Due to an ongoing discussion in the rec.bikes.* chain somewhere last year(?), I took a Giant LaFree for a test ride a while ago. Short answer: It was “OK”. Personally…*I* wouldn’t splash out $1000 for one, but some people might. Like my 80 yr old dad. Built for smooth paved trails and the like. Good for rentals at the beach. Long answer: Its one heavy beast. 80lbs (incl battery)You HAVE to pedal it to make it go. The motor only assists you. VERY hard to get it over about 19 mph or so on the flat. The motor stop helping, and its too heavy to pedal yourself any faster.
It handles OK (for an 80 lb hybrid). Nothing too strenuous, tho. 20 mile(?) range. God help you if you run out of battery far from home. Bottom line: It’s NOT a MTB, but rather a beefed up hybrid with a motor on it. More or less a lite moped. Unless you have specific circumstances and distances that would preclude a regular bike, I wouldn’t buy one.
I don’t know of any power assisted mountain bikes, only road/hybrid things and they are mega expensive (and they look like girls bikes). There are a few products available that you can fit to an ordinary bike, an auxiliary motor to drive a wheel, if I can find any details I’ll post them for you. Many thanks for the assistance and advise offered. I have decided to leave mountain bikes alone, until I am fitter (No, I am not Fat, just bigger than I should be). I have obtained (as a present) one Powabyke Road Classic bike, which holds a better second hand value. Here’s looking forward to Mountain Biking in the future.