History and Deception - Opinion

Sep 30, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  
1920 Excelsior Board Track Racer
Paul Brodie photo archive


Excelsior's 1919 OHC board track racer was arguably the fastest motorcycle of its time - more than 120 miles an hour, and it had pedals. It was a limited-production racing machine that roared to life at the high-point of the sport, when every major city in the United States had a massive, high-banked oval raceway and motorcycle races packed grandstands to capacity. Board track racing began as an offshoot of bicycle racing, which at the turn of the century, was raging in the US. Motorcycles of the time were literally motorized bicycles that puttered along at 30 or 40 miles an hour at best. They were commonly used to "motor-pace" bicycle racers, who drafted behind them around wooden velodromes. The outright speed of motor-paced races captured the imaginations of fans, who quickly discovered that motorcycle racing was far more entertaining than bicycle racing.

As one may imagine, every major bicycle brand was soon making motorcycles. Massive wooden velodromes were erected, each larger than its predecessor, as racing-driven engine technology pushed speeds beyond the public's imaginations. By 1913, motorcycles still looked like pedal-bicycles with an engine, but had breached 100 miles an hour. By 1919, when Excelsior owner Ignaz Schwinn ordered the development of the OHC, he needed to top 120 miles an hour to win. To reach that goal, the new V-twin engine was designed with overhead camshafts, driven by bevel-gears which extended its RPM range, and some reports say the bike could reach 130. The OHC should have dominated the 1920 racing season, but that was not to be. Bob Perry, Excelsior's star racer, was killed competing on January 4, 1920. Ignaz Schwinn had the remaining OHC's destroyed, retired from racing, and a decade later he was out of the motorcycle business.
Excelsior OHC 1919
Paul Brodie photo archive
This Excelsior OHC is actually a faithful and fully operational reproduction, built in its entirety, including the engine, by a famous Canadian mountain bike maker named Paul Brodie. The reason it appears here, is that it marks a turning point in history. Bicycle makers may have been the pioneering force that forged the motorcycle into prominence, but by 1919, engine technology had visibly outpaced the cycling industry's collective ability to conceptualize and engineer a suitable chassis. By 1920, just one year later, dedicated motorcycle companies, like Harley Davidson and Indian, dominated racing and the bicycle brands faded into obscurity.


The History Lesson

The Excelsior's spindly, bicycle-inspired frame and fork are telling reminders that bicycle makers, however large or small, are merely frame-builders who's final product is pieced together from a shopping list of accessories produced outside their factories. The bicycle frame plays a crucial role when it is powered by a thinking, feeling human, crippled by self-doubt and barely able to muster a third of a horsepower on a good day. We feel, (or at least, believe we can feel) the slightest nuance of its power transfer and road-handling qualities. Every aspect of the rider's performance is translated through its chassis and, because human power is so limited, less bicycle equals more performance. Bike makers live and die by that simple formula. The addition of a motor, however, reversed that equation.

Engine builders could increase power as needed, so suddenly, more equaled more. Boosting power incrementally enabled motorcycle makers to add features like sturdier frames, fenders, better brakes, suspension, and wider wheels and tires - all without paying a performance penalty. It didn't take long for motorcycle makers to realize that they needed more engine designers, not frame builders. I imagine then as now, customers asked the same three questions: "How much power does it have? How fast will it go? And, how much does it cost?" Frame construction and geometry? Probably not.

The history lesson that the Excelsior OHC teaches is that the power source is the most important aspect of the bike, and if you add a motor to a bicycle, the motor becomes the star of the show. The deception
Levo e-bike
Specialized's top-drawer S-Works Turbo Levo debuted with a 530-watt motor - double the power of its competitors. It's doubtful, though, that the $9500 superbike could compete with one of the latest 750-watt motors bolted into a slightly heavier and less-expensive chassis. Specialized photo
is that bicycle makers who aren't making motors are in the motorbike business. History suggests otherwise - that bicycle makers, most of which are staffed by ex competitors, will wage a technology war against each other, both on the racetracks and in their boardrooms, and in doing so, will win the battle for the motor makers. It won't take long for customers to figure out that they are not paying to pedal - and that spending money on speed, power, and battery duration is far more beneficial than ponying up for a carbon frame and a fancy cockpit. When that happens, bike makers will have nothing valuable to sell them that couldn't be produced elsewhere for less.


The Deception

The history of the electric powered bicycle will teach us a much different lesson - that self-deception may be excusable, but purposely deceiving others is not. Like the 1919 Excelsior, today's electric bicycles also have pedals, and neither were intended to be pedal-powered. The Excelsior had no electrical system, so its rider could use the pedals as an emergency starter to re-fire the engine if it quit during a race. Today's electric powered bike has pedals because they created a legal loophole that allowed manufacturers to successfully lobby that they were power-assisted bicycles, not motorbikes, and thus dodge complicated and expensive safety regulations, as well as licensing and insurance requirements that motorcycles and motor scooters must comply with for highway use.

"Highway use" is the key phrase, because with few exceptions, none of the legal restrictions to electric powered bicycles, like maximum speeds and pedal-assisted power transmission were intended to apply to off-highway use. An electric powered off-road bicycle is essentially unrestricted - except for the fact that it has a motor. While there are many places in the world where motorized off-road vehicles are legally welcome, most of the world's choice mountain bike destinations are not among them.

To understand why this is important, consider that the solitary reason that mountain bikes gained access to trails where motorized vehicles of any sort were banned was because they are human powered - and it was a tenuous handshake - we were not welcomed by traditional users with open arms. If we had told them up front, that pedaling uphill was too difficult, so we were going to use motors, mountain bikes would have been permanently banned - end of story.

Arguably, the same would be true today, and motorized bicycle makers are well aware of that dilemma. So, rather than negotiating their case for motorized access to non-motorized riding areas, they devised an end-game.

The deception was simple: Bicycle industry and pedal-assist motor makers would first lobby government and transportation officials to give
PB E-bike magazine first issue
power-assisted electric bicycles legal access to streets and bike-ways that pedal-powered bicycles enjoy. Once they achieved that goal, then they could make two key arguments: the first is that because power-assisted bicycles shared the same privileges, then legally they were are no different than any other bicycle; and the second argument was that a mountain bike is also a bicycle, and because an e-mountain bike is legally the same as a pedal-powered bicycle on the highway, then it should also be legal to ride everywhere a bicycle is allowed off-road. It's a compelling story, but it's a fabrication. The off-road segment of the E-bike market is on fire, and the industry knows that the boom can't be sustained without trail access. If they laid low for a little while, and maintained their mountain bike disguise well enough to convince the right people, they could sneak in the back door.

If and when e-bikes become an established off-road user group, they won't have to pretend any longer. Unlike their counterparts on the highway, riders of so-called e-mountain bikes will not be regulated by lane separation, established traffic controls, and ample law enforcement. And, they won't be travelling at comparable speeds with other users. Once their wheels leave the highway and cross onto dirt, they will be free to set their own limits - and they won't be slow. If history and human nature are not enough to convince you, imagine the boys at Specialized not responding with a significant increase in speed and power after choking down a review from a German publication that stated Trek was 12-percent faster on the climbs and six-percent quicker to 45 KPH. Professional off-road e-bike competition is already established and all the key players are in. History, it seems, is poised to repeat itself.


So, What Happens to Mountain Bikes?

The truth is: e-bikes never were mountain bikes. They were never designed to be human powered. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to pedal one with a dead battery can attest to that. E-bike makers, however, convinced a lot of people that they actually were mountain bikes and explaining that lie, unfortunately, will fall upon mountain bikers, who will also bear the brunt of the inevitable user-conflicts and burnt bridges that will be left in the wake of electric-powered off-road cyclists.

The fact that so many of the sport's major brands betrayed our assurance that mountain bikers would be human powered partners of like-minded back-country users, is not going to be easy to explain away when we return to the negotiating table asking for trail access. We will suffer losses, but I am certain that mountain bike riders and mountain bike makers who stayed true to the sport will continue to flourish, and some brands that jumped on e-bike bus will find their way back home. The mighty Excelsior OHC also tells that story.

After Ignaz Schwinn abandoned motorcycles,
Schwinn Excelsior mountain bike
Pioneer Schwinn Excelsior mountain bike. MOMBAT photo archive
he returned to what he knew best - manufacturing bicycles. Schwinn survived the great depression, two world wars and the atomic age, and along the way, his namesake brand produced a hand-brazed, steel-framed, balloon tire bicycle with beautiful lines that emulated his crowning achievement of 1919, also named "Excelsior." Four decades later, it would become the seminal mountain bike. Then, like now, its riders spent over eighty percent of their time pushing and pedaling uphill in order to enjoy the short and wonderful trip back down the trail. Sure, it's hard, but the slow going is when mountain bikers talk to themselves, to each other, and look into the faces of other users. It's the part of mountain biking that makes us honest. We all could use a little more of that.





Must Read This Week

319 Comments

  • + 329
 This is by far the best argument I have read about e-bikes from either side of the table. It is unbiased, concise, purposeful, sobering, and above all, powerful - a superb piece of journalism by any standard. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Until now I have tried to remain neutral, but I now understand that neutrality is a philosophical luxury we can no longer afford: we approach a point of unrecognized crisis. Here, e-bikes have been correctly identified as THE defining issue of this era of mountain biking, and if the sport as we know it is to survive, we must resolve this issue decisively and without delay.

Thank you once again for your articulate, clear perspective, Mr. Cunningham; you are a true grandmaster of the mountain biking media. I hope that we can someday look back on your words as marking a turning point for our sport... time may well prove this article the most important Pinkbike ever publishes. Until then, it is undoubtedly among the finest.



"[...] Consider that the solitary reason that mountain bikes gained access to trails where motorized vehicles of any sort were banned was because they are human powered - and it was a tenuous handshake - we were not welcomed by traditional users with open arms. If we had told them up front, that pedaling uphill was too difficult, so we were going to use motors, mountain bikes would have been permanently banned - end of story."

"[...] Explaining [the] lie, unfortunately, will fall upon mountain bikers, who will also bear the brunt of the inevitable user-conflicts and burnt bridges that will be left in the wake of electric-powered off-road cyclists."



I notice that your article is labeled, "Opinion". It should instead be labeled, "Truth".
  • + 32
 AAAMMMEEEEEEEENNN
  • + 29
 Absolutely agree - best argument on the topic I've read so far. I can't profess to being neutral, I've had nagging doubts and feelings of disquiet about the whole e-mountain bike thing. But I'd never be able to articulate these doubts and concerns they way this article has.
  • + 34
 Unbiased? Everyone is biased, including Mr. Cunningham. Nothing wrong with bias (can be towards a good or bad thing), but don't pretend its not there.
  • + 16
 @adpeters82: It's true; my mistake. "Unbiased" was both incorrect and superfluous.
  • - 28
flag gastonbx (Sep 30, 2016 at 5:43) (Below Threshold)
 I have a born, physical condition that any time will get me and will not let me do "normal mountain biking" in the future.
My doctors kept telling me to not ride bikes, even worst if it was in the mountain. Avoid it -was the speech.

I am afraid it will catch me sometime, somehow. When that time arrives, in where I cannot use my Giant Reign or my 2011 Enduro, I will for sure, go for an E-Bike.

And there is a lot of people that would die to get into a bike and do whatever we do on the mountains, but they may not have the knowledge, access or the money for an E-bike.

Open your eyes guys.
  • + 52
 @gastonbx: I dont think anybody is attempting to attack those that use E-bikes to overcome physical issues preventing them from using a 'normal' mountain bike but an opinion and bias does need to be formed now by the industry and the consumer with regard to the whole subject and where we are heading.

We cannot expect those not involved in the cycling world to educate themselves on the subject and understand how the E-bike works, that it is assisted and not an electric motorbike, we cant expect them to understand why a bicycle is capable of climbing that hill they are struggling to walk up at 15mph startling them and their dog as they were only used to looking out for cyclists on the way down / flat.

We can expect the public to think of increased trail damage, increased risk of collision with other users and increases in speed and potential for insurance to be void all of which will upset a fragile balance in some communities and lead to the minority losing, and remember we are the minority.

The E-bike being used by those phyiscally less able is a noble cause but not enough to risk blowing it for everybody.

Fact is Fact, an E-bike is a bicycle in form but it is not propelled entirely by a human being so to many it will always be a motorcycle, to me it is the most un-welcome development in off-road cycling (love the idea for commuting though!) to date, its a money maker for brands and from what I have seen on my local trails mainly a tool for the lazy.
  • + 14
 @gastonbx: missed point of article completely
  • - 36
flag gastonbx (Sep 30, 2016 at 7:44) (Below Threshold)
 @Racer951: the main resistance I see is from the complaining mountain bikers. I don't see any other people complaining about the electric mountain bikes. If we as mountain bikers do not accept the new standards (it doesn't mean you have to buy en ebike now), what will you expect from others?
  • + 25
 @Racer951:

"The E-bike being used by those phyiscally less able is a noble cause but not enough to risk blowing it for everybody."

thank you for sayin what i have been sayin all along.
  • + 19
 @gastonbx: So the "new standard" for mountain bikes is electric power? Dont think so.
  • + 5
 @gastonbx: Incorrect, as demonstrated by government agencies which have no specific interest in mountain biking which have already prevented e-bike use on non-motorized trails.
  • + 7
 @gastonbx: You are confusing online 'resistance' as you put it from mountain bikers (which was present at the introduction of 29ers and 27.5 wheels etc) to the opinion of those outside of the mtb community. Many trails already exist on a fragile agreement between land users e.g. - In the UK an ex member of parliment was caught on video vandalising and sabotaging a trail, how do you think he feels about e-bikes if he has this much hate for normal mtb access?

I am afraid we may have to do the opposite as a community and distance ourselves from Ebikes if we want to keep our right to use certain trails.

The E-bike is not a new mtb standard, it is the motorisation of a push bicycle, the alteration of its founding principle of being powered by the person riding it alone and not by any kind of assistance be that a motor or engine.
  • + 9
 @gastonbx: you have valid reason to have an assist bike. But we see folks in motorized scooters and wheelchairs on sidewalks that have disabilities. That does not mean able bodied people should have them too because they want to get their shopping done quicker.
  • + 7
 Great argument for ebikes. I have to pedal to burn off all the beer I drink post ride.
  • - 30
flag davemud (Sep 30, 2016 at 13:34) (Below Threshold)
 @gdnorm:This article is fear mongering based on speculation, dis-information and mis-information not unlike the rhetoric of a Trump rally.
  • + 7
 @davemud: What a simpleton comment. Using an unpopular political figure to somehow legitimize your disagreement? Are you hoping that hate for Trump among the masses (or whomever you insert) will some somehow garner opinion in your favor. Commical. Link some proof that this article is full of historic inaccuracies, or your comment is exactly the same as a trump rally. BLM and NFS already ruled on this for good reason.
  • + 1
 not sure it is unbiased.... "Today's electric powered bike has pedals because they created a legal loophole that allowed manufacturers to successfully lobby that they were power-assisted bicycles, not motorbikes..." Are you sure they don't still have pedals so you are still exercising?!? have you seriously even ridden one RC?!? It couldn't be more different to a motorbike
  • + 5
 Definitely a sweet write up. Richard Cunningham is a true cunning linguist.
  • + 0
 @gdnorm:

"Like the 1919 Excelsior, today's electric bicycles also have pedals, and neither were intended to be pedal-powered."

E bikes with Shimano Steps, Bosch and Yamaha e drives MUST be pedaled to deliver their assist so that statement is at best false and given RC's knowledge deceptive. When I took the Lapierre Overvolt on my first over night demo I didn't take the charger.

I rode it 20km on a rolling 4 lane highway at the same average speed as my Felt Virtue 920 with no assist no problem. Like a DH bike once you get a mid drive e bike rolling they carry their speed very well. I rode that bike many times and to use the assist on the highway I'd have to concentrate AND pedal slow enough to keep the speed under 30 KMH to use the assist. It was much easier to average between 35 and 38 KMH without the assist so RC is misinforming readers when he says e bikes can't be pedaled without the assist.

If you ever rode one of these bikes and a motocross bike with 25 to 30 HP you would understand why I'm calling bullshit on RC. He compares e bikes to the Excelsior that was built to exceed 100 miles per hour. The only way any e assist bike will reach 100 MPH if its attached to a car driving on a highway at that speed. RC is too knowledgeable to make such a stupid comparison acceptable.

e bike critics like you and apparently RC equate pedal assist with effortless riding. Anyone who thinks you just sit on your ass on an e bike or a motorcycle when riding off road has obviously never tried it but RC has.

You need to do some research. Go watch some motocross and off-road enduro racing. A motor doesn't make either of those sports effortless or easy. Gravity makes pedaling a lot easier but it doesn't make bike riding effortless.

When was the last time you weren't tired from coasting your DH bike down the mountain all day at gravity bike park? Yeah, gravity is a pedal assist too but it doesn't make riding a DH bike effortless does it? The blown out trails at the bike parks also are an excellent indication of how regular bikes without motors destroy trails in short order too.

