Choosing a eMTB for Roads/Gravel/light trails

BigShade

New Member
I have been looking at a few different mountain bikes and have a few questions I was hoping you could help with. I am looking for a mountain bike that will help me explore the trails around my house but can also be ridden on the road. There are lots of trails and old logging roads up the mountain around where I live. I also enjoy riding down the highway and local streets. My LBS carries Norco and Giant bikes. The bikes i am looking at are

2021 Norco charger VLT


2021 Giant Stance E


I wanted a 2021 fathom E Pro but they are all sold out in my area. I also wanted a hardtail as im a bigger guy and worried about breaking the rear suspension ( 5'10 - 280lbs) at some point. I have tested the Norco and was a fun bike to ride but the shifting was clunky which the dealer said was due to it being a brand new bike and the cables need to be adjusted.

My questions are

1) How important is local dealer support? I have a city cycle and a trek dealer 2-3 hours away which gives Trek powerfly 5 and a Cube hybrid reaction as options.

2). How big of difference does the level of components make in shifting? Acera/Altus vs higher end? The norco seems to have lower end components but Im not sure how big of a difference it makes.

3) Is rear suspension a bad idea for bigger riders? I have read that it can add extra maintenance and wear. I don't plan on jumps or drops but there are lots of rocks and roots in the area.

My budget is around $4-5k CAD.

Thanks.
 

percymon

Active Member
One thing perhaps to consider is a spare set of wheels with road biased tyres, especially if your rides are going to be split between road/cycle path use and trail use. Miles of road cycling on nobbly tyres is not only less efficient but the drone from the tyres will annoy you eventually.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
One thing perhaps to consider is a spare set of wheels with road biased tyres, especially if your rides are going to be split between road/cycle path use and trail use. Miles of road cycling on nobbly tyres is not only less efficient but the drone from the tyres will annoy you eventually.
I didn't want to make my answers here because I really cannot say if the rear damper that cannot be locked would be appropriate for a 280 lb person. I'm all for Giant. But @percymon, the OP actually does not need a dual wheel set. Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres are of dual nature and are equally good on-road and in light off-road.
 

percymon

Active Member
I didn't want to make my answers here because I really cannot say if the rear damper that cannot be locked would be appropriate for a 280 lb person. I'm all for Giant. But @percymon, the OP actually does not need a dual wheel set. Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres are of dual nature and are equally good on-road and in light off-road.
Perhaps market dependent, but Norco seems to be on WTB Rangers, and the Stance on Maxxis Rekon ??

Agreed Smart Sam are a good all-rounder though 👍
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Stance on Maxxis Rekon
The tyres are there to replace them as needed :) I use Rekons on my Giant Trance E+. No good for road! The Trance came with Maxxis Minion DHF and High Roller II. I liked those tyres on my summer mountain escapades but changed them with less aggressive Rekons. If I really wanted to use the Trance as an all-rounder e-bike, I would replace the tyres with Smart Sams.
 

BigShade

New Member
The tyres are there to replace them as needed :) I use Rekons on my Giant Trance E+. No good for road! The Trance came with Maxxis Minion DHF and High Roller II. I liked those tyres on my summer mountain escapades but changed them with less aggressive Rekons. If I really wanted to use the Trance as an all-rounder e-bike, I would replace the tyres with Smart Sams.

How often do you have to replace tires? Do Ebikes go through tires quicker then analog bikes? I assume the knobby tires wear faster on pavement?
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
How often do you have to replace tires? Do Ebikes go through tires quicker then analog bikes? I assume the knobby tires wear faster on pavement?
Tyres are long lasting unless you damage them on, for example, rocks. Yes, knobbies hate the pavement and are so noisy... These are perfect off-road and only off-road. I mentioned Smart Sams as these have been designed for dual use: switching between road/gravel/dirt. Smart Sams are available up to 2.6" for 27.5" wheels if I'm not wrong

See these videos of mine:

This video shows the big difference between Smart Sams (dual purpose) and Rekons (off-road)

Detailed comparison of tyre behaviour.

