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This topic contains 24 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  killer climb 1 week, 1 day ago.

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  • #261866

    Looking for thoughts on ebikes on the trails. A buddy is getting a starter budget mtb ebike soon and I’m curious to see what it all about. I’m in the sport for the pain and suffering and the trill and excitement comes from the hard work that you put in.Guess if he comes out on the trail I’ll put him and the bike to the test and that’ll consist first a killer climb and then more killer  climbing. Then finish him and the bike off with some rocky rooty fast downhill. If there is anything left well I guess I’ll do it again but my guess is the electric assist and over weight sled are not much of a match for the fitness and discipline I have invested but maybe I’m wrong.

  • #261870

    Be advised to your buddy that e-bikes on mountain bike trails is a sensitive issue with many, and on many trails they are not allowed. I suspect this will be an evolving topic over the next few years about the future of e-bikes on the trails.

  • #261923

    How much of a “starter / budget” e-bike is your friend buying?  Many of those cheapo e-bikes should never been ridden on actual trails.

  • #261927

    It certainly will be interesting in the future with e-bikes. Its just gonna complicate a already fragile area of biking. As for the price it was just under 2000. Not nearly enough to be on any kind of real mtb trail. I would guess the first trail you’ll see them is on rail trails and I don’t want to see them there either.

  • #262044

    I think that e-bikes used on-road for commuting and errand running could make a significant impact in reducing our greenhouse-gas/global-warming problem.  That being said, I’m not for e-bikes being used in wild non-motorized areas.  Let’s keep wild areas wild and not motorized

  • #262045

    The Helena Outdoor Club in Montana had a lecture recently at a monthly meeting from the owner of Big Sky Cyclery, a man who has been in the bike business for 42 years, and has his business in a town designated as a bronze level destination city by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (due to over 70 miles of singletrack within a 5 mile radius of the city center). Part of his talk was on e-bikes, and he stated that there were e-bikes suited to every category of bicycle riding, including mountain biking, though I’m not sure a budget entry level bike would fill the bill for what you are talking about. The main niche for these bikes will be for older cyclists who still want to ride but due to cardiac or orthopedic issues or just due to old age cannot manage the hills. I enjoy riding on the jeep roads that honeycomb much of Helena and Deerlodge national forests and have seen a few elderly people out enjoying themselves on ebikes, and they rave about them for allowing them to continue to enjoy the sport they love. Before anyone gets on too high a horse about this, realize that someday, if you are lucky, you too will be the 70+ year old wanting to bike, and also realize that some of these old cyclists were pretty hard core back in the day and are probably responsible for some of the trails you ride on now.

    There are issues about where these bikes should be allowed, but unless your head is in the sand you realize there are current issues about where regular mountain bikes are being restricted from as well.

  • #262046

    ….Before anyone gets on too high a horse about this, realize that someday, if you are lucky, you too will be the 70+ year old wanting to bike, and also realize that some of these old cyclists were pretty hard core back in the day and are probably responsible for some of the trails you ride on now.

    So, I’ve heard this argument before but it seems like a very steep and slippery slope. I mean, can this be applied to any activity? I want to still be able to bench press 405lb when I’m 70, or take part in full contact martial arts and play pickup basketball with the 20-year-olds, well, OK, 30-year-olds…….can/should I use mechanical assistance to do so? Personally, I think I should step back and realize that, well, time waits for no one and I should move on to easier activities. —With everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn ,turn…..

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there are one or two cogent arguments for e-mountain bikes, but this just isn’t one of them.

  • #262067

    I certainly get both perspectives, and I won’t pretend to have “the” answer. On the one hand, I sure hope to be doing off-road close to my last days on earth, and may need assist to be able to do it. But then again, to Robert Dobbs’ point, perhaps when we’re to the point that we can’t handle the climbs, then perhaps we shouldn’t be doing the downhills either. Could you imagine the wear-and-tear on Soquel Demo Forest if there was assist for both climbs? It would likely ruin the trails.

