Has the Coastal Crew Sold Out?

Words Cam McRae
Photos Harookz
Date Dec 16, 2016

This video arrived with an innocuous title. Skeptical, it was called, seemingly to draw us in with rad ripping before we noticed what was happening; The Coastal Crew riding their home trails on Specialized Levo e-bikes. We all know this is a touchy issue and you may have been surprised to see Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson riding electric. They are, after all, some of the most untainted and humble riders in the sport. They haven’t sold out to a sugar water company and they live modestly and simply, chuffed to be able to ride bikes, build trails and share the stoke they so genuinely feel. But we probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Specialized Turbo Levo

Yes – that is an e-bike.

The Sunshine Coast, where Dylan and Curtis live, has an economy that was once largely based on industry; logging in particular. In the video you’ll notice the lads ride in a cut block for much of the time. The land, just a short ferry ride from Vancouver, has been used as a resource for as long as we Europeans have squatted there. On virtually every ride you’ll encounter evidence of industry rusting into the forest floor. Most of the low elevation timber is second growth and much of it is likely slated to be logged again in the future. But this is also an economy in transition and recreation and tourism are being encouraged to replace jobs lost as logging slows down.

Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Specialized Turbo Levo

Doing what they do on bikes that some see as sacreligious.

This is the context the Crew rides within. Long-time residents of the area are realists. In communities moving away from the resource sector, you’re unlikely to find anyone upset about mountain bikes. In B.C. we have places like Rossland, Nelson, Kamloops and Pemberton, to name just four industry towns that have embraced mountain biking and other outdoor activities enthusiastically as forestry and mining sectors have become less viable. When you compare bikes riding on trails to clear-cutting, fracking or strip mining it puts the activity in proper perspective. And when you have communities struggling to replace high paying jobs, the idea of attracting moneyed mountain bikers is an easy sell.

Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Specialized Turbo Levo

Impossible to tell in silhouette.

Here in North Van, in Portland Oregon, Marin County and near any urban centre in North America, access to trails is either forbidden or threatened. And in rare areas where access is in good shape you can be sure it was hard won. These battles were fought by volunteers for the most part, toiling in the trenches for the rights of riders everywhere. It’s not surprising that these stalwarts, and those who understand and appreciate the work they have done, are wary of e-bikes and how they may be viewed by landowners and the general public.

Context is everything. The Coastal Crew seem to be able to go out and build a new trail wherever they like, and the loggers even do what they can to preserve lines and structures when it comes time to harvest. In my experience fallers are more likely to use stunts as targets for falling timber so it’s clear they have the community behind them – and riding e-bikes isn’t going to change that. In the world of the Coastal Crew, where dirt bikes and ATVs are as common as lattes in San Francisco, there is little that is threatening about e-bikes. Independent of any encouragement from Specialized, it’s easy to see why Curtis and Dylan see them as harmless.

Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Specialized Turbo Levo

On the way down an e-bike rides much like a conventional bike.

Most of us don’t live and ride in areas like the Coastal Crew’s free-for-all zone. And while I think a lot of the hysteria over e-bikes is overblown and that the vitriol reflects poorly on our community, there is a lot we don’t know. Caution is warranted.

Matt Hunter’s turn.

Companies like Specialized, banking on new customers clamouring for pedal assist bikes, seem focussed on a pull marketing strategy. If they create a demand for these bikes, by enlisting riders like Matt Hunter and the Coastal Crew, Levos will start selling in larger numbers. Once there is a groundswell and heaps of riders have trail-eating electric bikes, the group will be a force to be reckoned with and access will have to be sorted out at that point. And that could get messy. I put in a call to Specialized today late in the day, and I haven’t yet heard back but I’m interested to hear what the company is doing to define access for these bikes pre-emptively. It seems to make sense to sort that piece out before ramping up the marketing offensive.

It turns out you can whip an e-bike. Well - at least these guys can.

It turns out you can whip an e-bike. Well – at least these guys can.

Skeptical, the title of the video, came from Curtis and Dylan’s initial feelings about these bikes. They assumed they would be great for grabbing beer from the store but not for their daily shred. By their telling, they were soon seduced by the access and range the bikes served up and by their shredability which is evident in the video. And they claim to genuinely like riding the Levo. From my perspective, based on what I know and what they have said, Curtis and Dylan are the same stellar lads they have always been. 

Dylan was careful to point out that he has no time for throttled e-bikes. Pedal assist only for the Crew.

Dylan was careful to point out that he has no time for throttled e-bikes. Pedal assist only for the Crew.

I have tested an e-bike and I can tell you that my feelings were similar. I even tested a relatively crappy version with a spindly fork and it was still great fun. But if “because it’s fun” is your argument for an activity, why not crack or heroin? Unprotected sex maybe? I’ve heard those activities are fun as well. Rushing into this e-bike world with marketing, before navigating the access and user conflict challenges, is a little like becoming a junkie and worrying about detox later; it’s bound to be a rough ride.


Where I stand

My line on e-bikes hasn’t been a hard one. I for one would never suggest that we should prevent a rider like Martyn Ashton from accessing trails simply because he can no longer pedal. I also think that using the same strategies that have been used against us is a terrible idea. If we say that e-bikes cause too much damage to trails, it’s easy to imagine our opponents saying the same thing about shuttling or DH bikes in general. And if we approach a group of outdoor enthusiasts with closed minds and hateful words, what right do we have to expect anything more from those who oppose us? If we oppose e-bikes because of the number of laps they can do, what is stopping hikers, environmentalists or even XC riders from opposing shuttlers or lift riders using the same justification?

