Specialized Turbo Levo
Uncle Dave went to Croatia and you're absolutely going to hate the conclusions he formed while there - Part 3

Uncle Dave E-Explains Himself

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Harookz
Date Sep 19, 2018

In taking on this challenge, I've had to think very hard about what I am doing.  I read back through my previous commentary on e-bikes and thought long and hard about what people said in the comments.  My first impulse is to drag myself out into the back yard so that I can repeatedly punch myself in the face for deciding to talk about this again.  My second impulse is to wonder if I am helping pave the path towards mountain bike Armageddon.  You don't have to read very far before you begin to feel that way.



Sometimes it does feel like we've stumbled upon a glorious secret and it seems baffling that everybody isn't out there with us, getting dirty on their bikes. I can totally understand feeling protective of that. Things are pretty great.  Why would we want to screw that up?



I really do have respect for the opinions of those that hate these things and want to see them die. I understand why they may feel this way. It's just that I don't necessarily agree with them. I firmly believe that every place is different and nobody benefits by shutting down the conversation. I believe that only by talking about these things, the good and the bad, can we start to develop some way for dealing with them. Yes, that may mean banning them from areas where they can't/won't work (or other possible solutions that don't go quite that far). You may live in just such a place, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't talk about it.

Specialized Turbo Levo

It's shocking that there are people behind me on this climb.

The crazy thing is that I've come away from the experience with the remarkable predicament of not having many negative things to say. I mean... My dropper post did a few weird things over the course of the two days. I still think that riding e-bikes is a bit of a kooky thing to do, and I look a bit sideways at anybody astride one. As well, there were a few situations where our massive group unleashed minor bits of mayhem on our way up a trail, where mayhem had never been unleashed before. It's not all endless descents and buckets of wine and kittens playing in a vineyard. There are very real consequences to unleashing this sort of thing on the masses. I'm in no way advocating blowing everything up and e-biking the shit out of every local trail. Indeed, I don't see myself owning one, or being able to ride it on any of my frequent trail haunts, anytime soon.



I look at my recent Wyoming trip again, and I think back on it, and I felt some of the same enthusiasm I'm feeling now.  There's just something magical about going someplace far, far away and riding bikes down fun trails. Could it be that I'm just a really big fan of that? There was nary an e-bike in sight, that entire weekend, and we had a great time. But then again, half of one day we rode a chairlift, and on the other day we had a marketing executive shuttling us around in a jacked up Sprinter van. It's interesting the things that we have decided are acceptable, and the things that are not.



I left for this trip excited to go to Croatia, dreading having to write about e-bikes for the privilege.  I return, not "pro e-bike" (though many will beg to differ), but most definitely interested in exploring what part these things could play in our future.



My attitude hasn't really changed all that much from before, but I feel a bit more comfortable now that I have firsthand experience with what it looks like to ride an e-bike on a trail. Once again, with respect to the places in this world where trail access is extremely touchy, I'm going to step into the void and dare to discuss some of the potential positives. Sometimes, even the worst of things have something good to offer.

Not that we shouldn't keep our eyes on the challenges. Hell, I'd be out of a job pretty quickly if I started advising people to not worry about potential negatives and consequences, so I'm in no way trying to prevent you from talking about potential issues.  I'll listen, all day, if you want to calmly and rationally talk about those (forgive me if I shy away from engaging in the comments below).  But please, just stop for a moment and think about some of the good things that might exist in some ludicrous mirror world where e-bikes exist harmoniously beside regular mountain bikes.  Here's a few:



1 – Rather than loading my bike onto my truck in the morning, and then driving out to Fromme in the evening, instead, I ride my mountain bike to work in the morning and then hop on the Skytrain/Seabus and pedal up from Lower Lonsdale to hit a few trails, before riding home.  I remove a car from the road and a car from the parking lot, and I’m potentially riding on a side of the mountain that doesn’t see much traffic.  Or;



2 – I still drive over, but I park way down on the flats somewhere, pedal up and ride something on the West side of the mountain.  Or;



3 – Rather than getting a few trucks and a bunch of people lined up, I park at the bottom of Cypress and self-shuttle up for a few laps.  Or;



4 – I can’t take credit for this one…Sean Estes pitched me on a world where the Coast Gravity Park (hypothetically speaking...don't read into that) sells off their shuttle vehicle and turn themselves into the world’s first ever e-mountain bike park, complete with a fleet of e-mountain bikes and a bunch of extra batteries that get swapped into the bikes…if that’s even necessary.  Or;



5 – I head out on a riding vacation to the Okanagan. I stay in Penticton, start my day in OK Falls, and link trails all the way to Naramata. I pop in for some wine tasting and some dinner and casually pedal back in the evening.  Or;



6 - You head out for a long ride with your significant other who rides a lot less than you, and they keep up and there's no complaints about the climb being too long. You have a tonne of fun together and when you get home, you dust off that Marvin Gaye compact disc that's in the night stand beside your bed.

Yes. Many of these things are possible without pedal assistance. There’s a group of hard men out there that scoff at the need, but for the majority of us, if we’re being honest, multi-hour, long-distance rides are the exception, not the norm. What these bikes do is expand our range, reduce our speed discrepancies, and open up the sport to a host of additional people.