    • #262079

      This topic reminds me of a “war” in the rock climbing community years ago. Some of the older traditional climbers who regarded climbing as an extreme sport where one pushed the limits and risked life and limb were infuriated by the new “sport climbers” who wanted to protect sketchy routes with bolts, thereby removing most of the danger. The sport climbers viewed climbing as a fun activity but not one worth risking your life over. “Sport Climbing is neither” was the mantra to the old guard, and bolts in place were angrily chopped out and some fights erupted. Today most climbing areas have many sport routes which are heavily protected, climbing gyms are everywhere and the sport has tons of adherents because, as John Long (first guy to climb “the Nose” on El Cap in a day) noted, when it came to pure fun, sport climbing had it in spades.

      You may not think getting older people out on bikes is a cogent argument for e-bikes. I can’t think of a better argument because the young folks don’t need pedal assist. The bike manufacturers, shops, and people buying up the bikes might disagree with you. Here is what Trek has to say on their website:
      “On- or off-road, they’re perfect for those who want to climb faster, explore more, or just get there a bit faster.
      Only e-bikes offer the flexibility to get in a workout, ride with a faster friend, haul a heavy load, or simply cruise. Even if your ride varies from day to day, an electric bicycle always gives you the option to do and experience more.”

      Specialized produces bikes such as the Levo, suited to handling any terrain. Clearly there’s a market here.

      Here is a take on e-bikes by Mark Weir, a veteran mountain bike racer and former all-mountain world champion whose 20-year race career spanned downhill, cross-country, road, and endurance racing. Weir is also an eight-time winner of the Downieville Downhill – a 17-mile plunge with 5000 feet of vertical drop. https://reviews.mtbr.com/crossing-the-rubicon-off-road-adventure-with-an-ebike

      Currently e-bikes are regarded as motorized vehicles by the forest service and subject to those restrictions, and I’m fine with that. But I don’t think it’s cool to look down on older people using a new technology to get out and enjoy themselves in areas it’s legal to do so, when otherwise they’d be at home or on an ATV, just because you think mountain biking should be “hard”.

  • #262090

    You may not think getting older people out on bikes is a cogent argument for e-bikes. I can’t think of a better argument because the young folks don’t need pedal assist. The bike manufacturers, shops, and people buying up the bikes might disagree with you. Here is what Trek has to say on their website:
    “On- or off-road, they’re perfect for those who want to climb faster, explore more, or just get there a bit faster.
    Only e-bikes offer the flexibility to get in a workout, ride with a faster friend, haul a heavy load, or simply cruise. Even if your ride varies from day to day, an electric bicycle always gives you the option to do and experience more.”

    So I am ALL for older people getting out on bikes. I just think arguing the need for mech assist for them to do so is weak. There are plenty of fantastic truck trails, fire access roads etc. etc. etc. that older and younger folks can use to get their bike and outdoor fix.

    As for Trek, wellllll, I really don’t care what Trek has to say on the matter…..they are trying to sell more bikes; a huge conflict of interest!

    As for Mr. Weir, my comment is, why not just use a CRF250RX and be done with it?

    “But I don’t think it’s cool to look down on older people using a new technology to get out and enjoy themselves…”

    Whoa, Nelly! I am Not looking down on older people. I AM AN OLDER people! 😉  While not 70, I’m on the wrong side of 50. I can’t bench press 405LB anymore….. and you know what??  I’m OK with that. Nor can I keep up with 20 year-olds on the basketball court…..and you know what?  I’m OK with that too.

    That said, I still go to the gym to lift, but I don’t hang out with the powerlifters anymore. I still play b-ball now and then, but I play with folks my age and I have fun – I actually have a lot of fun…..and I certainly don’t need an electric motor to have fun.

  • #262101

    You may not think getting older people out on bikes is a cogent argument for e-bikes. I can’t think of a better argument because the young folks don’t need pedal assist.

     

    And just a quick follow up question to this….. If these poor 70 year-olds could get Anadrol or Oxandrin from their physicians and they could then go out and shred the trails they used to shred when they were 40-something, would that be a good argument for “getting them out on bikes”?

  • #262108

    Though I don’t have any interest in having one, I don’t really have a problem with e-bikes. I can see potential conflict with some e-bike users who could ride faster than their ability would warrant and be a danger to themselves and others. I could also see some issues where an e-bike rider may be too aggressive in attempting to pass a slower rider. But really, these are just case-by-case situations dictated by the individuals involved and how they choose to react to one another. As far as I’m concerned, if someone can get on an e-bike and have the time of their life while also respecting others, I’m all for it. If more people are getting out in public lands and and using trails, hopefully it will mean more advocacy for preservation of public lands and more trails being built. It may take time to figure everything out between e-bikes and traditional MTBs, but I think if people are less quick to judge and more willing to have conversations, it will work out to most people’s satisfaction. Just keep in mind that MTB’ers were once (and sometimes still are) the so-called invaders to dog-walkers, hikers and equestrians. Personally, I’ve figured out my interactions with them and have very pleasant conversations with a lot of the people I cross paths with. I expect the same to happen with e-bikers.

