Electric bikes - spawn of Satan or harmless fun? | The Question
Are the new breed of electric bikes a dirty cheating stain on our sport? Or should we just look at them as an alternative bit of fun?
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.
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.[series]