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ebikes on the Shore

May 7, 2019, 9:09 a.m.
Posts: 13
Joined: Nov. 1, 2017

I've been following this thread with a lot of interest as I've been in the market for a new bike, and I just bit the bullet and got an ebike (pedelec) last week. I'm not an apologist nor do I get paid for shilling product, I just wanted to share my impressions to add to further discussion. For those who aren't into fitness elitism, it's a game changer. Instead of riding up the fire road, I spend that same time riding up the climb trail now. Instead of riding alone or with the few others who have similar fitness and skills to me, I can now ride with a wider variety of friends, staying together as a group. Moreover, this has brought over friends from the motorcycle riding realm who otherwise have had no interest in bicycles. These same friends are now enjoying better fitness and have become passionate about riding bikes - more people who will support trail organizations and our LBC's. 

Can someone put their bike on turbo/boost (highest level) and just easy roll it up the hills? Perhaps, but it's not as simple. That will quickly drain the battery on an extended technical climb, and it won't change the fact that one still needs a certain amount of skill and experience to hustle and wrestle a 50+lb bike up and over obstacles. Moreover, most of the systems when in turbo/boost aren't very smooth at applying power in those gentle pedal applications; they can be jerky and take away from one's ability to navigate around obstacles. Where the benefits lie are in these systems ability to help a rider maintain momentum, and being able to do so riding a bigger bike. Having not ridden the shore extensively since the 90's, I now essentially have a DH bike of yesteryear that climbs. For those who worry about trail erosion because of tires spinning etc, that's not how these systems work. If anything, you erode the trail less due to said momentum, compliant long-travel suspension, and typically plus-sized tires. I encourage everyone to try one for an extended ride, not just a few minute putter. Now I truly have my one-mtb quiver - it will do everything from a day riding shore tech-gnar, to a full-day adventure that will allow me to explore and cover significantly more distance than I otherwise would on a trail bike. Being that I'm not that skilled as a dirt jumper or 'sending it', I'm not particularly worried that it's not light and lithe enough for fancy jump poses to be posted on instagram or facebook. 

Now why did I buy one? It's made riding accessible and fun again. As per above, I now have the opportunity to ride with a more diverse group of people. Living 45-60 minutes away from the shore, it's also made it so I can get a satisfying ride in a short amount of time; I still work just as hard, I just get more trail time in a shorter period. For example, for 1:10 riding time on Sunday, I was able to ride up the climb trails from Dempsey, ride up to 7th, down 7th, Leppard, crinkum crankum, kirkford, cedar tree, then up the fire road up and then down expresso, lower expresso, and pennzoil. Now keep in mind that I'm pretty fit (Previous cat 1-2 road racer, FTP high 4W/kg) and that I was working hard using eco/trail mode, but that same route would've typically taken a lot longer. I made most of my time on the service road as I was drilling it around the same pace/effort I would on my gravel bike. Did I pass some people on the trails? Sure I did, but I did what I would've done in any other instance when I would've passed these same people 'on my own power'; wait slowly for them to clear their section and/or wait for a more appropriate manner before announcing my pass. Etiquette doesn't just disappear when one rides an ebike, nor can we assume that jerks won't also do jerk passes when riding a normal bike. 

I agree with many of the comments that we need more stringent policies to govern the application of ebikes and what constitutes appropriate use. Throttle controlled bikes are a no-go; these are essentially motorcycles as many of stated. But pedal assist bikes are very different in their behaviour; I ride motorcycles as well and the skillset used to ride either proficiently is quite different. Additionally, there seems to also be the argument that these ebikes will somehow open up the floodgates to inexperienced riders getting in over their heads. Think about this for a second - do you really think that the demographic who can afford a $6k+ e-assist mtb would really want to try to mangle themselves on the beloved shore trails we love? Most who will come to the shore will be old-skool shore riders who are older and may not have the same fitness of their youth, or people like me who are pressed for time, or others who just want to pound out epic long days on the bike. Recall there were very many naysayers as well as MTB's have evolved - people used to bitch about suspension, then full suspension, and disc brakes etc... Recognize that these e-assist bikes are yet another evolution in the process and I can only foresee them growing in popularity. I encourage you all to give an assist-bike a proper go one day, you may be surprised as to how they can augment your enjoyment of riding.

