Opinion: Should We Be Racing eMTBs at the Elite Level? Maybe Not Yet.

Jul 21, 2021
by Matt Wragg  
Header for Matt s Op Ed pieces.


In my last editorial I wrote about how the sales of eMTBs look like they will uproot the financial underpinnings of high-level enduro racing. However, going through the comments, I get the impression that many of our readers wanted to talk about racing eMTBs instead. So here we go, my two penneth on racing ebikes.

Should we be racing ebikes? Yes, of course—we should race pretty much everything with wheels. Should we be organizing elite-level competitions right now? Probably not.

I’m not sure we should have eMTB race series at anything more than a local level, or at least not yet. I joined Pinkbike around ten years ago. I was (and still am) living on the French-Italian border where enduro racing was huge around me. Chasing after the races, I followed the ascent of this phenomenon as it emerged onto the world stage. I don’t like saying I was lucky to be there, I believe you make your own luck, but it was an exciting time to be part of. There was the feeling that we were riding some great wave and with hindsight, I think it is fair to say that enduro racing was the biggest upheaval in mountain biking during my riding life. Up until the arrival of the eMTB, at least…

Stage two was around nine minutes long. Second and third-placed Nico Vouilloz pictured here and Jerome Clementz were split by two hundreths of a second. Just work back through that for a moment to have two riders pushing on the limit for that long and to come down in such similar times is unreal.
Nico Vouilloz on his way to winning the EWS race in Val D'Allos, 2013

Enduro at its heart is a deeply European idea. The first season of the EWS marked the tenth anniversary of the first modern enduro race, the Tribe 10,000 in Val D’Allos, France. Superenduro in Italy had been going for more than five years, in the UK the Gravity Enduro series three or four. There were series in Spain, Germany, everywhere. I know some people dispute the role of the Tribe 10,000 as ground zero because in many places there were enduro-like races stretching back as far as the 1980s. It was an idea that riders wanted and before there was a defined sport to latch onto they could instinctively feel the rough outline of the thing. The EWS rose from a groundswell of grassroots through to national-level racing, it was the natural conclusion of a movement that had been gaining momentum for years.

In the US things were not as far along. 2012 marked the first national series, the North American Enduro Tour (my wife, Mary Moncorge, won it), combining Crankworx rounds, the Wasatch Enduro in Utah and several rounds of the Oregon Enduro Series. Around that time one edition of the Crankworx, Whistler enduro went down in infamy for having impossible liaisons. Many races were little more than rebadged Super-D races, stripping the crucial technical elements out of the racing. The Sea Otter enduro was raced in full spandex. I was fairly vocal about how shitty I thought it looked, but with hindsight, I think my comments were unfair.

What I didn’t grasp at the time was that North American mountain bikers found themselves in a very different situation to their trans-Atlantic counterparts. European enduro racing was something created by grassroots riders and had time to mature and grow into something ready for the big stage. In North America, there was an already-defined discipline being introduced from the top-down to racers. That created tension. I remember the response at the time swinging from outright hatred to over-excitement coupled with an unclear idea of what the thing actually was. Does anyone else remember “enduro” blue? How every new product seemed to have the ‘e’ word plastered across, regardless of how appropriate it was? Today grassroots enduro racing is huge across North America, maybe even more so than in Europe, but only because it has had time to find its own way to that point.

Day 2 1 04pm. Shooting Josh Carlson starting his winning run of the enduro.
Sea Otter Enduro 2014. The less said the better, right?

"What has this to do with eMTBs" I hear you asking? "eMTBs are not mountain bikes." While I would argue that they are not so different, to ignore their differences is unwise. eMTBing is also a young sport. Realistically eMTBs that can be ridden hard on technical terrain have only been around for five years or so. To draw a parallel to mountain bike history, I would say that they have left Mount Tam, reaching the early days of commercial mountain bikes. Even the early adopters are still trying to get their heads around the bikes. I first rode an ebike six years ago now, and I am still searching for the limits of what I can do on one of these bikes - certainly my current bike is capable of way more than my first personal eMTB in 2017. Imagine asking Charlie Kelly to visualize a modern EWS race based on racing the Repack on his klunker. Or Mike Sinyard to extrapolate the modern Stumpjumper Evo from his first hardtail frames.

If history teaches us anything about mountain bikers, it is that given time they will find the limits of the bike and sooner rather than later put a stopwatch to it. They haven’t got there with eMTBs yet. Here on the Franco-Italian borderlands there are people pushing eMTB racing - the founder of Superenduro, Franco Monchiero, has run an Italian national e-enduro series since 2017, we had the launch of the World Ebike Series (that has never left Central Europe) and around the Southern Alps many of the former enduro race organizers turned their attention to eMTBs a few years ago, there have been hillclimbs, eXC races, weird enduro-alikes, enduro races with a token climb thrown in and a few very good stabs at getting something right. It is worth noting that at the same time here in the Maritime Alps, a place where enduro was the lifeblood of the local scene for almost two decades, the popularity of grassroots enduro racing is coming crashing down and it seems like a majority of riders are making the electric switch. Amongst all this no single format has emerged though, nobody has yet struck upon the magic formula, and if you head to less racing-obsessed areas there's a good chance there are no races at all.

I raced a round of the Italian e-enduro series back in 2017. In honesty, it was pretty good, the racing took place on a course that for the most part would not have looked out of place at a good enduro race, but the team had added in some ugly climbs, a more XC-focused stage that would have been miserable-at-best on a mountain bike and a 45-minute charging/snack break. I finished 16th scratch, in case you were wondering, and no, factory teams have not been beating down my door to offer me a ride since. It was so good that I headed back in 2018, riding a course recce with the organizers and practicing for one round, but was disappointed to see what I found. The organizers had softened up the courses. Asking them why they were heading in this direction they explained that the people who were buying eMTBs, who were coming to race the whole series, did not enjoy the more demanding courses as much and they had to follow what their customers were asking for.