    • #262112

      Comparing the use of e-bikes, which is legal and as far as I can see has only health benefits for older people, to the use of anabolic steroids, which are illegal with many potential side effects, is a real stretch.

      I’m a retired physician, not using an e-bike but knowing that sooner or later I may have to if I want to continue cycling in the hills (and where I live in Montana, there are only hills). As a physician, I think anything that gets people off their sofas and out exercising is a good thing. This ESPECIALLY is true for older people, who have a major problem with deconditioning. E bikes still require pedalling and the amount of assist can be adjusted. There are other reasons people use e-bikes. One couple I saw on them commented that their e-bikes allowed them to cycle together, as the husband was a lot faster than the wife on regular bikes. On the road, e-bikes may allow older people to keep pace with the younger people they’ve been doing group rides with for years but now can’t. These people are just out there to have fun, not to prove how tough they are. In town they are becoming more and more of a commuter vehicle. I can’t see much downside to their use when used for these reasons.

      There are legitimate fears that allowing e-bikes on non-motorized trails, which includes many of the bike trails in the US national forests, might worsen access problems – and there are plenty of people out there who want to eliminate mountain bikes from hiking trails already. This is a valid concern. All of the mountain e-bikes I’ve seen have been on gravel or dirt roads or ATV roads. Currently they are prohibited in non-motorized travel restricted areas.

      In my opinion, and it’s only an opinion, those who want to stop people from using e-bikes or who are upset about the idea of someone on an e-bike because it doesn’t fit their own idea of what a hard core and physically demanding sport mountain biking is, should check their ego. There’s room out there for all of us and we need all the advocates for cycling we can get. In any event, e-bike use has taken off in Europe and is getting more use in the US, so you will see them used regardless of whether you want to or not.

      By the way, I still rock climb. I’ve been extremely gratified by the respect I’ve been shown out on the cliffs by young climbers, who may have to wait a bit longer for my buddy and I to finish a route before they start on it. Many of these younger folks seemed delighted to see us older guys out there and have expressed that sentiment to us. Good to see.

    • #262136

      Comparing the use of e-bikes, which is legal and as far as I can see has only health benefits for older people, to the use of anabolic steroids, which are illegal with many potential side effects, is a real stretch.

      I never mentioned anabolic steroids in my post and I’m pretty agreeable to other people using e-bikes, so I’m confused as to why you replied to my post with that. Was that reply intended for someone else?

      Edit: Ah, I see the steroid reference now in the post above mine. Now it makes sense. Yeah, I agree…the comparison is silly.

  • #262111

    It always seems that e-bike discussions circle around providing a solution for those riders that need assistance.  And usually, that implies an older or physically impaired rider.  But of all of the (admittedly rare) occasions that I have personally encountered a rider on an e-bike, I have yet to see a rider that needed the assistance.  They have all, without exception, been riders that didn’t look a day over 30, and all were physically fit.  And they were all riding an e-bike because they wanted to go as fast as physically possible… up and down.  I’m not saying they were right or wrong in doing so.  But because of what I’ve seen, my opinion is this is likely the reality of what we’ll see more of on true single track trails.  I recently had a conversation with a couple of Rocky Mountain bike reps that supports my opinion.  They raved about their new Altitude Powerplay bike, a 160mm travel aggressive trail bike that is anything but a bike intended for an older, physically impaired, rider.  The reps made no mistake about it… it’s for a 20 something trail ripper.  I suspect other MTB makers will, or are, following this path.  So, I have mixed feelings about the future impact of e-bikes on traditional single track trails.  Although I’m 58, I am admittedly intrigued about riding an e-bike as fast as possible on some of the trails I am more than capable of riding manually.  Not because I want or need assistance, but just because I want to go faster.  But, I’m also concerned what that does for those that are peddling (me included).  And what’s the impact to foot traffic?  Most of our trails exists because we do share them with walkers.  We all know what it’s like to come up on an unsuspecting walker or trail runner.  Now imaging that scenario with a bike potentially going faster, which, by the way, may be heavier and less likely to have the ability to stop or maneuver as quickly or easily.

