Mountain biker riding a Trek Fuel eMTB on a rugged trail with a determined expression, showing both human effort and motor assistance, set against a scenic mountain landscape with rocky paths and lush greenery.

When you see a pedal-assist eMTB (electric mountain bike) in action, it’s easy to think that the bike is doing all the hard work. However, the reality is quite different. Let’s break down how the power metrics on a Trek Fuel eMTB work to understand this better.

Understanding Watts from the Rider vs. Watts from the Motor

A pedal-assist eMTB, like the Trek Fuel, shows two key power outputs on its display: watts from the rider and watts from the motor.

Watts from the Rider: This measures the power generated by your own pedaling effort. For instance, if you’re pushing down on the pedals with a force that translates to 200 watts, that’s all you. This output is a reflection of your physical effort, stamina, and strength.

Watts from the Motor: The eMTB’s motor provides additional power, shown as watts from the motor. For example, if the motor contributes 150 watts, it’s offering a boost to your pedaling effort. The amount of assistance the motor provides can be adjusted based on the selected assistance level and how hard you pedal.

The Combined Effort

The total power output of your ride is the sum of these two sources. If you’re putting in 200 watts and the motor adds 150 watts, your total output is 350 watts. However, this doesn’t mean the bike is doing everything for you. In fact, it often means you’re doing most of the work:

  • Your Power: Your legs are still working hard, pushing those pedals and contributing significantly to the overall power.
  • Motor Assistance: The motor is there to help, making the ride smoother and less strenuous, especially on tough terrains like steep climbs.

Why You’re Still Working

  • You Control the Effort: The motor only provides assistance proportional to your pedaling. If you stop pedaling, the motor stops assisting. Your input is crucial.
  • Fitness Benefits: You’re still burning calories, building muscle, and improving your cardiovascular fitness because you’re actively engaged in pedaling.
  • Customization: You can adjust the level of assistance. On lower settings, you’re doing more of the work; on higher settings, the motor helps more, but you’re never completely hands-off.

Enjoyable and Efficient Rides

The beauty of a pedal-assist eMTB is that it allows you to tackle challenging trails and longer rides without excessive fatigue. It enhances your riding experience, making it more enjoyable and efficient, but it doesn’t replace your effort. You’re still very much an active participant in the ride, leveraging the motor’s assistance to enhance your natural abilities.

In many cases, you’ll find that your watts (rider power) are higher than the watts from the motor, showcasing that you are indeed doing most of the work. The motor is simply there to provide a boost when needed, ensuring a balanced and rewarding ride.

So, the next time someone thinks your eMTB is doing all the work, you can confidently explain how you’re still putting in plenty of effort and enjoying the ride even more.

Picture of David


Born in Dallas and now calling Denton, TX home, David Riewe has a long history with cycling. He started his journey racing BMX and got his first mountain bike in 1988 while living in Duncanville. Though life took him away from riding for a while, David has recently recommitted to his passion for mountain biking. With a renewed dedication, he’s back on the trails, exploring and enjoying the sport he loves.

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