This mirrors a lot of my experience. On a vacation to the UK a couple of years ago, we found ourselves in Rostrevor and for a paltry couple of pounds extra, I could rent an e-bike, which turned out to be a Vitus Sommet of some kind (new, but not latest generation). My son could only get a conventional bike, so the e-bike came in handy to help push him up some fire roads to access the trails.
- The walk mode was handy for hike a biking up a steep climb after the shuttle bus dropped us off.
- I found the motor wouldn't engage for about 1/2 a pedal stroke or so, and then it would pop in, so timing climbs or drops or other applications of power was really tricky. I hear the newer bikes are more responsive.
- I was able to put the bike in full boost mode, and push my son up a pretty decent grade at around 15mph. That was fun for both of us, and allowed us to access an upper loop of the trails there for a longer, more enjoyable ride.
- Definitely heavy and cumbersome.
- After an approximately 25km loop, I returned with almost a full battery. I kept it in the lowest level of power except for the fire road push. but there wasn't a lot of heavy vertical to do.
Overall, I get the appeal for a lot of riders. As I age, it's becoming a bit more of a consideration, but I feel I'm years away and probably multiple technical generations away in terms of form factor and efficiency before I'd be interested in spending real money on an e-bike.
On a related note, Europe is embracing e-mtbs hard. I went into a couple of bike shops in Ireland and the UK last year and, apart from a couple of budget hard-tails on the floor, they had NO regular bikes. The shop owners were talking about 90% e-bike sales.