-bike specific components
in the comments down below. Give us a thumbs up if you like the video. And don’t forget to hit on the globe to see more e-bike content.

36 comments on “Do You Need E-Bike Specific Components On Your E-MTB?

  1. with all the talk about the xtra weight of ebikes etc why isn't there more talk about rider and pack weight surely its the gross weight that actually matters, arent alot of downhill bikes as heavy as ebikes?

  2. most of these can be replaced with gravity oriented products (downhill and enduro forks, tires, brakes) But I 100% agree in that you and your bike will perform better with ebike specific components, after all, ebikes are different and should have slightly different components. I have survived with downhill tires and components but I am starting to realise I need ebike specific ones if I want my components to last a long time. Great video!

  3. With my Fox 34s, I can see them flexing forward under heavy braking, I presume this is as designed as they came on my bike? Are the 36 thicker stantioned? as if not, they would flex even more I presume.

  4. I think the current technology of chains and derailleurs is the weak link and will be replaced with either internally geared hubs or internal gears in the mid mount motors, and an unbreakable belt drive… so much less maintenance, and should be cheaper in the manufacturing and on-going maintenance. The torque of the motors will increase, and you don't need 12 gears like on an analogue bike… 6 or 8 will be more than enough, perhaps an overdrive gear for the commutes (and a derestricted mode) to save battery power and reduce rider cadence.
    I also would love to see dual front disk brakes, it will be a thing in a few years, just like higher powered motorcycles have dual disc's on the front, and single disc on back. All that needs is the double sided hubs, and the caliper mounting lugs on both fork legs…
    Heavier duty spokes and hubs, and bigger forks are the most obvious things I would want to upgrade as a tall and heavy rider… I like the 2020 Kenevo (even though I can't afford one) but still think the Boxxer dual crown fork stanchions are a bit flimsy / skinny… would rather have 40mm Fox or Ohlins units, or develop a heftier Boxxer model…
    On a future industry-wide development front, if I was in a design position in a bike manufacturer, I would be developing a modular wiring / plug system to be able to plug in accessories such as lights, charge points for computers, phones, cameras, GPS tracking etc without having to have loose wiring and jury-rigging up bodgey homemade stuff… standards and integration should be developed, instead of different versions from different manufacturers – the consumers win on choice and costs, and bike builders win on cost and market acceptance…

  5. Hi there! interesting video. It ties in with a question that I have had buzzing in my head for a while. How much weight can be put upon an e-mtb and is there a standard between manufacturers to help the consumers compare? I ask because my Haibike hardtail has a max allowed weight of 120 kg in it´s specification. The retailer told me that it means that I could bring my backpack, and mount a front and rear rack for bags if I want to go camping and trekking with it. Then, another retailer told me that was false. He said that the stated weight is with the bike included! That sounds ridiculous, if the bike itself clocks in at about 23 kilos, the rider with backpack must not weigh above 97 kg in order to not void the warranty. With the new Flyon bikes coming in at about 27-29 Kilos, I wonder what is the correct weight the bikes can handle. The focus Jam 2 had a stated tolerance of 99 kilos, surely that can not be including the bike!?!? Maybe something for your channel to investigate? Surely, with more sturdy e-mtb components, the bikes should be able to carry more load?

  6. Coming up to 3 months on my 19 model Levo having had too many years on road mtb TT (never managed a unicycle) the weak point as David King points out above is the transmission wife blew her first chain @400km and mine was worn by 700km
    Torque is the killer
    Belts – I’ve had belts on American motorcycles – they work until they don’t – I’ve both snapped and lost teeth from them in the past – I’m not convinced they are capable of shedding some of the mud and crud unless you can shield the drivetrain from it which leads to shaft
    Shaft – aside from the ceramic speed effort you need to look way back in history or to china for universal joint systems – heavy!! But they could be slimmed up (or down) basically scale down a motorcycle such as BMW’s with integrated bevel box/disc and its single swing arm
    Gear box – as soon as you are on e-assist the drag of a gear box vanishes – my wife and i both have 10 year old Nicolai g-box’s’ a good idea but heavy and a bit draggy even with a run in rollhoff gear set
    Their new e-box version looks the part but I’m not a fan of the Bosch motors and although my heart likes the belt my head says no unless I could test one on my home bike ranges

