2023 EBIKE LIGHT ROUNDUP
TESTING THE BEST SL EMTBS
Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen & Max Rhulen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic
Welcome to our first ever Lightweight, SL, eBike Light Group Review. Pardon the long title but we don’t exactly know if the mountain bike world has adopted an official name for this category of eBike. We’re trying to get eBike Light to stick, but ‘SL’ seems to be rising to prominence. No matter what you call it, there is no denying the category is booming. It seems new models are dropping almost every other month as brands seek to offer lightweight, mid-power eMTBs for riders seeking a different experience compared to the full power, full weight eMTBs that have risen dramatically in popularity.
Each year we conduct a massive and thorough full-power eMTB Shootout, and the last two have seen an increase in comments and questions from viewers asking how this bike or that bike would compete. Most often it’s a lighter, mid-power bike. We don’t really believe comparing full power eMTBs to eBike Lights is apples to apples, as they really are different beasts. For that reason, we set out to test and review eight of the best lightweight eMTBs we could get our hands on.
We pride ourselves on being as open-minded and honest in our test process as we can, and even the few riders who came into the test saying they were full-power converts and wouldn’t buy an SL came around to admit that the capabilities of these mid-power bikes have improved in the same way their full-power siblings have. Battery ranges have increased in many bikes and drive unit power has also improved compared to the early lightweight eMTBs, boosting their performance drastically in the process.
Before we get too far into this review, we’d like to acknowledge and thank some partners who believe in our process. Their support helped us to afford the days out of the office to travel and ride so many bikes and create so many videos, in an effort to have a thorough and helpful review series for those in the market, and we really appreciate them helping to make it possible.