Talking E-bikes With Uncle Dave

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Jan 9, 2017

There’s nothing like a good gear controversy to get a mountain biker interested in life. If you were anywhere near a computer in mid-December, you most likely saw the explosive discussion created by a short little Coastal Crew video. In it, Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson ruined mountain biking forever and destroyed their careers by riding e-bikes down a trail.

Many, many things were said about this. I watched in horror and glee as the Pinkbike comments descended into madness, chaos and catastrophe. But one comment by a Mr. Lukemech really struck home with me.

Electric skateboards are a thing, you do not see Thrasher promoting riding them. They know their roots and have strong convictions about who they are, where they come from, and where they are going. Mountain bikers, and mountain bike media need to do some soul searching.

I really appreciated this comment. I hold skateboarding in high regard and I’ve been known to make the odd skateboarding comparison over the years, but I’d never really thought about it in this way. It deserves deeper investigation.

Is the mountain bike media on the wrong track?

I am just some asshole who sits in his underwear and taps out an unpopular opinion every week or so. But I guess that’s what it takes to be a member of the “mountain bike media.” So, whether I want to be or not, I am a part of the group that needs to do some soul-searching.

What is the place of a journalist in all of this? Are we guiding the sport? Are we voices of reason? Or are we just another arm that can be used to sell people shit that they don’t really need? That last one has been the source of many of my struggles over the last couple of years. My coping mechanism has been to promise to be as honest as possible. And to drag tests out for long periods of time so that by the time I’m done a new model has come along to replace the one that I have just reviewed.

But I’ve also promised to come at things with an open mind. Leave the preconceptions behind and approach everything with an inquisitive mind. This, of course, is impossible, but life is much easier when you say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’.

More and more, I find myself enjoying things that I wrote off ahead of time. Whether it’s a cheap piece of equipment performing at a higher level than I expected or an idea that I completely wrote off as stupid surprising the hell out of me, amazing things can happen if you stop worrying about what everybody thinks.

But e-bikes? On trails? Is that taking things a little bit too far? I mean, there’s having an open mind and there’s destroying your life with a heroin addiction. Some things should probably just be avoided.

I actually had to face this decision in real life last year. An offer came along to fly down to Colorado and ride around on e-bikes for a few days. This was a struggle. I knew I would get torn to shreds for supporting such an endeavour and for participating in such a junket. But I also knew it was going to be fun as hell and that I’d probably learn something. I’d get to ride endless miles of perfectly legal singletrack amongst amazing scenery…on a ridiculously expensive electric powered bicycle. How do you say “no” to that?

And really, is it fair to just write the whole thing off without experiencing it yourself? Or is this just what these manufacturers want? To build media allies with a fancy riding experience? Would it be enough to approach with an honest and skeptical attitude, or would my very attendance place me on the pro-e-bike side of the argument? Lucky for me, they pulled the invitation before I could make up my mind on what felt like a no-win decision.

Because there is no “right” choice in this. You basically come here to read about new things. New equipment. New experiences. It’s a big part of our job to explore what is new, package it up and tell you about it. It could be a very precarious position if you just decide to say “no” to something based on opinion.

But NSMB is also a place that believes in the sanctity and the preservation of the sport. Shit has happened over the years that might make you question that statement, but overall, the people involved with NSMB want to be forces of good for mountain biking. We want to preserve and expand and advocate.

I actually really appreciated how Cam handled the Coastal Crew video. I thought incorporating some opinion and background added to the conversation. I thought it struck a good balance of presenting something new while addressing some of the potentially problematic aspects of it, and the discussion that was generated in the comments was productive and informative (for the most part). I think this shows why just saying “no” is often not the right answer. Somebody is going to post that video, and you can’t have much of an impact if you take yourself right out of the conversation.

But then again…we’re kind of through the ‘healthy skepticism’ era of these things. Everybody knows enough about what they are that you can’t really rely on the old “I’m just trying to learn about these things” excuse any longer. We are rapidly approaching a point where we have to decide what we’re going to do. For example, do e-bike tests start showing up on a regular basis?

When you put it that way, I start to see with a bit more clarity what side of this argument I fall. Mildly curious scepticism is an okay attitude for now, but it might not be acceptable for long.

Why do mountain bikers embrace every new thing? And then argue about it?

If golf was managed by mountain bikers, it would be a different sport. Somebody would have figured out that it’s much easier to put the ball in the hole if the hole is bigger. And those finicky clubs sure are challenging, why not throw the ball instead? And those sand traps make that particular hole too challenging, so we cut a new line through the trees that makes the whole thing a bit easier.

Mountain bikers go to insane lengths to make everything easier and then we judge the shit out of people that don’t align with our particular beliefs on how things should be.

This is crazy. We’re delusional. We’re bonkers. Rolling around on a 28-pound, carbon fiber, six-inch travel, dropper posted, dinner plate cogged, tubeless tired mountain bike and lecturing anybody on whether or not they should embrace a particular new technology is crazy. For good or bad we’re a sport created around technology and more-or-less at its mercy. You would think that after years and years and years of having our sport upended by the latest-and-greatest thing we would have learned to deal with these things. But we haven’t. And we’ll probably continue to judge and bicker and know exactly what is right for everybody else until such a time as our rides are completed by robot avatars.

I get it though. For some, a motor is a deal breaker. A larger wheel/tire size is not a motor. Suspension is not a motor. Disc brakes are not a motor. It is a valid position to hold that mountain bikes should not have a motor and once they have a motor, they are something else.

But they’re not “motorbikes.” Everybody knows what a “motorbike” is and if you insist on shutting down every conversation about e-bikes by proclaiming that they’re the same thing as a CRF450 then you sound a bit silly and you probably don’t deserve to be a part of the discussion.* If you don’t agree with me, then please just look at the state of US Politics where the strategy of the day is to create a talking point/clever phrase and then stick with it no matter what happens.

So why don’t we move this conversation forward by agreeing on the things that we can all agree on? Can we all agree that e-bikes don’t belong on crowded, multi-use trails? Are we all okay with that one? And we certainly don’t want people riding e-bikes up trails that have historically been downhill only, do we? Maybe we’re good there too?

So if we’re concerned about conflict in specific places and we can (mostly) all agree that e-bikes don’t belong there, why don’t we work towards making sure those things aren’t spoiled rather than just throwing our hands in the air and yelling about how the world is coming to an end? If we decide to close certain areas or trails off to e-bikes I’ll be more than happy to yell profanities at any yahoo that decides to ignore those signs, and I’m sure there will be a boatload of people that feel the same way and join me in my heckling.

But what about those DH trails that are adjacent to a paved road and see hundreds of shuttlers each and every Saturday morning? Are people allowed to ride them there? What about at night, when hardly anybody else is out on the trail? Are there any other places/times where an e-bike can co-exist with regular mountain bikers and other users? Probably?

Like it or not, these things exist. They’re not going away. Our sport and our mentality pretty much ensures that they will become more popular. If you pull yourself out of the conversation by screaming “MOTORBIKE!” or “E-BIKES WILL KILL MOUNTAIN BIKES!” you’re probably going to be a very, very sad person moving forward.

Uncle Dave

*I also know for a fact that some of those loud voices complaining that e-bikes are going to ruin trail access have absolutely no problem riding trails that are closed to mountain bikers (or even building them – Ed.), but let’s not muddy the waters too much.

Uncle Dave’s Music Club

In honour of the release of Run The Jewels 3, let’s talk about Run The Jewels.

First, we’ve got “Nobody Speak”, a Run The Jewels collaboration with DJ Shadow, and pretty much the most amazing video I’ve seen in a long time.

And then we’re going to watch “Blockbuster Night Part 1”, which is more-or-less menace disguised as a song.

I’m sure something great from Run The Jewels 3 will be out soon enough, but here’s the full album for now.

If you have a question for Uncle Dave (preferable not about e-bikes) send it here… 


Jan. 13, 2017, 10:58 p.m. -  Amanda

I guess as someone seeing the battle between wilderness and bike access advocates right here in my own state (not to mention the thousands of idiot rednecks on OHVs), to me, it's quite simple: if it has an engine or a motor, it doesn't belong on most public land.

Now, before anyone starts hurling tomatoes or calling names, let me be the first to say that I'll happily throw a leg over a 250 any day to hit some amazing dirt with friends after a rainstorm (on moto-legal trails, of course). However, with the current war going on between outdoor recreationalists, mountain bikers and land managers, adding motors/engines to the mix is just bad, bad, bad fucking timing on the part of the MTB industry. On one hand, we're demanding equal access of public land and on the other, we're pushing e-bikes harder than a coke dealer trying to make rent. As much as I'd like to have my cake and eat it too, timing is everything, and we cannot make MTBing into everything for everyone.

There are so many members of the aforementioned hick patrol that have openly and directly advocated for OHV access in wilderness using the argument that 'new mountain bikes have engines, too!' Does this make sense? Abso-fucking- lutely not. But I also live in Utah, the place where a state representative staged a 'ride in' on protected wild land with his OHV buddies. So yeah. It gets heated here.

My point? We can't sell and push and promote 'faster, easier, better' while telling land managers that we're responsible, respectful trail users. We already have enough problems with illegal building, overrun trails, a fight against the Sierra Club… It's like shitting in our own soup, then being upset that there's shit in the soup.

Love them or hate them, we have to pick our battles, and the e-bike push isn't helping the 'get more trail access' fight.


Jan. 11, 2017, 4:34 p.m. -  brente

Quick question, it has a motor and it's a bike what would you call it other then a motorbike or motor cycle.


Jan. 11, 2017, 5:53 p.m. -  Gavitron

If you take two of the wheels off a car does that make it a motorcycle?


Jan. 11, 2017, 8:18 p.m. -  brente

If you can drive it and run it like that then by definition it is a motorized Bicycle or a motorcycle.Bi does mean two last I checked.

Jan. 11, 2017, 10:59 p.m. -  Cam McRae

So then bicycles are also motorbikes because we are motors?

Jan. 12, 2017, 1:36 a.m. -  Tim

No. This comment is so moronic that after 15 years of reading this site I might not anymore.

Jan. 12, 2017, 10:18 a.m. -  Cam McRae

Buh bye. That was an effort to lighten things some. But thanks for calling me a moron!

Jan. 12, 2017, 3:48 p.m. -  brente

We are not motor we are people and no mater how you try to avoid the truth these things are motorized cycles.

Jan. 11, 2017, 9:59 p.m. -  Cam McRae

Scooter, moped, electric bike, Harley, Chopper, Trials Bike, Hog etc…

If you put a motor on a wheelchair, which has four wheels, is it a car?

The whole point is that if your argument is sound you don't need to reclassify it. Use valid arguments and you won't need to stoop to calling it something it isn't. It's like the Trump supporters calling Hillary Clinton Killary. They just sound like demented blowhards without any valid facts or arguments.


Jan. 12, 2017, 3:50 p.m. -  brente

No mater how you try to waffle, the truth is they are motorized cycle and no mater how long the industry and their hacks try to scream into the wind that this isn't true it will no change that they are motorized cycles period.

