Why Electric Bikes Shouldn't Be Allowed on Mountain Biking Trails?

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Maybe we need to get politically correct with Strava and make people 'self-identify' their ebike passions?

People can smell a rat, and if guys are self promoting a fast ride without disclosure, I can see the ire. Yet, that makes the point that ebikes are more fun and help an average person do extra ordinary things. So long as they are safe and responsible, it's great.
 
Maybe we need to get politically correct with Strava and make people 'self-identify' their ebike passions?

People can smell a rat, and if guys are self promoting a fast ride without disclosure, I can see the ire. Yet, that makes the point that ebikes are more fun and help an average person do extra ordinary things. So long as they are safe and responsible, it's great.
Did you say "make" people do something? With an app? Surely you understand the futility of that one. Coming from the world of motorcycles, I'm a bit slow on the uptake for Strava but if the appeal is its "competitive" modes/features (KOM? What is that?) and if that is wildly popular, well, I surmise that your suggestion is doomed. No offense, but hoping that people who use the app won't "cheat" (if Strava users want to call it that) is an empty wish. And, again, I'm not sure an app, even a wildly popular one, would address the question.

Should e bikes be allowed on mountain bike trails? If the answer is 'no' who will enforce this regulation? If the answer to that is the local jurisdiction's law enforcement officers, e.g. park rangers, I suspect that many will dutily obey and just never take their e bike close to the trail, for fear of a fine. But as the market grows, (as it seems to be doing in Europe and from all that the manufactures are pushing at the bike shows) there will be more violations and perhaps some pressure to amend regulations. But, one of the primary points which seems overlooked is the price of entry. E bikes are expensive. They have not yet reached that point where they are getting cheaper either. While China may someday flood the market, that hasn't had much effect on the current crop of non electric mountain bikes and is not likely to affect the eMTB any time soon. All the MTGs get fancier, more technological and.... more expensive every year. Adding electrics just makes an MTB that much more expensive. Which just means, to me, an old man, that your trails aren't gonna get trashed by the e-bike crowd. It won't be us old timers who can afford one slaming down the hills in 'turbo' to scram past the youngsters. We'll be dead soon. Let us have some outdoor fun on the trails. We'll be good, I promise.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Did you say "make" people do something? With an app? Surely you understand the futility of that one. Coming from the world of motorcycles, I'm a bit slow on the uptake for Strava but if the appeal is its "competitive" modes/features (KOM? What is that?) and if that is wildly popular, well, I surmise that your suggestion is doomed. No offense, but hoping that people who use the app won't "cheat" (if Strava users want to call it that) is an empty wish. And, again, I'm not sure an app, even a wildly popular one, would address the question.

Should e bikes be allowed on mountain bike trails? If the answer is 'no' who will enforce this regulation? If the answer to that is the local jurisdiction's law enforcement officers, e.g. park rangers, I suspect that many will dutily obey and just never take their e bike close to the trail, for fear of a fine. But as the market grows, (as it seems to be doing in Europe and from all that the manufactures are pushing at the bike shows) there will be more violations and perhaps some pressure to amend regulations. But, one of the primary points which seems overlooked is the price of entry. E bikes are expensive. They have not yet reached that point where they are getting cheaper either. While China may someday flood the market, that hasn't had much effect on the current crop of non electric mountain bikes and is not likely to affect the eMTB any time soon. All the MTGs get fancier, more technological and.... more expensive every year. Adding electrics just makes an MTB that much more expensive. Which just means, to me, an old man, that your trails aren't gonna get trashed by the e-bike crowd. It won't be us old timers who can afford one slaming down the hills in 'turbo' to scram past the youngsters. We'll be dead soon. Let us have some outdoor fun on the trails. We'll be good, I promise.
A high quality mtn bike can cost $2-4k. Is that cheap? I think not, but people pay for quality.

The Specialized levos and Haibikes start at $4k, so yes, the eMtn bikes are a bit more, but on par with the normal ebike premium.
 
A high quality mtn bike can cost $2-4k. Is that cheap? I think not, but people pay for quality.

