What do you think about eMountain Bikes?

Larry Pizzi

Active Member
One of the many reasons that I believe eMountain Biking will be quite popular...

"...the public image of mountain-biking has morphed into an extreme sport, all about young men throwing themselves off cliffs or down ravines. It's a frustrating misrepresentation, when for most of us, a mountain-bike ride looks much the same as a road-ride – riding along with friends, talking and enjoying the countryside, but in the woods or on the Dales, away from the constant, dull threat of motorists. And the bike you need to do that really isn't very complicated".
http://newsle.com
 

Vern

Active Member
To me there are two parts to mountain biking, the exploration part and the downhill. One part of it is just like hiking, but on a bike. Experiencing the outdoors, nature, and exploring placing that you wouldn't otherwise. I agree that the image of mountain biking is really not this. Most people don't think of mountain biking as "hiking on a bike," they think of it as some X-games extreme sport.

The other part of mountain biking, however, is the thrill of the downhill. Ripping over jumps, curving through tight corners, and testing your technical skills on tricky sharp turns, tree ruts, ditches, and whatever else the trail has to offer. I really love both parts of mountain biking. I do get annoyed, however, when I am in "exploration" mode and someone yells out "On your left!" so that they can wiz by me at some crazy speed.

For the "Explorer" you probably don't need a bike with any extreme specs, besides a decent front fork and enough gears to get you where you want to go. If you are into the "downhill" part of mountain biking, however, you would want different specs-more suspension, brakes... If you're like me and enjoy both you need a bit of both.

I think that mountain e-biking would be really fun, but there is something about it that does bother me. I think a whining electric motor on a trail would kind of spoil the experience for me. I also would feel that I don't deserve the "downhill" with paying for it first with the "uphill." I don't feel the same way about commuting by e-bike. An e-bike on the road is one less car. But an e-bike on a trail does seem wrong. However, I must admit it does sound VERY tempting.

BTW- I came VERY close to buying the DASH. After MUCH debate I chose the Neo Carbon. I do think that the Dash is a really incredible bike though. Any chance that you will upgrade it with hydraulic brakes for next year's model? Also, I feel that the controller should have a +, - so you don't have to cycle through all of the modes to switch between them. Perhaps you can come out with a higher spec Dash X or something like that so you can keep the price of the regular Dash fairly low. I guess, however, if the Dash X had higher specs it might start to cannibalize on E-flow sales???
 

Cameron Pemstein

New Member
I am really torn in this matter......

I love mtn biking and I also love ebikes but I am going to agree with Vern an "electric motor on a trail would kind of spoil the experience for me," and the whole paying for the uphill makes sense. I CANT HAVE A FREE DOWNHILL (paying for a chair lift, is still considered paying :p).

Larry - the status quo of mtn biking screams PROGRESSIVE, and not to point fingers, but Currie's electric mountain bikes scream progressive and those type of bikes are designed for one thing. FAST and HARD.

I can't read German but here is a link of a rider riding down some stairs on the Haibike, this bike is not designed for enjoying the countryside, it's for the enjoyment of ripping up the trail in the countryside.
(http://www.pedelec-biker.com/2014/03/das-nduro-projekt-folge-3.html?spref=fb) of a rider mobbing down some stairs
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
E-MTB's might be popular in the US, but over here they really receive a very negative response from users of pedal only MTB's. Mention them on a UK forum and you will be in for some real flaming, and even bikes sales companies are now coming into the firing line. Example from FB just yesterday. Scroll down to the 24th March 2014, with Wiggle announcing the launch of Haibike. https://www.facebook.com/wiggle?fref=ts

I can see where Vern and Cameron are both coming from as well, in relation to noise. The thought of using a mid drive e-mtb off road along with it's associated noise, doesn't do it for me either. I much prefer the silence of my hub drive.

My concern with e-mtb's over here, is the potential for people with dongles and generally illegal bikes, to spoil it for people like me, that don't wish to rock the very fine balance point between the public and normal mtb users. Reckless use will inevitably spoil the fun, as electric bikes get banned from public off road spaces. It could happen. :(
 

Larry Pizzi

Active Member
To me there are two parts to mountain biking, the exploration part and the downhill. One part of it is just like hiking, but on a bike. Experiencing the outdoors, nature, and exploring placing that you wouldn't otherwise. I agree that the image of mountain biking is really not this. Most people don't think of mountain biking as "hiking on a bike," they think of it as some X-games extreme sport.