Jan. 12, 2017, 3:12 p.m. -  Nat Brown

You have been consistently recalcitrant in your unwillingness to look past the most obvious way to describe these things. It is simply not possible to refute your statement, you are correct. However, in the interests of meaningful communication do you think there's any merit in considering an additional category of 2-wheeled vehicles beyond 'bicycle' and 'motorcycle'? These discussions have never been troubled by determining the source of power driving the rear wheel, and that's the only solution posed by the categorisation you use.

I'm not drawn to these e-bikes things, but I'm not so self-interested as to wantonly propagate terminology for them that misleads the broader public. I would hope that others wouldn't do the same about something else that I cared about. Focussing on power output, the motor on an e-bike contributes roughly as much as an adult can put into the pedals, and about 10x less than a PW50 moto, which comes de-tuned for young kids. That corresponds to a pretty drastic difference in potential for environmental damage, which is surely the actual issue of interest here. I withhold the implication that these things should have free access everywhere, but I urge you to consider the issue with more depth of thought. What do you think?


Jan. 12, 2017, 3:47 p.m. -  brente

That's because calling a cow a horse doesn't change it's moo, the industry want us to except these as mountain bikes and they are not call them what you will they are still motor bikes by definition and all the name calling and hand wringing in the world won't change that.

Jan. 12, 2017, 4:28 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Is there any question, about anything at all, to which you would not respond that an e-bike is a motorbike?

Jan. 12, 2017, 4:35 p.m. -  brente

Well as long as you continue to pretend they are not, most likely not.

Jan. 12, 2017, 5:04 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Come on. I didn't ask whether you think they're motorbikes or not. You have to know that's not what I meant by "what do you think". It's not that you didn't change your opinion, it's that you make no acknowledgment of there being any room between the industry pretending they're mountain bikes, and e-bikes being synonymous with whatever the fuck Ronnie Renner rides.

I'll try again. Do you think they should be allowed on MTB trails? Why?

Jan. 12, 2017, 5:21 p.m. -  brente

No I don't believe they should be, I believe they represent the thin edge of the wedge and would under mine all the good work done in the past by people who have more or less gotten us excepted on the hills. Next thing we would see if these were allowed on the hill would be home modded ones to up the output with more and more power until there was no difference in HP output between them and a gas powered Motorcycle. Also I am quite pissed at the industry trying to pull the kind of crap they are with these things call a spade a spade and quite trying to split hairs so you can sell more units.

Jan. 12, 2017, 5:31 p.m. -  Nat Brown

I knew you had it in ya.

Jan. 11, 2017, 8:03 a.m. -  OldManBike

Money is the reason we're having this debate.

Riders aren't struggling to figure out if e-bikes are good for mountain-biking or not. Mountain bikers will fight about anything, but I doubt even 10% of us are pro e-bike. We know motors aren't part of our sport, and we know e-bikes pose MTB trail access a mortal threat.

Of course pros who are dependent on industry sponsorship money tell us how fun e-bikes are. Of course industry marketing guys are raving. Of course semi- literate moderators on MTBR who are e-bike dealers love them. Of course internet commenters who aren't disclosing their financial ties to the industry have suddenly discovered their passionate commitment to singletrack access for the elderly.

Of course writers whose employer depends on industry advertising dollars think this is a toughie.


Jan. 11, 2017, 9:38 a.m. -  Cam McRae

Ah yes. It's so simple.


Jan. 11, 2017, 5:39 p.m. -  Gavitron

Money is the reason bikes exist. You act like bikes were free until e-bikes came out.


Jan. 11, 2017, 10:04 p.m. -  Cam McRae

The most insulting thing about this point is that you assume that those who don't agree with you completely must have some sort of outside influence - greed in this case. That is incredibly condescending.

I have no skin in this game. My opinions are my own. And I will continue to argue that if we use the same points against e-bikes that hikers use against mountain bikers we will end up eroding our own standing. And that hyperbole and hatred aren't the way forward. We have no advertising dollars coming from e-bikes and we wouldn't take them. It's likely that some of our competitors took money to post the Coastal Crew video as "Skeptical" but we did not use that title nor did we take any money. So maybe your finger should be pointing elsewhere.

And it might be time to get off your high horse.


Jan. 10, 2017, 8:32 p.m. -  Andy Eunson

I wonder if people know how many watts an average rider pushes up Fromme or Old Buck. After riding my indoor trainer with a power meter I am guessing I push under 200 watts up Old Buck. I might peak at 250 for short steeper bits. If a rider has an extra 250 watts on tap it's a new game. I would suspect the typical e-biker will add less of his own power with the assist but they will be climbing easier. Much easier. Correct me if I am wrong , but aren't pedelecs limited to 250 watts only on public roads? If so would that mean a bike could have a switch for riding to the trails which can be selected to a higher power trail mode?


Jan. 10, 2017, 6:33 p.m. -  dtimms

Show up to a local skate spot on an electric skateboard and see what happens?


Jan. 11, 2017, 7:02 p.m. -  Millsr4

Its cool if I bring my scooter though, right?


Jan. 10, 2017, 3:48 p.m. -  Gavitron

Electric mountain bikes? Not in my back yard!


Jan. 10, 2017, 2:43 p.m. -  Cam McRae

The City of North Vancouver doesn't hold jurisdiction over any trails I ride aside from a few in urban areas that might be used to get to the actual trails. So they are talking about trails in actual city parks.


Jan. 10, 2017, 3:36 p.m. -  Henry Chinaski

I guess you're right. It's definitely hard to find specifics.

Here is a Metro Regional Parks regulation document that spells out some specifics. This would cover many trails that I ride. See part 10.


Jan. 10, 2017, 1:11 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Pinkbike's comments were quite on-point. The PB derision glosses over the point that a lot of commenters from all over the world lend input. Far more representative than on here.

As for opinions, the only writer for any Mtb media that has undertaken a fair amount of trail advocacy is Todd Hellinga. Also perhaps Vernon Felton and Richard Cunningham on a more generalized regional level. Todd' has stated his opinion on this many times and articulated his stance on this. As someone who's also undertaken a fair amount of trail advocacy I unreservedly agree with Todd's opinions.

That many writers and many trail users ignore the many years of experience and opinions of Todd is disappointing but expected/


Jan. 10, 2017, 2:15 p.m. -  Dirk

And Todd commented, several times below…and I don't really see anybody ignoring or disparaging his remarks.


Jan. 10, 2017, 2:52 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Todd's concerns (and mine) are that trail advocates will encounter resistance from land managers and from other user groups if e-bikes are bundled in with mountain-bikers. Ie that e-bikes add to the trail advocates plates and weaken mountain-bikes arguments for land access. My decades of experience are that Todd is correct

Trail advocates have identified land managers and other user groups intransigence to e-bikes as causing problems for mountain bike advocacy. Do you agree that's a problem? If you do agree, how do you propose to address it?

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:17 p.m. -  Lee Lau

From the Specialized interview here is Cam's question below:

My question to Cam and to Specialized.

Bravo to Sam Benedict of Specialized and to guys like Sean Estes for chiming in as you've previously done on other articles. The alternative view point is appreciated.

I share the view articulated by Todd Hellinga. Ie that a key issue is that ebikes are anathema or at least dodgy in the eyes of land managers (in my local experience all of SW BC land managers restrict them to motorized trails). Introducing ebikes to the mix offloads advocacy efforts onto volunteer orgs. My decades of experience locally is that ebikes proliferation will set back advocacy

Sam B talked briefly about what Specialized is doing with respect to Advocacy with land managers. Is this a coordinated effort among many land managers? Or is this just an anecdotal experience?

Speaking more generally, is there industry appetite to take over ebike advocacy at the local level? I ask because I suspect local advocacy orgs will not have appetite or bandwidth.

I quote:

"SB – The land managers’ biggest concern is making sure that it is extremely clear that motorcycles are excluded, in the way that we use the term motorcycle, like a KTM 250. They do not want that line to be blurred because it’s slippery slope for them. We can appreciate that. That’s why it’s a pretty firm line. So that’s where we’re at with land managers. I think that fundamentally they’re okay with the bike itself, but they just need to be extremely careful because there are very very strict rules about gasoline powered bikes. They don’t want to lose whatever ground they’ve made."

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:22 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Todd's comment also from here: dilemma/. From the perspective of a trail advocate thinking about the long term implications on trail systems. His comments are with respect to the Whistler trail system. They are accurate for the North Van and West Van trail systems.

Would you care to address concerns from a trail advocates' perspective?

"a lot of words, nothing new said. the impact study doesn't appear to deal with the issue of more people riding further, longer, and more frequently with an e-bike and these are frequently positive attributes mentioned in marketing schtick. How does riding more, and more often NOT contribute to increased wear and tear on trails? How does being able to more easily reach traditionally harder to access trails by more people not increase impact to those kinds of trails? How does riding fresher, or at all, when you previously wouldn't have due to fatigue not increase usage and wear and tear? There are few of them now, but what does it look like and what changes as greater percentages of riders start using them? Or adding lots of new users who now can participate because it's easier?

If you have to climb an hour an a half without motor assist to reach a trail, by the time you get there you're a bit bagged and ride accordingly more reserved and probably less impactful. The whole dynamic of stacked loop systems, and how people ride our existing trail systems, and related management and maintenance challenges changes drastically with these things, they are a paradigm shift in trail planning, management, and building. The prospect of dealing with these things is placing already stressed clubs and advocacy groups into situations where our energies are being spent trying to pre-emptively manage something we don't actually have the energy to deal with, and many of us are rightly concerned of the negative ramifications and wide ranging impacts they will have on regular non-motor assist bikes from our opponents. Let alone the issues of now easily allowing tourists or newbies to reach places they maybe shouldn't be or trails that are beyond their skill.

Many of us in the advocacy realm have literally spent decades differentiating ourselves rightfully from motorized devices to gain access and acceptance from our other non-motorized rec trail partners and land managers, and we are loathe to jeopardize that for some latest gear these corporations want to push on consumers. I am not against them wholesale, but I am firmly against them on trails or trail systems designed, built and maintained by and for non- motorized users. I am a non-motorized trail advocate and I am not going to continue to participate in those local groups if I'm expected to defend these new moto-assist machines and spend my time and energy planning and building trails for them. Not what I signed up for, not what I'm interested in. E-bike pushers can step up if they so desire.

and, none of this even begins to address the potential user conflict issues."

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:44 p.m. -  Gavitron

If wear and tear is really a problem, maybe we should just stop riding? I find it very telling that the mountain bikers currently complaining about e-bikes sound a lot like the hikers who complain about mountain bikes.

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:51 p.m. -  t.odd

it's not necessarily a problem if there are sufficient resources in place to manage it. At present most clubs are capable of handling the current use levels in the current paradigm. Adding a use that allows for easier access and more riding for more users in shorter periods of time does put more stress on the trails. Why should current non-motorized groups be responsible for managing this new use that they aren't actually interested in?

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:14 p.m. -  Dirk

Intransigence - "refusal to change one's views or agree about something" - Honestly…I don't really understand your question.