While you could plop your ass on on an e bike and meander your way down your local trails with little pedaling effort you won't be going as fast as you do on your regular bike. To do that you have to work at it and if you put in the same effort you do on your regular bike you'll be riding about the same speed as an elite XC racer. BUT you'll have to be able to handle that 50+ pound bike at that speed and it will be hard to do.

RC hit the other popular panic button with the land access issue and in doing so insults every land manager out there. They already already know the concern is social not environmental and being informed about all things bike so does RC. Its unfortunate RC is using his industry icon status to rally the anti e bike movement, a movement that is based mostly on ignorance and bias.RC knows that too. Sounds pretty familiar to me.
  • + 6
 @davemud: "RC hit the other popular panic button with the land access issue and in doing so insults every land manager out there. They already already know the concern is social not environmental and being informed about all things bike so does RC. Its unfortunate RC is using his industry icon status to rally the anti e bike movement, a movement that is based mostly on ignorance and bias.RC knows that too. Sounds pretty familiar to me."

My two decades of experience in trail advocacy of BC says that you are wrong at least in the BC context. I am curious as to how you could reach such a different conclusion. Speak to the TORCA and BC Parks context if you wish. I am trying to keep an open mind here
  • + 0
 @leelau: I have plenty of advocacy experience myself leelau. My friends and I paved the way for groups like TORCA since we, the Burnaby Mountain Bike Club were out there before TORCC existed.

Only the biased, uninformed and the misinformed draw a direct comparison between motorcycles and e bikes. The power output and experience have only two wheels in common. Even the cultures are very different.

I worked closely with the BC Parks District Manager and BMBC members worked closely with SFU, BC Forests and BC Hydro when we were active. At the time the decision makers worked with all stake holders to separate MTB fact from fiction and make good decisions. MTBs gained access as a result.

The current decision makers will do the same thing with e bikes. TORCA and I have never had a good working relationship so its no surprise we would disagree on this too.
  • + 13
 @davemud: There are a number of ebike shops here where I've spun them around, and I ride a wr450f regularly. The "pedaling" required is cursory and that is his point. There is obviously a spectrum of outputs, but it's easy to find on the market mountain ebikes that will do 50mph. Road 100mph claims for "pedal assist" already show up online. It is, from a miles covered per hour perspective, relatively effortless when compared to pedaling a bike up and then back down. Riding a lift is obviously similar. So is riding my wr450. Those things are all easy relatively. And that's why they are very, very popular. That is the take home point in my mind. Lift riding is limited to certain areas. Moto bikes are limited to certain areas. And ebikes are too now limited to certain areas. The commonality is clear. A lack of required energy expendature equates to increased trail traffic. Of course the concern is social. Popular social concern is what drives policy. And the population at large does not ride mountain bikes. They hike. The access issue already exists, whether it's founded in informed environmental policy or not.
  • + 13
 @davemud: Only today somebody is discussing their ebike on my local trails forum with lots of people saying he should chip it to derestrict the bike to 30mph, some saying they have already done so on their own bike.

Time to stop mucking about and ban these things from normal trail centres before the problems begin. Of course it is not an mx bike as you still have to pedal but allowing the unfit and possibly low skill set to do stupid speeds in areas of the trail where it would be usually impossible is wrong, its just not mountain biking anymore.
  • + 2
 @Racer951: well said
  • + 5
 Definitions (disclaimer; these are not real definitions. just my version of what i think is a common sense definition):
Bike (bicycle); something with two to four wheels and handlebars that is powered by a person's physical activity and of course gravity (yeoo).
Motorbike (motorcycle); Something with two to four wheels and handlebars that has a motor which is used to move it.
Hmm... Which of these categories would an E-bike fit in...
How can an E-bike be a mountain bike?
I think the companies have been very clever to label these new styled E-bikes as mountain bikes. It is something that makes sense (in a way) and has because of this made people confused. They look exactly like mountain bikes and they made for riding on mountains. However, they have motors.
There are different categories for both bikes and motorbikes.
There are road motorbikes, road-bikes, trials motorbikes, trials bikes, off road motorbikes and mountain bikes. There are others too of course. The point being this is a mountain motorbike.
I would love to ride an E-bike. They look like a lot of fun, but they shouldn't be classified together with bikes. This is important because when in the E-Future(the future if E-bikes are lumped together with bikes/Evil future.) I’m flying uphill under my own power, showing how awesome I am, I will be heartbroken if I hear "It's probably one of those E-bikes" said by a walker on a multi-user track. I joke (a little (everyone is allowed to believe they are awesome)), but the point is if they are allowed on all the multi-user tracks many people will not see the difference. "So what" I hear you say. "E-bikes aren't any worse than bikes. It's the users that make the problems." Yes. This is true anyone can be an idiot riding downhill too fast. However, I think that it comes from judgement. When I was younger, I didn't have the experience to know what was too fast and i crashed. And this means that i could have potentially crashed into other users or scared them. When you crash from going too fast, when you are getting into biking, though, you'll probably find that actually you weren't going that fast and that it was just a speed you couldn't handle. I think it happens to everyone. I believe that given how easy it is to go fast on E-bikes without needing any riding experience the crashes will be more serious, and a lot of other track users will be more scared from in experienced riders going too fast.
I would love to ride an E-bike. They look like a lot of fun, but they shouldn't be classified together with bikes.
As well, they make more damage. Just check out the responsible Pinkbike cameramen doing donuts in the Cube’s E-bike advertisement here on Pinkbike labelled “EWS Finale Ligure Preview: The Finale Countdown.” People say that the back wheel does not spin from a stationary start. Maybe yes or maybe no, but once you are riding around im sure it is easy enough to find ways to get that backwheel spinning. Again i reference the cameramen doing donuts. Who have you ever seen who can do donuts ona non- motorised bike? Or do burn outs? Yes, some mountain bikers can do trail damage but they usually very experienced riders who have sense about where and when it is appropriate to unleash these beastly skills. Yes, some people abuse these skills but most don't. Handing any Tom, Dick or Harry the almost inhuman ability to drift a bike like Chris Kovarik is just wrong and very very likely to cause a lot more trail damage.
I do feel sorry for anyone who has been affected by a serious accident or afflicted with a serious illness which affects their ability to ride on many mtb trails, but I think these people should accept their limitatiins and consider that making special rules for them may have larger consequences than just their sadness from not being able to ride their favorite trail again. It could potentially lead to many other mountain bikers losing their ability or rights to ride on their favorite trails. If for example E-bikes were to become a problem in the future as some people believe. If i were to lose my legs tragically(touch wood) i would be happy to ride along anything i was allowed and not expect to ride all the previou amazing trails i used to ride.
And i definitely dont think the poor cameramen need to use them. They got on fine when E-bikes didn't exist.There were still epic mountain biking photos in existence a few years back, i'm sure with a litlle creative thinking like..i don't know..taking less camera equipment when you want to go to more difficult to get to places or possibly just accepting that carrying equipment up mountains is part of being a mountain bike photographer, may solve their problems Ps. I do enjoy and appreciate all the great photos i get to see on this site..
I could go on, but it is likely that most people have already stopped reading and i would be talking to myself. Again.
  • + 9
 @mackienz:
"I do feel sorry for anyone who has been affected by a serious accident or afflicted with a serious illness which affects their ability to ride on many mtb trails, but I think these people should accept their limitatiins and consider that making special rules for them may have larger consequences than just their sadness from not being able to ride their favorite trail again. It could potentially lead to many other mountain bikers losing their ability or rights to ride on their favorite trails."


again, thank you for also expressing what i have been talking about all along.
  • + 3
 After all, riding a bike quickly on a trail is exhausting, even if you're fit, even downhill (so pedaling is out of the equation). I don't think it is a very good past time for anybody with a performance limiting disability to go trail riding - EBikes are a tool that allows them to reach remote locations and riding areas well above their abilities.

And if someone seriously wants to just ride some regular, double track trails with a mountainbike... Does it really need to be a 30mph, 500+ W Machine? Can we still consider something like this a "mobility aid"? From my point of view, limit EMTBs to 10 mph, then they will be great tools for climbing mountains, but no "fun motorcycles".

@Racer951: "Only today somebody is discussing their ebike on my local trails forum with lots of people saying he should chip it to derestrict the bike to 30mph, some saying they have already done so on their own bike."

Nothing easier than that. Enter a small wheel diameter in the control unit and these things go like stink... Common practice amongst E-Bikers.
  • + 5
 @supermike306: "It couldn't be more different to a motorbike" What part of electric MOTOR couldn't be more different to a MOTORbike??? Do you not realize that within a few short years, these things will morph into "lightweight electric motorcycles" (whether they retain pedals or not) that will have more power and range than currently available 250 cc motocross machines, and likely even at a significantly lower weight. Connect the dots, and realize that technology will continue to march forward toward its logical (or illigical) conclusion...
  • + 4
 @davemud: "The only way any e assist bike will reach 100 MPH if its attached to a car driving on a highway at that speed. RC is too knowledgeable to make such a stupid comparison acceptable." I have a friend, whose home made e-bkie already does 85 MPH, (as of a year and a half ago), and can cruise at highway speeds for over an hour on a single charge. He could easily make one that exceeds 100 MPH, but after a few high speed crashes, has self limited his machines for the purpose of self preservation.
  • - 3
 @UncleWheelie: They couldn't be more different because the ebike is assisting you. That is the key word. They sense how much effort YOU put in and add to it. You can't just twist a throttle and go. The electric bikes which may exist now and in the future where you twist the throttle and go are then simply electric motor bikes and there should be clear power and speed limits which define this. I completely agree on limiting the use of these. My levo is not powerful enough to spin the wheel and i limited to around 16mph. It relies on me pedalling. It is definately not a motorbike, it's a great way of adding to a fantastic way of enjoying the outdoors and speeding up the tedious bits! I won't be getting rid of my hardtail or my cx bike but these are a fantastic IMO for long rides in really hilly locations.
  • + 5
 @supermike306: Yes, I have ridden e-bikes extensively... and I'm pretty good at it.
  • + 0
 @supermike306: this is where i lost any respect i had for rc. To suggest the industry had an "end game " is pure speculation. Did the ceo of specialized tell him this???
I would argue the engineers at spec thought "hey wouldn't it be cool if we could put and electric motor on this stumpy and ride for twice as long?"
  • + 1
 @Racer951: ao anyone who ride an ebike has no skills? I think Nico would think otherwise..... more state intervention is exactly what we need these days. More warnings that knives are sharp to save the human race.
  • + 119
 I have no fundamental aversion to e-bikes. In fact, I am very keen to see a surge in electric off road bikes. However I agree with this author in that I feel like they are not, nor should be, considered bicycles in any sense of the term. When I was young, mountain bikes were my jam. When I got older I decided that they weren't cool enough and moved to motorcycles, both dirt and street. After messing about with dirt bikes and sport bikes and all the other motor-powered machines I could get my grubby hands on I decided to go out for a mountain bike ride again. It was bliss. The trails weren't shredded by high horsepower machines with spiked tires. I could talk with my riding buddies without having to shut off my bike and I felt a sense of accomplishment after every climb. I can't begin to imagine how many magical moments in the woods I missed out on when I was riding a loud, smelly machine. On my trail bike I've had a fox float across the trail ahead of me on a long slow climb, I've ridden past deer that calmly watched me as I pedaled on by and I come home smelling like sweat and dirt, not gas fumes. If E-bikes are allowed on mountain bike trails, or multi-use trails, you can bet those trails will be shut down in no time. While we can already reach high speeds on descents, it is the uphill damage that I can see ruining it for everyone. Motors get stronger and ruts get deeper. These machines have their place, I think they are a great alternative to small commuter scooters and would be awesome to use in areas where ATVs and Dirt Bikes are already allowed. But do not ever ride them on my pristine, quiet, singletrack.
  • + 73
 In its own way, that was as cogent and beautiful as the article itself... I've gotta say, though; "fox float" threw me off.
  • + 12
 "it is the uphill damage that I can see ruining it for everyone. "..............

i know you were talking about trail conditions, but my biggest fear is uphill ebikes/downhill pedal bike collisions.

its gonna happen and it is gonna be sad, brutal, painful.

imagine its your 3rd run of the day at your fave truck shuttle trails...you've done your pre ride, you've done your 75 percent warm up, and now you are gonna open it up on your third run................except 'e bike new guy' is riding up the trail/track at a fair speed, and you meet, just after a blind corner...............

makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
  • + 19
 @stacykohut: Personally, I'd never 'open it up' on any trail where someone even has the slim chance of coming the other way - if it is another MTB, a hiker, dog walker, the outcome is the same. Surely this is just common sense?

Go full gas only on dedicated DH trails, without the risk of collision - for me, your argument seems unrelated to eBikes.
  • + 11
 First and foremost, I want to say that I am a cycling advocate (road, mountain, BMX, etc.), serving on several boards volunteering my time to maintain the privilege that we have to ride a bicycle wherever we want whether it's on the streets or in the mountains. Now with that said, I am also an Electric Bike advocate. The biggest argument that I continually hear is that we will lose trail access because of Ebikes, but the actual truth is that we are LOSING trail access in general because of lands being sold, being privatised, and/or being protected from humans and development, more and more every day.

It's not the bike or vehicle that is the problem, it is the PERSON operating them that creates the problem. For example, a pedal assist E-Bike is nothing like a motor/dirt bike and I'm speaking from a long history (20+ yrs) of riding mountain bikes, dirt bikes, and now E-bikes. They don't pollute or disrupt the environment any different from a mountain bike. In fact, the tires are the exact same tires on my mountain bikes and the weight is the same as my older 90's downhill bikes. Also, a pedal assist E-bike is not able burn rubber or spin tires like a motorcycle can, so, how could they damage the trails anymore? It's disrespectful individuals that are damaging trails. Variables like building trails wrong, riding when wet, and dragging your brakes when downhilling all cause erosion, ultimately damaging trails. It is sad to hear all the hardcore mountain bikers responding and talking about riding by good old pedal power, but yet, I see a lot of you doing shuttle runs or catching chair lifts to get some downhill runs in. We as a community should be supporting all things cycling (road, dirt, commute, electric, etc...) and it all comes down to AWARENESS & RESPECT.

From the beginning of time, we have had to battle this issue with automobiles on the streets and horse riders/hikers in the mountains. The only way we were able to utilize the roads or trails is to respect one another and all user groups. If you are riding a pedal assist Ebike out on the trails be respectful of the environment and other fellow trail users, as you should regardless of your bike choice. Now, here is where the line becomes blurred, if you are riding a HIGH powered THROTTLE based Ebike, then go to your local motocross facilities and enjoy. The petro/gas powered gear-heads will give you shit out there but get over it and ride whatever gets you out to ride. Just respect the trails and those using it...
  • + 13
 @Marc2211: have at er man.

if people will walk up bike park dh trails, they will ride ebikes up dh dedicated shuttle trails.
  • - 4
flag dbodoggle (Sep 29, 2016 at 23:22) (Below Threshold)
 I have a solution to prevent ebike / dh collisions. Upgrade your hub to a Chris King so there is so much noise, Ebikes from hundreds of meters away can hear you coming.
  • - 2
 @chillaxin: Well said.
  • - 5
flag atrokz (Sep 30, 2016 at 6:48) (Below Threshold)
 @Marc2211: full gas or go home. This ain't knitting, boy! The most fun comes when you're flying, not putting around, as is evident by everything about this scene, from the bikes to the edits, we're here to go fast and have fun. If we need to go slow to be 'safe' I'll take up golfing. Just be careful and respectful to others, call out blind corners and have fun. Why else are we here? It's a dangerous sport, not a nimby one.
  • + 5
 @atrokz: wow, missed the point entirely.

yeah, it's a dangerous sport. i'm fine with the chance that I may hurt myself in a crash. i'm not fine with hurting some poor hiker or running over someone's dog because I think my fun is more important than their safety. stop being so selfish.
  • - 2
 @xeren: Yea you missed the point entirely as well, apparently. Nobody is saying run over dogs you bozo. Dude said "I'd never 'open it up' on any trail where someone even has the slim chance of coming the other way" which means literally every trail in existence, since you can't determine as an absolute that someone isn't coming the other way on any trail, or a rider is down on a DH dedicated trail. The point is lost on you, and him, that you can 'open it up' and have fun while still being cautious and observant on the trail, without being a Nimby or telling others how to ride their bikes, which is what your sanctimonious posts elude to.
  • + 1
 And the Irony is telling a guy in a wheelchair how to ride his bike. Man, talk about being lost, you two. Cue more sanctimonious BS.
  • + 2
 @atrokz: you obviously have a different definition of "open it up" compared to everyone else, one that conveniently saves face after your ridiculous argument above
  • + 1
 @xeren: We all have the same definition, it's called letting it go and riding your bike a a pace that you're comfortable at that still warrants all these new improvements we spend thousands on. It's not defined as running over dogs or hikers as your asinine argument above entails: a fabricated narrative to suit your ridiculous argument. telling others to ride slow on all trails is the dumbest comment Ive read on here yet, and I've been here 16 years.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: right, we all have the same definition, that's why your post was downvoted to be hidden status...
  • - 1
 @xeren: If that's the litmus test, you're so lost it's funny. Welcome to pinkbike kiddo...... the place where plenty of uncomfortable truth gets hidden by clueless kids like yourself because you're offended. telling others to ride slow is the epitome of sanctimonious bull. Instead, one could just say ride with awareness and not come across like a total nimby.
  • + 0
 @atrokz: haha
  • + 2
 Thank goodness for saint brakes that can stop us in mere feet, eh? Sure makes for a safe fun ride at mach chicken. Maybe this improvement alone will allow us to be on the same page! Get rid of those canti brakes bro!!

