eMTB Acceptance Creeps Past 50% Among Younger Riders, Those Who Have Tried It

Results from our 2018 survey provide an interesting look at what readers think of eMTB.

photo: Jeff Barber

The Singletracks survey results have rolled in, and the team is looking at what you, our readers, have to say.

There isn’t a more controversial topic among the mountain bike community than eMTBs. Well, except for maybe the wilderness debate which in some ways intersects with the topic of electric mountain bikes. Even the wheel size debate has quelled and all the news about 29ers rarely ruffles feathers.

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In the survey, Singletracks asked readers for their opinions on e-bikes, if they have tried them, and why opposers aren’t ready for e-bikes.

Overall, 46% of mountain bikers that responded to the survey said that eMTBs should be allowed on non-motorized mountain bike trails. 51% said no. The numbers break down for some more interesting insight after that, though.

A motorized-use trail in Idaho. Photo: Jeff Barber

Demo riders more likely to support

A majority, 63% of those who said electric mountain bikes should be allowed on non-motorized trails have ridden an e-bike. Most of those who said e-bikes should not be allowed on trails, 56%, have not tried an e-bike. Still, a sizable portion of those who have ridden e-bikes, 37%, still say that they should not be allowed on non-motorized mountain bike trails.

Most opposers says their biggest concern is that allowing e-bikes on non-motorized trails would open the gates for other motorized uses, followed by concerns about user conflict and the speed of e-bikes. Other concerns include trail damage, over-crowding, and that using an e-bike is just plain “cheating.”

What’s interesting though is that the group that was the most open to e-bikes classifies themselves as “XC riders” or those that appreciate pedal power. The other categories, trail, enduro, and downhill were all pretty evenly split on the topic of e-bikes.

Younger riders are more open to eMTB

Also, younger riders were more likely to favor e-bikes than older riders. The under-18 and 18-24 crowd were the groups most in-favor of opening trails to e-bikes. 25-34 year-olds and 35-44 year-olds appear to be the least in favor of e-bikes on non-motorized trails.

In hard numbers, 56% of riders in the under-18 category were in favor of e-bikes on non-motorized trails, and so were 55% of the 55+ age group.

Mountain bikers in the 25-54 age range were the least supportive, with results below 50% in support.

This debate is going to rage on for some time, but the survey results do give us some insight and a look at some of the main reasons for and against e-bike access. In some cases, it’s a question of “chicken or the egg?” Were those who demoed e-bikes already in favor, or did riding one change their mind?

Do 55+ riders find e-bikes more useful than middle-aged riders, and is the under-18 age group more accepting of new technology?

There are a lot of questions that will go unanswered here, but it’s thought provoking to say the least.

What’s your take on these results? (Note: Avoid sharing your personal opinion about e-bikes in the comments, and instead focus on what the overall e-bike sentiment means for mountain biking going forward.)