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