- Guy who hikes, rides with my dog, and hasn't run over a person or dog yet.
  • + 1
 @chillaxin: spot on mate. Just bought a turbo levo and I is neither noisy or hight powered. it's silent and great fun
  • + 2
 @supermike306: Awesome mate, just be aware and respectful and you should be golden... Keep riding and have fun
  • + 0
 @DJ-24: Thanks mate, keep the rubber side down and have fun...
  • + 0
 @stacykohut: Downhill pedal/uphill ebike crash just happened to me...on a trail which, for years, has been used purely downhill...

"Pedal-assistance bikes" are becoming a threat on trails around here...they even destroyed our jumps to make the trails "pedallable"...
  • + 1
 @elchomator: where do live?
  • + 0
 @stacykohut: Germany, near Munich
  • + 2
 @elchomator: thats brutal it happened to you.

glad no one was hurt and or ruined expensive gear.
  • + 52
 Pinkebike
  • + 9
 That right there deserves a 1st place in Wordplay.
  • + 39
 Notice how proponents are calling them e-bikes and pedal assisted bikes. They are trying to pull the wool over the community's eyes buy softening the language. These are motorised bikes or motor bikes. Unless you have a physical disability you shouldn't use one, and being unfit and overweight is not an excuse - do what the rest of us have been doing for decades - train harder and earn your turns!
  • - 30
flag Marcencinitas (Sep 29, 2016 at 22:01) (Below Threshold)
 What about shuttling? Should it be banned as well? Shuttlers can be far more menacing to hikers and other cyclists on downhills than geriatric e-Bike riders. Nothing quite like riding up singletrack with no protection but flat pedals and a helmet and having a guy in body armor and a full face helmet skid to avoid me on his way down.
  • + 11
 @Marcencinitas: This is a different argument for me. Common sense dictates that the DH guy should not be going full gas on any trail with the chance of someone coming the other way. You can't account for idiots.

The eBike debate is different for me, due to the inherent speed differential regardless of the idiot fringe.
  • + 10
 @Marcencinitas: even though I despise shuttlers, I have to say that guys on a DH bike generally have a good control of their bike; "geriatric e bike users" (nice expression) tend ( at least in Austria and France) to have a very poor control of their bike and lower skills than the average mountain biker.
  • - 12
flag sewer-rat (Sep 29, 2016 at 23:45) (Below Threshold)
 @Marcencinitas: I get what you are saying here, what about the dh guys shuttling pushing up trails - wouldn't an ebike be perfect for them to train on etc. As for the "earn your turns", pretty sure people buying them have "earned" their money through hard work and will take their "turn" in doing what they want with it. That's coming from someone who's wife rides one while he rides either a fully rigid bike or single pivot
  • + 34
 Interesting point, at the moment e-bikes are pretending to be mountain bikes, but once they gain acceptance, more purpose built parts like the magura Bolton fork and more powerful motors will be fitted and they will essentially amalgamate and be like the ktm electric mx bikes, eventually the spinning cranks will be abandoned all together. E-bikes originated as the diet-coke of the push bike world, an oxymoron at best, grossly overweight and unfit people, who "wanted to lose weight and get fit by cycling", bought them for commuting etc, like having 'diet' coke because you're on a diet... Scrap coke all together and drink water/get a normal bicycle.

They have no place in the forests or bike parks for bicycles and I will throw stones at anyone who overtakes me uphill on one in the future! Or start investing in EMP weaponry if it exists.
  • - 3
 well that just shows the type of rider you are, what happens if that rider actually NEEDS it - my wife rides one as she had part of her lung removed and its the only way we can ride together and be at a steady pace! I don't get the hate in all honesty, here in the UK trail centers actually rent them out to people and we don't have an issue.
  • + 6
 @sewer-rat: I don't think your particular circumstance is a good argument for e-bikes unfortunately, I wish it was, I wish that when you saw an e-bike, you knew that the rider 'HAD' to have one due to some infirmity, I and anyone else would be fine with that. The major concern here is that 99/100 e-bike users before long, will be people who are just plain lazy or obsessed with setting strava records. I do recognise the conundrum whereby decent off road e-bikes for the infirm might not exist without the demand being created by lazy people, as if they were too niche, the r&d simply wouldn't exist. There is however mx-bikes, which would be perfect for someone who struggles with high intensity cardio, I always believed up until the advent of e-bikes, this was what people just did, they switched to trail riding on dirt bikes if they had an impediment stopping them from pedalling... Equally as fun, probably cheaper, and not so physically demanding.
  • - 5
flag sewer-rat (Sep 30, 2016 at 2:32) (Below Threshold)
 @ctd07: have you actually properly ridden a mx bike?? they beat the living crap out of you after a few laps. Ultimately they are here and they do divide opinion, there are for and against with both sides of it. Plus i think the fact that they CAN be easier on people actually gets more people off the couch and into the sport, here in the UK I think that matters as it gives more jobs to the leisure industry. As for the stating the infirmity argument, I wont show you my wifes scars and don't see why she has to justify herself. She has just as much right and looking at her she is overweight and you wouldn't see her needs externally. Maybe chattig to people is the first port of call before judging people by first impressions
  • + 4
 @sewer-rat: I my opnion E-MBT and E-bikes i general should be labled as medical equipment and be regulated as such. That way it would serve a much more noble purpose, and not as a way of beating Strava times by not training.
  • - 2
 @LegendMKI: and how would you regulate it?? What would determine the need for one?? Weight , loss of limbs? Do you know that Haibikes team riders actually train on Ebikes? By doing so they actually upped their results on a normal MTB in races
  • + 0
 @sewer-rat: How do you regulate driving, aclhol ect. The need for an E-bike could be determined by lets say a doctor, fysio and other medicaly educated staff. The determinating factor could be health impairments of any sorts.
I didnt know that Haibikes team riders trained on E-bikes and i dont realy care. I am willing to bet that they would be able to replicate same results traning on most any other bike! But what do i know from working whit athleets ewery day!
  • + 2
 @LegendMKI: unsure what you know to be honest fella, their results improved going from training on a conventional bike to a Ebike so saying they could replicate it on another bike is simply not true
  • + 34
 "The truth is: e-bikes never were mountain bikes. They were never designed to be human powered."

Ayup. I rode one up a tough granny-gear climb with no effort whatsoever. On the real bike, it was a gut buster.
  • + 19
 We have a selection of eBike to use at my workplace. These are not the top power models that require a numberplate and insurance here, but ones you can buy in any store. I took one to a few sections of road and trail (with a dedicated 'bike' lane provision) I know well, and gave it some gas in the name of science.

The acceleration to 35km/h was pretty crazy, although after this it was unassisted so top speed was limited. I wasn't hugely near my Strava PB on the flat road section (that I set with a road bike), due to the top speed limitation, however the eBike acceleration was crazy.

I then took on a steep hill that I usually struggle up in my granny gear... and it just flew up. It was pretty shocking (no pun intended).

I can't imagine what the 'top power' models are like, but they are *definitely* not bikes, mountain or otherwise.
  • + 1
 @IamZOSO

Edit: I think I misunderstood the point you were trying to make, in which case this reply is kind of pointless, but whatever :s

RC's point is that an e-bike is compromised, in performance terms, *when the pedal assist is not available* and there's no disputing that - maybe you could stick some lower gears on so e-bike that 20kg+ heft can be dragged up a hill after the battery's died, but those low gears will mean you're going to be doing it a lot slower than you could, for the same effort, on a standard trail bike.
  • + 27
 I dont like reading about electric motor cycles on pink bike
  • + 23
 Read your stuff since the early 90's RC. One of the best I have read right here. And that is coming from a Pinkbiker who was rolling his eyes when Pinkbike signed you on....worried about poisoning Pinkbike with too much Mountain Bike Action nonsense. Cheers man!
  • + 21
 E-bikes = E-skateboards and there are already too many of both on the streets of San Francisco. The problem happening here is that civilians who don't pedal or push a skate can't discern the difference between the devices and we all get E-viscerated. Thanks, kooks.
  • + 9
 Haha I live in SF too and every morning on my commute I see at least hundreds of people on ebikes and boosted boards.
  • + 21
 Yup, I see people riding 160mm E-bikes through Golden Gate Park in full kit like they are heading out on an mega mission. It reminds me of dudes driving huge jacked up trucks to the mall...
  • + 1
 Never having been to SF myself, I could totally see the use for e-bikes or e-boards on the streets (not trails). I can't imagine a commute up some of those hills could be any fun or in some cases, even doable. One potential concern I would have is e-bikes trying to tread that fine line between being bikes weaving through traffic and motorcycles obeying the rules of the road. I guess in this case it doesn't matter since CA allows motorcycles to ride in the center lane.
  • + 4
 @lobohusky: I'll admit that the hills of SF make a case for assisted propulsion, but the vast majority of people on Ebikes and boost boards have paid no dues, have no skill set earned from street skating or urban riding, and now just push GO and blast through stop signs, red lights and generally bring the ire of motorists and peds (myself included) down on the whole wheeled community, of which I am also a part. Cars are being phased out of the master plan, which I agree with in this type of dense urban setting, but many of the early E-dopters have no concept of Flow or community. I also realize that my complaining has nothing to do with off-road riding and land access , but I can see a similar thing happening anywhere these wheeled E-locusts may exist. Wow, I'm a bitter old dude now.....
  • + 4
 @endlessblockades: Haha, nah man, don't say that. You're not bitter, just sick of people taking advantage of situations. I totally understand and think you have a viable reason to be frustrated. I get the same way with non-e-bike riders here in Portland. A good amount of commuters/road bikers run through stop signs and red lights, come out of no where to cut you off and then get upset if I don't stop in the middle of the road to let them cross. It's bikers (and e-bikers) like those that create a bad reputation for the rest of us, not to mention piss of peds in the process. I understand your point regarding the connection from E-dopters in the cities to the off-road riders.
  • + 20
 I don't get it. Do people realize you can ride a Dirtbike on trails? Dirtbike technology is way better than ebike tech, and it looks like dirtbikes are cheaper. Why half-@ss it when you can just get a husky or ktm and ride that? I know it depends on the state but in Washington we have thousands of miles of single-track for dirt bikes. What am I missing?
  • + 12
 "Do people realize you can ride a Dirtbike on trails?"
Not on mountainbike trails in any of the places I've lived. Dirtbike trails are more difficult to find in my experience, which makes sense given the noise and pollution that dirtbikes make.

You can't ride a dirtbike half-arsed either, so e-bikes are ideal for the half-arsed segments, also known as the majority, of the population.
  • + 2
 Totally agree. I think e-bikes--electric dirt bikes--have a real potential to grow THAT sport by eliminating noise complaints and gripes about air pollution. But to me, the e-moped that has a top speed of like 30 and a price tag approaching $10k makes no sense. Trail access is so tenuous here on the east coast that I think you'd get pushback on an e-bike for riding any place where dirt bikes aren't already allowed...which is basically nowhere. Remind me to move to Washington when I have a second...
  • + 14
 if you are riding you E bike at Bromont and someone throws a stick in your spokes, that was me. Go ride your motorcycle somewhere else. I love motorcycles, I just dont want them on MTB trails. Ketchup is good, just not on ice cream. E bikes and mountain bikes dont mix well.
  • + 2
 I prefer mayo over ketchup, but I like your analogy
  • + 13
 What an honest, refreshing article. Read every word. The reality is that we don't have much in common with the ebike crowd, and the argument of whoever takes a lift, or drives to a spot to ride is on the same field of them is a cop out!
  • + 13
 I recently had a shop owner ask,"Wanna take this bike for a ride?" It was a full suspension, 5" full knobby tired, carbon fiber fat bike. Weighed well over 50lbs. I thought,"What the hell". After a short spin around the parking lot, he turned the power up to 100% and told me to hit the road. I effortlessly did 20mph going slightly uphill. Asked what I thought of it when I got back from my ride,"This isn't a bike". I say that because even the slightest pressure on the pedals made that thing accelerate. Maybe not with 2 or 4 stroke grunt, but it took off. Doing 20mph on a 50lbs fat bike bike uphill, I hadn't even broke a sweat or started breathing hard! The motor was staying ahead of my pressure on the pedals, think sitting on a trainer with no resistance... That's not a bicycle..
  • + 13
 I just don't feel there's an issue here except the one created by Americans who're (understandably, I guess) terrified about their trail access. That may well be a legitimate issue for you guys and I have no qualms with it if so. On my home soil I just don't see e-bikes as a threat to mtb at all, to me they're an obscure little side story of mtb. No true lover of mtb is going to buy one. Unless of course you have a disibility of what ever kind that means getting out in the outdoors on a push bike is impossible or impractical. I can see guided tours on e-bikes amongst epic scenery like the Alps on which regular tourists with a love of the outdoors can experience the mountains in a new way (a la Segway tours), I can see injured riders being able to ride once again, I can see e-bikes getting more people outside and on two wheels as an entry point after which many will see the light and switch to a human powered bicycle and I can see more commuters taking to two wheels and freeing our congested roads of gas guzzlers. Naïve perhaps. But I don't think the future of the electric motor in mtb is bolted onto an Enduro or Slash...why demonise the e-bike, it's not a mtb, it never will be (as many have already stated) so what are we so worried about? So far I've seen a singular family group aboard e-bikes (not the kids) and it was clear to see they wouldn't have been outdoors enjoying the forest together in such a way without the help from the electric assisted bikes that mum and dad were on.
  • + 3
 As long as e-bike riders respect other trail users I also don't see an issue with their use in the UK. You can't ride like a dick on mixed use trails.
  • + 5
 I can see, what you see.

Though I cant see these same people who will get an ebike "for starters" going the other way with it, and transitioning to a non e-bike once they get the "experience"

Lets be honest, it's not a $5000 pair of training wheels. It's an entirely new transport method and ethos.

Let the lines in the sand show that!

It's not about demonizing, it's about demarcation!
  • - 1
 I'm a true MTB lover, and i'd buy one, have a rethink.
  • + 3
 @tigerteeuwen: I admit that one was a bit too much wishful thinking. I guess what I meant was it could help people get off the sofa and into the countryside who might otherwise think pedalling a bike is too much for them.
@deadmeat25 I've had a rethink and can only conclude that you aren't a true bro. Just kidding. But srsly
  • + 3
 @deadmeat25:

I am a MTBer as well, I must admit an e-bike would be super fun, (I don't think anyone wouldn't agree with that) but that's not the issue around ebikes!
  • + 2
 @tigerteeuwen: I just can't see a nubie dropping $5k on an e-mtb. I think the majority of the people who buy them will be mountain bikers who want to go further and get more riding in.

Most of the good riding around me is a minimum of 5-6 miles away from home with fairly average bridalways to get there. The really good stuff is 15 miles away which I generally drive to. An e-mtb would cut down the "commute" time and allow me to ride more in the same time. I would still be sharing bridalways with horses and walkers / dog walkers so can't go crazy.

Given all of the above though I still like getting there and back under my own steam hence will keep pedalling and get fitter.
  • - 1
 @ThomDawson: So be a true MTB lover you can't ride anything else? Rethink your rethink.
  • + 8
 ebikes are cheaper than carbon superbikes. Soon they will be everywhere and quite common. Allowing them on the trails is the same as allowing motocross dirtbikes on the trails. While some mountain bikers can't express their dislike properly, it is safe to say that they have legitimate fear of ebikes ruining trail access for all types of bikes.

ebikes aren't slow versions of "real" motorcycles. They are in fact, motorcycles. Not just sort of a motor cycle, but precisely a motorcycle. The fastest production motorcycle in the world is electric. You may have only seen one family riding about slowly. But that isn't the reality that we are facing with ebikes. They are full fledged motorcycles and must be treated as such. They aren't slow and they aren't any safer than gas powered bikes.

It isn't that ebikes/motorcycles are bad. Rather, it is important that we recognized ebikes as, and treat ebikes as what they are, motorcycles.
  • + 2
 @fartymarty: no, the distinction still stands, sure you're not driving to the spot to do mtbing and I commend you for that.

But you're still riding an ebike on the trails and that's the issue!

