THE BEST eBIKES FROM OUR 2022 eMTB SHOOTOUT

PUTTING 13 eBIKES THROUGH THE GAUNTLET

Video by Treeline Cinematic
Photos by Dusten Ryen

Over the last year or so, it seems like every time we show up at a trailhead or open our email box, we’re getting asked “So, what’s the best eMTB out?” We absolutely love nerding out on bikes, talking tech and ride experiences, which is why we love our annual eMTB Shootout. It lets us test and review some of the best eBikes on the market and offer insight as to who the ideal rider or customer may be for each bike. Now in its fourth year, The Loam Wolf’s eMTB Shootout has continued to grow and evolve as we seek to bring the most honest and thorough reviews and comparisons out there. Thanks to comments and feedback from viewers, we listen to what topics matter most to you and focus our testing energy and review processes accordingly.  
 
This year we made a fun little video introducing you to some of the things we look for when testing bikes and looking for terrain as well as our test crew, which we hope you’ll enjoy watching. But if you’re more of a words person, or you’re on the site while you’re pretending to work in the office, we’ve summarized it in words below.  

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE SETTING | KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE

We take our fan’s comments seriously, and after two years of winter test sessions in the desert settings of Palm Springs, CA and then St. George, Utah, we moved our eBike shootout to a much greener destination with more trees than cacti. Last fall we drove around looking for potential locations that would offer a wide variety of terrain, welcome eBikes and would be a ton of fun to visit. Knoxville, Tennessee ended up being the best fit for this year’s test and we couldn’t have had a better time enjoying the trails and southern hospitality on display. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Knoxville’s mayor, Indya Kincannon, is a mountain biker that’s helping to facilitate the ever-growing network of awesome trails and infrastructure for MTBs and eMTBs alike in Knoxville and the surrounding area. 

The city of Knoxville, and specifically the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission and Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC), have made some major investments into mountain biking and outdoor recreation as a whole. The city has built greenways filled with skinnies, other fun pump and jump features, wall rides and more. What’s better is that they’ve got one of the best urban bike trail centers we’ve been to, ever: Baker Creek Preserve. The kind of place we’d be stoked to have within a couple hours drive, never mind cycling distance from a city. They’ve got a paved pumptrack and slopestyle jump line; a large, varied skills area and plenty more in the Baker Creek Preserve. Just beyond the family-friendly fun zone is a huge variety of singletrack trails that offer riders a wide variety of options, from fun and effortless flow trails through to rough and chunky rocks. For those looking for their freeride fix, there’s even some big jumps thrown in for good measure on the awesome Devil’s Racetrack.

Our crew also visited Sharp’s Ridge, which is a trail network on the north end of Knoxville that has some fun options including a brand-new trail that we couldn’t get enough of. We were thankful for the electric assistance as we lapped and lapped the fun descent filled with both natural and man-made jumps, long off-cambers and some tire ripping berms. The trails at Sharp’s Ridge offered some fun, mellower singletrack for us to test the Trail category (155mm travel and less) eBikes, too. We found the terrain to be very natural and on-par with what we expect a majority of trail riders to encounter. Sharp’s also has a couple of very fun black diamond trails with some jumps and berms that are a blast to ride.  

If you are looking to visit the region, other neighboring trail networks including Haw Ridge and Vee Hollow can be reached with a short car journey. However, when it came time to finding a place to test the Enduro category (160mm and more) eMTBs, our crew preferred driving 40 minutes north of Knoxville to Windrock, for its Bike Park and separate “XC” trail area. The two full days we spent at Windrock were not only a ton of fun as it was our crew’s first time there, but they gave us some of the most demanding terrain to test what these long-travel enduro eMTBs – and our bodies – were capable of.

THE GOAL

As with all of our bike and product shootouts, the team’s biggest goal is to objectively test each bike as thoroughly as possible, so that we can report our findings and opinions to you and hopefully offer some clarity to help you decide on the bike you’ll be most stoked on. Mountain bikes and eBikes have gotten more and more expensive, and the team is well aware of the significance a purchase of this magnitude holds for many of you. For that reason, we do our best to go the extra mile, or take that extra lap or five, to make sure we’re absolutely confident in our results.  

In order to achieve that goal, we set up parameters for testing and produced documentation sheets for each tester to fill out as they developed their thoughts throughout the test period. We also partnered with Schwalbe tires once again to equip each bike in each category with the same tires, to give each bike as consistent of a feel as possible. We mounted Schwalbe Eddy Current tires on our Trail category bikes and Big Betty/Magic Mary combos on our Enduro category bikes.

