The Angry Singlespeeder: Will e-bikes short circuit mountain biking?

If it’s got a motor then it ain’t a bicycle

E-bike Opinion

Lapierre

These past few months have seen some heated debates over electric mountain bikes and whether or not they belong on multi-use trails. Firstindustry legend Jimmy “Mac” McIlvain stepped down as editor of Mountain Bike Action after 20 years with the magazine when the publisher decided to start covering motorized mountain bikes.

Jimmy Mac“The publisher is expanding the magazine’s coverage to motorized mountain bikes and I just can’t go along with his logic. Mountain biking is a human-powered activity,” wrote McIlvain on his Facebook page. As the reason for walking away from a job after two decades, it’s a major statement and a big reason why Jimmy Mac is such a beloved figure. Dude is sticking to his guns, and you have to respect him for that.

Then there was a recent feature in Dirt Rag titled “Elephant on the Trail” that objectively looked at e-mountain bikes from a couple perspectives. One of them was the topic of innovation and how people are generally resistant to change. The article discussed peoples’ unwillingness to welcome new innovations, like when 29-inch wheels were first introduced and the development of the first suspension fork. However, these two innovations are distinctly different than the rise of the e-mountain bike, and it’s pretty damn obvious what the difference is.

At the IMBA World Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colo. two weeks ago, the e-mountain bike and where it belongs was discussed at length. For decades mountain bikes were considered “mechanized transport” by many land managers, wrongfully lumped in with motorcycles and subsequently banned. It’s only recently that the tide has shifted, and throwing e-mountain bikes into the picture has the potential to erode all the work IMBA has done in the name of trail access. IMBA is not against e-mountain bikes per se, but in this document they make their stance on the matter perfectly clear. E-bikes are not mountain bikes, and should be categorized differently.

Scott eSpark

Last year, I wrote a feature titled Electric Mountain Bikes, Friend or Foe? The article included the opinions of IMBA’s president, a San Diego land manager and a bike shop owner. I reserved my opinion and judgment on the topic at the time, but since then, I’ve come to the realization that there really should be no controversy here—E-mountain bikes are a black and white issue. Does it have a motor on it? Yes? Then it’s motorized, end of discussion.

The second we start getting into semantics and saying things like “but it’s pedal assisted and only works when the rider is working” is just a way to dance around the fact that it’s motorized.

Whether or not an e-mountain bike has more impact on trails than a traditional mountain bike is beside the point. When the discussion expands to including a bicycle with a motor attached, confusion will run rampant about what’s acceptable and what isn’t. How much maximum wattage should be allowed? Should it be pedal assist only? What about those who can’t pedal at all? Shouldn’t they be able to ride a fully electric mountain bike?

BioniX FatE

Another issue to be considered is safety. Although it might sound a bit cruel, there are simply some people who shouldn’t be out in the middle of the wilderness without having arrived there under their own power. If you put someone without peak physical fitness or ability on an e-mountain bike and they end up way the hell out in BFE, what happens when their battery dies? Their pedal-assist bike suddenly turns into a 50-pound anchor weight that even the fittest of mountain bikers might not be able to pedal back to civilization.

I’m not trying to discriminate against old people, disabled people, overweight people or lazy people, and I’m not trying to dismiss the importance of e-bikes. But from what I’ve read, whom I’ve talked to and the reactions I’ve seen in the industry, most people are in agreement that this is a black and white issue. Motorized bicycles should be limited to trails specifically designated for motorized use.

Haibike Xduro

Although I understand why executives from within the industry staunchly defend the rights of e-mountain bikes on multi-use trails, their strategy of blurring the lines between a traditional mountain bike and an e-mountain bike doesn’t help matters.

E-bike manufacturers are being rebuffed by many who are responsible for trail access, so now e-mountain bike advocates are calling these bikes “hybrids”, as if the word that suddenly gave the perception of the Toyota Prius as the holiest, greenest car on the planet (it isn’t), would somehow do the same for the e-mountain bike.

Yes, the e-bike segment has enormous fiscal upside, and some companies are licking their chops at the potential profits. But we cannot let capitalism play its little spin game and mask the truth of the matter. It all goes back to that one question—does it have a motor attached?

In a world of ever-expanding complications and political correctness, we just need to call a spade a spade. E-mountain bikes are motorized bikes just like motorcycles. Period. Once the bike has been categorized, we can move forward with common sense discussions around where they should be allowed and where they shouldn’t.

Spitzing Ebike

There are plenty of places where motorized bikes are allowed. BLM lands and National Forest lands have abundant terrain for motorized use. Hell, most of the trails around Downieville are open to motorized use. Wanna rail that new electric Haibike Nduro without having to do much work? Ride it to the top of the Sierra Buttes and bomb 15 miles downhill. An e-mountain bike in Downieville would be an interesting prospect.

But to me, trying to blur the lines of categorization, cry out “discrimination” or ask “what will old and disabled people do?” is just a way for e-bike entrepreneurs to get their foot jammed in the door of non-motorized mountain bike trail access so they can rake in maximum profitability.

I don’t hate e-mountain bikes. I think they’re fascinating and a terrific way for people to recreate. But the line in the loam needs to be dug deep and firm. If your bike has a motor attached, assisted or not, beyond this line you do not cross.

Perhaps the only positive I can take from the inclusion of e-mountain bikes on non-motorized trails is the widespread destruction of peoples’ highly coveted Strava segments. See some hardcore Stravaddict beaten uphill by a 65 year-old woman would bring the ASS great pleasure.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at singlespeeder@consumerreview.com. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • Greg says:

    If I see you on one of these I’m giving you the one finger salute.