In case you missed it…

How mountain bikers tackle this situation may be as important as the outcomes we produce. If we take an open-minded and mature approach, it’s much more likely we’ll be given the same courtesy from other user groups in the future.


A Preliminary Response from Specialized (more to come)

Marketing versus Advocacy is not an either or proposition; both components are equally critical. The biggest difference is that our marketing efforts are extremely visible (that is how marketing works…), however, the work we do on the advocacy side is not nearly as visible to the average rider. We appreciate the opportunity to talk about this because we’ve struggled to come up with ways to let riders know about the work we do without boring them to death. It’s easy to get people to watch a video of the Coastal Boys or Matty Hunter shredding some trail but it’s not nearly as easy to get the word out about things like sending our people to speak at IMBA summits, rallying our staff and athletes to do trail work days, participating with organizations like the BPSA to ensure a sustainable future for all types of cycling, etc. As critical is all that stuff is, it just isn’t very sexy.

A company of our size and position in the industry has a huge responsibility to be stewards of the cycling community, and it would be incredibly near-sighted of us to aggressively market pedal-assist bikes without simultaneously doing the work to ensure long-term sustainability. What good would it do us to make a bunch of money over the next year or so selling pedal-assist bikes if it meant jeopardizing access for all bikes, thereby negatively impacting future sales? To prevent that sort of thing from happening, we are actively involved in many facets of trail access and advocacy – some of our efforts are specific to pedal-assist but many apply to cycling as a whole. We have been big supporters of IMBA for many, many years and have heavily funded and worked closely with them. We are also part of the BPSA, leading the charge towards a sustainable future for the bicycle industry, doing a lot of work with them specific to the challenges of pedal-assist. We have also undertaken a massive effort to educate our retailer network in regard to making sure their customers are clear on where these types of bikes can be ridden legally, as well as providing tools for our retailers to work with local land management agencies on safe and responsible solutions. Another organization we support is People For Bikes, they do amazing work that benefits us all. We strongly believe there is a place in our community for all types of riders and all types of bikes, and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that vision remains a reality for a long time to come.
– Sean Estes


Opinions?

Comments

douglas-crossman
0
Douglas Crossman  - Dec. 19, 2016, 1:20 p.m.

I can't help but feel like so much of the hate-on against e-bikes is from the butt hurt that riders have about people, who they think are "unworthy" of the trails, coming out and enjoying the ride. This crowd carries on as if, by having muscles strong enough to make the climbs, some riders deserve to be on the trails, and others don't.

Personally, I can't stand it when there are riders on the trail, who are slower than I am. I have actively wished terrible things on other riders, simply because they're slowing me down, especially when I'm descending. Then I remember that I'm not the fastest rider in the world. Hell, I'm not even the fastest rider in my neighborhood. More importantly, if I'm focusing on how much better I think that I am than another rider, then I'm missing the whole point of the ride!

E-bikes give people like my dad the option of riding trails that he could never rider otherwise. He's no where near the shape he needs to be to actually enjoy a lot of trails in our area, but, with an e-bike, he can. A climb will no longer exhaust him so badly that he now needs a 20-minute break, and then to walk down the other side of the hill, because he's still too gassed. Now, he can make it up the hill, enjoy the view, and speed down the descent, hollering like a teenager, In time, I'm sure that his fitness will improve, and maybe, one day, he will cast his e-bike away in scorn, and shake his fist of superiority at the other e-bike riders…but more than likely, he will just keep adding miles and altitude to his rides.

Reply

brente
0
brente  - Dec. 18, 2016, 9:38 a.m.

Ebikes are motor cycles and don't belong on mountain bike trails…really quite simple actually. If private trail owners like the Costal Crew want to allow them on their private trails that's there business but the never belong on public use trails.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 19, 2016, 12:13 p.m.

But motorcycles are allowed on some public use trails. And there are trails throughout our region that are shared by motorcycles and bikes. Many were built by trials moto riders who will tell you that bikes do a lot more damage in most cases than a trials moto. Attempts to over-simplify this situation aren't very productive imho.

Reply

brente
0
brente  - Dec. 19, 2016, 12:27 p.m.

Notice I said mountain bike trails and also I notice the only people that voice approval for these thing are industry hacks with a dog in the fight because it is really simple when you don't have any other concerns then the quality of the trails.

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Dec. 19, 2016, 2:06 p.m.

You also said 'public use trails.' And please show me once where I have voiced approval for 'these things' in this thread? And how do I have a dog in this fight? If you'll notice, unlike PB, I did not post this video with the misleading title nor did I fail to hold Specialized to account. You are making generalizations about me that simply aren't true. Why would you do that?

douglas-crossman
0
Douglas Crossman  - Dec. 19, 2016, 3:51 p.m.

Wanted to mention this in a separate comment, but, because you brought it up, I'm going to state it here.

With all of these articles with well-informed opinions, which look at as much evidence as possible, and the nuance that informs a person's stance, you guys are doing better journalism than some…actually most, of the actual journalists out there.

Good on you and the NSMB, especially considering that our sport/industry seems to cater to a group of reactionary keyboard warriors, rather than individuals who take a minute to consider anyone outside of themselves.

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Dec. 20, 2016, 12:44 a.m.

I don't think he meant that you are the industry hack.

douglas-crossman
0
Douglas Crossman  - Dec. 19, 2016, 1:33 p.m.

I disagree, and I'm surprised to keep hearing this comment.

Even a casual high-level understanding of the two shows significant differences, which place an e-bike in a "bike" category, and not the "motorcycle" one.