If I was to TL;DR my own article, it would be:
1 - The media is going to have to stop sitting on the fence about this pretty quickly.
2 - If there's areas where the potential of conflict is great, let's get to work on the banning.
3 - Let's cut out the hyperbolic rhetoric (on both sides) when we're talking about these things.

Ya, it took me 1700 words to get there….but that's what I was trying to do. If that's pro e-bike or anti advocate…well..fuck me.

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:54 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Thanks Dirk. At least you tried to answer.

Jan. 10, 2017, 8:32 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

I've though a bit more about this and agree: with limited resources and a lack of interest in the governing bodies to undertake the myriad of work required to bring all policies and paperwork to be inclusive of e-bikes I understand the lack of action. In your case, including WORCA, you can't really be faulted on this.

What I don't understand is the anti-pragmatic view on something different.

Every argument against e-bikes so far is conjecture and nothing more. There is absolutely no data to support any of the concerns that people have voiced about the impact of e-bikes with the exception that an e-bike contains a motor and motor vehicles are excluded from non-motorized trail systems; the argument is essentially boiled down to semantics and fear. Everytime someone yells "motor" all I see is a Trump supporter yelling "Obamacare".

The above, along with my mentality of inclusivity, is exactly why I present my pro-ebike counterpoints. I can't stand NIMBYism and the close-mindeness that it instills.

The reality is that at some point there will be enough e-bikers (gasp…) that they will stand up for themselves and have a voice either as part of local mtb advocacy or through their own group. I recall something similar happening with mountain biking not so long ago.

Jan. 10, 2017, 9 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Leave aside my personal feelings about ebikes. That is not material to this conversation. Please refrain from that Trump Obamacare rhetoric which is singularly unhelpful.

I still am at a loss for why you don't see the issue. The issue is the negative perceptions to motorized vehicles on trails. Land Managers and other user groups think ebikes are motorized vehicles. LM's have policies against motorized vehicles. If ebikes go on bike trails they annoy land managers and other user groups and will jeopardize bike access. This is not conjecture.

The corresponding issue is that many trail advocates see no reason why they should devote their resources to trying to change land managers and other user groups minds that e-bikes = motorized = bad. My opinion is that if industry wants land managers and other user groups to have a positive attitude towards ebikes then industry should do the work to make that happen.

So my question, will industry do that? Ie advocate for ebikes on a local level?

Jan. 11, 2017, 12:05 a.m. -  Cam McRae

I don't think that was a question for me Lee. I don't speak for the industry. I did talk about that in the interview and got the answers I got. Perhaps I could have pressed harder but there didn't seem to be anything there. I also don't see where all this blaming is coming from. If I haven't addressed your personal concerns in an article, and Lee and Todd you both have access to online media organizations to write for, then write it yourself. It seems out of character that you two would expect that someone else should pursue a line of inquiry that aligns perfectly with your own point of view. At the same time I did address this issue to an extent:

"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."

While I have done my fair share in terms of publicizing advocacy issues and supporting trail days with time and thousands of dollars of my own money, I have not worked for an advocacy organization like the two of you. It's a unique perspective and I'd be happy to hear more about it. But this suggestion that your concerns are being ignored actively is simply false.

Jan. 11, 2017, 4 p.m. -  Lee Lau

I actually didn't think it was a particularly fair question to ask you but I asked it anyway. You're not the manufacturer. You're not the party directly profiting out of ebikes. I actually did see that Sam did not answer the question. I would have been surprised if he did. Rhetorically speaking why on earth would Specialized want to expend the vast resources necessary to advocate for ebikes region by region at a local level. Far easier and far more pragmatic to take the approach they have taken right now with efforts at a high-level.

I do still maintain that manufacturers like Specialized, and in the near future Rocky and Norco et al should be the persons answering these questions. Like I said I didn't expect either you or Dirk/Dave to do so but maybe I was hoping that you in the Specialized interview would press the manufacturers harder on that and not let Sam get away with the copout (poor Sam - how could he really answer?).

As for writing an article, I've got to prioritize what I do. I literally spent hundreds of hours on the whole CMHC debacle. And am spending hours and hours writing about transitions for the society act. I frankly see the whole e-bike thing as so politicized, such a minefield and so polarizing that I'm not willing to put out another article about it. My EXPERIENCE is that all significant Sea-to-sky land managers are regulating ebikes as there will be very few places they can ride. So in my local neck of the woods e-bikes will be dead anyhow so why even spend much energy on the issue. Now in areas like the SSC or the Cariboo/Chilcotin where there's less population pressure there'll be ebikes running around - but really that aint' my problem as I don't live there. So basically its just laziness on my part. Also its an almost foregone conclusion that I'll get non-answers from the manufacturers of the world who will gladly put out ebikes and offload the advocacy onto others and call anyone who doesn't like it NIMBYS

Jan. 11, 2017, 10:11 p.m. -  Cam McRae

So you were just baiting me? I was at least doing something to bring this discussion out in the open rather than just posting the Coastal Crew's video using the lame title of "Skeptical" like Pinkbike and other publications did. From a supplier who buys advertising from those publications and likely expects things done a certain way.

And I did my best to tackle the issue head on despite also needing to prioritize family, coaching, career, etc. etc. And I also asked the question and addressed the issue you were baiting me about in my piece about the Crew. Rather than just prodding others to do more in a comments section.

Kind of lame really.

Jan. 12, 2017, 3:20 p.m. -  Lee Lau

No. I was asking you a question. You provided an answer in this article.

You're writing an article about a sensitive topic and saying its lame for people to ask you questions? Think about what you just said.

Jan. 12, 2017, 3:31 p.m. -  Cam McRae

No - it was lame to ask me a question which you admitted wasn't a fair question and then you called me out for not answering it. Despite the fact that I dealt with the topic in my commentary and asked the question of the subject of my interview.

Jan. 12, 2017, 3:56 p.m. -  Lee Lau

You know when you said you weren't a journalist? You were right. You gave Sam an easy out and didnt press him on tough questions.

I'd say you weren't doing your job except you admitted you weren't committed to doing it.

Would you like to continue this further? Write another article about a controversial topic and get defensive when people ask you questions. That seems to work really well

Jan. 12, 2017, 9:28 p.m. -  Cam McRae

You always turn mean and petty when you are called out. Just like Donald Trump. I will no longer engage with you.

In true Trumpian style you are misinterpreting what I have said to suit and promote your negative narrative of me. And yet you continue to contribute to the publication that posted the Coastal Crew video with the misleading title without taking them to task in any way, despite them being the ones who drew a line in the sand saying they would not promote e-bikes. And they made no effort at all to clarify Specialized's position (again with no complaint from you) and yet you criticize me for not making enough effort. Your duplicity is unbecoming.

Jan. 10, 2017, 5:22 p.m. -  Nat Brown

The people have spoken and the results are clear: They are selfish, unrestrained by reason, and collectively stupid. While I in no way advocate against democracy, describing the comments there as being 'on point' seems a little non-descript. Representative, sure, but in terms of thought and insight they're clearly lacking when judged on the whole. To use them as a supplement to their accompanying article for a source of information is mostly an utter failure.

I disagree with you about the response to Todd's opinions too. I find them the most well thought out and I don't think I'm alone. The response here has been overwhelmingly positive to his comments.


Jan. 10, 2017, 5:55 p.m. -  Lee Lau


I'm honestly baffled. Where has anyone addressed my question and Todd's question? I'll summarize once again

Ebikes raise issues for advocates at a local level. Local advocacy orgs will have neither appetite nor deal with ebikes. Is there industry appetite to take over ebike advocacy at the local level?

Jan. 10, 2017, 6:26 p.m. -  t.odd

Nat, I think Lee means that I haven't had a response from Sean, or Cam to some extent. While the general community seems to be supportive of my comments, it seems that maybe the industry players or writers are not interested in touching this very real perspective in these articles and they tend to dance around general platitudes re. advocacy rather than directly addressing the concerns as outlined by an active trail advocate and club board member. This is a big deal to a lot of advocates and it feels like it's getting the casual brush off from the industry. It's not really enough to say "hey we asked our dealers to tell people to respect policy", that's a cop out answer and they know it.

Jan. 10, 2017, 11:38 p.m. -  Nat Brown

You're baffled!? I don't think you've made your point clear. At all. Even in the comment I'm replying to here the explanation is very shallow. If you look at the comment of yours that I replied to, I think you'll find my reply addresses the enclosed content. It would be a leap of oceanic proportions to land on what I can now see is your primary concern.

As someone who is not involved in MTB advocacy, but who has some experience in administration of another sport, I see e-bike issues as being plainly distinct from MTB issues. Naive perhaps, but it seems justified to me. I have no interest in those things, and Todd's example of WORCA is consistent with that. So, the only time I'd be talking about e-bikes to a land manager would be about problems caused by them, seeking their actions to solve that problem. They should be framed as a different user group. And, I wouldn't hesitate to confront any legitimate issues with land managers in order to establish that paradigm, and subsequently to reinforce it.

Putting effort into careful, but honestly representative communications is likely pivotal. Distinguish e-bikes clearly, but in a manner that stands scrutiny. I make that qualification because bringing in some knuckle dragging language like describing them as a motorbike, will fail to last and detract from the distinction and the cause. I think they're easily understood to be different by the layperson with language that accurately describes them. "They look like a bike but they have an electric motor that amplifies the power put into the pedals by the rider." Or something similar.

The big problem would be seeking land management decisions based on a scarcity of data about the environmental impact of e-bikes. It doesn't seem to support a strong case for banning, but there are additional aspects that could be factored in, or require further investigation. Todd has mentioned these. Nevertheless, that's an MTB-centric view that the land managers might not share, because it's about trail damage, and nothing beyond that. I don't know if they'd care if trails are being degraded at an increased rate of xx%. So, that's a pickle. It might only be able to be confronted after the problems arise. Same for any social issues.

Back to the present moment though; I'm actually surprised that you state it the way you do in your last sentence. The industry take over (advocacy for e-bikes)? From guys like you and Todd, as is the implication? If you guys don't want to advocate for e-bikes you certainly shouldn't be doing it, and I recommend you give little thought to who, if anyone, picks it up. If I understand your point, you guys doing any e-bike advocacy right now runs counter to your interests. I think I must be misunderstanding you. That's too crazy.

It's a complex issue for sure.

Jan. 10, 2017, 11:40 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Thanks for the explanation. You must have lived in this page today. I replied to Lee above, but I could still be misunderstanding the point. Cheers.

Jan. 11, 2017, 7:03 a.m. -  DrewM

"They should be framed as a different user group."

I think the sum of Trail Advocates' concerns are that they will be stuck using valuable time doing the framing [HTML_REMOVED] if they don't (even if they do) future access issues for mountain bikes or for other 'motorized' applications on mountain bike trails will arise.

Drilled down, I think Lee's argument is manufacturers' (and by extension media) who claim to respect trail builders/advocacy should be actively distinguishing between E-MTB and Mountain Bikes and advocating for E-MTB access as a different user group instead of passively downloading that responsibility on to guys like Todd.

As Ken rightly points out, most anti-E-Bike arguments hold little weight. I think Todd's do, but they are watered down by other boughts of angst and pseudo-science.