  • Brad Trent says:

    I’m old…and I hate climbs as much as the next guy…but what’s the point of a motor on a mountain bike? Man up and walk if you can’t climb, just like the rest of us!!!

  • Tim Walsh says:

    “E-mountain bikes are motorized bikes, just like motorcycles. Period.”
    Well said, and that should be the end of the discussion. Period!!!

  • cobi says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  • Jeff says:

    Full-suspension bikes should be banned for the same reasons. I don’t hate FS bikes. I think they’re fascinating and a terrific way for people to recreate. But the line in the loam needs to be dug deep and firm. If your bike has suspension, beyond this line you do not cross.

    • Brad says:

      That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. How can you compare a FS bike to an e-bike? That is like saying, disc brakes should be banned also.

    • Mark says:

      Jeff. You sir, are a troll. Make an outrageous claim, and then make no effort to back it. GFYS :)

    • RP says:

      Jeff you’re bad at trolling. I FS bike doesn’t tear up the trail any more than a HT does.

      Now if you don;t see the difference and are too short sighted to see how we might satrt losing trail access because of this, when then you aren’t a troll, just a moron.

  • Preston says:

    Totally agree with ASS.
    Jeff I don’t see the correlation of your analogy at all.
    Motor bike != Full suspension bike.
    The core term for me is “muscle powered”. We can have off road skateboards and pogo sticks as long as there is no external power source.

  • Chris Killer says:

    Good point Jeff. Motors like this one can be completely hidden within the seat tube and only result in the equivalent of a slight increase in fitness.
    http://www.elektrobike-online.com/sixcms/media.php/6/RB-Vivax-Veloce-Motor-Einbau.JPG
    To say theres some sort of step change between a bike and an e-bike is bollocks. A maximum power level for trail use should be introduced, somewhere around 250W I reckon.

  • Ryan.Derkson@gmail.com says:

    Fantastic Article and I couldn’t agree more.

  • Marcus.arrowsmith@gmail.com says:

    People have told me in the past never read forums on something you want because you only get the negative people on it.
    I have an e bike and a standard mtb and find now I am useing the e bike a lot more, simple reason it’s a lot more fun.
    To the point of trails, you get far better traction on a e bike so less churning up of the soil.
    Let’s just embrasse them as extension to our sport, stop moaning and let people choose what they want to ride and all be friends.
    People need to get a life and worry about more serious things than being e bike haters.

  • awfukkanawful says:

    Comparing these motorized frankenbikes to bikes with suspension/gears etc is so inane it makes my blood boil. I saw a yahoo ripping at my local trail on one of these things (that he hot rodded) and he could immediately summon enough torque to absolutely annihilate the trail WITH UNCONTROLLABLE WHEELSPIN! Sand, ruts, erosion etc will be the price the trails pay. Just wait until Wallywart starts selling them for $150…seriously ponder all the fantastic outcomes. TAKE YOUR MORONIC MOTORCYCLE TO THE ORV TRAIL WHERE IT BELONGS. If you manufacture these things, get ready because this is WAR

  • RP says:

    I was recently traveling for work and stopped into an Ibis dealer hoping he had a Ripley to ride. WhenI got in, the gentlemen behind the counter asked if he could help me and I said no thanks, looks like you’re a road shop and I’m looking for a mountain bike.

    We started talking and he told me of how a XC race organizer in the area didn’t cancel a race when it was wet, it destroyed large parts of the trail, the mountain biker haters got what they wanted. Complained to the County and got mountain bikes banned fro the trails, so there is no demand for MB in his shop.

    Manufacturers need to look at themselves and realize this fade they’re feeding, will help kill the core business in many areas. If Ebikes get my trails closed to me, I have no reason to buy Mountain Bike(s) and the related gear.

  • awfukkanawful says:

    This article does not take into the X factor of people hot ridding these things to unsafe and unholy weight to power ratios that will DESTROY SINGLETRACK AND OUR ACCESS TO IT!!! Not to mention all the unskilled idiots crashing into everything (here come the trial lawyers and jackpot justice for the hellbilly on his $150 Wallywart special) who will now be able to beat the pants of the Strava rider WHO EARNED IT. These things are going to KILL our trails, our trail access, and our sport. IMBA ITS TIME TO MAKE A STAND LOUD AND CLEAR!

  • GH says:

    These will certainly cause excessive trail damage compared to a human powered bike.

    Bike trails should be marked “human power only”.

  • Greg Beardslee says:

    I might be on one someday out of necessity. As I continue to fall apart, I am contemplating bringing out my motorbike. But it’s heavy, and if it tipped over, I’d need help to pick it up. Not so with an e-bike. I greatly respect advocates efforts and have no intention of setting back the hard work bicyclists have put forth. An e-bike should only go where allowed. Period. If someone wants to cheat and ride non-motorized trails, then be man enough to face the music when caught. Will I cheat and poach trails on an e-bike someday? Dunno. I hope not.

  • Nate says:

    When I can no longer peddle I will get a KTM. E-bikes are lame…

  • daniele says:

    There are 2 types of e-bikes:
    - the ones with ASSISTED pedaling, i.e. if you don’t use your pedals you don’t move and with limited power (250W in most EU Countries)
    - the ones with an ACCELERATOR (like a motorbike), where it is not a real bycicle anymore :-(
    The first type is legal in Europe, the second one it is not (unless you have an insurance and a plate like a motorbike)
    I believe that a mtb of type 1 wouldn’t be of any harm on a trail for anybody.
    But the type 2 should be considered as a MOTORBIKE, with all related consequences on mountain trails :-)

    • Shnozz says:

      So Daniel, you’re saying that one bike with a motor should not be considered a motor bike, but another one should. Because in one you use your hand to increase torque, and the other you use your foot.