Val di Pejo Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg
Open practice at the Val di Pejo E-Enduro, 2018

This is where eMTB racing is different from mountain bike racing. Mountain bike racing is, for the most part, sustained by young, hungry riders. They are the people that are there week-in, week-out, who race organizers depend on to keep their series going. But if you are young and hungry, chances are you don't have the $15,000 spare for the latest Specialized Turbo Levo. With the E-EWS you will need two extra batteries if you want to race in the pro class and the current generation of larger batteries will run you around €800 per battery. The people that are going putting this kind of money into their bikes may show up for a race or two as an experience, but they will not be there regularly enough for a series to work. Then there is the rate of development of the bikes themselves. Today a bike from two years ago is more or less obsolete, maybe not if your goals are having fun, but certainly for winning races - one well-known DH legend skipped the Pietra Ligure E-EWS as he only had the Shimano E8000 motor available, not the EP8. And all this is before we start talking hacking the motors, power to weight ratios and the disproportionate time gaps from climbing compared to descending.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t see a lot of eMTB racing in the next couple of years. Our industry has a racing problem. Racing is how companies sell bikes to us and how they think about the sport. Our global governing body is hard-wired for racing, which means the national federations are too. And, try as we might, it filters down to most of us too. So along comes a new type of bike and it makes sense that brands want to go and race them, in some cases for no other reason than it fits nicely with their existing marketing structures. Those bikes proving to be such enormous commercial successes only adds fuel to that fire, despite the fact that the current commercial success is not based on racing.

What this all adds up to, I don’t know. It is certain there will be a lot more ebike races, I think it is a safe bet that they will be met with resistance in many places as eMTBs are not yet universally accepted and mountain bikers seem to be instinctively sceptical of anything coming from the top down. If I had my way, we would all take a step back to watch how the eMTB market evolves, how these eMTBs are being ridden and what the people who are buying them are looking for. I am pretty certain that given time that riders will find a fun way to race them and we will have better racing by waiting…


189 Comments

  • 177 3
 What about eMtb hill climb races up dh tracks?
  • 8 0
 I like that idea
  • 4 0
 YES!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!
  • 71 2
 During a DH race! Now that would be a f'ing sport!!
  • 74 0
 And put 4 of them out there at once. Kicking: allowed
  • 14 0
 @ibishreddin: Compulsory.
  • 69 1
 Winner gets a free pinkbike/outdoors subscription for a year...
  • 9 1
 Race to top then back down !
  • 9 0
 Leogang road gap included
  • 31 0
 Megavalanche in reverse
  • 7 0
 @ibishreddin: Uphill Domination has a good ring to it.
  • 9 0
 Was about to post a list of reasons why this would actually be really awesome and a great idea.... and then realized I was just describing a moto hard enduro stage. Hrmmm...
  • 6 0
 @ibishreddin: should we make them spin around a broom handle 4 times before they get going?
  • 1 0
 Only while DH riders are headed down at the same time
  • 1 0
 Bet the whole bag on Wyn Masters if that happens
  • 85 3
 It’d be like formula E , rounding up the not quite elite drivers / riders to participate in something that nobody has any interest in watching.
  • 20 1
 If batteries are dying left and right like in Formula E, with riders have to pedal uphill w/o assistance cursing all the way, maybe, just maybe I'd watch - but only if they were mic'd.
  • 16 6
 To be fair, FE might not have the sounds but it’s full of great action, more so that many ICE-based racing series. A few recent events have been embarrassing, but the racing is generally damn exciting!
  • 14 0
 @mikelevy: You surely saw the video of Lewis Hamilton being so distracted that he stopped mid-interview just to drink in that glorious wail of Alonso’s old v10… sound is everything in racing
  • 5 3
 We've already got the EWS for that.
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: No Mike, bad Mike, we know your GP was cancelled again this year but there's no need to lash out like that. They'll surely be back next year, The Wall of Champions must be getting hungry.
  • 5 1
 @HawmStacks: Those sound incredible, of course, but I’d rather have good racing than good sounds if I’m picking one or the other. Thankfully we don’t need to.
  • 2 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: Good thing there’s an FE race in Vancouver next year haha
  • 3 2
 Yes, that´s what ebike racing is like: pleasing the sponsors, done by people not anymore or never good enought for the "real thing" plus a few joeys looking for a experience and bringing their hacked/"tuned" ebike along. And chargers charging batteries. Everywhere.
  • 76 8
 "It is certain there will be a lot more ebike races, I think it is a safe bet that they will be met with resistance in many places as eMTBs are not yet universally accepted and mountain bikers seem to be instinctively sceptical of anything coming from the top down."

