Best Lightweight Electric Mountain Bikes of the Year

Reviews of the Absolute Best 2024 Lightweight eMTBs: A Comprehensive Comparison

In the dynamic world of electric mountain bikes (eMTBs), the year 2024 brings a wave of innovation and performance enhancements (legal by Olympic standards).  Among the top contenders are the Mondraker Dune RR, Mondraker Neat RR, Orbea Rise M-Team, Cube AMS HYBRID ONE44 C:68X TM 400X 29, Transition Relay Carbon GX AXS, Santa Cruz Heckler SL Carbon GX AXS, Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon SL, Giant Trance Advanced E+ Elite 0, and the Norco Fluid VLT C1 140.  These stand out as the leaders in the lightweight eMTB realm based on performance, availability and overall value.  Let's delve into what sets each of these eMTBs apart, considering distinct features, price points, motor systems, component, and of course - WEIGHT.

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Review of the Mondraker Dune RR - Bosch SX - Trail Dominance Redefined

  • Distinct Features: Superenduro - The Mondraker Dune RR boasts Mondraker's signature Forward Geometry for superior handling, coupled with the brand new Bosch SX motor for robust performance in a small package. Its 170/165 mm travel front and rear, along with stand-alone components (Ohlins), ensure unparalleled "superenduro" dominance yet agile when you need it to be.
  • Price Point: Although the Mondraker Dune XR  sits higher in travel and price (180mm with a coil at $11999), the Dune RR still is a privileged build with a more manageable price of $9299.
  • Drive System: Bosch SX (55nm) / 400 wh battery (possible external battery available)
  • Component List: Öhlins RXF 38 170 / Öhlins TTX Air 165mm, Sram GX Eagle AXS, Sram Code Bronze Stealth 200mm brakes, 29” wheel set.
  • Weight: 43 lbs
  • Breakdown: Being the newest lightweight eMTB to be announced, I haven’t had the privilege of riding it just yet (updates to come). Yet, I am familiar with the new Bosch SX motor having ridden the Norco VLT 130 and was very impressed with the power output, weight, and how silent it is even during high cadence / max power situations. This experience, combined with my love for the Mondraker platform (Forward Geometry + Zero Suspension), has raised my expectations for this bike to new heights.
    One of the only complaints I’ve ever heard from Mondraker customers is that they ride a bit heavy. Well, say hello to a whole new world of SUPER enduro with ample power, paired with a lightweight and efficient platform. Technically, this beast should be compared more with the Specialized Kenevo SL, just with twice the power.
  • Conclusion:  More than likely, this will end up being my next personal eMTB. When analyzing value, it’s nice to know the comparisons spec by spec for more of an objective perspective. However, having ridden almost everything in this lineup and over six years of experience with eMTB’s, the decision almost always comes down to personal preference and the feeling you get when you “just know” that it’s right for you. For me, I always look for the most capable in geometry and suspension (brakes are easily replaceable) for the descents, and a solid, reliable, user-friendly drive unit that’s intuitive to how I like to ride. I enjoy customizing my power level outputs. It allows me to feel like I’m doing the work while having a little friend pushing me to go faster (eMTB mode is my motivator). I could be setting my expectations too high, but currently, all signs point to the Mondraker Dune RR being a perfect addition to my collection.

Review of the Mondraker Neat RR - TQ - Playful and Precise

  • Distinct Features: The Mondraker Neat RR features Mondraker's Forward Geometry, offering ultra stability and control, paired with a TQ motor for seamless power delivery. With an all mountain setup of 160/150mm travel and high-end components, it excels in precision and performance on flowy single track trails with the ability to get down some gnarly descents when necessary.
  • Price Point: Positioned slightly higher than the Dune RR at $9,999
  • Motor System: TQ HPR 50 (nm) / 360 wh battery (160 wh external battery available)
  • Component List: Fox Factory 36 / Float X suspension 160/150mm, Electronic Sram GX Eagle AXS transmission, and Sram Level Bronze Stealth 200mm brakes, 29” wheel set
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Breakdown: If you’ve done your Mondraker research, you should be able to appreciate the concept of enduro focused engineering. Even their “all mountain bikes” are technically enduro based on their platform and geometry (head tube angle = 65.5 degrees). With short chainstay lengths and stems, the all-mountain versions still feels snappy and playful even with aggressive geometry. The steep seat tube angle has Mondrakers charging up trails with ease while the “zero suspension” rear triangle significantly reduces pedal bob, aka pedal strikes. 