Cube Stereo Hybrid Review

CUBE STEREO HYBRID 160 HPC RACE 625

Travel: 160mm / 170mm
Motor: Bosch Performance CX Gen 4
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 54.6 lbs
MSRP: $6,149.99

READ THE REVIEW
Mondraker Level R Review

MONDRAKER LEVEL R

Travel: 170mm / 170mm
Motor: Bosch Performance CX Gen 4
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750WH
Size Tested: Medium
Weight as Tested: 57.9 lbs
MSRP: $7,999.99 at the time of filming (now $8,499)

READ THE REVIEW
Norco Range VLT C1 Review

NORCO RANGE VLT C1

Travel: 170mm / 170mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Custom, Removable 720WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 56.2 lbs
MSRP as Tested: $10,098 (C1 + 720WH)

READ THE REVIEW
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70 Review

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE POWERPLAY C70

Travel: 160mm / 170mm
Motor: Dyname 4.0
Battery: Removeable Li-Ion 720WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 54.1 lbs
MSRP: $9,059

READ THE REVIEW
SCOR 4060 Z LT XT Review

SCOR 4060 Z LT XT

Travel: 160mm / 170mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Darfon 720WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 51.5 lbs
MSRP: $8,699

READ THE REVIEW
Scott Ransom eRide 920 Review

SCOTT RANSOM eRIDE 920

Travel: 180mm / 180mm
Motor: Bosch Performance CX Gen 4
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 625WH
Size Tested: Medium
Weight as Tested: 54.5 lbs
MSRP: $5,499.99 at the time of filming (Now $6,499)

READ THE REVIEW
Yeti 160E T1 Review

YETI 160E T1

Travel: 160mm / 170mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Shimano 630WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 52.4 lbs
MSRP: $13,000

READ THE REVIEW
YT Decoy MX Core 3 Review

YT DECOY MX CORE 3

Travel: 165mm / 170mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: SMP YT Custom 540Wh
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 50.9 lbs
MSRP: $6,999

READ THE REVIEW

CANYON SPECTRAL:ON CFR LTD

Travel: 155mm / 150mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Canyon BT 900WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 51.6 lbs
MSRP: € 11,299 (Europe Only) / $10,500 (CFR)

READ THE REVIEW

NORCO SIGHT VLT C1

Travel: 150mm / 160mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Custom, Removable 720WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 55.5 lbs
MSRP: $10,098 (C1 + 720WH)

READ THE REVIEW

SANTA CRUZ HECKLER CC X01 AXS RSV

Travel: 150mm / 160mm
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: Integrated 720WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 48.4 lbs.
MSRP: $13,299 at the time of filming (Now $14,249) 

READ THE REVIEW

SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO EXPERT

Travel: 150mm / 160mm
Motor: Specialized Turbo Full Power 2.2
Battery: Specialized M3-700
Size Tested: S4 (Large)
Weight as Tested: 52.25 lbs
MSRP: $11,000

READ THE REVIEW

TREK RAIL 9.9 XX1 AXS

Travel: 150mm / 160mm
Motor: Bosch Performance CX Smart System
Battery: Bosch PowerTube 750WH
Size Tested: Large
Weight as Tested: 51.9 lbs
MSRP: $13,799.99

READ THE REVIEW

DREW ROHDE
39 | 5’11” | 165 lbs

Former ebike hater who’s fully embraced the Boost Life. He lives for raw, natural trails with lots of rough sections where you have to work to find flow and natural gaps. Drew has been testing and reviewing nearly 20 bikes a year, for the last ten years, making his depth of knowledge and experience aboard a wide variety of platforms incredibly deep. He regularly uses hand/foot feedback as a barometer for how suspension handles repeated high-speed hits or chatter on his favorite trails, which tend to be the roughest he can find.  Drew does not love the trend of making every bike a “flow trail” bike with super long, low and slack geometry numbers.

You may not know: Drinks Mountain Dew to get jacked up and eats too many burritos. He also has a theory that the best things in life are round, ask him about it.

ROBERT “SCOTTISH SASQUATCH” JOHNSTON
28 | 6’2″| 202lbs

Robert had been a part-time reviewer for a couple of years while working as a mechanical design engineer on some rather impressive projects. Despite our suggestions, he left the engineering world to join the Wolf Pack full time and up until our shootout, had only ridden an eMTB for a couple of laps! Robert is an absolute shredder with some killer style and line selection. The fact that he showed up with almost zero experience as an eBike rider was really awesome because we feel there’s a growing segment of riders who are just starting to get ready for the transition to the E world, and his fresh perspective would align perfectly.

You may not know: After one night of following Drew to some TN honky tonks, Robert is now an eBike loving, country music enthusiast.

SEAN “SOURPATCH” LEICHT
31 | 6’1” | 160 lbs

As someone who hates climbing, it was odd that Sourpatch resisted riding an ebike for so long. He’s now a convert and loves zipping to the top of his favorite downhills. Sourpatch isn’t a big suspension tweaker or bike set up kinda guy. He likes to get on and go and let the factory settings be his guide. He’s a good barometer for the average consumer who may not spend a lot of time testing and tuning the bike from the shop floor. Sean likes jumping, steep downhills and hitting berms.

You may not know: Not an exaggeration when we say he hasn’t eaten a vegetable in years. If it ain’t neon, he ain’t eating it. He also doesn’t like sauce, or anything that’s not bagged for that matter.