      It doesn’t matter how the motor is activated, it’s a motor, thus it’s a motor vehicle.

      That’s like saying my car isn’t a motor vehicle because I have to push it to 5 mph before I can get it started. I’m starting it with my feet, it won’t work without it, must not be a motor vehicle.

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Daniele, do you make it a habit to express an opinion with regard to topics you know nothing about? Ebikes will have drastically negative affect on the trails because electric motors can instantaneously spool up exponentially more amounts of torque than the most beasly strong human could. This will cause rutting, erosion, sand, and the general destruction of trails. This is just one tiny example of the negative affects our trails will suffer if Ebikes are allowed free reign. Please educate yourself next time before shooting off your mouth, and that goes for the rest of you idiots pressing for Ebike access to NON-MOTORIZED TRAILS….TAKE IT TO THE ORV TRAIL!

    • IBM says:

      Daniele. There is no way to check. People will modify their e mopeds immediately You will have 60 mph on those trails in no time. It has to be black and white. No motors

  • Shark says:

    Trails are already being shut down to due outdated laws regarding “mechanized travel”….E-bikes are not going to help this fight.

    Sure, they are good to help disabled/injured/old/lazy riders, but ride in designated areas that allow motor vehicles. There is no fair way to draw the line of what is allowed & what isn’t, speed, wattage, age, doctors note? If it has a motor, electric or otherwise, it should be treated as such. End of story.

  • Motored says:

    To claim one form of sport is better than another is seriously lame. 2 people make it to the top of a climb, one with a motor and one pedal powered and you think one doesn’t have the right to be there? Really? Wow cant even imagine whats next with that train of thought? I think it’s awesome to see advances in sports of all kinds. Pick your passion! Enjoy it, and quit wasting time hating others because they are doing something different.

    • IBM says:

      Motored- wrong logic. I can not believe I m not allowed to ride my Ducati on a sidewalk in Ny . That is outrageous. All we are saying is separate the traffic. If he can get to the top on a motocross trail then he can use a moped

  • Jon V says:

    I am A dirt bike rider, motorcycles, mountain bikes, don’t like to see the 4 wheels tearing u the landscape. mountain bikes with or without an e-motor are different than motorcycles. If I ride a dual sport motorcycle I can ride more than the restricted trails it has a plate and can go on street and off road. The restrictions for off road have to do with green or red stickers (time of year it can be used on BLM areas) Some of the bike selling now have large wheels close to the size of motorcycles but there is no danger of starting fires from a gas motor. the e bike will be restricted as to how far they can travel on battery. I think we all can ride on same trails the ebikes won’t make up the tough mountains and those guys will pay the price heavy to push. with that said, enjoy your ride no matter if it pedal or ebike

    • David P. says:

      I’d like to see all who make arguments for e-bike use on non-ORV trails out there maintaining the trails. It’s bad enough with the 10% of hikers that cut switchbacks and bikers that lock ‘em up for fun. Illegal features, users that don’t stay home when it’s all soaked… now you want to add heavier machines that generate more torque? Expect to see a lot more trail closures while the land managers and volunteers try to deal with the ensuing mess.

  • agmtb says:

    I’d worry about the non-technical trail savvy rider getting hurt. A unexperienced rider on a medium tech trail is asking for injury, pads should be required for the inexperienced. Rocks, snake, cactus! I fall off my mountain bike.

    • David P. says:

      I’m not sure there’s any subtance to the argument that inexperienced e-bikers will be crashing all over tech trails. The assist only strengthens your forward motion, it does not improve handling skill or confidence, so I think most will stick to easy trails for awhile.

      My concern lies in e-bikers moving at speeds beyond their ability that is dangerous to other users on the easy trails. Multi-use trails are designed with pedal power in mind. eBikers can and will move at speeds above these designs, whether they have 250w or 2500w on tap.

  • Mark says:

    You know, I’m not a very strong swimmer, which is why I’ve asked time and time again to be allowed to jetski in the public pool. If I’m still enjoying the water and having fun outside, what’s the big deal? You people lucky enough to be good at swimming, quit hogging all the fun, surely there is room for us motorized users as well.

  • John says:

    To say that Dirt Rag’s article was objective is simply not true. I don’t care if e-bikes have a place in the discussion and/or at the table, so long as their place is a different place than lumped in with mountain bikes.

  • redbeardpete says:

    IF IT HAS A MOTOR, IT IS NOT A BICYCLE, NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLE IT IS MOUNTED ON!!!!! I see self-righteous people with no bicycling experience riding around the city, weaving between the road, sidewalk and designated bike lanes. Accidents between cars and bicycles have a predictable consequence…bicyclists usually lose. I can’t imagine what kind of chaos e-bikes would cause on our dwindling mtb trails. Giving the average person open access to trails is like giving a gun to an out of control Idiot. Bike trail advocates and users are not Haters, we are protecting our rights to safe trails…

  • Bob says:

    Where I live the kids used to get about on mini motor bikes, or monkey bikes as I think they are correctly termed. Obviously the police don’t like this, so being the bunch of smart arses that they are, they started putting small two stroke motors on mountain bikes so they can say “It’s just a bike”…. so if I retrofitted a small two stroke motor, probably equivilent in power to one of these e-bikes, what do I have? a motor bike…

    I think the pedal assisted thing is critical in this case, and it would piss me off no end if I saw someone on an e-bike throttling up a steep climb and chewing it out, like our good friends do on their motos…

  • Sun says:

    This is isn’t complicated. My first love will always be dirt bikes. But dirt bikes, electric or otherwise, have no place on mountain bike trails. That’s obvious.

