Light E-MTB: Everything about the e-mountain bike trend 2023

Light E-MTBs: Everything about the E-mountain bike trend 2023

Less power, smaller batteries: Light E-MTB motors have created a new class of E-MTBs. We compare the minimalist E-MTB drives, show the best light E-MTB models of 2023 and explain who the slim E-MTBs are the right thing for.
Less is more! This motto applies to E-mountain bikes in 2023 more than ever. Because the so-called Light E-MTBs have finally developed into their own E-MTB category from this model year and are the trending topic for motorised mountain bikes. The recipe for success of the Light E-MTBs consists of these three ingredients:
  • compact E-MTB motors with less power and low weight
  • small, lightweight batteries with a manageable range
  • light components and slim bikes for playful, natural handling
Total weights under 20 kilos clearly differentiate the light E-mountain bikes from classic E-MTBs (e.g. with Bosch Performance CX motor) and place them between classic E-MTBs and mountain bikes without a motor. That’s why this light class is particularly interesting for those who are switching to MTB. Thanks to the new, light motors from TQ or Fazua, there are now also a large number of light E-MTB models from well-known brands such as Haibike, Scott, Orbea or Focus. In this guide, we will provide you with comprehensive information about these light E-mountain bikes, so that you will know whether a light E-MTB suits you and, if so, which are the most exciting and best bikes of 2023.
The Orbea Rise is a light E-MTB
Light E-mountain bikes like the Orbea Rise are not only easier to lift, they also have much better handling on the trail than classic “power machines”. That’s why they’re very trendy in 2023.

Light E-MTBs: What is a Light E-EMTB?

The easiest way to recognise a Light E-MTB is its motor. The compact E-MTB drives in this class come from Fazua, TQ or Specialized, for example. In contrast to classic E-MTB motors (e.g. Bosch Performance CX or Shimano EP8), these e-drives only weigh around 2.0-2.5 kilograms – they save 1.5-2 kilograms alone. > You can find detailed advice on E-MTB motors in this article. But the minimalist motor is not the only benchmark of lightweight E-MTBs. Since the light motors usually deliver less power and consume less electricity, the battery can also be smaller. Batteries on the Light E-MTB are between 250 and 540 watt hours, depending on the manufacturer and bike model. Due to slim batteries and small motors, the frames of Light E-MTBs are also less bulky – especially the down tube and the bottom bracket area. This way, these light E-MTBs look very similar to classic mountain bikes without an e-drive. It’s easy to take them for a normal MTB, since the motors are very quiet and the light models do not have large displays or remote controls on the handlebars.

5 reasons that speak for a Light E-MTB

  • Easy handling: 5-10 kilos less weight than classic E-MTBs guarantee light-footed handling on the trail and less stress when carrying, pushing or lifting it into the car
  • Quieter motor: The drive noise of Light E-MTs is not as loud and is much more subtle. The quietest E-MTB motors are TQ HPR50 and Fazua Ride 60.
  • Natural riding experience: Riding the light E-MTBs is easier to handle, more intuitive and more fun. They are more sports oriented and can sometimes be pedaled without motor support and at over 25 km/h.
  • Optics: The slim Light E-MTBs are less bulky than classic E-MTBs and more like classic mountain bikes
  • Suitability for groups: Fit bikers and Light E-MTB rider on tour together? This is not a problem thanks to the moderate engine power.
Radon Render
A classic EMTB like the Radon Render with 85 Newton meters of torque is visually much more powerful than the minimalistic light EMTBs.
Orbea Rise
In direct comparison to the Radon Render, the Orbea Rise looks almost delicate. The Rise is one of the most popular light EMTBs on the market, also because it has a relatively large 540 watt hour battery for a light E-mountain bike.

For whom are light E-MTBs with light motors suitable?