May 7, 2019, 9:23 a.m.
Posts: 19
Joined: Aug. 16, 2018

Posted by: Spandies
 Additionally, there seems to also be the argument that these ebikes will somehow open up the floodgates to inexperienced riders getting in over their heads. Think about this for a second - do you really think that the demographic who can afford a $6k+ e-assist mtb would really want to try to mangle themselves on the beloved shore trails we love?

thanks for confirming.  the shore as we know it will just get progressively dumbed down.  the NSMBA will either choose to follow the herd or will be told to support the herd by the land managers.

in current context of no new trails, dumbing down just means losing more of the classics and getting them turned into pablum.

May 7, 2019, 9:39 a.m.
Posts: 1573
Joined: July 11, 2014

Spandies thanks for sharing your perspective in a respectful manner, it is important to hear from actual real folks out there buying ebikes to help understand. Your argument seems to boil down to an ebike allowing you to get in more descending for the same effort/time and ability to ride with a more diverse group of people as you age. 

Although I have to disagree on the the suspension/disc brakes/modern tires = ebike motor false equivalency. Motorized vs. non-motorized is a line in the sand re: multi use trail access and a pretty standard one across North America. Using the ebike is closer to a bicycle than a throttle moto/trials bike could be a valid statement but as I always say, how is this going to be enforced? In B.C. you pretty much never seen land managers actually out at trails doing any kind of enforcement outside of rare activity by BC Parks. The risk (not a certainty but absolutely a risk) is that certain land managers throw up their hands and ban all bike/ebike access if conflicts occur. 

Re: another poster with the shuttle argument, I have no problem with ebikes going up Cypress or Seymour on the highway and dropping into trails. I honestly do not believe an ebike vs. a conventional mtb does any more damage to a trail surface ridden by the same rider. Ebike vs. conventional bike is also no different to other trail users (hikers, runners, dog walkers etc) on the descent. They approach at a similar speed and don't sound any different so these other groups are not surprised and know how to react. There could be an argument that ebike = more laps/volume = more overall wear on trails but really the issue is on climbs.

May 7, 2019, 9:42 a.m.
Posts: 46
Joined: Feb. 16, 2013

Sorry, responding to FLATCH here...

I honestly think you're purposely short-circuiting the logic here. Trail Orgs are acting on A) Their own ability to mitigate trail wear and user conflict, and B) Land Managers interests (primarily non-motorized use). The moment the LM's start banning things is the moment they stop allowing any bikes on their land. If you're waiting for that, you're waiting for the mtb apocalypse to indicate there might be an issue.

And to say that Trail Org's are self righteous, is pretty freaking ignorant. Pointing at KOM's is equally ignorant. Everyone knows ebikes are the golden ticket to KOMs;)


 Last edited by: mammal on May 7, 2019, 9:44 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 7, 2019, 10:02 a.m.
Posts: 819
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Thanks Spandies - I get where you are coming from but I do not understand why or how a fit former Cat1/2 road racer needs an ebike to ride the climbing trails. Those trails were meant for the general population to pedal up on normal bikes, and I think that No Quarter takes a similar duration to go up as Mtn Hwy so it shouldn't be a timing thing. To me it sounds like you are exactly the type of person who does not need an ebike to access the trails. 

I think that, while you sound like a well-reasoned person who Im sure is a great riding partner, your post supports many of the points those who are dead set against ebikes are trying to make. Im not against ebikes in general, probably because I realize that they will likely have a role in my future at some point (Im getting older and my kid is getting faster), but your post is a giant "I told you so" for the anti-ebike crowd.

May 7, 2019, 10:05 a.m.
Posts: 13
Joined: Nov. 1, 2017

Posted by: oldmanbuilder

Posted by: Spandies
 Additionally, there seems to also be the argument that these ebikes will somehow open up the floodgates to inexperienced riders getting in over their heads. Think about this for a second - do you really think that the demographic who can afford a $6k+ e-assist mtb would really want to try to mangle themselves on the beloved shore trails we love?

thanks for confirming.  the shore as we know it will just get progressively dumbed down.  the NSMBA will either choose to follow the herd or will be told to support the herd by the land managers.

in current context of no new trails, dumbing down just means losing more of the classics and getting them turned into pablum.