The other part of mountain biking, however, is the thrill of the downhill. Ripping over jumps, curving through tight corners, and testing your technical skills on tricky sharp turns, tree ruts, ditches, and whatever else the trail has to offer. I really love both parts of mountain biking. I do get annoyed, however, when I am in "exploration" mode and someone yells out "On your left!" so that they can wiz by me at some crazy speed.

For the "Explorer" you probably don't need a bike with any extreme specs, besides a decent front fork and enough gears to get you where you want to go. If you are into the "downhill" part of mountain biking, however, you would want different specs-more suspension, brakes... If you're like me and enjoy both you need a bit of both.

I think that mountain e-biking would be really fun, but there is something about it that does bother me. I think a whining electric motor on a trail would kind of spoil the experience for me. I also would feel that I don't deserve the "downhill" with paying for it first with the "uphill." I don't feel the same way about commuting by e-bike. An e-bike on the road is one less car. But an e-bike on a trail does seem wrong. However, I must admit it does sound VERY tempting.

BTW- I came VERY close to buying the DASH. After MUCH debate I chose the Neo Carbon. I do think that the Dash is a really incredible bike though. Any chance that you will upgrade it with hydraulic brakes for next year's model? Also, I feel that the controller should have a +, - so you don't have to cycle through all of the modes to switch between them. Perhaps you can come out with a higher spec Dash X or something like that so you can keep the price of the regular Dash fairly low. I guess, however, if the Dash X had higher specs it might start to cannibalize on E-flow sales???

@Vern - All good points. Thanks for your comments. A few things; There are plenty of fire roads and trails that don't dive too deeply into the single track that regular recreational riders could enjoy if they were fit enough, but they are generally not. I assume that you have the fitness level to be able to enjoy off-road riding due to your "earn the descent" comment. I don't see those of you that are able to go out on a normal MTB and actually have an enjoyable time, purchasing an eMTB anytime soon. But I do know from my personal experience that a rider that does not have the physical ability to go out and enjoy the trails on a normal bike, loves the eMountain experience. Perhaps because they are exploring our wilderness areas and away from automotive traffic. Personally, I see no good reason to deprive those that can't from having that experience.

Regarding the whining of the electric motor, I can tell you that tires on the trail drown-out any drive system noise.

On the subject of the Dash - Thank you for considering it. While we will make some upgrades in MY15, we won't go to hydraulic brakes to preserve the price point but we will have another, higher end model with the same functional intent that will. Stay tuned!
 

Larry Pizzi

Active Member
I am really torn in this matter......

I love mtn biking and I also love ebikes but I am going to agree with Vern an "electric motor on a trail would kind of spoil the experience for me," and the whole paying for the uphill makes sense. I CANT HAVE A FREE DOWNHILL (paying for a chair lift, is still considered paying :p).

Larry - the status quo of mtn biking screams PROGRESSIVE, and not to point fingers, but Currie's electric mountain bikes scream progressive and those type of bikes are designed for one thing. FAST and HARD.

I can't read German but here is a link of a rider riding down some stairs on the Haibike, this bike is not designed for enjoying the countryside, it's for the enjoyment of ripping up the trail in the countryside.
(http://www.pedelec-biker.com/2014/03/das-nduro-projekt-folge-3.html?spref=fb) of a rider mobbing down some stairs
@Cameron Pemstein - Thanks for your comments. First, I don't care about the status quo of mountain biking as it exists today because I agree with the author of the story that I linked, its become an extreme sport and its no longer bringing significant new participation into cycling.

Second, its not a free downhill. Every model in the range that we are bringing is pedal-assit only, and again I speak from experience, you need to pedal up to climb.

Lastly, while you may be right that there are models in the range that are capable of aggressive riding, its primarily designed this way for the descent. Your not able to roost trails like a MX motorcycle and why shouldn't it be able to do everything a normal MTB can? Its certainly not doing any more damage.

Cam - Perhaps when you get to my age, you'll better understand my passion for these machines. Until then, ride on.
 