E-bikes are significantly lighter than nearly every motorcycle/dirt bike on sale. Yes, some trials bikes are in the e-bike weight range, but we're talking a handful of bikes with almost 0 market presence.
While an e-bike does have a motor, its power delivery is minuscule in comparison to even a 50cc 2-stroke. More importantly, e-bike motors are designed to assist the pedaling of the bike, and not to replace it.
Furthermore, e-bike handling characteristics are very similar to an average mountain bike, and much different than a dirt bike.

Lastly, your argument is that these bikes do not belong on public trails, however, from what I can see, the public are pushing for use on local trails…

Reply

brente
0
brente  - Dec. 19, 2016, 2:17 p.m.

Electric MOTOR BIKE same as motor cycle and should be treated as such.

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Dec. 19, 2016, 3:39 p.m.

Electric motors deliver power almost instantaneous compared to ICE

douglas-crossman
0
Douglas Crossman  - Dec. 19, 2016, 3:56 p.m.

Yeah…no.

Look man, you're clearly passionate about this, but you have to look past yourself and at the many many people for whom this will be a huge help, and who would never be able to ride the trails that we enjoy, because they just don't have the capability.

I know a guy who used to be a complete shredder when he was young, who no longer has the fitness to ride what he loves, simply because he can't make the climb. With his CUBE e-bike, he can.

You also need to understand how we get these trails in the first place. It's not because we are all fucking sexy people and the whole world wants to watch our steezy moves on YouTube. It's by having users support the local trail association, and by having people with money and votes demand that they have access to trails.

Most of the e-bike riders I know are older people with money, connections, and a desire to be on the trail. Our local city council and planning committee listen to these kinds of people. I don't know about you, but I want these people on my side when it comes time to vote whether this trail should allow bikes or not.

brente
0
brente  - Dec. 19, 2016, 4:48 p.m.

I am one those older people I have been riding on Fromme since the very beginning long before there were mountain bikes,when we were kids in the sixties we would ride our three speeds and single speeds up there and I really think that if you can ride up you most likely don't have the stamina to ride down and I can see the entitle twits using over powered bikes and tearing up the trails.

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Dec. 17, 2016, 2:33 p.m.

A Preliminary Response from Specialized (more to come)
Marketing versus Advocacy is not an either or proposition; both components are equally critical. The biggest difference is that our marketing efforts are extremely visible (that is how marketing works…), however, the work we do on the advocacy side is not nearly as visible to the average rider. We appreciate the opportunity to talk about this because we’ve struggled to come up with ways to let riders know about the work we do without boring them to death. It’s easy to get people to watch a video of the Coastal Boys or Matty Hunter shredding some trail but it’s not nearly as easy to get the word out about things like sending our people to speak at IMBA summits, rallying our staff and athletes to do trail work days, participating with organizations like the BPSA to ensure a sustainable future for all types of cycling, etc. As critical is all that stuff is, it just isn’t very sexy.

A company of our size and position in the industry has a huge responsibility to be stewards of the cycling community, and it would be incredibly near- sighted of us to aggressively market pedal-assist bikes without simultaneously doing the work to ensure long-term sustainability. What good would it do us to make a bunch of money over the next year or so selling pedal-assist bikes if it meant jeopardizing access for all bikes, thereby negatively impacting future sales? To prevent that sort of thing from happening, we are actively involved in many facets of trail access and advocacy – some of our efforts are specific to pedal-assist but many apply to cycling as a whole. We have been big supporters of IMBA for many, many years and have heavily funded and worked closely with them. We are also part of the BPSA, leading the charge towards a sustainable future for the bicycle industry, doing a lot of work with them specific to the challenges of pedal-assist. We have also undertaken a massive effort to educate our retailer network in regard to making sure their customers are clear on where these types of bikes can be ridden legally, as well as providing tools for our retailers to work with local land management agencies on safe and responsible solutions. Another organization we support is People For Bikes, they do amazing work that benefits us all. We strongly believe there is a place in our community for all types of riders and all types of bikes, and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that vision remains a reality for a long time to come.
– Sean Estes

This was also posted below the article. I still have specific questions for Specialized that I hope to address directly with them.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 17, 2016, 2:49 p.m.

Nice work, Cam. And although I saw Sean pop up in the comments below, I'm glad he had a chance to get that statement to us in good time. Thanks for that, Sean.

Reply

michaeldorian
0
michaeldorian  - Dec. 17, 2016, 12:36 a.m.

"Most of us don’t live and ride in areas like the Coastal Crew’s free-for-all zone. And while I think a lot of the hysteria over e-bikes is overblown and that the vitriol reflects poorly on our community, there is a lot we don’t know. Caution is warranted."

Spot in. Approaching this with an open mind versus a closed mind is what is needed. Coming at it with a closed mind makes us no different from other outdoor activities that have been trying to ban mountain bikes without understand.

We need to be a better community.

This is the best article I've ridden on the subject matter. Thank you.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Dec. 16, 2016, 12:24 p.m.

In the PB comments on this article a user mentions that he commutes with an electric assist bike in LOLAsia. He said he modded his bikes motor to be completely non-pedal assist and puts out more wattage than legally allowed. He just leisurely spins his cranks to give the illusion that he's not on a modded bike. All this was easy for anyone to do without any real electrical knowledge and about $5 worth of Chinese ordered parts.

Reply

Jerry-Rig
0
Jerry Willows  - Dec. 16, 2016, 1:55 p.m.

it will be pretty cool when people mod their e-bikes to a 1000 watts and start taking out people on the Bridal Path then all bikes get banned… great idea e-bikes are.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Dec. 16, 2016, 4:53 p.m.

Why pedal up Mtn Highway when one can just brap up Bobsled instead?