Also, you're right a newbie wouldnt spend 5k, to classify that though I would say someone would only buy an ebike with no intention of ever getting into another bike.
  • - 4
flag deadmeat25 (Sep 30, 2016 at 10:08) (Below Threshold)
 @dfiler: An E-Bike and an electric bicycle are two different things, i think a distinction needs to be made, i make the same terminological mistake myself.
  • - 3
 @dfiler: the ones that I've seen definitely aren't 'motorbikes'. Just because the definition of the word fits doesn't mean that they are the same thing. I think we should be careful of over exaggerating things as was mentioned in the thread on the poll page. If people started ripping up mtb trails on their MX bikes all hell would break loose (and has in the past). That's not what is happening here, you simply have to admit that it's not the same thing. Not that there is absolutely no issue, but that the impact of an e-bike is just not as big as that of a MX bike. Let's recognise what e-bikes are for sure, they're motorised bicycles, but they're not 'motorbikes'.
  • + 2
 @deadmeat25: I think we are talking about EAPC's www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules. I don't have an issue with EAPC's but do with anything that exceeds this criteria.
  • + 1
 factoryjackson.com/2016/09/30/cube-stereo-hybrid-e-bike-first-ride
Tl:dr just check out his round up in bold at the bottom.
  • + 3
 @dfiler: This is just fear mongering and seems to be the attitude generally expressed by the American way of life. If it's different, banish it before understanding it. And I'm a proud American. They are closer to bicycles than dirt bikes. You don't have to like them, but banning them all up is not the solution. Just like it hasn't been the solution for anything else in life. It's not a problem in places I've spent time at in Europe. So maybe the solution is an attitude shift and education between groups and manufacturers not a ban across an entire segment of people. This has the potential to open the sport up to a larger group of people. We can turn a negative in a positive if that is how we approach the problem. Cheers.
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: It isn't exaggerating to say that ebikes will be motocross bikes in just a few years. Soon they will be mostly indistinguishable. You'll just choose the amount of travel that makes sense for the local terrain and personal riding preferences.

It would be a mistake to try and manage the emerging issue of ebike trail access as if they were slow vehicles. They aren't slow and are they getting faster every year. Because being motorized makes weight less of an issue, incredibly fast ebikes don't cost more than today's carbon trail bikes. It isn't necessary to spend money to shave grams. As a result they cost less and weigh more. The evolution isn't complete but the end result is predictable.

Attempting to categorize the various types of ebikes, and then control access based on categories, is not feasible. The battery and motor needed to make a slow bike will look almost indistinguishable from that of a fast bike. Permitting access for one category of ebike will effectively be permitting access for all ebikes. My prediction is that governments don't yet understand that inevitability and will pass unenforceable laws. After a few years people will finally understand the impossibility of permitting access for only slow ebikes.

The controversy around ebike access has only just started. This will soon be the most important topic in the cycling community.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: If e-bikes become mx bikes then there will be an issue. But they won't - mx bikes already exist... a reality where a shitty mtb with an electric motor bolted to it morphs into a mx bike is far fetched even for this crazy world we live in. They're trying to fill a middle ground that barely exists and there you have the future and potential of e-bikes - barely existing.
Exploring, touring, a platform for riders who, for whatever reason, can no longer ride a regular push bike, getting us all out in the open...why the f not? Limit the motor to top out at 15mph, after that you're on your own - if we need any legislation why not let that be it?
  • + 2
 @ThomDawson: Stealth bombers have been around for years. I've ridden one. They pull like a Moto and do 80 kph and cost $8000 or more. I've seen two on the streets none on trails. They're like pitbulls here. They are illegal to use and people who have them are very secretive and safe about showing them.
  • + 14
 pedal forever.
  • + 9
 Very poignant piece. All I ask is that no one freaks out on my wife when she rides her eBike and I'm riding with her on my rigid Singlespeed. I earn my turns but some people need some help to get outdoors. Unfortunately the power battle between company's could ruin it for the few that can get legitament use. I purchased her Spesh Turbo with head hung low and in a hushed voice. But it is helping her get active despite health issues. But you won't find me taking her on trails where they don't belong.
  • + 26
 Well,

I've been hit by 2 women on e-bikes trying to keep up with their husbands on normal bikes while coming downhill. All on trails posted as "no motorized access"

Don't know why, but it irked me pretty bad. They're capable machines but you need to have the skills to keep them in check. A 530 watt motor is a ton. I think the best I've ever done for an extended period is 250watts. I couldn't imagine trying to go up the hill reasonably with 3x the power.

They're neat, but so are motorcycles. I think they should share singletrack access with motos.
  • + 1
 @UtahBikeMike:
Good point. I can easily the same scenario if they were on regular bikes too. The onus is on the more experienced rider. But I can see where eBikes could increase this kind of conflict.
  • + 9
 @UtahBikeMike: I wonder how the extra weight from batteries + motor contributes to downhill difficulties too. There's more bike to control when you're d-E-scending.

From the Spesh website for the FSR; "Hikers on Mt. Tam used to say we're crazy. Roadies called it a fad. Clunkers, tension discs— we left our eyes open, heads down, and kept designing. We kept evolving, and today, the Women's Turbo Levo FSR embodies a design unimaginable 40 years ago—a trail bike with 530 watts of power on the climbs. A trail bike that gives you the power to ride more trails."

They sure got the last laugh with those "Hikers".....
  • + 9
 Yep, I've a couple of friends in the 60 - 85 year age bracket who commute and ride on gravel paths using pedal-assist bikes. They are a bonus for that situation and it would be a shame to see it get ruined. There are people with a genuine use for the technology but the creation 'proper' e-mountainbikes will see an escalation of problems as the lazy hoons get amongst it.
  • + 6
 @krisrayner: Despite the other things I've said in this comment section, it troubles me to think of someone (you) trying earnestly to share the sport he loves with his wife, yet feeling obliged to do so "with head hung low and in a hushed voice". That doesn't seem right, either. Take Martyn Ashton, for example; virtually any rider would endorse his right to ride his custom Sender wherever he wishes, despite it being a genuine electric motorcycle. This exception is an empathetic reflex, and if applied, it should be applied equally. The problem is that bicyclists don't fall into easily defined categories in terms of their abilities; we're a continuum. Ashton is an extreme example of a disabled rider, but not every disability is as visually evident as his. Two riders, one with an autoimmune disorder and one who's just quite slow, could easily exhibit the same VO2 max and power output. Which deserves to use an e-bike? Both? Neither? Who decides? What qualifies someone as being disabled and deserving e-bike usage? We're all disabled relative to Schurter. Should e-bike motor wattage perhaps be limited to prevent the excessive and reckless speed that is most likely to cause trail conflict? If so, how would those limits be enforced? Furthermore, would they have to be proportionate to the disability? Who decides THAT? What makes e-MTBs so dangerous in particular is that there is little to no infrastructure nor precedent to answer these questions.

I wish I had a reasonable, clear and clean solution to this problem; I have none. That e-bikes represent a credible and imminent threat to our sport is manifest; whether the threat stems from their potential for flagrant misuse, or their existence outright, is far less clear. At this point, my tentative answer is this: that there is perhaps a speed that NO trail user, regardless of discipline, should be allowed to exceed on a given shared-use trail, for the sake of public safety. That doesn't seem too unreasonable, and it's pretty fundamental. Many professional racers, I am sure, can descend just as quickly on a conventional mountain bike as an average rider could on an e-bike. If Richie Rude came blasting down one of my local shared-use trails, he would not be spared the ire of hikers and equestrians just because there's no motor involved; he would be put to the torch for speeding just as surely as an overenthusiastic e-biker would. It clearly isn't the philosophical "impurity" of an e-bike that makes it problematic; it's the speed and associated potential for trail damage.

Two more thoughts. Firstly, it seems to me that e-bikes will for the forseeable future be acceptable in bike parks. Descending at 20 miles per hour only puts e-bikes in conflict with non-bicycle trail users, and it seems absurd to imagine an e-biker colliding with a regular rider at 20 miles per hour on a climb. Secondly, I can think of another special circumstance, other than disability, that might allow for e-bike use - park rangers. I'm not one, so I wouldn't know for certain, but it seems to me that in many regions, patrolling footpaths by 27.5+ e-bike would be tremendously more efficient than by horseback or on foot, and even more so in an emergency.

Anyway. The first and most urgent fundamental question before us is, "Are e-MTBs mountain bikes?" When that question has been answered, the next will most likely be, "Should e-bikes be allowed on mixed-use trails under special circumstances?" The first question is one of definition and the second is one of policy; evidently, the question of policy is by far the more complicated of the two.
  • + 2
 @Bluefire: Requiring that the pedals be used (pedal-assist) for a total allowable power output (you + motor) seems like a good start; maybe Nino's average output in races over 2016 could provide the maximum total allowable power?
  • + 3
 @Injuredhippo: That's a start, but although Nino makes an attractive and satisfying benchmark for an upper limit, I think this is where experience comes into play. Nino Schurter has the experience, responsibility, and temperament to NOT use his tremendous power where it would be dangerous for himself or others. There isn't much reason to expect that even a disabled e-bike rider would, without experience, do anything other than tear around at full power up and down hills. On the other hand, while I can't find any of Nino's average power figures specifically, I did find that the average mean power at World Cup XC races is around 250W. That's a pretty modest figure; many countries already have regulations against e-bikes exceeding that output, and most of us achieve 250 watts periodically during a ride. We now encounter another fundamental difference between e-bikes and conventional MTBs - an e-biker can sustain a given maximum power level for the considerable life of the battery, while an adept mountain biker can produce twice the power of the Turbo Levo's motor, but only for a few moments. If you limit combined system output of e-bikes to, say, the average wattage of the average rider, the result will be rather humorous - the disabled or aging e-biker can finish the ride at the same time as his or her average riding buddies, but only by falling behind and overtaking them repeatedly, redlining at a low wattage no matter how much effort is applied. The only solution would be to design a much more complicated formula to limit average power, which simulates an actual rider's output by only allowing spikes of 600+ watts periodically....? .....after.... a computer-determined fatigue period...? That solution seems laughably complicated. Not that I can think of a better one. Like I said, questions of policy are the worst.
  • + 2
 @Injuredhippo: Agreed. I see this more mature age group using eBikes daily too - I think it's great and the option for them to get out in the countryside with their bike should be preserved.

Sadly I see people much younger than me (I'm in my late 30's) on full power eBikes cruising along at ridiculous speeds on the same trails - and it irks me hugely. Just yesterday I was passed as if I was standing still by a twentysomething in a suit on their way to work on an eBike... I was doing ~35km/h at the time on a shared gravel road (which was arguably too fast).

The speeds involved are plain dangerous if people aren't sensible.
  • + 1
 @UtahBikeMike: dodging stupid people on busy trails is half the fun...
  • + 1
 @Injuredhippo: Good idea, take for example a Toyota Prius, the electric motor only operates up to about 20kph, after that the car is purely petrol powered. E-bikes motors should be restricted to only providing power below 10kph, that way it will help on slow granny-gear climbs and help to keep a less abled rider moving when they're tired, but once they're moving over 10-15kph they're at a decent pace anyhow and do not need assistance, especially as they likely don't have the riding ability to handle a bike properly at speed. E-bikes assistance should be restricted to much lower speeds than is current, so they're more as a 'get out' or limp mode for riders rather than helping them do 30kph up hills. This solution would make absolute sense!
  • + 0
 shitthatneverhappeneddottxt
  • + 11
 @Bluefire: I think Ebikes should be allowed anywhere as long as they have a basket on the front.
  • + 4
 @krisrayner:

Yes, it could have happened on a regular bike. I feel like a 45lb bike with db5 or deore brakes is a pretty hard thing to stop controllably, compounded by someone with poor skills.
  • + 1
 @dbodoggle:

You and I have different ideas of fun. I've got a wife, kids and a motrgage financed by a career that requires me to stay healthy and not get hurt.
  • + 4
 @Injuredhippo:

E-bikes absolutely belong as commuters. If you could ride to work more quickly, without gasoline and not get sweaty i think more people would be open to it.

Problem is all the drivers texting, playing pokemon go and the cost of said e-commuters
  • + 2
 ..
  • + 2
 @UtahBikeMike: You must be really unique with a family, mortgage, and job that requires you to be healthy.
  • + 0
 If it's a moto-legal trail, then I don't see why anyone would freak out. If it's not a moto-legal trail, then she has no business riding that bike there. It's as simple as that.
  • + 0
 @dbodoggle:

I work on BMWs for a living. Not exactly unique.
  • + 4
 @ctd07: Great idea. However people have already hacked these motor bikes software and or hardware to turn those limiters off thus enabling them to haul ass unregulated. Just as with anything that is first built. Competition for everyone's dollar will ensue and Companies will build bigger and faster motor bikes and people will still want more and will find a way to turn off those limiters. I do not want these motor bikes on the trails. Especially as I ride with my kid.
  • + 8
 Spot on. The fact that a mountainbike does not have motor is the only reason we even have acces to any multi use trails. E bikes will ruin trail access especially areas that already have an uneasy realtionship between bikers and other users. E bikes will only hurt relations and cause loss of access
  • - 4
flag deadmeat25 (Sep 30, 2016 at 5:22) (Below Threshold)
 That's not because of e-bikes, it's because of pathetic land owners and the preconceived ideas they have about people that actually go out and do things, direct your opposition in the right direction and you might find clarity.
  • + 7
 As a machinist , I had the pleasure of assisting Paul Brodie with his X project years back . What an amazing guy , it was and absolute pleasure to be able to spend time with Paul ,and assist him with certain items on the bike , that he was not set-up to do in his own shop .
  • + 4
 paul is an absolute master of his craft. the work that went into the excelsiors is staggering. everything custom fabricated. building the engine from scratch is just mind blowing. that these sell for $130k a pop is less of a shock when you see all the work that went into these. if you want to nerd out on fabrication details, lots of info & pics here:

flashbackfab.com/excelsior-homepage
  • + 1
 I was happy to brainstorm with him about pedals for the project. A drop in the ocean for this colossal project. He is an interesting fellow, always a pleasure chatting with him.
  • + 6
 One of the reasons that Cannondale went bankrupt back in the day was that they were spending so much money trying to build a motorcycle. We can only hope that history repeats itself with ebikes and bike companies will get out of the e-business.
  • + 6
 So the mountain biking industry is attempting to make a quick buck, while killing itself in the long run? There is nothing wrong with technical innovation and advancement, but by producing a product which you then label as something it is not, is just plain idiotic, it is also short sighted.
  • + 6
 Just keep your e-bikes off non-motorized trails and there won't be a problem.

I understand the shuttle argument (driving cars up riding bikes down) but the difference is that motorized shuttle car never touches the trail. Whereas you're riding your electronic motorized bike back down on a non-motorized trail.
  • + 6
 It's ironic that the manufacturers pushing these bikes are likely to cause problems for their core customers regarding trail access, ultimately leading to a drop in sales for the very same companies. Unfortunately their short sighted rush for sales will probably blind them to this until it's too late. I think the sooner governments recognise a distinction between e-bikes and true pedal power and produce relevant legislation, the better it will be for true cyclists. Whilst I understand the benefit for people with disabilities or for older riders, I feel that their wants and needs shouldn't be to the detriment of the rest of us.
  • + 2
 Are you surprised that industry people are short term thinker ? Wtf man, did you miss the whole global warming thing? Nobody cares about future
  • + 2
 Prediction: some bicycle manufacturers will transition to making only e-bikes.
  • + 1
 @zede: No, I'm not surprised,I didn't mean to imply in my comment that I was. I am also aware of global warming.
  • + 2
 @metaam: bike industry sold dh bikes until the bikeparks were too crowded, then they sold trail bikes until mtb get forbiden on single trails and now, they are selling e-mtb until the fireroads get too crowded and trail access is completely shut down everywhere in the world.
In a better world, bike industry would help the creation of new bikes parks, help to maintain the bikeparks, help to create and maintain new trails, and create a "bike lobby" to influence the bike related legislation. But this is not happening, they prefer to invest money in creating new standards, advertising ebikes and sometimes, they sponsor 1% of a bike related event just enough so they look cool
  • + 6
 I would argue that limiting the motor support to max 25 km/h (like in most European countries), would leave the motorbike aspect pretty dead. 45 and 25 km/h is a big difference in speed.

In my country, Norway, there is a bill on the table this autumn to allow ebikes on most trails. We have very strict laws on motorised access, e.g. no motorbikes, cars or snow mobiles outside regular roads in most parts of the country.
What I am pretty sure of is that this bill will have a built in trial period (say, ten years) to account for the ongoing technical and behavioural development. After this time the bill will be evaluated. If it turns out that access created motocross heaven, it will be a short lived proposition.
  • + 6
 What it boils down to is... do you want motocross bikes on your local trails, in your local parks, intermingling with bikers, trail runners and dog walkers?

Electric bikes aren't slow or low-powered versions of "real" motorcycles. Three years ago, an electric motorcycle won the pikes peak hill climb. The fastest production motorcycle is an electric motorcycle. They can go over 200mph and do 0 to 60 mph in less than one second. And this technology is still progressing rapidly. While already fast, each year they are getting faster.