In a nutshell: All bikers who want a classic mountain bike with a little tailwind! Because the handling and riding experience of most light e-MTBs are closer to non-motorized mountain bikes than to E-MTBs. Also, those who don’t want to get used to the bulky look of E-MTBs or who are annoyed by the loud whirring of the motor in the long run can feel addressed. If you already have a classic E-MTB, there are two indicators that speak in favour of switching to light E-MTBs: If you only use the boost mode very rarely, then the power of a light e-MTB is sufficient. If the battery of your E-MTB is usually still full after tours, then you can also get by with the lower range of light E-mountain bikes.

The best light E-MTB motors at a glance

Orbea Rise light E-MTB
With Scott, the visual difference between Patreon, the classic EMTB and the Lumen couldn’t be greater. While the Patreon packs the 85 Newton meter Bosch motor in massive tubes…
Scott Lumen is a lightweight E-MTB
…the Scott Lumen comes across as delicate as a normal MTB without a motor. With the 50 Newton meter strong TQ motor, the lumen currently represents the pinnacle of technical development in the light E-MTB segment. But Rotwild, Orbea and Trek are hot on the heels of the Lumen with similar concepts.
The German manufacturers Fazua and TQ Systems launched two new Light E-MTB motors in 2022. Another important player on the market: the Specialized SL motors, which rely on Mahle hardware and are only used in Specialized E-MTBs. There are also other in-house developments by Forestal or BH Bikes, which are only used in their light E-MTBs. So that you can better compare the different Light E-MTB motors, here is our overview:

Fazua Drive: Fazua Ride 60

The E-MTB engine manufacturer from Ottobrunn near Munich got the light category rolling in 2017 with its first Fazua Ride 50 Evation drive. Almost at the same time as the takeover by Porsche in July 2022, the Fazua Ride 60 came onto the market – and with it the first Light E-MTB models equipped with it. The compact, slim Fazua Ride 60 drive system (including battery) weigh only 4.2 kilosand the motor alone weighs 2.0 kilos. It delivers 60 Nm of torque and convinces with its very natural but powerful riding experience. The slim battery of the Fazua Ride 60 has a capacity of 430 watt hours and the range is therefore rather large for a light E-MTB. The compact mini handlebar remote control of the Fazua Ride 60 is called Ring Control. They are also used to control the pushing aid. In addition, you can fine-tune and update the Fazua Ride 60 drive via the Fazua app. Fazua Ride 60 Key facts
  • Weight: 4.2 kilos
  • Torque: 60 Nm
  • Support levels: Breeze, River, Rocket, Boost function
  • Battery size: 430 Wh
  • Noise/sound: very quiet

TQ Engine HPR 50

The E-MTB motor manufacturer from Bavaria has made a name for itself with the Haibike Flyon E-MTBs, which feature the 120 Nm strong TQ HPR motor. But the Haibike Flyon models will no longer be available in 2023. TQ, on the other hand, is sticking to its HPR gearbox (stands for Harmonic Pin-Ring) in its new light E-MTB motor HPR 50. The TQ motor HPR 50 delivers 50 Nm of torque and weighs just 1.9 kilos. This makes the TQ motor the lightest of the light motors. There is also a 360 Wh battery (1.85 kg). The 300 watt power of the Light E-MTB motor from TQ is particularly smooth, and the riding experience is very natural. Since the TQ HPR 50 is also extremely quiet, we consider it to be the most unobtrusive and intuitive of all E-MTB motors. The slim display, which sits in the top tube, can be controlled via the compact handlebar remote control. The HPR 50 motor can be tuned and configured using the TQ app.
TQ HPR 50 Light E-MTB Motor
TQ’s HPR 50 motor cannot be seen from the chainring side because it is so small that it disappears completely behind the drive.
TQ HPR 50 light E-MTB engine
The TQ HPR 50 only appears from the non-drive side. The engine is not only minimalistic, it is also very quiet. Even under full load, the engine noise is barely noticeable.
TQ HPR 50 Key facts
  • Weight: 3.8 kilos
  • Torque: 50 Nm
  • Support levels: Eco, Mid, High
  • Battery size: 360 Wh (optional: 200 Wh range extender)
  • Noise/sound: very quiet