I really would like @PDoz to take part and give you the best advice, @BigShade as PDoz knows his e-MTBs!
 

BigShade

New Member
Tyres are long lasting unless you damage them on, for example, rocks. Yes, knobbies hate the pavement and are so noisy... These are perfect off-road and only off-road. I mentioned Smart Sams as these have been designed for dual use: switching between road/gravel/dirt. Smart Sams are available up to 2.6" for 27.5" wheels if I'm not wrong

See these videos of mine:

This video shows the big difference between Smart Sams (dual purpose) and Rekons (off-road)

Detailed comparison of tyre behaviour.

I really would like @PDoz to take part and give you the best advice, @BigShade as PDoz knows his e-MTBs!
That is a big difference in noise. I didnt think the noise would bother me but that would get to me after awhile. Thanks for the video.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
That's why I typically transport my e-MTB to the trail with my car... While my Vado 5.0 on Smart Sams can handle the road, gravel and light off-road. The tyres mean a lot. Of course I wouldn't take my Vado on any kind of "technical" trail.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
How often do you have to replace tires? Do Ebikes go through tires quicker then analog bikes? I assume the knobby tires wear faster on pavement?
I ride knobbies on pavement, kendas. I get about 2000 miles, then I change them to prevent flats. Street tires I got about 700 miles before I got a flat, and they are subject to puncture by tire carcasses, glass, or scrap metal anytime. The knobbies ride over the trash until the knobs get down to 3/32", which is when I change them out. The noise doesn't bother me, and no, I have great hearing. Reason I never rode a harley yamaha or honda motorbike, blatty horrors. Off road, who knows what the mileage is; my miles are toted up by # of trips X length measured of trip in a car. There is a kenda tire at the LBS that has thick tread and has a middle ridge which cuts the noise somewhat, but I can't find it on the kenda internet site. I don't use slime, it tends to plug up the stem so you can't let air out to take the tube off. Tires rotate sometimes and pinch the stem crooked, if you de-air them and rotate them straight again it doesn't cut the stem. We don't have goat thorns here as they do out west which are prone to puncture bike tires.
Note cheap bikes have cheap cables that are sticky and stretch, requiring frequent adjustment. My yuba was more stable on adjustments at $1500 than my previous diamondback & pacific MTB's. You can retrofit cheap cables with clark's or jaguar slick stainless, which I recommend. Available at modernbike.com
I carry 40-80 lb supplies frequently on the back, so I have no experience with suspensions. Would always be aired up to the wrong value, cargo bikes don't come with them. If you're going to carry rear baskets, MTB's threw me over the handlebars on my chin 4 X in 5 years. Front tire whips sideways out of my hands on a bump, stick, pile of gravel, over I go. Broke the chin at 25 mph the last time on MTB. The cargo bike hasn't done that yet. Your hands may be stronger than mine, the advice "hold on" was useless to me.
 
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Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
I like the Giant's components better than the Norco's

I recently purchased a gravel ebike (Cannondale Topstone Neo Lefty 3), which came with knobby tires (WTB Resolute 650b). I find the tires great on the gravel roads, pathways, and trails, but noisy on the road.
I'm getting a set of carbon wheels made for my bike and I plan on buying a set of Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss tires, which have a minor ribbing on the sides and a solid strip of rubber in the center for road riding.
I realize they're not the best choice for trail riding, but 75% of my riding is on pavement. This tire is great for pavement, gravel, and light trails.

 

RandallS

Well-Known Member
I ride the Giant Fathom E + Pro MY20 and use it as an all-rounder. I have MTB friends and pathway friends. I don't have a problem on pathways and streets but don't typically go further than 50 kms on them. If I did, I'd probably want different tires.

My MTB skills are improving after a 30 year hiatus and the Fathom takes me pretty well anywhere I am comfortable with, and at 62 with crappy legs I can't see me pushing it.

I would imagine you'd be happy with the MY21 version as it's got the bigger battery and appears to come with a dropper too. I would be, but I had a great few months with this one. Winter has arrived in Southern Alberta, but I'll be patient as reasonable weather will return.

