MIG e-Bike

Electric Mountain Bike Debate

E-Bikes

At the “Ronde VTT des 3 Quilles” mountain bike event last weekend I was intrigued by the number of e-mountain bikes in the starting area. With over 1600 meters of climb ahead of us, I must admit that I also thought, “this doesn’t seem fair”.

Always on the look-out for a new story, I started my research immediately and asked a woman; why e-mtb? Her response was both simple and fair.

Personal

A particularly nasty injury on a ‘normal’ mtb left her with a large dent on the outside of an ankle that would never regain the strength she once had. Her pedal assisted e-bike got her back out on the trails after an exceptionally long convalescence.

A large guy gave similar reasons. He too started out on a normal mtb but due to his size was limited in the trails he was able to ride. Switching to pedal assisted put him on the trails he wanted to ride with less stress on his health. His size is not something he will ever be able to change. He is the way he is.

Another woman blamed her husband and shared a wicked grin.

“I love to ride with him, but he has more time to train than me and he’s generally stronger and faster. He did ride with me when I had a normal mtb but I always knew that I slowed him down and, I didn’t want to do that.

Switching to an e-bike hasn’t made me faster but it has given me more consistency during climbs. I may not be able to keep up, but I no longer fall so far behind that I lose him. This bike does enable me to go faster but I’m still getting used to the handling so, need to take it easy for now”.

Three very personal and fair reasons for riding e-mtb. Why shouldn’t these people enjoy the trails just as much as everybody else?

Price

It’s true that you can get a lot of normal mountain bike for the price of an e-bike. MIG from Thok E-Bikes is rated as one of the best in the e-bike industry and costs €4,150 (£3722 $4560).Thok MIG

You can pick up a Nukeproof Mega 275 Carbon Factory Bike XT 2019 for less than that.

Weight

Pedal assisted bikes are heavy right?

Most e-bikes weigh over 20 KG (44 lbs). That’s a lot of weight compared to the average of a normal mtb at 10 KG (22 lbs). ebike-mtb.com assessed 12 e-bikes last year and argued that the difference between the heaviest and lightest of those they assessed was just under 4 KG. Their tests showed that a few extra KG due to functional and reliable components was better than a lighter weight e-bike that was prone to more time in the workshop.

Don’t be tempted by carbon frames either. There is evidence that while they have great advantages on regular mtb’s, this is not the case on e-bikes.

Speed

People who ride regularly tend to move at a constant velocity. Some may find climbing a bigger challenge than others while some riders can descend faster than all their ride buddies. It’s true to say though that most riders ascend slowly and descend a lot faster.E-Climb

E-bikes have changed this because ascents have become a lot easier and the added weight has made descents faster too which logically requires more breaking time and greater stopping distances. Some people have argued that this extra speed leads to problems like more accidents and potential danger to other trail users. The ability to travel greater distances is also a temptation and, what happens when the power runs out a lot further from home and the rider must manually get that extra weight back?

Environment

Greater weight flying along the trails is inevitably going to contribute to more erosion which may negatively impact the splendid work conducted by local mountain bike groups to keep access to trails on managed land open.

There are plenty of naysayers out there concerned with the impact of regular mountain bikes, e-bikes may well add to their arguments. But it’s not all bad. I live in France where excellent strategies have been put in place to recycle e-bike batteries. Currently, 60 – 70% of these batteries are recyclable.

It’s About You

Whether we like them or not, e-bikes are here to stay. E-bikes are the fastest growing sector in the bike market and valued at over $800 million in 2017, with a 6% annual growth predicted until 2025.E-Bike Sales

It’s not difficult to find positives or negatives so I guess at the end of the day, it’s about you, the rider, to make up your own mind based on your needs and preferences.

If you want to look at a few of these bikes, click on the Chain Reaction Cycles banner. They have plenty on offer and are a reliable supplier of bikes and accessories.

Please understand that if you decide to buy anything here, I may receive a small commission.

 

Questions and Comments

No doubt the debate about e-bikes will continue for a while yet. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below and a response will be given promptly.

Just Ride Hard, Ride Fair, Nobody Hurt

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14 thoughts on “Electric Mountain Bike Debate

  1. Wow, I had no idea that the ebike had become so popular. It is definitely a great boost for those that have injuries and need the extra help. I was just wondering if this type of bike was allowed in races, as doesn’t it give the competitor an unfair advantage? Although it is a lot heavier than the conventional mountain bike, so they may take this into consideration.