Specialized SL E-MTB motor

Specialized develops its E-EMTBs and E-MTB drives in Switzerland. The US manufacturer presented its first lightweight motor, the Specialized SL 1.1, in 2020 in the Specialized Levo SL. The hardware for the Light E-MTB motors is supplied by the German automotive supplier Mahle, while the control and programming of the Specialized SL 1.1 is developed by the high-end bike brand near Zurich. Especially when it comes to the riding experience and control via app (Mission Control), Specialized is marching ahead with its light E-MTBs Levo SL and Kenevo SL. The SL 1.1 motor delivers a manageable 35 Nm of torque or 240 watts. Thanks to the magnesium housing, it weighs 1.95 kilos. The battery of the Specialized SL 1.1 motor has a battery capacity of 320 Wh and weighs 1.9 kilograms. In addition, you can increase the range with a 160 Wh range extender (1.0 kilo). The Specialized SL 1.1 motor delivers its power over a wide cadence range, the riding experience is harmonious. The easy-to-use handlebar remote control and the extensive Mission Control app, which can be used to control and tune all Specialized E-MTBs, are outstanding. Specialized SL 1.1 Key facts
  • Weight: 3.85 kilos
  • Torque: 35 Nm
  • Support levels: Eco, Trail, Turbo
  • Battery size: 320 Wh (optional: 160 Wh range extender)
  • Noise/Sound: Loud

Shimano EP801 RS in Orbea E-MTBs

The Spaniards power their light E-MTBs Orbea Rise and Urrun with the Shimano EP801 RS Motor. Orbea uses this engine as the only brand, the suffix RS stands for “Rider Synergy”. As far as the parts and motor components are concerned, Orbea’s EP801 RS is identical to the classic Shimano E-MTB drive. Electronics, software and battery come from Orbea itself and were used for the first time on the Light E-MTB Orbea Rise. The performance of the Shimano EP801 RS is limited to 60 Nm of torque. Compared to the light competition, the weight of the EP801 engine is high at 2.65 kilos. Two different battery models are used in Orbea RS E-MTBs: a 360 Wh battery (1.9 kilos) and a 540 watt hour battery with a longer range (2.7 kilos). In practice the Shimano EP801 RS motor pushes very hard, the riding experience is best off-road in trail mode. The display, control element and app come from Shimano itself on the EP801 and can be selected according to preference in the Orbea configurator. The Spaniards install the new Shimano EP6 motor as an RS version in the cheapest Orbea Rise Light E-mountain bikes. The only difference to the EP801 RS: An additional weight of 300 grams.
Shimano EP 8 RS Orbea
The Japanese manufacturer Shimano currently has no specific light E-MTB motor in its portfolio. However, the RS version of the popular EP8 was created in cooperation with Orbea. The motor hardware is almost identical to the full-power model. However, with 60 Newton meters, the engine delivers significantly less torque than its big brother and has its own software.
Shimano EP8 RS control
Typical for light E-MTBs: Many of the light E-mountain bikes come without a display. The minimalist command center from Shimano can be operated intuitively, but only provides the most necessary information about the battery level or the active support mode via two LED displays. If you want more information on the trail, you can connect the system to most common GPS speedometers and thus get a percentage display of the battery level, for example.
Shimano EP801 RS key facts
  • Weight: from 4.55 kilos
  • Torque: 60 Nm
  • Support levels: Eco, Trail, Turbo
  • Battery size: 360 Wh / 540 Wh (optional: 252 Wh range extender)
  • Noise/sound: quiet (loud only when rattling downhill)