Perhaps I was not clear in my point. I suspect that the majority who can afford these e-assist mtb's most likely won't be riding the shore - they're the ones who will ride in the endowment lands or around easy trails in the GVRD; for many it's about status after all. It's no different than the dudes who buy $15k road bikes with deep carbon wheels; very few have the fitness to fully utilize the bike, nor do many of them race. But these are the people who pay big bucks and flip bikes often, supporting our LBC's and ensuring that guys like you and I have access to barely ridden premium bikes at significant discount when they're sold. As previously mentioned, I see a lot of ebike riders on the shore as either old skool riders who have injuries or who have lost fitness, guys like me who just want to get more riding in a shorter period, or for those who want to do super long days. 

As for following herds and the dumbing down of trails, having been out of the 'shore scene' for a long time, it was interesting to see the volume of riders riding up the service road doing loops of bobsled/floppy bunny on the weekend; must've been 30-40+ riding up in a group along with 10-15 people waiting at the top of the trail. Not one ebike in sight. And so, perhaps another perspective is that an e-assist bike may make it so that 'the herds' will more likely be interested in attempting the old-skool trails as their skills improve with the incentive of having an easier time accessing said trails. Or, it could spawn or expand upon a different type of riding - North Shore uphill tech-gnar; slower speeds, just as technically challenging, fewer dudes impaling themselves on gaps and skinnies.

May 7, 2019, 10:06 a.m.
Posts: 46
Joined: Feb. 16, 2013

Posted by: Spandies

I've been following this thread with a lot of interest as I've been in the market for a new bike, and I just bit the bullet and got an ebike (pedelec) last week. I'm not an apologist nor do I get paid for shilling product, I just wanted to share my impressions to add to further discussion.

I too would like to thank you for adding respectful, constructive dialog to this thread.

I fully understand the perspective advantages to ebikes, when it comes to less skilled or less fit riders. Also for those who would prefer to commute to the trails.

From your summary, the main issues I see are:

"I can get a satisfying ride in a short amount of time; I still work just as hard, I just get more trail time in a shorter period". This isn't just the case for you, but for every ebike rider in the trail system. If you estimate the long term growth of ebike use, based on the previous couple few years, you can clearly see a labor shortage coming for our local trail orgs. I've got a pro-level rider friend who can literally double his mileage when he borrows an ebike. Fun, sure, but who puts in the trail time. Not the folks who can barely make time for a ride as it is (huge selling point for ebikes).

"do you really think that the demographic who can afford a $6k+ e-assist mtb would really want to try to mangle themselves on the beloved shore trails we love?".  Absolutely they will. They'll drive their Land Rovers to the Fromme or Seymour lot, and cruise the increasingly smooth access trails over to the increasingly smooth flow trails. I love those trails too, but don't pretend the Shore is an intimidating monster like it once was. Every average Joe/Jane and their 8yo are out there these days. That's great, as long as there's a plan in place to deal with the mileage and maintenance.

May 7, 2019, 10:46 a.m.
Posts: 13
Joined: Nov. 1, 2017

Posted by: Ddean

Thanks Spandies - I get where you are coming from but I do not understand why or how a fit former Cat1/2 road racer needs an ebike to ride the climbing trails. Those trails were meant for the general population to pedal up on normal bikes, and I think that No Quarter takes a similar duration to go up as Mtn Hwy so it shouldn't be a timing thing. To me it sounds like you are exactly the type of person who does not need an ebike to access the trails.

I think that, while you sound like a well-reasoned person who Im sure is a great riding partner, your post supports many of the points those who are dead set against ebikes are trying to make. Im not against ebikes in general, probably because I realize that they will likely have a role in my future at some point (Im getting older and my kid is getting faster), but your post is a giant "I told you so" for the anti-ebike crowd.

My apologies if my post sounded confrontational, it was not my intent to provide a 'I told you so'. I just wanted to provide my perspective as someone who (1) doesn't necessarily need an ebike due to the fitness aspect, and (2) had actually previously hated on them due to many of the arguments as tabled in this discussion. To clarify, I don't need an ebike to get up the trail; again I chose one because it would allow me to pack more riding in a shorter period of time. I don't think that I would be able to do the similar route I did on the weekend in the same allotted time on a non-assist bike, and with little leisure time, my intent is to prioritize smiles per hour; the more tech I get to enjoy on a ride, the better.