    In the case of the Mondraker Neat series, if your goal isn’t to clock the fastest time on a wicked descent, but you wouldn't mind coming in second or third place, the Neat offers the best of all worlds with a beautifully packaged build. This was the first time I’ve ridden a TQ motor, and after reading so many positive reviews from other brands over the past few years, I must say I was excited to ride it. It's true what they say: the power isn't a wow factor (slightly less than the Bosch SX), but a lighter bike (approximately 3 lbs less) compensates for it to some extent. What impressed me mostly about the motor is that it keeps up with cadence and appreciates an energetic soul (similar to Shimano motors). What's odd is how quiet it is that you're almost tricked into thinking it's not on. I also love the interface display on the top tube. It’s clean, easy to understand, and well placed in conjunction with the button pad to keep it discreet, yet noticeable when you need to look. The tiny motor and 360 wh battery is stealthy and will have trail riders second guessing if you’re on an eBike or a not-e-bike (naughty bike). 
  • Conclusion: I know a lot of fitness gurus out there who would drool over this impeccable work of art. There’s no denying that Mondraker has truly given riders a plethora of options to choose from without making things confusing (a fine line in this business). Overall, an enduro/allmtn eMTB at 40 lbs and a spec sheet to back it up makes the Neat RR a top contender for the lightweight eMTB category. Not to mention the immaculate colorways the good people of Mondraker put together for the whole Neat series is pure eye candy. If I weren’t such a fanboy of Bosch, I’d more than likely end up with a Neat RR geared up in my garage.

Review of the Orbea Rise M-Team - Shimano eP8 RS - Efficiency and Agility

  • Distinct Features: The Orbea Rise M-Team stands out for its lightweight construction and efficient Shimano EP8 motor. It offers 140mm of travel, making it agile and responsive on the trails.
  • Price Point: Positioned as a high-end model, the Rise M-Team is offered at $9999
  • Motor System: Shimano EP8 RS motor (60nm) - 360wh / 540wh (external battery available)
  • Component List: Fox Factory 36 150 / Float X suspension 140mm, Shimano XT groupset (drivetrain and brakes), 29” wheel set
  • Weight: undisclosed (appx. 40 lbs with 540 wh battery)
  • Breakdown: When the Rise jumped on the scene a few years ago, it shook the lightweight eMTB world with its RS (Rider Synergy) Shimano eP8 motor giving it 60 nm of max torque on a playful platform. Over the years we spent selling the Rise model series, the feedback we’ve received from customers seems to point towards its inability to handle steeper terrain with its conservative geometry and smaller travel. Some have gone as far as adding bigger travel forks and rear coil shocks in order to customize the Rise to be a more enduro capable option. Unfortunately, these bikes are designed with a purpose and if you aren’t careful as a consumer, you might end up regretting the limitations you set on yourself when making your decision. 

    Working with customers like you who have either just started the journey of finding the perfect eMTB or know exactly what to buy, I always ensure you keep in mind that eBikes, especially eMTBs, are major confidence generators. Even if you think your level of riding is casual, having an intuitive motor and more stability naturally pushes everyone to take it a step further. It’s the thrilling challenge of the trail combined with testing your bikes ability to keep up make it important to purchase one level higher than what you think you need. 
  • Conclusion: Overall, I love the bike for what it’s built for. In fact, you can hear me whoopin’ up and down our local trails in San Diego in our Orbea Rise H30 Youtube review (I know, I know- I miss Scott too). It’s ideal for those flowy trails that seem endless. I also really like the range you get with the 540wh battery. The extender battery really isn’t necessary unless you’re camping or doing an all-day ride with full-power eMTBs. This option is also great for those who don’t care as much about the technology, being that the button pad is quite minimalist.

Review of the Cube AMS HYBRID ONE44 C:68X TM 400X 29 - Bosch SX - Lightweight Dominance at a Competitive Price