Now, for some of you, that probably sounds terrible. In fact, some will argue that's the entire point of banning these things.  It will be too easy for people to ride places where they couldn't before. We can all start to picture hordes of obese tourists, spilling off cruise ships, loading into vans to spend the day falling down Fromme on e-bikes.  So yes, increased accessibility could make things more crowded out there, or turn things into an untenable shitshow. But maybe you actually like some of those extra people that are out there? Maybe one of them is your significant other that gets pulled a little bit further into the sport. Or your lazy buddy who doesn’t like to climb. Maybe things get a tiny bit worse for you, but a whole lot better for a bunch of other people who need an easier time out on the trails? Maybe you're closer to becoming one of those people than you realize?



I certainly don't have all of the answers. I don't know if these things are "right" or "wrong." All I know is that I see the possible world that might be unleashed, and if I'm being honest, that's a world I wouldn't mind living in.  I totally and completely understand the amount of shit I'm about to wear here very shortly. I'm certainly not working in my own favour in writing positive words about an e-bike. Maybe it says something that I'm willing to accept that?



Sorry,

Uncle Dave

Comments

Bagheera
+15 OldSchooler IslandLife sansarret Skooks legbacon chachmonkey goose8 grambo Velocipedestrian Paul Lindsay Cr4w Gruffalo Endur-Bro Mammal Andrew Major Todd Hellinga Zapp Absolut-M Meister
Bagheera  - Sept. 19, 2018, 5:40 a.m.

Ok, I'll bite. You do already adress most of things that could be criticized about your article. One thing that always irks me: The shuttle/chairlift comparison. Trails near chairlifts are professionally maintained, shuttle trails are built with shuttling in mind. An eMTB does not have the limits of a shuttle truck. So areas/trails that were hard to access (and therefore sustainable) will cease to be so. And yes, I'm being egoistical here. I want to keep riding those areas.

Some of your views seem rather too idealistic. Yes, an eMTB would theoretically be better than a shuttle truck. But most people will be to lazy/want to carry additional gear etc. and still ride their Tacomas as far up as possible. Heck, I've recently seen guys with eMTBs take the bus to the top of our local hill (a leisurely 20min climb on an eMTB). (I mean, if they weren't lazy, would they be riding eMTBs? ;) Yes, I know, I generalize.).

Yeah, I think it's great that older/less healthy people still get to enjoy riding. Met a couple of nice eMTB oldtimers on my recent rides. But still, eMTBs for me smack of a culture of entitlement. "I want to ride there, therefore I get to ride there, even if I don't have the fitness level to get there." Doesn't that remind you of a three-year-old? Aren't sports about challenging yourself?

What you do adress but what can't be stressed enough: Just because it may work out in some places, in a lot of places eMTBs pose a great danger to trail access and the relationsip with other trail users. My town will never be on the map as a great riding destination, but there are trails, I can start a climb 5mins from my backdoor (and end a descent there, if i choose to do so). But let's face it, most of what we ride is illegal, and we're tolerated at best (Yes, there have been oranizations fighting for more access. Resulted in 2(!) legal trails in 22 years. Yes, I'm a member.). Still,  I'm depending on these trails to be there. I usually don't have the time to travel somewhere where MTBing is encouraged, and not everyone can (or is willing to) just uproot and move somewhere where MTBs haven't been banned (yet).

I probably come across as more aggressive than intended. I'll smile politely at eMTBers, have helped some of them fix their bikes (too lazy to carry tools.....) and have even ridden with people with eMTBs. Still, my next bike will come from a brand that doesn't produce eMTBs, and I would consider buying a Bold Unplugged just for the sake of the name.

So, heigh-ho, back to work I go. Have fun riding, whatever your choice of steed may be.

Reply

davetolnai
+3 Merwinn Garrett Thibault Meister
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 19, 2018, 6:49 a.m.

I don't think I have much of a problem with anything you have said here.  What I said is probably a tad idealistic.  I mean, it is my dream world, after all.

Reply

mzro
-1 Absolut-M mtnfriend Meister OldSchooler ReductiMat IslandLife legbacon
mzro  - Sept. 19, 2018, 6:16 a.m.

eMTB will inevitably get more and more popular. Being a Luddite won't really help stopping it from happening.

Reply

Brocklanders
+5 OldSchooler Curveball IslandLife Skooks legbacon grambo Meister
yahs  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:10 p.m.

I don't think the land managers here are going to want the headache of deciding what bike, what wattage, penedlec, throttle, or what have you in the next few years. So we will all be lumped into one group and will be losing trail access. The sharing of trails, mostly climbing trails with hikers/runners was pretty chill but now but with the speed of climbing almost as fast as descending in places will be a poor result for everyone.

For the record I demo'd the Divinci ebike a while back. In boost mode it's a full on motorbike as long as you are spinning your legs effortlessly, the thing is engaged big time. I thought it was comical.

Reply

Vikb
+4 OldSchooler Dude_ jaydubmah Poz IslandLife sansarret OldManBike legbacon grambo Mammal Absolut-M Avner B. mtnfriend Merwinn Meister FlipSide
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 19, 2018, 6:52 a.m.

I don't visit sites that talk about motorcycles. I'm not interested in motorsports. So if the electric motorcycle content becomes a regular thing I'll just stop visiting this site. I'm not a fan of adding motors to our mountain bike trails. If it happens it happens. I'll state my opinion and get on with my life. But, I'm not going to consume media that doesn't interest me.

And yes I can try and figure out if article X contains motors by looking at the headline/thumbnail, but why bother? There is so much repetition and duplicate content on MTB media that sticking with one or two sites that don't include motorsports content will still ensure pretty much full coverage of anything important.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+14 OldSchooler Merwinn IslandLife sansarret Poz goose8 Velocipedestrian FlipSide Tim Coleman Cr4w Paul Lindsay Mammal Vik Banerjee rvoi
Cam McRae  - Sept. 19, 2018, 8:12 a.m.

