Cyclist using an electric mountain bike eMTB to climb a mountain. Discover the difference between an eMTB vs MTB at Roseville Cyclery.

eMTB vs. MTB: What's the Difference?

Are you considering an eMTB?

The rising popularity of e-mountain bikes is undeniable. If you’re considering swapping out your existing mountain bike for an electric model or simply adding one more bike to your quiver, we’ve compiled the pros and cons of both so you can make the best decision for your riding style and preferences.

eMTB vs. MTB

Power is the primary difference between a mountain bike (MTB) and an electric mountain bike (eMTB). A rider powers a traditional mountain bike, whereas a rider can get assistance from a battery-powered motor when riding an electric mountain bike.

Let’s delve a little deeper to uncover a few questions that can help you decide which bike is best for you.

Where are you riding?

Riding longer distances is one of the main reasons people gave for purchasing an ebike, according to a survey of ebike owners.

Ebikes and eMTBs can take you farther, faster. Specialized eMTBs like the Turbo Levo and Turbo Kenevo take you 2-4x further on your rides, allowing you to cross greater distances and explore new terrain.

So when it comes to hitting new trails and expanding your ride distance, eMTBs are the clear winner over traditional MTBs.

In 2019, the Department of Interior issued a Secretarial Order to increase recreational opportunities for ebikes on public land. A year later, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a rule stating that ebikes may go where traditional bicycles are allowed. However, it is up to the superintendents at each National Park to provide explicit limits or restrictions on ebike access.

So, while eMTBs are generally allowed on any off-highway vehicle area—such as roads and trails where motorized vehicles are permitted—there could be a chance that your eMTB may not be able to access every trail. Check with the websites of the National Parks you like to frequent to ensure eMTBs are allowed where you ride. There may be a few select places where a traditional MTB is a preferred choice over an eMTB.

Who do you ride with?

Your mother probably told you not to follow the crowd. But we’re here to say that sometimes who you ride with is just as important as where you go, particularly when you’re trying to decide on a traditional MTB vs. eMTB.

One of the most significant advantages of an eMTB is its ability to overcome differences in rider power and skill. Without eMTBs, you’re more likely to ride with a group of similar age, fitness levels, etc.

But an eMTB helps overcome these differences, giving riders a boost that can help them ride faster or attempt previously out-of-reach terrain.

How much do you want to carry?

Electric mountain bikes generally weigh more than traditional mountain bikes. Adding motor power and battery packs will add to the weight of a bicycle. So if your mountain biking excursions require you to pack your bike up over your shoulder to carry it up a short passage, climb safely over a flooded, blocked path, haul it up and down a flight of stairs or onto a bike rack, you may want to ask yourself just how much weight you want to carry.

Here’s some good news…

Lighter-weight versions of eMTBs are available, so you don’t have to automatically rule out an electric mountain bike based on weight alone.

Check out the Specialized Turbo Levo SL, weighing approximately 38 pounds, or Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL, which weighs approximately 41 pounds.

How much effort do you want to exert?

Riding with less effort is another reason people purchase electric bikes. But that doesn’t mean you’re riding with no effort of your own! Pedal-assist electric bikes kick in when a rider is pedaling, so you can still get plenty of exercise on an ebike.

Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) found that eMTB riders got just as much vigorous-intensity exercise as conventional mountain bike riders.

What was interesting about this study was that eMTB riders, while getting the equivalent workout as traditional MTB riders, didn’t feel like they were working as hard. Their perceived exertion was lower than their actual physical exertion.

For most people, getting the equivalent workout without feeling like they’re working as hard makes an eMTB a clear winner over a traditional MTB.

But serious, competitive athletes may want to note that study participants’ heart rates were 9.9 BPM (beats per minute) lower on an eMTB compared to a traditional MTB. That difference may not feel like much to most of us mere mortals, and to the researchers it represented no statistically significant difference. But to competitive athletes who are training for a big event, 9 BPM may be the deciding factor when it comes to training on an eMTB vs. a traditional MTB.

Where to Buy eMTB and MTB in Roseville

If you live in Northern California, Roseville Cyclery is your premier destination for ebikes, electric mountain bikes, and traditional mountain bikes. Visit our showroom in Downtown Roseville, CA, or shop our selection of electric bikes online. If you have questions about the best bike for your riding style, our staff is here to help you pick the right bike (or ebike) to fit your needs.


Stop Guessing. Start Riding. Let our team of ebike specialists help you find the perfect bike.