Most trail builders and advocates I know hold a similar (if less articulate) viewpoint. The concerns of our volunteer backbone should be the concerns of the greater mountain bike community.

Jan. 11, 2017, 3:48 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Nat it ain't so easy. And its not naive on your part. How could you know? I've said myself and you're acknowledged that the whole advocacy process for MTB's is politicized, loaded with a lot of baggage and almost always more complicated then it should be for such a minor little activity.

Worca or SORCA or the NSMBA or other orgs can't wave their hands in the air and compartmentalize and just say to LMs ebikes are not our problem. Whether we (meaning trail advocates) like it or not e-bikes become the trail systems problem. The LM's look to advocates for guidance there. We cannot compartmentalize and just say to LMs ebikes are not our problem - YOU deal with it..

Fact is ebikes are a trail orgs problem because of their very existence, their use and how they've been introduced as entrants to trail systems with minimal discussion

Fact is ebikes are a trail orgs problem because of their very existence, their use and how they've been introduced with zero discussion by manufacturers offloads a large kettle of fish onto trail advocates. Then you get the situation where some (many, all?) manufacturers trying to play the game that its only a pedelec so that an ebike should be treated like a (non-motorized) mountain bike and therefore permitted to run on any trails open to mountain bikes. My contention is that LMs and other trail groups don't buy that argument. The manufacturers should step into the breach and advocate for that point of view on the local level if they want to make that argument. By not doing so, the advocacy load transfers to the local bike advocacy group; no matter how much the local advocacy group tries to compartmentalize and step away from it.

For me, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the manufacturers introduce ebikes, introduce the baggage that comes with ebikes into the trail- access conversation and get a free-ride off advocacy efforts. I agree with Todd that the minimal efforts manufacturers have made to date to help with the trail access conversation effort with respect to ebikes are not close to sufficient

Btw - you asked the question respectfully and I hope you can see I am trying to answer it the same way

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:31 p.m. -  Gavitron

"Worca or SORCA or the NSMBA or other orgs can't wave their hands in the
air and compartmentalize and just say to LMs ebikes are not our problem."

That's basically what they've done, though.

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:41 p.m. -  Lee Lau

And I'm telling you right now - when there aren't a lot of e-bikes around, that approach is what the trail orgs have taken. But you'd have to be blind to not see that there will be more e-bikes (industry is pushing them hard). So the trail advocates "not my problem" position is changing. Because, like it or not, it will be the trail advocates' problem..

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:49 p.m. -  Gavitron

Is there a history of manufacturers being involved in the advocacy process for trail access, or is this a new concept that's being introduced now that e-bikes are a thing?

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:53 p.m. -  Gavitron

At the moment it's easy for advocates to disregard e-bikes as being worth their time because clearly most of them don't ride them. If more advocates start riding e-bikes, or more e-bike riders start advocating, things will change organically. It's a new concept that's being introduced to the sport and it will take time for people to get used to, just like full suspension and dropper posts. Once they get more popular they will get harder and harder to ignore.

Jan. 11, 2017, 6:03 p.m. -  Lee Lau

When the time comes and if people who start using e-bikes start advocating for them that will be a good thing. And if organically trail systems evolve to accommodate different trail use patterns caused by ebike use that would be a good thing too. Its my sincere hope that people who want ebikes will step up and take care of things on the advocacy end. But my experience is that this won't happen and that ebike issues get offloaded onto mtb advocates. Hopefully I will be proven wrong.

I completely agree with the statement in your last sentence.

Jan. 11, 2017, 11:17 p.m. -  Nat Brown

I don't think the approach I was suggesting would be easy. I think I come at this from a very different perspective, and I appreciate you describing these details from yours. My perspective is that of a constituent who expects fair representation by government and the public service. I'm guessing yours, in this case, is from a group who has lobbied for access to a resource, while those institutions weighed the costs to that resource representing the public interests. While acknowledging the shortcomings of our governmental systems, it strikes me that there are few options outside those that I outlined above, sacrifice the detail. And if I'm roughly correct with my guess of your perspective, with respect I think you're on the wrong track. The only reasons I can think as to why you'd say the trail organisations can't compartmentalise is that perspective, and because e-bikes superficially look like regular bikes. If real motos started tearing up the trails I don't think you'd be saying that. It would have to be dealt with by talking to authorities about a different user group, requesting protection of a public resource. Not in the sense of how that affects the permission MTBs have to use that resource. It's not absolutely black and white of course, but the contexts would differ substantially.

I sympathise with your disappointment in the manufacturers, but I'd be very surprised if they step in. Is there any precedent for that? I have low expectations of the manufacturers who push these things, and I am not one to be won over by them making awesome regular bikes. Their interests are financial, and fall off sharply after that. I won't go on.

The only truly sustainable solution is the development of an accurate understanding of what these things are, and how they affect the environment. The former because authorities need to know how to recognize them, including that they can't be differentiated at a distance. The latter so that they are judged appropriately. Motor or human powered is a tenuous way to look at it. I'm actually disappointed to read from you elsewhere here that MTBs were granted access in BC on that basis. No wonder people are concerned about our access - we have no means to justify it based on environmental impact.

Jan. 12, 2017, 11:02 a.m. -  Pete Roggeman

I think that one of the most significant parts about the above is: "The only truly sustainable solution is the development of an accurate understanding of what these things are, and how they affect the environment."

Until there is some data on impact and usership, we're using a lot of conjecture. Sure, it is informed conjecture, but 10, 15, 20 years' worth of experience and a good hunch are not what is going to convince LMs that one side or the other is right - or any of the grey areas in between.

Good points made on both sides.

Jan. 12, 2017, 2:20 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Thanks, and for sure Lee has a lot of experience that gives authority to his opinion. Many of his points are correspondingly good.

You're right with your insight on conjecture. Right now I think predicting the future of e-bike take up and use on the trails is too error prone to convince me that a strong stance from land managers is really justified. I bet the next few years or so will be pretty fluid in terms of how these things are dealt with.

Jan. 11, 2017, 9:59 a.m. -  Cam McRae

Maybe I misunderstood your suggestion that the PB comments were on point (and somehow more than these?) but here's a sampling.

if ya don't stand up for something, you'll fall for everything. they have a name for guys like this…………. sellout whores

meh, if its fun, why not? happy trails!

wow lots of people only want others to have fun they way they approve it! what a bunch of Nazi's

I already have one and is the shit. More options, more fun and, why not say so, waaaay more eviro friendly than lifts or trucks No masochists

so many closed minded people out their . My hats off to the crew for tackling such a fickle subject. These bikes are a blast to ride. To all the badasses out the get out of ur shuttle/chairlift and go pedal up the hill causes that is what pedal assist is all about.

They are pedal assisted ….. nothing like motos… try and you will see… in the meantime get your facts straight before you go yapping on an article that you don't know jack about !

Lol No worries!!! One day I'll get one, but for now me and my kick ass Bronson will be more than happy to shred Northern Utah-Bucket list riding Cheers

I'm 34 and just got a e bike. After 20 years of mtn biking, it is the next stage of the sport for me. I still ride my ass off and got tired. I was just able to shred more, longer. Why is it that your lazy and you have to be old to ride an e bike?

Its, funny that people here act like they have been personally assaulted by e bikers or something. The fundamentalists say its wrong cuz its slightly motorized. So no more driving to the trail heads, shuttling, or lift access to enjoy biking, right?

Sad to see the general Pinkbike commentors mentality has been getting more stupid, ignorant, and hateful.

I just got back from a 9 day trip shredding my e bike. I rode a lot great technical trails that i usually ride on my Nomad, only difference is i rode more. Nobody got hurt. The trails didn't know the difference. The local authorities didn't shut down the trails. People need to get over this intolerant attitude.

Where I go riding, there's 2 70 plussers who always show up on their E-bikes and have an absolute hoot. The way I see it, by the time I hit that age and start struggling to pedal up, the bikes will be way advanced and allow me to keep on riding until the end of my days. Happy that these guys are developing my future bike for me.

Yep, looks like a lot fun until you read the comments where every gets on the "dis e bikes" bandwagon. Its weird that fellow mtn bikers hate other mtn bikers for having fun and using something slightly different.

I don't understand all this hate for ebikes, if you don't like don't buy'em stop! I don't know why people always have to criticize everything…open your minds and go ride your damn bike!


Jan. 11, 2017, 4:27 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Right back atcha with some sampling. There were a lot of for/againsts Of course cherrypicked to support my narrative as that article got many comments

flag billyballa33 (Dec 15, 2016 at 10:33)
@makripper: Tech that helps people do what they love is awesome! But my main concern with Mountain Mopeds or EMTB as they are marketed ( and I think I share this with mostly everyone that is against them) is that this specific tech might actually make "access" and I mean trail access more difficult for the entire MTB community. There's no way of knowing for sure, but that's my main concern. I also haven't seen anything at all from the Ebike supporters/advertisers/pushers that even shows they care about that. I'd rather see the person sharing the trail with me on an Ebike than a horse but that's just me. Ebike advertising and selling needs to overcome that main concern to get me over the line into the relm of not caring about them. Right now I'm against them for MTB!

flag makripper (Dec 15, 2016 at 10:40)
@billyballa33: I totally see your point. why will it cause issues? why will it make things harder? If you are designing and building regulated trails at trail centers that are expecting heavy use, shouldn't your trails be solid enough to handle anything?
I'm not sure about the whole for or against trail access issue but I can see it being more fuel to the fire for certain groups. It might actually cause a stalemate. Yes, they could potentially do more damage if the trails aren't built properly but if they are and aren't causing more damage, then why is it an issue? If you got together with the people with Ebikes then its more BIKERS joined together with a larger voice and better numbers.
If you shun them out, you are only f*cking yourself really.

There aren't many ebike riders around where I live. The ones that use them, really need them. They have some sort of disabilty that makes it so actual mountain biking is out of the question. A bit of help with an assist system, and they don't have to sit at home being depressed and getting no exercise and not enjoying life.

these pinkbikers complaining are missing the human side of the equation. It's sickening.

Jan. 11, 2017, 10:05 p.m. -  Cam McRae

But I wasn't the one who suggested without qualification that the Pinkbike comments were "on point." That was you. And I took comments from both sides of the argument.

Jan. 12, 2017, 7:44 a.m. -  Lee Lau

OK - edit - "Many Pinkbike comments were on point.