That is not the plan Vik. I can’t say this is entirely a one-off, because I’ve never been great at seeing the future, but for one thing covering e-bikes simply doesn’t interest me much. No matter how much lipstick you put on them they will forever lack the beauty and simplicity of a true pedal bike. 

If I again have the chance to send one of my collaborators (or myself) somewhere cool and get up to date on the technology, I will likely say yes. 

But will it become part of our regular beat? I can’t imagine that ever happening with me at the helm.

Reply

Vikb
+5 Dude_ Curveball IslandLife ZigaK Cam McRae Velocipedestrian Absolut-M
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 19, 2018, 8:56 a.m.

That's good to hear Cam.

Reply

Timmigrant
+3 OldSchooler IslandLife Mammal
Tim Coleman  - Sept. 19, 2018, 2:01 p.m.

To further that point, I was certainly interested in reviewing an ebike after my trip to Wales last year. All the euro journalists would talk about is ebikes, and I wanted to learn what they were going on about. Cam was less than interested in supporting that review.

Reply

lev
+3 Absolut-M Avner B. Merwinn Niels OldSchooler
Lev  - Sept. 23, 2018, 10:54 p.m.

Vik, that opinion is too Fox news vs CNN.  Mainstream culture means to like one thing, you've got to hate another.  Look at Trump and Brexit.  We don't need that in MTB.  I don't see a problem with hearing about a bit of everything.

Reply

tashi
+2 OldSchooler Dude_ Todd Hellinga Absolut-M
tashi  - Sept. 24, 2018, noon

I don’t think that Vic is suggesting that even he hates mountain mopeds.  That is your assumption. He’s saying he’s a mountain biker that comes to this website for mountain biking content and doesn’t want to see mountain moped content take over.  I agree, and at the same time I have no doubt that MM’s are fun as hell.  I just don’t want to lose a good MTB website to a new sport masquerading as the sport I love.

Poz
+7 OldSchooler Absolut-M IslandLife Velocipedestrian Niels Todd Hellinga Cam McRae
Poz  - Sept. 19, 2018, 9:10 p.m.

I understand where you are coming from but I think this site is not your typical mtb site, it is a far cry from your typical "glowing" review site that is the standard. NSMB NOT discussing eMTB would be a problem in my opinion. Most other MTB sites I see out there, especially the European ones, come off as a marketing channel for the technology.

NSMB, via Dave, is aware of the fine-line they are walking but come off more as journalistic about it than most sites. This is likely to the political history around MTB in their own backyard and aware of how this new type of tech will have impacts on usage. This is the reason I have been coming to this site since the early 2000s.

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Absolut-M Avner B. Meister mzro OldSchooler IslandLife legbacon
Rob Gretchen  - Sept. 19, 2018, 6:55 a.m.

Great article... I ride both e-bikes and non e-bikes... gasp, I said it.. not ashamed either... the positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion.   Having said that I will ALWAYS have a non-motorized bike in my arsenal.

Reply

Kelownarider
+1 Meister Absolut-M IslandLife
Kelownarider  - Sept. 19, 2018, 8:11 a.m.

Its a journey of acceptance. Right now I feel like if you ride an e-bike, you need a good reason like being old. I imagine sometime soon it will be reason enough to own one because they are a pile of fun. I'm not there yet, but see it coming...

Reply

legbacon
0 OldSchooler yahs Meister IslandLife
legbacon  - Sept. 20, 2018, 8:44 a.m.

Is laziness good enough.

Reply

DanL
+12 Merwinn Metacomet Niels Paul Lindsay oudiaou IslandLife Poz Garrett Thibault goose8 Velocipedestrian Cr4w Mammal Cam McRae Meister
DanL  - Sept. 19, 2018, 8:42 a.m.

This is a great series of articles. Not (necessarily) for the content but for the even handedness, introspection and lack of hysteria. Great writing Dave.

Reply

rvoi
0 OldSchooler legbacon grambo Cooper Quinn Merwinn Absolut-M Avner B. Meister
rvoi  - Sept. 19, 2018, 9:11 a.m.

No matter how hard we try to paint it, the e-bike is essentially a completely different sport that requires different equipment and results in different rides. I can even envision e-bike specific riding gear (helmets, shoes, protection, clothing) coming soon ~ or more likely already here. Recognizing that, this issue personally comes down to cost consideration and available time for me. I only have the time and budget for a few serious pursuits. Not going to give up human-powered bike rides (or any of my other favorite summer activities) for e-bikes which leaves absolutely no budget or time for e-bikes. Even if I was interested in them, sacrificing something else to pursue it seems very unlikely. I enjoy the idea of motorcycles, alpine skis, and parachutes, but I don't own them for the same reasons. The only time I see myself on an e-bike in the next 5 years would be a rental situation in an e-bike specific area.

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 19, 2018, 3:29 p.m.

They're already having an effect in the components market.

Shimano has a 4pot deore brake coming, sram has a wide range 8spd drivetrain...

Reply

Cheez1ts
+4 Merwinn mtnfriend IslandLife Cr4w
Garrett Thibault  - Sept. 19, 2018, 11:28 p.m.

Oooooh I like this. I’ve wanted big brakes and wide range 8spd since 9spd.

Reply

craw
+2 mtnfriend IslandLife
Cr4w  - Sept. 21, 2018, 9:46 a.m.