0
49%  - Dec. 17, 2016, 12:36 p.m.

Available now and bone stock: 5,200 watts/ 80kmh electric mountain bike. (Make sure not to call it a motorcycle).

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Dec. 17, 2016, 3:35 p.m.

Remember a few years ago when Super Dave Norona took that electric dirt bike out on Da Shore and everyone lost their shit? Good times.

douglas-crossman
0
Douglas Crossman  - Dec. 19, 2016, 4:02 p.m.

I imagine that thing at full output will get about…1km of range. I may be exaggerating though, as it'll likely get 500m.

0
49%  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:46 a.m.

Athletes need to get paid, I place no blame on them. Specialized Corp however is going about this the wrong way, and It's pissed me off enough to avoid their products entirely.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 2:16 p.m.

Hey 49%, fair enough, but let me ask you, if you're interested in sharing: what do you think would be the right way for Specialized to go about this? I think it's always a good exercise to sit in the marketing manager's shoes and contemplate what you would do in their place.

Reply

0
49%  - Dec. 16, 2016, 3:06 p.m.

They're specifically targeting traditional mountain bikers, 99% of whom (whether they know it or not) are on sensitive trails that could be shut down at any time.
Maybe rather than just cramming E-bikes down our throats, Specialized could put some apparent thought into the impact these things could have into their marketing campaign.

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:18 p.m.

Ok, here comes my mktg hat, brace for impact. I'm also just being the devil's advocate to try to engage you to dig a little deeper. I'm not necessarily interested in defending Specialized, but I do think we have to look at this fairly and critically.

1) With this video, yes, they're specifically targeting 'trad' mountain bikers. But this video is hardly the sum of their marketing efforts around e-bikes. I'm going to bet that they have put huge efforts into staff and retailer training and communication, retail support, advertising in other areas that are less enthusiast-targeted and more casual.

2) No, I don't think 99% is a fair number, but maybe that distinction isn't important. I know what you're saying and to some degree, of course you're right. Yep, the mtb lobby is fragile in a lot of places - maybe most. But it's also doing really well in communities that are embracing mountain bikers as they seek to replace jobs and revenue lost to things like resources, as Cam laid out in this article. Your 99% may be accurate in some states, but it's not accurate in BC, and it's certainly not accurate in Europe.

3) What Specialized has done behind the scenes we don't know. Cam has placed a call, and you can bet we'll report on their answer if it's of interest. I will say that although it's popular to pick on Specialized because they're big and successful and profitable, they didn't get that way by being entirely tuned out on this kind of thing. Many people I know that work there have a clue about how this stuff works. So, I bet (and certainly hope) that this is something that's discussed and worked on by them. But my guess is only as good as yours at this point.

Again, I'm not calling you out or saying your opinion is wrong, I just want to make sure we're all giving the other side a chance to have their say. So, if you had to get specific, what would you do? How would you, if you wielded the Specialized marketing stick (it's probably a massive oak branch), approach land managers, trail advocates, and other stakeholders? How would you communicate with consumers about the product, keeping in mind that your job is to sell them, but, if we're being responsible about it, to do so in a sustainable way?

Open question to anyone. Marketing nerds and policy maker wannabes, jump in anytime.

0
49%  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:28 p.m.

Hmm, my previous reply seems to be missing.

Honestly, I'm not sure what e-mtb's should be marketed for. But I do wish that the companies producing them would figure that out before marketing them.

I've ridden many places, but likely not had as much exposure as you Pete say I'll take your word on the 99%.

Then again Seymour seemed pretty solid, until it wasn't…

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:40 p.m.

Re 2: certainly not in Europe. Europe is a big place and, coming from Europe, your statement made me laugh. That's like me saying americans speak french dialect because I was in Montreal one time. We have huge problems with trail access.

david-mills
0
David Mills  - Dec. 17, 2016, 8:58 a.m.

On the marketing side, I see e-bikes being pushed heavily on the utility cycling crowd - ride to work, ride to the store, ride to drop the kids off at school, etc. If I had the cash, I'd be all over a Larry vs Harry eBullitt for Costco runs. The motor allows you to haul stuff and go distances that would leave the average person gassed. The tagline could be "go further, do more".

What I haven't seen quite yet is marketing of e-MTBs to Boomers. I think it's coming. Lots of 55-70 folks started mountain biking 20+ years ago, but may have hung it up in the garage when they got a little rounder and had a harder time getting up the hill. Full-suspension eMTB will allow them to go anywhere their tech skills and reaction time can take them, but they don't need to have the legs and lungs from when they were younger. It's Viagra for bikes, and will probably be marketed that way.

On the policy front, in Alberta, motorized vehicles are only allowed off-road in designated OHV areas unless you have a permit. Will Parks staff be writing tickets for people riding eMTBs next summer? Not right away, but there's always that one CO who adheres to the letter of the law. If a tourist gets written up, they'll likely just laugh it off. When locals start getting busted, an MLA is going to get a call, and then the Minister, and the excrement may very well impact the rotary impeller. Given the global push toward "quiet recreation" [i.e. what 95% of us are doing in the woods], eMTBs may be in an uphill battle.

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 17, 2016, 2:28 p.m.

I'm not saying they don't exist over there - of course they do. But not for 99% of riders. I lived over there for 5 years, and I've been around a fair bit.

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 17, 2016, 2:40 p.m.

There's something funky going on with Disqus - I just had trouble logging a comment as well.

My main goal was just to highlight that brands and marketers have a responsibility, but it's a tough job, and even harder in situations like this. While I would also like to see a really responsible approach taken to things like this, that brings up a whole other set of big questions, like whether it's the brand's problem or not what gets done with that product.

