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


Well-Known 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.

Does anyone really just ride 5 mph in a campground all the time? If it bothers you, you gotta say something or don't complain...
My beef is with passing laws, rules or statutes that address the one (or a very few) errant wrongdoers when those wrongdoers are already breaking a law that is on the books and is not being enforced. If some bonehead is crashing through a campground on a UNICYCLE he should be busted by the park ranger or other LEO. Creating a regulation to ban UNICYCLES does nothing to sanction the bonehead who is riding to fast. Unicycle, bicycle, e-bike, etc. It is not the type of bike that is doing the offending, it is the dope on the cycle. And rangers, etc should be enforcing their rules in the park.

This holds true, IMHO, for any biking trails, lanes, etc where non e bicycles are allowed. Don't ban the e-bike if it is not creating a problem by BEING an e-bike.


New Member
Muchmeister completely get's it. So true. Ban ebikes? What a joke. Let's get real, the danger of riding any bike on the street in any major city (and the risk of getting hit by a car blowing thru a red light or whatever) is far greater than being hit by an ebike on the trail. I'd rather get hit by an ebike vs. a car any day, at least my chances of living are better.

Sure it makes sense to limit ebike use in exceptional cases like very crowded areas/trails of the USA...but that's it and that's the only thing that really makes sense. For most areas they should be allowed on the trails whether there is good reason or not. As muchmeister says above, Doesn't really matter if they are not "officially", or legal, it's simple reality and fate. Enforcing such pathetically thought out laws however is going to be just about as stupid, moronic, and asinine as the idea of trying to enforce trangender/gay bathroom use. How do you exactly / might you enforce such a stupid and ignorant law? Put a police officer in front of every bathroom 24/7 to check gender and birth certificates? Soooo stupid. Moronic. Completely foolish - Get real.

The same is true with ebikes, whether you choose to accept it or not. Let's see, so we should put an officer at every single trailhead in the USA to check if there is a s motor on the bike? And Who will pay for that? Stupid. Lame. Simply unrealistic. People that try to create and enforce such laws are going to be just as stupid as the religious-freaks trying to ban trangenders from bathrooms and ban gays from the World. Its just about as stupid as separate bathrooms for blacks and whites - which sadly was a reality not that long ago in history. Separate trails/laws for ebikes? Dumb. Make all the laws you want. Sorry, I for one, won't be paying any attention whatsoever. It's completely idiotic and a waste of time in > 90% of areas that people are going to ride - ebikes are gonna be just fine. Better to just accept it and like always, ride responsibly, no matter where you ride. Sure that's not always going to happen, but that's life and true for every sport that exists.


Well-Known Member
First my bio so you understand where I am coming from:

I love my e-bike hybrid. I also enjoy mountain biking on a non-motorized bike, dirt biking on a motorcycle and am an avid hiker.

My vote would be to keep electric mountain bikes off MB trails or use designated areas. The limited real estate argument. I get it. Not here to debate that.

My reasoning: From what I have seen there are some pretty hopped up e-mountain bikes out there that can or would give dirt bikes a run for the money. And dirt bikes are hard on the environment that is why they use designated trail areas for riding. This would be my first choice on where to put the e-mountain bikes.

Sure some/ most may not be that powerful, but how would you regulate/ enforce what is and what is not too much voltage watts etc... and not rooster tailing up the non-motorized trails at 25+mph?

Lets go one step further for those who choose to use the skier-snowboarder analogy. I skied 20 years and took up snowboarding in its infancy and was harassed not only by the local skiers, but my skiing friends as well. And yes they now all live in harmony. BUT, here goes lol (many are going to flame me for this) skis and snowboards are not motorized vehicles. There I said it, motorized vehicles, but these are electric? I'm staying away from this debate too!

Disclaimer: I know and understand I really am nobody. Furthermore, I just picked up an e-bike a week ago. So if you wish to delete this post fine. I really don't want get into the good/ bad/ your totally wrong. I would rather you just delete my post. Really who cares if I am wrong or right? I don't. Too old 50...

Finally, hope your post elicits lots of replies and I look forward to reading them. This is for sure the flavor of the month.
Nice reply.

I went mtn biking with an old friend last week. Both of us about 50 yrs old. He is out of shape and we did a lot of resting and he knows how to mtn bike. I kept thinking, "if only I had a mtn ebike, pas." It would have been a really fun hour ride.

Ebikes allow the older and less fit to perform at average to advanced level , whether on road or trail. If it is not obvious, the real concert and limit should be some power limit, IMO.


