Are e-mountainbikes under € 7,000 worse than their top-tier counterparts, which can sometimes cost even twice as much? What saves you money, what doesn’t, and what should you consider before buying an eMTB? We have collected 5 exciting insights from our eMTB test up to € 7,000 for you.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and not everyone can splash out 10-15k on a top-tier e-mountainbike, which is how much some of the bikes in our high-end comparison test can cost. That’s why we decided to test 5 eMTBs under € 7,000 for you. The bikes had to prove what they’re capable of, both on the trails and in everyday riding scenarios. Not only did we find the best all-rounder, but we also gathered some very exciting findings along the way, some of which were quite surprising!

The weight alone doesn’t define an eMTB’s riding behaviour

Just because a car is hiding 500 hp in the engine bay doesn’t mean that it’s fast and easy to drive. The same principle applies to the weight and riding performance of eMTBs: a heavy eMTB doesn’t necessarily have to ride like a tank, a theory that is clearly proven by the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 875, which is the heaviest bike in this test and yet feels significantly nimbler than some of its lighter competitors, like the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy. When it comes to riding performance, the system weight must be seen in the context of the bike’s overall concept.

Despite what your average clever-clogs in the comments section might suggest, the material of a bike’s frame only has a limited effect on its overall weight and handling. For example, the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy is the lightest eMTB in this test, despite having an alloy frame and big 700 Wh battery. In a nutshell, the riding performance of a bike is influenced by countless different aspects, one of which is the suspension. An eMTB can be as light as you like, but if the suspension sucks up all of your input like a sandbag, it makes you feel like you’re trying to steer a bendy bus through the forest. We could list many more examples, but the fact is: weight only plays a secondary role, and the riding performance of an eMTB can only be determined on the trail.

How much money do you have to spend to get a decent e-mountainbike?

Whether it’s the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 875, Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy or Canyon Strive:ON CFR, some of the bikes in our eMTB test under € 7,000 cost only half as much as their respective top-tier models. Despite relying on a much humbler spec, without bling and high-end components, cheaper eMTBs can often keep up with their top-tier counterparts in terms of riding performance. Some manufacturers have found excellent ways to cut prices by replacing the high-end components of top-tier models with cheaper parts, without compromising the bike’s riding performance. They’re getting so good at it that sometimes we ask ourselves whether it’s even worth spending money on a top spec any more. The best example of this is the Canyon Strive:ON CFR. In our test variant, it comes equipped with FOX Performance Elite suspension, which is in no way inferior to the fancy FOX Factory or RockShox Ultimate suspension of the flagship models, both in terms of adjustability and trail performance. Shifting and braking is taken care of by a high-quality Shimano XT groupset, which delivers a first-class performance on the trail. So, keep your eyes open, because it’s worth taking a closer look – you might save yourself a lot of money!

Affordable e-mountainbikes focus more on all-round qualities

With high-end eMTBs, the aim of developers is usually to combine the lowest possible system weight with a sleek, elegant look and maximum performance (sometimes at the expense of durability). While a light carbon wheelset might save you a few hundred grams, it’s far more susceptible to impacts than its far cheaper alloy counterpart. As a result, you could easily shave a few milliseconds off your best time with a set of carbon wheels but also run the risk of not finishing your race or ride at all in the worst case scenario, while an alloy wheelset is more likely to roll through the finish line in one piece unless you realllly screw something up.

Compared to their top-tier counterparts, budget-oriented eMTBs still perform well, but they’re not trimmed to squeeze the last ounce of performance out of the bike. That said, they still meet the needs of most riders and offer a variety of useful features. For example, all models in this comparison test allow you to remove the battery for external charging, while about a third of the competitors in our high-end group test had a permanently integrated battery. For everyday riding, useful features like a lighting system, trailer approval or kickstand mount are crucial. The Merida eONE-SIXTY not only delivers a tremendous performance on the trail but also comes with a removable battery, headlight and kickstand mount.

What’s my bling factor?

High-end bikes usually come with an eye-catching finish and fancy components, attracting lots of attention not only on the trail but also in the beer garden. In contrast, many of the cheaper model variants come in more subtle colours, and with less prestigious components. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your individuality. With the Propain Sresh CF, you can customise the look and spec of the bike down to the smallest detail using Propain’s extensive online configurator, regardless of whether you fly business or economy.

Motor system = Motor system?

Whether flagship or entry level, many manufacturers use the same motor system throughout the entire model range, which enables the same connectivity options. The Bosch eBike Flow app, for example, offers the same ability to customise the support levels, regardless of the model. Canyon provide the Bosch Connect module with all their Strive:ON models, which includes a GPS-supported anti-theft function and an alarm. Specialized now also use their TCU Mastermind display on the Levo Comp Alloy, which was exclusive to the higher-spec variants until now, and offers the same extensive connectivity features as the top models.

Despite using the same motor system, the e-mountainbikes still have some differences. While the LTD variant of the Canyon Strive:ON CFR comes with a Bosch Performance Line CX Race motor, the Strive:ON CFR we tested relies on the conventional Bosch Performance Line CX drive, which delivers the same 85 Nm of torque and 600 watts peak power, but has a maximum pedal assistance of 340% rather than 400%.

It’s a similar situation with the Propain Sresh CF. The base version we tested relies on a Shimano EP6 motor, but the configurator lets you upgrade to a Shimano EP801 for an additional charge. Both drives deliver 85 Nm of torque, but the Shimano EP6 has a slightly lower peak power and relies on aluminium rather than magnesium for the housing, which also makes it around 300 g heavier. As a downhill-oriented eMTB, the Propain Sresh CF has gravity on its side, so it’s not too bothered about that little extra tick of motor power or a few extra grams. If you’re just looking for a motor that gets you to the trailhead on a fire road, without having to tackle technical uphill trails, the Shimano EP6 is the perfect choice as it has more than enough power for what you’re doing, without spending on features you won’t use.

Our conclusions

Just because an eMTB doesn’t cost as much as a house or doesn’t have a fancy, top-tier spec, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. On the contrary, our eMTBs under € 7,000 not only offer good performance, but also clever features and a high level of connectivity. The e-mountainbikes in our high-end comparison set new standards with innovative technologies which, indirectly, benefit the more affordable models too.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of E-MOUNTAINBIKE, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Mike Hunger Photos: Antonia Feder, Mike Hunger

About the author

Mike Hunger

From slopestyle and landscape photography to enduro and action shots. Mike enjoys trying new things and loves action. He also loves craftsmanship, regularly going on road trips with his VW Syncro van, which he restored and converted himself. Of course, his bike and his camera are always with him so that he can ride the finest trails from Italy to the Alps and capture the most beautiful moments. Thanks to his training as an industrial mechanic, his experience in cycling and his photographic skills, he can apply his know-how perfectly as a bike journalist, testing the latest bikes and components and documenting his findings. As a photography nerd, he also captures the reviews with his camera and ensures that the magazine features only the best images.