  • Distinct Features:The Cube AMS HYBRID ONE44 C:68X TM 400X 29 strikes a balance between performance and affordability. It features a new carbon frame (equipped on all Cube race bikes), Bosch Performance Line SX motor, and solid components.
  • Price Point: Positioned competitively at $8999, the AMS HYBRID ONE44 offers exceptional value for its lightweight construction, build specs (love me some Magura MT7) and the highly anticipated Bosch SX motor.
  • Motor System: Bosch Performance Line CX motor (55nm) / 400 wh battery (external available)
  • Component List: Fox Float Performance 36 140 / Fox Float X 140, Sram GX AXS Transmission, Magura MT7 203/180 brakes, 29” wheel set
  • Weight: Undisclosed. Although the frame alone is only 4.6 lbs according to Cube.
  • Breakdown: Enter the AMS Hybrid ONE44 C:68X onto the scene. It claims to be the epitome of trail-ripping performance and innovation with Cube’s advanced C:68X® carbon material. The goal? To strike the perfect balance between strength and lightweight agility.  Here are their words exactly: "Combining all our expertise from carbon frame building into the ultimate material, C:68X® carbon uses the optimum blend of fibre and nano particle-infused resin. Precision Advanced Twin Mold manufacturing means we can avoid bonded sleeves or inserts, too. It's the new benchmark for light, stiff and strong."

    This is the first time Cube has hit the stage with a lightweight option, and we can tell, they’re eager to show off. After all, they claim to have one of the most lightweight, yet durable, carbon materials ever produced. Being a Bosch only brand, the SX motor gave them the green light to showcase what this brand is all about: Performance and Value. 

    Even though I have yet to test ride one (first batch scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in May), we are all-in on this model. For what it shows on paper, this has the potential to put the all-mountain lightweight eMTB category on a diet. Updates on how it rides are surely to come and I’ll try to be as detailed as possible when that day arrives.
  • Conclusion: The only downside I see for the Cube AMS HYBRID ONE44 C:68X TM 400X 29 (besides its absurdly lengthy name) is the lack of inventory making its way to North America. Only a handful of these will be available, but lucky for you, Fly Rides will house the majority of these units. Did I mention that we’re taking pre-orders?

Review of the Transition Relay Carbon GX AXS - Fazua 60 - Versatile Performance for Every Adventure

  • Distinct Features: The Transition Relay Carbon GX AXS offers versatility and performance across various terrains. Equipped with the peppy Fazua 60 (nm) motor, the Relay is the most versatile in our lineup with its Mighty Morphin Battery Removing capabilities to go from eMTB to MTB in a matter of seconds. Will it be enough to win again in 2024 after a Loam Wolf victory in 2023 declaring it “the BEST lightweight of the year?” Let’s find out…
  • Price Point: Currently discounted, the Relay Carbon GX AXS provides excellent value for its versatility and performance at a super low sale price of $7499.
  • Motor System: Fazua 60 nm / 430 wh (no external available)
  • Component List: Fox Float Performance 160 / Fox Float X 160, Sram GX AXS Transmission, Sram Code R 200 brakes, 29” wheel set (PNW mullet setup)
  • Weight: 43 lbs
  • Breakdown:If you follow our blog posts, I’m sure this review may seem redundant. For a full review on the Transition brand with a highlight on this specific model, please check out that article here

    Transition is new to the Fly Rides lineup and we can’t get enough of them! A cool company out of Washington state, these bikes are designed and built by riders, made for riders. They understand build quality, fair price points, geometry, and understanding what the customer really needs. We think it’s for this very reason that they built the Relay with an easily removable battery and a drag-free motor so you can purchase two bikes in one. They aren’t into fancy colors (blue/black, red/black and gray/black) but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the design and perfect lines. 

    Beyond versatile, you are given the option to go more enduro with the PNW series which gives you a beefier fork with more travel, mullet wheelset, and a coil rear shock at the same price as their playful allmtn option. You also have a plethora of build trims that range from the alloy NX (now at $4699) to the Carbon XX AXS (down to $9299). 
  • Conclusion: Options, price, components, company culture, they all make sense to any consumer looking for a practical lightweight eMTB, which is why we were eager to try them out as a brand. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company is down to earth and they really care about their retailers (we get fun messages written on our boxes every once in a while). This could lead to slight con, however, being that they don’t allow retailers to ship their bikes. So if you don’t have one close to you, you’re sort of out of luck. All-in-all, if you’re on the fence about getting a naughty bike (not-ebike), or an eMTB, why not buy both in one bike? No more excuses…

Review of the Santa Cruz Heckler SL Carbon GX AXS - Fazua 60 - “No way, that’s an eBike?”

