Riding high

Audi’s e-mountain bike takes the e-tron name into new territory.

Although very much part of the Audi e-tron family, the Audi e-mountain bike offers electrification and personal transportation in a very different package.

31 May, 2024

It makes a mockery of the steep, gnarly climbs that once mocked you

It’s an Audi e-tron, but not as you’ve come to know them. There’s no mistaking the distinctive e-tron livery, while the finish and components are all suitably high-end, but the fact that it rides on just two wheels is something of a giveaway. The Audi e-mountain bike (e-mtb) which arrived Down Under late last year, offers a different take on the brand’s idea of personal transport and electrification. A robust dual-suspension trail bike, it features a lightweight aluminium frame, long-travel suspension and disc brakes, but most importantly it features a powerful Brose S-MAG 250w motor offering four distinct levels of assistance. Powered by a Fantic Integra 36-volt 720Kh battery, it changes the very complexion of riding, extending your riding time and distance past all human limits while making a mockery of steep, gnarly climbs that once mocked you.

The Audi e-mtb is not the brand’s first foray into two-wheel vehicles either. Putting aside the brand’s obvious links with NSU and DKW products in its early history, there was a dual-suspension pushbike produced in the early 2000s and a pure road bike available on the European market a decade ago. Back in 2012 Audi Design also produced a futuristic-looking e-mountian bike concept called the Audi e-bike Wörthersee, which never went into production despite many calls from enthusiasts.

Audi's carbon road bike – 2015.
The Audi e-bike Wörthersee was a one-off design study.
The Audi e-mtb is a serious dual-suspension trail bike.

This new bike is the result of a collaboration between Audi and Italian manufacturer Fantic, resulting in a bike created using high-specification components and features very much in keeping with Audi’s brand ethos. 

Originally spotted as a suspected prop in the Audi activesphere concept release, it turned out to be every bit the real deal and with its Öhlins suspension front and rear and with 180mm of travel front and rear, the Audi e-mtb is a serious bit of gear. All other components are likewise top shelf, with a SRAM 34t Steel Eagle front chain ring, a SRAM GX Eagle 12speed derailleur and Sunrace Silver Red cassette. SRAM GX Eagle shift levers. Then there are the  IN.CA.S hydraulic disc brakes measuring 220mm up front and 203mm on the rear and Mavic E-Deemax wheels, with a 29-inch front and 27.5-inch rear. These are shod in Vittoria rubber with Vittoria E-MAZZA 29”x 2.6  on the front and Vittoria E-MARTELLO 27.5”x 2.8 on the rear. Handlebars and stem are both FSA units, while the Sella Italia Novus Boost EVO seat is mounted on a bar-operated dropper post.

As with any other e-tron model or any other Audi vehicle for that matter, everything on the e-mtb is intuitive to use and anyone familiar with a mountain bike will immediately feel at home. The handlebar-mounted drive control is easily operated using the left thumb, with different functions reached by simple scrolling through the screens. 

As with any other e-tron model or any other Audi vehicle for that matter, controls on the e-mtb is intuitive

Charging is a simple matter of plugging the battery into any wall socket via the supplied cable and transformer

The 12-speed manual gears are likewise changed on the right of the bars – again as per any other bike, and it is simply a matter of making sure you are in the appropriate gear and drive mode for the terrain and situation.

Charging is a simple matter of plugging the battery into any wall socket via the supplied cable and transformer and can be done with the battery still attached or removed from the bike, with a full charge from zero taking up to four hours.

The range you get from that full charge very much depends on the type of riding you do, the type of terrain and how you utilise the four different levels of power assistance – Eco, Tour, Sport and Boost.

As you become used to the system and adept at selecting the right assistance for the job and even turning the motor off for downhill sections or even on the flat, the battery seems to go on forever. As an example, one morning of off-road riding saw 60 kilometres dispatched in a couple of hours and used just over 25 percent of the charge. This involved generous use of full Boost mode for the toughest climbs and Sport on anything that wasn’t dead flat. While the Tour mode was the ‘go to’ on the flat and road sections to get to and from the mountain bike park. When it came to the downhill sections, I turned off the motor altogether and just let gravity do its thing – just as you would with any other mountain bike.

Weighing in at 23kg including the battery, it is no lightweight, but then that weight comes in very handy on the downhill sections and adds to the planted, solid feel of the bike in general. 

On the climbs, thanks to the seamless pedal assistance, the weight is neither here nor there, which adds up to a very attractive package for those wanting to make the most of long downhill sections, without expending all of their energy climbing back to the top to hit it again.

The Audi bike is technically a trail bike, but its long-travel suspension and its solid, capable feel make for an exhilarating downhill experience as well. It is perfectly at home on long cross-country rides, where the pedal assistance allows you to enjoy distances two, three or four times those you would take on with a conventional mtb.

Of course the presence of the electric motor doesn’t provide you with a free ride and only works in conjunction with your own input. Stop pedalling and the assistance likewise clocks off. But engage Boost or Sport and keep those pedals turning and it allows climbs that would otherwise require superhuman strength and stamina, which means it allows access to areas that were once physically off-limits. 

And that’s the beauty of the e-mtb – it’s more of a ‘range extender’ rather than an ‘electric motorbike’. But at the end of a long session in the saddle, you still feel you’ve earned that post-ride beer or refreshment of choice – you’ll just see that you’ve goon a lot further, literally, and a lot faster to get it. 

Visit the Audi store to experience the Audi e-mtb for yourself.

Of course the presence of the electric motor doesn’t provide you with a free ride and only works in conjunction with your own input