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Up until recently, any factory-produced electric bike that had a mid-drive motor fitted seemed to sit in the £1500+ price bracket. Thankfully prices have started to come down a little and we are seeing cheaper mid-drive powered e-bikes become available.
The Ebco MH-5 is one such electric bike. At just under £1100, on the surface, it looks like excellent value for money. In this review, I’ll be looking at the motor, battery and other components in closer detail to see if it is any good.
Ebco is a British company, that has been producing electric bikes for eight years. They have always produced affordable e-bikes aimed at the cheaper end of the market.
I have ridden quite a few different models over the years, and they have always seemed like decent enough e-bikes. They have had a long relationship with British retailer Halfords, and have sold numerous models through them since their inception.
The Ebco MH-5 is one of their newer models, and although Halfords have only just started retailing this bike, it has been around since 2018.
Its current retail price of £1099 seems very reasonable for a mid-drive powered electric bike, so let’s take a closer look to see what makes the Ebco MH-5 tick.
TranzX M16 GTA Mid-Drive Motor
The TranzX mid-drive motor fitted to the Ebco MH-5 is a tried and tested mid-drive unit, and although it lacks the refinement of Bosch and Shimano Steps systems, it still has enough torque to give the rider a useful ‘shove’ when needed.
Unlike the more expensive systems, the TranzX unit uses a ‘cadence-based’ pedal assist. Meaning that electric assist will start as soon as the pedals are rotated. This system has a lot in common with the popular Bafang BBS series of mid-drive electric bike motors.
One thing I will say about this motor is the pedal assist does come on very smoothly. This isn’t a characteristic one would normally associate with a cadence-based pedal assist. TransX has obviously programmed the firmware to be responsive and progressive when delivering electric assist.
Once you reach the 15.5mph threshold and the assist stops, the transition is barely noticeable. I would say there is a little extra pedalling resistance than normal, and the extra weight of the motor and battery is apparent. Riding on the flat, you can maintain 16-18 mph (with a bit of effort!).
Although this motor doesn’t have the kind of refinement you would find on a Bosch or Shimano steps mid-drive, it isn’t too bad, considering this is a budget bike. As an entry-level mid-drive system, I think it’s pretty good.
The DB27 display is a fairly basic affair. I give you all the information you need. True, it doesn’t have the functionality of some of the fancier displays, but in my opinion, it does exactly what it’s supposed to.
Speed, battery range and power assist levels are all you need on an e-bike display. The rider has 4 levels of assistance to choose from and a useful 6km ‘walk’ mode. It’s a basic but functional display.
The TranzX BL19 36v 11Ah (396Wh) battery should be good for a realistic range of between 30-50 miles. Of course, this will depend on your weight and the amount of assistance you use.
Ride the bike everywhere in full power mode, and you will deplete the battery far more quickly. Use the pedal assist only when you need to, or stay in Eco mode, and a range of 50 miles plus is not out of the question.
I also like the way the battery is colour coded to fit in with the general look of the bike.
For such a reasonably priced electric bike, the Ebco MH-5 is fitted with some good-quality Shimano components. The hydraulic brakes aren’t too bad either.
|Type||Electric Mountain Bike|
|Frame Material||6061 Alloy|
|Number of Gears||9 – Shimano Deore|
|Brake Type||Tektro Draco Hydraulic|
|Maximum Speed||15.5mph assisted speed|
|Maximum Range||55 miles|
|Recharge Time||5-6 hours|
The 1 9-speeded set-up on the MH-5 consists of a single 42t front chainring, complemented with a good quality Shimano Deore M592 Shadow rear derailleur with an 11-34 9-speed cassette.
These components are a step above the usual Altus and Acera Shimano components usually found on electric bikes at this price, so full marks to Ebco for their choice of parts.
The Tektro Draco hydraulic brakes aren’t too bad either. Although these brakes are entry-level, they do a pretty good job of bringing the Ebco MH-5 to a standstill.
These brakes weren’t designed to cope with the rigours of extreme off-road riding, and as long as you are aware of their limitations, you will be fine. They provide more than enough stopping power for the average rider.
The Suntour XCT coil-sprung forks have 100mm of travel and are fairly common on bikes at this price. They are nothing special, but they do a good enough job of soaking up things like small potholes, and tree roots. As with the brakes, the rider will be absolutely fine with these forks as long as the terrain ridden on isn’t too demanding.
Wheels and Tyres
Weinmann 27.5″ 36H rims are finished off with Modus alloy hubs with quick-release skewers. These rims should be tough enough for the everyday rider. The CST Heathen tyres are good all-rounders, however, if you are planning on spending most of your time riding on the n tarmac, I would recommend road-friendly tyres to reduce rolling resistance.
The finishing kit is all made of alloy and is TransX branded components. From the seat post through to the stem and handlebars.
The saddle is made by Velo and is of nice quality. I would say that the average commuter would probably want to swap this saddle out for something a bit more comfortable for regular usage. It’s fine for mild cross-country riding or short distances.
The frame on the Ebco is made of high-quality 6061-T6 alloy with internal cable routing. It has a fairly relaxed geometry, which is in keeping with its recreational / commuter leanings.
The finish has an air of quality about it, and I just love the matt carbon black paintwork contrasted with yellow decals to finish things off.
Who is the Ebco MH-5 best suited for?
If you’re after a cheap mid-drive electric mountain bike, they don’t get much cheaper than this. When the Ebco MH-5 was first released in 2018 its list price was £1599. At its current price, it is excellent value for money.
This bike would make an excellent daily commuter bike, all you would need to do is fit a rack and set of mudguards (and maybe some road-friendly tyres) and you’re good to go.
As a commuting e-bike, the Ebco would make an excellent workhorse. The high torque output of the motor would be particularly useful if you have any steep climbs on your way to work.
If, on the other hand, you are just looking for an e-bike for weekend leisure rides, then the MH-5 ticks all the right boxes. It’s versatile enough to cope with some mild to moderate off-road exploring, and the battery has enough power to provide the rider with a few hours of assisted usage.
As far as electric mountain bikes go, the Ebco MH-5 is excellent value for money. At the original price, I would have said there are better alternatives, but at its current price of £10,99, it takes some beating. Even Halfords own Carrera Vulcan E can’t match the bike for specification.
The TransX M16 GT mid-drive motor has been used by many different manufacturers and the consensus is that it is a reliable drive system. If issues do occur, you are backed up with Halfords 2 year parts warranty.
I’m not a great fan of cadenced-based pedal assist systems, but TransX seem to have refined the M16 system to be nice and smooth on the uptake, whilst providing a nice waft of torque when full-power mode is used.
Another big plus point with this bike for me, is the quality Shimano Deore gear system. Everything works flawlessly – the gears index nicely, and the Tektro brakes provide reasonable modulation, with a nice bite.
The MH-5 is not a mountain bike in the true sense of the word. It does have its limitations. But for a fun bike for commuting on, or weekend riding on forest trails, it does the job without fuss.
y can’t think of another bike at this price, that offers the same value. I know a couple of people who already own these bikes and they are very pleased with the ongoing reliability and performance.
If you’re after a cheap mid-drive electric mountain bike, the Ebco MH-5 is certainly worth a look.