Maxon Bikedrive Air

So far, the Swiss E-MTB motor has only been installed in the Light E-MTBs from Transalpes and Thömus. The minimalist mid-engine with a weight of 1.9 kilos does not have to hide from the competition. The maximum power of the Maxon Bikedrive Air is 40 Nm torque. The light electric drive, which is developed and produced in Switzerland, is powered by a 250 Wh battery, which weighs just 1.5 kilos. The Maxon E-MTB motor primarily uses its power at high cadences. In comparison, the motor power of the Bikedrive Air is at the lower end of the light drives. It is the light E-MTB motor with the lowest overall weight and offers the perfect basis for extremely light E-mountain bikes like the Thömus Lightrider E-Ultimate, which weighs less than 15.0 kilos. In line with the Minimal Assist approach, the Maxon handlebar remote control and LED display are also very compact and reduced to the essentials. Maxon Bikedrive Air key facts
  • Weight: 3.5 kilos
  • Torque: 40 Nm
  • Support levels: Cruise, Push, Blast
  • Battery size: 250 Wh / 360 Wh (optional: 250 Wh range extender)
  • Noise/sound: quiet (loud only when rattling downhill)

Forestal EonDrive

Forestal Bikes from Andorra are a young E-MTB brand with a small, exclusive E-MTB range. The manufacturer exclusively installs the motor in the Forestal bikes (e.g. Siryon, Hyra and Cyon). Forestal calls it EonDrive. The Forestal Light E-MTB motor is built by Bafang. The 60 Nm strong central motor weighs 1.95 kilos and is powered by an integrated 360 Wh lithium-ion battery (1.8 kg) in the various Forestal E-MTBs. Aurora is the name of the batteries. The maximum power of the Forestal EonDrive is roughly on par with classic E-MTB motors à la Bosch Performance CX, however, the Bafang motor is also very loud. The Forestal EonDrive stands out among the light E-MTB Motors primarily through its 3.2-inch touchscreen display integrated into the top tube. The so-called Smart Dashboard with its own Android operating system can do much more than record tours or select support levels. Forestal EonDrive key facts
  • Weight: 3.75 kilos
  • Torque: 60 Nm
  • Support levels: Eco, Sport, Race, Nitro
  • Battery size: 360 Wh (optional: 250 Wh Aurora Range Extender)
  • Noise/Sound: Loud

BH 2EXMAG II

In 2021, the Spanish bicycle manufacturer BH Bikes presented its first own light E-MTB motor with the BH 2EXMAG. BH installs the motor exclusively in its iLynx E-MTB models (iLynx Race and iLynx Trail). The slim middle motor weighs 2.1 kilos and delivers 250 watts of power and 65 Nm maximum torque. A special feature of the lightweight BH E-MTB drive is the telemetric torque sensor, which was added with an update which should make the handling more natural. The 2EXMAG II works in the BH iLynx E-MTBs in combination with a 540 Wh battery permanently installed in the down tube. You can increase the range with a range extender (180 Wh). This gives you a total of 720 Wh battery capacity, which is a lot for a light E-MTB. The BH I remote control of the 2EXMAG II can be linked to apps or a Garmin computer. That’s why BH does not have its own display on its iLynx E-MTBs with 2EXMAG II motor. BH 2EXMAG II key facts
  • Weight: approx. 4.3 kilos
  • Torque: 65 Nm
  • Support levels: Eco, Eco+, Sport, Boost
  • Battery size: 540 Wh (optional: 180 Wh range extender)
  • Noise/Sound: quiet

Why are light e-MTBs so expensive?

The low weight drives up the price of Light E-MTBs. Because, in order for E-mountain bikes to include a motor, battery and robust components which are under the 20-kilo mark, you need carbon and high-quality, weight-optimized parts. The light carbon frames have to be developed at great expense in order to meet the E-MTB requirements and are significantly more expensive to produce than aluminum frames. The lightweight construction (e.g. magnesium housing) also drives up the price of the Light E-MTB motor units themselves. At the same time, the higher development costs that these light E-MTBs trigger are passed on to the customer. But light E-MTBs made of aluminum like the Orbea Rise or BH iLynx Trail have shown that it is also possible for around 5000 euros.