New Member
Ebikes allow the older and less fit to perform at average to advanced level , whether on road or trail.
They also allow fit riders to do even more. I live in the mountains where almost all of my offroad riding is either climbing or descending. I also ride lot of tech-y rocks which are everywhere up here, and the e-rig lets me get to the best riding areas which are about 1500 feet below me, I can ride till I'm too tired to ride up the hill home and use the motor to get me up the hill. As a result my tech skills are increasing pretty rapidly and the fun factor is increased exponentially. I'm 61 and have been riding and racing my whole life and I ride a couple of hours a day at least...when I got this e-rig at the end of Aug I've only ridden a non e-bike once, and that was when the e-bike had a mechanical glitch. OTT I'm on the e-bike 100% of my riding time. Too much fun. Plus I ride it with a local group up here and nobody cares a bit other than some typical friendly ball busting which is to be expected. I don't see me ever going back.


Hi guys and gals, I've heard from a few people recently in cities that are considering allowing ebikes on mountain bike trails in the US. Not everyone is for it and I want to fully understand the concerns that are raised so I'm hoping you can all chime in with what you've observed or heard. Please share why ebikes should not be allowed on mountain biking trails. If you're from Europe or elsewhere, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well, it seems like people in other parts of the world have a "don't care" attitude and the US is catching up :)

The most common reason's I've heard is that ebikes could damage trails, create more noise and go too fast. Please be completely objective and vulnerable here... why really should they not be allowed? What are the best arguments you've heard, the ones that really make sense? How about the ones that are the most common but clearly invalid. I'd like to hear them all so I can help to address the concerns with a video I'm working on.

As always, thanks for your contributions here and! I appreciate your feedback :)
Hi Court. I think the trail issue depends on 1) walking only trails, vs Multi Use Trails. In my area we have a great local trail system but its walking only. The folks that 'own' these trails are very protective and lobby town government against any and all bicycle friendly plans irrespective of ebike or regular. They see bikes as the enemy of peaceful walking, hiking and fear that more bikes on approved trails will mistakenly encroach on their walking trails.

For multi use trails, I think it's speed of bikes vs walkers. Walkers tend to walk side by side as do many slow rollers. However an ebike coming head on at 20 mph often isn't perceived as that fast and a last minute panic jump to avoid a BonP collision is scary. Net result is scared pedestrians will complain. The analogy is NYC and Chinese ebike delivery vs sidewalk pedestrians. Net result is ban the ebike in NYC. Too many collisions and not something cops want to spend time writing up.

So with respect to e MTB on trails , I believe it will come down to safety for regulation. And banning is cheaper than enforcement.

I did read somewhere that horses cause more damage to trails than mETH's but can't recall the source. Sorry. Maybe you can find it for your video.

As for licensing, regardless of motor power or mph, if there's money to be made, NYS and big government will try. Just look to drone registrations as a harbinger for things to come for ebikes. A hobby exploited by a few knuckleheads, causes fear and then new laws. Sound familiar?

Net net, safety and potential revenues will govern our regulators. Ultimately anti eMTB folks will distill their arguments down to this in support of their arguments.
It does sound like e bikes are becoming more popular but I doubt at the rate of small RC drones. And drones cause problems for larger aircraft, which drove the Federal government to do something. Regulating bikes is a local problem, but a good point is made by @ROCebike that revenue and safety drive a lot of lawmaking. And also, that prohibition is cheaper than regulation.

As for riding on prohibited trails, my local government (Fort Collins, Colorado) seems to have addressed it with this:

2106. - Sidewalks and trails. [ ] (3) The rider of an electrical assisted bicycle shall not use the electrical motor on a bike or pedestrian path or on a recreational trail unless otherwise authorized by the City Code. [emphasis added]

Yet another example of a complete 'fail' on the part of a governing body. And that prohibition is cheaper than regulation. So how will any LEO know if the rider he has just pulled over is "us[ing] the electrical motor...." ? Now, in the event of a crash with a pedestrian, LEO might take a look at your LCD display as you lay there bleeding, but there are so many of these displays, that might not be easy. Of course, he could ask you. If you remember the good legal advice you get from every TV show EVER, you have the right to remain silent as anything you say CAN AND WILL BE used AGAINST you. NOT to exonerate you. Sorry, I get carried away sometimes. As a retired lawyer, it just drives me NUTS! But I digress.

Again, very hard to enforce. It's akin to the prohibition against speeding. If LEO catches you with a radar gun, that is one thing. If he is "estimating" your speed, well, you can likely beat such a speeding rap, unless he was estimating while driving along side you in the same direction. But as to whether you are "using" your motor or not, it seems LEO will only get that from questioning you. If you keep quiet, he's got bupkis. Just sayin'.