Larry Pizzi

Active Member
E-MTB's might be popular in the US, but over here they really receive a very negative response from users of pedal only MTB's. Mention them on a UK forum and you will be in for some real flaming, and even bikes sales companies are now coming into the firing line. Example from FB just yesterday. Scroll down to the 24th March 2014, with Wiggle announcing the launch of Haibike. https://www.facebook.com/wiggle?fref=ts

I can see where Vern and Cameron are both coming from as well, in relation to noise. The thought of using a mid drive e-mtb off road along with it's associated noise, doesn't do it for me either. I much prefer the silence of my hub drive.

My concern with e-mtb's over here, is the potential for people with dongles and generally illegal bikes, to spoil it for people like me, that don't wish to rock the very fine balance point between the public and normal mtb users. Reckless use will inevitably spoil the fun, as electric bikes get banned from public off road spaces. It could happen. :(
@EddieJ - Thanks Eddie. Those comments on the Facebook string are from the enthusiasts that really don't want to share their trails and are concerned that their access may be negatively affected. While I understand their view, in reality, those that are riding eBikes on the trails are likely doing less to put there access at risk then any aggressive, athletic rider attacking the descent.

I'm not sure what you mean in your last line. Is it that you have an eMTB with a hub motor and believe that would be less of an issue then a mid-drive for an enthusiast mountain biker? As I said in my earlier post - the sound of the tires on the trail is much louder then any motor noise one would hear while riding.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
I echo some of the comments here.

The swishing sound of leaves when you ride on the trails and the background noise of the ambiance could be higher than the mid-drive systems. I have not had first hand experience of the Bosch system and seems like it has 30-45 dB noise but I see Optibike claiming their bikes are made for tails etc and their system makes substantially more noise..!! and people seem to purchase their bikes !!!
I guess most people who take videos of e-MTB keep a go-pro near the seat stay and it picks up the noise much more.

Also, I was an avid long distance runner and it all changed once I broke my ACL and meniscus. This curtailed my long distance running/biking abilities.
e-Biking has truly brought joy to me and changed the way I look at biking/commuting. That's one of the reasons I bought a Neo Jumper. I like to enjoy nature, get some fresh air and have a good time and people like me don't intend to go on downhill ride at blistering speeds and I can understand the apprehension of people because there might be few guys who would act otherwise with their monstrous 10KW dirt bikes.
Unfortunately, people pigeonhole e-MTB into the same category of dirt bikes.
 

Cameron Pemstein

New Member
@Cameron Pemstein - Thanks for your comments. First, I don't care about the status quo of mountain biking as it exists today because I agree with the author of the story that I linked, its become an extreme sport and its no longer bringing significant new participation into cycling.

Second, its not a free downhill. Every model in the range that we are bringing is pedal-assit only, and again I speak from experience, you need to pedal up to climb.

Lastly, while you may be right that there are models in the range that are capable of aggressive riding, its primarily designed this way for the descent. Your not able to roost trails like a MX motorcycle and why shouldn't it be able to do everything a normal MTB can? Its certainly not doing any more damage.

Cam - Perhaps when you get to my age, you'll better understand my passion for these machines. Until then, ride on.

Larry - All solid points, I should of clarified, "ripping the trail apart" it's just slang that we use for riding trails. I don't believe that an electric mtn bike will do more/less damage then a traditional mt bike on a trail, it's up to the rider's responsibility.

What I do know is that there are signs posted around my local trails in Orange County, CA that say no "electric bicycles" not just "motorized bicycles." I guess it will just be up to the local authorities and where one rides.

Here is a link of definitions for motorized bikes for Orange County Parks. Just make sure that when you get stopped that that you have a "mobility disability."
http://ocparks.com/parks/trails/adaa

Time will tell where this category goes...
 

Vern

Active Member
Larry - All solid points, I should of clarified, "ripping the trail apart" it's just slang that we use for riding trails. I don't believe that an electric mtn bike will do more/less damage then a traditional mt bike on a trail, it's up to the rider's responsibility.

What I do know is that there are signs posted around my local trails in Orange County, CA that say no "electric bicycles" not just "motorized bicycles." I guess it will just be up to the local authorities and where one rides.

Here is a link of definitions for motorized bikes for Orange County Parks. Just make sure that when you get stopped that that you have a "mobility disability."
http://ocparks.com/parks/trails/adaa

Time will tell where this category goes...