RYAN “FRENCHIE” GAGNON
34 | 6’0” | 160lbs

The loose goose – Frenchie has been helping Drew test bikes for a number of years and is almost guaranteed to either break a part or crash trying. As a new dad, Frenchie’s riding time went from some to none real quick. He’s just now getting back on the bike and enjoying the benefits of ebiking as they allow him to get more DH laps in during his short pre-work rides. He represents the hardcore shredder who’s looking to ride fast and hard.

You may not know: Frenchie is partially blind in one eye after a high-heel incident at a party.

NIC “U-Turn” HALL
35 | 5’10” | 160 lbs

Recovering XC-dork turned endurbro, Nic Hall loves training, pedaling to stay fit and drinking gluten free beers. He is also our personal medic and luckily, we’ve never had to test his medical skills out. We think that’s a good thing because we’ve seen him work on bikes and cars and it usually doesn’t end up well, which is how he’s earned the nickname “U-Turn.” Nic values efficiency, speed and play when it comes to testing bikes, he just can’t leave those XC roots behind.

You May Not Know: Nic has been responsible for sabotaging a number of our test bikes during the last two shootouts in order to boost his chances at winning our friendly internal competition. Even at the peril and risk of others…What a shady character.

COLE “HIGH MAINTENANCE” GREGG
30 | 6’1” | 175lbs

Cole is relatively new to the team but brings tons of expertise to the game. He’s got a penchant for jumping high and taking way too long to set up his bike before he can ride it. He’s from Washington and spends most of his time catching air and ripping berms in that fine PNW soil, but we’re forcing him to learn to love rocks as much as we do. Cole is passionate about photography, diesel trucks, catching big air and has a serious fear of frogs.

You may not know: Cole has the most sensitive diet of anyone we’ve met.

BRIAN “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM” NILES
Cinematographer | @TreelineCinematic

As the oldest member of the crew, we are constantly impressed with Brian’s permanent smile and energy. His camera pack is almost as big as he is, yet he still hangs with us on the long days. Brian is also responsible for testing the walk mode on all of our eBikes. This testing usually coincides with one of his key expressions, “I’ve got nothing to prove.”

DUSTEN “GINGER SAM ELLIOT” RYEN
Photographer | @DustenRyen

Artsy coffee fiend who masters the snaps behind the lens, Dusten is a vital piece of the crew and will amaze you with how long he can talk about any topic at all. If you ask, he’s got a story!

And he’s a great Craigslister.

BEST PLAY eMTB | TRAIL CATEGORY
SANTA CRUZ HECKLER CC

When it comes to picking awards, some categories are easier than others to select. The Play category is usually a tough one and this year the Canyon Spectral:ON and Santa Cruz Heckler battled it out. This category is focused on the riders looking for a full-powered eBike that pops, jumps, slashes and plays as close to a non-eMTB as possible. The Santa Cruz Heckler is one helluva fun eMTB and you really do forget it has a motor when it comes time to rail corners and style your favorite jumps.

BEST ADVENTURE eMTB | TRAIL CATEGORY
TREK RAIL 9.9

The Trek Rail has changed greatly since it won the last two eMTB Shootouts it competed in. The polarizing gaps in sizing take it from the fun, lively all-arounder to a more focused sled. The length, battery size and Bosch power unit make the Trek Rail a great option for cranking out big miles however. It also enjoys riding wide-open spaces at high speeds and is incredibly stable. Depending on your height, the gaps in sizing could be an issue however.

EBIKE OF THE YEAR | TRAIL CATEGORY
SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO

Holy Moly! Our entire crew loved this bike and felt the capabilities spanned across multiple disciplines. Be sure to check out our long term review as well as this bike’s detailed review as there are some interesting points worth discussing. That being said, when it comes to picking a Trail category eMTB that is equally at home everywhere, does all that you want it to, and offers the confidence and liveliness to keep you smiling all day long, the Specialized Levo leaves the rest in the dust.

BEST PLAY EMTB | ENDURO CATEGORY
SCOR 4060 Z LT

The Scor 4060 Z LT XT is so playful that a couple of our testers actually thought this bike belonged in the Trail bike category after their first day on it. Sporting the shortest chainstays of the shootout, this eBike definitely favors playful riding, quick corners and catching air over pounding DH laps in the bike park.

BIG MOUNTAIN EMTB | ENDURO CATEGORY
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE POWERPLAY

What a machine! The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70 is a bike that almost our entire crew fell in love with. It has more power than any other bike in our shootout and when it came time to climb or grapple up the steepest terrain we could find, it won time and again. Once at the top, the Rocky Altitude drops its heals and gets to work. The mid-high pivot suspension is composed, sensitive and offers confidence on the chunkiest of terrain.

EBIKE OF THE YEAR | ENDURO CATEGORY
SCOTT RANSOM eRIDE 920

Scott have done some magical things when it comes to making a long-travel eMTB that moves and plays so effortlessly. The Scott Ransom eRide is one of the most versatile eBikes in the shootout this year and is the bike most of our crew would spend their own money on. It’s a great value compared to other bikes and does everything so damn well. Climb, traverse, shred and send…The Scott Ransom eRide does it all.

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