I am considering a full suspension e-bike that will serve the primary purpose as a commuter. My question is: What are the responses of others when you trail ride with an electric bike? Do they give you crap? Is it even legal?? What have any of you experienced?
This sounds like a great question for EddieJ. He was just talking about a trail race that he's planning to do later this year. I've only had limited experience riding off road and there were very few people around. Nobody cared, the only interest I got was positive and curious. I was friendly and courteous when riding.
I believe that regardless of what type of bike you've got if you're being a jerk to people (cutting them off, talking rudely or going off trail) people will call you out. Having an ebike just gives them a little extra reason to speak up and unfortunately it may give them an excuse to vent even if you aren't being a jerk. They can focus on it and rally against you with the support of their friends because you'll be a minority... It may give them an excuse to transfer some of the negative energy their crappy boss, unsupportive significant other, abusive parents or society has placed on them.
You already know this stuff and I realize the underlying question is really "how often does this happen?" and "can I fight back because I'm in the right and it's legal?" and I think the answers are it doesn't happen often and yes it's legal unless otherwise stated because ebikes are classified as bicycles when they have <= 750 watt motors, go <= 20 mph in throttle mode and go <= 28 mph in assisted mode.
These other riders are outside, trying to have fun and usually with their friends so the atmosphere should be non-provoking. Unlike surfing (where waves and space in the pit are limited and only one or two guys get a ride) the trail isn't going anywhere so it's way less tense. You'll only see these other riders in passing and if you're polite about passing them up and acknowledge that you've got assistance but take care of the trails and just enjoy going further or reducing stress on your knees then nobody is going to freak out... except that one guy everyone hates and he's usually all talk anyway. Let him dig a hole and act like an ass then you can offer to help him by out later by being friendly when everyone else has abandoned him
The event to which Court has mentioned and linked to is this one in a few weeks time. https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-southern-rough-ride/ Over here electric MTB's are treated with much suspicion and accusations of cheat. I'm sure that I'll get some of that at the event, but things like that just go over my head. There is nothing in the rules to say that I can't ride, and I'm riding for fun only and nothing else. To me it is purely a social event and a way to unwind. I'm even quite happy for my times not to be counted if it helps to keep the peace.
Back in the real world of riding 'public' forest tracks, cycle paths etc, the view towards electric MTB's is very much different. The majority of people that I come across have never seen one before, and the bike is a very good way of interacting with like minded people, along with friendly chat and banter. The bike often gets viewed with suspicion, but I'm always very quick to offer rides on it, and without fail, doubters come back grinning from ear to ear. When riding, I'm always aware of and respectful towards other riders, horse riders, and walkers. Our tracks are obviously not on the scale that you have, and the biggest issue that I do have is with walkers telling me that I shouldn't be riding where I am. This issue has nothing to do with the type of bike though, and again I'm always polite and never cycle without a map, as this is a very good way of proving that I am actually entitled to ride where I am.
You'll always find people in life that will be quick to moan, and you will never please them. The key thing is that you just remain polite, and don't let others spoil your day.
I certainly wouldn't let the worry of the odd person moaning, put you off buying and using an electric MTB. You may never come across that person, but if you do, just smile.