It's a small industry, so of course we all want it to be that way, but here's a situation from the auto industry that illustrates my point somewhat: if you're selling Porsches, what's your responsibility vis-a-vis safety, respecting the speed limit and posted laws, etc…? You're selling a vehicle that can't come close to being used to its potential on typical roads. If used irresponsibly, you're endangering lives.

Yes, you can counter that they're legal and maybe that's all that matters. So are e-bikes…at least on the street. See what I mean? What's fair vs what we idealistically wish were the case is really murky. Is it fair to expect Specialized and all the other brands to develop a product but wait to sell it (even though there is great demand) until trail access issues is sorted out - despite the fact that those issues are nuanced and different everywhere? Because if they did wait, you can be sure there are brands out there that wouldn't - they would seize the market.

Again, I'm just playing devil's advocate here. It doesn't mean I don't see the validity in your points.

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Dec. 20, 2016, 12:41 a.m.

I live here my whole life & I've been around a fair bit. I have also been actively involved in legalization attempts (unsuccessfully, I might add). All that said, I cannot state with your confidence any blanket statement about Europe as a whole. It is just to different from place to place.
I bet you one thing - name one country from Europe that has no problems with trail access, and there will be a reader from that country proving you wrong. I'm guessing you'll go with CH.
Just to drive home my point about blanket statements. I live in Slovenia, 10 km from the Italian border and 2 km from Austrian border. In Slovenia, all single track is illegal, across the border in Kärnten region not only is all single track illegal, it's also illegal to ride on most of the gravel roads. And unlike in Slovenia they do enforce those bans. In Italy on the other hand, at least in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, it's pretty much legal to ride anywhere except nature reserves and sensitive areas like this.

brente
0
brente  - Dec. 18, 2016, 9:57 a.m.

I really could care if mountain bike racing died out all together, I just want to ride my local trails without some tard on a motorcycle ripping then up and ebikes are motorcycle no matter what semantics you try and pull out of your ass, so no they don't belong on trails.

Reply

babyzhendo
0
babyzhendo  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:33 a.m.

As someone living the Pacific Northwest who grew up in the SF Bay Area riding scene, the spread of e-bikes scares the hell out of me. I think this article is spot on in that, rather than chucking marketing dollars at e-bikes, Specialized and other major companies should be leveraging their size to support advocacy attempting to define a clear line for trail protections around e-bikes. In the Bay Area, I saw great trails - MTB LEGAL ones I might add - torn down because a rider scared or collided with an outspoken hiker or horseback rider. In the Seattle area, we're spoiled by great legal riding options, but continued access to these lands is contingent on mountain biking remaining the same sport that it has been when those rights were negotiated.

I don't care if it's just an electric assist - an e-bike is now a motorized bicycle. It is no longer exclusively human powered, and that creates major grey area opportunity for larger, richer advocacy groups that don't like to share trails with mountain bikes. Private landowners graciously granting land rights to human powered pursuits (hiking, mountain biking) are common here in the PNW, and I have grave concerns around what they might think of mountain biking as a whole if they start to see "motorized bikes" on their trails that are explicitly off limits to motorcycles, etc.

I'm all about giving people access to the trails and helping folks who would have otherwise lost the ability to pursue their passion for riding, but my experience is that e-bikes have been marketed to and perceived by the consumer as the equivalent of a mountain bike. Without expressed agreement from the agencies that give us permission to actually ride our bikes on our favorite trails, that's very, very dangerous.

Reply

mainflyer
0
mainflyer  - Dec. 17, 2016, 6:15 a.m.

Zhendo, I think you raise some great points. While most of our trails here in SE Utah are on BLM land and, as opposed to private land, and E-bikes are currently treated as motorized vehicles by them, I expect we will see similar issues erupt as uninformed tourists take their E-bikes onto our area's trails, thinking they are on a "bicycle".

Reply

extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:22 a.m.

So I commented on the video article, but I thought it'd be worth also mentioning here:

In BC, the Specialized Levo should be consiered a Low Speed Motorcycle (LSM), unless it is restricted below 500W (permanently).

Levo is 530W and therefore exceeds the legal limit. This means it needs to be licensed and insured as a motor vehicle.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:25 a.m.

Interesting….

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sean-estes
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Sean Estes  - Dec. 16, 2016, 2:36 p.m.

Max wattage is 530 but nominal wattage is 250. I can assure you that all models are tuned to be fully compliant with local law.

extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Dec. 16, 2016, 3:11 p.m.

Since when were motors rated at nominal power output? Could you tell me which engineering standard is followed for rating the power output of the motor?
Is a 200 HP petrol engine actually 120 HP nominal engine?
Should I be assured because I've been told to be assured? I assure you I am not assured by your reassurance of you assuring that Specialized has assured all the right people of their compliance with local laws.

cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 16, 2016, 1:17 p.m.

Interesting indeed. But this would only apply to use on the road it seems to me.

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extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Dec. 16, 2016, 1:23 p.m.

All bicycles must be regulated and legal to ride on the road. That's why many high end bicycles from major brands also come with a bell and a reflector when they're sold (usually only in the box, then thrown out by the dealer), because that's the regulation in Canada.
Who's to say someone wouldn't buy one of these and then just go ride it on the Seawall? Regulations must encompass all riders regardless of their intent of the bicycle.
IMO, Specialized did not to their due diligence before bringing Levo in and could theoretically be slapped with fines and have to do a recall.