As long as it's XT quality.

Reply

IslandLife
+1 mtnfriend
IslandLife  - Sept. 21, 2018, 11:24 a.m.

Yes!  Was just thinking about this on my ride the other day.  All these 11 & 12 gear wide range cassettes and I tend to use 5 or 6 of them 98% of the time.  A few climbing gears, a couple mid range and a high speed gear is all I need.  a wide range 8 speed cassette could be markedly lighter... yes please.

Reply

Endur-Bro
0 OldSchooler grambo Absolut-M IslandLife
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 19, 2018, 9:42 a.m.

I'm now so lazy that I'm strongly considering an e-mtn bike.  These Turbo Levos look palatable.

I hoped onto the Big S website to find out the S-Works goes for $14,400 CDN and the Expert(ly penned article) is a cool $11,329 CDN + taxes.

I'll just get an Alta or KTM gasser at these prices. A trails moto costs about the same as the least expensive Turbo Levo model. 

Only plus side of this release is a 34 Grip2 damper should be available soon.

Reply

Vikb
+5 Absolut-M Curveball Merwinn legbacon grambo Cam McRae Meister
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 19, 2018, 10:19 a.m.

And the gasser won't obsolete unsupported tech in 4yrs.

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 24, 2018, 5:49 p.m.

Specialized has promised 10 years of part support after final model year.

Reply

craw
+2 OldSchooler Endur-Bro grambo Meister
Cr4w  - Sept. 19, 2018, 1:21 p.m.

The next gen of electric MX and trials motos is upon us. TBH if I wanted a $13K motor that's the direction I would go.

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 21, 2018, 5:23 p.m.

The Alta MX bikes are the way to go; 63.5˚ HTA= proper moto geometry.  KTM e-moto has a laughable 67.5˚ HTA

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 21, 2018, 5:23 p.m.

The Alta MX bikes are the way to go; 63.5˚ HTA= proper moto geometry.  KTM e-moto has a laughable 67.5˚ HTA

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Sept. 19, 2018, 3:34 p.m.

Pretty loud though.

Reply

craw
+1 OldSchooler
Cr4w  - Sept. 21, 2018, 9:50 a.m.

Not the electric ones

Reply

awesterner
+2 Cr4w Cam McRae
awesterner  - Sept. 19, 2018, 11:13 p.m.

And spending $15K, one better be happy with 45lbs and probably obsolete (next year) geometry. Sign me up when geometry progression dies down and they drop 10lbs. I'm one of those guys that always rides from lower lonsdale to Fromme (if I choose Fromme). I'd be all over taking 30 minutes off my ride when I'm strapped for time, but I will absolutely NOT accept a compromised downhill experience because the bike weighs 45 lbs. I want it to handle the way by current bike handles, and I guess until then I slog it out :-)

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Sept. 21, 2018, 9:53 a.m.

I'm with you. So far only Nicolai is making something with progressive geo, and theirs is 55lbs, which is just too heavy. I would way rather have reduced max power output and longer burn times at closer to 40lbs. Give it two years. There is so much work being done on improving battery size and performance thanks to electric cars that within a few years we will see some huge improvements.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+9 OldSchooler Derek Baker jaydubmah ZigaK grambo Bagheera Todd Hellinga Mammal Zapp
Tjaard Breeuwer  - Sept. 19, 2018, 10:47 a.m.

The inclusivity of E-mtb’s  from a fitness standpoint, is only a positive as far as mixing riders with different fitnes levels. It’s not that less fit riders (like me) can’t go out and ride; we certainly can. You get a small chainring and spin. I just ride shorter distances than someone who is fitter.

In reality, there is a very real exclusivity to E-mtb’s, due to the price: Stumpy Comp: $3300   Levo Comp: $5900

I live in a town that DOES have a large network of MTB legal trails (aiming for 130 miles of trail inside city limits). However, morally and socially we struggle with justifying bike trails when many of our residents can’t afford to participate.

E-Mtb’s make that issue even more precarious.

Then there is user conflict, one of the big threats to trail access (all our trails are multi use). High speeds increase user conflict and E-Bikes increase speeds on the uphills.

And of course, the final issue is trail maintainance: with people riding more miles per week, are they going to be doing more trail work as well?

Reply

OldSchooler
+1 ZigaK
OldSchooler  - Sept. 27, 2018, 4:22 p.m.

That whole mixing riders idea is a farce anyway. It's not like spec isn't marketing like they want to sell a levo to everyone who rides.  If the whole group is on ebikes, as the marketing and sales guy desire, then we need to change it again and allow class 2 for the slower riders to keep up with the strong ones on class 1s.  And so on.  So instead, the strong riders can slow down when riding nonmotorized bikes on nonmotorized trails with riders that aren't as strong.

"mountain moped"  Gold right there.

Reply

mrbrett
+2 OldSchooler Meister
mrbrett  - Sept. 19, 2018, 10:57 a.m.

No mention of cost, I think the price of eBikes is enough to be a barrier to entry for a lot more people than fitness is.

Reply

rvoi
+1 OldSchooler
rvoi  - Sept. 19, 2018, 1:54 p.m.

the S-Works Turbo Levo is listed at $14,399 CAD ($12,050 USD) on their website...

Reply

mawa
+8 OldSchooler Metacomet legbacon grambo Velocipedestrian Bagheera Todd Hellinga Mammal
MaWa  - Sept. 19, 2018, 11:17 a.m.