Howdy Neighbor,
I've never seen those signs, but I quite honestly haven't hit the trails in a while. Where have you seen them? Where do you live? I live in MV!
 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
Good question Larry... It has been interesting reading through the responses here and I appreciate your thoughtful rebuttals and clarification about sound. And I agree... both that the Bosch and IZIP systems are quiet enough to be drowned out by tire movement and that Optibike are not.

I see a huge opportunity for electric mountain bike rentals in ski towns like Vail, Breckenridge and Winter Park. Many of these spots already have programs in place to run lifts during the spring and summer months, providing downhill access to cyclists, but this isn't a mainstream activity. It's aggressive, jarring and kind of scary at times... I've flown over the handlebars on several occasions at Breck and passed less experienced riders at high speed (yeah, I've been the jerk you guys are talking about... sorry).

So, what about all of the nice single track and paved trail riding that could be enjoyed in and around these fun mountain towns? The high altitude and rolling terrain makes them difficult for some family members to enjoy but ebikes can overcome this. No more worrying about the fast aggressive riders doing the downhill thing and no more struggling to keep everyone in the group up to speed and happy.

I'm reminded of the saying "where there is anger there is fear" and I think this applies to the eMountain bike argument. Honestly though, I think a lot of this energy is misplaced. The people who will tear up trails and ride recklessly are already doing it... and it's not even that big of an issue. I've been passed, I've seen people cut trails and I've seen people doing just fine. They're all outside trying to have fun after all and most people follow the rules. Even as trails get eroded, the park rangers change markers and redirect the flow of traffic to new trails. The real issue seems to be people who don't clean up after their dogs... That's right, it smells and we step in it. Clean that stuff up! I love that you can't carry trash or manage a dog when riding an electric bike, it's practically a miracle :D

So let's think about this, as ebikes hit the scene and bring more people onto the trail ecosystem we may see an increase in the absolute number of crashes, misbehavior and erosion but we will also see better trail maintenance and more guidelines about where and how to ride because more money will be directed to supporting the activity. In less populous areas the trails may become mismanaged and more erosion will occur unchecked... but people will be outside getting exercise and perhaps recognizing and appreciating these natural areas. Ultimately, nature will be just fine here... excessive bicycling is way down the list of environmental catastrophes.

It's probably true that we'll all have to get used to a new high pitched sound out there in the wilderness... just as we have with cars engines and tires (you can hear them driving on the highway even when you're at the top of the mountain) and airplanes flying by (the jet sounds and those ugly stripes they make in the sky) and ski lifts (similar electric whir to ebikes) and the high pitch moaning of those hard core downhill cyclists who have nothing better to do with their time than complain about retired couples and families who are renting the new technology. Believe me, they'll be on it soon... How many people do you know who ride fixed gear mountain bikes without suspension? I know two and they are both actually really cool, just like a challenge. Most regular people have adopted the new tech (24+ speed with suspension) and all are smiling about it... because riding bikes is fun.

Could this post get any longer? Well, here's a fun comment-conversation I had on one of the YouTube reviews I shot for the Haibike. It's a concerned (perhaps angry?) citizen who relaxed a lot when we really thought through it together. I think captures some of the concerns shared around online and addresses them in an honest and sensitive way:

Guy: Sort of ruins the whole mountain biking experience. Hope they get banned on busier trail areas.

Me: Reminds me of what I heard when snowboards were invented. Several ski areas did ban them for a while but then they became so popular that resorts relented. I'm not sure which aspect of the mountain biking experience you feel might be ruined, or degraded. Care to expand a bit?

Guy: At least snowboards use physical human ability. There would be no limit with e-bikes. This one is up to 350 watts (~1/2 horse power) but later models will surely sport more power, resulting in increased traffic tearing up sensitive trails. For instance, the Colorado Trail features beautiful high alpine trails in sensitive areas. These habitats can barely sustain pedal bikes and would get absolutely devastated by this monstrosity.

E-bikes are great for urban commutes where erosion isn't a factor, but we need to keep them off of areas worth preserving. As soon as I see one of these on a trail near me, you bet I'll start contacting local government to put a ban on this.