The Specialized levos and Haibikes start at $4k, so yes, the eMtn bikes are a bit more, but on par with the normal ebike premium.
My point is that the folks buying bikes that start at $2000 to $4000 are likely to be those who are less likely to be trail bashers and regulation busters. I live in a college town where there are plenty of 20 year olds driving $40,000+ cars and there is a very avid bicycle community here. But my guess is that it will be a while before eMTBs show up on trails. And when they do, they are likely to be sitting under a law abiding person who is much less likely to do harm to trails or disturb the peace. Could be very different in the more populated areas where there are more people, more trails, more seasons to ride them in and.... more money. Just my $.02/ :D
 

Nutella

Active Member
I agree that the price of e-entry would be a deterrent to someone new to eMTBs or MTBs, I think most people riding eMTBs will be existing MTBers though, either buying a new ebike or converting an old one. Even at that, the price/performance ratio for an eMTB is continuing to get more attractive. While this isn't a high end wonder ebike, it's $5k cheaper and certainly capable enough for real mtb trails.

http://lunacycle.com/luna-giant-bbshd-full-suspension-mid-drive-mountain-ebike/

The same percentage of people that cause problems on mountain bikes by riding too fast in the wrong places will be the same in eMTBs, human nature being what it is. There's always bad apples, no matter what the activity.

I don't think there will really be any enforcement in almost all areas, there will be signs of course, but the odds of anyone checking anything will be ver low. Which is a good thing for those who are responsible riders and bad for those who get the blame for irresponsible ones.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
My point is that the folks buying bikes that start at $2000 to $4000 are likely to be those who are less likely to be trail bashers and regulation busters. I live in a college town where there are plenty of 20 year olds driving $40,000+ cars and there is a very avid bicycle community here. But my guess is that it will be a while before eMTBs show up on trails. And when they do, they are likely to be sitting under a law abiding person who is much less likely to do harm to trails or disturb the peace. Could be very different in the more populated areas where there are more people, more trails, more seasons to ride them in and.... more money. Just my $.02/ :D
Good points Munch. I suppose the question is," Who will show up on the trails with eMtns? " Enviro educated, experienced cyclist, or 20 years olds who just bought another toy?
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
I agree that the price of e-entry would be a deterrent to someone new to eMTBs or MTBs, I think most people riding eMTBs will be existing MTBers though, either buying a new ebike or converting an old one. Even at that, the price/performance ratio for an eMTB is continuing to get more attractive. While this isn't a high end wonder ebike, it's $5k cheaper and certainly capable enough for real mtb trails.

http://lunacycle.com/luna-giant-bbshd-full-suspension-mid-drive-mountain-ebike/

The same percentage of people that cause problems on mountain bikes by riding too fast in the wrong places will be the same in eMTBs, human nature being what it is. There's always bad apples, no matter what the activity.

I don't think there will really be any enforcement in almost all areas, there will be signs of course, but the odds of anyone checking anything will be ver low. Which is a good thing for those who are responsible riders and bad for those who get the blame for irresponsible ones.
Nut-
I have been doing some regular Mtn biking to supplement ebike riding/fitness. I got a nice 26" titanium Lightspeed with good forks. I have thought about the fun on an eMtn bike. In weighing a BB02 addition to my bike (It would be really cool) vs a purpose built eMtn, I have to say the BB02 is not up to par. The design makes it hang low like two tennis balls on the tailgate of a pickup. Any serious mtn biker who rides hard, hops logs, rocks, etc, ...it won't work getting banged up. The design needs to be up in the triangle with skid plates to protect the motor. If one goes with the Luna approach, you are limited.

To keep true to the thread: A poor designed ebike should probably not be on the trails. That is difficult to enforce, and starts to point back to classification and the whole Class 1-3 idea of marking bikes in order to enforce regulation.
 
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Well, maybe I will get something more than a theoretical point of view. I just picked up my first E bike yesterday. A Stromer ST1 with suspension forks and some knobbier tires. I will certainly try to get out on my local trails where I can see who else is riding these powerful beasts on the trails. The ST1 is a bit more "stealthy" in design. Maybe I'll be able to sneak by the local bike gestapo. :rolleyes:
 
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Nutella

Active Member
Just a FYI, but other than motorized trails of which there are plenty, I couldn't find any ebike legal singletrack to ride in Colorado. It appears to be off limits.
 
Just a FYI, but other than motorized trails of which there are plenty, I couldn't find any ebike legal singletrack to ride in Colorado. It appears to be off limits.
How did you come to this conclusion? I'd really like to research this and get to the source regulations/laws. If we're gonna make any changes, or propose them, I'd need to see the source but I'm having a time trying to find the actual language.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
How did you come to this conclusion? I'd really like to research this and get to the source regulations/laws. If we're gonna make any changes, or propose them, I'd need to see the source but I'm having a time trying to find the actual language.
I don't think you are allowed to ride assisted on trails and paths in Colorado. You can ride them with an ebike, unassisted.