    Forks shocks frames – i come from a time of 25kg steel frame yuck monster downhillers when mullet was a haircut but you could ride a 26/24 wheel bike with 3” tyres NOKIAN!! And air suspension was a dream- in some ways its coming full circle – meet the new boss same as the old boss although with new geometry and materials and graphics/marketing budget – downhill tech for me is pretty much the same as ebike for the weight capacity at speeds and i am keeping eyes and ears open for combined transmission/motor options before i opt for my next emtb – that said i love my Levo – its’s a nice day here in the Pennines – we’re off for a ride

  7. I'll call it marketing BS…no 'ebike specific' components on my Commencal Meta Power – apart from the motor and battery – and after two seasons and 5000km everything is perfect. I'm even running the cheapest 11€ SRAM chains and get out 1500km from one. Tires are Maxxis EXO (front)/Double Down (rear) or Schwalbe Apex (front) /SG (rear). I know marketing people would like you to buy 'ebike specific' everything but I found it absolutely pointless. The total weight is ~7-8 kg heavier than running a regular bike and no different components for the 70kg and the 90kg riders. So yes, it's BS.

  8. I think that they had that right. Not really sure about saddles unless you wanted that rear lip. Although I think I like being able to slip off the back of mine smoothly. The lip would hinder it.

  9. I think it's both, chains need to be beefier so you are not snapping them. As far as compensating for a heavier bike that is ridiculous, I weigh 150 lbs, someone else weighs 250 lbs riding the same bike, there should be fat man specific components instead.

  10. lol….ebike tires ,,got a canadian tire kona tire 2.80 .cheap tyre like 35 canadian compare to 110 dollor specialized 3 inch 650b on back .not bad tire ..but need stronger chain broke dozen aleast now must be three ratchet broke ,,,that were the problem is ,,,funny never seen chain break on a motorbike bike but my levo eat them for breakfeast….

  11. Complete fad parts you can buy for a normal bike should work on an ebike. It's just pure marketing to get the most out of people I bet an "ebike specific" part has a 10% mark up or more yet is no different.

  12. The 2.8 Eddie Currants are our favourite Ebike specific tires , that we’ve experienced so far. The side walls seem to mange the weight , and the tread pattern is fantastic.

  13. I disagree with a lot of this. I think it's BS. I weigh 160 lb and I don't put out much power (<200w). With the power of the motor and the additional weight of the bike, I would still be stressing it less than say a 220lb rider who can put out 500w of power. I don't see why I wouldn't use a normal Fox 36 and Shimano 1×12 XT drive train with a set of enduro capable wheels. Why have even more weight on the bike? Bikes should be based on rider weight. have a lighter build for though who have a less "system weight" and then a clydesdale build for the bigger/heftier/stronger rider.

  14. I’ve been riding Elevate FS eMTB a year+ and believe in ebike specific components. Rider and machine weight & torque keeps you out of the shop less often and when in, makes them easier to maintain. The right tool for the job.

  15. Chain and cassette make sense for extra torque maybe but some riders can put out a lot of power without assist anyway ….
    The rest is gonna be ok with normal parts I think but if you must have the very best of everything buy the ebike parts when you need to replace the normal parts maybe.

  16. Errrrrmmmm! My 2016 Scott E-Spark 710 with the Bosch CX Motor came with the Fox 32 as standard. Here's the exact bike and specs  https://www.e-bikeshop.co.uk/Scott-E-Spark-710-2016

  17. Great vid as always. A while back Steve mentioned something about how tyres can affect the range and how much power the battery draws. I commute on my stock 27.5×2.6 tyres and it really slows down once I hit the limiter. How much difference would a smoother commuting tyre make to the range and also how hard it is to pedal once the motor cuts out? A video idea maybe?

  18. I currently have a 2×11 drive train on my mountain bike.No E!… yet. I am thinking about getting an Ebike but I have some question of whether it will be worth it for me, and here's why. I tow my 12 foot 23 kilo/50 lbs Town and Country Dirigo kayak behind my Mountain Bike (with gear – up to 65 lbs/29 kilos. I am able to do long hill climbs with it and go long distances also. I can do it with my granny gears barely but that is with 2×11. Are there any ebikes that can be converted or modified to a 2×10/11/12 to still allow my to ride up hills on distance trails with this extra weight. Will a emtb allow my to pull this weight in super ? Or do I stick to my regular mountain bike and just convert it to a 2×11? It would be a lot of money to find out that it just won't be able to do it. Will a 1×11 with the extra power from the EMTB do it for me?

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