I am living in a region (european Alps) with lot of tourists, lot of trails and nearly 80% of all bikers are e-bikers. On Sundays when the sun is out that number goes up to 90%. 

These bikes are perfect for commuting to work. Or older people being still able to ride. Or disabled people that would never go up a hill without an e-bike. I do know old people riding e-bikes and I do know disabled people riding e-bikes. And at least here in europe the big amount of e-bikers are just older people. Most of them are not wearing helmets, they just cruise around on weekends. It looks weird because someone sold them a Haibike with 6" of travel and fatbiketires on. 

I never met a single e-biker on a real singletrail. 

But lets face it: a lot of trails are currently forbidden because of the growing number of e-bikers. In this area there are 80 new "cycling forbidden" signs where not many people were riding in the past. Now in the time of e-bikes it has become too much for the land owners and farmers in that region. And of course it is now forbidden for all bikers. 

Personally I don't think that a bike with an engine belongs in the nature. We have areas for that kind of "sports" (skiing areas, gondolas, bike parks, motocross tracks,...). Sadly I don't think someone could stop that kind of innovation. There are already patents on motorized skis, so you don't have to walk up.

Reply

mammal
+3 OldSchooler Velocipedestrian Cooper Quinn
Mammal  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:10 p.m.

Good insight on the shift of trail access in your area lately. 

I think many (myself included), consider Europe to be the area where existing mtb access (regular and e-bike) is not in a state of flux, and therefor tends to be used as the benchmark for e-bike success. 

It's useful to hear that your perception seems to contradict that, to some extent.

Reply

Bagheera
+5 OldSchooler Metacomet grambo Mammal Todd Hellinga
Bagheera  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:36 p.m.

As someone living in Europe as well (albeit not in the Alps), I would second MaWas comment. While acces may be a non-issue in areas that depend heavily on (sports-)tourism, it's a different story elsewhere. There are places where MTBs are restricted to gravel roads and a lot of places where MTB access and user conflict are indeed issues.

Reply

mawa
+7 OldSchooler Metacomet legbacon grambo Velocipedestrian Bagheera Todd Hellinga
MaWa  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:45 p.m.

I think it is even worse than in the states:

Austria - every unpaved trail/road ist forbidden for bicycles as long as it is not allowed by signs

Switzerland - nearly every trail ist allowed to ride 

Bavaria - every trail that is not forbidden ist allowed (constant trouble because farmers want to close trails for everyone. All trails are forbidden to bikes with any kind of engine in it. So basically e-Bikes are forbidden in Bavaria

Baden-Württemberg - every trail narrower than 2 meters is forbidden

Italy - nobody knows and nobody cares, except around lake garda.

e-Bikes are not going to change anything in a positive direction. I think we will see biking forbidden on any trail not build for biking. Because insurance companies don't want to pay too much. We see a big increase in deadly accidents by e-bikers in europe.

Reply

Bagheera
+2 Metacomet Meister
Bagheera  - Sept. 19, 2018, 2:15 p.m.

I hate to disappoint you, but unfortunately you're wrong about Switzerland. The Valais and Graubünden cantons have very liberal regulations (they depend on tourism), while in other cantons, regulations are very strict (similar to Baden-Württemberg).

You've forgotten France. While on the surface everything seems ok, I've heard stories of strong opposition to MTBers by hikers and hunters, leading in some instances to trail closures.

The increase of lethal accidents is logical when you look at how many new e-bikes are sold. Most (if not all) of these accidents happen in traffic, not in a "sports" context. Giving more and more people who haven't ridden a bike in years the possibility to zip through heavy traffic at 45km/h (legal limit here) on a bicycle.... what could possibly go wrong.... But that's a whole other issue.

Reply

legbacon
-1 Meister
legbacon  - Sept. 20, 2018, 8:48 a.m.

That is incredibly sad.

Reply

shorelocal34
+2 Andy Eunson grambo
Jon Taylor  - Sept. 19, 2018, 11:36 a.m.

I think it's more about industry sales than anything ... more people on bikes because it's now easier to get to the top of the trail means more bike sales.  eBikes are a ways of expanding the user base and all manufacturers will get behind that because it means more revenue.  Simple really.

Reply

mammal
+2 OldSchooler Todd Hellinga
Mammal  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:14 p.m.

But user base also depends on maintaining access. 

So when sales are pushed to increase user base, and access becomes a big issue in certain areas, was it a responsible decision to push ebikes ahead of other considerations (proper education of where they're allowed to be, and how this may change in the near future with further legal definitions/restrictions)?

Reply

shorelocal34
+3 OldSchooler Velocipedestrian John Forsythe
Jon Taylor  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:16 p.m.

Perhaps ... but my guess is that that is a secondary concern for the manufacturers.  They may join in fixing the issue if it becomes dire enough ... otherwise, it's not important or at least not their concern how their products impact access.

Reply

mammal
+2 Metacomet Todd Hellinga
Mammal  - Sept. 19, 2018, 2:16 p.m.

I agree that the access concern is not the current focus of most e-bike manufacturers or retailers. 

But I'd suggest that it damn well should be. Their financial livelihood (and our recreational livelihood) will in some ways, depend on the decisions they're making right now.

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tashi
+1 OldSchooler
tashi  - Sept. 26, 2018, 9:14 a.m.

