What’s the vision of E-MTBs in the future and what presents the biggest challenges in their development? We turned to 11 of the most keyed-up and knowledgeable figures in the industry to see what they saw in the crystal ball. If these guys don’t know, then where else can one turn?


Ingo Beutner Head of Engineering bei Haibike


“I see ever-greater differentiation of E-MTBs from ‘regular’ bikes, and they’ll eventually create their own category of bike.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

I see ever-greater differentiation of E-MTBs from ‘regular’ bikes, and they’ll eventually create their own category of bike. Full-suspension bikes will become more and more established. Motor systems will get more compact, more effective and they won’t be the primary distinguishing feature any longer. We’ll see components – like forks, rear shocks, gears and brakes – specifically developed for E-MTBs, which can be smartly connected to the bikes. Electronically powered transport will slowly become the norm, and e-bikes will be a fundamental part of our digital world. But despite all these dreams of the future, e-bikes will still be dependent on one key element: the person riding it!

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

The future playground for the development of E-MTBs will still revolve around integrating the system — like the motor, battery, display and remote — as well as components like the suspension and gearing. Naturally, digitalization is another big topic. There’s still a huge need for development here. We’ve tackled both topics right from the beginning but we’re still a long way from the finish — if there even is one. Batteries with the same capacity as the current models aren’t likely to get much smaller (neither in volume nor weight), even if some online articles want us to believe this. The same applies to the motor: put crudely, it’ll always involve a big chunk of metal in order to offer the necessary strength and durability. Of course, one of the key challenges in the future will be how to position and integrate both these parts stylishly onto the bike, and this is a task we like to approach alongside the manufacturers of said systems. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.


Marc Faude Product Director at FOCUS



“I see a future in which riding will almost always be with hybrid bikes.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

Humans are simply fascinated with cycling; the idea of self-sufficient and efficient movement on two wheels. But look at what’s happening – particularly with regards to E-MTBs – and you see that it’s actually going in another direction. The desire for more performance, for ‘e-motorbikes’ essentially, is somehow at odds with our inherent fascination with cycling. I see a future in which riding will almost always be with hybrid bikes. Human power is in the foreground, and the E-MTB is just for support. So, real cycling basically.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

E-MTBs aren’t average bikes. The stress put on their materials is significantly higher, and they’re ridden more frequently and more intensively. This needs to be tackled. Standards, tests and components need to be adjusted. But don’t worry; we’re on it.


Ivica Durdevic Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at FLYER


“The big challenge will be to reduce the weight while increasing the range.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

I can see E-MTBs under 15 kg with the capacity to climb around 1,500 metres with a fully charged battery – plus, a bike that handles and rides in a way that can meet the requirements of the rider.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

Reducing the weight (battery!) while increasing the range, and integrating more intelligent suspension in the future.


Hendrik Gehring Head of Product Development at BULLS


“More torque, a bigger battery capacity, more functions – but everything elegantly tucked away into the bike.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

I’m more of a do-er than a dreamer. If I have an idea then I have to follow it through. If you look in my desk drawer, of course you’ll spot a few outlandish future plans but also a lot of things that are already out being tested and will be introduced to the public at a certain stage.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

Pretty simply it’s a question of how can I make sure that everything gets smaller and more compact. More torque, a bigger battery capacity, more functions – but everything elegantly tucked away into the bike. This the biggest challenge for developers right now. Downsizing will become a big topic too; the idea of how to do it without compromising on the performance, you see. The upper limit for motors is more or less fixed at 250 watts, but it’s still dubious when it comes to batteries. Stefan’s E-Stream [Stefan Sahm] has one of the biggest batteries on the market with 650 watt hours, but even he had to change the battery once on every stage at the Cape Epic.

I think it’ll go two ways in the future: in one, there’ll be maximum capacities aiming to reach an unthought-of range; while the other targets the ‘light-performance’ concept, which will provide the optimal performance and range for the designated demand and without any extra baggage. To reach these aims there are two possible approaches: firstly, a compact size, which is designed for shorter distances; or a solution that lets you choose [the setup] for each ride you go on.

With regards to future challenges, I see system integration as the second biggest topic. If you look at bikes from recent years, then you’ll see that both our brand BULLS, and also in the industry as a whole, we’re in the middle of a process. The only ones who can settle this competition and bring it to an end are those with the best ideas and those who can hold their breath the longest. Maintaining this hunger to innovate while still bringing out sensible new developments on a yearly basis is certainly a challenge at which not everyone is going to succeed.


Reynaldo Ilagan Head of Product Management at MERIDA


“In terms of frames and technology, the challenge lies in integrating the battery.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

That e-mountain biking becomes as accepted as driving a car.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

Preventing the motors from being tuned. Tuned bikes are not right for the forests. In terms of frames and technology, the challenge lies in integrating the battery.


Franz Höchtl Head of Product Management at Thömus


“I don’t think we can expect any quantum leaps in terms of the technology of the batteries in the medium term.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

I think that E-MTBs will continue to develop at the same speed as right now. In the future there’ll also be the emergence of infrastructure with charging stations at cable cars and mountain restaurants, for example. In this case it’d be helpful to have uniform charging stations that work with all types of motor. Battery sharing systems would also be a potential idea, so that you can simply exchange your empty battery for a fully charged one.