  • J.D. says:

    Back in my day we didn’t have these fancy two wheeled dohickies, when you needed a lift up a hill you would have to lasso a wild donkey and grab it with your bare hands, and that’s the way we liked it, we loved it!!!

  • Mary says:

    Mountainbikers have had to struggle for years for trail access, have worked tirelessly building trails, and have finally either convinced or elbowed a place at the multi trail use table. Ebikes threaten all of the decades of work we have successfully executed for our sport. If you want to ride an Ebike, that is just fine, but don’t think that you are entitled to ride the coat tails of all the state and local chapters who have paid the price for advocacy and access, it’s bad enough that you’re to lazy to pedal a bike. Ebikes can go and build their own trails and ride on the many more miles of ORV trails thy are already available to them without destroying our precious few mountain biking trails. I find it to be nothing short of comedy hearing the arguments posed for ebikes not being classified as a motorized vehicle…and all the other argument being mAde on Ebikes behalf are equally as factually incorrect and ludicrous. I you are truly disabled, you probably shouldn’t be on a two wheeled vehicle to begin with, and I’ll bet the SSD you are receiving would be in serious jeapordy if you were caught zooming around on a trail, but again, there are thousands of miles of ORV trails available for you to ride already. The selfishness and ignorance I’ve read in the comments section from those who would have ebikes on non motorized trails is shocking and disgusting beyond all belief.

  • Tyler says:

    I’ll start respecting all the comments of all these high and mighty bicycles when I see one stop at a stop sign, or walk their bike across a cross walk. When you start following the laws on motorized trails (roads for all you idiots), I might give a sh!t about your stupid bicycle only trails. Talk about DANGEROUS, all you people who fly through stops, don’t signal, ect., you are the dangerous ones. And don’t use the excuse that those are “road bikers” because you are all the same, and when you ride to the trail, you are doing the same crap.

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Tyler the wee little troll, how droll

    • Mtbr says:

      Tyler, why don’t you just replace the word “bicycle” with the word “car” and see how lame those same, tired broad brush arguments are?

    • Denny Rue says:

      Old and tired argument for the simple-minded. You’ve never seen a car run a light/stop sign, turn without signaling, or ignore a crosswalk? Not all bike riders are sinners. Not all car drivers are saints.

  • Mr. Inke says:

    If we have electric cars out there in a world of combustion road beasts what makes this “bike” different from a dirt bike? It’s basically a dirt bike that you can pedal and I feel it should be treated as such. I don’t even know why that industry thinks old people are a justifiable market at all. If you’re too old to ride a bike maybe it’s time to find a new hobby. I don’t see any special mountain bikes for toddlers.

  • bob says:

    I’m very interested in the technology of ebikes and may build one soon. They are similar to MTB’s in that their popularity is increasing as newer, better materials become available as with MTB’s years ago. However, when used on bike, hike or equestrian trails, I THINK they will eventually result in bikes being banned in SOME areas where they are permitted currently or prevent access to new areas which may someday be available to MTB’s. There are off road ebikes capable of 50+ mph speeds. I’m pretty sure these will be on the trails at some future time if we don’t act to thwart ebikes now. The thought of a 7-10 mph top speed on level ground ebike in the woods might be palatable.

  • AL says:

    Electric Bike are “MOTORIZE VEHICLES” and should abide by all laws under motorize vehicles.
    PERIOD!

  • alex says:

    Cycle + Motor = Motorcycle.

  • Alan says:

    I’m 52 yrs. old & really enjoy both my Pedego City Commuter & my KHS XC 104 MTB. I’m in Florida semi retired & ride 2 hours a day on the MTB & do 3k miles a year on the E-Bike. The E-Bike has bags & I pack my fishing rod & hit the snook hot spots up & down the Gulf, no parking charges, I get 45 miles out of a charge with it’s 15 AH battery option, it just saves me $ leave the car @ home. I need real exercise for high blood pressure condition so the KTM gives me a good work out every day .
    I wouldn’t ride my E-Bike on MTB trails, mines a road bike with Big Apple 235′s.
    { I removed the Pedego emblems & put KHS decals on the puppy !! ha ha. }.
    I’ve built a few E-Bikes as well, but never would encroach MTB trails, that’s what my KHS is for. . that’s my story, the article seems to me a troll is this really an issue where E-Bikes are pissing off MTB ers ?

    • Mtbr says:

      Alan- Many people see what you’re doing as the ideal application for e-bikes–essentially using it to replace car trips. That’s awesome! Where it gets irksome to some is the push by some in the industry to use e-bikes on trails where they’re currently not allowed, threatening the hard-fought non-motorized mountain bike access to those same trails.

      • Alan says:

        MTBR, thanks for the reply, the issue of e-bikes on non motorized trails is clear enough as stated in the article sorry for venting there seems to be a lot of e-bike haters out there & as you noted I was trying to illustrate they can co-exist as long as these specific trails designated for non motorized vehicles are respected.
        These mtb style e-bikes can be used in many other areas much like a motocross bike is, one wouldn’t bring a dirt bike to mtb trails .For me e-biking is mainly a street thing, it is a fun hobby that saves money on gas & the electrical engineering aspect is interesting. There e-bikes do get middle aged & people recovering from injuries back into shape, some people get back into cycling with an e-bike then go to a regular road or mtb bike, I’m one of them.