...we're skeptical b/c it has a motor. If it was a mountain bike, you wouldn't need to call it a "eMTB"..it would just be a "MTB." In the past there was push-back to 27.5 wheels, then 29 wheels, disc brakes, etc.....but none of those innovations made us questions whether the improvement/change no longer made it a mountain bike. Its different in this case b/c there is an outside energy source providing power. I'm not against eBikes, they have a place and I don't hate people that use them, but its not analogous to past changes/improvements in the industry. As a commenter once said in another article..."I'm not against escalators but I won't call them stairs."
  • 17 5
 Without doubt the best analogy I've seen on this debate, I pissed myself when I saw it.
  • 6 2
 Nicely stated @SATN-XC
  • 1 2
 well said. the ama has got it figured out already... www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d-Ga0HG5kA
  • 9 2
 Well said and the outside energy source puts eBikes in the same bracket as other motorized vehicles that are subject to different trail access regulations.in a lot of countries. It's kinda hard to explain that a motorbike can't use a trail but an eBike can. e-motorbikes blur the lines even further.
Sure, in a bike the motor only is used for 'support', but that's a bit vague right? And that 600W is a lot of support for your wimpy 150W threshold power. An added complication is that a lot of power without skills to match is a recipe for trail conflicts and not just between mountainbikers. That adds more fuel to the trail access fire.
The industry did not care about this whole discussion. They simply found a new cash cow.
  • 2 0
 This guy gets it.
  • 73 47
 Ditch the cranks already and stop trying to call them bikes. E-dirt bikes are already a thing, and the differences between them and emtbs will soon come down to this: One has cranks, the other a throttle. Ultimately those seeking electromechanical advantage will choose the latter . And off they’ll sail into that realm.

Then we can all get back to complaining about human powered mtbs
  • 57 44
 There is an ocean you can fill in the space between an e-mtb and an e-dirt bike.
  • 8 11
 I couldnt had said it better myself...the sooner the better
  • 6 7
 Some ebikes already have twist throttles....
  • 15 5
 Dirt bikes are cheaper
  • 13 14
 ummmm, pedal assist emtb is different than throttle and have 1/50 of the power. THATS the difference.
  • 7 1
 @robcartwheel: But can I fill it with plastic and batteries?
  • 29 29
 @slayerdegnar: Its still electric assist....go rid e your emtb in a motorized OHV park....I am a old time motocrosser look up my user name...I love dirt bikes and outdoor motocross is and always will he the real deal....that being said ebikes are MOTORIZED vehicles...quit making excuses to call them real mtbs and to ride them on PEOPLE POWERED single track. When the industry starts looking for ways to lighten your overweight pig rides the first thing to go are going to be the poor excuse to call a emtb a bicycle THE CRANKS then what are you going to call emtbs? And as far as 1/50 of the power how long to you think thats going to last...there is a reason sedona does not allow ebikes on ther'ye already overcrowded trails
If you take the work- PEDALING UPHILL out of riding a mtb then it just opens up pandoras box for every poser with no trail edicat to invade are already overcrowded trails.i have nothing against electric powered vehicles including bikes and I have no problem with people that have issues with injury or just old age catching up with them...I am 62 yrs old...switching to a ebike to continue riding.fine I may even be in that catagory some day soon...I've been riding mtb since the mid 90's and I never would have imagined that there would ever be a difference of opinion of what is a bicycle and what isnt.
  • 13 0
 @BengtAberg:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengt_%C3%85berg

Passed on 6 March, 2021, age 76.

Who are you?
  • 9 2
 @BengtAberg: You where pn a roll and actually making point... But then you got fact checked. You're from Sweden and dead... welcome to the downvote section.
  • 5 19
flag BengtAberg (Jul 21, 2021 at 17:05) (Below Threshold)
 @OlSkoolJake: Never said I was Bengt Aberg ass wipe.just my way of paying tribute to a moto cross icon from sweden. Good thing I didnt use the name Joel Robert....look up who he was and where he was from....jerkoff
  • 15 1
 @BengtAberg: Literally said "I am a old time motocrosser look up my user name"
  • 2 14
flag BengtAberg (Jul 21, 2021 at 17:44) (Below Threshold)
 @whatsstinky: Glad you got a laugh out of that reply....maybe olskooljake should change his username numbskulljake...I wonder if straightshooter6 is paying attention this time
  • 1 10
flag BengtAberg (Jul 21, 2021 at 17:46) (Below Threshold)
 @whatsstinky: I meant straight6rocks
  • 8 2
 @BengtAberg:

"I am a old time motocrosser look up my user name"

Someone did... The name you use is of a dead Swedish moto racer.... I laughed at you.

And I'm the one being called "numbskull".... The 70's called. They want their sick burn back.
  • 2 1
 @BengtAberg: I don’t think you’re angry enough
  • 7 1
 @robcartwheel: "There is an ocean you can fill in the space between an e-mtb and an e-dirt bike"

But a smaller ocean than the space between e-mtb and real bikes
  • 1 0
 @BengtAberg: So they are illegal in most of Europe to be sold as bikes
  • 3 2
 @robcartwheel: not really. Go ride in Squamish and see all the electric dirtbikes getting around that are built mostly with MTB components and weigh half as much as a normal dirt bike. They're basically just very heavy MTBs with a throttle. You could add "pedal assist" and call it an e-bike and it'd be plausible, and there really isn't any clear delineation of the two. Those are what are going to really f**k up trail access for MTBs and more "legit" e-bikes, because they look, sound and feel mostly like a MTB, but behave like a dirtbike.
  • 1 1
 @Socket: I don't doubt that there some after market folks making e-bikes that straddle the ocean I am referring to. They are not e-mtbs or e-dirt bikes, which was what this was about. An e-MTB does not ride like or feel like an e-dirt bike, no more so than a mtb feels like or rides like a dirt bike. The key difference, and its a pretty big one, is how and amount of sheer power that is produced. I have ridden all but an e-dirt bike, but have encountered some. E-dirt bikes are just dirt bikes with motors. E-mtbs require you to ride like you are on a MTB and only assist with that process. But I suspect you know this already, but still need a reason to hate on e-MTB I guess.
  • 2 0
 @robcartwheel: they're only "not e-mtbs" or "not e-dirtbikes" by your semantic definition, but the point I'm making here is that there is a full spectrum of electric powered and electric assisted bikes that range from things as powerful as a motocross bike to the "legit" e-mtbs that are limited in battery capacity, top assisted speed etc. There is a wide range of power outputs available there, and despite what you keep claiming, there isn't a significant delineation between them. The best you could really do as a hard and fast rule that says "this is an electric bicycle and this is an electric dirtbike" is to look at whether it has pedals or pegs, but even then, the lower powered throttle-only bikes are not much different to the higher powered electric-assisted pedal bikes in weight, power output or speed. You keep claiming they're totally different, but the full range of bikes already exists and the fact that we're even having this discussion already shows that it obviously is not self-evident to people that "this type of bike here is fine on this type of trail, but this distinctly different type of bike is not ok" because they aren't so distinctly different.