In my opinion there’s a need for uniform communication standards that link in the diverse electronic components in a simple manner, and also, for example, enable communication between the motor, gears and suspension. Then all of the electronic systems can run on one single battery. I’d really like to see the development of an industry standard here. After all, a good bike is more than just the sum of its individual parts. The motor systems will continue to be more specialized for each bike’s intended usage, and we’ll see specifically designated (uphill) trails that’ll channel the traffic better. Tourist boards often develop tailored concepts like this really well. I’m really excited at what’s in store – it all looks very promising!

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

I think that the overall weight has to be worked on. There’s still room for improvement. I don’t think we can expect any quantum leaps in terms of the technology of the batteries in the medium term. But the efficiency of the motor will continue to be a focal point for developers, which would be achieved most easily by reducing the overall weight. I also see countless developments in terms of digitalization, making sensible, worthwhile functions available to the consumers that go way beyond just being a gadget and actually add value to the user.


Matthias Pfrommer bike engineer at CENTURION


“The motor manufacturers will take more and more of a back seat, and bikes won’t be referred to as a Bosch or a Shimano e-bike, but instead just as a bike from CENTURION, MERIDA, etc.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

Integrating the motors and the batteries is going to keep progressing. New production and manufacturing methods will give us more freedom with the designs in future. This will make it possible to lend a face to bikes of a certain brand, and therefore distinguish them even more from the competition. The motor manufacturers will take more and more of a back seat, and bikes won’t be referred to as a Bosch or a Shimano e-bike, but instead just as a bike from CENTURION, MERIDA, etc.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

A few years ago the whole development side of E-MTBs was quite simple: instead of a bottom bracket, you just welded on a mount for a motor, then more mounts for the battery on the downtube and the frame was ready. Today, people are using pretty complex manufacturing methods in order to integrate parts like the motor and the battery. These complex constructions take much more time and we have issues in getting the bikes to the retailers in time. Perhaps this is where we need to change the approach and get rid of the common yearly cycles that are the norm in the industry.


Lutz Scheffer Manager of the ROTWILD Concept Design Center at ROTWILD


“At the moment there are no E-MTBs that can climb sufficiently.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

A good E-MTB is ‘an E-MTB for everything’: good at simple rides and brilliant on difficult, long ones – both uphill and downhill. New kinematics, which will reduce pedal influence on the suspension, and different tires at the front and back – those will be the distinguishing external feature. Inside there’ll be an motor, which acts with even more sensitivity than before, plus has more efficiency and a better performance. Humans and machines have to understand each other better.
In the future E-MTBs will have to be able to climb at least 2,000 metres on a full charge – after all, they’ve got the word ‘Mountain’ in their name. If one can get the whole bike down below the 20-kilo limit then that’d be a dream.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

At the moment there are no E-MTBs that can climb sufficiently. After my Mammut trail riding experiment I can say accurately that I average 1,800 metres of climbing on each ride. But I always have to take a second battery in my backpack. On technically difficult trails in the mountains it usually isn’t possible to ride with a low level of pedal-assist (and it’s not as much fun anyway). From that perspective, a longer battery running time while keeping the battery’s weight down to a minimum is an on-going topic and important objective in terms of future development.


Jan Talavasek Engineering Manager E-Mountainbike at Specialized


“The biggest challenges are definitely system integration and taking customizing to the next level.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

The actual mountain bike will be more of a key aspect, not the name of the motor or the characteristic. It’ll be more about riding!

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

The biggest challenges are definitely system integration and taking customizing to the next level. We’re now developing complete vehicles for riding, and not just bike frames. This includes software, which creates whole new opportunities. We’re incredibly motivated and have a really strong team that is willing to take on the challenge. For us it’s an honor to play a role in the sport’s future.


Frank Ziemann Head of Product Development at STEVENS


“In my opinion we’re still missing certain e-bike-specific components for some areas.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

It won’t matter whether I’m out riding an E-MTB or a regular mountain bike. Motors and batteries will weigh so little that they won’t be a hindrance. Those that need a bit of support can simply switch the system on. Everyone else will just make their own way up.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

In my opinion we’re still missing certain e-bike-specific components for some areas. The stresses are completely different at times, which means the cycling industry has to adjust to the changes in requirements and take new approaches. Take, for example, the possibility for ‘rapid prototyping.’ This makes it possible to create new structures that just weren’t possible with former manufacturing methods, and perhaps even verged on unthinkable.


Andreas Ziegler EMTB Product Manager at SCOTT


“E-MTBs will be taken seriously as an option for mountain bikers looking to have a good time.”

How do you envisage the future of E-Mountainbikes?

Motors and batteries will be smaller and more efficient. E-MTBs will be taken seriously as an option for mountain bikers looking to have a good time.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the development of E-Mountainbikes?

Integrating the motor systems will still be a key consideration in my opinion.

Words: Manne Schmitt Photos: various