NEMBA asks IMBA to clarify position on electric bikes

New England organization also urges support of STC’s Wilderness efforts

E-bike News
Riders climb “The Spine” on Wasatch Crest Trail above Park City, UT. Photo by James Adamson –

Riders climb “The Spine” on Wasatch Crest Trail above Park City, UT (click to enlarge). Photo by James Adamson –

Philip Keyes is one of the most respected names in mountain bike advocacy. Since co-founding the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) in 1988, Keyes has grown a grassroots club into one of the most successful advocacy organizations in the nation, with more than 5,000 members across New England. As recognition for his significant efforts in helping mountain bikers gain equal access to public lands, in 2008 Keyes was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

So on Monday when Keyes sent this email to International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) executive director Mike Van Abel and board of directors chair Robert Winston, it communicated two very clear messages. First, NEMBA is urging IMBA to support the Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC) and its efforts to overturn the blanket ban on bikes in Wilderness. Second, NEMBA wants IMBA to clarify its position on electric mountain bikes.

This email is one of several developments in recent weeks related to the blanket ban on bikes in federal Wilderness, the STC, and legislation surrounding e-MTBs. In the letter, NEMBA strongly recommends IMBA to support the STC, even after IMBA stated last week in a blog post by spokesperson Mark Eller that the organization will not be offering any support for STC. NEMBA warns IMBA that if they do not support the STC, they risk becoming “irrelevant” as the voice of mountain bike advocacy, particularly if STC ends up succeeding in its efforts.

Riders descend Bull Run, part of the Magnificent 7 trail network outside Moab, UT. Photo by James Adamson –

Riders descend Bull Run, part of the Magnificent 7 trail network outside Moab, UT (click to enlarge). Photo by James Adamson –

Further, NEMBA wants IMBA to reaffirm their 2010 stance that eMTBs “should be regulated as with other motorized off-road travel.” Keyes goes on to say that NEMBA is, “concerned IMBA is poised to abandon this position.” NEMBA’s concern revolves around a recent independent study on the impacts of eMTBs, funded by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and PeopeForBikes. NEMBA is concerned that IMBA’s involvement with this research indicates they may use the data, possibly under pressure from the bike industry, to take a more accommodating position on e-bikes on trails.

This letter from NEMBA to IMBA is critically important, as NEMBA believes, “If bikes aren’t allowed in Wilderness, mountain bikers will always be second-class citizens on all public lands.” Further, “If IMBA believes that power-assisted bikes should be allowed on non-motorized trails then our fate will be sealed as being part of the motorized community.”

If you are a mountain biker concerned with future access to public lands, please educate yourself on this topic, as the two issues NEMBA addresses may well significantly shape the future of mountain bike access. To read the complete letter from NEMBA to IMBA, follow this link.

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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  • JD says:

    I 100% support the aim of Philip Keyes – its high time we collectively stand for the numbers we’ve swelled to, and stake our claim wilderness. Wilderness access should be a land management issue – not a blanket ban on bikes!!!

    Support the STC – give them the money you were going to use to buy a useless thing for your bike, so we can all ride your bike in new places.

  • Don says:

    I’m fully behind NEMBA’s message, regarding both allowing mountain bikes in wilderness areas where deemed appropriate, and regarding keeping motorized vehicles off of non-motorized trails.

  • Shark says:

    I totally agree with Keyes. We need to fight against the ban on bikes in wilderness.

    If IMBA will not support STC or the wilderness fight, then I won’t be sending my $ to them anymore.
    I am currently donating to the STC fund.

  • Reformed Roadie says:

    IMBA needs to grow a set…
    They are battling groups that pay lobbyist to get their agenda done in Congress. IMBA could do the same, but refuse to. In theory, I do not like the idea of suing, paying lawyers or lobbyist, but if that is what it takes to avoid being marginalized, then so be it.

  • Rob Moucha says:

    Take a look a this bad boy freeride/dh e-bike from HPC. 60MPH top seed? I have seen conversion kits that build up e-bikes into 10 kW or more, there is a youtube of a 26 kW ebike — surpassing electric MX (Zero MX). Definitely need a word from IMBA on this.

    Revolution X 6.0-
    Power- 6000W
    Voltage: 104V
    Top Speed: 60MPH
    Max Range (@20 MPH): 60+ Miles
    RockShox Boxxer World Cup Keronite front fork 203mm travel
    RockShox VIVID RC2 rear air shock- 8+” of frame travel
    Schlumpf High Speed Drive (2.5X) Allows high speed pedaling past 50 MPH!
    SRAM X0 Rear Derailluer/Shifter, 20 Speeds total
    6061 T6 Hand Welded Built in the USA Aluminum Frame. “Revolution” Logo to be laser engraved on each side of the frame
    Real carbon fiber side and controller covers
    Weight: 87 LBS
    Estimated MSRP: $13,000

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