Why Are We Racing Bikes with Motors?

Trading Watts for Rainbows: Making Sense of eMTB World Champs

Words Cam McRae
Photos Andy Vathis
Date Sep 5, 2019

What the hell is the point of awarding medals for racers using motors? A step back makes it clear we could ask that question about racing moto, cars or even horses and, like those pursuits, eMTB racing absolutely requires fitness and skill, What it lacks is the elegance and purity of acoustic bike racing. You know, the sort where you can be certain the best rider has won on his or her own power, like Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France... Or the male side of the Enduro World Series...

Despite the dire predictions, the world did not end when the first-ever UCI eMTB World Championships were held at Mont Ste-Anne on August 28th. If you are like me, you may have had an instantaneous averse reaction when you first heard about electric bike racing. I think it was before I had ridden a bike augmented by watts, volts and amps, but at that point the concept seemed laughable. I get it more now and it's clear that the strongest rider who doesn't have a mechanical seems likely to come out on top, but it's still tough to get my head around. And why is the UCI involved anyway?

The UCI and eMTB Racing

The somewhat shadowy 119-year old Swiss cabal that runs the competitive side of mountain biking made it clear in April that if anyone was going to be in charge of eMTB racing, it would be them. On April 5th the UCI sent out a press release in response to news that the FIM, the shadowy* 115-year old organization that governs motorcycle racing in much of the world, and is also based on Switzerland, announced the E-Bike Enduro World Cup, which was held in France on June 1st and 2nd..

*To be fair, I have no idea if the FIM is run the way FIFA and the UCI seem to be

As expected, the UCI was not amused. "The UCI means to develop this activity which, as with other forms of cycling, comes under its exclusive jurisdiction,” was how UCI president David Lappartient put it. The press release makes it clear their motivation is all about the good of the sport; "To encourage the development of this popular activity among cyclists of all levels, the UCI integrated E-mountain bike into its Regulations..." In fact the UCI announced that athletes who competed in this rival series would be punished, because punishment is a great way to encourage the development of this popular activity – and because that's how a cabal operates.

It makes sense that the UCI wants in because there is money to be made. Bike companies will be eager to put up sponsorship dollars in this fastest growing cycling market segment which, sadly to some of us, has the potential to grow far beyond our quirky, fringe human-powered activity.


There was no shortage of gnarly moves on the course, the climbs were said to be beastly.

The Race Itself

By all accounts the course was very challenging, both up and down, for both riders and electric motors. The men's field was lousy with former XC world cup winners, topped by Julien Absalon, winner of 5 World Championships, 2 Olympic gold medals and 33 World Cup XC races. Julien retired from meat-motor racing in May 2018. The 39-year old managed 3rd place in yesterday's race, 89 seconds behind South African winner Alan Hatherley who claimed his second rainbow jersey in a time of 1:04:53.*

*Hatherley won last year's U23 XCO World Championships

This is how the UCI described the race length and duration before the race; "In Mont-Saint-Anne the riders will tackle a 7.3km cross-country course for a duration of 1h30 to 2h." In reality, each of the 38 riders who completed all 4 laps of the course came in under 90 minutes. The last of these, 38th place rider Olivier Beart was 17:12 behind the winning time for a total of 1:22:15. The winner rode 29.2 kms in 1:04:53 for an average speed of 26 km/h, faster than the boost the motor provides. (Nino Schurter, winning his 5th consecutive acoustic XCO world title and 8th total, rode 29 kms in 1:27:05 for an average of 20 km/h).

Canada's elder statesman in the men's race was Olympic, World Cup and World Championships veteran Andreas Hestler. Dre, who is 49, still races a few local events as well as the B.C. Bike Race every year, but he hasn't raced at this level for some time.

I asked him to describe his race and the course for me:

"I thought the course would be neutered and toned down. It wasn't and that gave me some hope and provided a good proving ground, plus an enjoyable ride. I showed up with a toned down bike, and had I not been a North Shore style rider, would have been f'kd. As it was I had a blast but had to exercise a little caution on the full pin DHs. I went hard and was happy that there were only 4 laps. I was nervous to represent our Country and carry the flag, I didn't want to have a poor showing or a mechanical at the World Championships. There was more stress than I like and I'll be happy to get back to Fiver racing and high fiving with beers at the end of those. That's more my speed these days.