Jan. 12, 2017, 11:36 a.m. -  Metacomet

Yay I was quoted!
Cam, not sure if you read my comment that was quoted above, but can you give the Rowboat -[HTML_REMOVED] Motorboat analogy some thought? This definition is pretty cut and dry in the boating world, and kind of where I see it on land as well.
Things with motors tend to be lumped together by definition in their classifications, because, well, they are motorized whether or not the motor is the principal source of propulsion.
All the debate about the effects and merits of pedelecs vs mountain bikes is interesting and all, but does not address the real matter, which is that you have added a motor. It HAS to be classified as such.
Now, this is where it gets more interesting. Is it fair that all Motorized vehicles get lumped together in regards to access? No, it is not. Is it fair that a trials motorbike falls under the same restrictions as a 4×4? Or a kids 50cc dirtbike under the same class as a 500cc? But generally speaking, it is just the way it is. Where there are exceptions, is looking at purpose built or designated areas where the nuances between motorized vehicles can be classified further, regulated, and enforced.
Would I realistically mind sharing my trails with pedelecs? In their current state? No, not really, because I personally know what they are and know what they are not. I can make that distinction. But I want them to earn the right to be there all on their own, because at the end of the day, they are motorized, no matter how similar in appearance, speed, and enviro impact they are to my human powered bicycle. Blurring that distinction when it comes to advocacy and land access is not a chance I am willing to take, and a door I believe should not be opened. They have to remain separate and managed separately. The resistance to this clear and independent distinction is what causes me the most concern. So far, the largest examples of land management bodies have made a clear stance that these belong firmly in the "motorized" category. Do you really want to climb aboard that train and see where it takes you? Especially as these pedelecs progress over time.

Jan. 12, 2017, 11:42 a.m. -  Metacomet

@disqus_NM9vI6sriN:disqus @leelau:disqus
Meant to tag you both in my reply.

Jan. 12, 2017, 12:21 p.m. -  Cam McRae

I am certainly not advocating that we pretend these things don't have motors nor that we classify them as bicycles. I have never said that and it's not what I believe. Of course they are motorized and where that is the only distinction to be made it's clear. All I am saying is that calling them motorbikes is nonsensical. Those who are intellectually flexible enough to admit that while there is a literal meaning of motor and a literal meaning of bike, we understand that a motorbike means something specific. If you say "I ride a motorbike" and you show up on a scooter or a moped you are going to be called a liar. The industry would like to muddy the distinction between pedelecs and mountain bikes but I have no desire to do so. Call them motorized bicycles, e-bikes, pedelecs - whatever you want. And classify them as motorized because obviously they have motors.

Jan. 12, 2017, 1:53 p.m. -  Metacomet

That's great! And you are correct. Calling them a Motorbike is about as misleading as calling them a Mountain Bike. Now I just wish that the manufacturers would actually own up to this, stop trying to call them mountain bikes, stop advertising them as mountain bikes, and stop passively trying to slip this shit under the radar by willfully pretending that they are mountain bikes and belong in the same space as mountain bikes.
So what the F should they be called? I think PedElec kind of works best, since it does not sound like anything else, and has less chance of being confused with either, but even this name is not perfect and I think in this case the name is Very important.

Jan. 13, 2017, 7:23 a.m. -  Metacomet

@disqus_NM9vI6sriN:disqus @leelau:disqus
Sooooo, in the spirit of Uncle Dave. Can we all at least begin to agree on what these things should be called?
We don't even know what the hell to call these things in order to make a proper distinction that separates it from Bicycle, Mountain Bike, Bike, etc.
The term moped has taken on a new meaning over the years, and morphed into what we now know it as. But the now Vintage "Mopeds" were named as such because they had a motor, and pedals. There was never any mistaking it for a bicycle even though you could pedal the thing when it ran out of power or gas, or just to increase its range. I mean, it had a motor! So what if it has pedals! That thing is def not a "Bike"! They abandoned the pedals, but the name stuck. If electric Motorcycles had existed at the time when these were being created, they probably would have adopted the electric motor as well. That's kind of where we are at again isn't it? Reinventing those vintage mopeds, but this time more in the image of a bicycle, and now with advanced and compact electric motors and batteries. Ahhhh! And the NAME! They are flat out just calling them Bikes this time around and sticking a little E in front of it. Sneaky bastards.
So how about Electropeds? More representative of what they are, what they are not, and what they will entirely likely progress into, and currently already are in versions that have a throttle installed. I dunno. Maybe I am insane.

Jan. 13, 2017, 8:20 a.m. -  Metacomet
Does Any of this sound or look or feel remotely familiar? Lets all be reeeal honest with ourselves. I've got nooo problem whatsoever with the existence of electropeds. They serve a purpose, are here to stay, and are not evil, and have been around in various forms for a long ass time. Hell, they are Great for some things! But we should not even begin to entertain the idea that these belong on the same side of the fence as a mountain bike, or even referred to as a bicycle in any way. Mountain bike access is WAY too sensitive to begin with. You put my Mountain bike in the same class as something with a motor, or put something with a motor in the same class as my mountain bike and I'm gonna have a real big fucking problem.

Jan. 10, 2017, 12:44 p.m. -  Esteban

Yes, but why?

I seriously fail to see why they're banned, or not allowed, on most trails (as per the comments).
Are their motors so powerful that there is fear they'd shred the trails? Do they leak lithium and cause pollution? They're so fast that they'd cause lots of accidents with slower moving vehicles (regular mtbs)?

It seems to me very clear they're not motorcycles in the traditional sence, because size and power output. "Pedal assist" seems the more accurate definition… Why wouldn't they be accepted on regular trails?

Is it personal pride? I'd have no problem if some fat guy overtook me climbing a mountain on his shiny eMTB, why would I? Good for him! He's enjoying something that otherwise would be inaccesible to him, I think.

Just a couple of days ago I saw for the first time those Specialized Levos on the store… They're ugly, big beasts, but by no means they're motocross!

I've yet so see a single coherent argument against eMTBs in regular trails!


Jan. 10, 2017, 1:29 p.m. -  Perry Schebel

-increased trail erosion (inevitably significantly higher mileage / more laps w/ assist)
-much higher climb speeds = potential for more up/down user conflicts.
-nebulous category definition: current pedelecs aren't roost machines, but very difficult to police output levels / modifications as the tech evolves. it's the hardware ambiguity that's most problematic in my eyes, and policing said tech trailside could be very difficult.

i do like worca's stance on this issue - nipping things in the bud early. curious if the nsmba has a statement on the issue.


Jan. 10, 2017, 3:47 p.m. -  Gavitron

1. Riding too much is a problem now?
2. This is already a problem with a solution.
3. So define the category?

Not sure if I would consider that nipping it in the bud, or just sidestepping a complicated issue in order to not have to deal with it.

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:50 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

I agree with Todd's arguments but yours would be easily countered:
- Increased trail erosion due to more riding. It should be noted that pedal assist e-bikes do not cause more trail erosion compared to a normal bike, but increased use/mileage is a valid observation. Unfortunately I feel that restricting users based on increased use/mileage is a dangerous argument as technically you could ban someone on a regular bike for doing too many laps of a particular trail or riding for too long. Slippery slope here.

  • Much higher climb speeds leading to up/down user conflicts. I think it's best to simply say higher average speed could cause some trail conflict. Regarding up/down, rider on rider interaction, logic says that the rider travelling in the trail's designated direction should have right of way. On 2-way trails, then the climber gets the right of way. Of course this is situational but the basics remain: follow good trail etiquette. IMBA has some basic rules here: Having ridden e-bikes, I can say that higher average trail speed really only comes into play on uphills where interactions, in my opinion, would be few. The descents are not any faster and on traverses, you can quickly hit the max speeds (32km/hr in Canada) but going beyond that speed is difficult due to the weight and often times motor drag of the bike. Speeds above 32km/hr are pretty easily achieved on a regular bike. Common senses applies here since the terrain and rider skills will ultimately dictate the max speed on a traverse.

  • Nebulous category definition: It's actually very clear what an pedelec can and can't be. For example 250w motors are currently the max for motor size and the bikes can only be pedal assist. Now there's issues with tampering with the software and hardware of ebikes but this should follow similar rules as vehicle modification. Hard to enforce yes but that is not enough of an argument to ban e-bikes based on the above argument.

FWIW, I do have issues with a throttle system, and although I'm presenting arguments in favour of pedal assist bikes, I won't be trading in my regular bikes anytime soon. The experiences are vastly different and to put it simply, an e-bike doesn't scratch that "itch".

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:02 p.m. -  t.odd

so we should level the playing field and allow everyone the ability to ride as fast and as far as a very small percentage of riders right now?

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:20 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

This argument definitely stands on shaky legs. What would you do if Whistler suddenly became the world's XCO, DH, and EWS training ground? According to your logic that centers on trail speeds and distance covered, these riders would get banned.

Alternate scenario: climate change hits hard and now you can ride Whistler trails year round. How to you deal with the increased traffic? You can't start banning riders.

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:31 p.m. -  t.odd

not if they're motorless

Jan. 10, 2017, 5:08 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

  • Can you then explain why it's acceptable to increase trail use without a motor as opposed to with?
  • What are the impact differences between the two forms of propulsion?
  • What is your approach to accommodating the increasing number of non-motorized users in Whistler?
  • Do you advocate policies that will limit the future number of users in Whistler or is it a point of discussion that trail use is on the rise and active policies must be updated in order to reflect the increased use?

I'm just try make sure you guys are using sound, fact-based arguments as opposed to philosophical based ones. Most arguments I hear are the same ones I hear when hikers wish to keep bikers off the trails. In the same vein this video about snowboarding in the 80s comes to mind:

Jan. 10, 2017, 6:14 p.m. -  t.odd

We are advocates for non-motorized recreation, being wholly self propelled limits impacts to the broader network as most users are not able to ride all day or to the top of mountains, where our more difficult and less maintained tails are. Again, I am not against them in places specifically designated for their use, I am against them on non-motorized systems where they aren't planned or managed for.

Our approach to accommodating increased number of non-motorized users, which is already becoming a problem in certain parts of our network and wouldn't be helped with more e-bikes, is active planning to expand our non-motorized network and management to ensure our current network can handle the expected levels of non-motorized use. I've actually just submitted a trail development proposal for the south end of town that would add nearly 10km of intermediate trail in a heavily used non-motorized area. Additionally I've spent the past 6 months working on a long term trail development plan that looks out 15-20 years in how we'd like to see our network expand and develop and will be presenting that next month to the club in an open house. That plan is for non- motorized use, it assumes non-motorized access.

Again, I, as the planning director for WORCA, am spending hundreds of hours of my own time, doing this work on behalf of non-motorized trail users. I'm not doing this for e-bikes, our trail builders aren't interested in doing this for e-bikes. We as non-motorized mountain bikers have spent decades proving our worth, building and maintaining over 300km of trails, our passion is non- motorized recreation.

We are not pushing these things, manufacturers are, we aren't the ones that should have to defend their use or be responsible for negative impacts. E-bike proponents should organize, collaborate and offer some solid proposals and sweat equity if this is so important for them. Saying we're being a lot like hikers is disingenuous, we had to prove ourselves to land managers and other non-motorized groups over the past 30 years, we weren't given an inch and we've earned our place at the table through serious effort earning that respect, effort that e-bike makers are trying to piggy back off of with zero sweat equity. I'm not fighting e-bikes battle for them and potentially risking normal non-motor mtb access. Again, not what I signed up for, not my job. The industry needs to stop taking advocacy groups and clubs for granted, because our energy for this unpaid work is not unlimited.

Jan. 10, 2017, 6:19 p.m. -  t.odd

and frankly, we already have a problem in this town with people overriding trails that they should just enjoy a few times a year, making it easier to get to them on e-bikes is definitely not going to help that situation.

