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ebikes on the Shore

May 27, 2018, 7:29 a.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

Guy popped up at a trail intersection on an ebike yesterday. He looked sheepish as hell.

Classic guise too,

Bluetooth speaker pumping late 90s butt rock.

Just about fell off putting a foot down to stop.

Axe sprayed very thoroughly.

Would that guy be up there if not for electric assist? Certainly not. I’d actually be ok with e bikes on some more durable trails that are built for higher traffic. All the time anywhere? No thanks.


 Last edited by: mrbrett on May 27, 2018, 7:29 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 27, 2018, 10:08 a.m.
Posts: 885
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: grambo

Sadly it seems these damn things are gaining traction here. I have seen a few at Fromme. I think land managers, BC Trails and Rec and trail associations need to take a clear stance on these, update signage etc. Taking a wait and see approach is no bueno. Shops are starting to put them on their sales floors (Dunbar at least) because they seem to sense the demand is outweighing downside risk of alienating customers who hate them. I'm sure Rocky will start marketing their ebikes here soon.

The problem is when you try to discuss this stuff, the pro ebike people use BS arguments about old/disabled/health issue riders (fine) or claim you are "gate keeping" the sport (from fat lazy dudes? Of which I am one). My issues:

1) Trail/land access - if land managers equate motor = motorbike, access could be threatened. Also any increase in user conflicts from ebikes with other trail users like hikers/runners = higher risk of access being threatened.

2) User conflict, especially climbing. Mountain bikers don't typically climb much faster than a hiker/trail runner, so there's lots of time for a friendly "Hi, mind if I pass". Already from this thread and others we have stories of ebikers coming up hard on other mountain bikers, imagine how hikers feel when they hear a whirring engine and someone is right on them out of nowhere? Also idiot ebikers climbing descent trails, yes it might technically be allowed but there are multiple stories of ebikers climbing Half Nelson and Meadow of the Grizzly in Squamish. Imagine someone climbing Bobsled on a busy weekend while there are kids descending. 

3) Ebikers being new to the sport and not understanding etiquette. #2 above is the risk that drives this. Clued in mountain bikers aren't going to do stupid stuff like climb popular descent trails during busy times. Clueless newbies which seems to be the predominate market for ebikes are. 

4) Ability of ebikes to put riders farther out without the adequate skill/knowledge to get back. Prime example is Lord of the Squirrels in Whistler. I will not be surprised it there are SAR call-outs for tourists who have depleted the battery (using boost mode) to get up to the Sproatt alpine and are stuck trying to descend with a 45lbs ebike way out of their element. The 5th Horseman story from dDean above is another example. SAR call-outs and people get injured on serious trails which are often built farther out from start zones to filter newbie riders.

I'm not an elitist concerned about the purity of the sport. I ride the bike park often and do shuttle from time to time, but the majority of my riding is pedaling on the Shore and Squamish. I'm a Mon-Fri office guy with a kid on the way, I have mediocre fitness now and it will get worse so I would benefit from an ebike but for the reasons above I am against them on non-motorized mountain bike trails. 

Other than shuttle trails, I'm hoping to see signs around the Sea to Sky like they have in Pisgah:

Not a bad post, but it's not without it's fallibilities.

For starters I see BS arguments on both sides. I agree that using the health issue argument is not a strong one, but it is a valid one for some people. To address your other points...

1. The loss of access is one that gets used a lot and I think it's a poor argument. The reason being is that I believe the land managers are smart enough to recognize the difference between ebikes and pedal bikes and will ban ebikes if there are significant issues and not ban all bikes in an unwarranted knee -jerk reaction. 

2. User conflict is a more valid argument but it gets used on the assumption that all ebikers will cause issues and no mtb'ers cause issues. We know this isn't true and I think some of the worries are more of an etiquette issue that needs to be learned. Re your climbing example example, it's important to remember that pretty much every trail is multi-use and two way, so when you're descending you need to be aware of people coming up the trail - whether on foot or bike. Unless a trail is specifically signed as no climbing or descending only, then it's fair game for two way traffic. If this sis seen as a problem then the trail associations and land managers need to do their part when it comes to trail signage so people are aware. This includes trail maps and signage at parking areas so people know the deal before they head out. 

3. Whether it's new e-bikers or mtb'ers, they are going to need to learn the etiquette of the sport. That's where community comes in, to help educate people on how things are supposed to work. I wasn't aware thought that clueless newbies were the predominant market for ebikes, is there some poll or research somewhere to back that up?