One of the ways that I see this playing out is this:

- industry markets these as mountain bikes

- people use them as mountain bikes

- other people object to motorized vehicles on trails where they're not allowed, and "mountain bikes", motorized and real ones alike, are banned

- mountain biking as a sport splits: one group goes back "underground", one group continues riding the "official" areas and at resorts (who expand to pick up the slack), and one group gives up the sport.  I'm conflicted about how I feel about this scenario, but none of it sounds like "increased sales" to me.  

This tech is good, and has a place, but it may just not be in mountain biking.  They could be trading long-term sales for a short-term bump, and costing their customer base official access in the process.  Some of us have already chosen to not spend our dollars supporting companies (LBS's included; personally I already refer to my LBS a scooter shop to their staff) that are selling them, our numbers will only grow if the above scenario starts to play out.

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OldSchooler
0
OldSchooler  - Sept. 27, 2018, 4:25 p.m.

It is of such little importance to ebike makers, that in the Seattle area, RAD Power bikes filmed an ad in Duthie mtb park, where ebikes are expressly not allowed.

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velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 19, 2018, 4:38 p.m.

This.

Our city council has officially permitted eBikes on a very few select trails as a test run, but in reality there is no policing, and it's starting to look like permission by ignoring the issue. 

I've only seen one small sign, but plenty of users heading up my local trails (not in the test group) who seem surprised when I hoist myself out of my rocking chair to inform them of the error of their ways.

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fartymarty
+1 OldSchooler legbacon Meister
fartymarty  - Sept. 20, 2018, 12:02 a.m.

And at the moment those selling e-bikes are not looking at the future trail access issues, they are just trying to maximise profit.

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AlanB
+8 zahgurim goose8 Andy Eunson grambo Tjaard Breeuwer Andrew Major Bagheera Niels Cr4w Meister
AlanB  - Sept. 19, 2018, 12:51 p.m.

Start all the good trails worth protecting with a mandatory hike-a-bike up a set of stairs. That'll filter out the e-bikes.

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velocipedestrian
+4 Meister Niels ZigaK Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 19, 2018, 3:51 p.m.

Did you miss the picture of riding up stairs?

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craw
+1 AlanB
Cr4w  - Sept. 21, 2018, 10:03 a.m.

Make it a ladder then :)

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RAHrider
+8 OldSchooler Paul Lindsay ReductiMat Jerry Willows Cr4w Velocipedestrian ZigaK OldManBike
Reed Holden  - Sept. 19, 2018, 10:21 p.m.

Hi Dave,

Can you please outline exactly what you received from specialized? Was it a plane ticket? Was it an all expenses paid trip? How many days? Just curious how much Specialized is pushing these things.

In medicine, pharmaceutical companies are no longer able to do things like this. They have shown in studies that no matter how impervious a doctor thinks they are to the effects of this type of direct marketing, they are wrong. Accepting free gifts from any company has been proven to significantly change prescription behaviors by changing how you perceive things.

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cam@nsmb.com
+2 Tehllama42 Niels
Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2018, 10:28 p.m.

Media expenses are always paid for these things. We wouldn't have the budget for it otherwise. It seems to me that it was similar to other bike launches in terms of duration and format though. Maybe you missed Dave's piece that was entirely dedicated to his acknowledgement of the bias created by being hosted in this way?  

https://nsmb.com/articles/drunk-press-junket-lemonade/ 

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tehllama42
+1 Metacomet
Tehllama42  - Sept. 25, 2018, 12:04 p.m.

"Press Junket Lemonade" is among the best articles I've read to be honest. It captures so much of why bicycle journalism is what is it and why.  Can anybody expect somebody with good riding and writing skills getting the sort of (low) direct monetary compensation on offer to remain perfectly objective when paraded through the type of treatment that only the fabulously wealthy can afford at sticker price?  No. Should we expect that - obviously not.
Taking the time to fully disclose that, and document it publically before spouting out an opinion about the hardware they were taken to analyze - the correct answer that lets us draw our own conclusions.

Happens in every industry, and since there isn't enough cash feedthrough to go full Consumer Reports double-blind hidden buyer testing of bicycles that haven't even been released into the wild - this is the best we can hope for, and I'd argue Dave has achieved the top level standard for what we as readers can ask for.

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cadborough
0 Merwinn Avner B. OldSchooler Jerry Willows
cadborough  - Sept. 19, 2018, 11:06 p.m.

Ebikes. ahhh the wave of the future.

in my town the rules are simply this. 500kw or less. our town pool actually has a fleet of ebikes for rent, granted not the best but still for rent are fully rented every weekend. our trails are welcoming to ebikes, we ebikers maintain and build most of our own trails, the biggest issue is where to build another trail.

ya they are expensive but so are all the carbon santa cruz bikes, wait till SC gets onboard with an ebike nomad version. 
great article and good to see ebikes breaking the mold.

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crimedog
+1 oudiaou Niels Mammal
crimedog  - Sept. 20, 2018, 8:35 a.m.

So do you all really think that trails are all of a sudden going to be flooded with people who are new to the sport and run out to drop $5-12k on ebikes? How many times do we get asked for advice on buying a first bike only to have the person get sticker shock when we recommend a $1k used hardtail?

Personally I see the appeal for big rides that I absolutely don't have the fitness for. If I lived somewhere near real wilderness where you could put together 30-50mi scenic, mountainous rides and I had an extra $5k lying around I'd go get a demo.

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Curveball
+1 OldSchooler
Curveball  - Sept. 20, 2018, 9:38 a.m.

You could do the exact same thing on a used dirt bike for far less money.

