e-MTB vs XC - which is faster?

We organised a race to find out

e-MTB vs xc - which is faster?

Just how much of an advantage can an e-bike bring you over a regular mountain bike? It's a question we set out to answer in a fun yet totally unscientific challenge outlined here in the BikeRadar office.

We took our supremely fit resident cross country racer, Joe Norledge, and pitched him head-to-head with Jon Woodhouse, our less fit but similarly rapid bike tester. A 3km loop was outlined at Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean and three laps were completed on three very different bikes: the first was from Jon Woodhouse aboard Lapierre's XM527 E:I trail bike – no motors here. Jon, fully kitted up for enduro riding, gave the lap his all to the point of vomiting after getting off the bike.

Next up, ultra-lean Joe took to the hill on his customised long-term test bike, a 9.6kg BMC Teamelite. As Joe was 90 seconds into his lap, Mr Woodhouse then set off on his motorised weapon of choice – Lapierre's Overvolt FS 700 complete with its 250w Bosch CX motor.

Would Jon catch Joe? Would electric power beat hard-earned fitness? Watch the video above for the full story plus Joe and Jon's honest verdict on e-bikes for mountain biking.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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