We could try banning just ebikes above a certain speed or power. Yet that would fail. It is impossible to enforce exactly which bikes are allowed or not allowed. Slow bikes look exactly the same as fast bikes. With that in mind, i am advocating that ebikes be considered motorcycles in terms of trail access.
  • + 3
 0 to 60 in less than a second? do you have a source on that?
  • + 2
 Yeah, 0 to 60mph in less than a second!
www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/10-fastest-electric-motorcycles-0-60.html/?a=viewall
Here's it doing 0 to 60 in .8 seconds:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRO7vLXY_YA

Here's an electric bike doing 201mph in 6.94 seconds:
newatlas.com/lawless-rocket-occ-electric-drag-bike-speed-record/22584
  • + 1
 @dfiler: "A giant cordless drill on wheels" I love it, now i'm always going to think of ebikes as cordless drills on wheels.
  • + 8
 Word! Well written argument that clearly shows why we need to keep mtb trails for human powered bikes only.
  • + 6
 Well, going into full scale production of motocross motorcycles did not do Cannondale a whole lot of good. So that does not seem to be the best of ideas. Are E-Bikes the future of mountainbiking, I sure hope not.
  • + 2
 I think the only thing that's really clear here is that after everything, there were still bicycles, and there were still motorbikes, if anyone thinks that putting a small electric motor on a bicycle will end pedal power for good, they need a lobotomy.
  • + 8
 So your telling me pedal powered riding is the new 26in? Cant wait for the buysell opportunities!
  • + 5
 "At the heart of our mental lives, there seemed to be a striking contradiction - we seek out information and then act to destroy it. On the one hand, our sense organs have evolved to give us a marvellously detailed and accurate view of the outside world - we see the world in color, in 3D, in motion, texture, nonrandomness, embedded patterns and a great variety of other features. Likewise for hearing and smell. Together our sensory systems are organized to give us a detailed and accurate view of reality, exactly as we would expect if truth about the outside world helps us to navigate it more effectively. But once this information arrives in our brains, it is often distorted and biased to our conscious minds. We deny the truth to ourselves. We project onto others traits that are in fact true to ourselves - and then attack them! We repress painful memories, create completely false ones, rationalize immoral behavior, act repeatedly to boost positive self opinion, and show a suite of ego-defense mechanisms"

"The Folly of Fools: the Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life" Robert Trivers

Great article RC but in a way it is a blurry as reasons for the hatred towards e-bikes. So blurry are the reasons to use one. You write it from perspective of a mountain biker, leaving out the rest. Are E-bikes mountain bikes? What the hell is a mountain bike? DH bikes barely need pedals, so maybe they are not MTBs? Should Mountain bikes be allowed to ride in nature? Since when is that so clear? But we tend to get of our way and toss crap at E-bikes as if we somehow were given a position of leviathan.

In 5 years self-driving cars will be a reality. Why would you use your silly trail bike then? Get a DH rig pack it into the trunk of a Volvo XC90, drive up, get the bike out, send the car down and rip.
  • + 1
 Every Volvo driver the world over is a complete c**t.leave them right out of it.
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: I drive a Volvo... like 50% of Swedes...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: no other options?is the state forcing this on you?wouldnt a moskvich be a better option in the perpetual cold.
  • + 3
 @Earthmotherfu: bejezus, what is now wrong with a Volvo? Do you also have presumptions about kind of Ice Cream people eat?
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: that leaves us two options, either every swede is half a c*nt, or the half of the swedes are complete c*nts
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: pelican and zebra crossing children killers.fact.due to military grade armour plating installed in the bumpers,bump into a child at 10 mph your guaranteed to smash every bone in their body.volvo driver won't feel a thing.dead on sure they wouldn't have seen the child in the first place,cause their all old blind bastards who drive them on their way to a car boot sale Smile
  • + 2
 @Earthmotherfu: ok ok this gets interesting, do you have a same kind of story for every car? Audi drivers?
  • + 2
 @JoseBravo: I, and most of the people I know probably qualify for the 'half c*nt' status, at least on occasion, and that's without owning Volvos.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: audi drivers -tossers.especially turbo derv ones.bmw -fantastic drivers cars but eat tyres.
Vw -used to be the domain of the bearded geography teacher,not sure who drives them now.mini-women love these to sport their latest teaplate sized sunnies.all mitzi,ranger,hi lux,animal etc.flatbed euro trucks-driven by pretentious surveyors and civil engineers who turn up on the job with ha yah hunters and Rohan gilet.ford-driven by peasants and paupers..Saab were ruined by gm vectra.ranges ruined by people putting fantom kits on them and dealing coke.oh well.
  • + 1
 Oh yes nearly forgot....the duster.Salute
  • + 2
 @metaam: we are all Volvo owners in our hearts, we just don't have the money to buy one.
  • + 3
 @Earthmotherfu: why doesn't it surprise me that Volvo hater is a BMW lover?
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: what do you drive? i am curious now
i think your comments about all the car manufacturers is funny but all joking asides i think we all know its not good to judge people by what they drive.....sure we all do it a bit but honestly its not 100% accurate. I would deffo agree that stereotypes are mostly true but are not the total truth. Sure most volvo drivers may be old im never gonna be concidered young by any 20 year old as i am 38 but im not 90 either and i own one as a daily driver and until recently (cared more for cycling than expensive cars) also owned a skyline r32 gtr (having owned a 2 r33 gts-t's and a r34 gtt just previously whilst owning a nissan primera as a daily runner which had i have realized how much i like the volvo s60 would have gladly swapped the primera for as the daily driver).
  • + 0
 @rabidmonkfish: S60/V60 are special, I often drive the D4 and I love the way it corners thanks to nicely set active suspension. Too bad the trunk is smaller than V50 which was a truly functional car. XC60 is meh and the latest XC90 is bollocks, fits all seterotypes, you are so disconnected from the wheels that you may as well use the self driving one. It's like running a 2000W motor on a V10 fatbike. But well all SUVs suck, why would you drive something so high in the same price range as A6 which is more comfortable and more sporty at the same time. I can't wait to sit in the latest Volvo V90. Fortunately they made non-hybrid versions too and hopefully the Volvo car-pool will get these. BMW 5 is really eye pleasing and cool to drive but the trunk of the Combi is so small it makes no sense to me.
  • + 0
 @rabidmonkfish: Crashed my 240gl into local primary school.now got phev which came with free e bike in boot.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: it's not the car waki is it,it's the people who drive them.theyre all the same.period."I'm in my new Volvo,I'm in the outside lane doing bang on the speed limit and I ain't moving for shit..f*ck em behind.and when the speed limit drops to 30 I'm gonna do thirty..f*ck em behind,I'm in a Volvo and I'm a white knight of the road".
Bunch of paedos all of themlol
  • + 2
 @Earthmotherfu: not in Sweden. Here only XC60s are causing such kind of trouble. And I'd say it has more to do with SUVs than Volvo alone. When I drive on highway I take special care to small lorries like Kangoo, they are often in a hurry and pissed off. Then you have Audis BMWs and for some Reason VW Passat who like to drive 140-150 and then slow down for a few miles. The worst are family cars like S-Max or Espace, since they drive for tens of miles behind a truck, under the speed limit, and never look into the mirror or use blonker when changing lanes. If you ever drive in Sweden these are the ones to look out for, if you see a family car or old V70, driving behind a truck, he may change lane anytime, without a notice. If you see a Kangoo coming from behind he won't hesitate for a moment to pass you on the right, so careful when trying to make space for him. Same when cycling in town. Small lorries and cab drivers are killers.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: joking aside,how the hell did you know I drive a kangoo maxi van,which I genuinely do for work?
f*ck me,am I that easy to read?ha ha ha ou yer basterd ha ha!
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: hahahahahaha
  • + 1
 I will be perfectly honest with you, sometimes, if some a-hole pushes on me while I am overtaking a couple of vehicles (And please note I tend to drive 10-20 kmh over speed limit) I get in line with a truck and match it's speed for a minute or two. If you flash me with lights and sit 1m off my bumper, while I am passing two trucks at 140, you get it, guaranteed.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm just having a bad run of old folk who've decided it would be great to put the lottery on at 7.15 rush hour.unfortunatley for me they always seem to be in volvos.have I mentioned yet my blind hatred for skoda vrs owners yet?apparantly these cars are far superior to Audi and vw and are 35-40% cheaper!i ask "how is this so mr.f*cktard"?and I nearly forgot seat Leon drivers............
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: perhaps Brits and Volvos is not a good mixture. Even Billy Connolly (I know he's Scottish) laughed at Volvo mob in V-neck pullovers bragging about prices of real estate. I haven't driven in UK, been on the road there only once and it was actually Wales. But it is quite funny to leave Sweden on a Ferry and land on a German or Polish road. The speed, the rage, nr of a-holes per kiolometer, Bejezus... then you come back and everything seems so slow and mellow you want to fall asleep. Norway is the worst of what I have seen, with their nazi speed limit execution. I bet more people die from falling asleep by the wheel than being killed in road accidents. Italy and Spain are weird because even though everyone drives outside of the law in all possible ways (including red light being taken as a hint rather than a rule) things seem to go smooth in their own bizarre way.
  • + 1
 I don't tend to get too drawn in as far as car manufacture stereotypes are concerned, but if the driver is wearing a hat BEWARE!!!
  • + 1
 @metaam: in brown?
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: And if they've got driving gloves on then it's double jeopardy
  • + 1
 @metaam: at the very thought of it... I AM BEING WARE!!!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: there's a chap who lives opposite me,he comes home from driving a lorry all day,backs his car down the drive then pops inside for 20mins.when he comes back out he's in a full dress and big permed wig with lippy on.he gets back into his car and whizzes off.whats that all about? Oh and he drives an mx5.
  • + 1
 That's how I imagine a DH bro laughing at Enduro. MX5 is an awesome car for the money. I hope when I get 45 I can buy some Lotus Elise for nothing.
  • + 6
 If I had $9,500 dollars to spend on something motorized with two wheels it's sure as shit not going to be an E-bike. Could get a sweet 450cc KTM, CRF450, or any other major brand dirt bike for that price.
  • + 10
 KILL THE E BIKE.
  • + 4
 As usual RC hit the nail on the head. I have thought off road E-bikes were a bad plan from day one.

I hear the same "short sighted" argument that 250 watt trail assist Ebikes are harmless to the trails, and that is probably true.
Problem is the motors are not staying 250 watts. A local guy I know is building a custom fat bike right now with a 3000 watt motor ... this thing will roost like a moto!

This "Obvious" progression is why I have been against them from the start.
  • - 1
 but its unlikely it will be peddle assist tho. it will have a throttle and either a mid or hub motor. there is no place for these on mtb trails and having ridden a 250w and a 2.5kw bikes there is a massive difference. also the 3kw bike the guy is building will weigh loads and handle like shit so wont be any good one mtb trails. i think people are kicking up a stink over a very limited amount of people who are riding these big ebikes. its like trump and mexicans lol.
  • + 5
 @gingerninja: I can't believe so many are so short sighted (actually I can believe it)
The progression is already happening ... in 2017 Specialized ad " these e-bikes are capable of achieving 45 Km/h while you pedal"

These are Motorcycles & should be banned for normal bike trails.
  • - 2
 @Darknut: 45km/h ebikes have existed for years. They are for street use. There won't be a 45km/h Turbo Levo in 2017 because there would be no point in making one. It would not be allowed to be ridden anywhere.
  • + 3
 @pinkypie: I know E-bikes have been around for along time but there were not Commercial Mountain Ebikes aimed at single track like happening now.

Obviously E-bikes are happening & will continue ... because short sighted greed motivates companies & the stupidity of the buying public allows things like this to succeed in modern society
  • + 3
 Agreed, darknut. It is surprising so many people are under the impression that ebikes will remain slow and expensive. Multi-thousand watt ebikes will soon look identical to the 250w ebikes of today.
  • + 2
 @Darknut: i can do 45km/h on my bike without a motor, whats your pint? in fact did 42mph in spain without peddling. if you dont like people making the up hill easier then that your issue, but dont make out like these bikes are going to ruin trails or mtb. every bike has a motor, a human one that can create over 1000watts in power, so 4 times that of a standard peddle assist ebike. oh and as for the downhills, well most people dont peddle down, so an ebike will be just like a normal bike but much heavier. also what about those people who cant ride like they used to but an ebike means they can still get out and do the thing they love. my mate got run over commuting to work and now has a leg 1" shorter, should he not ride any more?
  • + 1
 @gingerninja: My "Obvious" point is: The power of commercial Ebikes is already escalating & the custom/boutique versions are already like moto's. A lot of you either can't see the implications of this or just don't give a sh*t. There is no point in talking about it anymore. The bike industry is more about gimmicky cash grabs these days and could not care less about long term implications. The biking community on mass embrace this stupidity like they have good sense.
  • + 2
 well your obvious point may only be relevant in the usa, but EU regulations state an ebike can only run at a constant 250watts. so unless regulations change manufactures will be sticking to that as it seems europe has a big market for ebikes in general and it would be stupid to produce bikes they cant sell.

point of curiosity, how many people have encountered ebikes out on the trails and had problems?
  • + 1
 @gingerninja: If Ebike only ever were 250w pedal assist it would prob be a moot point but they are not staying that small in the US & there will be people that ignore the EU regulations & you know it.

Back when I was in high school there was a great trail system close to me & it was open to all. Then the 4wheeler phenomenon happened. Idiots on 4wheelers destroyed that trail system very quickly after it had been there for years with no issues. The powers that be closed it to all but hikers. It finally got open to bicycles again years later.

To me Ebikes = 4wheelers in this current scenario ... that is why I'm so against them.
I see them as a destructive force that could damage biking.
  • + 1
 @Darknut: i do get where youre coming from but but i cant see the main manufacturers making bikes they will only sell in the usa. yes there is an industry based on the bigger motors but its still in its infancy and are still mainly build it yourself kind of thing. i think people are acting out of a knee jerk reaction to something most people dont really understand. assuming all ebikes are the same thing, when they are vastly different. yes there needs to be some regulation, but just saying theyre all damaging trails and causing problems isnt helping anything. what about those whos only way to keep riding is a peddle assist. should those people with physical problems be banned from riding a bike cos some people think a 250w peddle assist is the same as a 6kw mid drive. like my mate who was run over by a car and now has one shorter leg. should he also have to give up biking as well as having to live with an injury that stops him working full time or walking any real distance?
  • + 8
 I wish Trek would run that seat angle on the rest of their bikes.
  • + 8
 No dropper post on that rolling dinosaur of Excelsior ...
  • + 8
 well, this is the best article about this subject I've read so far.
  • + 3
 Grew up in Northern Germany, actually right across the cow pasture from the old Kalkhoff bike factory (now part of Pon group - the owners of Focus, Cervelo, and as of last year, Santa Cruz). That's ebike central. They started out as a regulatory loophole - in Germany, you have all these different classes of motorized vehicles requiring different licenses (no retirees driving around in bus-sized RVs on a regular drivers license, for example). For bikes - there are motorized bikes (Motorisierte Fahrräder - Mofa for short, and yes, that is pretty funny if you think about it with an American vernacular background) that are limited to 25km/h, 50cc max engine size - those require a license (which you can obtain from age 15), and a helmet, and are pretty cheap to ensure. They also are allowed on bike paths in traffic. From there on up, there's Mopeds (limited to 40km/h and 50cc - 16 years minimum age, stricter licensing, not allowed on bike paths), then light motorcycles (80cc, 80km/h, 16 years). Then proper bikes (graduated license requirements, starting at age 1Cool . And so forth.

Anyway - northern Germany is like Holland - lots of people riding their bikes for transportation. Kids, grown ups, old people. So the bike makers figured out there was a niche - people who commute by bike, and needed a boost. Say older people, who needed to get to town and didn't have a car. The helmet (people don't really wear helmets much when bike commuting - less need, as they are separate from traffic on their own bike paths) and license requirement (and insurance cost), and of course dealing with two-stroke engine noise and stink would have deterred them from a Mofa - but an ebike was awesome for them. Or folks like my parents - retired, like to ride bikes around pretty places, go from village to village on the bike paths and have coffee. The ebike gave them way more range, and made those pesky hills (few of those in Northern Germany) and headbreezes (more of them, for sure) a lot easier to deal with.

That all became bigger and bigger - ebikes took off like mad. All those Dutch style commuter bikes (think big, long wheelbase, noodly and relaxed steel cruisers with very upright seating position) with just enough e-assist to get you going more easily. Awesome for seniors - opened up way more options for them. Awesome for cheap commuting (get to work even in hilly places without getting all sweaty).

So @RichardCunningham 's point is right on - it's all about definitions, and niches, and laws. Because in Europe, their native habitat, ebikes live in a specific regulatory niche. Change the niche, and ebikes become something completely different. Problem is, here in the US, the niches are different. So it's really all about definitions.

We have niches for trail use. Motos on moto trails, human powered bikes on MTB trails. On private lands, it's of course whatever the land owner likes. On public lands, there are laws in there as well. But overall, let's not kid ourselves that definitions don't matter.