4. This is probably the most valid concern out of all that I have seen so far and one that is worth considering. However, it speaks to the core argument of yay/nay for ebikes. At some point, all of these issues come down to personal responsibility for how people conduct themselves. 

I see the hate against e-bikes being predicated primarily on fear (trail destruction, unsafe passing) or ego (getting passed at all) but also think there are some validity to those concerns. What we have is a question of one group's right to alleviate their perceived concerns vs another groups right to recreate in the manner they would like to. If that sounds like a  familiar battle then it should be. If people are using ebikes in a respectful and responsible manner then there really is no argument against them. If they're not then doe the fault lie with the bike itself or the user? Again if that sounds like a familiar battle then it should be. 

IMO there shouldn't be a question of ban or not, it should be a discussion about where/how they will  be permitted. Unfortunately not a lot of people, on either side, are interested in having that discussion. I think it would be worthwhile as it could lead to improvements for all riders, not just the ones on ebikes.

May 27, 2018, 4:56 p.m.
Posts: 137
Joined: Jan. 2, 2018

In Europe where they are already more prevalent, I've heard that chips to bypass speed limiters and such are very common.

For me, human powered mountain biking has inherent limits because we can only generate so many watts for so much time. No matter how far technology progresses.

If I thought it was realistic to actually enforce that ebikes remain limited to being a way to help grandpa continue riding once his knees start to give out, well hey, who can't get behind that concept? Sounds great.

But can the trail user community as a whole actually enforce these limits (and do we want to?)?

The german tourists doing cypress laps is the other big concern I have - not the act itself but the longer term consequences once people start crashing. I feel that after a few accidents and news stories, the response won't be "we should not allow ebikes on those trails", the response will be "those trails are dangerous and should be shut down". That's the direction I'm most afraid of. Then again - maybe that's where land owners come in and where restrictions make sense.


 Last edited by: Kenny on May 27, 2018, 5:03 p.m., edited 2 times in total.
May 28, 2018, 12:32 a.m.
Posts: 198
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: Ddean

My biggest concern is that these things will open up areas currently full of super secret dream trails that have been protected by big nasty climbs.

I couldn't have said it better. There is a lot of work that goes into creating an epic piece of singletrack. The idea that a bunch of gonzo's are going to motor on up and tear up the trail with their shit technical skills and overpowered e-bikes is mind numbingly irritating. I'm glad I don't have kids because this world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Don't even get me started on how it is now cool to skid......when is neon yellow and pink coming back into style in the mtb world? Between the no talent riders tearing up the downhills with way to much suspension bikes and now e bikes tearing up the up hills, there won't be much left on the trail to ride.

God I sound old.....

May 28, 2018, 5:09 p.m.
Posts: 1353
Joined: July 11, 2014

Posted by: Kenny

In Europe where they are already more prevalent, I've heard that chips to bypass speed limiters and such are very common.

For me, human powered mountain biking has inherent limits because we can only generate so many watts for so much time. No matter how far technology progresses.

If I thought it was realistic to actually enforce that ebikes remain limited to being a way to help grandpa continue riding once his knees start to give out, well hey, who can't get behind that concept? Sounds great.

But can the trail user community as a whole actually enforce these limits (and do we want to?)?

The german tourists doing cypress laps is the other big concern I have - not the act itself but the longer term consequences once people start crashing. I feel that after a few accidents and news stories, the response won't be "we should not allow ebikes on those trails", the response will be "those trails are dangerous and should be shut down". That's the direction I'm most afraid of. Then again - maybe that's where land owners come in and where restrictions make sense.

This is another concern of mine I didn't include in my first post. I've yet to read a reasonable proposal into how exactly limits on ebikes could be enforced. After market chip mod, throttle, Kranked V10's are all on a spectrum and are very different things. Problem is they are also all "ebikes" in that they look like mountain bikes with pedals and a motor/battery. Are land managers going to post someone at trailheads to police and ticket people on too-powerful ebikes? No, they are not. It's the slippery slope argument and guess where the easiest place for demarcation is? Motor vs. non-motorized. Simple and obvious.

I was at Corsa in Squamish yesterday and was disappointed to see they are renting Devinci AC's with beefy builds (Fox 36/DHX2 coil, 2.5 DHF's). I can't find any position on ebikes by SORCA or whether they are allowed in the park at Alice Lake or the Diamondhead woodlot. They are also selling them at Dunbar now.