The course Gestev put together for this event is a course I would shudder to consider riding on a regular bike, while the downs were burly the ups were equal to the downs - imagine if you could turn your favorite DH track into an uphill and enjoy both directions equally - Neds UP and Neds Down - that's sort of what we rode. I don't imagine that the modern designs/geometry that comes from Acoustic or Muscle bikes will change as relates to Ebikes, it still needs to ride like a bike and our evolution has gotten us to a pretty awesome place right now."


Dre gets pretty grumpy come race day.

Andreas Hestler's Bike

Dre built up an Instinct Powerplay for the race but next time he would beef it up a little. "As to the bike set up and the course, yes I would ride something more akin to what we normally ride here on the North Shore. I imagined they would neuter the course into XC style, but they didn't, it was burly, fast, gnarly and hard, both up and down - so I may have under gunned my tires, wheels and suspension.

Andreas' race spec:

"I ran an Instinct Powerplay with 140mm of travel, both front and rear, I usually build from Factory Team spec instead of production."

Race Face Carbon Wheels (NEXT SL)

Maxxis 2.3 Minion DHF 3C EXO 21LBS front and 2.4 Rekon 3C EXO 23 lbs rear

Race Face Carbon Bar (780mm),

Race Face Carbon Cranks RF (170mm)

Dynamo 3.0 Stock Engine modified by UCI to 25km max with a 672 battery

Shimano Saint Brakes 203 rotor front, 180 rotor rear

Shimano XTR 11spd Drivetrain

These are the Rules

As you can imagine, some rules were necessary so it would at least appear that riders had no electric advantages over one another. Bikes were limited to 250 watts, assistance up to 25 km/h only and only when pedalling, aside from starting assistance up to 6 km/h.* One bike and one battery only. Rules are otherwise similar to an XCO race.

*Nick Murdick, Shimano's MTB product manager, told me this was to get around the fact that most of these bikes have climb modes for situations where the bike must be pushed


For the most part the UCI let manufacturers set the bikes up using the honour system.

Extra eDoping

In an age when riders are able to hide electric motors in conventional road bikes, and four masters cyclists were caught doping in a single event, eMTB racing seems like a cheaters paradise. From the outside it doesn't appear that it would be difficult to temporarily allow the wattage boost to extend beyond the 25 km/h limit. By all accounts however the race went off without controversy or accusations of doping, electric or otherwise. I asked Andreas Hestler about this and other issues related to the race and he felt that the results indicate everything was on the up and up; "I was where I should have been perfectly. The older retired guys were riding behind the fastest young guy. So to me there was nothing strange at all."

Nick Murdick, Shimano's MTB product manager who was helping out at the race, has given me some great info on the way the race was regulated and what potential there is to skirt the rules. I'll be following up with that later.


These Facebook comments (points if you can identify the douchebag) will give you a tiny idea of the fire and brimstone unleashed by riders offended by the idea of the eMTB world champs. Andreas for his part says; "It used to be road vs. mtb, hikers vs. mtb, dh vs. xc and now it's mtb vs. emtb - can't we all just get along?"

All the Love from MTB Fans?

The hatred online has been coming hard and fast. Riders who will never contest a world title of any kind are outraged... for some reason. The best objection seems to come from those who can't see the point. It doesn't seem that an eMTB race showcases any skills that aren't already on display. The race is simply a cross country event with a 250 watt boost. Most of the riders at the top were accomplished XC racers,* with optimal power to weight ratios. 5 of the top 10 finishers are Olympic medalists, 3 of them gold.

*Exceptions are 4th place rider Charlie Mullins who raced motorcycles - XC and enduro - until a wrist injury forced his retirement in 2014. Jérôme Gilloux doesn't seem to have posted significant results in any discipline

While I'm not an eMTB rider, the out of control vitriol I've seen online seems a little overblown, but I have a hunch where the hate originates for many riders. While it seems that few regular mountain bikers outside of Europe have much love for this event, the industry was incredibly keen to see it happen. Our wee sport, that started out with garage-built clunkers and rogue trails, managed to fly under the radar for far longer than most sports, is becoming increasingly corporate. The Olympics boosted the sport's profile first and Red Bull gets much of the blame or credit (you get to choose) for the extreme(!) sport image that has overwritten our lycra-clad roots. Manufacturers know that if these races gain momentum there will be no stopping the eMTB wave. And that means money.


