Mammoth Mountain Becomes First US Resort to Allow Electric Bikes

Court

Administrator
Staff member
On June 28th, Court and Brandy met with Gabe Taylor, marketing manager for Mammoth Lakes, a ski resort near Lake Tahoe in California. He explained that Mammoth has become the first bike park on public forest lands in the United States to allow Class 1 electric bikes!! Mammoth Lakes is a resort that sits at 9,000 foot elevation, and it is home to some of the most prodigious cross-country trails in the world. The resort was founded by Dave McCoy, who got the idea for mountain biking after building a gondola for skiing, realizing that it would be fun to ride a bike down in the summer months. This led the creation of the Downhill Kamikaze trail. Since its beginning in 1985, Mammoth has continued to be a leader and early adopter of new sports and ways of enjoying them. With only one month of ebike access under their belt (at the time of this interview) all things are going well... muscle / acoustic cyclists have been getting along great with electric cyclists on the same trails and with no extra damage observed.

Mammoth Mountain has a boatload of trails with diverse skill levels and varied terrain--from light kids’ trails to highly advanced routes. It has incredible scenic value and ecosystems that are unique to the mountain itself; cyclists can explore as ambitiously as they desire, taking different routes through trees, boulders. Mammoth even has pumice (volcanic rock and sand type terrain) which allows cyclists to "pumice surf" purposefully sliding and floating through soft sections.


Cycling stats for Mammoth Mountain:
  • Top Elevation: 11,053 ft / 3,369 m
  • McCoy Station: 9,630 ft / 2,935 m
  • Main Lodge: 8,909 ft / 2,715 m
  • The Village: 8,100 ft / 2,469 m
  • Vertical Rise: 3,100 ft / 945 m
  • Acreage: 3,500 ac / 1,416 ha
  • Miles of Singletrack: 84 mi / 135 km
  • Terrain Breakdown: 53 Trails: 48% Easiest / Intermediate, 37% Advanced / Expert, 15% Pro
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about Mammoth is its welcoming nature for beginners and family-friendly quality. In the video interview that we did for EBR (planning to post after a product review embargo is lifted), Gabe emphasized to us how important it is that beginner bikers get the help they need. One way they do this is by providing trails specially designed for beginners, and having a very family-friendly aspect. “The Discovery Zone” is a group of light trails that are highly family-focused; these trails (Discovery, Adventure, Explorer, and Discotech) gradually progress beginning cyclists toward the intermediate level. This feature helps newcomers, from a four-year-old to a senior, begin mountain biking by associating it with fun experiences, instead of unnecessary stress that often results from starting without help or diving straight into advanced terrain. Likewise, Mammoth also offers lessons and guided tours, including a parent/child special that combines a 4-hour bike rental and 1-day park ticket for 1 adult and 1 child. This approach to introducing people to the world of mountain biking helps to ensure they experience its joys early on and are encouraged to keep doing it. Gabe also explained how important it is that their visitors are comfortable--they pay attention to signage to guide visitors who may be completely new to mountain biking and likely overwhelmed; they also post rangers throughout the park to help those in need.

Mammoth is continually works to create new, beautiful trails for people to enjoy. Some of the best ones include Discotech, an intermediate but helpful trail for those still getting used to their bikes; Midtown, a recent intermediate downhill trail from McCoy Station; and Off the Top, an intermediate trail that leads to the top of the mountain and a stellar view. Mammoth is currently building a new advanced trail called Boomerang that is scheduled to open this month (July 2018), as well as expanding and reworking its existing trails.

Mammoth’s staff started taking notice of electric bikes from the electric mountain bike (eMTB) race it has been hosting called the Bosch Boogalloo. In April of 2016, the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Operations started looking into allowing Class 1 Pedal Assist eMTBs at the bike park itself. It proved surprisingly painless to do this; In April of 2018, the USFS Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Ranger Station granted them a permit to do so. The park officially opened to these ebikes on May 25th, 2018. Electric bikes are now allowed on every Mammoth trail, and they follow the same regulations as normal bikes. Only Class 1 Pedal-Assists ebikes are currently allowed.

There were some initial challenges with this new addition to the park. There was some fear for eMTB riders complying with the park etiquette, the speed of such bikes on the trails threatening riders’ safety, and trail erosion. These concerns proved to be inconsequent, however; there have been hardly any conflicts since the addition of electric bikes. Gabe also mentioned a sense of judgement traditional bikers often have toward ebikes, which is softening as demo bikes and rentals make them easier to try and enjoy. The park’s mission is to give people a fun and amazing experience--thus, if ebikes help facilitate such an experience, people will have more fun at the park and with mountain biking in general.

Anyhow, the benefits of eMTBs definitely outweigh the costs. For example, many of Mammoth’s beautiful trails are intermediate and advanced and cannot be braved by the less fit. The elevation can additionally cause some altitude sickness for riders, especially unpowered cyclists. The electric power that ebikes provide significantly lowers the energy that must be put forth by its rider; therefore, since the allowance of electric bikes on all of Mammoth’s trails, far more people--children, older people, or the otherwise physically incapable--now have more access to more difficult terrain. Ebikes will bring more people to explore Mammoth’s cross-country and other ambitious trails. The fun and scenic adventures that come with them may otherwise have been inaccessible to them on unpowered bicycles. Thus ebikes benefit the resort’s staff as well, as this new, innovative option will undoubtedly bring in more cyclists and make them want to return.

Additional articles about ebikes at Mammoth Mountain, that we found while researching and posting ours can be found on Adventure Sports Journal and Gear Junkie. We got to meet editors from several more publications at this event and want to thank Mammoth and Trek for inviting us out and sharing some demo bikes so we could experience their awesome trails! Videos are in the works and will be posted here and on the standard EBR YouTube channel soon. In the meantime, here's the full Trek Powerfly 7 LT review:)

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jhoblo

Member
Heh, it’s good to hear that “the hill” allows e-bikes. Mammoth is still my permanent residence as I finish a graduate degree out-of-state. I have TOTALLY ridden my Class 3 bike in town and didn’t know it was illegal, but frankly my dear... I’ve never used the bike park- I’m cheap, poor, and there are so many USFS fire roads around, I really don’t understand the complaints of those who only want to ride trails. So many places to ride, for example I’ve never vehicles on the Sand Cyn 4x4 road above Rock Cr in the height of summer (yeah!), not to mention great places in the Glass and White Mts. You don’t have a ranger looking out for you when riding funky fire roads (which are legal to ride!) out in the boonies, so be careful.
 
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