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metacomet
+9 OldSchooler tashi mrbrett yahs Velocipedestrian ZigaK Cooper Quinn Todd Hellinga Mammal
Metacomet  - Sept. 20, 2018, 8:51 a.m.

Loved the articles, and love Uncle Dave.
Now about these electropeds/electrocycles... I think we are all missing the whole damn point here. We are getting so caught up in the particulars and the merits, and in all the details that we (as an industry) is missing (perhaps deliberately) what really matters. Is there anything inherently wrong with electropeds/electrocycles? No!  Of course not!  It would be incredibly blindly hypocritical to say so when we prance around every day every hour in our horseless carriages and electrified homes and workplaces. What the hell would be wrong with a two wheeled device with an electric motor attached to it? Nothing at all. In fact that sounds fun as hell and very similar to other things I enjoy, and I bet I would love most everything about it!

Now we have rules of course to say maybe we shouldn't bring motorized vehicles anywhere and everywhere we damn well please, because you know, some natural places worth protecting are better protected by keeping things with motors out of them. Things like certain forests and trails that have been given the OK for many different forms of passive recreation. Things like certain rivers and streams and lakes that are better protected by not allowing motorized boats. And that's great. Actually that works really well. We've got bikers and hikers and bird watchers and rollerbladers and skateboarders and dog walkers and hunters and fishermen and kayaks and families in canoes. Big kids, little kids, old kids. All kinds of different shit going on and none of them with a motor for these selected places.

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metacomet
+16 OldSchooler ZigaK Paul Lindsay tashi Cam McRae mrbrett yahs Reed Holden jaydubmah Cr4w Velocipedestrian pedalhound Andrew Major Cooper Quinn Skooks Todd Hellinga Mammal Perry Schebel Avner B. Kos
Metacomet  - Sept. 20, 2018, 8:53 a.m.

But wait a second. Now you've got bicycles with motors in them to assist in speed and range. WTF? Isn't that motorized recreation? Isn't that motorized transportation? Sure as shit sounds like it to me. Why do they keep calling them Bikes!? Can't they see they have a motor in them? How can they think it's OK to just slide these motorized vehicles into areas that the land owners and land managers designated for things without motors? It's like they want to completely ignore the fact that there is a motor in there! Hello! I can see you little motor! How the hell do you expect me to ignore you!?
When deciding trail access for this forest and lake, bikes and canoes and kayaks were given access to this area on the single premise that it is passive, non-motorized recreation. You know. Because they don't have a motor. Now that there is a motor in it, that has to be considered. Now there are many places where using a motor is FIIINE. But not in the area we said no motors. You have to look at them separately. They are not the same. Stop calling it a bike. Stop associating it with a bicycle. It is fundamentally no longer a simple bicycle. It is, and should be recognized as a completely different activity all together.
Now if you want to keep calling it a bike for whatever reason motor or not, well then hell, that's your own demise. Because you know. We are going to have to consider that when determining whether or not bikes should have access to a certain area. It just seems silly when you don't hear bullshit like eKayak or eCanoe. If it has a motor, thats cool. Say it has a motor in it. Just don't try to call it something its not by putting a sneaky little 'e' in front of it and then expect to slide into all the areas where we specifically said no motors.
If it's on your own private land and you can distinguish and control all the different merits and various capabilities of these motorized things, then that's awesome. You can enjoy the f'ing piss out of them and you're new groundbreaking low speed, low impact motorized sport then! In fact I might even come try it! But don't say its the same as my bike over here. Because it's not. You are enjoying something different now. You play over there and I can come join you and try your game. And in the mean time I'll play over here and you can come join me and try my game. But lets not f-up two perfectly good games by trying to play both at the same time while pretending we are only playing my game and keeping my name. Make sense?

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tashi
+3 OldSchooler Metacomet Todd Hellinga
tashi  - Sept. 24, 2018, 2:43 p.m.

Big ups to Metacomet for taking the time to type out my thoughts on this so thoroughly and entertainingly.

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Curveball
-1 OldSchooler Merwinn Avner B.
Curveball  - Sept. 20, 2018, 9:10 a.m.

Take the article and swap Turbo Levo for XRF250 and it reads pretty much the same.

Think about that.

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martin
0
Martin  - Sept. 20, 2018, 5:50 p.m.

Just curious, how many kms per day were ridden during that trip?

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bjoernski
0
bjoernski  - Sept. 21, 2018, 1:32 a.m.

While some try to clean our oceans from plastic waste, we moan about ebikes stealing trail access. Batteries dont fall off trees nor can you just throw them and the ever expanding loads of carbonframes into a dustbin and they just dissappear...and yes, elictricity is endless- it comes out of the socket

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kos
0 OldSchooler Avner B. ReductiMat Jerry Willows
Kos  - Sept. 22, 2018, 7:25 a.m.

Personally, #6 FTW Uncle Dave!

But what a complex topic.  In my backyard riding area, the LAST thing we need is another single user on good weather, good dirt weekends.

So.....maybe we should apply the anti-ebike objections "down" another level and prohibit shuttling?

I don't do it, so therefore, I'm agin it, dammit!

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Brocklanders
+2 OldSchooler Metacomet
yahs  - Sept. 23, 2018, 11:17 a.m.

Good read thx Metacomet.

Really comes down to that it has a motor, its motorized. This whole thing is bizzarre how the bike industry thinks different.

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tashi
+2 OldSchooler Curveball
tashi  - Sept. 24, 2018, 11:54 a.m.