Think Hood River, OR. Huge trail system on public and private lands up in and beyond Post Canyon. There is a huge moto-legal section - tons of trails. Those get shut down due to fire danger for a few months in the summer. Lots of motos, lots of MTB - on separate trails. Electrified mountainbikes/mountain e-mopeds, whatever you want to call them - they'll have to be looked at with an eye towards real-world consequences for use, safety, liability, etc. Without all that emotional appeal that the industry is using to blur the lines - because while they obviously want their product regulated as lightly and permissively as possible to broaden the appeal, there is a bigger picture here.
  • + 1
 Could you elaborate? Being from The Netherlands I can absolutely relate to the first bit. After "@Richard..." it gets a bit vague. Do you simply mean to say that it is important to have a discussion about what an e-bike is exactly as there are/have to be so many regulations. Or is it that e-bikes pose a fire danger like motorcycles do (for instance when the battery breaks in a crash), are there bigger dangers not present in regular mountainbiking?

As for the e-bikes on the roads, sure there are discussions as well. Not so much about the 25km/h max e-bikes, more about the high speed 45km/h ones. Not to ban them, more about their position on the road. But I'd see that as a very different category. On my bike I ride to work (Koga with internal 8sp Nexus gear hub, hub dynamo, big Catalyst pedals, no pedal assist) I typically ride between 30 and 35km/h. Matches nicely with the 25km/h folks. It would take a serious tail wind to hit 45km/h on that bike. On the cargo bike (Batavus, Odyssey BMX pedals, no pedal assist) with two kids and cargo I still ride between 20 and 25km/h. That's how fast I'd go without pedal assist and that's how fast someone with pedal assist would be going. It doesn't matter one bit in terms of safety.
  • + 1
 @vinay: My issue is that here in the US, the industry is pretty much getting ahead of the game and doing a lot of lobbying to get e-assist mountain bikes (and, really, all e-assist bikes) classified as bikes, with all the same rights, and with just as little regulation. So in Europe, you have a well-established regulatory environment now - you refer to two classes of e-bikes, the 25 and the 45 km/h ones. And I'm assuming they come with different rights and responsibilities - so I'm guessing that the 45 km/h ones won't allow you on bike paths, for example?

The industry is trying to get their product classified as bikes here because it means they get to broaden its appeal. To that end, they want them treated just like regular bicycles - no license required to ride one (unlike, say, a moped or scooter); no registration or insurance, no restriction on using bike lanes (the US isn't very good at separating bikes from automobile traffic - unlike those nice bike paths in Holland or Germany or Belgium, here bikes tend to get lumped into a lane on the road, with only a thin strip of paint for protection from traffic).

But in all that, they are also trying to not have any limits on what counts as an ebike. So the distinction between 25 and 45 km/h models? Not so much - there are just ebikes. And once they get the states to sign off on all that, the next step will be to lobby that an ebike gets to go anywhere a bike gets to go - including trails on public lands. Private land owners can make their own decisions - but the more blurred the line is in public discussion, the harder it is to hold that line.

And the industry is trying to achieve acceptance by bringing up sympathetic use cases. Current MTB trails don't allow motos - but we're told that ebikes are different, and that they're awesome because they allow trail builders to carry tools to remote places, or photographers to carry equipment for events. Or that they opposing them means taking away a disabled or physically handicapped person's ability to enjoy mountain biking. All of these have merit - but let's not kid ourselves about that being the impetus for marketing these things, and let's not kid ourselves about those uses being the majority of riders.

With technology improving, these things will get faster and more powerful. The decisions about what's appropriate for particular trails will need to leverage definitions and categories established for broader use. In city traffic, those definitions have different implications than they do on trails. And that's the bigger picture I think is important to keep in mind.

I frankly don't think that there's any sort of superiority (moral, aesthetic, or otherwise) attached to Richard's purist vision of working for the altitude you gain, spending the majority of the time climbing, and using that to commune with your fellow riders. That's a preference thing. I get the appeal - but I also get the appeal of skinning up hill before skiing down, without having to consider lift-assisted downhill skiing in some way inferior. I also don't judge motos as for the weak - that's its own sport (and a physically demanding one at that).

But let's not kid ourselves that ebikes won't, in their impact on trails, be very similar to motos as soon as they get a little more powerful. Sure, they'll be quieter. Sure, there's less risk of fire (always a problem in dry places in the summer). But in terms of trail erosion, and what sort of terrain is needed/appropriate, they're different from MTB.

Richard's point is that definitions matter, and that motorizing things tends to lead down a road of more power. I couldn't agree more.
  • + 1
 @g-42: Thanks a lot for your elaborate answer. I need to give it some tought before I respond. At least it is becoming clear that the article is written from a North American perspective that's very different from the situation over here. As for the situation on the road here currently all E-bikes are treated equal even though the quick ones (45km/h) require a different legislation and insurance. They can't pull a trailer with kids either. It is going to change in 2017 though. The quick ones are being removed from the bicycle lanes except obviously where the cars are allowed to go faster than 50km/h. I'm not sure how that's going to work out as not everyone on a fast e-bike is physically capable to sustain that 45km/h amidst cars riding 50km/h. That the bike top speed isn't limited at 25km/h doesn't mean it will provide you with sufficient support.

And yeah, we may not be gifted with mountains and endless forests to ride our mountainbikes over here. But I definitely appreciate our bicycle culture. Anyone physically capable to ride a bicycle can safely ride a bike on public roads. I've seen many other similarly developed countries where I wouldn't send a granny nor a four year old out on a bike. Or cyclists are dismissed to the sidewalk where you just can't go proper fast. As it is now, the streets are being made safer and safer, even in the big old cities. I think just as the cities welcome bicycles, they also welcome the e-bikes as another way to get even more motorists out of their cars onto a bicycle. And at least here, this is where the money is. I dropped by my bikeshop today for some small parts and the guy told me that indeed nowadays most of the bikes he sells are electric bikes. People use them for commuting and commuters just want to be quick. For a daily commute it is well worth the money. For mountainbiking or road racing however, the manufacturers won't have to bother. Considering how complex and expensive these bikes are, how quickly they evolve and just simply because we don't have any really long climbs over here, it is not worth bothering with. Commuter bikes is where the money is. The government wants them to reduce the burden on public roads during rush hour (and possibly also to have more equally quick bikes to keep the flow going), the commuters want them to reduce travel time. Heck, I honestly doubt this whole e-mtb thing will even take off here. I read an interview with Cube (German bike brand) in Cranked magazine (cranked.cc) where the designer pointed out that these Bosch motors aren't even really fit for mountainbikes. And Bosch doesn't care much as the mtb market is small compared to the regular bike market. And Cube may not be too bothered either as after all, loads of their e-bikes are indeed designed and sold as commuter bikes anyway. E-mtb is a niche, even to them.

My bike is a steel DMR hardtail loaded with stuff that's say XT level, 130mm forks from MY200Cool . My neighbour has a Liteville 301 fully, full XTR, Tune hubs, light 150mm forks, the lot. Obviously his bike is ligher and more expensive than mine. The price difference is probably what you'd need to have my bike but with a motor and batteries. I love my bike as it is but really, if someone would have to choose between my bike with motor and batteries or just have a Liteville similar to what he has, I honestly doubt anyone would go for the e-bike. Really, I doubt that whole e-bike thing is going to take off. It is too expensive, too controversial, too complex and for a target audience that's too small to really invest in.
  • + 1
 @g-42: Thought about it, thought some more. I couldn't come up with anything other than I already wrote so I won't do that again. I do understand however that the not so suble way the stuff is being pushed in the US generates resistance. Apparently the goverment recognizes that bicycles reduce the burden on the infrastructure (I'm talking traffic here, not trails) and they see these e-bikes as something that could get people to take the bike instead of car. It is the cheap solution for them of course as it is the customer paying. What they fail to recognize is that it is the infrastructure that allows people to ride bikes. If people don't feel safe, they won't ride. The government should do their part and fix these roads. Even here, they're constantly working to make the roads safer and more efficient for cyclists.

Now back to these e-mountainbikes. I understand there is a major concern that these are going to accelerate trail erosion. As the motor only engages at the lower speeds, this then applies to climbing and riding sluggish terrain. I'd say that erosion on climbs occurs when the rear wheel skids. This happens if the rider is in too light a gear, getting you only a very small wheel rotation per stomp on the pedal. I also expect pushing the bike uphill (walking) causes more erosion than just simply cycling up. But this is all speculation up 'till this point. I wonder if there has been any proper research, seeing that it causes so much concern. So have some bikes in both e-bike variation as well as the regular variation (if possible). Have them ridden by a variety of riders and somehow observe their effect on the trails.
  • + 3
 At what point is the line drawn in the sand between e-bike and electric motorcycles?

If pedals separate a bike from a motorcycle then shouldn't children push bikes be banned?
(a silly argument but lets explore secondary effects and clarify definitions)

If it's not pedals that create the difference then whats stopping someone from ridding an electric dirtbike down trails? www.altamotors.co/redshiftsm#redshift-page1

The depicted Excelsior OHC has pedals and if powered by an electric motor could be considered an e-bike and have access to the same trails while being capable of 120mph.


While I do understand and see the idea of helping the mobility impaired. If it's a mobility issue and you want to see the parks than get a Motorized wheelchair.

"Wheelchairs (manually-operated or powerdriven)
are permitted on boardwalks and all
park trails (including within recommended
wilderness) as long as they are “devices designed
solely for use by a mobility-impaired
person for locomotion, that is suitable for use
in an indoor pedestrian area” per the Americans with disabilities act"
www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/YELL446.pdf

If you claim you're disabled but can still ride a bicycle. Are you truly disabled? If so that sucks and I'm sorry but we can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time.


26" for life
  • + 2
 i like your reasoning
oh and 26" for life
  • + 3
 Theres too many comments to filter, but IMO if e-bukes can be under 50 pounds and produse enough boost to get me over a 50' double (like 40-45mph) Id be into racing those.

Problem really is that its not like its a cleaner greener way to ride moto. The electricity is mostly coming from the same sources and untill those change to nuclear and we shoot the waste off into space or build thermo waste shelters to convert the radiation to electricity we're not really doing anything.

So electric motorcycles make sense then. But if theres a motor on a bicycle - electric or otherwise - its a MOTORcycle. Thats why we have doctionaries. To all agree on words meanings ad communicate.
  • + 5
 Just wanted to point out that the Excelsior board track racer will do 120 and has no brakes. Maybe if ebike manufacturers tried that, we'd all think ebikes are fckin rad. Razz
  • + 3
 Thank you Richard!
This article about the deception also relates to ourselves as a culture and how we relate to the products we make. We trick ourselves everyday that we buy things thinking we are better, faster, prettier, etc. I think we also trick our selves as this is called "progress". The progress is defiantly in how we are amazing at making things. But how strange we are getting fatter, lazier, apathetic, etc. this junk we buy is killing us! Read a book, eat less, talk to eachother in real life and ride a f*cking bike! Less is more. E-bikes are stupid. Only disabled people should use them.
I'm done now Smile
  • + 2
 Different times back then, 100 years ago. We have the option to ride a motor bike, but choose not to. E-bikes will not take over bicycles like they did at the start of the 20th century. Back then, one could barely afford a bicycle. Today, most people could afford both a motorbike AND a mountainbike (and likely many other bikes too). E-bikes will capture a segment, mainly for commuting, and yes, some will hit the trails, but as the riders learn that the point of being out there is the reward from the suffering. Then they will wonder why it is that many riders are still passing them on the trails on the downs and on technical singletrack (I do to the few I have seen out on the trails, sure they may have beaten me to the top of the hill), and they'll realise that skill trumps motor...
  • + 5
 Why waist time with an electric mountain bike when you could get a dirt bike. I mountain bike because I like to pedal.
  • + 2
 I can't help but think this issue is the same as so many. Squeaky wheels get the grease. If you bring it to the uninformed public that we have these great trails out there and keep highlighting that is possible to light that a fat schlub with an ebike can ride up to "our" trails will only lead to that flat schlub powering up to our trails.

Other than the $9500 specialized all the rest are not suitable for actual mountain biking and therefore will lead to a very short career as an actual mountain bike. Let the industry sort out their financial priorities and the fact that the added weight is not worth the imbalance on the down trail and not worth the cost when the rest of the components (suspension and wheels etc...) suffer because the cost of the driveline makes the most expensive ebikes unattainable by the non cyclist.

Real Bike shops that sell fat schlubs into ebikes specifically for off-road use should be ashamed of themselves, but to disallow a rider who is medically losing their former ability to ride or one who has the mindset for actual riding but a physical/medical condition that will prohibit them from getting out is not a large enough portion of the market to scream at.

As long ebikes keep being sold with fat slick tires on them they will not show up on the trails for long if at all.

I personally commute on pavement with a Canadian made bionx hybrid which allows me to be home to my family in a third of the time than pedalling and not having to change clothes and all the other positives of the no second car argument holds. I will maintain this battery powered un-gas guzzling bike as our second car for many years but it won't be going on any trail anytime soon.
  • + 6
 Enduro is the biggest marketing deception of all.
  • + 0
 As with the wheel size debate Fat Plus Boost All concepts pre geared to be brought in to ease the transition of the Ebike industry
  • + 2
 Richard should take a closer look to Europe and the Alps, where I live and ride since 1985. We've been trough everything, Hardtails, Full Suspension, Freeride, Epic Trailriding, Vertriding done it all. Now happy User of a eEnduro as well aside my 160 mm Enduro. And as much as I admire Richard Cunningham's reflections on eBikes, he is wrong with several statements in this Opinion article.

"While there are many places in the world where motorized off-road vehicles are legally welcome, most of the world's choice mountain bike destinations are not among them." Wrong. Might be true for the US, but in Europe more and more of the Top Mountainbike Destinations open their parks for Pedelecs. Trails are already open for Pedelecs, since many years. Trail access is no problem in Europe, as Pedelec Bikes below 25 km/h (Motor stops working when you stop to pedal) are considered a Bicycle. It's that easy. You can use Bike Paths, Fire Roads, Trails etc, no problem whatsoever.

"Specialized's top-drawer S-Works Turbo Levo debuted with a 530-watt motor - double the power of its competitors. ". Wrong. It's not limited to 530W. Simple Math: If you calculate the Watts needed for the following situation: a 85 kg Biker (including Backpack) plus a 22,5 kg Pedelec where the Biker provides 250-350W of own power, can pedal up a 15% ascent with an average of 15 km/h. It is about 1100 to 1200W a Brose or Bosch Middlemotor performs here in this situation, and Engineers tell you that, if you ask. Just ask your Physics teacher Smile

I've been riding Alpine Singletrails since '85, and am now 45. I am in my 31th year on the Bike, enjoying every second on a trail. But me and many others here are switching or have switched to eBike - Pedelecs. Really, there's a big big Pedelec Movement in Europe, and it has taken off 3 years ago.

The current All Mountains and Enduro eMTBs are finally great to ride, work decently, we get around 1200 HM vertical out of a 500 Wh Battery and ride that Uphill in 50 Minutes (we ride with a 2nd Battery in the Backpack here in Tyrol were we usually do 2500 to 3000 HM Up in one ascent). We all here don't give a f... to any eBike haters out there. May they snail up that long ascent with 5-7 km/h, done that for 31 years.

Now I can do the same with 15 km/h with a good Pulse and still burn a lot of calories. I can do 3500 HM up, 60km Singletrail and Fireroad, 5500 HM down on Singletrails only, 2 Huts on the way each on 2000 m, 2 cool ascents and two great Downhill Singletrail Rides in4:00 hrs if I need to be back home at the Family on the weekend a bit faster Wink 2 huts and 2 epic trails Up AND Down in one day or afternoon. That's life quality!!!

Heck, I did a eBike Enduro Freeride Transalp this summer, without any lifts or cable cars. At two occasions we did 2 stages in one day from 7:00 to 8:00 pm - Big Mountain, Big Landscape, Epic Trails Up and Down, that was one of the most intense Transalps I ever rode. Uphills and Landscapes are with a Pedelec now very enjoyable, Ascent and Descent are very balanced experiences. No only the descents. Hey, we really don't care anymore about all the haters, they just shall have their peace.

These new eEnduros are so much fun, I'll be riding more Singletrail with these bikes until I am 70 than in the last 31 years. That's what it's all about. At age 45 you start thinking: "Hmm, how many Trails will I ride until I get too old to do so? Hopefully as much as possible". These Bikes double your Trailfun, they double your seasonal ride counter. Up AND down is now fun. It's that easy. You do more trail than ever on these bikes, with much fun, and it's not a permanent Cardiovascular contest, which at age might even be unhealthy.

Last point: I've been riding bike parks as well for many years, and we even built some of the bikeparks here! We've been and built the Scene for many years, and it's so cool to see that we have a rich Bikepark culture here in Europe. Now all the Kids, they just don't care about us old folks discussing eBike yes/no. They just grab one of these bikes and have fun, they can train more efficiently and more steadily. EGO Kit? Why not, I can access the park in the time the lift is closed due to revision.

Richard, what do you think: all the Riders that use Cable Cars and Lifts for Bikepark access, aren't they E-bikers as well? What does the Lift work with for operating? Air and Water? No, it works with Electricity. By the time you use a Lift, you are IMHO an e-Biker too Wink So Downhillers that use lifts are no Mountainbikers? If you consider this, Whistler Mountain could already be considered one of the biggest eBike Parks in the World Wink

Finally, what about all those Shuttles with their environmental impact. Here in Europe Shutteling with Pickups is for example not that common like in Canada. Now you can do that with your Pedelec. Leave the truck at home, ride up one time, two times, three times. Save gasoline and save the world the exhaust gases of your Truck. If that is not cool?

