Like it or not, e-bikes are coming. For a long time Mtbr ignored them like that moldy Tupperware in the back of the office fridge. But with technology improving rapidly, we can’t look away anymore. While early models were cobbled together hack-jobs, well designed bikes such as the Specialized Turbo Levo have put cyclists and land managers in the U.S. on notice.
In the rest of the world e-bikes are already a huge business. Sales are expected to total $15.7 billion this year and will reach an estimated $24.3 billion by 2025 according to Navigant Research. In China, there are already more than 200 million e-bikes in use and sales are booming in Western Europe.
The market has now evolved to where we as a media outlet cannot continue to overlook these bikes as mere curiosities. Like Donald Trump, e-bikes aren’t going away. Ignoring them isn’t going to change the reality of the situation. These motor-powered two wheelers are coming, and they raise some interesting questions about the future of cycling.
Our job is to report and educate on new trends and products in an unbiased fashion. And according to our annual audience survey, a number of you have either expressed a growing interest or remain undecided about e-bikes. As the technology continues to evolve and solutions to current issues regarding access are resolved, that interest will continue to increase. There will always be a vocal minority whose complaints can be seen in the comments section. That’s the nature of the internet. But if we’re to take those negative comments to heart every time a new technology emerged, we wouldn’t be reporting on 29ers, fat bikes, 27.5, plus, and so on.
That doesn’t mean we are trying to shove e-bikes down your throat. Everyone on the Mtbr staff has had the opportunity to ride one and while we all agree they’re fun, they’ll never replace our real bikes (at least not until we’re old and decrepit). However, as brands such as Shimano and SRAM enter this market, we must acknowledge the importance of this new segment.
So whatever our personal feelings may be about e-bikes, it’s our obligation to discuss and review components objectively. That said, we do want to lay down some ground rules. Just like you, we have concerns about the potential impact of e-bikes on existing and future trail networks and believe they should only be ridden in designated areas. We also believe there’s a difference between an e-bike and a motorcycle and that difference comes down to throttle application and maximum power output.
We will not review or report on any electric two wheeler that puts out more than a maximum average of 250 watts or utilizes a hand operated throttle. If it can be powered without pedaling, it’s not a bike, and it won’t be featured here. That’s our promise. Going forward however, you will see the occasional article or review about mtb specific e-bikes pop up on our homepage, but don’t worry. We’re not changing our names to e-Mtbr anytime soon.