And when you finish your ride on Fromme and you're at Dempsey, but parked at the lot on Fromme, are you going to walk your LSM back? So again, it must conform to regulations.

lostlunchbox
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person person  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:53 p.m.

I'm not from the OHV/moto crowd, but as far as i understand it they are supposed to be registered/licensed now no?

robert-cole
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Robert Cole  - Dec. 17, 2016, 12:58 a.m.

@disqus_NM9vI6sriN:disqus
here in the EU the E-bikes are limited (by law) to 25km/h (15.5mph) and 250w max output.

anything over this, its classed as an electric motorcycle which requires motorcycle license, helmet, mot, insurance, etc.

You will see people riding illegal imports (or modded with dongles), you are going along at 45km,h on your road bike and someone on a heavy hybrid sat bolt upright overtakes you 😉

I've ridden some top end, legal, hybrid and road models on tests including a 30km city commute. Found them very limited, couple of hard crank pushes and you over 15,5mph and pushing a very heavy dead weight.

Could see the benefit of the MTB electric with its lower speed / high torque setup for non-lift /shuttle assisted riding in remoter areas, and for injured / disabled / elderly participants.

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49%  - Dec. 17, 2016, 12:31 p.m.

This may be a key difference? "here in the EU the E-bikes are limited (by law) to 25km/h (15.5mph) and 250w max output."
I've not ever shopped for e-bikes, I've only ever looked at 2 that popped up in North American forums. 1 was 1300 watts, the other was called a B-52 and was capable of over 50mph, stock.

Faction
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Derp  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:42 a.m.

I get that there some instances where an ebike would make sense. For me, it would be for commuting. Having the ability to be 'in' traffic and react to it while having the maneuverability of a bicycle seems like a winner to me.

I can sort of understand utilizing an ebike for accessing the backcountry or using them on trails that dirtbike riders are also allowed to use. How one would want to use an ebike over a real motorbike is beyond me, though. I spent a lot of time riding and racing a 50hp gas powered dirtbike off
road. Its nothing short of exhilarating. You can go anywhere, up and
down, at great speeds, and cover huge distances. Hell, you don't even need a trail a lot of the time. An ebike would be a
huge step down in this regard.

However, I like what a bicycle offers, and that's pure human power. I like that bicycles are not motorbikes, yet I still like motorbikes. I enjoy and respect the differences between bicycles and dirtbikes at far ends of the spectrum. I don't feel the need to use some sort of hybrid to accomplish the same goals. Bicycles are different enough from real motorbikes that I would not want to bridge the gap between them.

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mark-karlstrand
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Mark Karlstrand  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:57 a.m.

I am very conflicted on e-bikes, like many. I'm closing on 50 and already not able to do the longer rides I used to. At what point will I not want, but need an e-bike to keep doing meaningful rides? The fact is that they are here and they are only going to become a larger portion of the mountain bikes on our trails. I foresee a time when it will be hard to find a high end MTB that is not an e-bike. We need to focus on how we can make this work even if we don't like it. The community can not afford to splinter into waring factions. That is the real threat to trail access IMHO.

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alex-hoinville
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Alex Hoinville  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:37 a.m.

I personally don't have any problems with e bikes, so long as they don't create advocacy issues, however I wouldn't personally buy one, for many reasons. One being that most of the trails near me are not e bike legal.

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tehllama42
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Tehllama42  - Dec. 16, 2016, 10:25 a.m.

To me, advocacy is THE only issue with eBikes. They'll be awesome, and great fun, and there are OHV trails where I live that they'd be the perfect tool… but if the result is that a motorized bike ends up dooming trail access for pedal bikes in tenuous areas because they look so similar, then I'm not okay with that.

Electric motos are going to be coming along as power density improves, and the same battery/motor tech will bleed over (Basically a youth E-Moto with some pedal assist bits) making 1KW pedelec's a very real thing, so the manufacturers and advocacy needs to be ahead of that eventuality.

I'd still be fine with pedelec access for anybody sporting a handicap placard on current trails, but that's still the exception.

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michaeldorian
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michaeldorian  - Dec. 17, 2016, 12:40 a.m.

100%. Advocation is the only real issue at hand.

craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:04 a.m.

I rode a Levo this summer. It was kind of fun. But I found the power on/off to be incredibly abrupt and a bit unpredictable. I couldn't see the current technology being a really viable option for technical climbing. Fireroad climbs might be ok. It will be many years before they iron our these bugs. And probably even more years before they make something suitable for a size outlier like me. So it's not really ever going to be an option. I don't want to see them on NSMBA sanctioned trails.

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tehllama42
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Tehllama42  - Dec. 16, 2016, 10:24 a.m.

Eventually, the tuning/calibration of the things will make that go away. The same way the Honda Insight has awful braking interference from the regenerative braking and really on-off torque, the BMW i3/i8 are on another planet of refinement. Same thing will happen, and it'll feel like you're just stronger when it's calibrated just right (and in all likelihood, linked to a wireless strain gauge on the pedals for maximally quick feedback).

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jt
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JT  - Dec. 16, 2016, 6:59 a.m.

Kinda conflicted on it, but not for the reasons most people are anti e. Where I live, a lot of power is generated by coal powered power plants with some natural gas and wind thrown into the mix. I'm not naive enough to think that cycling is a full 100% green industry as petro products are all over the place on and in our bikes, to say nothing of the mining necessary for all the metal bits. But when i walk out my door with my bike and head to the trails, there is certainly a smidge of me that enjoys this pursuit for the fact that once things are all made and paid, I am no longer part of that grid. I am the motor, bike the mechanism, and together we are the machine. For the next couple hours I am not using any fuel but the food in my pack and the fat cells in my gut. Hippydippytrippy, sure, but it's what makes it for me. I have no doubts that ebikes will start showing up more and more on the trails. I have no doubt that they are (like damn near any bike designed in the general form of the safety bicycle) a helluvalot fun to ride. If I call rubbish on anything it'll be how courteous the user is to the trails and the trail users. Like Ben Parker told Peter, "With great power comes great responsibility." Those are words that the riders and manufacturers really, really need to heed in their decision making processes.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:04 a.m.