  • Distinct Features: The Santa Cruz Heckler SL Carbon GX AXS excels in all-terrain performance with its stealthy Fazua 60 motor, head-turning colors, and mullet setup. It offers 160/150mm of travel and precise handling in a hard-to-believe eMTB frame.
  • Price Point: Positioned at a premium price range of $9699, the Heckler SL Carbon GX is right in the middle of the pack where you can go big with the XX AXS model at a cool $1299.
  • Motor System: Fazua 60 / 430 wh battery
  • Component List: RockShox Lyrik Select+ 160 / RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 150, Sram GX AXS Transmission, Sram Code Stealth 200 brakes, 29” / 27.5” mullet wheel set.
  • Weight: 42.5 lbs
  • Breakdown:Full disclosure - I have not personally ridden this eMTB, although the rest of the shop has. Their take? AWESOME. It was their first time trying the Fazua 60 so I’m sure that had a lot to do with their excitement. So if the fellas loved it, why do we not carry Santa Cruz?

    Simple. The price point just doesn’t match up with the competition. Don’t get me wrong, if the build reflects the price, that’s one thing. However, we’re not thrilled with everything the Carbon GX AXS is equipped with for the price of $9699 and we know our customers will most likely make the same assessment. 

    This isn’t to say we wouldn’t bring Santa Cruz into the Fly Rides family. We just need to see them be a bit more competitive with their pricing, especially during a buyers market which we’re currently experiencing (great for everyone in our opinion). We understand, too, that there are some die hard Santa Cruz fans out there and the team we met were very professional and open to feedback. 
  • Conclusion: Stay tuned to see if they decide to adjust their pricing moving forward. They are also close to being a “big box brand” sold by JensonUSA, which if we’re being honest, is just a step closer to ending up at your local Walmart (don’t laugh, it happened to Schwinn and Mongoose). You better believe the next time I get the chance to demo a Heckler SL, I’ll give it a proper shakedown and update this blog accordingly. Until then, don’t hold your breath…

Review of the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon SL - Specialized SL 1.2 Motor (Mahle) - Classic, Sporty, Specialized.

  • Distinct Features: The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon SL received an upgrade in power from 35nm to 50nm using the same motor but slightly different software. It sounds like Specialized were listening to their customers screaming, “WE WANT MO’ POWAAA” from the trails as their friends smoked them up the hill. But is it enough power or too much for the platform it was built upon…
  • Price Point: Very competitive at $7999
  • Motor System: Specialized SL 1.2 motor (mahle) 50 nm / 320 wh (150 wh external available)
  • Component List: Fox 36 Rhythm 160 / Fox Float X 150, Sram GX Eagle, Sram Code RS 200, 29” front / 27.5” rear mullet wheel set
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Breakdown: Let’s start by being honest with ourselves. Mountain bikers are a special breed. We love the thrill of challenging climbs, sphincter tightening descents and the justification to use the word gnarly without hesitation. There’s no denying that we bring this lifestyle into many facets of our lives and ends up taking over a bit (if not all) of our identity. We are all, in fact, “Specialized.” Why not just write it on the side of the bikes we ride? I mean, who doesn’t want to feel…special.

    Yet, I digress. We are, after all, talking about the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon SL and not our unique demographical quirks. The Levo SL was the first to introduce the concept of lightweight eMTBs and really took it on the chin with this decision. Lucky for other brands who were able to learn from their mistakes and study the markets response to such a new creature.

    It’s safe to say that the original Levo SL was a failed success. It showed a need in the market for this exact option, but only if there was enough power to claim it as an actual eBike. At only 35nm of torque, the Mahle motor was, needless to say, quite underwhelming. So much so that we decided to create a whole separate Sales Agreement stating that there were no returns and all deposits had to be paid in full. The reason? Buyers Remorse. A few brave customers who pioneered the transition into the lightweight category had higher expectations and were left with wanting more.

    Fast Forward to today, Specialized had a dilemma to deal with. Scrap the motor or adjust accordingly? Being that they were sitting on a mountain of external batteries, scrapping the motor was not a good business move. Instead, they decided to jump up the power and offer a bigger battery in order to maintain a solid range. The platform is uniquely amazing, especially since they “tuned the entire chassis—front end, rear end, and the link that unifies them—as a single unit to minimize lateral flex under pedaling to harness every bit of pedal force.” A subtle, yet noticeable differentiator compared to other brands. 
  • Conclusion: Specialized is, has been, and always will be, a solid option for anyone looking for a consistent quality build. This particular model is at a lower price point than the other options I’ve mentioned, but the components point mostly to this reason. Feel free to upgrade to the Expert, Pro, or even the S-Works if you’re looking to upgrade. We like this particular model because of the price and what you get from it. A definite CON points to the unavailability of most sizes and colors. It’s hard to get exactly what you’re looking for as they don’t seem to keep the Levo SL lineup readily stocked. Also, just like Transition, they don’t allow retailers to ship products so you’ll need to walk into your local shop and hope they’re versed enough to point you in the right direction.