Not bad being 23rd in the world, only 9:15 behind the winner, at the age of 49! Way to represent for us old bastards Dre!

Who Cares?

Despite rumours Bernard Kerr would make an appearance, Wyn Masters was the lone downhiller who tried his hand at E-XC racing, and he seemed to enjoy the experience and finished 27th, 9:54 back from the winner. Considering the high profile and influence wielded by top DH riders, we are likely to see more of that crowd racing in eMTB events 'for the fun of it.

Why should any of us, aside from those keen on eMTBs, give this any thought at all? The implications of sanctioned e-mtb racing at the highest level, remain to be seen, but it seems to me that a bunch of suit-wearing Swiss dudes telling us that eMTBs are legit and worthy of their governance, will increase e-bike acceptance, just as the Olympics did for mountain biking in general. Whether you think eMTBs are the devil or not, we should all lament the fact that the UCI is able to exert any influence in this little corner of 'our world."

It feels a bit like a bunch of bankers deciding how the future of surfing should look.

Trending on NSMB


+1 Angu58
Piotr Szwedowski  - Sept. 5, 2019, 4:11 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

+12 Todd Hellinga Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman Mammal Cr4w Jerry Willows Cam McRae grambo Beau Miller mike twk upandown
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 5, 2019, 6:13 a.m.

Personally I have no interest in e-bikes. Not one time have I been riding my bicycles and thought my experience would be improved by adding a motor nor have I ever woken up and thought "Damn! I get too much exercise I need less!". I was given a free e-bike [nice high quality one] a while back to review. I rode it for the review and gave it away to a friend. I just couldn't really understand what the point was. I can ride all over any reasonable sized city or trail network without a motor and I want more exercise not less. So adding a motor doesn't hold any appeal for me. I also don't think the western world needs more motorized recreation or batteries.

I don't get the "hate" for e-bikes any more than I would the hate for mopeds and motorcycles/scooters. I was a moto rider since I was 17 so I have no dislike for them and I understand why BRAAPPPING is fun. I chose to get rid of my moto when I realized I would rather spend my free time getting as much exercise as I could riding my bicycles and I didn't have enough free time for both. 

So I have no interest in e-bike content including racing. I have a lot of concerns about putting motors on trails that have been human powered to this point. But, I don't hate anyone because of what they ride. The industry wants to sell more product at higher pricepoints and there are a group of folks that don't want to put in the effort required to climb to the top of a mountain. I see the appeal on both sides even if I don't share their motivation. When I get asked I'll say I don't want e-bikes on hiking/MTB trails. I'll take the time to go to public meetings and say the same. However, I don't own the land the trails are on [at least not in any direct way - ie. public gov't lands] so I'll respect the decisions that get made.

BTW - if you want to see real e-animosity take an electric powered surfboard [yeah that's a thing] to a crowded lineup and see what happens when you use the motor to drop in early on a wave because you aren't limited by how fast you can paddle. ;-)


+1 Mammal
yahs  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

Thing is when a surfboard has a motor on it it becomes a vessel and or a PWC  which can't be within a certain distance of a surfer who is considered a swimmer. They actually have a line in the sand where it comes to that. Cycling.... not so much.


+3 Pete Roggeman ninjichor Cam McRae upandown Beau Miller
Geof Harries  - Sept. 5, 2019, 6:53 a.m.

I don't own an eMTB and have only ridden one for about 5 minutes. That said, I think they are a good idea and will encourage more people to get out of their vehicles and onto trails and paths. 

One Less Car. Cars R Coffins. All that stuff.

I commute year-round and often get passed by folks on eMTBs. Are they getting exercise? Yes. As much as me? No, but really, who cares? I'm just happy they are outside and not stuck inside a giant killing machine.

If eMTB racing inspires people to ride a bike, then all the power to them and the manufacturers that make the products.


Also congrats to Andreas for racing and representing Canada. I remember being at events back in the mid-90s where he was competing (I was too, but he actually would win stuff).


+13 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Andy Eunson Allen Lloyd Cooper Quinn ninjichor grambo Kenny Beau Miller twk kiksy trumpstinyhands Todd Hellinga Sandy James Oates Merwinn
Poz  - Sept. 5, 2019, 7:44 a.m.