That was nicely put.

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jt
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JT  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:21 a.m.

Thanks. A lesson learned late in life: Express your thoughts, but don't be an ass about it.

Thunderbear
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Thunderbear  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:44 a.m.

Totally see where you're coming from, using just your muscle power just feels good!

In reality though, unless you grow all your food organically on your own property, there's quite a bit of oil involved along the way… even my friends who run a very hippyish organic farm have diesel powered tools and trucks for transportation. Electric motors are also a lot more efficient than the human body.

Like you, I have the privilege of being able to access trails by muscle power.. but a lot of people don't. If ebikes more people ride up rather than take their car to the trailhead or shuttle, that's a huge win!

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jt
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JT  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:04 a.m.

Feels good MOST days at least. Bad day fishing is better than a good day at work analogy works for riding, too.

But your point is why I don't get all preachy-preachy about it. Just my personal kick. The advocacy is the real issue. Where I live (northern Midwest), there is a hardscrabble and fought for relationship between advocates, trail builders, and parks departments. E bikes have popped up in conversations with local groups, and for the most part are shunned at worst, and apprehensively discussed at best. It won't take much to get a trail made illegal on county land, mostly because the MTB tracks that have been developed are still eyed by many within the county seats and other (admittedly anti-MTB) advocacy groups as being suspect to the park system. The potential for user conflict, if not irritation, is tenuously high.

The situation in BC is a good bit different than what I experience. But that's why i frequent this site, to gain insights to apply to my local environment. It's always good to put on another person's head for a second to see how they see things. The boards on NSMB tend to not run as hot and insipid as some other sites. People actually discuss things civilly. Kudos to that.

craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 16, 2016, 3:11 p.m.

The people I know who are most interested in e-bikes are not the kind of rider who would do multiple climbs or extra distance even when healthy and fit. That desire for more distance, more climbing, is an attitude - a bunch of extra watts won't change that.

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uncle duke  - Dec. 16, 2016, 6:38 a.m.

i had no idea these e bikes were so performance oriented. we are fubar, they are def here to stay. curtis and dylan still crushing it. sweet vid guys..

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craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:05 a.m.

I rode one and found it super clunky. These guys could make any bike look good.

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uncle duke  - Dec. 18, 2016, 6:35 a.m.

they do possess some anti gravitational skills…

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uncle duke  - Dec. 18, 2016, 6:35 a.m.

+SSC specific+ as you can see in the vids they are logging the heck out of this area. e-bikes are the least of our worries…

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GladePlayboy
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Rob Gretchen  - Dec. 16, 2016, 6:28 a.m.

Curious to know if these radical e-bikes are showing up on north shore trails with any regularity? Where I live the potential for conflict over e-bike use is relatively low but I can understand that this is not the case in many areas that are near larger population centres such as Vancouver. My philosophy is to be educated on the subject and not elicit personal attacks on those who might consider e-bikes a viable option. I think they can co-exist with "normal" mountain bikes. And yes, I believe NSMB should be broaching this subject with more regularity… discussion is part of education.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:08 a.m.

Rob, so far I've seen a small handful - and that's about it. I'm sure that's going to change soon, particularly if you consider that to get to Mt Fromme, you have a large hill to scale just to get to an area where you can leave your car. Many people ride up (and reap the fitness benefits) but it's easy to see how an e-bike could turn someone from a regular drive-park-rider into an e-bike rider from right out their door. And in a sneaky way, those people's fitness will still improve - because pedal-assist bikes do NOT do all the work for you, they simply make it easier, or make you faster. Most people report riding just as hard as without the assistance, but covering ground more quickly.

No doubt we will be discussing this more in future. Glad to see you have it in perspective.

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GladePlayboy
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Rob Gretchen  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:09 a.m.

Full disclosure… I am a bike shop owner in the interior… my viewpoint needs to take into account customer demands as well as my own biases, therefore my eyes are wide open. The first time I tried an e-bike I was pretty impressed. Yes, they are heavy and somewhat ungainly at this point but I foresee a point where the differential between traditional mtbs and e-mtbs will be virtually indistinguishable. We need to be open to this future because its happening around us now. I am pushing 50 and have very little time to ride with work and life demands so any advantage that gives me more time on the trails and does not impact them negatively has to be seen as a positive.

pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 11:20 a.m.

If I were a shop owner I'd see it exactly the same way. From other shop owners and industry people I've spoken to, e-bikes are already having a strong positive influence on sales in certain places in North America, and that's increasing in potency and spreading in scope. I'm not sorted out yet personally about it, but if I were in your shoes and from a business perspective - yeah, I'd probably be selling them.

bikerck
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Chris Keam  - Dec. 17, 2016, 8:48 a.m.

One could argue that you can't mountain bike without a car these days. E-MTBs are in the whole arguably better for the environment. The necessity of a motor vehicle to engage in a cycling activity has always struck me as the elephant in the woods if you will.

pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 17, 2016, 2:44 p.m.

Spot on. And, I like "elephant in the woods".

poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Dec. 17, 2016, 3:37 p.m.