Me: I see now, thanks Ryan. Indeed there are sensitive ecosystems that should be managed accordingly. Even the land where we've built our houses, highways, ski areas etc. are delicate and in many ways ruined by us. I understand your concern that extending the reach of humans on bicycles will eat away at more of these pristine landscapes. It's almost like having a chairlift to the top of Everest... That would certainly change the landscape but a positive side effect might be the removal of oxygen canisters, bodies etc. that have been left by un-augmented visitors.

Regarding the extended range of people (or re-introduction of injured and older people) electric bikes might foster increased appreciation for said landscapes and thus stimulate resource investment in preserving them. In modern times it has been cyclists, hikers, campers etc. who use these spaces and are thus motivated to vote and donate for protection. More people paying for park entry fees means more rangers, trail signs, improvements etc. It's hard to say whether more people automatically equals more damage (assuming it's only the rule breakers causing the damage). The increased monetary support and awareness may balance that out and therefore, overall may be equal to an under-utilized open space with very little enforcement. If these two scenarios are a wash in terms of damage then I'd opt for the ebike version where more people are enjoying the landscape and dedicating more mindshare to the outdoors. Electric Bikes are almost always heavier, torquier, and louder than human powered bikes but used appropriately they are just a different way for enjoying the environment and there are regulations already in place regarding power and speed (750 watts and 20 mph or 27 mph with pedal assist).

Guy: Nicely written response. I think the thing to keep in mind, at some point these ought to not be considered electric assisted bicycles, but motorcycles. Albeit alternatively powered motorcycle. Thus, having to abide by the same laws of registrations (HOV permits) and sticking on the same trails as motos.

Along with bicycles, I am a moto enthusiast, so I understand there are a lot of open spaces left in the US which is only functionally explored and enjoyed through a powered bike. BTW, I saw some of your other videos (all really well done, mind you) but those 'bikes' with no pedals and can do 50MPH, aren't bikes, they are electric motorcycle. I would love to hear your excuse if you disagree :)

Me: Hey, thanks Ryan. I put a lot of energy into building positive relationships and fostering constructive dialog. Your points are valid and I wanted to acknowledge them and really consider the impacts of the Haibike vs. some of the other stuff. I thought about mentioning the Stealth ebikes and calling out their "Competition modes" which could be abused. My post was getting long so I left it out but it's nice to see you highlight it at the end of your response.

The super-powerful "electric bikes" with higher top speeds, excessive torque and large knobby tires really are in a different class and you can see what they do to the open space trail we were riding in the videos. Some of the rocks got kicked around and the sliding-out stops were over the top. For the review we chose areas that were close to the city and less delicate (or completely man-made) for our rides. It would be really frustrating and sad to see that kind of thing happening in a delicate ecosystem or erosion-prone area and I agree with rules designed to dissuade it.
 

Cameron Pemstein

New Member
Howdy Neighbor,
I've never seen those signs, but I quite honestly haven't hit the trails in a while. Where have you seen them? Where do you live? I live in MV!

@Vern , really? Let's go ride sometime!

Whiting Ranch, Laguna Wilderness Park, Santiago Oaks

I live in Huntington Beach.
 

Vern

Active Member
Maybe we could do Whiting Ranch some weekend. I live right by there. Hopefully the commuting on my Carbon will help get me in better shape and prepared. Let me know.

Hey Larry,
Why don't you grab us a couple of Haibikes to try out and come join us. Simi Valley is just a short 1:30 drive. HA HA
 

Vern

Active Member
Laguna is pretty awesome too. Where is Santiago Oaks? I've never tried there. Is out El Toro road in the canyon somewhere??
I would love to go the week after next during the week if you can. Less people and I will be off of work due to spring break. I'm a teacher.

If we go.....Don't laugh at my old Trek 6000 hard tail??
 

Larry Pizzi

Active Member
Maybe we could do Whiting Ranch some weekend. I live right by there. Hopefully the commuting on my Carbon will help get me in better shape and prepared. Let me know.

Hey Larry,
Why don't you grab us a couple of Haibikes to try out and come join us. Simi Valley is just a short 1:30 drive. HA HA
@Vern - Lets meet in the middle....Santa Monica Mountains. I'll bring two bikes. Cameron will need to bring one of his own :)