The most exciting light E-MTBs of 2023

We took a closer look at all the currently available light E-MTBs. A whole range of new, exciting models with Fazua Ride 60 or TQ HPR50 engines should also be added in the 2023 model year. It also remains to be seen when and how E-MTB giant Bosch will open up to the light E-MTB topic and bring a suitable motor onto the market.
Scott Lumen 2023
The Scott Lumen is not only one of the lightest E-MTBs 2023, but also one of the most popular. In terms of system integration and natural handling, Scott is currently setting the bar for the entire industry.

How powerful should a E-MTB motor be?

Light and compact or maximum power? The electric motor is the heart of E-MTBs and largely determines the character of E-MTB fullys and hardtails. And so it makes sense to classify E-MTBs into the three categories below, based on their motors. Tip for buying an E-MTB: Firstly, answer the questions about your budget and where you want to ride your E-mountain bike. Because, this usually answers the question of the right E-MTB motor type. Light E-mountain bikes are expensive. With a limited budget, in most cases you will end up with a classic E-MTB. E-MTB motor types: from light E-MTB to power E-MTBs
  • Classic E-MTB motors such as Bosch Performance CX, Shimano EP8(01) or mid-mounted motors from Brose, Yamaha, Panasonic: These E-MTB drives deliver around 85 Newton meters of torque, weigh 2.5 to 3.5 kilos and have batteries from 625 to 900 watt hours. The majority of all E-MTBs on the market belong to this class. This type of E-MTB with a classic motor is exactly the right one for around 90 percent of all bikers. E-MTBs with these motors end up with a total weight of around 20-25 kilos. You can find all tested E-mountain bike models at emtb-test.com
  • Light E-MTB: These are light, compact motors with less power and smaller batteries. The most important manufacturers of these so-called minimal-assist motors are Fazua and TQ Systems. The power of these two-kilo E-MTB motors is 35-65 Newton meters (300 to 450 watts)and the battery capacity reaches 250-550 watt hours. The light E-MTB models in this class weigh less than 20 kilos. They come close to non-motorized mountain bikes and are usually very expensive. Take a look at the reviewed light E-MTB models at emtb-test.com
  • Power E-MTB motors: These are models like theSachs RS or the TQ Systems HPR120S, which are mainly installed in the Haibike Flyon E-mountain bikes. These particularly powerful E-MTB motors work with 110-120 Newton meters of torque and weigh 3.5-4 kilograms. The model selection of E-MTBs is very manageable. In our opinion, the vast majority of E-MTB riders – regardless of whether they are switching from MTB or are a beginner – the classic motors à la Bosch and Shimano are powerful enough. You will find all E-MTB models with powerful motors at emtb-test.com
If you want to dive deeper into the subject of motors for E-MTBs and you attach particular importance to the right E-mountain bike drive when making your purchase decision, you should read this article: Here you will find detailed E-MTB engine advice with an overview and comparison of the best e-drives from Bosch, Shimano & Co.
Handling of light E-mountain bikes
The difference between classic E-mountain bikes and light EMTBs is particularly evident when handling in extreme terrain. Modern light EMTBs simply have a more intuitive handling.

CONCLUSION

“Due to their natural handling and the chic look, light E-MTBs are a great temptation when deciding to buy an E-mountain bike. But they also have their pitfalls. High prices and short ranges are not for everyone, but with light E-MTBs they are inevitably part of the deal – for now. Development in this area is still in its infancy. The new engines from Fazua and TQ have already given many bike manufacturers completely new development opportunities in 2022. It will remain exciting to see how the manufacturers will continue to drive the light E-MTB trend in 2023.”

About the author

Ludwig

... hat mehr als 100.000 Kilometer im Sattel von über 1000 unterschiedlichen Mountainbikes verbracht. Die Quintessenz aus vielen Stunden auf dem Trail: Mountainbikes sind geil, wenn sie zu den persönlichen Vorlieben passen! Mit dieser Erkenntnis hat er bike-test.com gegründet, um Bikern zu helfen, ein ganz persönliches Traumbike zu finden.

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