[E]volution’s 2024 e-Bike of the year awards

Our staff have ridden literally dozens and dozens of different e-Bikes during the past twelve months, in addition to conducting in-depth reviews on many of the hottest new model releases.

In the lead up to publishing this year’s Annual we surveyed everyone in the office about their pick of the best e-MTB’s in each class. We then tallied the votes and compiled our honours list. Including, ultimately, our pick of the overall number 1 e-MTB for 2024!

Best in class // ‘SL’ e-Bikes

Winner // Santa Cruz Heckler SL

It was an incredibly tight fought battle in the SL category this year as there are so many ultra-high-performance models on the market from different brands. Some bikes excel in one or a few areas; ride quality, motor performance, weight (lack there of), geometry package or value for money. But we feel that the Heckler SL has snuck its head past the pack because it ticks all those boxes and then some. The Heckler SL is one heck of a ride!” 

Honourable mentions:

The Giant Trance X E+ Elite proved itself to be a very worthy contender in the ‘SL’ of the year class. In fact, we would comfortably say that its motor, the Yamaha SyncDrive Pro2 85Nm, is hands down the best performing motor in the SL class. It boasts massive power and a super smooth delivery feel through the pedals, plus the overall size of the motor body is nice and compact, and above all mechanical reliability of Yamaha’s e-Bike motors is second to none. The Jam2 SL from Focus is another notable bike in this category which received a couple of votes from our staff. Perhaps the only drawback of that bike not taking out top honours is its lack of an external charging port. Having to remove the battery in order to charge it isn’t the end of the world as our testers noted in their review, but it does go to show that having an external port is a little more user friendly. 

Best in class // Ultimate full powered

Winner // Specialized Turbo Levo Carbon

We have lost count of the number of high-quality e-Bike models currently out there on the market. Down here in Australia the e-Bike scene is booming harder than ever. And what a time to be a rider, as consumers we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the bike that is going to best match our needs. Massive battery range for super long rides, heaps of travel to blast down rough trails, silky smooth power delivery, or perhaps a bike that is ultra-lightweight that handles akin to a regular MTB but still with that lovely purr of assistance to get you up the hills without cracking a sweat? Whatever you’re into there are likely to be dozens of prime options out there for you. But despite all of that stiff competition our staff here at the mag reckon one of the absolute best e-Bikes on the market is the Specialized Turbo Levo Carbon.

This bike takes out top honours for a number of reasons; its frame has been wonderfully refined and executed over the years. The Levo also boasts heaps of grunt from that recently updated Specialized 2.2 motor and we’re massive fans of how smooth the bike feels to pedal thanks to internal belt drive design of that motor. It also really excels with its connectivity and how easy it is to customise the bike’s pre-sets to match your own taste. And we love the playful ride characteristic that it’s dedicated ‘mullet’ wheel match up provides the bike. Overall, the latest generation Levo proves to be an extremely easy bike to get along with and we really can’t fault its performance in any area.     

Honourable mentions:

The Yeti e-160 was a close runner-up to the Levo as its performance out on the trails has been really impressing our review team during the past few weeks. The finish quality of the Yeti’s frame is impossible to overlook and for riders that really enjoy playing around with their set-up and dialling in their perfect settings they’re going to be rolling around like a pig in shit once they get their hands on this thing! And finally, a few notable mentions of bikes that we haven’t yet gotten to ride but we’re really eager to experience would be the new SRAM ‘PowerTrain’ equipped models from GasGas and Transition. 

Best in class // ‘Entry level’ sub $9000

Winner // Merida eOne-Sixty

When it comes to overall ride performance, frame quality and incredible bang for buck parts specs, Merida’s mighty eOne-Sixty is very, very hard to go past. Short rides, long rides, gravity hungry rides or even a bit of e-Racing, the Merida eOne-Sixty has proven itself to handle anything a rider wants to throw at it.

A very comfortable bike to ride offering a lovely balanced feel with 160mm of travel up front and 150mm in the rear. And then do yourself a favour and take a look at the price tags of each model within the eOne-Sixty range, they are crazy affordable. And so, all things considered you’d no doubt have to agree that these Meridas are very hard to go past! 

Honourable mentions:

Giant’s recently updated Stance E+ appears to be a really strong all-round package for riders looking to dive into the world of e-Bikes. And for riders seeking a bike with a little less travel at each end those Focus ‘Throns’ are pretty phenomenal in every way (and with a sub 5k price ticket – what!?) 

Overall 2024 e-MTB of the year

Winner // Santa Cruz Heckler SL

In the end it was a unanimous decision that the Heckler SL was the one bike each of us put at the very top of our wish list this year. Even when stacked up against the entire quiver of ‘full powered’ e-MTBs this particular ‘SL’ is the package that won us over.”

A bunch of us have been lucky enough to have spent time aboard the Heckler SL out on the trails and we’ve been blown away by its handling and performance. With its mixed wheel size, spot on amount of travel at each end, seamless digital integration and minimalistic appearance, the Heckler SL is one hell of a total package! And, given how light it is we’ve grown to be convinced that it boasts the ultimate balance of having just enough power and battery ‘range’ for every type of ride we’d plan to do. [R]

Watch the awarding of our e-MTB of the year 2024 // Santa Cruz Heckler SL // Plus in-depth review