I know about 95% of you are stressing about electric bikes—and that camp is split into haters and soon to be wanters. The other 5% are over 50 and happily zipping up and down the trails giggling like idiots. Or are they?
There’s a lot of smack talk going down, mostly from the haters (who have yet to ride an E-bike), and most of that hate stems from their self-esteem falling victim to this: years of progress and fitness laid to waste by some rich fat grey-haired bastard overtaking them on a climb, then smiling cheerily at the top as the hater desperately tries to look cool while sucking in huge lungfuls of air and endeavouring not to collapse on the grass with a cramped hamstring.
Meanwhile, yours truly has bought his very own E-bike and got a couple of weeks of riding in already, therefore is already a fricken expert. I’m gonna set you straight.
First off: remember 29ers? Oh the hate; clown bikes they were. Look at 29 now—DOMINATING almost every cycling discipline. As for E-bikes, they are not only here for good, they have hit the trails whirring. Already they are almost faultless. Weight and battery life are the two main hurdles, but you can bet your tired knees that’s not going to be a problem for too much longer.
The biggest negative I hear is, “aren’t you afraid you’ll never ride your pedal bike again, get really fat and unfit?” and I must admit that was scaring me a little. But in the end I thought that if I preferred to take E all the time, then this would be by choice and therefore I would be happy no matter what else occured. How wrong was I? I can tell you now I still yearn for a good pedal ride—when I want a relaxing ride. What?
Look, I’m not kidding around. They key takeaway here is that riding an E-bike is a slightly different sport. Where most pedal bike riders settle into the climb and conserve energy for the descents, E-bike riders are out there looking for grade 3/4 tech climbing trails, and I assure you my heart rate is running at least 20% higher because of this. Most of my climbing now consists of manhandling the bike up and over trail features at speed, even getting air on occasion. The maniacal laughter you now hear in the woods? That’s E-riders razzing uphill singletrack while you guys are grovelling up the access road.
Going down is very similar across both disciplines, except E is about twice the weight and requires more muscle use to control. I’m nearly as quick as my pedal bike and I still can’t catch Jeff Carter when he’s on his Kenevo.
Either way, my body still isn’t used to E. I’m more tired and can feel more worked muscles, but with very little of the fatigue suffered from pedal bikes.
As E-bikes become the norm, we need etiquette rules and such established. One-way trails will become a must. When riding with your pedalling mates, run your E on low power and stay with the group so as not to get ostracised. When passing fatigued pedal riders (not your mates), hit full turbo and act like a right cock. This will push them over the edge, assisting in more sales of E and tipping the scales earlier. When powering up a DH track at 15kph, give way.
Councils/DOC take note: you cannot ban E. Most E takers are rich wankers—and they got that way by running corporations and being very good at it. They probably play squash with your local councillors. Try to ban E and you’ll soon get demoted or seconded to Eketahuna/ Stewart Island.
Everyone loves a good set of bullet points so here goes:
Double the trails in the same time.
Way more grip up and down.
More stable in the air.
More sure-footed when descending steep tech.
Uphill trials riding.
No more fire road climbs.
Riding rad trails you normally wouldn’t because of the associated climbs back out.
Way more laughter.
Three hours of non-stop action.
A great leveller of varying fitness and abilities.
Not stuck on the sofa for the rest of the day carbo-loading and stretching.
Overtaking super fit haters while hardly breathing or pedalling.
Towing your kids up the climbs.
Only three hours of non-stop action (or get a second battery).
Another bike in the shed (hang on, isn’t that a benefit?).
Everyone needs to relax. You can’t fight progress—winners embrace it.