Example - surron.ca/pages/light-bee-x. Less than half the weight and about 1/7th the power of a dirtbike, about twice the weight and 10x the power of a light e-mtb like a Levo. MTB suspension, brakes and wheels.

Worth mentioning that I actually like e-bikes too. I'm not trying to hate on them and I'd even consider buying one of those Sur Rons, everything I've heard about them has been positive.
  • 2 0
 @Socket: I agree with you that there are a range of e-bikes out there. But as a dirt bike rider and MTB'er who also has an e-MTB, I can say that there is far more in common between the MTB and E-MTB than there is between an E-MTB and an kind of dirt bike, including e-dirt bikes, that you'd typically use on an OHV type trail system, which is what is thread was kind of about.

Not saying everyone has to like E-MTBs, but to suggest that they should go to OHV trails is not consistent with what they are actually designed to do.
  • 26 3
 " The organizers had softened up the courses. Asking them why they were heading in this direction they explained that the people who were buying eMTBs, who were coming to race the whole series, did not enjoy the more demanding courses as much and they had to follow what their customers were asking for."
If the new lines that are developing on my local trails are anything to go by, then corners of any type are off the menu. Straightline all the things.
  • 8 2
 And please not too step. Wide open, flat out straightaways are scary, guys
  • 7 3
 To be fair, isn't that what ANY racer is looking to do? Find the sneaky lines to straighten out corners to conserve speed?
  • 20 3
 @Snowrydr01: Finding the fastest line through a corner is one thing, ignoring the corner completely is another.
  • 2 0
 Courses for gravity racing have already been dumbed down at nearly every level to appeal to the masses, whether riders or spectators. If you’re going to race a whole series in the US, you’re going to have to race a bunch of flat straight stages that emphasize watts over handling.

If that’s what you want, go race xc. If 140 mm bikes are competitive in an enduro or enduro bikes in DH, the organizers have clearly messed up.

As far as I’m concerned, trails for gravity racing should be just as fast chainless. Plus, you eliminate a bunch of the temptation to dope that way too.
  • 19 3
 No. As a hopefully soon to be owner of my first ebike, I made decision to live with the change that technology brings. But, I see NO point in racing bikes with supplementary assistance against each other. Yes there can be an ebike category to scale up participation at races, just like age categories beyond elite level. But the highest level in any sport, is how far you can push yourself through training and dedication.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I agree. Ebikes are awesome, but racing them is pretty dumb. Either they're limited in power, in which case why are we comparing the motor/rider combination since apparently we're basically just testing the rider, or they're not limited in power, in which case we're racing dirt bikes.
  • 13 1
 I don’t see why not….have some janky techy climb sections mixed with legit dh….

ebikes, hate em or not, are crazy capable on the downs now. Sure, nothing compares to a normal bike, but that’s why it should have some more E specific stuff like crazy climbs that couldn’t be done otherwise.

I enjoy watching moto guys do difficult hill climbs…I don’t think this would be as cool for obvious reasons lol, but more bike content to watch can’t be a bad thing? I guess.

Meh who knows
  • 9 4
 I think E-bikes descend better than normal bikes. The extra weight down low makes them very stable and allows you a ton more traction in corners. If the trail is rough and rooty with decent gradient (not trials-like-difficulty but something akin to a proper DH race or fun EWS stage) it will be faster than a normal bike for most people.
  • 3 5
 @adamdigby: Except they are speed limited to 25km/h.
  • 3 1
 @whatsstinky: there's nothing worse than the sensation of pedaling into a jump on an e-bike and you hit the speed cut-off. you might not actually really slow that much, but the feeling of deceleration is a total mind f*ck. they do descend nicely on trails where you don't hit that speed limit.
  • 1 0
 @whatsstinky: And if you are on a "proper DH track or fun EWS stage" 9/10 you don't need to pedal at those speeds if you hit the corners well. The bike still will coast well beyond 50km/h so I haven't found it as an issue.
  • 20 11
 LMAO, acting like ebikes are all of a sudden a giant barrier to entry. HEY PB EDITOR's LIVING IN YOUR BIKING ECHO CHAMBER. WAKE UP. The entire sport is wrapped in exclusivity because of 1. the general costs of bikes/maitenance 2. the limited locales you can really become a world class rider at 3. Cost of travel to actually BE a pro.

I'd take this one step further, until the bike companies/UCI as an organization are able to pay liveable wages/provide benefits to teh top 50-100 ranked riders(just drawing a line) MTB racing in general should not be done. Cause right now I see the normal MTB racing scene as setting up many "pros" with no usable professional skill sets after they're done riding, as well as not providing a liveable wage to them currently. Plus the damage their doing to their bodies....