      • Saul says:

        Um, I know you have seen the pictures of these e-crap-bikes because you posted several stories about them. Did you actually look at the pictures, they are Mountain Bikes with a motor. All I have seen is Fat Bikes, Full Suspension bikes, bikes with 4+ inches of travel and knobby tires all with a MOTOR. The intention for that kind of bike is NOT to replace your car (I am all for that BTW). IF the intention was to replace your car, these would look more like beach cruisers or hybrid / comfort bikes. The pictures and reviews I have seen are all bikes that WOULD be using the trails I ride which are designated as non motorized traffic.

        I am all for electronic bikes for short trips to replace my car. But electronicly powered mountain bikes NO. The riders (the target customer btw) are SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS – WE. DO. NOT. WANT. E-MOUNTAIN-BIKES.

        The manufacturers may not be listening to us know, but once they have sunk millions into R/D and find that they can not sell these $1000 pound hunks of junk they will scrap the idea and say to themselves “Where did we go wrong?” – Well, NOT LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMER is where you went/are going wrong. Can we please just get back to the whole 29er vs 27.5 vs 26er vs 32er vs 96er vs 69er vs Electronic shifting, enduro seats blabble, oh never mind I want an e-mountain-bike SOOOO BAD. NOT

        • Mtbr says:

          Saul- We feel your rage…to a point. The truth of the matter is e-bikes both on- and off-road are widely accepted and legal in other parts of the world. YOU may be screaming at the top of your lungs, but Europe, for example, is not as bothered.

      • rynoman03 says:

        MTBR you hit the nail on the head with your response to Alan. I don’t hate e-bikes but they have no place on the MTB trails.

  • Mike in Cave Creek says:

    Your ‘frame with two wheels’ either HAS a motor or DOES NOT HAVE a motor. If it HAS a motor then it does not belong on non-motorized trails, period. There are plenty of areas to ride a motorized bike off-road where you don’t have to be bothered by us lactic acid-addicts. I really think the ASS makes a great point when it comes to IMBA and all the hard work they’ve done. If entities like IMBA embraced and lauded for e-bike inclusion, that might all the excuse some BLM bureaucrat would need to further restrict human-powered bikes from trails altogether.

    Let’s face it. There’s a lot of people who already don’t like mountain bikers and introducing motorized transport (onto non-motorized trails) into the mix isn’t going to help this cause. I don’t really care what someone thinks about me, individually, but if something further compromises the collective (like e-bikes could) then it has to stand on it’s own. Who want’s to start Ie-MBA?

  • DrDon says:

    I am willing to extend tolerance for these things for the disabled and elderly on designated trails. I don’t think these vehicles are going to be an issue. I suspect they are expensive on the front end and also to maintain. Like the author pointed out, when the first mechanical occurs, the e-bike will end up in a corner in someones garage. The reason for this goes beyond repairing a mechanical out in the field or walking out. True enthusiasts realize doing so is part of the sport and the unexpected can occur at any time. I didn’t read all the posts, but I’m assume someone pointed out how hard it is going to be for the unfit to transport heavy bikes and if carriers are strong enough to support them. Are there going to be enough qualified mechanics to fix them? It kills me when I see kids on motorized vehicles in my development and this is a further comment upon the laziness of our society. I also hate when people can’t walk 30 feet to return a shopping cart:}

  • Jeff says:

    I have zero problem with e-bikes on trails. The ones I’ve ridden, you still have to pedal, they make zero noise, they don’t damage the trail any more that a standard mt. bike, and they don’t go any faster down hill…. The average hiker won’t be able to tell the difference between a e-bike and a regular mt. bike. It is up to the rider regardless of what they are riding, to be responsible stewards of the sport; to yield to hikers and equestrians, be courteous and let everyone enjoy the trails. An out of control fully h-bike (human powered) can do just as much damage to the image of the sport as any e-biker can. Just my opinion.
    Now don’t everyone take this the wrong way, but isn’t it a little bit elitist to say that if you are less capable of a rider, then you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the trails? The fact that someone is older, or not an elite young athlete shouldn’t preclude them from the land…

    Furthermore, I think the more folks that use the trails then better. The bigger the pool of citizens aligned for a particular interest, the larger the political power the “collective” has to open more land to bicycles.

    And to say, there are “plenty of places” for motorized trail use for bikes to use is completely false. If any of you all live in the SF Bay Area, you probably know there are exactly 3 places to ride motorized OHVs, two are about 2 hours away, one of which the terrain is not e-bikes friendly as it is mostly hill climbs. And trail access is worse in some other states.

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Jeff, people are already hot ridding these things to power to weight ratios that will be 1000% unsustainable to the trail systems and there will be no way to police the power output of these rigs….so guess what? When you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t.

  • awfukkanawful says:

    Dear angry single speeder ….thank you so much for writing this article and being on the CORRECT side of this issue….you and Jimmy McIIvain are both heroes and I commend you both for taking a stand for what is a definitive threat to our trails and our beloved sport. If either of you are ever in Kalamazoo/Southwest Michigan hit me up and I’m buying at whatever fine craft brew locales you desire!

