We’ve just had news through the mailbox stating that in Naked Racing’s Night Enduro race at the Forest Of Dean, will be including an E-Bike category.
E-bikes are one of those things in mountain biking that causes paranoia that “the industry” (said in a tone comparable to “the illuminati”) is trying to push on us, which will ruin the sport and ultimately lead to the end of the world. Like 29ers. They’re basically motocross bikes! They kill small children!
That’s not true – before getting onto the subject of racing them, riding E-bikes isn’t that bad. We’ve had a few pass through the doors of Dirt HQ – and one which didn’t come back in again because the tester loved it so much. They’re oddly great fun, these monstrosities. When you can go out on a 160mm bike with great angles, hit the downhill trails, and then beat the uplift back to the top (seriously – we’ve done it) all day, who wouldn’t? We talked over this whole issue a few months ago in Electric Bikes: Spawn of Satan or Harmless Fun?, so for that bit of the argument, go and have a read.
So e-bikes are great fun – like motocross bikes for training, or a tool for doing marathon days in the saddle. The question suddenly gets a lot deeper when you start talking about racing them though. On the one hand, it’s a good way to get potential non-racers racing – older people, anyone with disabilities – and that’s a good aim, but it does blur the lines of racing somewhat. We’ve seen (and ridden) “chipped” e-bikes with the limiters removed, which go like rockets – they start breaking speed limits. Is this where it leaves us, then – no longer a race for fitness and skill, but a test of who can afford the fastest e-bike?
Obviously, we currently have a competition for “who can afford the fastest bike” in normal racing – that’s the way it is and always will be – the guys with more money (or pikey journalists) will have the fastest, newest bikes, and that is, by every definition, an advantage. We deal with that. Having a bike with the potential to be ridden faster because it’s a few grams lighter , however – is that the same as having a bike which actually just is faster, because it speeds you up? Is it the extension of this gulf that matters then?
In a long-overdue ending, then, I don’t know. Anyone else?