When I read articles like this it just reaffirms that everyone in the industry whether pro, or PB tech editor, are completely out of touch with the real world. Mountain biking is a hobby, prove me otherwise.
  • 12 1
 Racing ebikes remains the dumbest thing for healthy people to do. Simply because its 2021 and there is a brilliant lower footprint alternative available.
  • 9 1
 An Emtb series should be on the same courses as the normal EWS so they are still just racing predominantly downhill. The motor will just mean the riders will be fresher and able to push harder. That way it will appeal to the older riders who have less time to train, families etc. I want to see past legends who don’t have the time to train to compete at top level EWS fitness wise but still have the skills to jump on an Ebike and ride the same course probably beating the non Ebike times…..
  • 3 0
 One issue there is they end up modifying the normal race courses to suit the e-bikes and put in longer and longer mid-stage climbs and whatnot. Its already happening more and more on both World level and local events. Can't have the e-bikers getting worse times than the regular bikes over and over again.
  • 1 0
 @mrtoodles: Na EWS has to be on the Knarly downhill tracks with no uphill crap as part of the stages. Emtb should race same tracks but the liaisons are going to be easier and there would be the option to link 2 stages that might have a pedally section in between. I’ve never ridden an Emtb and before I do would like to see top riders hitting the same things and enjoying it as much as the non Emtb professionals.
  • 12 4
 Should we be making more batteries fu*king up the planet, bicycles are for pedalling!
If you want more get a motorbike and ride somewhere else, pissed off with ebikes damaging trails, hounding actual riders on climbs etc.
  • 8 2
 These things should not be within 10 miles of racing at all. If you want to downhill/enduro and pedal back up then these things are great. If like me you are getting on a bit and the knees are f*cked but still want to enjoy your sport, these are great and i use it fully. My mates have typical bikes and i have an eMTB, we ride together and not once am i in the situation of out-sprinting them, they still kick my ass but the bike allows me to enjoy my time out with my friends and doing what i love.
  • 9 0
 I still don't mind E-enduro races. But e-XC has to be the most idiotic thing ever, specially at the pro level.
  • 8 3
 ... as idiotic as putting a motor on a bike with cranks?
  • 10 6
 I struggle with the line between eMTBs and electric motorcycles. Is it that an eMTB has cranks? I think this is one of the difficulties in defining how an eMTB should be raced. There are so many, seemingly arbitrary, restrictions that must be placed on the races in order to prevent them from being motorcycle races, so why not just let them be e-bike races and stop trying to create an arbitrary eMTB designation?
  • 3 0
 GNCC has an e-bike class now.
  • 5 2
 There is a well-defined 3-tier classification for ebikes. Its used by numerous states, the BLM and bike manufacturers. Have you heard of it?
  • 1 0
 Electric motorcycle is at a minimum 20 times more powerful than an eBike. Even a monster eBike with 750w power is nothing compared to a 20hp machine.
  • 2 3
 @danbgbg: for now...
  • 1 0
 @bocomtb: My question was meant to be rhetorical, though that was probably not apparent. I know the categories exist, they just seem contrived to me. Like why is pedal assist okay, but throttle not? 750w but not 800?
  • 1 0
 @johnchase: simple: you have to draw the line somewhere.
why is 35mph ok in some places but not 37?
(Edit: also, 1 horse power is 745.699872 W. so this is where 750w is coming from)
  • 5 1
 If people were really didn't want to see any ebike articles they should just stop responding to them. It seems the majority of responses are negative - so why give these articles any air by replying to them? If nobody replied they would probably die off fairly quickly. Just a thought.
  • 3 0
 "Racing is how companies sell bikes to us and how they think about the sport"

Not exclusively. For instance, 50to01 team demonstrates a different flavor of riding, with different priorities in riding --- and that's more entertaining to watch and more relaxed to follow in comparison to racing. Words like "playfulness" start to matter in bikes reviews.
  • 3 0
 I see a lot of non-fact based opinions here. I love mountain bikers. To be fair it’s a BS question, should they be races? No one can really stop it, so the question should be how. If the UCI owns it there will be a very clear definition of eBike which would solve some of the statements found here. At the same time if the UCI owns it, eBike racing will be like nascar and I’m not sure if anyone would care at that point. There will be weight limits, battery capacity limits, power assist limits, etc. maybe that’s good for racing, but it won’t help sell eBikes to a crowd of people who want the most mechanical advantage. So maybe eBike events should be more regionalized and allow for some crazy shit that would never fly on the world stage. Or maybe I have the wrong approach, should eBikes be raced? Well since the dawn of time mankind has raced anything they could, so why the hell not.
  • 11 7
 So when you have a 15 stone rider racing against a 10 stone rider how do you make that fair?
You cannot
Ebike racing is a BS idea
  • 19 2
 Answer: you don't. See World Cup XCO. Little people win all the things. That's ok. Big people can still ride bikes, and as an added bonus can reach the top shelf in the kitchen
  • 6 1
 Mathieu Van De Poel seems to manage it... But yes, rider weight is a massive factor and I worry about ebike racing becoming a jockey sport.
  • 1 0
 @mattwragg: agree- though you could make the argument that MVDP is tall not heavy
  • 8 6
 For the UK E-DH races, ride up race down.
We don’t have lift access in the uk unless you drive to the top of Scotland and that’s 7 hours for me from the middle of the UK.
E-bikes are the future for the uk gravity riders.
  • 9 0
 We don't have lifts either we just pedal to the top?
  • 4 2
 it seems unfeasible to mix both.
in one case, that's a pure sport, fully human powered, all sweat, pain, and tears. (but there are some good moments too, I swear!)
on the second case, much less effort....
one is helped by an engine, one is not. that just cannot be fair competition...
  • 8 2
 What burns more calories? A pair of running shoes, flip flops or ski boots?