Jan. 10, 2017, 8:51 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

Great response. As I mentioned above in a different reply if WORCA has no interest in representing e-bike users that's fair enough. You can't be asked to volunteer your time for something that goes against your beliefs and frankly, jeopardizes much of the work already done.

I'm still very interested to see how this all pans out. Nothing to do with my line of work, but I see many parallels with this issue with where mountain biking was just a few short years ago.

Jan. 10, 2017, 10:59 p.m. -  Lee Lau

It's not just WORCA who has no interest in representing e-bikes. Most trail advocates have no interests in representing e-bikes. And the reasons are what WORCA/ Todd articulated and not necessarily due to the trail advocate's personal biases.

I'll bite. "I see many parallels with this issue with where mountain biking was just a few short years ago". What are the parallels?

Jan. 11, 2017, 12:02 a.m. -  Cam McRae

My feelings exactly. So many unsound arguments. There are good reasons for opposing e-bikes in certain areas. Let's stick to those, which is much of what Uncle Dave's article boils down to.

Jan. 11, 2017, 11:23 a.m. -  Esteban

-So, ban MTBs altogether. They cause significantly more erosion than hikers. And the too many lap argument is moot (as pointed by @kennethperras:disqus)
-I was under the impression that you guys in the first world had driving directions in your trails (as in a race circuit, you can't go against the traffic).
-Maybe they're nebulous, if only because they're somewhat new. Yes, I can see someone modding their own (and it will inevitably happen) to get more power, and hence more dangerous.

Jan. 11, 2017, 11:29 a.m. -  Esteban

Ha, that sums it up pretty much!
With hindsight, opponents just sound dumb.

Jan. 12, 2017, 10:21 a.m. -  Cam McRae

And EWS events destroying much of the trail network once a

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:22 p.m. -  Gavitron

The only sincere argument is that they ruin people's enjoyment of mountain biking by destroying the integrity of the sport because some people get help with climbing. It's completely silly of course, but every other argument you'll see is just a red herring. It's skiing vs snowboarding all over again.


Jan. 11, 2017, 11:19 a.m. -  Esteban

So, people complaining about "help with climbing"… Those guys surely don't drive to the trails, or use funiculars. Yes, that's silly, because why would what anyone else does ruin what you do? Are we so banal?

Jan. 11, 2017, 1:15 p.m. -  t.odd

skiing vs. snowboarding is a huge false equivalency. It's more like back country skiing vs. snowmobile access skiing…and in such cases many areas are delineated between motorized and non-motorized access for those types of recreation.

Jan. 11, 2017, 3:50 p.m. -  Nat Brown

What makes it a false equivalency to you? And on what basis does skiing Vs snowmobile seem more fair? I can see a few ways that you could be drawing comparisons and I'd like to be clear. If it's the motor, I don't think that passes the litmus test for me either.

Jan. 11, 2017, 4:20 p.m. -  Lee Lau

The decades long history of how and why we in SW BC got so much trail access and so much liberty to build the trails we did is based almost 100% on arguments by trail advocates who came long before me that mountain bikes are human-powered. And we used the whole human-powered story and wrapped ourselves in the same cloak of self-sufficiency as hikers and therefore we should have the same access as hikers. This actually worked and its why we have the incredible access we have.

I see that false equivalency about driving to trails or using funiculars or whatever all the time. It's a crazy leap of logic. It's very common for other users to use a car or a bus or funicular to get to trails. However when a non- motorized user is on the TRAIL then they're non-motorized. Like it or not that is the argument that trail advocates for biking have used to get access to trails.

You and Gavitron seem to be fixated on the help with climbing part. TO ME, that is not the issue. The issue is that one is motorized (ebikes), and one isn't (human powered) bikes. Mixing one with the other will cause huge issues in the eyes of Land Managers and other user groups.

Jan. 11, 2017, 4:56 p.m. -  Gavitron

It's much better than your equivalency, Todd. Backcountry skiing and snowmobiling are drastically different and have completely different effects on the environment. Mountain bikes and e-bikes just don't. In fact, I would argue that mountain bikes and e-bikes are more similar than skiing and snowboarding. Snowboarders actually do scrape a ton of snow off the runs, and have a tendency to sit in the middle of the hill. In many cases, areas were once delineated between skiers and snowboarders, just like many areas were once off-limits for any and all mountain biking.

Like Dave said, if you're going to compare them to motorcycles then we're just wasting our time here. Clinging to arbitrary definitions over rational, objective discussion isn't going to get us anywhere.

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:22 p.m. -  Esteban

Sorry, not fixated on anything, just trying to understand all of this; in my country we don't have ex professo bike trails. We just go to the nearest mountain/volcano and ride, and we do it alongside runners, hikers, hikers with dogs, and sometimes motocross and quad vehicles. I agree that how you get to the trail is irrelevant (not a "leap of logic"; it's a logical fallacy called a "non sequitur") and what you're advocating is only what happens on the trail.

So, if ebikes could demonstrate they cause similar trail degradation impact as regular bikes, then it would be ok for them to ride the trails? I haven't ridden one, of course, but are they really that much destructive? You see everyone locking the rear wheel in tight turns, for instance.

Also, it seems to me that the difference of speeds is a non-issue because it only applies climbing, when everyone has right of way, or on wide, flat terrain, where it doesn't matter. (Again, I'm talking of what I can imagine, I haven't seen one in the wild and I don't think it'll happen anytime soon: the dentists that can afford them here don't go to the mountains, so I'll see them first in bike-way parks… were it's much, much more likely they'd cause accidents because of speed difference! Actually, let me just ask our local "park" administration what the hell do they think about ebikes in those parks!)

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:37 p.m. -  Lee Lau

I've not spent time much biking in Mexico and then only in Baja. I would like to go to Oaxaca but haven't gotten to it yet so excuse me if I'm assuming too much. The Mexicans I've met riding tell me that there aren't that many bikes on most trail areas and there isn't that much trail conflict. So if that's the case I can definitely see your point of view.

I don't know about the erosion effects not having ridden them long enough and having no experience in a heavily e-biked area. Having ridden a pedelec, a Bionicon, a Lev (and some other brand I can't recall) I know e-bikes will mean trails get ridden in a different way. Is it a better way or would it cause issues? I don't know - that's way too specific to a trail system. I suspect the speed difference climbing will cause issues because of human nature; closing speeds between climbers and descenders (or hikers/bikers) on traditional two way trails will increase and some people using e-bikes will be assholes and will buzz others. I agree that's not a problem unique to ebikes but generic to humans.

My concern is that the LMs and other trail groups will have negative perceptions to ebikes - lumping them in with motorized. And that this negative perception will spill over to mountain bikes.

Jan. 11, 2017, 7:31 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

"My concern is that the LMs and other trail groups will have negative
perceptions to ebikes - lumping them in with motorized. And that this
negative perception will spill over to mountain bikes."

Completely agree. I believe where things fall apart is the delineation of motorized. There is a very clear difference between a throttle and a lack- thereof. To me, the difference is less clear between pedal and pedal assist.

It would be a tragedy if current advocates took the same negative path that others took before them; making generalizations about the technological features in order to lessen the burden of ensuring current and future inclusivity of users of that technology. This is exactly what happened in the US, concerning the definition of "mechanical" transport methods which got bikes banned from BLM lands a long time ago.

Jan. 11, 2017, 8:01 p.m. -  Lee Lau

The US Wilderness Act and regs mechanized vs non mechanized distinction is particular to the US and does allow legal sleight of hand to equate pedelecs to mountain bikes. Canada's motorized vs non-motorized distinction. Speaking for myself I could not argue as an advocate that pedelecs are non-motorized - at least not with a straight face

Now if you in your personal capacity or your employer can see an argument for pedelecs to be treated as non motorized and therefore as mountain bikes you are more than welcome to volunteer to take on that task. But its YOUR task to undertake. Is that fair?

Jan. 12, 2017, 10:01 a.m. -  Esteban

Yes, it's a non issue here because nobody rides in mountains (as compared to other countries). Of course, near central states there is more traffic (Ajusco comes to mind, La Joya in Paso de Cortés, Zapotecas in Puebla…) but mostly we have lots of room.

As far as I know, nobody here sees mtbs with bad eyes, fortunately! And hopefully ebikes won't change that because being honest, not a lot of us will be able to afford them.

Jan. 14, 2017, 1:05 a.m. -  Ryan Smith

My last Snowmobile used 50L of gas plus 1L of 2stroke oil in a 150km day of backcountry sledding. Skiing and sledding are worlds apart compared to mountain bikes and Ebikes. I was dead set against Ebikes but after talking with other riders about them I was able to relax about their arrival. I ride to stay fit, I dig trail to give back to the sport I love and I also try not to get my back up on my fellow riders no matter what trend they jump on.
The rapid growth of the sport is contributing staggering amounts of traffic in my riding area. Our local association is doing a great job but we all need to pitch in, more trained volunteers maintaining existing trails. Ebikes will add even more traffic but that could be counteracted by more cooperation and involvement from our growing community. Less keyboard more moving buckets.

Jan. 10, 2017, 9:35 a.m. -  DrewM



Jan. 10, 2017, 6:48 a.m. -  uncle duke

there must be a way to milk this convo a bit longer…oh wait..


Jan. 10, 2017, 9:24 a.m. -  Cam McRae

Yep. Because this isn't an important issue at all. :rolleyes:


Jan. 10, 2017, 11:42 a.m. -  uncle duke

well let us keep talking about it then.. meanwhile back at the top of the first world problems list…..

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:07 p.m. -  Gavitron

You're on a first world website, talking about a first world sport. Were you expecting extensive discourse on third world problems?

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:23 p.m. -  uncle duke

you guys carry on untieing yer knickers they seem quite knotted…..

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:48 p.m. -  Gavitron

Says the guy complaining that an article exists…

Jan. 10, 2017, 6:21 a.m. -  Vik Banerjee

"But they’re not “motorbikes.” Everybody knows what a “motorbike” is and if you insist on shutting down every conversation about e-bikes by proclaiming that they’re the same thing as a CRF450 then you sound a bit silly and you probably don’t deserve to be a part of the discussion."

That's a straw man argument designed to shut down a legitimate line of discussion on this topic. Motor + Bike = MotorBIke. That doesn't mean it's a high powered motorcross weapon. We could and still can build low power gas motorcycles with pedals. Should we be saying they are mountain bikes if they are light and low power enough?

Personally I think the whole issue would be better received and easier to deal with if we stopped trying to shoehorn these electric mopeds into the term "mountain bike." Electric mopeds, mountain moped or something similar. It makes it clear to the mountain bike community and to the land owner managers that this is a different thing.

Of course that means having to look at them from scratch and figure out where they belong and how they should be managed. Not one of my local trail systems on Vancouver Island allows motors. They don't specify how powerful, gas or electric energy storage….they just say "Motorized Use Prohibited". So anyone wanting to ride a mountain moped legally around here is out of luck unless they stick to roads, find an OHV area or own some private land.

