To emtb or not to emtb?

To emtb or not to emtb?

Love or hate them, electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) will soon be popping up on a trail near you.

From hiring ebikes to experience the Mt Buller Epic ride (Victoria) to competing in WA’s 50/50 within the first e-bike class, this category of bikes is hitting the Australian shores.

Never has there been such a separation of opinion within the community.

Sure the MTB community is full of passion about their favourite wheel size, bike manufacturer etc but when the subject turned to eMTB’s, that passion manifested into almost semi-hatred.

  • Trail destroyers
  • Motor + bike = motorbike
  • whats the point?
  • Just go hard or go home

From the other side of the coin

  • MTB becomes more accessible to more people (injured, older, less physically fit, etc)
  • Ride further, experience more trail
  • Bridge ability gaps

But what are e-bikes?

The term e-bikes is commonly used to describe a pushbike that incorporates an electric motor.

So with the above definition in mind, an eMTB is a mountain bike that has an electric motor.

Bikes that have been declared fit for sale in Australia (conforming to the European EN15194 standard) can have a 250 watt motor but they don’t have a throttle at all. Instead the motor automatically provides assistance as you pedal—the harder you pedal, the more it assists. Once you reach 25kph, the power simply cuts out. These electric pushbikes are called pedalecs within the Standard and Australian legislation. For the sake of this article we will primarily focus of pedalecs. This is where the high-end and enthusiast market is heading, and all of the latest electric MTBs from the major brands are made to meet the EN15194 standard.

Of course there are conversion kits available that allow the rider to bolt on to their current bike however complying to rules and regulations is left up to the individual.

Many bike manufacturers are joining the e-bike evolution such as Specialised, Giant, Trek, KTM, Merida to name a few. With many more in development.

John Hardwock of Mountain Biking Australia gives a great rundown on an eMTB “Most Pedelec MTBs run a mid-mounted motor; it’s usually integrated into the bottom bracket area with the battery fitted to the down tube. A handlebar mounted control will select the power level. No matter how you set it, you still need to pedal and it’ll always cut out once you reach 25kph. The higher assistance levels will just add more power to your pedal strokes at the expense of the battery life. If you can produce 250 watts of leg power and select the maximum level of assistance, the pedalec will just about double your power output.

Of course this power is tempered somewhat by the added weight. Your typical e-MTB weighs 18-25kg—more than a DH bike. Even so, they still give an average mountain biker the leg power of an elite XC racer and will have you climbing hills much faster than usual (or holding your usual pace with substantially less effort).

Love them or hate them, the option is here and the choice is yours.

Photo credit : Total Women’s Cycling

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