Electric Bike Suspension: Full, Single or None.


Do you really need electric bike suspension?

Having electric bike suspension installed could be paramount for some riders but not so much of others.

All comes to the scenarios. 

Off-road bikers and others who do a lot of technical terrains can’t live without a dual suspension.

That isn’t the case with commuter riders and those of you who only use their bike in the city.

Your desired comfort level also determines whether you can or cannot live without a suspension.

That’s because those of you who feel that your body can do without feeling the full effect of jarring harsh surfaces might want to side in favor of some sort of shock absorption system.


Best suspension for e-Bikes

We know there are a few alternatives and each one of them vary depending on the eBike to use. Here are some options for shot and long travels (this concept will be explained further down this guide):

 

Front suspension for hybrid electric bikes

DFS Carbon Air Fork – 90mm travel

✅ Locking system can be adjusted remotely with the added wire.

X: The structure could bend more than expected.

 

DFS Carbon Air Fork 90 mm travel fork suspension for hybrid e-bikes

This Chinese fork brand was design to provide enough suspension for people with hybrid e-bicycles with 26″ to 29″ tires.

It could be a good fit since it is very lightweight, however seems that the installation could be more for experience people.

Then comes the solo air spring, which you can tune whichever way you want.

Equally useful is the Oneloc remote that lets you lockout the suspension remotely.

Keep in mind that you will need to buy a suitable air pump to adjust to the desire compression.

Rock Shox – 110mm travel

✅ It fits well with any braking system and would greatly upgrade your ebike.

X: The steerer tube may be too long for old bike models and its only for 26″ tires.

Hybrid ebike suspension fork ROCK SHOX - 100mm travel

The RockShox packs many amazing features.

Foremost among them are its bottomless spacers that let you adjust this suspension fork to suit your riding style.

The spacers are also the reason why this suspension fork is a must-have for aggressive riders, as they prevent it from bottoming out after a huge bump.

Then comes its torque caps.

By strengthening the connection between the fork dropout and the hub, they increase the surface area that connects the former with the latter.

This, as veteran riders might tell, allows the fork to offer better control and feedback to the rider.

Full suspension electric mountain bike

Bucklos Lutus Air – 120mm travel

✅ The rebound is not too complex to adjust.

X: Some people say the 120mm travel is not reachable.

BUCKLOS LUTU Air eMTB front suspension fork

This Bucklos Lutus eMTB is perfect to tackle more aggressive terrains without the need to do much downhill.

This is not all, as the 120mm apparent travel air adjustable will give a bit more of space for the shafts to move.

One thing to consider is that the fork is suitable for disk brakes only.

But on the good side, it can be fitted for 26 to 29″ tires.

Also, consider the additional weight (1.6 kg) than can be not ideal for an electric mountain bike already heavy.

Bolany 26″ for Downhill eMTB – 160 mm travel

✅ Great shaft travel that is supported with a double shoulder shock absorber.

X: No locking system included.

Bolany 26" for Downhill eMTB - 160mm travel

For those serious downhill riders, this could the an option to look at.

Good dampening system and adjustable shaft travel will absorb harsh hits.

Due to its already heavy structure, this full suspension electric mountain bike system does not count with a locking feature.

As a result, going uphill could be a pain.

As you could see, it is only ideal for 26″ tires.

RockShox Monarch RL – 44mm stroke

✅ Lightweight compared to other brands.

X: Only two (2) locking compression adjustments.

RockShox Monarch RL - 44mm Stroke for electric bike suspension

RockShox is giving us another great rear suspension system.

The Monarch RL model counts with a two (2) compression adjustments. A third one would’ve been great but you can use the motor to reduce the lack of an uphill feature.

As any other air shock, it is also prompt to have leaks so recommended to test it out in low complex terrains.

Be mindful of the eyelets connection before buying it as not all frames may fit well – at least we know most Giant frames will do.


Suspension Factors

Multiple factors influence the decision to include a shock absorbing system.

What do you need it for?

For instance, an electric mountain bike rider will definitely require a full suspension system (front and rear), whereas a city person, no suspension could be just fine.

Lock unlock remote system for ebike suspension EBA

A second factor is how much comfort you are after. Lastly, the third factor has to do with the size of your pocket.

This is where you would classify each eBike:

  • eHybrid bikes will have a front suspension.
  • Top eMTB could have either a single suspension at the front or double including the rear.
  • Most city eCommuter would have none.

Let’s see a bit more about the scenarios.

 

Terrain characteristics

An electric bike with full suspension is a must-have for off-road enthusiasts and those who do a lot of technical terrains.

It can easily dampen most of the vibrations and shocks before they could reach your body.

You’d therefore experience less fatigue and tiredness at the end of the day. That’s not all.

Bikes that come with front and rear suspension systems integrated also allow you to maintain more speed and control when going downhill. They do that by absorbing the energy generated from complex bumps, which in turn, can slow down hard-tail eBikes.

City commuters, meanwhile, mostly opt for hard-tail or no suspension at all.

Most of them feel with good reason that the vibrations coming off the road aren’t something that would impact their ride quality.

Despite of the above, we know that some of our fellow readers suggest that the lack of suspension is a flaw, specially when getting old.

 

Electric bike suspension maintenance

Yet another factor that convinces them to ignore dual suspension electric bikes is their high maintenance.

As expected, it requires a regular oil change, replacement of dust wipers, rubber seals, etc.

You, therefore, have no choice but to spend more time and money to keep them going.

But look the good side. You will get to know the shock system and learn from it.

 

Desired comfort

Let’s start with your desired comfort.

ebike mountain bike suspension rebound EBA

Those of you who aren’t a fan of body aches, would do well investing in electric bike suspension alternatives.