    A lot to consider…

  • #262128

    Comparing the use of e-bikes, which is legal and as far as I can see has only health benefits for older people, to the use of anabolic steroids, which are illegal with many potential side effects, is a real stretch.

    Well, I guess that is where you and I differ. I think, in this specific instance, it’s a fair comparison…..annnnd your reaction is about what I expected. BTW Steroids, like e-bikes, are only illegal if used, well, illegally. 😉   Physicians can prescribe them.

    But, you don’t like steroids, I get it (ethically, neither do I) so let’s change our tack somewhat.

    You seem to be caught up in a belief that these older folks have no alternatives. I don’t buy that….at all. We are talking about mountain biking, yes? It is a recreational and, by definition, optional, activity, is it not? There are plenty of other recreational/optional activities; heck there are even plenty of options to pursue in enjoying the activity under discussion (different types of trails, length of ride, pace, etc, etc, etc), and most of those options don’t require a motor.

    My fundamental concern is that you are motorizing a non-motorized activity. It has nothing to do with being “hard-core” or masochistic or sadistic. I see parents with their toddlers on Striders on the green trails where I ride. Now that is -EXTREMELY- cool. I’m certain that the other “hard-core” riders I know think the same thing. None of us expect them to ride the red or black diamond trails, or to make a 20mile ride. None of us expect them to keep pace with us, why would they? Soooooooo, if a three-year-old can manage a green trail on a non-motorized bike and be happy ……why can’t the rest of us?

     

    • #262138

      why can’t the rest of us?

      Interesting question to end a post in a series of posts that are basically attempting to dictate rules for everyone else.

      My answer is, why should they have to?

      As to FredCook’s point, I don’t really care whether someone “needs” an e-bike and, frankly, what right do I or anyone else have to tell another what they “need” for a bike? Come on.

      This thread is sounding like a bunch of grumpy old men.

  • #262142

    frankly, what right do I or anyone else have to tell another what they “need” for a bike? Come on.

    Hmmm, so what not rules?….you’re OK with someone riding a motocross bike on MTB trails?….no, you “come on.”

    We have entirely too many people (at least in my neck of the woods) trying to limit MTB trails as is. We don’t need to give them any more ammo for their anti-MTB arsenal with motorized fare.   — If we don’t police ourselves, others will happily do it for us.

    Grumpy old man? ….you are damn right! And, if you were wise, you’d get grumpy too.

    • #262229

       if you were wise, you’d get grumpy too.

      I am not going to get grumpy over bicycles. Bikes are my coping mechanism for the things that make me grumpy and I’m not looking for things to be grumpy about while riding. If someone in the woods is doing what they do while respecting others, I’m not going to get too worked up about it. I don’t have a need for everyone to do things my way.

      The comparison between an e-bike and a motocross bike is interesting. Are there motocross bikes that don’t make a lot of noise and create no air pollution? If so, and the rider is safe and (again) respectful, I may not personally have an issue with it.

  • #262158

    Well I’m glad to see we are getting along on topic:( but heres another kicker for the motor huggers. If you think the e-bikes technology is good well hello its gonna get alot better.My buds neighbor has been rebuilding and upgrading used e-bikes and guy was saying he have one that will hit 45mph.That said you dont think the manufactures arent  gonna do the same or close? They are  gonna trim the weight ,off boost the power reduce the battery size and they’ll have full nasty e-power on the exact same beast  as without power. Now is it ok because I doubt seniors or disabled are gonna be on these racers. The question will be then and will be soon is how do ya feel about a mountain bike rippin mtb trails that’ll move like a kx65 and look like a regular mtb? They will be cool no doubt and dudes are gonna buy them but there are gonna be some upset hikers and hard core mtb riders.Its gonna get very interesting what regulations  that will come. Anybody play around with RC cars? Crazy technology and will be the same with e-bikes. All the aftermarket stuff to make them fast, might be a good stock to get in on but they are loosing the concept. Buy a ktm freeride electric dirtbike are my thoughts otherwise get pedaling.