Can we please remove acoustic bike from our lexicon? 

Not necessarily opposed to eBikes but damnit out of all the ridiculous terms we have in this sport nothing sounds more stupid than acoustic bike. 

And because it was popularised by Tim commerford (via specialized) of Rage and Audioslave it’s even ruined my perception of him! 

End rant.

+3 Poz grambo Beau Miller
Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 5, 2019, 8:52 a.m.



+5 Allen Lloyd Poz grambo Beau Miller kiksy
Mammal  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:12 a.m.

I absolutely hate the term too, but when I read Mike Levy on PB refer to them as "Analog Bikes", that one completely took the cake. A big fat no, to both those terms. It's a damned mountain bike.


+3 Poz Beau Miller kiksy
Allen Lloyd  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:27 a.m.

Exactly just because there is an eBike does not turn the term "bike" into something people do not understand.

+1 tashi E-wok Beau Miller
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:39 a.m.

True that, but when you are talking about the two of them together something needs to used to distinguish them. For Alan Hatherley he's not a world champ twice, and if you don't think they are of equal value, they need to be distinguished. Conventional and regular are bland and non-specific, analog is worse, unpowered, unassisted and non-electric suck, human powered isn't entirely accurate since eMTBs are human and electric powered, heirloom works nicely for 26' wheels since they are becoming scarce, but not here... So what should we use when a distinction must be made? If you try writing about it you'll notice that it's useful if not essential to have a term to separate them. Maybe we'll be find the term that sticks?


+2 Cam McRae Beau Miller
Poz  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:56 a.m.

how about Mountain Bike or conventional bike? And then eMTB or eBike?

We don't call non-electric cars "acoustic cars".

I do understand where you are coming from on a need to differentiate. And it isn't a criticism of your writing (it's a criticism of the industry), I just feel that calling them "acoustic" or "analog" comes off as marketing schtick or trying hard to be cool. It evokes too much of an analogy of guitars, maybe that is a function of who Specialized used to popularize the term.

Damnit, I'm going for a ride on my bike powered 100% by my legs!

Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:04 p.m.

I hear you. But we do call them gas-powered or something when we need to distinguish them.
+4 Poz Beau Miller twk Tremeer023
Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:47 p.m.

Yeah, ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vs electric cars. I do think we can mainly just use 'bike/mountain bike' and 'e-bike / eMTB' but there will be times where that could still be confusing. I still don't want to be forced to use a modifier when talking about good ol' mountain bikes powered by legs, though.

rvoi  - Sept. 8, 2019, 9:39 a.m.

Was it the Specialized marketing department that came up with the term "e-bikes" to start? I haven't seen electric cars and electric motorcycles being called e-cars and e-motorcycles anywhere. What's next? If it has built-in wifi will it be called an i-bike?


+2 Beau Miller Andy Eunson
Mammal  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:44 p.m.

Is it not adequate to say "bike vs. ebike" or "mountain bike vs. e-mountain bike".  EMTB world champion, there, it's very clear that the title is not associated with a regular mountain bike.


+1 Mammal
Poz  - Sept. 5, 2019, 10:03 a.m.

oh I forgot about that. I rounded out my teeth by grinding them while reading that.


Perry Schebel  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:19 a.m.

if nothing else, this.


Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:56 a.m.


+1 Poz
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:29 a.m.

Was used in jest, but point taken. I guess I should have used some air quotes!


+1 upandown
tashi  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:38 a.m.

I think the strength of people’s reaction to this term is hilarious. 

If mountain mopeds are actually electric mountain bikes than we’re going to need a term to differentiate the two. Guitars come in electric and acoustic, everyone know what it means, so hey, why not use the term for mountain bikes too?  

I know acoustic technically refers to sound but none of y’all who object to the term has suggested an alternative. Besides, to borrow some reasoning from the mountain moped advocates - it seems the train has left the station here, time to get on board!

I’m sure Specialized and Trek will tell us what’s right, they seem to have a firm grasp on the future  mountain bikers want🙄

+1 E-wok
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:41 a.m.

Exactly what I was struggling with. Whether we like it or not, a term is going to become increasingly necessary and useful in the future. We never needed a term for a car that wasn't electric in the past, but now we do because a car is no longer just a car.