They can quickly dampen the intensity and save you from experiencing the full force of every pothole your tires will roll over.

Such a comfort level is something you can take for granted if you use your e-bike for commuting purposes.


Read More: 6 Reasons Why People Are Shifting to Electric Bikes for Commuting.


But those of you whose weekend plans involve pedaling through the hills, know they can’t count on the terrain to keep things easy.

 

Budget factor

Let’s turn our attention to your budget.

For instance, specialized full suspension electric mountain bikes cost a fortune.

We have seen a few costing around $3,000 dollars easy. Even the cheap e-bikes offering front and rear suspension are expected to set you back between $1,500 and $2,000.

Here’s why that is the case.

Manufacturers have to basically make two (2) small frames, each requiring as much effort as a single hard-tail one, when coming up with a full suspension electric bike.

Throw into the mix the extra hardware needed to connect high quality pieces, and they have enough reason to jack up the prices.

We would say that paying such a price is worth when safety and integrity is important.

 

Desired speed

Dual suspension e-bikes are absolute speed warriors going downhill.

They do such an excellent job of absorbing shocks that you can effortlessly maintain a high speed on the more technical sections of your trail.

That obviously won’t be the case if you’re riding a single suspension model.

Road tests verify this claim.

Hard-tail electric bicycles with the same features (wheels, brakes, etc) took almost 12 seconds more to cover a rough terrain. Source: Bikeradar.

But, don’t get fooled.

When thinking about commuting purposes, the lack of suspension contributes to maintain more speed while going uphill as the energy transmitted while pedaling all goes to the rear tire.

 

Electric bike suspension weight

On the weight side, their extra speed comes at the cost of extra weight, for obvious reasons.

The added pounds may not bother you that much. and it should be the case because you have a motor to assist with.

But it might concern you if your rides include lots of climbing.

The added weight will put more pressure on the motor and battery, which translates to less range.


Electric Bike Suspension Types

Following are two (2) types of suspension systems for electric bicycles:

 

Rear Suspension Overview

Also known as rear shock or simply ‘shock,’ the rear suspension is mostly found inside the main frame triangle.

One of its ends is connected to the pivoting rear triangle and the other is attached to the main triangle itself.

The rear suspension provides many benefits to professional eMTB riders.

Let’s discuss some basic terminology:

  • Stroke travel: it indicates how much the shaft itself will travel when the shock is loaded or unloaded.
  • Wheel travel length: it refers to how much the rear wheel will move at its pivot point after the shock is fully compressed.
  • Spring system: it is the internal system that absorbs the impact comprised by using either air or a coil.
  • Rebound damping: relates to how fast the rear shock will be back to its full extension after compressing. A high graduation will cause the shock not to recover fast and a low graduation will potentially unbalance the jumps.
  • Sag: this is the term used when the shock compresses naturally when the rider just sits on the eBike. This is where the graduation has to be done.

Some high performance rear suspension systems offer two (2) or three (3) levels of adjustment.

2 levels will be ascending / descending; 3 levels will add a neutral position.

Follow the manufacturers guides to properly pair the stroke travel and the SAG before the first ride.

 

Front Suspension Overview

Although there are many types of front suspensions, the most common is what experts call the “fork.”

Front suspension parts

As for the terminology, it is basically the same as the rear configuration, nevertheless the stroke travel will be the same as the wheel travel.

In addition to the above, there are some features that are also useful for this type of suspension:

  • Lockout: it gives you the alternative to lock (as in no compression) or unlock the suspension system. Some fancy brands offer three (3) options: open, medium and lock. Read the  Giant Trance E+ 3 Pro 2020 Review, full suspension eBike section for a detail explanation.
  • Preload (coil system): it refers to how much the coil will compress without putting any load.
  • Damping: helps to moderate how fast the rebound and compression of the fork is.
As for the suspension travel, there are two (2) classifications: short and long travel.
  • Short travel suspension (below 100 mm)

The short travel refers to front suspension systems that offer a 30mm to 120mm compression when getting a hit.

Full suspension electric bike travel mark EBA

Typically:

  • 30 mm to 50 mm is expected in electric bikes for kids.
  • 60mm to 100mm seen in cross country. In other words, for hybrid and city commuter eBikes (if fitted).

Read More: Electric Dirt Bike for Kids – Are the Any Good?


 

  • Long travel suspension (over 120 mm)

This suspension is mostly available with what the manufacturers choose to call ‘all mountain’ bikes.

They are designed to handle extremely rough trails without hurting the bike’s performance too much.

Know that 120mm to 160mm travel will be good enough for most electric mountain bike activities, however the such called “Freeride” or serious downhills would suit better a 160 to 200 mm travel.

 

NOTE

It is important to note that a front or rear suspension system using air compression as a impact absorbent will require the use of a special air pump as shown below – you can’t use a standard tire one unfortunately.

GIYO shock pump for fork & rear full suspension electric mountain bike


Electric Bike Suspension Guide Wrap Up

Still unsure about whether you need e bike suspension or not?

You may want to go for it if you mostly ride rough terrains, are looking for a more comfortable ride, feel the need for speed and control when you’re on the saddle and are willing to spend a bit more.

However, if you can’t afford to break the bank, mostly ride bump-free trails prefer a low-maintenance option.

If that is the case, then you’d be better served with a hard-tail electric bike. That’s because in such a scenario an electric bike suspension won’t be worth its cost for you.


 

Paul T

Hi all! I'm Paul, founder and driver of Electric Bike Advisor (EBA). Learning from scratch by repairing and putting together my standard bicycle, I thought it was time to know more about the electric world. Enjoy reading my most honest point of view through our reviews, and learning from our guides, which are researched by professionals in the industry.