Review of the Giant Trance Advanced E+ Elite - Efficient, differentiated.

  • Distinct Features: The Giant Trance Advanced E+ Elite 0 is known for its power, agility, and efficiency on the trails. It features a lightweight frame, high torque motor system, and high-end components for a responsive ride experience.
  • Price Point: Expensive. The Trance Advanced E+ Elite 0 sits at a discounted price of $11,500 down from $14,000. I may need to get a second job…
  • Motor System: Syncdrive Pro (Yamaha) 85 nm / 400 wh battery (200 wh external available)
  • Component List: Fox Factory 36 150 / Fox Float X Factory 140, Sram XO1 Eagle AXS, Sram Code RSC 200/180, 29”/27.5” mullet wheel set
  • Weight: 41 lbs
  • Breakdown: A very interesting option indeed. The Giant Trance X Advanced E+ Elite 0 eMTB offers a SyncDrive Pro motor (Yamaha) which propels you effortlessly up steep inclines, while the Maestro suspension system ensures a smooth and controlled ride over rough terrain. With its lightweight yet sturdy frame, this eMTB offers agile handling and stability, complemented by high-end components for optimal performance. 

    Another disclaimer: I have yet to ride one. A brand we used to carry up until early last year. We ended our partnership as they decided to not allow us to ship bikes. However, from the reviews we’ve seen online, this eMTB is a bit of an outlier. It’s the only one that has the Yamaha motor still at a full 85 nm of peak torque, with a small battery and lightweight frame combo. I'm baffled at how they’re able to get so much efficiency from the control system. It makes you think, is that really only a 400 wh battery shoved inside?
  • Conclusion: Without actually testing this eMTB myself, I can’t give you a full review or even a decent comparison to the other options in a subjective manner. Objectively, a brand that now sells its eBikes at Dicks sporting goods asking $11,500 (that’s with a discount), seems a bit steep and maybe out of touch with where the current market is. That said, we’re glad they’re advancing their technology in the lightweight category. This only pushes the envelope for everyone else to keep up.

Review of the Norco Fluid VLT C1 140 - "Reactive, Playful, Ride Performance."

  • Distinct Features: The Norco Fluid VLT C1 140 is built to accommodate most riders. With a similar build as the Cube AMS One44, does the overall value stack up as well? Let's see how versatile this trail companion gets with its carbon frame, Bosch SX motor, and mullet wheel set.
  • Price Point: $9,999 big ones
  • Motor System: Bosch SX 50 nm / 400 wh battery (possible external available)
  • Component List: Fox 36 Performance Elite 150 / Fox Float X 140, Sram XO Eagle Transmission, Sram Code Silver Stealth 200, 29" / 27.5" wheel set (mullet)
  • Weight: 42.5 lbs
  • Breakdown: We were graced with the presence of a Norco rep recently at Fly Rides in Poway and were able to hop on and spin the Norco Fluid VLT C1 130 ($11,499) around the shop a bit. The most impressive feature was the Bosch SX motor. It was the first time we were able to try this new system (how did they get one so fast?) and we were keen to give it a whirl.

    As for the bike...meh. The moment we heard the price, we had a hard time believing him. How could a bike with subpar components be priced so high, especially with only 130 mm of travel? For fairness, we decided not to rank that exact model in this lineup. The model "below" seems to make a lot more sense from a consumer's standpoint.

    The Fluid VLT C1 140 sits at a price point that makes more sense and at least has Fox Performance components. Still, the geometry and platform don't change much, so we're talking mostly components. Given this, we still struggle to see the value of this model with the price it's currently sitting at. Nothing really wowed us except for the Bosch SX motor.
  • Conclusion: We'll respectfully pass.

Final Thoughts / Ranking: Mondraker, Cube, and Transition Lead the Pack

While each of these eMTBs offers unique features and strengths, Mondraker, Cube, and Transition stand out as the best options for 2024. Mondraker's Dune RR (and even the Neat RR) excel in precision and trail dominance, offering premium features and performance. Cube's AMS HYBRID ONE44 C:68X TM 400X 29 strikes a balance between performance and affordability, making it an attractive choice for riders seeking lightweight dominance. Transition's Relay Carbon GX AXS delivers versatile performance for every adventure, ensuring an exhilarating ride experience across diverse terrain. Whether you prioritize precision engineering, affordability, or versatility, Mondraker, Cube, and Transition offer exceptional lightweight eMTB options that set new standards for performance and innovation in 2024.
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