Well-Known Member
On my list: visit Switzerland, ride the Jungfraujoch train to Mt. Mönch and ride the passes on a motorcycle. E biking would just add to the trip.
I've ridden from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg many times, and the same from Grindlewald to Kleine Scheidegg.

I am also in the midst of planning a world record setting ride through the Jungfraujoch railway tunnel in 2018. :) Details of that ride are still to be finalised, but it is hoped that the start point will be the British side of Channel tunnel, then cycle the 650miles to Lauterbrunnen, then ride the final 8,740ft and 15.4 miles to The Top Of Europe. :)

If you like the idea of riding in Switzerland, you might well enjoy these threads.



And from last night. :)




Active Member
In my opinion, the most compelling argument against regulating eMTBs as regular MTBs has to do with the fight for trail access against hiking and equestrian groups who want to ban all bikes. MTB groups feel that if they include eMTBs, hikers and equestrians will fight even harder against them.

Personally, I don't think eMTBs are significantly more dangerous or damaging to trails than regular MTBs, but I'm waiting to hear the results of studies to back that up. Most people can pedal down a slight hill as fast as an eMTB can go. Most people limit their speed and trail damage by using personal restraint and good judgment, and it's been my experience that the typical ebike rider is more mature than the typical MTBer.

Prohibiting all ebikes because you can't distinguish legal ones from illegal ones doesn't make sense to me either. In a few years, it's going to be hard to tell whether a bike is electric or not. What do you do then, ban all bikes?

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
It's intetesting to consider the "hiker" demographic compared to the eMTB demographic. I bet there is more overlap there than traditional MTBer's. This is just a speculation, but part of the issue might be a lack of understanding as to who we're talking about. It's mostly responsible baby boomers, not young and reckless motocross guys as most would have you believe.


Active Member
Personally I'm not going to worry about it if ebikes are banned on trails. I'll avoid the popular trails on weekends. They're be virtually no enforcement. I'll also be as considerate to other users as possible, so unless someone is very observant, how would anyone really know or care that I may be on an ebike? Just don't be an E-A hole!
A while back I got some negative comments from a couple of hardcore riders on the trail. I stopped an showed off my FS Haibike to them and planted the seed that they too may someday have some physical limitations which shouldn't stop them from enjoying the trails. It's WHAM - winning hearts and minds!
Personally I'm not going to worry about it if ebikes are banned on trails. I'll avoid the popular trails on weekends. They're be virtually no enforcement. I'll also be as considerate to other users as possible, so unless someone is very observant, how would anyone really know or care that I may be on an ebike? Just don't be an E-A hole!
A while back I got some negative comments from a couple of hardcore riders on the trail. I stopped an showed off my FS Haibike to them and planted the seed that they too may someday have some physical limitations which shouldn't stop them from enjoying the trails. It's WHAM - winning hearts and minds!
You are right, the good answer to almost everything is "JUST DON'T BE AN A HOLE".


New Member
The view from across the pond might be a tad amused by this debate, as most European countries allow the use of Ebikes on MTB trails, and without a doubt MUCH less debate and open hatred from so called elitists and purists.

It ( the American debate) reminds me of the open warfare that existed with the environmentalist and off road motorcyclists some 30 years age, where actual physical attacks took place in the Mojave desert when reason gave way to fanatical idealism. Granted its far and above the situation with Ebikes and trails, but nonetheless the same mentality with both groups.

Personally I find the reasons for trail limitations for Ebikes absurd, given that hard breaking and side sliders by the "purists" do as much damage as any Ebike ridden on the same trail, yet their reasoning excludes this point when this subject is debated.

The posts above that relate the "person" and not the device as having the responsibility to maintain a sensible conduct on any trail or park is indeed correct, as the bike (regardless of power) knows only the impute of its rider.

Perhaps Europe is more liberal in its mindset when mountain bike areas are used by BOTH purists and Ebikes without the hostility that has become more predominate in the U.S, which in most peoples eyes is silly and takes away from why you ride in the first place!

If peoples idealism supersedes their love of nature and the enjoyment of being in it, then perhaps they should choose another political platform to vent their frustrations.


Active Member

A rep for Specialized offers a lot of corporate perspective on the emtb. The watt number seems wrong. The dongle discussion is interesting.
For someone who's job would be to educate dealers on products, including ebikes, he doesn't sound like he knows the bikes or laws very well. Specialized dealers around here just tell people they can ride them where they like, which is unfortunately wrong.