I suspect nobody who wants to sell these products to make a $$ wants this ^^^ because it without piggy backing onto an existing user group like mountain bikers the idea of adding motors to trails is a pretty high hurdle to get past. As it is you are going to have a lot of people who buy into the marketing for these mopeds and buy them having no legal trail system to ride and ending up with an expensive toy that they have to use illegally or use in a way that wasn't how it was sold to them like cruising the MUP.

This Jimmy Mac interview is worth a read: /exclusive-jimmy-mac-interview-why-i-left-mountain-bike-action/


Jan. 10, 2017, 9:35 a.m. -  Cam McRae

I'm curious about why you think that interview is worth a read? To begin with, Jimmy asked to be interviewed which is unusual. Then his premises for quitting are very strange. He suggests the bikes aren't made for the electric motor and added weight? This was disproven then and continues to lose credence. I see his point about the marketing of e-bikes and companies trying to suggest it's a grey area, but they can be ridden where motorcycles and ATVs are ridden right now - and that is clear. The other point is that he was leaving a publication with (IMHO) little integrity. MBA and his other titles were used by Roland Heinz to fund his real passion which was (and possibly still is) Spanish language Christian radio. I was told this by an employee of MBA. As far as hands off, he often picks the cover. And he doesn't allow his writers to put their names on articles - aside from editorial by Jimmy and Richard Cunningham when he was there, apparently because once Zap got a name for himself he left. How can you have any integrity when none of your bike tests have a writer's name attached? It's a bit like leaving Fox News because you don't like the suit they make you wear, while having no trouble with the BS spewed by Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest of that crew.


Jan. 10, 2017, 10:08 a.m. -  Vik Banerjee

It's important because of the issues he raised about electric mopeds since this post is about electric mopeds it seemed relevant. I won't get into all the backroom issues about him or MBA since I have no knowledge about that nor do I think that is relevant given the topic at hand.

My main concern is the issues around marketing and selling a product that has limited legal use for the way it's sold to the consumer. It's essentially setting up a conflict to make some money. Sure you can legally ride a MUP with one of these and you can go to an OHV area. The reality though is they are being marketed as mountain bikes and people will want to ride their local mountain bike trails with them. Depending how savvy they are they may not realize they aren't allowed to in many areas such as all the trails networks I am aware of on Vancouver Island.

That's one of the reasons not pretending they are a mountain bike from the get go would be useful. It would be easier for the average consumer to become aware that they need to consider where they are going to ride this machine before they spend a whole bunch of $$ on it.

Jan. 10, 2017, 2:39 p.m. -  Cam McRae

As I said above, the marketing angle is legit. And otherwise maybe that's worth a read for curiosity's sake.

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:24 p.m. -  Gavitron

"My main concern is the issues around marketing and selling a product
that has limited legal use for the way it's sold to the consumer."

Couldn't you have said that about a freeride bike ten or fifteen years ago?

Jan. 10, 2017, 5 p.m. -  Nat Brown

I don't think Dave's point meets the definition of a straw man argument. There has to be some acknowledgement that using the term 'motorbike' for e-bikes is at best unintentionally leveraging the broad understanding of what a motorbike is. What goes along with that is a presumption that these things have the power to quickly do a lot of environmental damage, which can be a very emotive mental image. On top of that, there's the potential conflict of interest where some people might be using the term motorbike here to specifically mislead other, less informed people (if that's imaginable) for their own selfish ends of not wanting to share trails for whatever reason.


Jan. 11, 2017, 1:32 a.m. -  ZigaK

There has to be also some acknowledgement that using the term 'mountain bike' for e-bikes is at best unintentionally leveraging the broad understanding of what a mountain bike is. What goes along with that is a presumption that these things have access to mountain bike trails. On top of that, there's the potential conflict of interest where some people might be using the term mountain bike here to specifically mislead other, less informed people for their own selfish ends of selling as much product as possible.

Jan. 11, 2017, 12:06 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Dude, that's pretty poorly written 😛

As inflammatory as you were trying to be by mimicking me, I actually agree with much of your take. In particular that they should not be referred to as mountain bikes. Have they though? Perhaps that meets the definition of a straw man argument. Correct me if I'm wrong. In any case, I don't think they should be called mountain bikes either, and grandfathered in as such.

The one place where I disagree is that there should be no presumption about access, either for or against. If e-bikes are to be pre-emptively banned, there needs to be some reasoned justification for it. If banning was done out of presumption it's no different to acting on superstition.

Jan. 11, 2017, 4:02 p.m. -  Lee Lau

" In particular that they should not be referred to as mountain bikes. Have they though?"

Yes by manufacturers who guise ebikes as merely pedelecs and therefore slipped under the category of Mountain-bikes

Jan. 11, 2017, 8:57 p.m. -  Nat Brown

Thanks for correcting me.

Are pedelecs de facto mountain bikes? Why did you write 'therefore'?

Jan. 11, 2017, 9:26 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Sloppy language on my part. Some manufacturers make the argument that pedelecs are merely pedal assisted mountain bikes on the basis that they are merely pedal assisted and have no throttle. Accordingly that pedelecs should be treated as mountain bikes. The manufacturers making this argument are those who are making pedelecs

Jan. 12, 2017, 12:20 a.m. -  ZigaK

I honestly wasn't going for inflammatory, I was just making a point that your argument goes exactly the same way in the other direction. Note the use of "also" in the first sentence 🙂
You raise a good point about presumption of access - again the argument goes both ways. The pro ebikes argue that they have the same access as regular mtbs and should be banned if certain conditions apply, while the cons argue that they have the same access as motos and should be granted more access if certain conditions apply.

Jan. 12, 2017, 9:12 a.m. -  Nat Brown

Fair enough, and sorry for the accusation. I'm a delicate flower 😉

Jan. 10, 2017, 12:57 a.m. -  Bagheera

"I get it though. For some, a motor is a deal breaker." This. Again. I don't think I could beat Nino Schurter up a hill even if he rode a Karpiel Armaggeddon an I were on some sub-8kg hartail. Give me a powerful e-bike and I'd give it a try. Therefore, not a gradual improvement like disc brakes or suspension, but something entirely different.
My opinions on eMTBs would require an article of their own (and I've formulated many a draft on long solo climbs), but I'll say this: Those who shout "Better than shuttling in a car!" "Disabled people!" "You don't pedal up in the park, either!" or "Europeans want it!" (no, a lot of us don't) are, to paraphrase Uncle Dave, just as guilty of creating a talking point/clever phrase and then sticking with it no matter what happens as those shouting "Motorcycle!" (and after all, it IS a bicycle with a motor, so motorcycle doesn't seem that far off).


Jan. 10, 2017, 8:50 a.m. -  Dirk

This is definitely a fair counterpoint. I sort of touched on this a few months ago but it would have been fair to work that in as well.


Jan. 10, 2017, 3:27 p.m. -  Gavitron

But e-bikes ARE better than shuttling with a car. They DO help disabled people get out on the trails. You DON'T pedal up in the park, do you? Those are all valid arguments. "Motorcycle!" is not an argument at all. There's a difference between introducing new talking points to open up discussion about an issue and having a knee-jerk reaction in an attempt to shut down any discussion.


Jan. 10, 2017, 10:41 p.m. -  Bagheera

Yes, but…
Shuttling: Yes, but eMTBs can easily access trails that can't be shuttled (shuttle trails are usually better armoured and are not disputed).
Disabled: Yes, but is it an issue? I think the "disability card" is used as a smokescreen, because the numbers would be too low for the industry to develop an interest. Also, I've yet to see an eMTB marketed towards disabled people.
Park: No, I don't pedal in the park (well, I do because I brake too much). But I pay for access and the trails are maintained with that money. Park trails are built to be heavily used and professionally maintained.

Motorcycle: It IS a valid argument, as it changes the way riders are perceived. Joe Public doesn't differentiate between an XC and a DH rider, so once eMTBs are a significant part of the riding polulation, we'll get lumped in with them, too. In places where trail access is an issue (and there are many such places), this will create problems, as there is usually much less goodwill towards motorized users. Would like to write a longer reply, but I have to go to work…

Jan. 10, 2017, 12:45 a.m. -  Jan

"I get it though. For some, a motor is a deal breaker."

Not just for "some". This is the line that is drawn which regulates trail access. The regulations don't concern themselves with two-stroke specific trails, or displacement. The distinction is simple: Is there a machine onboard designed to convert one form of energy into mechanical energy?

"If we decide to close certain areas or trails off to e-bikes I’ll be more than happy to yell profanities at any yahoo that decides to ignore those signs, and I’m sure there will be a boatload of people that feel the same way and join me in my heckling"

These areas are well established, especially on The Shore. Despite the existing restrictions, the silent ebike-curious DC powered marauders proceed as if they've always belonged. So where are the profanities and heckling? (pinkbike comments don't count, there's always a shitstorm brewing)

I think it's important to be precise in our words and semantics. The debate which we should be advancing is whether pedal assist bikes belong on local biking specific trails. This is the approach Moab BLM took; I'm curious when NSMBA, SORCA,WORCA, etc. will release a position (have they??)

To add a personal anecdote, Mt. Seymour trails are non-motorized. However, I've seen the Dunbar SUV/Crossbrover unloading Demo Specialized Levos on multiple occasions at Old Buck and encountered them a few times going up Good Sir Martin. Some trails on Seymour I think could be designated as ebike friendly (have fun up Old Buck) but until that happens, I don't think they belong.

Britannia is a beautiful motoland, send the ebikes thataway.


Jan. 10, 2017, 7:19 a.m. -  t.odd

WORCA's position is that we are advocates for non-motorized mountain bike recreation and we consider e-bikes motorized. We are not necessarily against them in all places, however in our area we managed, maintain and build trails for non-motorized users and all of our new authorized construction is for non- motorized users, and we ask that the public respect that. Most of the trails we managed will have this reflected on the signage over the coming season.

Personally I tend to agree with Dave's assessment, that there are places they shouldn't be looked at as a problem, but there are many busy, mixed-use areas that should remain steadfastly non-motorized, much like there are places and trails that should remain no bikes. The fact remains imo, existing advocacy groups and clubs should not be expected by the industry and e-bike proponents to be responsible for any potential negative ramifications that lead from increased popularity of these devices.


Jan. 10, 2017, 8:11 a.m. -  DrewM

Clean and simple.

Out of curiosity, how did WORCA come about their decision/distinction re. non- motorized MTB vs. E-Bike?

I.E. Is it a case of BoD interpreting existing raison d'être or was membership polled?

Jan. 10, 2017, 8:53 a.m. -  Dirk

It's great to read about the specifics of what you guys are doing up in Whistler. Maybe all the policies are in place in a lot of places and all we're really dealing with right now is a lack of signage?

Jan. 10, 2017, 8:57 a.m. -  t.odd

One, many many months and many many vigorous debates around the board of directors, and our trails subcommittee. Ultimately we all agree that the line in the sand distinction is the motor assist. It's a clear and easy line for us, no, they aren't motorcycles, but they use motors to increase power output. We also feel that not making this clear distinction puts us even further behind in our clubs ultimate goal which has always been to regain some type of access into Garibaldi Park via the Musical Bumps/Singing Pass, and we feel that not having that clear distinction between uses places us further, if not permanently, away from that purpose.