  • awfukkanawful says:

    To Rob Sims and Michal Grau posting all the Farcebook nonsense; by all means, please keep running your mouths because with each implausibly inane statement after the next you both spew you further prove the point that Ebikes have no business on our trails, and only further discredit yourselves and all others pressing for Ebike access to non motorized trails. There is no refuting or debating these FACTS; There would be no way to police the power output of these rigs, and if you’ve never been to an ORV trail or a motocross track; go take a good look, because that is what will happen to the trails we have fought and worked for and on FOR DECADES….and you think you can just come along and destroy all of that BECAUSE OF YOUR BREATHTAKING IGNORANCE?! As for those making the “my freedumbs are gettin took by the gubmint” nutball argument ….there are thousands of more miles of ORV trails than there are no motorized SINGLETRACK for mountainbikes that you are FREE to shred all you want, dummy….PART OF FREEDOM MEANS NOT IMPINGING ON THE FREEDOM OF THOSE THAT HAVE WORKED SO HARD AND SO LONG FOR THEIR OWN SLICE OF ENJOYMENT YOU SELFISH DOOFUSES

  • chasejj says:

    awfukkanawful -FYI. It is not YOUR land. 99.999999% of everybody on this comment section or trails ever lifted a freakin finger to build a trail, attend a Use meeting or contribute one single dime. We own the land (all of us) including anyone wanting to ebike it. Your pathetic rantings only prove the ignorance of land use and the politics involved.
    The type of vehicle is irrelevant.You as a MTBer will NEVER be on the favorable side of a landuse argument., because you are a fringe element..The political forces will only tolerate your need until they can gain an advantage by appeasing your enemies and in todays environment their will always be an enemy to create and appease.
    MTB access is decreasing and will continue and when their are enough of us crammed into a small enough area, they will invent a creature that is being threatened or imagine some environmental purpose to restrict you. I have seen this trend for 30 years. Thank the Enviro Industry for this (Sierra Club and others).

    • awfukkanawful says:

      chasejj, I have been very active in my local chapter and I’ll have you know that we (The Southwest Michigan Mountainbike Association) have taken on the hikers, and won. We took on a very powerful Equestrian lobby and WE were able to get the trails at Fort Custer separated….ya,that’s right pal, Equestrians don’t ride on the trails that we maintain. But by all means, keep flapping your gums about my “pathetic rantings” while you flail away with your delusional blather. Mountainbiking has gone mainstream, and our local chapter are nothing but the finest of trail stewards and the DNR LOVES US. So when you, or anybody else shows up on our NONMOTORIZED TRAIL with your Ebike, enjoy the hefty fine and having your bike impounded. We have EARNED THE RIGHT to be stewards of our trails…aside from blame environmental groups for not granting you access to the wholesale exploitation of any and all public lands and publicly humiliate and discredit yourself here, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, BUB?! You want to ride on trails on your Ebike?…start a chapter, build some trails, and ride all you like

  • Graham Spenceley says:

    Hey guys
    . I read all the coments and wonder where the anger comes from. Must be something to do with the high pressure demands of modern living? Or is it jealousy?
    “I worked so hard to get up that hill and the e-biker had it easy”. “not fair”
    Get real – e bikes are here to stay. Like the 29er, 27.5, electric shift, fat wheels, $12000 bikes, $120 bikes, dirt bikes, quad bikes, horses on trails, dogs on trails, helicopters, paragliders.
    Yippee more choice, more fun!
    Enjoy the opportunities and more importantly let others enjoy themselves. It’s what makes a civilised world.
    E-bikes in general may actually help us all by reducing the demand for petrol,
    E-bikes on the trail may increase usage and so actually enable better access (in the long term). Why? Well because we will bicker and argue, but in reality we have another user group to apply pressure.
    Here in NZ I usually ride on tracks that are not dedicated mtb tracks. I often meet dirt bike riders and horse riders. We stop we chat, No problem. They are like me – enjoying time away from work!
    thanks for allowing me to comment
    Spen NZ

  • chasejj says:

    Graham-you’re refreshing approach to recreation is indicative of why NZ is such a desirable place. There are places like NZ in the US. Some of Idaho is like this. But sadly most of the rest of it is like the majority of posters.
    The politics of the landuse industry (make no mistake it is an industry) have made a fortune off pitting user groups against each other and you can see by these posts they have succeeded in converting many who would take our approach to heart , but cannot resist the peer pressure driving them to conform. They actually think they are being “enlightened”. Sad.

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Idaho….explains a lot; impotent myopic idealogues with all the answers but no solutions to real problems. Why don’t you try critical thought, chasejj, or is reality just to scary for you and your baby rattle?

      • awfukkanawful says:

        With apologies to all the righteous cats in Idaho…..we have our fair share of Mcveighs here in America’s pymp hand

    • awfukkanawful says:

      chasejj, please enlighten us oh great and brilliant one…show us the empirical data that supports your premise that motorized vehicles should be allowed on NONMOTORIZED trails because you subscribe to a narrow political view rather than cold hard facts.

  • EpicAndy says:

    Looka that. ASS is starting to sound like Mike Vandeman, dictating who can use a trail and who can’t.

    Is that a saw in your hands, ASS? Oh wait, no. It’s an axe. And evidently it’s not sharp yet.

  • too much angry single speeder says:

    Help me understand the argument against ebikes on mtg trails. Is it the damage they are doing? Are there really enough ebike riders to degrade the trails so badly? Is it the unfair advantage a motor gives a rider? Are geared bikes competing with ebikes and there is a sense of being offended?

    • awfukkanawful says:

      The guy I saw at my local trail “modified” his electric motor to twice the power. Do you know what power to weight ratio is? Imagine a mountainbike that goes 0-60mph in under 4 seconds, because if we don’t DESTROY the idea of these things on NONMOTORIZED trails, they will turn the trails to ABSOLUTE MUSH….exactly what is posing for grey matter for those pushing to allow these things on our trails.

      • too much angry single speeder says:

        “Modified” bikes that that go 0-60 in 4 seconds is not the norm. They are the equivalent of riders (of normal bikes) that don’t yield to hikers or horses, an issue that has hurt or sport in the past. There will always be assholes but let’s base it on the majority.

