Words and photos: Steve Jones
From the outset it’s important to recognise that the sport of mountainbiking is one carried out at varying intensities and levels of technicality and enjoyed by people of diverse abilities.
Within this young sport, differences of opinion, banter between one discipline and another has always been robust. In this respect the electric mountainbike is no different and that far from “missing the point” of why we ride, it simply enables us to do more of it. And that it’s the rider that decides how fervent or extreme the ride will be.
There are two important misconceptions that need to be cleared up regarding electric mountain bikes (e-mtb). First is that ultimately it’s the rider that decides the intensity of the ride, not the bike. Ride in your comfort zone or tire yourself out – you decide.
And secondly, far from being a different sport to mountainbiking (mtb), the new genre of e-mtb unites both downhill and trail riding, allowing riders more freedom on the hill and increased technicality in the trail. E-mtb allows uphill flow as well as downhill flow.
Clearly this is at odds with many people’s interpretation of e-mtb. One that says it’s for cheating and unfit people. Be it through a range of gears, pedal assistance and power modes a rider can choose how hard to ride, for how long and on what terrain. There’s also software to assist you with this.
In terms of physicality the leg strain might be lessened but the heart rate and workout will not. E-mtb can incorporate steeper, more technical climbs that are conquered faster yet still leave you breathless, and on the downhill sectors there’s very little to choose between e-mtb and mtb in terms of speed.
“an e-mtb will not lessen the fun you have on a mtb. It’s just different fun”
The idea that e-mtb is a different sport is slightly misplaced when both disciplines of downhill and (to a lesser extent) enduro rely on uplift vehicles or chairlifts in many parts of the world. Indeed far from being limited by the tracks offered at uplift locations, e-mtb allows freedom to roam, the ability to explore and to go places that might be out of reach for normal mtb. The key to it all is that riding an e-mtb will not lessen the fun you have on a mtb. It’s just different fun.