This might be helpful:

http://colobikelaw.com/coloradolaw.html

https://www.codot.gov/programs/bikeped/information-for-bicyclists/bike-ped-manual
 
J.R., Nutella, thank you for the info and links. I've read everything linked to, and other stuff I can find. I have not read local, municipal codes unique to each municipality and I do note that state law does leave the door open for cities to enact such laws, enforceable in the confines of their city boundaries. In my municipality, Fort Collins, CO, they have done so from what I can tell and have added a definition for "electrical assist" 2 wheelers with motors under 750 watts. But such 2 wheelers are allowed (or more correctly "not prohibited") if I recall correctly. Guess I'm gonna have to put my thinking cap on again and " open a file" on this as I used to say in my (legal) business. As a retired lawyer, this is really bugging me and my old retired brain has gotten lazy. But thanks again for the info/links.
 
In the EU a 25 km/h e-bike is classified as a bicycle and can use any cycle paths and trails open to other cyclists. The more powerful e-bikes are treated like mopeds and small motorcycles and are restricted from using many paths. I cannot see my e-bike causing any more damage or noise when using offroad trails than a conventional mountain bike would and far less damage than a horse or off-road motorcycle would do. All the motor does is assist me, it is not powerful enough to spin the wheels or go uphill at excessive speeds. Downhill my conventional mountain bikes are just as fast and being much lighter I am probably going to be prepared to take more risks on them than on an e-bike.
Strava is something else. I use Strava for my own satisfaction and to allow my children to see where I've been and what I've done, they do the same. Human nature will always mean that some people 'cheat' on climbs etc. but that's partly because for the last 25 years people have considered it perfectly normal to get high scores and success on computer games using readily accessible cheats rather than by trial and error and effort just so they can brag about the level they've reached. I don't play the game but I bet there are a few golfers out there who have carded scores that they haven't earned. Humans are like that.
Personally I feel that it would be a real shame if large areas of the countryside were barred to e-bike users as many of the people who would choose to use them that way would find the areas inaccessible, incredibly difficult or even dangerous on foot or on a conventional bike.
People are afraid of change. I can remember back to the early '80s when a large British seaside town wanted to ban sailboards from all of its beaches. Luckily somebody who actually understood the problems but who could see the future of these new fangled craft talked them round. Thank God for that.
 

kennyzzz

New Member
well, to throw gas on a fire, I had my first experience with an ebike rider, was at a very crowded campground in Michigan,(Lake port state park) walking back from the beach through the trailer sites i see a older guy in bike clothing messing with an older 24 volt ebike , ( it had the battery on the rack facing down towards the ground, that not the important part ) I mind my own business and walk by just looking, well 2 minute later, this clown goes flying full speed threw the campground well faster then the 5 mile speed limit , my point it this clown,, jerk was going full speed in the campground, this is a very crowded campground with children everywhere. so i could see how very easy it would be to ban ebikes, yes that was just one bad example, but that was my first experience with a ebiker and it was not good.
 

Nutella

Active Member
J.R., Nutella, thank you for the info and links. I've read everything linked to, and other stuff I can find. I have not read local, municipal codes unique to each municipality and I do note that state law does leave the door open for cities to enact such laws, enforceable in the confines of their city boundaries. In my municipality, Fort Collins, CO, they have done so from what I can tell and have added a definition for "electrical assist" 2 wheelers with motors under 750 watts. But such 2 wheelers are allowed (or more correctly "not prohibited") if I recall correctly. Guess I'm gonna have to put my thinking cap on again and " open a file" on this as I used to say in my (legal) business. As a retired lawyer, this is really bugging me and my old retired brain has gotten lazy. But thanks again for the info/links.
CO state law only applies to state DOT roadways and bike paths, otherwise, it's up to the local folks to decide. The state parks are a no go at this point, as well as all USFS and BLM land. A lot depends on if they consider an ebike a motorized vehicle which would prohibit it from signed "no motorized vehicles" bike paths and trails. They are not "motor vehicles" under state law, but that's a different classification. I've looked, but I couldn't find any park system that allows them on mtb or hiker singletrack.
 