        • awfukkanawful says:

          It is oh so early in the product cycle of Ebikes….faster is always the evolution of any motorized vehicle. Bikes and Ebikes are simply not compatible for a good many reasons. First and foremost, Ebikes will destroy trails that were never designed nor intended for their use due to uncontrollable wheel spin. Imagine fat tire bikes w/1000 watt motors….or greater power, spooling up instaneous torque on command because they are coming. Even if they aren’t manufactured with that much power, there will certainly be “tuner” setups for Ebikes and the trails will be shredded beyond use for those of us who fought for access, built and maintained trails, and have advocated and paid our dues FOR DECADES. Imagine the trails littered with overpowered rigs piloted by underskilled riders and how much faster they will be riding than the real mountainbikers….barging their way around on skinny single track interrupting both riders flow….that will be fun, won’t it?! Guess how often I’ll yield or move for an Ebike? There are more than enough ORV trails and carving new trails out with Ebikes will be a cinch since the powerful ones churn up fresh dirt like a rototiller. There is more than enough land in our country for each and every user group to have their own purpose built trails. So start your own chapters, funding and advocacy efforts AND STAY THE HELL OFF OF OUR NONMOTORIZED trails. I really can not believe the gall, the selfishness, the appalling ignorance of those of you who simply think that you are ENTITLED to access of trails that have been so difficult to secure for NONMOTORIZED use…this mentality is a POX on our sport and if you are unwilling or unable to comprehend this then good luck, bud, because you obviously are coping with one seriously challenged intellect along with the rest of the ilk pushing for the destruction of our sport.

          • too much angry single speeder says:

            Seriously challenged intellect… Despite my challenges I believe there is room on the trails for a variety of riders.

  • andy says:

    I’m with you Angry. 100%.

  • Jamon says:

    Yes, Downieville area is a great place for an ebike…Mills Peak was a blast (it makes the up hills very entertaining). The Bosch mid drive that I rode is a 29 er hardtail, so the descent down Mills Peak wasn’t as fun as a full suspension, looking forward to installing a Bafang kit on my free ride bike. The new full suspension off the shelf ebikes are still pricy for me. No one notices on the trail, it’s pedal assist only, and nearly silent. I lucked out on the deal, $1700, otherwise it’s 4k new.

  • Rich Adams says:

    Let’s face it, the e-bike is not going away. Don’t pretend that all the amazing singletrack across the US will not be used by e-mtbs. It will.

  • Lee Curry says:

    Are you kidding? Interbike is jamb packed with e bikes, the industry has decided. you will comply, but on another note Go J Mac!

  • dandy says:

    Some of yall need to calm down , especially one of yall. Its not like everybody and their momma is gonna buy a $4000 dollar bike and all of them supe them up to throw dirt on all of you. I rode a high end one and it could not spin a tire if it had to . Calm down . I could see one of yall maybe assaulting a ebike user if he came across you on a trail . Remember , this is for fun .

  • awfukkanawful says:

    Dandy…You pipe down, sonnyjim…..I’ll calm down when peeps quit talking about desecrating our sacred stomping grounds. Furthermore, your assumption that I would square off with someone is unfounded and wrong….I am polite to a fault when I educate people out on the trail as I stress stewardship. This forum is an outlet to express my devotion and unbridled passion for a pure sport, mine and many others that is about to be utterly defiled by dummies and greedy swine if they aren’t kept in check by righteous bros….. You are on the wrong side of history, dandy sonnyjim. I have yet to field one fact that supports the premise that Ebikes deserve to undue decades of trail advocacy in one fell swoop. ME WIN, YOU LOSE! NEXT?!

  • Mike says:

    All of this ranting about ebikes…I wish that energy was put to better use to get the horses banned from the hiking and biking trails. Horses do real damages, the owners don’t cleanup after them and I have never seen the equestrian clubs make a contribution either through volunteer work or financial to help the trail system in the USA.

    When I see an ebike though, I can’t help but think of it as a moped. If I were a land manager of a property I could envision charging a daily trail access fee to fund trail improvements.

    Here in Indiana our state laws prohibit anything with a motor from all state trails and multiuse pathways except those specifically designated for off road vehicles (in plain English: a mountain biker will never cross paths with an ebike).

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Mike, you are 1000% correct regarding equestrians. We fought that scourge for years here in Michigan, and through the efforts of our many state chapters, we have been able to get equestrians either separated or outright removed from certain trails that were never intended for their use. Some of the Equestrian folks were actually helpful in this process as the reasonable ones finally came to the conclusion that the two user groups simply are not compatible, and for the most part should be on separate trails. That said, I am going to focus my ranting on Ebikes, because this is an unprecedented and unique threat to our sport which most ironically comes from within a certain thick skulled, entitled, blame the victim mentality within the biking community which would only seek to undermine our access to trails and threatens to catastrophically degrade our trails. Make no mistake, Mike, Ebikes may seem innocuous, but they are not…they will become Trail Queda if they are allowed access to NONMOTORIZED trails. meaning they will destroy the sport….your state chapters need to come together and do what we did in Mchigan which is to hire a lobbyist….you must fight fire with fire. There was/is an extremely large, well funded,and entirely unreasonable population of equestrians who we went to war with….lots of writing local and state government, and amazing efforts through the various state chapters. Good luck to your efforts, you will need it because the equestrians tend to be well organized and well funded, but it is easy to discredit them because they do nothing but destroy trails and leave behind enormous stinking piles of manure as a thank you….just like the comments posted here in support of Ebikes on NONMOTORIZED trails!

  • KGR says:

    I can live with electric drive being banned from the trails if we can get horse drive banned as well.

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Granting access to Ebikes on NONMOTORIZED trails would further embolden an argument to allow equestrians access to trails they shouldn’t be on….yet another ancillary travesty to fall on our sport that would be rewarded by the efforts of the DROOLING SIMPS supporting Ebike access to NONMOTORIZED trails.