+2 Beau Miller taprider
Poz  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:59 a.m.

My dislike isn't focused on the fact it compares against e-bikes. Acoustic is sound and music -- end of story. Specialized used it because they had a famour bass player use the term. 

I've suggested "bikes" or "conventional bikes"


+3 yahs BeesIntheTrap taprider
Poz  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:59 a.m.

My dislike isn't focused on the fact it compares against e-bikes. Acoustic is sound and music -- end of story. Specialized used it because they had a famour bass player use the term. 

I've suggested "bikes" or "conventional bikes"


+11 Poz yahs Mammal Cr4w Beau Miller Tremeer023 Dan BeesIntheTrap kiksy taprider Todd Hellinga
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:03 p.m.

i think bikes & ebikes suffices. don't think we need to re-invent conventional bicycle terminology.

0 Dan E-wok mrraulduke taprider
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:06 p.m.

Try writing about it. Or if you own/test both e and non-e and you someone asks you which bike you are bringing it won't be very helpful if you just say bike.


+3 mrraulduke taprider Mammal Sandy James Oates Cam McRae
BeesIntheTrap  - Sept. 8, 2019, 2:54 p.m.

I'm bringing my bike - an actual pedal powered bike.

I'm bringing my ebike - Not a pedal powered bike. 

Pretty easy. If you told me you're bring your bike and you showed up on the ebike I'd be riding on my own.

+1 E-wok
Cam McRae  - Sept. 10, 2019, 12:07 p.m.

That's quite a conversation:

"Which bike are you bringing?"

"I'm bringing my bike."

"Thanks. That clears things up!"

Mammal  - Sept. 12, 2019, 8:16 a.m.

add an "e" in front of "bike" and they've just completely cleared up that verbal impasse.

+3 Poz twk Mammal
yahs  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:33 p.m.

Acoustic bike is about as bad as saying "woke".

Did the UCI officials test each bike to make sure they were all equal in motor strength? Bad enough having to test for PED's.

Also splain to me how if the bike is supposed to top out at 32Km/hr don't most of these guys ride faster than that? So it just helps them uphill? Just put a throttle on it stop all this messing around, the braaaaap is the end result everyone wants.

Who thing is such a corp play by the bike companies, laughable and sad at the same time.


tashi  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:47 p.m.

Edit: yahs edited his post while I typed mine. Post deleted.

+1 Dan
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:06 p.m.

Might need another edit! ;)


+8 Mammal Cam McRae tashi yahs Tremeer023 Dan taprider Todd Hellinga
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:09 a.m.

It does seem that ebike racing is the antithesis of UCI human powered racing. The UCI has numerous rules on weight, frame design, pits and spare wheels and bikes designed to keep racing between the humans and not the equipment. I’m not as opposed to ebikes as I used to be and really it’s more the hard push some people had that was telling me essentially that climbing is not fun and only going down was fun. I take pride in my climbing. I like that hard climbs reduce the likelihood of seeing more riders out on certain trails. In many places I don’t think the sport needs to grow. In the really big picture I think humans need to see that unrestricted growth, of both the economy and population is the cause of nearly all the problems on the planet.


+2 Andy Eunson taprider
tashi  - Sept. 5, 2019, 3:19 p.m.

I mean, is it even "growing the sport" if it's not even the same sport anymore?


+2 Cam McRae grambo
earle.b  - Sept. 5, 2019, 9:57 a.m.

"There was more stress than I like and I'll be happy to get back to Fiver racing and high fiving with beers at the end of those. That's more my speed these days."

We're here for you buddy. Fair warning you might get some ribbing but you'll still get your beer and high fives at the end of the Fiver World Champs.


0 Cam McRae Reed Holden
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 5, 2019, 10:08 a.m.

that was certainly a ringing endorsement.


+8 grambo Mammal mrbrett twk Jerry Willows upandown mrraulduke Todd Hellinga
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:33 a.m.

I think the argument e-bikes are positive because they get people out and doing stuff [perhaps replacing car trips] is problematic. I mean sure if people were riding e-bikes to replace a 20km car commute in hilly terrain that seems like a reasonable way to solve that problem. Mostly what I have seen is young guys on e-MTBs so they can avoid the pain of the climbs and middle aged folks cruising the railtrail grade bikepaths on the weekend.