Two, the club is unwilling to accept responsibility for any unknown negative impacts related to them over the coming years. No one ultimately knows at this point what the potential impacts may or may not be. Whether that's maintenance requirements due to increased use and wear and tear from people riding more, or social related user conflicts. What does those things look like 5 years down the road if they start to represent significant users numbers?

Three, our insurer has indicated that under our policy we cannot mix motor assist and non-motorized mountain bikes in our events, therefore we have a no e-bike policy for any WORCA sanctioned events; Toonie Rides, Monday night rides, youth camps, skills camps, Phat Wednesdays, or any other special events.

Four, and I'm inferring some things here from my observations, it's already a shit ton of work to be involved in advocacy and clubs. It's hard enough finding the time for the things we are trying to achieve, and the prospect of having to reopen debates and discussions with other non-motorized stakeholders or nay sayers due to the real potential for negative ramifications of them is just more than most club vollies are prepared to undertake at this point. And I know for me personally, I'm just not that interested in advocating for or promoting motorized recreation. We aren't necessarily against it, and we support it and those groups where appropriate. I'd say some of us are also worried about getting piggybacked on by the e-bike segment with all mountain bikers then bearing the weight of any negative impacts. Most of us just aren't willing to make that bet at this point.

Jan. 10, 2017, 9:12 a.m. -  DrewM

Thank you for making the time to type this out Todd.

I really think too much focus is being placed on the Manufacturer's and on the Law (land managers) and not enough on what the riding community needs as a whole.

Jan. 10, 2017, 9:49 a.m. -  t.odd

not a problem, I feel like it's a perspective that keeps getting glossed over in most media about this topic.

Jan. 10, 2017, 11:36 a.m. -  t.odd

could be, it could be a lot like the Moab BLM decision, "we consider them motorized, you're welcome to use them on trails designated for their use". I've heard rumours that Provincial trails folks here in BC are considering this type of response, in that many authorized non-motorized recreation trail networks may end up being designated in this manner and thus not allow e-bikes unless specifically allowed. That, however, remains to be seen if it plays out that way.

Jan. 10, 2017, 1:23 p.m. -  Lee Lau

It's not glossed over. It's entirely ignored. Not a single person has addressed your concerns even when asked directly.

Jan. 10, 2017, 2:44 p.m. -  Cam McRae

Who are you referring to exactly Lee?

Jan. 10, 2017, 2:55 p.m. -  Lee Lau

Sam Benedict in your Specialized interview article. Any other writer on this topic (yourself included) See my question to Dave/Dirk above from the trail advocates' perspective so as to help prevent digression.

Jan. 11, 2017, 9:40 a.m. -  Cam McRae

See my response above.

Jan. 10, 2017, 8:47 a.m. -  Dirk

"These areas are well established, especially on The Shore."

They are? This is all I can find about e-bikes on the NSMBA site. It's far from thorough.


Jan. 10, 2017, 9:02 a.m. -  Jan

Fromme and Seymour are both designated as areas for non motorized recreation. Seems pretty cut and dry to me?

Jan. 10, 2017, 9:37 a.m. -  Cam McRae

Where can we see this designation and by whom? I would hope that is the case but I'd like to see that documented. And what about shuttling? That's motorized climbing with non-motorized descending which is what happens with e-bikes. What about riding the chairlift on Seymour? It's not quite as cut and dried as you suggest.

Jan. 10, 2017, 1:50 p.m. -  Jerry Willows

Shuttling happens on designated roadways to access the trails. A lot different than bombing up 40 km/hr on an e-bike on multi-use trails and taking out hikers/dogs/bikers/horses. And yes, e-bikes can be modded to go up 40 km/hr on Old Buck.

Jan. 10, 2017, 3:57 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

What about descending multi-use trails and scaring hikers/dogs/bikers/horse? It can, and does, happen with regular bikes. The issue isn't the bike but the rider who holds little regard for the other users of the trail. This rider will exists regardless of the vehicle he chooses.

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:33 p.m. -  Jerry Willows

maybe Old Buck is a bad example… Bridal Path. E-bikes are bad on so many levels but you are part of the bike industry so you have a vested interest in it being successful. Do any trail builders support e-bikes?

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:52 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

You're deflecting. Your argument is invalid because the issues you presented are easily replicated on regular bikes on any trail you want to choose.

With regards to user conflict I have more of a problem seeing e-bikes on Old Buck than I do on on Dale's for example. Our arguments are equal in their merit yet opposite in view.

Jan. 10, 2017, 5:04 p.m. -  Jerry Willows

Regular bikes can't go uphill super fast or on Bridal Path at 40k. It's funny who is supporting this movement. Better to nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem imo.

Jan. 10, 2017, 5:20 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

Regarding your 40km/hr argument, you should note that unlicensed pedelecs in Canada are limited to a max of 32km/hr. It's equally dangerous descending bridal at high speeds as it is ascending it, so this is a pretty shaky argument as well.

We should nip DH bikes in the bud because the speeds they allow us to ride are simply too dangerous.

Jan. 10, 2017, 5:40 p.m. -  Jerry Willows

How can you ride Bridal at 40k on any bike. It's pretty flat. DH trails are dh trails and a bad comparison.

Easy to mod an e-bike or build up from scratch. Is Bjorn 's licensed?

I've said what I've needed to say and hopefully we can all enjoy the trails for years to come.

Jan. 10, 2017, 6:27 p.m. -  dtimms

Same can be said for a Honda cr450. I can he a respectful dirt biker

Jan. 10, 2017, 9:44 p.m. -  Mantle

Jerry I have ridden a Turbo Lev a couple times on the shore now and I would have to say your argument of 40km an hour is not accurate. Yes under the legs of an advanced and very fit rider these bike can be very fast along a trail such as bridal but I would argue these "pedal assisted " bikes are going to be PURCHASED by individuals who are maybe not as fit as your average rider. It still takes a tremendous amount of energy to ride these pedal assisted bikes over rough and technical terrain.

I have personally ridden my normal pedal bike with a group of intermediate to advanced riders WHO WERE aboard e bikes and I can assure you at no point were these bikes going at a pace I could not match under my own power. The end result was the E bike rider was not nearly as taxed as myself.

I think these bikes are only going to help more people get into a sport that I personally do because I have so much fun. If these bikes enable more people to get into this sport and have fun without hurting anyone else or closing our trails then I am all for it.

When and if we actually see our trail usage be affected by over use of these bikes (or abuse of modified bikes) then yes I agree we need to take a look at the usage.

Jan. 11, 2017, 1:18 a.m. -  ZigaK

Why do you pick the stupidest argument and argue it? Because deflecting.

Jan. 11, 2017, 5:24 p.m. -  Gavitron

Most people can get a non-motorized bike up to 32km/hr on a flat trail with a little effort.

Jan. 12, 2017, 11:19 a.m. -  Pete Roggeman

A type of training wheels for less fit people, so to speak. I can see some merit here. And having felt how heavy they all are, I can guarantee that most people thinking of using them to access trails farther and higher than they would normally access is not going to be commonplace. Some people will make mistakes, but the thought of being saddled with a bike that heavy, far away from the trailhead, is not going to appeal to neophytes (or experienced riders for that matter).

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:56 p.m. -  Gavitron

It doesn't take long to go from being the ones crossing the lines to being the ones drawing them.


Jan. 10, 2017, 12:08 a.m. -  MaWa

I read on pinkbike a lot of stuff about eMTBs. How they are more accepted here in Europe than in the US or Canada. I don't think it is true. Most e-Bike Riders here are old people using these bikes to ride longer distances. But I never met a single e-Biker on a real singletrail.

And lets be clear about this, our law in the german Alps says: No motorized vehicles are allowed.

So ebiking on singletrails is forbidden over here. Right now it is no problem, because you can rarely see a eMTB in the forest.

But we should not be too restricted about ebikes. They are a great tool for older people, or for people who are no longer able to ride longer distances. A friend of me uses his Levo to just ride the normal trails he always rode. He is no longer able to ride these distances because of a disease. Should this be forbidden?


Jan. 9, 2017, 11:34 p.m. -  cxfahrer

E-bike drivers want to be accepted as MTBikers, E-bike manufacturers want their products to be accepted as mountainbikes.
But they are not. It is something different, and I dont care.

It is like quads vs. SSV vs. rallycar. It is different, people who drive it are different, etc.


Jan. 9, 2017, 10:20 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

If I see a dude cruising up Mt. Seymour Rd on an e-bike, I will tip my helmet to him for figuring out a clever way to solo-shuttle.


Jan. 9, 2017, 11:29 p.m. -  Pete Roggeman

Yesterday, that dude was Mantle, and I had tried the bike briefly before he left on his solo ride. And it felt pretty easy - and awesome - cruising up Mt Seymour Rd.

No, it didn't make me want to sell every meat-powered bike I own, but yes, I understand the temptation and yes, so much better than relying on a massive, heavy, gas-guzzling vehicle to get up that road instead of shuttling.

Conclusion: this shit is complicated.


Jan. 10, 2017, 1:03 p.m. -  t.odd


Jan. 12, 2017, 11:20 a.m. -  Pete Roggeman

Said like: "NEWMAN!".

Jan. 10, 2017, 12:54 a.m. -  Jan

What if you see them coming up behind you on Good Sir Martin? Do you pull over and yield to their motors?


Jan. 10, 2017, 8:20 a.m. -  Kenneth Perras

At the next convenient location, sure. Then like any happy, grateful mountain biker that realizes that he has close access to one of the best trail networks in the world, I will wish that guy a good day and good ride. I might also comment on the weather since that's a popular thing to do around here.

Jan. 9, 2017, 9:59 p.m. -  49%

This. Everything pro-ebike I've read reeks of this: "…is this just what these manufacturers want? To build media allies with a fancy riding experience? Would it be enough to approach with an honest and skeptical attitude, or would my very attendance place me on the pro-e-bike side of the argument? "


Jan. 9, 2017, 9:27 p.m. -  Joe G

then what group should be targeted? We need to channel our privileged angst.


Jan. 9, 2017, 11:31 p.m. -  Pete Roggeman

Single speeders, obviously. They decline the benefit of gears? Witchcraft! Heresy!


Jan. 10, 2017, 8:06 a.m. -  DrewM

F*ck those handsome luddites. Let's teach those 1FG-holes a lesson by gifting them some delicious craft beer!

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:01 p.m. -  Cooper

They're no better than tele skiers.

WHY ARE YOU STUCK IN 1880, @disqus_CK71TyEVIi:disqus ??

Jan. 10, 2017, 4:20 p.m. -  t.odd


Jan. 10, 2017, 4:58 p.m. -  DrewM

Pfft. I'm on point with all the current trends: Disks, dropper post, Plus+ front tire, long [HTML_REMOVED] slack geo, no front derailleur, 800mm wide bar…

Jan. 11, 2017, 2:30 p.m. -  Cooper

Different sized wheels is so 2001.

Jan. 12, 2017, 11:21 a.m. -  Pete Roggeman

Ok fine, E-Singlespeeders.

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