  • #262169

    e-bike are already banned from many mountain bike trails, if they boost the power and speed they will most likely be banned from all off road trails. Any e-bike banned from bike trails would now have to compete with dirt bikes for both trail access and performance. 25% of all bike sold are mountain bikes. I doubt the major manufacturers would be willing to give up potentially 25% of their profits for a narrow niche, against established competition. Besides that, KTM already has high powered electric dirt bikes. I believe mountain e-bike technology will focus on on keeping power at the same level, or even reducing it for off road use, while working on lighter weight, more dependability, and longer batter life.

  • #262171

    The biggest concern I have with ebikes is the max speed.  While I understand the arguments for some wanting an ebike I don’t understand the need for assistance above 10-12mph, especially when you consider that the rider can go faster by pedaling but just isn’t “assisted” above that threshold.  So if you’re older or have a heart condition or some other physical limitation you could still ride at a very reasonable pace.  In fact, depending on the trail, that’s the pace many solid riders ride at.  It just seems that requiring assistance beyond 10-12mph is purely just for increased speed which then poses a potential safety hazard to other trail users.  Imagine shreddin’ down a hill with an ebiker coming up at potentially similar speed.  The ebikes today have max speeds of 15-20+mph.  The vast majority of MTB’ers cannot reach the high end of that limit without blasting down a hill.  What’s most concerning, however, is that you can override the factory settings to increase the max speed even further (up to 25mph or more) on virtually any ebike.  There are tons of “how to” videos out there providing instruction on how to do it.  As a land manager how would you even begin to manage this? And as @killer_climb mentions it’s going to be extremely difficult to distinguish a future ebike from a non-motorized MTB as the technology improves.  To the extent that this adds risk of loss of trail access for all MTB’ers then I think that’s where many have legitimate concerns.

  • #262302

    I hope your right about keeping e-bikes under control. If they dont get any faster that would keep the safety better also. I dont know about others but crashing a bicycle is much worse than crashing a dirtbike from what I’ve experienced.Something about a dirtbike where the crash happens slower as to a bicycle you just get power slammed to the ground. Maybe the weight? Anyhow wouldnt want to see inexperienced people or senoirs or disabled gettin power slammed at higher than normal mtb speeds but ya know enthusiast are gonna tweak these bikes to outdo their buddies, its inevitable. Electric is the next transportation movement in all aspects and aftermarket is at its heels.

    • #262304

      Of my mountain biking friends, two have broken a humerus, one has broken a femur (and had to be found and evacuated by search and rescue), and one had a near catastrophe where he took a spill and for a brief few seconds after the crash had no sensation below the neck. An MRI scan later that day revealed that a disc in his lower cervical spine had been shoved out but fortunately there was no permanent damage. Last year at an enduro race here a kid broke his clavicle and needed evacuation. All these accidents occurred on descents and had they been on e-bikes I doubt the motor would have been giving any assist at the time of the injury. Studies have shown that injuries on mountain bikes mostly occur after faulty jump attempts, bike tricks and falls. The vast majority of street bike injuries in recreational cyclists occur because of cars. I don’t find the argument that e-bikes should be banned because if they break down their riders could be in trouble to be a compelling argument. If a person is that impaired they should be riding with a companion. Common sense is more important than what bike you ride. Hikers being nearly hit by a mountain biker descending at high speed with no situational awareness beyond a few yards ahead of them could be used as a reason to keep all bikers off any hiking trail. Most people I know descends at speed dictated by our comfort and skill level and not on how fast we can get the bike to go. I would also point out that the persons souping up the e-bikes are probably going to be young adrenaline junkies, not older people wanting one for their assist on the hills. I can see that the opinions here are not likely to change, but I also see that nobody who has posted has ever been on an e-bike, including myself. If anyone is still interested, it is instructive to read the “comments” section after the following youtube from the Global Cycling network taken in Europe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65t3dPAZUMs. It seems that in Europe there is not the same level of controversy as there is here.

  • #262364

    Well said, my buds e-bike should be showing up any day and I’m dying to try it out. Guess for some biking is about the fitness , some its transportation and a lot of people are in it for fun. I’ll report back about the beast as soon as it shows up.I know he is super excited to get it and since he wouldn’t ride his old cannondale with me it looks like he will ride the e-bike with me.

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