However, very sorry about that strange situation you Guys have in the States considering 25 km/h Pedelecs. That's weird.
  • + 2
 So many interesting comments! Personally, I have absolutely no interest in owning or even trying one. However, I can understand the need for some with physical restrictions (in my opinion a minority of people) and the attractiveness of this concept to the targeted market (those that want it all without earning it!). BUT PLEASE JUST DON'T ARGUE THAT THIS IS THE EVOLUTION OF MOUNTAIN BIKING!!!

I believe there is value to it and e-biking is certainly more beneficial than watching tv. Each trail association should start debating and rule it in or out. There is such diversity in terms of history, trail access, trail styles, etc. that a global regulation would inevitably be unfair to some users. Therefore it would be great if we could achieve self-regulation on the matter.

On the other hand, my apprehension is when it comes to climbing a long, hard narrow trail: If somebody is grinding it faster than me, I will step aside and admire him/her, wishing I was too in that kind of shape. But if an e-biker was to suddenly appear out of nowhere and start rubbing up against my rear tire,...I don't think I would display the same courtesy!!!

I am afraid that more damage will come from questionable behaviours, emotional reactions and confrontations between bikers of opposite clans, than from the bike itself. We are already seeing it happening with the Strava phenomenon, when some people become obsessed with their stats and lose all sense of trail ethic.

If the e-bikes are that great, they will gain in popularity and stay. If over time, the problems and frustrations turn out to be greater than the benefits, they will remain marginal and fade away much faster than the scars that we may have inflicted on one another if we turn this debate into some kind of a religious frenzy...
  • + 2
 People keep bringing up the fact that an ebike is a great way for injured or otherwise disabled folks to ride, which it is. I've seen a few adds for ebikes. They ain't targeted at people with disabilities. They are aimed at those that don't like riding up. And if you are too old to ride up, how you gonna get down?
  • + 2
 These thing need a different name. Something without bicycle or mountain. As of now semantically we own them and they are already lumped in as a "mountain biker thing to ruin your favorite trail." Will tthe riding community stand against the industry? The bike bubble has burst and business is business. Who's side are you on?
Thanks RC, keep it going....
  • + 2
 Pedal bikes are freedom. Electric bikes are cool! I use my pedal bike for commuting i would love to have an electric motor cycle as well. I would feel like a twit riding an E bike on trails. Richard you have done a great job of distinguishing between electric cycles and human powerd cycles. I like both.
  • + 2
 Some people think Bikes are good for recovering from injury; but I'm not convinced. I'm currently recovering from a fairly big injury (Tibia plateau fracture/ACL/Meniscus/DVT), the first thing to come back was my fitness. What I lack is the strength to get out of the saddle and absorb the bumps. I can only imagine that an eBike would increase the speed and therefore the shocks being transmitted to the injured limb, which can't end well.

And the reason above I'm about to go out on the road, leaving my very bored mountain bikes to sulk in the cellar!
  • + 2
 Right to the point Richard.
And by all means, aside from the fact that this is the best (by far) argument I’ve read on this subject, it also brought me memories from the old era of the mountain bike magazines.
Supreme read.

John
  • + 1
 Even though I absolutely respect Richard for many of his articles, this one is stuffed with such bad/shady rethoric that it pisses me off. Not Richard, the article.

I extract several arguments from the article against e-bikes. One is that it is considered good to earn your turns. To get up the hill under your own power in order to enjoy the downhills. Sure that would give a sense of accomplishement, but does that mean others would have to, too? It is a bit like religious people going like you have to suffer now so that you can be happy when you're dead instead of the other way around. That is not a choice you're going to make for others. I pose this question after all those PeB articles and it never gets answered. If you think it is so important to climb under your own power before you enjoy the downhills, does that also go for other means of (even more passive) uplift? If not, why? If so, then I'd be very interested to see the response to an article claiming just that, that lift assisted riding would be bad.

Another argument thrives on the emotions due to restricted trail access in the US. And it is always due to "others", right? These others are the less fit and less skilled. Sure they are the ones going to spend 7000 euros on an e-bike? Maybe the insanely rich. More likely those less fit and less skilled are going to spend 700 euros at most on a Deore equipped hardtail, sit down and pedal the easier trails. That's what I expect, but I'd be very interested in some proof supporting the claim that the unfit and unskilled are the ones going to buy these e-bikes. But back to restricted trail access, would it really be due to e-bikes? The process is already in full swing well before those e-bikes got so common so surely it would be more due to regular mountainbikes. If you want to solve it, you need to know the real reasons. Are there any? Are mountainbikers going too fast? The motor isn't working if you're going fast. You'd be equally fast (or even faster) on a regular mountainbike. Is the problem trail erosion on the climbs? If you're skidding on the climbs it is more likely due to improper technique rather than excess power. A too light a gear possibly. You could just as well blame SRAM Eagle or the granny gear (or both for those very creative with light gearing). I'd be interested to see a comparison of trail erosion on the climbs between pushing (walking) the bike uphill vs riding uphill (possibly assisted). I wouldn't be surprised if pushing actually causes more erosion. Is the reason for restricted trail access just vague? Then you can't respond to that. You can't solve that by restricting all others that aren't you. I once started mountain unicycling (MUni) among others because I thought I could then ride the technical walking trails (which were not allowed for cyclists). By law a bicycle has at least two wheels. All unpowered vehicles that don't fall in the bicycle category by default are considered pedestrians. Skateboards, pogostick, unicycle as well. I had loads of fun. Trail erosion is minimal as it is near impossible to skid (and don't crash) and speed is similar to someone running. I always got off when I approached hikers or cattle, greeted friendly. Didn't have trouble with anyone. Some told me it wasn't allowed to ride bicycles there but when I explained I was officially a pedestrian it was fine. I also greeted the rangers, all fine. Until one day a ranger stopped me and dismissed me from the trails. He admitted that I was indeed not causing erosion, not disturbing anyone and there was indeed no explicit prohibition against unicyclists. He simply said they can't make signs for everything they want to forbid but we should always do as told by the rangers. And that last bit is technically true. So sadly that's the last time I rode there. Yes that sucks. I could go silly and (for lack of anything remotely similar) people shouldn't be allowed to run there. Even if I'd achieve that, it doesn't get me access on the unicycle. Same with the e-bikes. If there is no sensible reasoning behind the prohibition of mountainbikes on these trails, it doesn't make sense to prohibe e-bikes. It doesn't suddenly get you trail access.

To be honest I don't know anyone here who rides an e-bike on mountainbike trails. Loads of people use them for commuting to and from work. Not necessarily old people either. My girlfriend has one. She could drive to work in 15 minutes by car. Because the tunnel under the canal isn't accessible by bicycle, riding her bike to work on her regular bike (with all her stuff) takes her 75 minutes. She's done that several times but spending two extra hours commuting is a lot (150 minutes vs 30 minutes). She now has a (high speed) e-bike. It now takes her about 45 minutes to ride to work, so 90 minutes in total. Still one hour more than it would take her by car, but also one hour quicker than by regular bike. You're going to call her unfit and lazy? Watch your mouth, she's got a black belt karate!
  • + 1
 I always liked bikes, was never really into motorcycles. Would much rather watch a bike edit than a motorcycle edit. I see them both as a hobby, so I don't really feel competitive because for some people a hobby is bending forks.
  • + 1
 "Forks" as in the utensil. Should have wrote, "because for some people a hobby is bending utensils".
  • + 1
 Mic drop by RC, but it seems like we're trying to close the barn doors after all the animals area already running rampant. RC is right that e-bikes now are merely a placeholder for electric motorcycles--the power units will only get better and frame/geometry development will focus around the power unit. For companies with no scruples and only focused on showing double digit gains in their quarterly board meetings, this is a god-send for them since they get to pump out more overprices warez for consumers to buy.
  • + 1
 comparing a 250watt ebike to any dirt bike is stupid. theyre are nowhere near as powerful and you have to peddle to go anywhere. in reality most people can produce more power than a 250w motor. yes there are some very powerful ebikes that really do blur the lines, my mate has a 6kw mid drive ebike, but only rides on the roads before people start. i agree these are more like a motorbike, but 250-500w peddle assist are not. i does remind me of the skiers attitude to snowboarders back in the day. its different and not what we do now so it must be bad.
  • + 5
 It is impossible to impose a 250 watt max, or any max speed or power. Those bikes will look identical to the more powerful bikes. And people will mod their bikes to remove the limiters anyway. This is not at all similar to skiers hating snowboarders when boarding was first invented. ebikes will soon be full power motorcycles. We shouldn't be so naive to think that they will remain slow and expensive. They are getting faster and cheaper every year.
  • + 0
 @dfiler: i totally agree with you and i too wish others would see it.
  • + 0
 @dfiler: they will look different, as a 250w motor looks different to a 6kw one. also the more powerful bikes need many more batteries. plus at the moment the more powerful bikes tend to be hub, or mid drive. i get where youre coming from but the bikes do look very different. i have two friends with ebikes, both for different uses. one has problems riding after and accident and bought a peddle assist mtb so he can keep doing the thing he loves. the other is a 6kw beast for commuting so he can keep up with traffic, and would be terrible to ride on 99% of mtb trails. i have no problems with the peddle assist on mtb trails but the big bike would be a no no.
  • + 1
 Currently they look different. Those differences will decrease as components are refined and better integrated. And if 250 is authorized, you can bet multi-thousand watt will be everywhere. This is especially true with carbon bikes becoming common. No longer will bikes look like metal tubes with obvious batteries and motors attached. Instead they will be carbon frames with molded, internal battery compartments. The downtube and bottom bracket junction are already getting massive on carbon bikes. Most of the time it is empty, unused space, but it doesn't have to be. That's where the batteries and motor will be hidden.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: have you seen how big the battery packs are on a multi thousand watt bikes? theres no hiding them really. yes you can put them in a bag on your back, but have you seen what happens when a lipo goes wrong? if you can spot a 250w peddle assist you will deffo notice a multi kw bike. having seen how much a 2.5kw mid drive motor pulls alloy chain stays would dread to think what it would to to carbon. also if the limit by the EU to be considered an ebike is 250w, why would big manufacturers make them bigger? it wouldnt make business sense. if people want an electric motorbike then im sure they will buy one of those and not an ebike.
and you can impose limits on size of bikes, its done with motorbikes here in the uk. you can only ride certain size motors depending on age, the test you did and how long you have been motorbiking. if its a production bike you can put limits and legislation in force to regulate the industry.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: ep1.pinkbike.org/p4pb14013680/p4pb14013680.jpg just so we know what a big motors bike looks like. not going to call it an ebike as this its more an emoped. before anyone starts this gets ridden on the roads only by my mate who cant peddle as well as he used to, and always has to over do everything he owns.
  • + 1
 Are you seriously asking why manufacturers would make a faster bike? Because people want to go fast and there is nothing illegal about it. Manufacturers already make faster motors and bikes and they're completely legal. Riding them on the road is illegal in some countries, but sale and purchase are still legal.

Want to double the cut-off speed of your ebike? Here's how to do it legally for less than the cost of a dropper post.
www.e-bikeshop.co.uk/bosch-ebike-tuning-dongle

It is naive to think that ebikes are slow and can be somehow legislated into being slow. Even the european L1e regulations that go into effect January 1st 2017, don't prohibit the sale of fast bikes. In Canada the limit is double that of Europe. It's triple in the united states. Even without all that variation, faster than street-legal ebikes are a reality that isn't going away. As they come down in price, they'll be everywhere and people won't be satisfied with being limited to 25km/h.
  • + 1
 @gingerninja: That's an awesome bike. I'd love to see that in person or even ride it! Got a link to more info on it?

Certainly there will always be extreme bikes that are obviously extreme. The difficulty is that 500w and 1000w look identical to 250w. Over time, even higher wattage bikes will look relatively normal as components are miniaturized and better integrated.
  • + 1
 .. (oops double post)
  • + 1
 @dfiler: yeah its a beast, prob do about 60mph at the mo, and hes building his 3rd one soon. i think the problem at the moment with the whole ebike thing is there are more people getting stressed about them than there are bikes actually out on trail. i love the idea of getting to the top of the hill faster, more so after going out with a mate on a peddle assist lapier enduro. but i really wouldnt want to sacrifice the manoeuvrability and airability of a normal bike on the way back down. much like i dont have a short travel xc bike to make climbs easier, cos i like the downs more. also up to 1000w is only the same as a strong cyclist can produce at max effort. i do think there will need to be better regulation of what is considered an ebike and whats a emoped. i think the biggest problem with be the strava bunnies getting pissed off loosing KOM to ebikes lol.
  • + 1
 In my opinion, discussion about the future of mountainbiking and ebikes is entirely warranted right now. People familiar with trail access, user group relations, and the progression of ebike technology are correct in recognizing that our world is about to be turned upside down. They will have a bigger impact than anything since the invention of the safety bicycle.

This is especially true for those of us who ride in crowded public parks. My local city park has 20+ miles of singletrack but is also packed with dog walkers, trail runners and even parents pushing strollers. Putting aside the discussion of ebikes being fun and good for people with injuries or limitations, they are also going to be extremely problematic. Silent bikes that look mostly like regular bikes are soon going to allow motorcycle performance to anyone with a thousand dollars to spend. Allowing them where mountainbikers currently ride is like allowing motorcycles to share trails with those dog walkers, runners and stroller pushers. The only difference is that the bikes won't make noise like gas powered bikes do.

Perhaps you haven't experienced the drama of conflicts between different trail user groups. Those conflicts, centered around ebikes, are going to define the next decade of mountainbiking. It will come to define the experience of riding in many areas of the world. It will all be centered around what types of bikes are allowed where.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: i have met all sorts of people on trails, from dog walkers to people taking kids on balance bikes down black runs. i get what you mean about conflict but ebikes are not the problem. people are the problem. its illegal in the uk to ride a mx bike on mtb trails but that doesnt stop people. if someone is going to ride something inappropriate on a mtb trail then they will do it regardless of the law. its better to welcome the responsible riders and educate them on proper trail etiquette than ostracise them and create more conflict. its a bit like the issues we get with walkers and mtb in the uk on bridleways. some walkers think bikers shouldnt be allowed on them, cos some bikers ride like cocks and cause problems for the rest of us. they will walk down the middle of trails and not let bikers passed. ive even heard of people trying to knock bikers off using trekking poles. there will always be conflict around multi use trails, and the only solution is for everyone to use a bit of common sense and accept we are all out trying to have a bit of fun and enjoy the outside. be considerate and courteous to other trails users and if theyre being a dick, explain why what theyre doing is bad. be that on a ebike, normal bike, walking or running. if theyre being dangerous then let then know.
  • + 1
 Education and inclusion is great. But they won't stop fast ebikes from generating more conflict than what we see now. Allowing any ebikes on the trails will effectively be allowing all ebikes on the trails. Motorized bikes already look similar to non-motorized bikes and motor/battery size won't be drastically different between various levels of ebikes. You think those walkers are pissed at mountain bikers already? Just wait until they figure out that ebikes offer nearly the performance of a traditional motorcycle... The conflict is coming and we can't just wish it away.

Later this month an electric bike will be competing in the redbull straight rhythm. My prediction is that they'll completely take over pro motocross within 10 years. R&D is being stepped up as this technology has really hit it's stride. Trickle down tech is already happening.
www.redbull.com/us/en/motorsports/offroad/stories/1331821865518/electricity-to-hit-red-bull-straight-rhythm
  • + 1
 @dfiler: oh course they are starting to come into mx, but that is an electric mx bike, not a peddle assist mtb. the major factor in any electrically powered bike, mtb or car is the batteries. the bigger the motor the more batteries you will need. until they fully develop a compact battery, you will be able to tell the difference. if you ask me, anything with a throttle shouldnt be called and ebike, and shouldnt be ridden on any bike trails. i have no problem with people getting to the top of the hill quicker, but i wouldnt make that sacrifice as the downs wont be as much fun with all that weight. i really think most mtb riders will think the same. thats why people are happy to suffer the harder up hills on enduro bikes over xc bikes, to make the downs more fun. i think in reality the demand for ebikes will be minimal for most mtb riders. we dont ride for the up, we do it for the downs, or we would all be riding road bikes Smile
  • + 1
 @gingerninja: putting aside how fun it is to ride ebikes, we should not be so short sided to not recognize them as motorcycles, whether pedal assisted or not. And no, fast ebikes will not be obviously different looking enough to easily ban one category but not another. Batteries will be built into the frame and there's enough space in the frame for a bike to be waaay too fast for pedestrian/cycling trails.

