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Light Weight vs. More Power: What’s the Best E-MTB?

Are you curious about an E-MTB but not sure what kind to get? Two of our employees got the chance to test out the lightweight Orbea Rise and full-power Trek Rail 9.9. We compare the two styles of E-MTB to find out their strengths and weaknesses.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:E-BikeMTB

For many mountain bikers, E-bikes are a game-changer. They help trail riders scale tough climbs (which we have a lot of here in Colorado) and cover more distance. This means you can ride more trails in less time and have extra energy in the tank for tough descents.

Two of our employees, Sheldon Thompson and Aaron Shaffer, were curious about joining the dark side and riding with a motor on their weekly trail rides. So we decided to help them out by letting them choose an E-MTB from our inventory to test. Let’s find out what they discovered about the E-MTBs they chose.

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Sheldon’s E-MTB: 2021 Orbea Rise M-10

Orbea Rise E-MTB review[product-block handle="2022-orbea-rise-l"/]

Front Travel: 140mm (150mm fork options available)
Rear Travel: 140mm
Weight: 37 lbs
Motor: Shimano EP8-RS
Torque: 60 Nm
Battery: 360 Wh

Sheldon is TPC’s Merchandising Associate. He’s the one who manages all the cycling gear you see listed on our website. Sheldon has been riding mountain bikes for over 13 years and loves doing off-road endurance races. However, riding time has been a bit lacking since having a baby not long ago. 

He currently rides an Orbea Oiz TR, a lightweight cross-country bike that has been beefed up with 120mm of travel to make it a capable downcountry rig. He decided to test an Orbea Rise because it is part of a new class of lightweight E-MTBs. The rise has a smaller 360 Wh battery which reduces overall weight compared to the larger 500+ Wh batteries most E-bikes use. The motor is also smaller and produces less torque.

The idea is to make an E-MTB that feels and behaves more like a non-motorized mountain bike. The Rise in particular has a Shimano EP8-RS motor that was specifically designed for the Rise to provide a smoother and more natural feeling boost of power when you pedal. 

Aaron’s E-MTB: 2021 Trek Rail 9.9

Trek Rail 9.9 E-MTB review[product-block handle="7345918443712-trek-rail-9-9-mountain-bike-2020-x-large"/]

Front Travel: 160mm
Rear Travel: 150mm
Weight: 47 lbs
Motor: Bosch Performance CX
Torque: 85 Nm
Battery: 625 Wh

Aaron is TPC’s Facilities Manager. He’s in charge of making sure our Louisville warehouse and retail store run flawlessly. Aaron is relatively new to mountain biking, with this being his third full season of riding. He’s still building his skills and fitness and looks forward to continued improvement. 

Unlike Sheldon, Aaron actually already owns an E-bike. He’s been riding an Orbea Rise, the same bike that Sheldon chose to test, but after riding with some of the shredders at TPC who are using bigger E-MTBs like the Specialized Levo and Trek Fuel EXe, Aaron wondered if an E-MTB with a full-size battery and motor would be right for him. 

Aaron chose to test out the Trek Rail 9.9. Aaron is interested in the idea of having more torque, but he also wants more suspension travel to ride gnarlier trails and a larger battery that will provide enough charge for multi-day riding trips. 


Watch the video to see Sheldon and Aaron’s full impressions of their E-bikes!

Orbea Rise Lightweight E-MTB ReviewOverall, Sheldon was extremely happy with the Orbea Rise. Despite using a lower-torque motor, Sheldon actually thought the motor had more than enough power for his needs, and it allowed him to double, even triple the amount he was able to ride. He was super impressed with how much the rise felt like a “normal” mountain bike. Will he keep the Rise? It seems very likely.

Trek Rail 9.9 E-MTB reviewWhile Aaron had a lot of fun on the Trek Rail, he realized that a “full-power” E-MTB might not be right for him. He missed the playful feel of his lighter Orbea Rise and felt that the Rail even had too much torque at times. While he still wants a solution for multi-day riding adventures, he thinks his current E-MTB suits his weekly trail riding needs better.

Ultimately, it seems both our riders really enjoy the experience of riding a lightweight E-MTB. That said, Aaron thought the bigger, more-powerful Rail was still a great bike, as long as you’re looking for that particular experience.   

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