It's quicker for myself to pedal to the trails than drive to them…

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Perry Schebel  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:09 a.m.

i've seen 3 in the last couple months; they're here, but in tiny numbers currently. i'm curious as to the legality of these on NS trails. i'm assuming any current "non-motorized" restrictions are worded to capture traditional motor vehicles and not the gray area devices in question. even if ebikes were deemed non permissible, policing would be very difficult - they're very well integrated (ie, not that easy to spot for the layperson) and surprisingly quiet. going to be some interesting times ahead.

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 16, 2016, 4:23 a.m.

If by sold out you mean do what their sponsors want them to [ie. make a promotional video about the new product Specialized wants to schlep] even if it's not well aligned with their own views….than yes. It's not anything new.

If I want to read about motorcycles I'll go to a motorcycle site. If I want to read about electric mopeds I'll go to an electric moped site. Keep NSMB about mountain bikes.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2016, 7:18 a.m.

I realize the line between e-bike and a meat-powered mtb is a Rubicon for most, but I'm surprised you think we shouldn't be thinking and talking and writing about it. Do you propose we just keep our heads in the sand and let it happen around us, or face it and figure out how we're going to deal with it? Because their arrival isn't imminent or inevitable, it has already happened.

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craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:08 a.m.

Imagine a future world where the E-assist option is a lightweight performance add-on you can buy for another, say, $1000. At one point this was disc brakes or a nice fork. Then it was a carbon frame or a dropper. Imagine an e-assist option that weighed 1lb and slotted into your seat tube or something and just gave you a boost for climbing fireroads. In this future I think we'd all be on board. Either way this stuff needs to be talked about.

poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Dec. 16, 2016, 12:21 p.m.

It's here. Not at that price point but Bjorns Unsure if one is still able to buy just the kit to bolt on to their bike?

For shame on SC…

craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 16, 2016, 1:09 p.m.

Those look clunky for sure. And at $12.5k I think they are a non-starter for most.

poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Dec. 16, 2016, 4:45 p.m.

Pun intended I hope! That's USD (Dafuq? It's Canada bruh) too.
That's high end moto or sled pricing. Or ride a electric quasi mtn bike…

cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 16, 2016, 8:06 p.m.

Not really fair to say shame on Santa Cruz. Kranked bikes aren't sold by Santa Cruz and the mechanism could be bolted to most bikes. It's liking saying shame on Mercedes for AMG models before Mercedes bought AMG.

poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Dec. 17, 2016, 3:56 p.m.

Not really a relevant comparison; you're better than that. I doubt Kranked purchases bikes from SC at MSRP or without their knowledge.

cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:26 a.m.

Unlike pinkbike, we haven't drawn a line in the sand to see we won't give e-bikes any coverage (and that seems to have gone out the window for them) but we are a site focussed on the purity of the sport. Or we strive to be. So fear not, while we will continue to comment and critique e-bikes, as long as we are at the helm our content will continue to present stories related to human- powered activity.

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Faction
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Derp  - Dec. 16, 2016, 9:47 a.m.

I'm sure PB will cover them when their advertisers need to pay for some positive reviews.

drewm
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DrewM  - Dec. 16, 2016, 10:29 p.m.

I'll bet you two LH shifters and a front derailleur that most major magazines (online and print) will have an E-Bike version within the next 18-months.

Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 18, 2016, 9:15 a.m.

Thanks for that response.

Your article is actually not what got me upset, but unfortunately some pent up electric mountain moped negativity got the best of me when I saw that video and what it represents. So my apology for being grumpy and directing it at NSMB. My bad. 🙁

I plan to give my attention and whatever those clicks are worth to MTB media that focuses on human powered cycling. I've been a motorcycle rider since I was 17. I'm not anti-moto, but as soon as you put a motor on something it's quite a different experience and needs to be managed differently.

Every single trail network I ride on the Island is signed as "non-motorized" I plan to put as much effort as I can to keep it that way. We need to stop pretending these are mountain bikes and call them what they are low powered motorcycles.

Regardless of what Specialized or anyone else trying to make a buck from these motorcycles says they can and will be hacked to be throttle operated and faster with more range then what they are spec'd for out of the factory. It's happened in Europe it will happen here. That's fine. That's normal, but we need to not pretend some how magic fairy dust will stop that from happening this time.

It's also important to note that there is no practical way to tell if you are riding one type of electric motorcycle or another type. There is no budget for enforcement at that level of refinement. The only practical way to deal with this is to keep motors and human powered separate.

People with motors should have a place to play and they should be managed as is appropriate to realities of their activity. I'm all for that.

Finally on the issue of electric motorcycles providing an activity for those who may not be able to pedal a human powered bicycle. That's great and I support that, but not on human powered only trails. Getting old or having a disability is unfortunate, but we have not paved the Grand Canyon nor Mount Everest to make it so that anyone can use a machine with a motor to travel the exact same terrain as those without mobility issues.

There are tons of legal places of beauty a motorcycle can legally go that folks with mobility issues can use them to see fantastic scenery. No it won't be exactly the same terrain as human powered trails. I can't ride my MTB on many local hiking trails. Strictly speaking it's not fair, but I understand that hikers are impacted by mountain bikers and need their places to do their thing.

I'm coming up on 50 and I know my speed will drop and eventually my ability to ride local trails will diminish and finally I'll be forced to be a roadie. I wish that wasn't the case, but I don't see adding a motor to my mountain bike as a solution to that. I'll accept my limitations and recreate within my capabilities.

Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 19, 2016, 7:03 a.m.

Having a separate e-bike magazine or website doesn't bother me.

Putting electric motorcycles in a mountain bike media outlet is what bothers me.

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