    1. Hi Michel, the European Cycling Union (UEC), which governs and oversees the European championships in all cycling disciplines, added racing categories for electric-assist road and mountain bikes in March 2018. I think “mixed” races do give an unfair advantage. I saw this in practice during the event on Sunday when I couldn’t catch one on a “difficult” climb. Although I did pass on the downhill afterwards 🙂 

  2. I seem to have fallen in love with the idea of making use of ebikes that I have been reading about them so often lately. I think I might be snatching one up myself. The evolution of technology is really hitting the mountain biking area hard and I am loving it. I see that buying a mountain bike is all determined by what it is that I want. I think I should get one although the price is a bit high but quality comes for a good price I guess. Thanks!

    1. Hi Henderson, Thanks for your comments. While I see the value in e-bikes, particularly for the three people and those in similar situations to those I mentioned. They are not something I choose. ha ha, maybe one day I will have no choice. Steve

  3. I can so much relate to this post as I my hubby wants to get me a pedal assisted bike so I can keep up with him when we are on the trails. I simply don’t have the leg strength that he has especially when we are going uphill and it sort of takes all the fun out of it if we can’t do it together. Can you recommend a good e-bike for an older woman like me? 

    1. Hi Wendy, If my wife wanted an e-bike, I would encourage her to start by looking at the Cube Acid Hybrid One 29er, 2019. If you click on the Chain Reaction banner toward the bottom of the post, you will be able to search for it and others. The Acid is at the lower end of the price range, currently offered at £1,499 instead of £1,799. Cube have a positive reputation for mountain bikes generally but personally, I don’t like the tires much and I would look at a better fork because with the extra weight (21.5 kg), 100mm might be too little. 120mm would be better.

      If you step up to the Cube Sting 120 Race 500 29 Women’s E-Bike 2019. It costs £1000 more but has full suspension with 120mm at the front . . . still the same tires though, but that’s a Cube thing 🙂 At 23.9 kg, it’s a little heavier than the Acid.

      I hope this helps a little and, if you need to know more, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for your comments and question. Steve

  4. I’m afraid I can’t really get on board with this whole electric mountain bike angle – I’ve been a avid mountain bike rider for over two decades now, and this just doesn’t settle right with me. 

    I suppose I can understand people carrying injuries etc needing to use one, but wouldn’t they be better off using a regular hybrid on the flats instead? They’d certainly get more cardio from it?

    1. Hi Chris, we should share some mtb stories and experiences. I too have been riding for a looong while and unless fate grounds me it is not something I will stop or, switch to an e-bike. I understand the feelings of those riders I talked to on Sunday and also, they were all there because they wanted to be in the mountains rather than down on the flat. They still get a cardio workout because the system is governed and drops out at a certain wattage (depending on the bike). The whole debate is a tough one and something I’m beginning to accept as another “branch” of mountain biking. Ha ha, it still makes me twitch though. Thank you for your comments. Steve

  5. This is a discourse that has been going on for a while now. I feel like the electric bikes are a blessing to us and I am very happy that I am already saving up to get myself one. The first person who bought it around here always had this but of edge whenever we went mountain biking. It’s cool to see you could ask some people about it and they all have their honest look into the beauty. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I think the debate will go on for a while yet, John. Personally I don’t have a problem with e-mtb and whatever we think, they’re not going away. In a sense, if people can get out there and enjoy their ride and as long as they ride with other riders in mind, there shouldn’t be a problem. It needs too some adjustments to ride skills. Thank you for your comments and I hope you save enough soon. Steve

  6. Hi,

    Really interesting article, I cycle to work every day (about 20 miles) and I use an E road bike, to make it somewhat easier. I hadn’t considered using an E Mountain Bike, I like the thought that they can help people back to an activity they love who are nursing injuries, I hadn’t considered greater erosion due to the weight. I think that if they help people get more active, E mountain bikes are ultimately a good thing!

    1. Hi Nate, That’s a nice daily workout 🙂 I think it’s all about physical ability and preference. There’s a lot of debate in mountain bike world and a lot of negatives as well as positive comment. If they help, that’s great and from what I know, they’re not going away. Thank you for your comments. Steve

  7. Hi Steve, I can tell the way you wrote this post you are an eager passionate bike rider yourself and love riding them. I am always fascinated & always watched the Tour De France on DstV channel and could not tell the difference between mountain bikes and e-bikes, so are E-bikes only for the rough terrain(trails) or can you ride them on Tour De France races as well? I am not a bike rider at all. In the end, what do you recommend E-bike or mountain bike which one rides better or faster or is safe? Thank you for the great post and have learnt a lot about bikes that I never knew, I guess you can say we learn everyday.

    1. Hi Zinzi, Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated. In Europe last year, it was decided to place e-bikes in different categories to traditional road and mountain bikes. So you aren’t likely to see them in the Tour de France racing “normal” bikes. There are e-bikes that can be ridden like mountain bikes over rough trails and e-bikes that are designed for roads / urban riding. It’s basically a power assisted bike but most don’t come under the classification, ‘motorized’. I hope this helps. Best regards, Steve C

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