This isn't obvious to people yet because the technology is new. Each year the bikes will get cheaper, faster, and more refined until they are sleek machines with batteries and motor hidden in the frame.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: so you dont go faster than 20mph on your bike ever? ive done 40 on my bike and pretty sure 90% of ebikes cant do that. not sure what batteries you have seen but theres no hiding them in a frame for a bike with anything over 250w. well not if you want it to last more than 20min. youre also assuming everyone that buys an ebike is going to be an inconsiderate wanker and try to run everyone off the trails. its funny cos 25 years ago mtb riders had this problem with walkers, as they werent used to seeing bikes out on trail. you would think that having experienced the same hostility, the mtb community would be a little more open minded.
oh if you want to tell martin ashton hes not allowed to ride a bike any more cos some people think ebikes are shit and should be banned then go ahead. personally i think its great that people with a love of biking can still get out on the trails after life changing accidents.
  • + 1
 @gingerninja: No I don't think everyone will be an inconsiderate wanker. It's those that are that can ruin it for the rest of us. Nor does a general limit for ebike access to trail systems mean limiting paralyzed people. Dogs are banned in most restaurants but service dogs for blind people are allowed.

It is obvious that larger batteries will be hidden in the frame. It's the cleanest design. With that in mind, it will be hard to regulate the speed of ebikes. Faster than road-legal ebikes are a reality that won't be going away. They're getting faster, cheaper and more refined every eyar.

I don't think ebikes "are shit". Only that they will cause friction with other trail users. Recognizing that an ebike problem is coming doesn't mean hating ebikes.

While we obviously disagree, thanks for the interesting discussion. Part of the reason for replying so many times is that I'm fascinated by the topic. I see it as becoming the most important topic for mountain bikers in the next few years.
  • + 2
 @dfiler: yeah ive enjoyed it too, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. only the future knows what will happen. in the meantime fingers crossed there is some self regulation by the mtb industry, and that everyone gets to play out without falling out.
  • + 1
 I have to say e bike's have their place but not on a bike park where you you would have ski lift's and fast downhill run's as the ski lift's keeps people going up hill out of the way of people going downhill. So I think the e bike could have some elements of a giggle factor in commuting to work and coming back from work just to get a grin out of the day.
  • + 1
 Come on ppl. Most of these ebikes are e-assist and barely have over 200 watts on tap at max setting. That amount of power is not going to do much trail ripping unless a super-fit freak is using one. I think ebikes, they are fine for the wife, towing younger kids, the grandparents and those coming back from injury on family friendly trails.
  • + 3
 I will refuse to buy a MTB from any company that produces EBIKES and trys to pass them off as a mountainbike. If we all did the same I wonder where that might lead?
  • + 1
 2 hundred plus comments. I didn't read it all but ebike will affect everyone - all Mtb discipline. Moto itself - ebike will be as fast soon and being lighter, many tricks unachievable by moto and bikes will be made possible by its weight to speed ratio. Moto enduro too Will be affected as ebiked enduro format will be a lot more affordable not to mentioned safer . Bikepark operators will start to build on flatlands. Lift operators will be need to think of new plans. DH will branch out to flatland format. Trail bikes as we know it will be niche products for old guys who does not know how to shred (e) bikes. The real giants like Yamaha, Honda, Ktm will dominate once mtb Guinea pigs done pushing toward ebikes and their ultimate demise. Shimano, sram and many more will follows. If u are wondering, I'll be one of the old guys. What else did I missed out.
  • + 1
 Thanks for this @RichardCunningham It's the best piece on this topic I've ever read. I was open to the idea of e-bikes previously, but not any more - at least not on traditional bike trails. You've persuaded me completely that they pose a real risk to our access - within a decade they will have power rivaling a 80cc dirt bike, or better (worse?).
  • + 1
 Typical pinkbike BRO's who still run 9 speed. Once people realize that e bikes don't change anything life can go on. If you don't want one don't buy one. But going 3 to 5mph faster doesn't mean you're not working hard for the descent.
  • + 1
 I am one of the aforementioned riders who has physical limitations. I am a lifelong cyclist and have been partially paralyzed since the age of 22. I can still pedal a bicycle, but it's significantly limited. For me, e-bikes are the only practical way to ride on two wheels. I mainly ride handcycles, and motors are starting to show up on those, as well. It makes a HUGE difference when trying to crank a bike with your arms. Especially on the 50+ pound off-road bikes. The motors allow disabled riders (on handcycles) to keep up with able-bodied friends (for both on and off-road.)

That said, I don't really feel that having e-bikes on regular MTB trails is a good idea. Some are already too powerful and fast to be safe and practical. ORV trails seem a much better fit for them. I don't think expecting people to ride e-bikes safely and respectfully is unreasonable, but there will certainly be those who want to go shred trails on their 3,000-watt (or more) monsters. That's a recipe for disaster.
  • + 1
 Nothing against e-bikes as long as they are used for COMMUTING purposes only. We don't need electric anything on any dedicated road or trail bike, IMO. I've test rode bikes with electronic shifting & honestly I don't see reason to switch. If you believe it changes your whole dynamics on the bike, go for it, but if you do the same with an E-bike, you are altering the dynamics of mountain biking in general, which is not OK. Any seasoned mtb rider in any discipline will agree with me & that is why I think the future is safe in this regard, the oddball that rocks up to singletrack on an e-bike will be singled out & will eventually get the message.
  • + 1
 Lets not fool ourselves; I think the most hardened objector to motorised mountain bikes would have a degree of softening of stance on the mate who has a permanent injuring or growing old etc (me included) - but the manufacturers are gearing up for a big economy of e-bikes that would see a slither of market share going to that type of rider. The mass market will be people who just wish to avoid pedaling and access our trails. 'Old mate' will be the minority be a long way.
  • + 1
 Thank you Richard, a superbly well written, perfectly set piece, which puts into words the legitimate concerns of thousands of mountain bikers the world over. Whenever I need to have the e-bike conversation with someone, I won't, I'll just point them to your article. Awesome work.
  • + 1
 I think this article ignores a very important thing. In many countries, there are limits to which an e-bike has to comply to be considered equal to a regular bike. Here in NL (and most of the EU), this means max 250W, no power without pedal and cut-off of assist above 25kmh (~16mph). Anything else and it is legally considered a motorcycle or moped, with all the consequences regarding access to trails and insurance etc.
So there can be no arms race of motor power in e-mountian bikes, as long as there are sensible laws like this. Of course there can be people who cheat but banning e-bikes from trails won't stop them. Now you can argue quite a bit whether such limited e-bikes should be allowed on trails or not but saying that if you allow e-bikes the motors will only get bigger is fairly short-sighted.
  • + 1
 For the last two days, I had the pleasure ( or was it pain, I`m not as fit as I thought ) of guiding a group of mountain bikers on a trip. Of the 7, 5 were in great shape, 1 struggled a lot, but the 6 of them had no disabilities. One however, had a severe disability on one of his legs. To put it this way, walking was hard and required the assistance of others, steps were the devils work, but, once on the e-mtb he was just another one of us. Food for thought ...
  • + 1
 Article is so good we should all embrace the renaming and rebranding of all mountain bikes to Pinkbikes and ban any attempt to ever create or attempt to create an E-Pinkbike. I think there's a clumsy metaphor in there somewhere Ricky.
  • + 2
 I have a feeling that most e-bikers are gonna have little skill so demand little from their trails, at least in North America. Anyone who can shred and wants a powered bike is probably into moto.
  • + 3
 Great article....
Aboot five fkng years late
An admission that the (big corperate side of our) bike industry is lying to us an has been all along
  • + 5
 Motorised bicycles are banned in our parks here in Canberra. Good.
  • - 5
flag deadmeat25 (Sep 30, 2016 at 5:01) (Below Threshold)
 Why?
  • + 3
 @deadmeat25: @deadmeat25: Because our local trail builders and mountain bike clubs work directly with the state government to get permission to build trails, which were built by volunteers and we don't want motorised bikes gassing it up the trails and wrecking them. The government said "Fair enough" and so when the law banning motorised vehicle on trails (which was written before 'e-bikes' was a thing) to keep motor bikes and cars out of parks) was, when revieiwed recen was reviewed recently, no words were changed with the intention that the words covered motorised bikes as requested by our MTB club.

www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/our-trails-arent-built-for-that-ebike-riders-risk-fines-in-canberra-nature-parks-20160718-gq7w79.html
  • + 5
 It's sad how much society has embraced laziness. Goodbye, trail access!
  • + 1
 I think the E-Bike is a very nice expression of this very lazyness. People that can't be bothered to earn their turns should just not bother at all. Go to a park, they are designed for fun-only riding, there you pay for trail maintenance and access.
  • + 1
 What about Downhill bikes? Not that I'm against downhilling, but most DH riders are getting to the top with chairlift motors or shuttle-vehicles. And the "extreme sports" side of mountain biking is not exactly helping our cause:
"Seven in ten IMBA members said "the perceived negative image of mountain biking" is the biggest threat to new trail access."
  • + 3
 Chairlift access is in a controlled area and not on public trails. Shuttles on the other hand can happen anywhere...but again Shuttles do drive on public single track ment for bikes and other non motorized activities
  • + 3
 You left out a lot about people dying at races, race tracks being death traps with newfound speeds, economics of the time period, etc. etc.
  • + 1
 Was already a long article. Had he gone into how many people were killed boardtrack racing it would have just been longer. Was used as the base of his article... not an article about boardtrack racking. Though I would have read that too. I love those things. I'm actually surprised that he didn't have an image of the vintage electric bikes since they're basically electric boardtrackers...
  • + 1
 Totally agree with this article except by one little point: e-bikes are an excellent option for those people with physical problems or advanced ages to climb determinated uphills. The question is... Where should be the limit of using e-bikes in the mountain? I think there's not an easy answer... Apart of this question, an e-bike will never can to be compared with the purity of a genuine mountain bike
  • + 0
 I think there shouldn't be any limit, let me explain...

Let's compare this to cheating in a video game. You can cheat offline or online. Why do people cheat in games? Normally in offline games to overcome their lack of ability in some area or to explore around. Either way it gets boring very quickly. People who cheat online do it mostly to piss off other people or just to show off. Once they get caught or they can't enrage other players it doesn't make any sense to keep on going, so they quit.

E-bikes or assisted mountain bikes should be really called "mountain motorbike" and over time people who bought it to overcome their laziness will eventually get bored and quit (and move on to buy a proper motorcycle). People that bought it to cheat or show off (in strava for example) will also be caught and put to shame... and quit. Who do we have left? Riders that NEED that assistance to enjoy their hobby/sport. Self accomplishment is a very important factor in keeping riders riding, and no cheating will give you that.

E-bikes are very useful for city transportation, that will catch on no doubt, but in mountain, road, bmx, or whatever competitive discipline you practice will stay clean of cheating electronic assisted bikes.
  • + 0
 I would just like it if Pinkbike put less E-bike material on there website. No one cares to hear about it really, and who ever does can start there own little community like the backyard urban hillbillies who convert shit bikes to mopeds.
  • + 0
 C'mon they're fuckin motorcycles people. You want to ride a motorcycle then go ride one. You wanna dress up in spandex get a spindly 12lb Carbon wonder road bike and go play in traffic then do it. You wanna get on a real Mtb get your body into the shape it needs to be and learn the complicated skill set required to ride a real bicycle then you're welcome on the trails. Otherwise stay the hell out!
  • + 0
 The ebike is the ultimate getaway vehicle so f*ck all the cops, rangers, horse riders, hikers and any other naysayers cause they won't be able to catch you. Strap a 1680 cyclone kit to a 15 kilo enduro/freeride bike and f*ck the world cause No one can stop you. With an ebike you don't need a trail it goes Anywhere and unlike motorbikes it can go over fences and is almost silent. Ban me from whatever trails you want on my unpowered mtb because of ebikes and I'll just ride illegally like I did in the states or I do on hiking and horse trails. I'll give way and be polite but this earth doesn't BELONG to anybody. Laws are made to be broken. Live a little you f*cken squares.
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham Congratulations! What a Masterpiece. Simply the best article I have read on e bikes. Not hating, no bashing. Just eloquent and precise.
  • + 0
 Holy f*ck !! The humanity of it all! Is it a bike? is it a moped? is it a f*cking plane? Its an E -bike. Like an E - cigerete is not a true smoke, but like one in a simular way, ebikes are still bikes but a little differnt.
So what if lazy people ride em. CLIMBING SUCKS FOR MOST RIDERS ANYWAY. This is PB, mostly DHers , so why the uproar ? I would rather shuttle and bomb runs all day than spend all day climbing and only get a couple runs down. how does that make me lazy? Having fun all day riding in my 40s beats bragging about your spandex 3hr climb and 5 minute down run. So your knees are bad or you have some other dissability and you cant pedal but used to love bikes? Go get on an ebike and ride it like you stole it. And have a blast while your at it, if thats what it takes to get you back out on the trails. And also while yor at it, tell the bikers you pass that give you shitty looks....Tell em 26" wheels sucked and arent comming back!!
  • + 0
 This was a ridiculously biased article. To compare an e-bike to a motor bike is not fair. You HAVE TO PEDAL to make an e-bike work.
They already have plenty of power ( too much at full power) and there are ALREADY legal limits on speed. So to suggest that the manufacturers will engage in a speed war is ridiculous.
It's way more likely that they will engage in a RANGE war as that is the limiting factor for e-bikes. That will only happen with more efficient motors and batteries and lighter bikes.

Growing up I was a competitive water-skier. Then wake boarding came around. There were similar arguments....

It's easy to get up on a wakeboard so therefore people will get hurt easier.
The large wakes of wakeboard boats will destroy lake shoreline and therefore get all waterspouts banned ( some lakes did try to ban wakeboarding).
Wakeboarder are reckless yahoos etc
The waterskiing world turned it's back on wakeboarding and the wakeboarders forged their own path. Guess what happened? It caught on and waterskiing is all but dead on a competitive level while wakeboarding is getting stronger by the year.

Adapt or die folks...
  • + 4
 @RC
I dig the cover page parody from your old job.
  • + 0
 First, the Turbo Levo has 530Wh battery, not motor. The motor is 250W as with all the other major manufacturer e-mtbs. It's not a power race. Ebikes are regulated with laws and e-mtbs are built to EU-regulations. DIY bikes and small shop American bikes are different story. You don't have to like them, but get your facts and reasons behind them right.
  • + 11
 @pinkypie Got the 530 watt info from the Specialized website and got the same number over the phone for a fact check. "530 watts peak power."
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham:
They play with the EU definition of e-bikes with requires max "250w continuous power"
To have higher torque you need a more powerfull motor (torque comes from amps, power from torque * revs), so they limit output power to avoid crossing 250w limit, but use a 530w motor to have twice the torque output at low revs.

And regarding private use, beware law is some country, in France if your e-bike doesn't strictly follow EU regulation, it's considered as a motorbike.
That's trigger automatically insurance requirement, even for private land use, there is numerous cases of insurance litigation around this. Most are ride-on lawn mower litigation in fact, but apply to everything that has a motor and transport a human being.
  • + 0
 Got a cx bike, a ti hardtail and a turbo levo. Love them all. the ebike is amazing fun. it doesn't rip up trails. it's not noisy. I still get a sweat on. it's not faster than if I put a lot of effort in but will last a lot longer than I would. so it can go twice the distance quicker on a nice long ride and the Extra low weight makes for great handling. Where is the problem???
  • + 5
 Ebikes..not even once.
  • - 2
 why?
  • + 3
 I will never get an E Bike Going back to my non E Bike would be very Dificult.
  • + 3
 Pedal phucking power, fo life.
  • - 2
 Why?
  • + 2
 Did anybody notice the exhaust routing on that Excelsior? Did it just burn the riders feet off?
  • + 2
 Btw squamish shares its trails with peeps on gas and electric trials bikes.
  • + 1
 man that schwinn excelsior mtb looks awesome!! e-bikes are definitely getting out there, even where I live on our local trails we saw one.
  • + 1
 If e-bike ever make it to be the top main stream bikes, I hope we will be given the choice to rip it off and ride old skool X]
  • + 1
 If your company makes motorized mountain bikes, you have lost me as a customer.
  • + 1
 This is easily the most relevant and well written article I've read on Pinkbike in years. Thank you!
  • + 2
 Eveyone just pedal your own damn ass up the mountain screw e bikes!
  • + 2
 Ebikes will never thrive in Canada, here the lazy people ride 4 wheelers.
  • + 1
 Paul Brodie..........artist,painter,sketcher,machinist,welder,visionary,genius bridges all facets of two wheels.
  • + 0
 What a great article and what a heated debate up top! I understand both sides but I still think they're a fad destined mainly for commuting. just my 2 cents Smile
  • + 1
 Thank you for writing this article, well done!
  • + 1
 well i cant bench 150kg can i have some e-weights so i can......pleeeeaze
  • + 1
 Words of wisdom Smile

Brilliant analogy and spot on argumets!
  • + 1
 Great article. Thanks.
  • + 1
 Absolutely magnificent.
  • + 1
 Well said, Sir !!
  • + 1
 Spot on.
  • + 0
 Thanks for this artical.....well.said.
  • + 0
 Thank you PB for refusing those ebike advertising $$$ !!!
  • + 1
 Bycicles aint dead!
  • + 0
 Do they have a motor? If yes, then it's an electric motor bike.
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