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Electric bikes - spawn of Satan or harmless fun? | The Question

Electric bikes - spawn of Satan or harmless fun? | The Question

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you will have noticed that 2013 has seen a huge rise in the number of electric bikes being made, and we’re not just talking about commuter bikes. We’ve seen some crazy off-road electric contraptions in the past from small companies, but now the big guns are getting in on the act, and normally that only happens when they really think an idea’s got legs.


As you can see from Cube’s 140mm travel Stereo Hybrid above, we’re no longer talking about weird monstrosities, this thing is an incredibly neatly designed piece of kit and it really is designed to be properly ridden off-road.


Lapierre are another big company that are in on the act, and once again this is very much a serious piece of kit. They’ve even produced a video about the bike that features a certain legendary, and very fast Frenchman…

The thing is though that these bikes don’t seem to have received the warmest of welcomes from much of the mountain bike community, in fact there even seems to be a load of hatred towards them in some cases. Most of that hatred is centred around the idea that they’re just for fat and unfit people who want to cheat, and for that reason alone they shouldn’t be made. Even if that is all they are for, is that any reason to hate them, or those that want to use them?

For curiosities sake I swung a leg over one of Cube ones at Eurobike. Before I got moving on it I thought “this is way too heavy, it’s going to feel like shit”, a thought that was about to cement my idea that these things were a bloody stupid idea, but as soon as I was moving it actually felt surprisingly normal, apart from being bloody fast! Although it felt similar in many ways to a regular mountain bike, it certainly still felt different, which kind of made me realise that maybe instead of looking at these as ‘cheating’ bikes, we should instead think of them simply as something different, and maybe even something different that could be a whole load of fun.

There are a load of us that also ride motocross bikes, and we see that as fun, not cheating. So should we open our minds a bit and give these new electric mountain bikes the chance to be another alternative route to smiles, and not a replacement/threat to what we already know we love? I’ve spoken to a couple of people who have had the chance to ride one of these on proper trails, and you know what, all of them said they had the most fun they’d had for ages, they loved it. Some of those people were originally dead against the idea too. Crucially though, not one of them said they’d want to give up their normal bike for one, they’d ideally want both, the reason being that both forms of bike were great fun, but very different.

I’ve even heard from a reliable source that Nico Vouilloz is loving using one of these for training as it makes his hill climb sessions far more interesting. He can put in the same amount of effort, but now he’s flying along at the sort of speed that you normally only encounter on a downhill. Imagine that, turning all your singletrack climbs and flat sections into what seem like a DH section. Pretty crazy hey!

So what do you lot reckon? Should bikes this be destroyed upon sight? Or, if your mates weren’t looking would you give one a try for a laugh? Or, heaven forbid, would you possibly even consider buying one?

Oh, and before I go I can’t resist throwing in a few of the more random electric mountain bikes that are out there…


Caterham, as in the people who make the bonkers fast cars, have recently announced that they’ll now be making bikes as well, two of which will be electric ones. This one looks even more mental than their cars. More info can be found here.

Audi e-bike Woerthersee

Caterham certainly weren’t the first car company to play about with electric bikes because last year we featured this Audi one which was packed full of crazy hi-tech gubbins, including some automatic wheelie setting! If you missed it you can find it here.

And finally here are two homemade contraptions, both of which put out insane amounts of power (the Giant around 20 hp and the Santa Cruz around 10 hp) and have been clocked at 66 mph!



Come on, there must be at least a little bit of you that would love to at least give that V-10 a try.

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  1. Steve

    If you live a fair distance from good trails this would be ideal for the boring road ride in and out. You could even take the heavy battery out when you get to the woods, stash it for a “normal” ride and put it in for the ride home.

  2. JMont


    1. mitsos

      Indeed, no.

  3. Dan

    I am very interested in trying one out. Not to make riding easier but to make trail days longer. Who wouldn’t want the ability to ride 40, 50 miles of trail? I say bring it on. They’ll look hideous for a while but they will improve and become somewhat mainstream, I am sure of it.

  4. Simon Evans

    I could see these being used by inexperienced people who don’t gave the fitness or are too overweight to pedal uphill. The problem is these people probably won’t gave the skill to handle the bike at the high speeds that it’s motor will propel them to.

  5. Adam

    I’ve used on of the hai bikes and they are brilliant. Once you get up to speed they handle really well. But most importantly, they will be great tools for people with disabilities, older people and those with injuries to carry on or start enjoying mountain biking.

    1. WAKi

      The idea about e-bikes being a remedy for any form of disability is tempting. However the reality will be the same as with e- city bikes in my town. Most of them are ridden by upper-middle-class-wannabe a-holes between 30-45 who don’t give a f…

  6. Cambodia

    Imagine an electric bike with 29 inch wheels…. That would generate some serious hate…. Even the haters wouldn’t be able to handle it..

    The trails are now gonna be jammed with fat people on bikes if these take off…

    1. chris w

      You won’t be able to keep up with the fat people on bikes if these take off!

  7. Eoin

    A good argument I have heard for them is that in 20-30 years we are all going to be old and broken, and shorter smoother rides will be completely boring compared to the shit we have been doing along, so getting one of these will allow to keep getting out to those remote trails and all day epics. I dont think they will have much of an effect on 10-50 year olds, even the fat and lazy.

  8. James

    We ban motocross bikes from our trails, these should be banned also.