Where abouts are you in BC? There are a couple of shops in the Calgary area that have the MY20 Pro in medium and since the MY21 has upgraded some components, they might make some deals.
 

BigShade

New Member
I ride the Giant Fathom E + Pro MY20 and use it as an all-rounder. I have MTB friends and pathway friends. I don't have a problem on pathways and streets but don't typically go further than 50 kms on them. If I did, I'd probably want different tires.

My MTB skills are improving after a 30 year hiatus and the Fathom takes me pretty well anywhere I am comfortable with, and at 62 with crappy legs I can't see me pushing it.

I would imagine you'd be happy with the MY21 version as it's got the bigger battery and appears to come with a dropper too. I would be, but I had a great few months with this one. Winter has arrived in Southern Alberta, but I'll be patient as reasonable weather will return.

Where abouts are you in BC? There are a couple of shops in the Calgary area that have the MY20 Pro in medium and since the MY21 has upgraded some components, they might make some deals.
Im on the west coast of BC but know some folks in Calgary. Not sure how I would be able to get it out here though.

I was really hoping to be able to get a 2021 Fathom but the bike market in this area is crazy right now.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
How comes? I'm sure you can pre-order it to get the bike in the warmer season...


You might say @BigShade it goes beyond your budget. I can tell you the components and the motor here surpass greatly what you might expect from a hardtail e-MTB. Want me list the important features?
 

BigShade

New Member
How comes? I'm sure you can pre-order it to get the bike in the warmer season...


You might say @BigShade it goes beyond your budget. I can tell you the components and the motor here surpass greatly what you might expect from a hardtail e-MTB. Want me list the important features?
I would preorder if I could. This was the main Giant dealership in Vancouver reply.

Thanks for reaching out. With how quick the new bikes are selling we are sold out of this model already. We may find out when if anything is available in the new year but currently it's not looking good. We will have the Talon E , Stance E and the Trance E available though if any of those models interest you
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Then it leaves you with the 2020 Trek Powerfly 5 or 2020 Cube Hybrid 625. None of them is perfect re specification. Cube has a larger battery but Trek has the air fork. My honest advice is to make demo rides if only possible. Or, can you just demo ride the Giant Stance E+ 2 and test the damper?!
 

BigShade

New Member
Then it leaves you with the 2020 Trek Powerfly 5 or 2020 Cube Hybrid 625. None of them is perfect re specification. Cube has a larger battery but Trek has the air fork. My honest advice is to make demo rides if only possible. Or, can you just demo ride the Giant Stance E+ 2 and test the damper?!
I think you are right about the demo rides. I will have to make the trip to Vancouver and try the Stance E to see if its a viable option. Thanks for all your help.
 

RandallS

Well-Known Member
Im on the west coast of BC but know some folks in Calgary. Not sure how I would be able to get it out here though.

I was really hoping to be able to get a 2021 Fathom but the bike market in this area is crazy right now.
With the savings in tax @7% PST, it would pay for the gas and even if you had to rent a vehicle, it come out pretty cost neutral. My small fits in the back of my VW wagon easily, so if any of your buddies in Calgary have pickups or SUVs, (and who doesn't in this city), bribe them with some beer!.

I was just out to Sidney last weekend to help out my mother in law with some technology stuff. Yes we are into winter driving conditions, but it was fine. Both Ridley's in Calgary, and Bike Bros in Cochrane have mediums. I bought mine at Bike Bros.
 

BigShade

New Member
With the savings in tax @7% PST, it would pay for the gas and even if you had to rent a vehicle, it come out pretty cost neutral. My small fits in the back of my VW wagon easily, so if any of your buddies in Calgary have pickups or SUVs, (and who doesn't in this city), bribe them with some beer!.

I was just out to Sidney last weekend to help out my mother in law with some technology stuff. Yes we are into winter driving conditions, but it was fine. Both Ridley's in Calgary, and Bike Bros in Cochrane have mediums. I bought mine at Bike Bros
I actually managed to track down a 2021 fathom pro here in Vancouver. A local shop had one as part of their 2021 order that will be in next week. Looks like I have found my bike. Thanks for all the help.