This or That | Full-Power vs Lightweight eMTBS

You've made the decision to get a new bike, but not just any bike - you're in the market for an E-Mountain bike. But how do you choose? With so many options available, it's crucial to choose the right motor and battery to suit your riding style and who you ride with, along with considering factors such as bike style, weight, and range. We're here to help you decide between a full-power or lightweight e-mountain bikes in our "this or that" guide.

Like the Full-Power Heckler, the Heckler SL has a do-everything 150mm trail bike frame, making it perfect for riders who want to ride every trail they can access. It differs with its lighter-weight Fazua Ride 60 (60Nm) motor and 430w/h battery, saving 5-10 lbs depending on the build kit. That drive system is packed into a frame with a noticeably slimmer profile than the full-power Heckler, too, meaning it's barely noticeable that you're packing the electric advantage. The Heckler SL is our pick for riders interested in extra power but ultimately want the closest feel to a traditional mountain bike. Its lighter weight helps keep it agile on the trails, and its lower power drive system adds enough juice to get through technical terrain easily.

New in 2024, the Moterra SL is a Full-Power package strapped to the most aggressive trail geometry we've ever seen. It boasts a 62.5° (Adjustable to 63.5°) headtube angle - no, that isn't a typo - that gives you the confidence to run over anything in its path at any speed without worrying. Better yet, in our experience on the trail, the slack geometry doesn't hold the bike back in tight terrain. The Moterra is still capable of maneuvering through twisties with ease. We know it might be confusing, but don't let the "SL" designation confuse you; the Moterra SL is still a Full-power Shimano EP8-01 equipped bike with 600Wh of battery. The SL does come into play; however, as Cannondale claims, this is the lightest weight full-power eMTB you can buy. We recommend the Moterra SL for riders who favor the downhills, and their idea of a great bike ride is getting to the top of the mountain as quickly as possible so they can get another elevation drop in their limited ride time.

It's hard to beat the Heckler for its right-down-the-center approach. It features Shimano's EP8-01, 85Nm motor, and a 720Wh battery attached to a 150mm travel do-everything trail bike package. It delivers a planted feel on anything short of a World Cup DH track and is comfortable and easy to control on anything from a fire road climb to a steep technical single track. If you're looking for a bike that can do everything well and want the planted full-power experience, start with the Santa Cruz Heckler.

Like the Santa Cruz Heckler SL, the Pivot Shuttle SL uses the Fazua Ride 60 (60Nm) motor and a 430Wh battery. This means it has less overall torque but still plenty of punch to get you through steep terrain. The Shuttle SL is also the shortest travel bike on our list, coming in at 132mm of DW-Link suspension. The significant benefit here is how the bike feels on the trail; the shorter travel helps you feel lower on the bike and makes it feel like you're riding "in" the bike rather than on top of it. And don't be fooled; just because it has less total travel doesn't mean it can't keep up on rough terrain. Pivot has long been known for its suspension witchcraft that eliminates the bottom-out feel on even short-travel bikes. Like with the Heckler SL, we recommend the Shuttle SL for riders who are looking for a feel as close to a non-e-bike as they can get, and we'd recommend the Shuttle SL specifically for riders who are consumers of terrain and like to pick their way through technical single track over bash through.

If the Santa Cruz Heckler is for riders who want to ride all their local trails, the Bullit is for riders who only want to go downhill. Some people consider the full-power Bullit to be their shuttle. With a Shimano EP8-01 motor with 85Nm of power and 630Wh of battery, it's designed to get to the top of the trails fast, so you can use its 170mm of deep suspension travel to get back down even faster. You can see what Santa Cruz intended when you look at the specs, too - two models feature a smooth linear feel of a coil shock. Like the Cannondale Moterra SL, the Bullit is our pick for riders looking to get the most out of their downhill runs, but even further than what the Moterra offers, you'll find another 20mm of suspension here to smooth out even bigger hits at speed.

Using the Bosch Performance CX and CX Race motors paired with 625Wh or 725Wh batteries AND the ability to run a 250w/h extender pack, The Shuttle AM is, without a doubt, our pick for the adventure junkie. Suppose your idea of an excellent e-bike ride is 6 hours out of cell phone service and a few moments where you ask, "So, where would a rescue helicopter land?" then start here. Like with all Pivot bikes, the DW-link suspension on the Shuttle AM feels bottomless, meaning that when you need it, the bike seems to soak up big hits with ease, and when you do not need it, you feel comfortable and at home on a trail bike. We also recommend the Shuttle AM for riders who value agility - even in a 45lb bike. The Shuttle AM is a 27.5" bike that can run a mullet 29" front wheel. Its short rear end makes it feel the fun of any full-power bike in technical backcountry terrain.

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