I’m not interested in hearing about mountain mopeds. If you start covering them, to me, you’re choosing to cover a different sport and I will likely stop visiting your website.  Good luck, I don’t really envy the choices you or anyone else in “the industry” are going to have to make in the near future. 

If any bike manufacturers are reading, my future frame purchases will STRONGLY favor brands that don’t sell mountain mopeds.

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Curveball
+1 OldSchooler
Curveball  - Sept. 24, 2018, 1:12 p.m.

That certainly factored into my decision to buy a Guerilla Gravity.

It seems like the industry is really starting to push these things pretty hard.

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tashi
+1 Curveball
tashi  - Sept. 24, 2018, 2:44 p.m.

I've been noticing those myself...

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davetolnai
+2 Niels Avner B.
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 24, 2018, 5:52 p.m.

Cam provided a comment on that in an answer to another comment.  Not in the plans, but there will be the occasional article.

Now that there is an e-geometron...I'm thinking your brand choices are going to be more and more limited in the near future.

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Curveball
+1 OldSchooler
Curveball  - Sept. 26, 2018, 11:54 a.m.

This brings up the question of whether or not a bike brand can resist the added revenue stream from producing e-bikes.

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tashi
+1 ZigaK
tashi  - Sept. 28, 2018, 10:33 p.m.

I’m perfectly comfortable crossing frames off the list that are priced in the Geometron category. Zero loss there for me.

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Curveball
+2 OldSchooler Todd Hellinga
Curveball  - Sept. 24, 2018, 1:20 p.m.

Another thing to consider is trail funding. Our local club has obtained trail-building grants based upon constructing non-motorized trails. Those grants are specifically earmarked for non-motorized recreation.

E-bikes would definitely impact the ability to access that grant funding. This is something that the e-bike advocates are unable to address.

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tehllama42
+1 Curveball
Tehllama42  - Sept. 25, 2018, 12:24 p.m.

The hope is that it would be addressed by eBike companies setting up grants to fund trails that are accessible to both bicycles and zero-emission motorized bicycles... but so far none of that has materialized from the sales of eBikes.

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tehllama42
+3 nickw OldSchooler Curveball
Tehllama42  - Sept. 25, 2018, 12:20 p.m.

Late to the party, but I'm glad to gloat about having already posted the same thoughts that remain unchanged.
Motorized bicycles are just that - but in areas where motorized recreation is permissible and compatible with the trails in question, eBikes are going to be a thing.  As the power density improves, they'll actually get to be more and more capable tools to go out and ride with.

I'm happy that the components spree coming out of this will supply my fat 110kg self with adequate brakes, cassettes, forks, and tires for the forseeable future - but the negative impact will be the response to trail access because for most land managers a fancy expensive bicycle with pedals and a motor in the downtube isn't easy to distinguish from a fancy expensive bicycle with pedals and snacks in the downtube.

I think in areas where trail advocacy and good trailbuilding has a foothold, the negative consequences aren't going to be as severe (more users, more mean miles per user - but larger user base to numerically argue from, and slightly better access for trail building in specific areas), but they'll be present.
In areas where that is tenuous, we'll see a pretty massive chilling effect on opening up trails to bicycle access which previously may not have been, or greater reliance on bike-only trails being build in parallel at greater cost within areas that are to be opened to bike access.  

Like every other hobby I'm into, the rulemaking isn't driven by the compliant users, but the worst case scenario based on capability.  I know how to reflash firmware on controller boards, and I could quite easily spec out >800W electronic speed controllers and motors to run with higher specific power batteries (a 6S-2P 1300mAh LiPO setup fits in a downtube fine), and for about five minutes I could rip around with that setup on 1.5bhp max. net output anywhere I please and look like any other eBike, which is plenty of opportunity to create mayhem if I wanted to be stupid about it.

In areas where a bicycle with a motor is allowed, eBikes are going to be a really cool thing - just treat them like a bicycle with a motor and most things shake out... it'll be the gits who feel entitled to demand that they take their $8000 toys anywhere who will ruin it for lots of others inevitably, which gets the game of 'misplace the blame' going full speed.

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Aidan747
0
Aidan747  - Sept. 26, 2018, 1:05 p.m.

Good write up, if I can just add one more item to your list of great reasons to ride an ebike--- - you have had multiple spinal fusions, you have had knee replacements, you are weak from (insert syndrome or treatment here) but the woods are so good for your soul you just need to get out there and finally you have a way to do it.

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Curveball
0
Curveball  - Sept. 26, 2018, 5:10 p.m.

Why not an ATV then? I think an ATV would be even less demanding on the body than an e-mtb.

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nickw
0
nickw  - Oct. 10, 2018, 6:34 p.m.

To be fair, that's kind of like saying if you can't go for a hike, go for a drive in your car instead.

And I think that points out the crux of the problem.  People who want to ride their e-mtb as an mtb because they wouldn't otherwise be able aren't likely to be the ones causing any problems, and it sort of sucks to say they shouldn't be able to ride them.

The problem not the ebikes, it's the guys who ride like jerks, regardless of what they're riding.  Unfortunately, ebikes do allow more jerks to be jerks without putting in the effort to get there to begin with.

I can't say I have any kind of solution.  I just like to keep things in perspective.  I've got an ebike (road-going variety), and it's great.  It got me into biking way more than I ever would have otherwise, and even though I rarely use it now, it's still got its place.

I get just as annoyed as the next guy when I'm hauling ass up a hill on my road bike and an ebiker flies past with inches to spare, but I blame the rider, not the bike.  (Same as other riders who pass you when they haven't got room, etc)

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