Humans manage to spread out and develop most of the planet [for better or worse] largely on the basis of physical effort. Now if someone has 3kms between them and a taco they need a motor on their bike to help them get there? What's happened to us?

Industrial exoskeletons already exist so it's only a matter of time until the e-walker consumer model gets sold to help people walk down the street. Are we going to say "Well at least it gets people off the sofa and walking down the block to the 7-11 to buy a bag of chips. Are they getting as much exercise as if they walked by themselves? No, but it's something right? And now they can carry a family sized bag of chips without as much strain on their bodies."

It's a little sad that at the first sign of the potential of some effort/discomfort on the horizon we look for a way to use a motor.

Sorry I find it hard to get stoked about the topic.


tashi  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:42 a.m.

So ableist if you to assume that everyone who uses an exoskeleton to walk is lazy. What about the people who are genuinely disabled?  Aren’t they entitled to chips too?  Everyone is entitled to everything, don’t ya know?

+1 Vik Banerjee
Cam McRae  - Sept. 5, 2019, 11:42 a.m.

Thankfully the e-walker was already invented and it was a flop; the Segway. I used to say their slogan should be, "like walking, only worse!"


+2 Mammal Jerry Willows
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:38 p.m.

I ran into a guy on Slickrock trail in Moab on a Segway. That said there are plenty of "cool" replacements while we wait for the e-walker to hit the market. Many versions of e-scooters, e-skateboards and those e-one-wheeled-auto-balancing skateboards whatever they are called.

I passed a couple on the bikepath...wife on an e-bike and husband on one of those one-wheeled-auto-balancing skateboard devices. He was drinking a coffee and playing with his phone as he zipped along behind her. 

At Eurobike virtual biking is this year's hot topic. So perhaps we'll be staying at home hooked up to catheters and feed tubes going nuts on the virtual trails on our VR bikes soon?


tashi  - Sept. 5, 2019, 1:56 p.m.

What’s missing (and what’s so good about mountain mopeds) is that segways and hover boards don’t replicate walking very well. They’re just boring ways to roll slowly and easily. Something that lets you walk, but with some help, would be awesome for the injured/disabled and folks who want to move faster.  Would have saved me a bunch of grief when I was laid up if I could feel like I could walk like a normal person.


+2 tashi Andrew Major
Jerry Willows  - Sept. 6, 2019, 12:01 p.m.

waiting for e-hover bikes....  no need for suspension or to pedal.  Grow the sport right?


tashi  - Sept. 7, 2019, 1:27 p.m.

Yeah, this sport would be so much better if you didn’t have to pedal or worry about the terrain.


[user profile deleted]  - Sept. 6, 2019, 9:46 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+7 Mammal Velocipedestrian Beau Miller mrbrett twk Tremeer023 BeesIntheTrap
AndrewR  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:38 p.m.

@Vik Banerjee "Mostly what I have seen is young guys on e-MTBs so they can avoid the pain of the climbs and middle aged folks cruising the railtrail grade bikepaths on the weekend."

I would say that you have been lucky. I mostly encounter e-bikes ridden by ignorant 50+ males riding counter flow on trails and being too ignorant or rude to yield to the climbing rider. And 50+ couples overtaking on the cycle paths (yes we use them to commute to the trails to stay off the roads) and roads without having the manners to call "passing on your left" let alone indicating their group size or saying "thank you" or calling "last rider".

I had one ignoramous tell me that we 'needed to watch out for the rest of his group' as he pedalled us off the trail, by riding down a rocky tech section we were climbing, on his e-bike. My response was that I hoped his group had better trail etiquette and manners than he did. He appeared somewhat taken aback.

The rules of the sea/ road is that power gives way to sail, it has always been this way. 

It should apply on the trails too regardless of climbing not climbing. If you look at the mixed trail use hierarchy of use it is horse/ hiker/ mountain bike in order to priority. E-bike should be listed as well and firmly below "mountain bike/ bike".

At the moment all e-bikes need to be sold with a permanent top tube sticker that spells out general trail etiquette as well as a reminder to call "passing on your left/ right" when over taking riders that are actually earning their kilometres.

I don't hate on e-bikes but I am having trouble with the poor attitude and manners of most of their riders at the moment.