As for the changing of my perspective to not hating on ebikes, a couple of things did it for me. First, I wanted to incentivize riding and so had purchased an ebike for my wife for her to commute on and for us to go on rides together. I grew up with bikes, family had a bike shop, raced tons, in essence I obsess about being on two wheels. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't share the same love for riding that I do, nor does she have the same level of fitness. The ebike I bought for her was the equalizer - she looks forward riding to work knowing that she has extra assistance when she's tired; her MO is to get a good workout on regardless, but sometimes she's just tired and the different levels of assistance allow her to have the flexibility on those off days. As she has been riding more often, we get to go out on more excursions on the bikes, using our cars less. Living in Vancouver, we can traverse a relatively large distance and it has opened up her eyes to exploring trails as well; I can bomb about on my gravel bike and still have fun while she's not too far behind - bonus! The second was already mentioned - a bunch of my friends who previously only rode motorcycles (sportbikes, dirt) bought ebikes and I got to try one for a few rides. I wanted to hate on it but I couldn't, I had so much fun. Drilling up an FSR was fun. Riding super easy trails were fun because I was in good company, and because the ebikes allowed my friends with less fitness to stay in a group. Riding proper techy trails was fun because I was on a robust enduro bike which allowed for more speed and bigger hits. And I think that's the summary I have - they're just super fun.

I know they're not for everyone nor am I trying to convince everyone to buy one. There will always be a place for non-assisted bikes, that market isn't going away anytime soon. Again, I emphasize that I agree that policies need to be in place so as to circumvent abusive behaviours, however I feel we cannot do so by adopting a black and white position of banning outright. The reality is that they will only increase in popularity, and so I hope that we can have more fruitful discussions with trail organizations about integration, and subsequently, issues around increased trail wear and usage. 

On a related note, since I'm just getting back into riding the shore, I'm always looking for riding partners. Should anyone be interested, the offer is open for you to try my bike should we go on a ride.


 Last edited by: Spandies on May 7, 2019, 10:52 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 7, 2019, 11 a.m.
Posts: 819
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Sorry, it was me who wasn't clear, and I didn't take your post as confrontational at all (quite the opposite in fact). I think that the "I told you so" will be from the anti-ebike crowd after reading your post and saying that, "you see, eBikes:

1) are going to increase miles per rider on the trails,
2) will increase the number of people on the trails,
3) will make their way to climbing trails and wont stick to MTN HWY or access roads, and
4) If the bar is that low that even fit people choose eBikes, we are doomed when it comes to the general population"

There is also the giant concern that there are some fragile areas that cant be shuttled and are protected by climbs that would be deemed no longer an obstacle.


 Last edited by: Ddean on May 7, 2019, 11 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 7, 2019, 11 a.m.
Posts: 46
Joined: Feb. 16, 2013

Posted by: Spandies I suspect that the majority who can afford these e-assist mtb's most likely won't be riding the shore

Based on the experiences I've had, the technical nature of the Shore certainly does not deter ebike riders. I've encountered many demographics on ebikes (older, advanced tech riders, new-to-the-sport, pros, Chaz, Digger, etc).

At least the more established riders use some trail etiquette, but I've had 2 very discouraging encounters with relative nubes since last fall. One blasting past me up Baden Powell, and refusing to stop to let me past as his descending skills completely melted away on the way down toward the lot. the other 2 were clearly completely new to the sport, sinking huge ruts and blowing completely off of corners, on their way up Fromme climb trails in November. Three riders don't represent the whole, but they come in all shapes and sizes, and we can no longer rely on the technicality or effort levels of Shore trails to be the filter.

May 7, 2019, 11:13 a.m.
Posts: 13
Joined: Nov. 1, 2017

Posted by: Ddean

Sorry, it was me who wasn't clear, and I didn't take your post as confrontational at all (quite the opposite in fact). I think that the "I told you so" will be from the anti-ebike crowd after reading your post and saying that, "you see, eBikes:

1) are going to increase miles per rider on the trails,
2) will increase the number of people on the trails,
3) will make their way to climbing trails and wont stick to MTN HWY or access roads, and
4) If the bar is that low that even fit people choose eBikes, we are doomed when it comes to the general population"

There is also the giant concern that there are some fragile areas that cant be shuttled and are protected by climbs that would be deemed no longer an obstacle.

Thanks for clarifying, your post was clear but I misread it initially. I agree with all your points, hence if the inevitable is going to happen, I feel it is more reason to initiate discussions around this. Being out of the loop, does NSMBA have a position on ebikes yet? Outside of the argument for outright banning, are there any ideas you all may have about limiting the impact? Ie: ebike only routes/lines on certain trails, or outright bans of ebikes on trails that are more ecologically sensitive? Is there a way to do a pro-active approach; ie: Trail organizations working with LBC's to ensure ebike purchasers are given a 'trail etiquette' package as well as an incentive for 'learn to ride' courses where one can learn more about trail advocacy? Some great ideas so far, thanks for the discussion dudes.