Is running to the donut shop in high heels more or less pure than lapping a supercross course in bowling shoes?

How does one go about ranking hiking gravel pathways (fully human powered) vs sledding in 3 foot deep pow (sweat, pain, beers)?

Will riding a bike only downhill after lazily sitting on a chairlift make me tired?

Curious minds want to know.
  • 6 3
 Some good points made in the comments. But at the end of the day it's riding bikes with your mates, right? Maybe making new ones?

And for the pros, let them race and help test/refine the technology. I'm cool with that.
  • 1 0
 What is 'mates'
  • 2 0
 It would obviously have to be it's own class of racing and that in itself would be a nightmare to manage. Would need controls on motor output, battery capacity and maybe in the way the motors applies its power too. Lots of variables that could make a massive difference on track. So then you need to make eMTB as enjoyable to watch/participate in as regular MTB while defining it as it's own 'thing' that is different enough to be justified.

It would be nice to see eMTB used in a way that allows for more accessible racing for physically disabled riders though. Or is there already racing like that available?

Just my 3 cents.
  • 5 1
 My e bike arrived on time to help me get through radiation and chemo. 850’ climb out the door and gone. Tell me how my e bike sucks.
  • 3 1
 Good luck with that!
  • 7 2
 As if there weren‘t enough Motorsports categories already.
  • 3 0
 GNCC already has a ebike racing circuit..... They basically race a shorter version of a moto enduro course and use the ebikes to do their "course walk".
  • 6 1
 if any of this happens, can you put it behind your pay wall?
  • 1 0
 haha yes please!
  • 2 1
 What if e-bike racing is a set of jumps that you have to pedal in order to clear? Kind of like the opposite of what dirt jumping is now. Imagine all the jumps being just a little too long for trail speed, so you have to crank hard out of the corners to make the next one. That'd be exciting...watching guys mess it up and splat into the backside of the next transition. Oops! Guess his battery ran out!
  • 2 0
 Make the race longer than the battery can last. Riders have to manage the battery. If the only way to get around is on Eco or off in spots it would actually work. Fittest guy wins.
  • 5 3
 I thought motorcycle racing was very well established and has been for decades. If cycle companies want to go motorbike racing then there are hundreds of events already available to them
  • 4 3
 Sports racing by definition is pushing your body and skills to the limit, in order to do it better and faster. If you have a device doing half of that job that is just recreation and entertainment, no racing. We want to watch Loris Vergier sending his foot the other side of the track to keep the balance going flat out in order to stay in track in Les Gets. That's racing, not a bunch of dudes with electric motors.
  • 3 0
 What percentage of the job does a dirtbike do on a supercross track?
  • 4 0
 @kram: I’m not sure you are getting his point. Racing is about pushing the boundaries of person and machine. Emtb’s are not pushing any boundaries. They will have to be so heavily regulated to keep people from strapping some cranks onto a ktm electric dirt bike that the whole thing will be pointless.
  • 2 1
 If you are going to race E-Bikes, it should be like TDF stage lengths, with no battery changes. So 5 hours in the saddle with the rider having to decide how and when to use the battery to their benefit. Making strategy a huge part (like auto racing).

I'm sure lots of people would love to do that, or watch if for that matter. NOT
  • 2 0
 Ebike racing should be what Enduro could have been. It should be a mass start of around 50 riders, then a long tech climb to a super gnarly downhill. No pit stops, no battery swaps, first one to the bottom wins.
  • 2 1
 Ok to sum it up, Race, shred, huck, whatever, Ebikes are dope. I still provide the same respect to others, just ride the intended trail instead of some contrived Red Bull style huck hero bro brah line. The fact that I stop and acknowledge other trail users is the most one can do. If you do that then we will win. E bikes can make your mileage more bit you still have time to say hi and acknowledge other trail users.! Figure it out Mkay. Heheh.
  • 2 1
 I race E-MTB "enduro" here in Aus, the issue we have is speed is not controlled, ie No one is checking if the 25kph limit is actually working on the bike, and in my case 23kph (mullet life, don't ask)

On some of the flatter stages with a pedal, the chipped/unrestricted bikes are 10-30 seconds a stage faster, not via skill, rather just having assistance way past the allowable legal limit imposed here.

I'd do a national series if it was happening, and the rules were fair.
  • 1 0
 Isn’t e-bikes racing just like a broken pencil?
Pointless.

In all seriousness, no issue with e-bikes personally, although I have no interest in getting one and I have mates who’ve raced in the e-bike category at local level enduro events. Tend to think that racing, at whatever level should be about the rider and how they handle their bike, not about who has the better motor or longer battery life.
  • 1 0
 Would be a great crossover sport for jockeys. Lets you have two riders with 5.0 power to weight ratios (w/kg) , and one weighs 140lbs (63.6kg) and the other 180lbs (81.8kg), then you add in an extra battery power capped at a 500w limit. 140 lb riders power to weight ratio now equals 12.9 while the 180 lb riders is 11.1!
  • 6 2
 Hard Enduro and MX have been around for years. What's the difference?
  • 3 1
 The momentum that comes with 185lbs/85kg of additional bike weight and the sustained power output available of a dirtbike are two huge differences. Even a sur-ron style hybrid is not going to tackle proper hard enduro trails with much fun.

Try riding a dirtbike trail on an mtb - it's not that fun unless you're pointed down (and even then, with loose scree that typically develops on dirtbike trails, it's not fun on a light bike that get's pushed around).