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RCM

New Member
well, to throw gas on a fire, I had my first experience with an ebike rider, was at a very crowded campground in Michigan,(Lake port state park) walking back from the beach through the trailer sites i see a older guy in bike clothing messing with an older 24 volt ebike , ( it had the battery on the rack facing down towards the ground, that not the important part ) I mind my own business and walk by just looking, well 2 minute later, this clown goes flying full speed threw the campground well faster then the 5 mile speed limit , my point it this clown,, jerk was going full speed in the campground, this is a very crowded campground with children everywhere. so i could see how very easy it would be to ban ebikes, yes that was just one bad example, but that was my first experience with a ebiker and it was not good.
Not supporting the guy riding too fast in the campground, but how fast was "full speed"? Since the speed limit was only 5mph and he was going faster than that, the fact he was on an ebike was probably irrelevant since any cyclist on a regular human powered rig could easily blow through that. He's giving cyclists a bad name for sure, but it seems in this case the electricity probably had zippo to do with the problem, and if there's a push to ban ebikes there they should ban all bikes. A 5mph speed limit?
 
CO state law only applies to state DOT roadways and bike paths, otherwise, it's up to the local folks to decide. The state parks are a no go at this point, as well as all USFS and BLM land. A lot depends on if they consider an ebike a motorized vehicle which would prohibit it from signed "no motorized vehicles" bike paths and trails. They are not "motor vehicles" under state law, but that's a different classification. I've looked, but I couldn't find any park system that allows them on mtb or hiker singletrack.
Agree completely. It is all about the definition of "motorized vehicle." State parks: are non e-bikes allowed? If so, would the park ranger issue a citation to me on my e-bike? Would it depend on what mode I was riding in? How would he know? Ask me? Am I required to disclose my riding mode? Do I have a right not to answer questions? Is it a matter of my speed? I don't have answers to these but a pretty good idea that it would be very problematic for a park ranger and a court to deal with this in an area where the real world (where we now have e-bikes) has screamed past regulations.

E-bikes come along to fit into a category that was not considered at the time when the regulations leading to the "no motorized vehicles allowed" were painted onto those signs. Up to date laws and regs (local ones) attempt to address this by keeping the definition of "motorized" to, I believe, under 750 watts, no throttle, etc. This leads the manufacturers to keeping their motors to 500-749 watts and led to the development of the "pedal assist." Where a "non motorized" bike is allowed, I guess it will take some brave soul(s) to take their e-bikes on trail and get a citation and challenge that in court. Laws might change before that happens. Especially if the manufacturers making all the cool e-bike MTBs manage to sell a lot of them to the MTB crowd. That would pressure lawmakers/land managers/regulators to update their laws & regulations. Maybe. Interesting issue. Ride on.
 
This is all bike crazy Fort Collins, Colorado has in its Municipal traffic code:
3) The rider of an electrical assisted bicycle shall not use the electrical 8motor on a bike or pedestrian path or on a recreational trail unless otherwise authorized by the City Code.
(Ord. 120, 2015 §8)

This, to me, means you can be on the trail but you shall not use the motor. Throttle or pedal assist. Which leads me to ask, as noted above, how does the law enforcement know you were using a motor? Speed? Sound? Pushing buttons on your LCD? Smile on your face? S/he probably does not know. They will ask questions, questions that you might not necessarily have to answer (but consult your own attorney! ) I know what I will do. ☺
 

Nutella

Active Member
As noted, there isn't any way for a LEO to know what they are looking at, even if you are in CA which requires the manufacturer to sticker the bike. The only and still admittedly ineffective way to regulate ebikes is to allow them, one and all, or not allow any. And even at that, most people would never notice many of them unless you went tearing by uphill, not pedalling. Most of the regulations will be self enforced, which like leash laws, will be mostly ignored. Unless the fines are huge.

At this point, unless you ride around at 35 mph attracting attention, you'll be ok. There aren't enough people on ebikes to raise others awareness of them. Once there are a lot and they are commonplace, then the few jerks will cause backlash from other users. Until then, it's all good.

The only effective way to regulate bikes or ebikes is a simple speed limit. Ride whatever you want, just keep it under control.
 

kennyzzz

New Member
well to guess the ebike rider's speed in the campground, i'd say about 20 , but my point is also you could here the motor as he was flying threw the campground, this one sounded like an electric drill . i ride a 3 speed peddle bike, so i have a good reference , yes i'm not an expert, but that was my first experience with a ebike rider, every person in the campground with a brain could see he was not pedaling and and the whine of the motor would conclude something fishy was up with his bike. just think back a couple years ago when all those cheep 2 stroke skateboards >> the ones with a handlebars well they banned them,, i think more examples of the kind i had with an ebike rider will push people to ban them.. I know it was just one example , but i guess the point i'm trying to make is if the person hit a child at that speed, yes I know regular bikes are fast too. but everyone focus the fact that it was an electric bike.. yes a couple of jerks will ruin it for everyone..