  • Capt says:

    This is an idiot article. Are you kidding me? At one point, we had to fight for the right to ride on ANY trails. Now you all are NIMBY’s (not in my back yard)?!? How weak and pathetic. If we thumbed our noses at new technology once apon a time, we would still be riding single speed, suspension-less bikes! I find this a very weak, narrow-minded attitude. These bikes cause no more damage than any others. You all have no more right to stop this than anyone else has of stopping us from riding. Grow UP! If I chose to ride an e-bike, no one better get in my way. Period. DON’T TRED ON ME!

  • awfukkanawful says:

    Capt…you are the one treading on everyone and you don’t have any idea what you are talking about. By all means share more of your politics with us and TELL us why your nut job idealogical views should undue decades of hard won and hard fought trail advocacy…..the more you imbeciles run your mouths the more you discredit yourselves and your insipid position….”and please make sure you use this when you run into a DNR officer; “no one better get in my way”. BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHH…..LOOK OUT EVERYONE, HERE COMES CAPT. INTERNET TOUGH GUY. YO CAPT. STOOPS….GO TREAD ON THE ORV TRAIL WHERE MOTORIZED VEHICLES BELONG, CAPT. PIP-SQUEAK, CAPT ENTITLED, CAPT LOUT, CAPT TRAIL QUEDA, CAPT. MOPED, CAPT. DRAMA QUEEN, CAPT. SELFISH, CAPT. BABY RATTLE, CAPT. PRECAMBRIAN PROTRUDING BROW….

  • IBM says:

    What I don’t understand is – where were all those arguments and debates during Motocross bikes and old mopeds era having access to MTB trails. What changed? There is really no technological breakthrough. We had motors on bikes for the past 50 years, including electric. But everybody understood about traffic separation and not having motorized vehicles on non motorized trails. Similar to not riding Mopeds on sidewalks..
    All of a sudden the motor becomes a bit quieter and smaller and is turned on by different switch hidden in pedals – and it is an argument? Is it just easier to sneak it onto the trail?
    Why not just ride it on motocross trails like it used to be. Power level does not really matter since it can be easily changed. Will you let me bring my 1 HP gas engine moped on a MTB trail….or a sidewalk? I swear t it has no speed and barely moves…I even have to pedal it when I run out of gas

  • ken says:

    It has a Motor, it is not a bicycle. And should not be on the trails. At all.

  • Ron says:

    I think that there is too much emotion/machismo/misinformation going on when it comes to trail access in the United States. I just finally brought myself to do an extended test ride on one, and I’m of the opinion that I don’t care what it is, if it can get on the trail and not cause any more damage than what we already allow on the trail, including horses, then let it be.

    I’ve been mountain biking since 1988. Sure, a far cry from the “forefathers” of the sport, but I’ve had my share of dealings with trail access, IMBA management, race promotion, and the list goes on. Some of you weren’t even born when I the original Mag21 caused discussion amongst us old farts about the degradation of the sport and the slow decline of “our” sport into a lighter pedal powered version of motocross.

    The “trail damage” argument is bunk–the most powerful of these pedal assist only models stops the assist at 20mph. You can go faster, but it’s on your own two legs. Back when I raced XC on a hard tail, I can for sure tell you that big-ring, out of the saddle, rear-tire breaking traction intermittently uphill as I try to fight to stay on a gear is clearly visible, while as one of these things even on the highest level of assist will allow a rider to stay seated and not break traction.

    The most dangerous user out on a “non-motorized” trail are equestrians, the most destructive trail user on the trail is are equestrians. Anyone who argues otherwise has no scientific or logical ground to stand on. Why must ALL trail users be schooled on how to approach and act around equestrians if they are so benign?

    I think there is a fine line, but e-assist bikes, while I surely won’t go out of my way to show all my non-cyclist friends how great they are, do not deserve the hate that it is getting now, based on the “perception” of how they could be used.

    Look at yourselves in the mirror: if you oppose e-assist bikes, you should also oppose suspension, gears, disc brakes… All the things that allow you to go farther, faster, with more comfort and less effort. You see, it’s all shades of gray. The only thing that e-bikes offer is the ability to be assisted up to a certain speed. Oh, and all you angels out there don’t go past the 15 mph or less posted (or other wise generally agreed upon) “civl” speed limit right?

    • awfukkanawful says:

      Ron, were you at Fort Custer this summer when some clown showed up on his modified Ebike? Lemme answer that for you; you are are a fool and don’t know what you are talking about. I too have been mountainbiking since about 88, I’ve raced bmx, and I’ve broken more bones than you would ever survive, somImgot yr machismo right here bud. I have shredded the gnarliest of the gnar and I always go balls out…and I have never seen a rider who could come anywhere near being able to roost and gouge a trail the way that over powered moron scooter defiled the trail. So please, when you don’t have the slightest inkling as to what pollution is leaking from your vapid maw, muzzle it and keep your Ebike and god forsaken horse dung strewn pock holed trail misinformation the hell off the boards.

  • JD says:

    What the heck makes all you guys think the power will not increase on these? A rider is about 0.3 H.P. IN 10 years we could see 5-10 H.P. electric motos. So what is too powerful? When is a moped a motorcycle? Because the on switch is part of the crank that means it’s a bike? These are all BS distinctions, groping desperately to rationalize a conclusion they have already come to, that electric motorcycles should be allowed where gasoline versions are not. Limit the power to 1/3 HP and you might have an argument, but that won’t sell. Think e-bikes are so different from motos? Bull: https://www.electricbike.com/10-fastest-electric-bikes/

    15,000 Watts, 20 HP, 58 MPH.

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