IMO - eMTB and the sur-ron style hybrids will find themselves developing trails to suite their new capabilities - give it 10 years - enduro and DH all followed the same path.
  • 1 0
 @mobilechernobyl: around here there are a TON of awesome moto trails that ebikes are perfect on.....hard to access with std. bikes. In my mind this is where ebikes shine, who cares about riding them on true MTB trails, the endless opportunities on the moto trails (around here at least) is worth it...
  • 1 1
 Next up: spec, uci-governed motors with logging, fan boost, energy usage limits, etc. thing is, if you took the best enduro or XCO riders and swapped steeds with emtbs, the results would probably be 98% the same. So why?

I do kinda like the idea of eHillclimbs, though.
  • 2 0
 I dunno, doesn't seem that complicated. They should race from the base of the mountain to the top and back down. Run what ya brung... and hope ya brung enough.
  • 3 1
 sure, but make it a true "enduro = endurance race" I would love to see some serious 9 hour epic endurance through the rockies with a goal on who can cover most check points.
  • 4 2
 I am a long time eMTB owner and part time rider, I enjoy them for certain rides/days/groups. That being said, I think racing them is not the best idea of anyones time.
  • 2 0
 Ebike depression can be treated with a proscription of a single days riding in a wood where you see no-one else or a big bottle of methadone
  • 3 3
 I guess I don’t get the point of emtb racing. The point of racing is to pit your skill and fitness against your peers. Emtb’s would have to be heavily regulated to keep an even playing field, so what would be the benefit of it all? I don’t see electric outboard assisted crew boat racing.
  • 1 1
 I did an e-race last summer just to say i did the first race in my state. It's not real racing when guys with the latest bikes had bigger batteries, it was just a fun competition aside the real xc racing. I guess real racing would work if the amount of kwh used could be measured on each bike and then factored into the riders overall time.
  • 1 0
 Same attitude as riding a normal bike and coming up on a hiker or what not. Or when you have your dog. Etc etc. Less time on here and more time on being a nice human will get us a much further mkay!
  • 1 1
 check out the sam hill episode of the gypsy tales podcast. great listen and they talk a bit about ebike racing at the end. emtb races shouldnt have any timed climbs but just descents on good tech tracks. more places could be accessed with ebikes opening up new venues etc.
  • 2 3
 To me ,this seems a little short sighted, and a little too opinion based. Don't necessarily like the idea that the financial aspect of e-biking will limit the competition for those who aren't rich boomers, but I think the conclusion that e-bike racing is not sustainable because of that is a little strange. I think the assertion of "Mountain bike racing is, for the most part, sustained by young, hungry riders. They are the people that are there week-in, week-out, who race organizers depend on to keep their series going" is questionable in the context of the high level racing discussed in this article. The EWS is sustained by professional teams, I'd say that local series are primarily the ones that are sustained by "young hungry riders" (as a behind-the-scenes guy at my own local races, I can't thank these young guns enough!). I feel that local E-bike only race may not be sustainable in a financial sense, or be able to capture sustained interest, but I think extrapolating this to a EWS level is a little bit of a leap. Am I desperate to see an E-EWS? No, I am not. However, I think that Matt's reasoning for discounting the idea of that is a questionable one.
  • 5 1
 Dude, the first word of the title is "Opinion:".
  • 2 1
 @SJP: Oh totally, but I just mean his opinion doesn't really seem to be backed up by facts, just kind of more opinions. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but I'm more inclined to agree with the opinions that are backed up by facts, rather than just being backed up by more opinions.
  • 2 1
 I don't see how it's much different than racing dirt bikes. New dirt bikes are expensive and new models get better/faster every year.
  • 3 4
 Should we racing car's? Moto? or just run?

There is no difference in racing e-mtb's comparing to mob's or whatever other this you would like to race;
Also, competing and war typically allows technology to developed fster; which means better ebikes for city commute, less pollution, less cars, higher safety - etc
  • 2 0
 I'm not violently allergic to the things as some seem to be, but I don't see the point of racing them.
  • 1 0
 That's why I love my paradox kinetic in a couple minutes I have a e-bike it's that simple and fast and went I'm done it's off in minutes.
  • 2 0
 Why would you have a concert where all of the musicians are playing Guitar Hero?
  • 1 0
 Roll it into normal races as a separate class. A WRC type approach to bringing emtb racing on. Same course, same event, just a different entry list.
  • 6 3
 NO,NO,NO
  • 2 4
 MTB and eMTB different forms of riding and racing, but can be ridden on the same trails. Such as bodyboarding and surfboarding are different, but both u will ride on waves.
Actually eMTB are better for Enduro racing them MTB, in the true sense of Enduro racing any platform other then a MTB, you have uphills and downhills within the stages.
It is going to take most MTBers a major mind shift to understand eMTB racing, but it will happen over time.
The next 5 years of eMTB will be interesting as tech will change a lot and more eMTB racing will start to happen.
As far as cheating that is just part of any form of racing and human nature to try to gain an edge on the competition:/
  • 2 0
 Bullshit with mtbs and emtbs being ridden on the same trails...ebikes belong on OHV parks what is wrong with that? I keep forgetting technology makes people lazy and makes life easier for people that dont want to pedal or hike a bike uphill and as far as cheating goes hahaha how one sided is that....I would love to hear the yelling and crying at emtb race when somone finds the gray area and is able to finagle an edirtbike in disqiuse to the starting line.
  • 1 0
 100%
Find the weak links and the custom builds start to evolve...I think emtb racing unlimited would be a great class...
  • 6 4
 Pointless, get a motorcycle.
  • 1 0
 Agree
  • 1 0
 sure but as long distance unsupported bike packing. they gotta carry that solar charger, and when it's cloudy they sluggish
  • 1 0
 i could care less. i'm only interested in DH and enduro racing, the rest doesn't matter.
  • 3 1
 Motorcycles are more fun.
  • 1 0
 Agree
  • 1 0
 But so are mtbs....they compliment each other...mtbs ( any traditional bicycle for that matter)are good training for the moto world.
  • 1 1
 I’m just not sure where it fits in unless we do race more like motocross enduro where it’s long winding paths in the woods with crazy obstacles or something
  • 1 3
 Unless you absolutely outlaw lift (or van/truck uplift) usage in enduro racing/riding (I of course won’t mention DH’s reliance on the use of gas/diesel powered ski lifts/gondolas/trucks/vans to get to the top), the argument against some electric assist for any type of riding or racing really falls apart, if it reduces the amount riders/racers use fossil fuel powered internal-combustion lifts or vehicles to get all their elevation.
  • 2 4
 Use usual dimbos not the understanding the difference between a class1 250w ebike and a 6000w Surron.
Emtb can and are raced at the same places as legacy bikes. In the UK there is soon to be an emtb only series.
Quicker and less tired getting to the top means more timed runs, ie the fun bit, unless you are an odd xc type who enjoy riding uphill?
  • 1 0
 Meanwhile in the motorcycle industry, things like this are going on.