-1 person person
Geof Harries  - Sept. 5, 2019, 12:56 p.m.

Vik - I live where that terrain and those types of commutes exist. About 10-15 km each way, but steep hills up or down depending on your direction. The slow grind to get home, at least for me.

This is where I've seen more people commuting on e-bikes lately. People that I've never met before and in greater numbers (you live somewhere long enough and ride the same paths, there's the same faces) than in previous years. Quite a few e-bike riders.

What's interesting at least up here in the north is that there's several on Fat e-bikes. Those are crazy, crazy machines...until the battery freezes.


+3 Geof Harries Mammal E-wok
Morgan Heater  - Sept. 6, 2019, 9:29 a.m.

I see tons of folks commuting on ebikes who would otherwise be in cars because Seattle is hilly and they are wimps. I think it's great.

My kids and I got passed by youngish fit men and women several times last weekend out at Alice Lake climbing up to ride LOA, Rupert, etc. They were not impressed. We all agreed that fit folks on e-bikes should be required to drop tow-ropes when passing meat powered peddlers.


+6 twk Andy Eunson Andrew Major Reed Holden Mammal Todd Hellinga
mike  - Sept. 6, 2019, 5:16 a.m.

Chatted with a couple Ebikers while raking trail and cleaning drains. All they did was brag about how fast they could do a lap after work. Fuck I ride to get out and enjoy myself , not to get it done as fast as possible. Just like handheld devices , everyone wants instant results.


+3 twk Reed Holden taprider
peterk  - Sept. 6, 2019, 8:40 a.m.

so true. "i gO On 60kM rIDeS nOW!" "i gOT 12 lAPs iN". And it seems people are forgetting that there are some trails that you shouldn't be adding another 250W up to 30km/hr on: 2 way, multi use, blind corners, poor sightlines. I'm going to stop riding those completely once eBikes start to become more common. Don't want a head-on collision.


[user profile deleted]  - Sept. 6, 2019, 9:49 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+2 BeesIntheTrap mrraulduke
Mark  - Sept. 6, 2019, 8:58 p.m.

Yeah the industry needs to ditch that friggin acoustic moniker and just run with bikes and ebikes - that's all one needs to differentiate between the two. If you say bike then people know you're taking a meat powered forest thrillcraft and if you say ebike bike then people know you're taking an electric powered bike. Not sure why there needs to be any confusion between the two. The other factor is who f'in cares what you bring, just go out and have fun.


Dan  - Sept. 9, 2019, 12:29 p.m.

I remain torn on this topic. On the one hand is the “hey if it helps people get outside” argument, especially when it applies to those among us that may be rehabbing from a serious injury, or those with cardiovascular issues. (I know riders in both camps.) 

But being a rider of 30 years, and one who’s paid close attention to issues of access, I have my reservations about this potential new crop of riders. Will my local laps - steep and forboding - become tracked out by those with e-assist? 

At what point does my paranoia devolve into plain old NIMBYism?

For now our local mountain is off limits to ebikes but it seems that the electrons are coming....


0 taprider Cam McRae
Skooks  - Sept. 9, 2019, 7:49 p.m.

Acoustic bike? Give me a break Cam! That's just ridiculous. How about just call it a bike? I am pretty sure most people understand that you are not referring to a motorized vehicle.

Cam McRae  - Sept. 10, 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Let's beat this dead horse a little more shall we? 

As I said above...

"Was used in jest, but point taken. I guess I should have used some air quotes!"

Cam McRae  - Sept. 10, 2019, 12:09 p.m.

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-2 Dan Cam McRae
TommyPastrami  - Sept. 9, 2019, 11:58 p.m.

Well, came here to avoid the incessant e-moped sales pitch ‘stories’ on PinkBike. Now leaving disappointed.

+2 Dan Mammal
Cam McRae  - Sept. 10, 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Did you even read the story FFS?

That was no sales pitch. If you can't read you aren't much use to us. 

Buh bye.


mudrunner  - Sept. 15, 2019, 2 p.m.

I have pro and con opinions on eBikes, but competition was not something I had even considered. Kinda makes me laugh....nothing more, nothing less.

Viewership will ultimately decide interest, sponsorship money, and therefore viability. Anyone remember point to point X Country races?


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