May 7, 2019, 11:14 a.m.
Posts: 5
Joined: April 22, 2017

Posted by: oldmanbuilder

how dare those self-righteous trail orgs be against e-bikes!  give your head a shake and turn this around.  if e-bikers want to be represented it's time for them to form new organizations.  oh wait, right, they just want to ride on the backs of others.  the industry is great at making ads and paying riders to promote e-bikes, but actually putting any effort into advocacy?  not so much.  it's a joke.

unfortunately however, we're fucked.  in the long-run e-bikes mean more people, more parking issues, more conflict, and 100% without a doubt, more trails becoming side walks.  the trend in flow trails is only getting started and what do you think a massive influx of people will do?  anyone who likes riding techy trails should really think about the long-run impacts of the flood of riders that e-bikes will inevitably bring.  if the people who want serious tech trails on the north shore is say 25-50% today, just wait until it's <10%.  who do you think trails orgs are going to cater to?  and no knock on them, they have to follow the numbers and the where the funding is.

So you know for a fact all ebikers are noobs and haven't put shovels in the ground? That's Just like hikers saying all bikers tear up the sacred forests. 

With attitudes like yours new people will not come forward to help because they risk being ridiculed for riding an ebike. 

Trail associations need to welcome ebikes and their riders to help inform them on etiquette etc.

May 7, 2019, 11:47 a.m.
Posts: 16
Joined: May 31, 2018

most e-bikes can be chipped to bypass the speed limiters making the Pedallic Motor Bike run up to 50 km/h  - just to make things a little more controversial.....

May 7, 2019, 11:58 a.m.
Posts: 819
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Posted by: Spandies

Posted by: Ddean

Sorry, it was me who wasn't clear, and I didn't take your post as confrontational at all (quite the opposite in fact). I think that the "I told you so" will be from the anti-ebike crowd after reading your post and saying that, "you see, eBikes:

1) are going to increase miles per rider on the trails,
2) will increase the number of people on the trails,
3) will make their way to climbing trails and wont stick to MTN HWY or access roads, and
4) If the bar is that low that even fit people choose eBikes, we are doomed when it comes to the general population"

There is also the giant concern that there are some fragile areas that cant be shuttled and are protected by climbs that would be deemed no longer an obstacle.

Thanks for clarifying, your post was clear but I misread it initially. I agree with all your points, hence if the inevitable is going to happen, I feel it is more reason to initiate discussions around this. Being out of the loop, does NSMBA have a position on ebikes yet? Outside of the argument for outright banning, are there any ideas you all may have about limiting the impact? Ie: ebike only routes/lines on certain trails, or outright bans of ebikes on trails that are more ecologically sensitive? Is there a way to do a pro-active approach; ie: Trail organizations working with LBC's to ensure ebike purchasers are given a 'trail etiquette' package as well as an incentive for 'learn to ride' courses where one can learn more about trail advocacy? Some great ideas so far, thanks for the discussion dudes.

And boom, you're caught up to current day. That didn't take long! Those are the issues. We are not close to knowing the answers. The concern from the community is that the answers will be reactionary and on the back of potentially foreseeable issues eBikes may cause, and that those answers might have negative implications for normal bikes.

May 7, 2019, 1:02 p.m.
Posts: 19
Joined: Aug. 16, 2018

Posted by: D-man

So you know for a fact all ebikers are noobs and haven't put shovels in the ground? That's Just like hikers saying all bikers tear up the sacred forests. 

With attitudes like yours new people will not come forward to help because they risk being ridiculed for riding an ebike. 

Trail associations need to welcome ebikes and their riders to help inform them on etiquette etc.

experienced people riding e-bikes  will be a drop in the bucket when the flood of new riders comes.  we're talking hundreds to thousands of new riders.  how are a few old-school people going to influence that? 

trail associations do not need to welcome e-bikes.  still waiting for the e-bikers to start their own associations.  oh wait, they just want to ride on the backs of the people who got us this far, without actually putting any work in.

my attitude is based upon years in the sport, and years of digging on the trails.  i don't really care how it's perceived.

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