gnccracing.com/page/emtb-racing-information
  • 2 0
 Motorcycles are motorcycles....bicycles are bicycles (at least in my world) an ebike is abomanation of a bicycle and and motorcycle...a moped on steroids.....why all the interest in emtbs when you can buy an e-dirt bike which anybody with half a brain knows is what emtbs are going to morph into at the top level (maybe with decals of a crankset to keep them a legit emtb) and the lower level with the people with deep pockets and dont want to pedal uphill
  • 2 0
 ...Maybe ebike race without batteries...that would be impressive
  • 3 2
 Yes emtb hill climb race!
  • 1 0
 www.desert-challenge.com

Bike Open / max 2 KW engine with max 2400 Wh
  • 1 0
 Border not opening until aug 21 now…..
  • 11 9
 Fuck ebikes
  • 10 0
 That could be... shocking.
  • 2 2
 No, then it would become a race of engine power, destroying trails and the spirit of MTB
  • 2 1
 Lopes needs to win another title to keep boosting his ego.
  • 5 4
 what about putting all ebikes articles behind paywall?
  • 6 7
 It’s clear that most naysayers have no idea what a class 1 emtb is and have never ridden one.any resemblance to a motorcycle ceases as soon as you start peddling.
  • 2 1
 This is far from the reality. In fact most everyone I’ve asked at a MTB destination like Moab or Whistler has tried a class 1 emtb at some point. Odd how emtb fans repeat this ‘you just haven’t tried it’ myth as if we are still living in 2017.
  • 1 1
 Then your simply delusuional comparing a class 1 emtb to a motorcycle. Or simply want to promote a false narrative for some unknown reason.@frorider2:
  • 3 2
 Do what you like. I don't want anything to do with racing electric bikes.
  • 1 0
 You don’t make your own luck, just ask Sam Harris.
  • 1 1
 Whats EMTB racing have to contend with ? only the top 10 mens enduro racing. DH racing isn't doing itself any favours.
  • 1 0
 Allow EWS track training with ebikes, not the race
  • 1 0
 where the hell is Levy?
  • 1 0
 he's around and chimed in on various articles
  • 2 2
 Obese people should ride mtb using emtb, good for them!
  • 2 0
 Or they could ride a regular MTB and not be obese anymore. I lost 40 pounds from riding mine.
  • 2 1
 Lazy losers on mopeds...
  • 1 0
 Great article!
  • 1 0
 BUT WHY???
  • 8 10
 The young are hungry and don't have $15000 for a levo because of boomers, forgot to mention that part.
  • 17 8
 Your nearing 40 now mate, how long are you going to blame your parents and grandparents for your lack of intelligence and drive?
  • 4 4
 @pbfan08: haha, well said.
  • 6 7
 @pbfan08: If it was an individual problem, it wouldn't be affecting the majority of people.

The boomers gambled away their children's future.
  • 5 4
 @wburnes: While the children sat playing electronic devises and refused to walk anywhere. Blaming a single generation for the situation we're in is BS.
  • 4 5
 @commental: Who bought them those devices? The boomers.

No single generation has done this much damage to their progeny.
  • 5 3
 @wburnes: I think you forgot about the Boomer's Grandparents and nearly every generation before which was A-OK with child labor, and then go a few generations before that and they thought slavery was ok too.

The hyperbole you are posting is laughable at best, if not outright sad an adult can not take any self responsibilty for the state of his own life.

And since you commented on the topic of "ScReEnS/DeViCeS" you're the one actively deciding to argue with strangers in the comment section of a hobby website... So pot meet kettle.
  • 3 4
 Thank God England didn't rely on your generation during WWII. You would all be speaking Deutsch.
  • 1 2
 @carters75: And why would that be bad?
  • 4 4
 @pbfan08: Its not hyperbole, the average millennial and gen z will be significantly less wealthy than their parents, regardless of how hardworking or smart they are.

I'm not saying adults can't take responsibility for their own lives, no idea where you got that from.

Commenting on the internet doesn't make me a hypocrite, lol
  • 1 0
 @carters75: Neither the English or us Americans would have picked up German by now.
  • 1 2
 @pbfan08: You say that, but it was the boomers that had free university education, then made the rest of us pay stupid amounts for, then cheaper and more affordable housing, which is also the generation currently running this country, that's just the start. It could be worse, could be the tidepod generation! Might be different in the states of course.
  • 5 7
 Funk e bikes
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