  9. Alex

    I am not personally against them if it makes the sport more accessible to a wider audience. I can also see them as a good training tool in the same way motocross bikes to get you used to speed. However I do worry that they may put additional stress on the trails which someone has to maintain. Personally I would not have one and look forward to overtaking these on the trail!

  10. Steve Erkens

    Yes, spawn of Satan. Let the enduro guys use them.

  11. Squiddly Doodler

    I’m sure they’re great fun and loads of people enjoy them. Each to their own, I say – just don’t bring them anywhere you wouldn’t bring a motorbike.

  12. worthy

    Big wheels are more likely so suck the fun out of the sport…these are ok to get the wife or a fat mate out

  13. e-video

    In my mind this is the same thing as using lift accessed trails. People that use uplifts aren’t (usually) fat or lazy, they just like going downhill better than uphill, and going fast better then going slow. Wouldn’t buy one at this point but can see their potential.

  14. Dougieboy

    A mountain bike is a ‘ pedal’ bicycle, let’s leave it at that and don’t f*** it up, if you want an engine cos you’re too lazy or can’t be arsed, buy something with an engine?!! Simple! :)

  15. Dougieboy

    Ps – for engine read motorcycle, do either or both as is meant, great fun either way?! Why bother with halfway between bollocks?!!!

  16. Jan

    Mmm… some real closed minded comments on here. It’s a bit sad to read actually. I think this is a great idea for many reasons. Firstly, not everyone that wants one is fat or lazy or a girlfriend.

    I bought one for my dad who recently had a heart attack and needed to get some exercise to strengthen his heart. He cannot pedal a normal bike up the hills, but he is riding 4+ hours a day on his pedal assist bike and loving it. It’s pedal assist by the way, these bikes do not have throttles. You cannot just sit back and hit the accelerator. There are bikes like that as well, but the ones discussed in this article are pedal assist.

    In my honest opinion, if I could buy a quality DH bike with a pedal assist motor then that would be my one and only bike. No longer will I need to organise shuttles (yes, you weren’t pedalling up the hill before anyway, so now you are actually on your bike longer) and I can get to the more in accessible trails that require a lot of pedalling to get to on my big bike so the downs will be even more fun than on my mid travel bike that I use to get there now.

    Anyone who races bikes will not like these bikes and they are not for them. I like to get out and have as much fun as possible when I go riding and something like this might just make it even more fun!

    1. WAKi

      Have you ever heard a idea that every form of cycling is not a goid exercise? That it is actualy bad for your body comparing to other sports like runninhg, hiking, swimming or simply… taking a walk? Just a comcept… Think about it

      1. Jan

        No sure what you are trying to say WAKI…

    2. Maarten kas

      Way to go jan! Hope your dad stads on the planet a while longer. Rspct!

  17. Seb

    Sweet. Now we can scare the crap out of walkers and horse riders going downhill and uphill. I can see this as being a great leap forward for trail advocacy.

  18. Seb

    Strava users are going to have a shitfit.

    1. Jan

      Haha, in reality it is no worse than someone on a moto claiming a strava run or people leaving them on when in the car (for road sections). In other words, this problem already exists.

      Maybe they just need to add another type of activity on Strava specifically for E-bikes. They have walking and riding separate at the moment.

  19. Hecklerone

    Not a real bad thing,but I suspect that when the terrain gets roughed that battery ,and all that little pieces won’t last ,more things to waist time and money and patient ,but hey why not ,just not for me even the so call”dropper post trust worthy”it’s a pain.just to think in battery and that visor and all the others parts ,no thank you

  20. bedders

    Load of old rubbish.

  21. Hampson

    I’ve tried one and it brought a huge smile to my face. I can’t quite understand how anyone thinks they are a bad idea. You sound like a bunch of hipsters, with your true pedal power nonsense.

    I will always choose my ‘normal’ bike for a good days ride out with mates. At the same time I would never turn down the opportunity to ride one again.

    e-bike owners are not sat playing playbox 4 they are out riding, and pedaling. Get a grip.

  22. Jake Boylett

    I think there mint I bet all the haters would what a lil go rely ant they cost so much it’s not like all the trails will be over run whith them if you. Can afford it go nuts I whant one

  23. Battlestag

    I like the sound of the climbs becoming a ‘high speed’ challenge too. I’d like to try the cube.

  24. PumptrackTim

    Would love to try one. Pedal assistance doesn’t mean the ride will be passive. If you are thinking mini motor bike, check out the Cube video, they just move faster for the same effort and make more of the slower stuff fun. Whats wrong with that?

    Fatties aren’t going to swamp the trails because of these…

  25. Birdman

    If u don’t like em don’t buy one simple innit

  26. dirt dodger

    They exist and people may or may not choose them as a preferred OR a required option, its not like they will ever affect you if you avoid them, its a powered cycle at the end of the day and it will be useful to some people. If you hate them then please take your head out of its shitbox for a minute and think sideways – this may/will mean that people who cannot normally ride a bike get to ride one, if this is so then what’s the problem? Why have a strong opinion against them? it makes no sense.

  27. TallPaul

    no no no mountain biking has lost the plot!! 27.5 29 now electric this is killing it for me I am going to sell up everything and take up fell running seriously had enough of the INDUSTRY trying to push us somewhere else when we have all been so happy on 26″ for so long, fuck it I am done with it………


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