I am glad that they still seem to be rare sight around the Sea to Sky and hopefully do not become culturally acceptable on MTB trails.

May 29, 2018, 12:09 a.m.
Posts: 16
Joined: Aug. 13, 2017

Thanks all for an interesting read so far.

From my perspective EAPC (as they are known under law https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules) aren't an issue as yet.  I have seen a few out but this is generally limited to trail centres (I was at Swinley a few months ago and saw a group of 20 go by).  

I do think the difference in use relate to what you ride in the UK.  We have trail centres (bike parks of sorts) but also a massive network of bridalways and paths across the country that can be ridden which are shared by walkers and horse riders.  These are on public land and cross some private land.  As such you need to have a responsible attitude as you don't know who is around the next bend.  I haven't seen many ebikes on these type of trails.  I guess it is because you need to do a little work to figure out a route (local knowledge, map reading and planning) rather than turning up and riding.

Trail centres on the other hand are signposted with dedicated routes and are typically on private land.  This is where I have seen a lot of ebikes.  There are also a higher proportion of nubies in trail centres and have more technical trails which are generally within easy reach of a car park.  As such the issue of remote technical trails certainly doesn't exist in the southeast.

In terms of their use I am a fence sitter.  If they are used to get people to trails without using cars they make sense or for people who can't ride due to injury or illness (I met a guy on one who had just been diagnosed with MS and it enabled him to ride with his mates amd enjoy the outdoors - he was in his 50s).  If you are time poor they make sense as you get more bang for your buck.  All of the above is give ebike riders are respectful to other trail users

May 29, 2018, 8:24 a.m.
Posts: 137
Joined: Jan. 2, 2018

Posted by: grambo

Posted by: Kenny

In Europe where they are already more prevalent, I've heard that chips to bypass speed limiters and such are very common.

For me, human powered mountain biking has inherent limits because we can only generate so many watts for so much time. No matter how far technology progresses.

If I thought it was realistic to actually enforce that ebikes remain limited to being a way to help grandpa continue riding once his knees start to give out, well hey, who can't get behind that concept? Sounds great.

But can the trail user community as a whole actually enforce these limits (and do we want to?)?

The german tourists doing cypress laps is the other big concern I have - not the act itself but the longer term consequences once people start crashing. I feel that after a few accidents and news stories, the response won't be "we should not allow ebikes on those trails", the response will be "those trails are dangerous and should be shut down". That's the direction I'm most afraid of. Then again - maybe that's where land owners come in and where restrictions make sense.

This is another concern of mine I didn't include in my first post. I've yet to read a reasonable proposal into how exactly limits on ebikes could be enforced. After market chip mod, throttle, Kranked V10's are all on a spectrum and are very different things. Problem is they are also all "ebikes" in that they look like mountain bikes with pedals and a motor/battery. Are land managers going to post someone at trailheads to police and ticket people on too-powerful ebikes? No, they are not. It's the slippery slope argument and guess where the easiest place for demarcation is? Motor vs. non-motorized. Simple and obvious.

I was at Corsa in Squamish yesterday and was disappointed to see they are renting Devinci AC's with beefy builds (Fox 36/DHX2 coil, 2.5 DHF's). I can't find any position on ebikes by SORCA or whether they are allowed in the park at Alice Lake or the Diamondhead woodlot. They are also selling them at Dunbar now.

I am glad that they still seem to be rare sight around the Sea to Sky and hopefully do not become culturally acceptable on MTB trails.

I agree, the only clear line in the sand is motorized vs non-motorized.

I feel like it will be human nature to want to hot-rod your ebike. Physical changes would be hard enough to police, so when oftentimes it is just changing the programming in a chip, how long will be it be until people are blasting up the mountain highway switchbacks at 40+kph? 

Quote from the Devinci AC webpage (bold added by me):

Tame turbulent descents thanks to a generous 170mm of rear travel meets 180mm of finesse in the fork. And then turn around and hit turbo on the uphill. The Shimano STEPS E8000 engine boosts you to speeds of up to 32 km/h (limited to 25 km/h in Europe).

Maybe I'm overreacting, but that sounds like a recipe for disaster on multiple levels. 

:(

May 29, 2018, 9:09 a.m.
Posts: 1043
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

How about this..... If Ebikes are ok for those who claim they can't ride for medical/physical reasons. Then the ones who have very limited movement in their legs can start using a 4 wheeled electric cart? Kinda like a gator?  So where is the line in the sand?

Rode Fromme yesterday morning. Oil can which doesn't get that much traffic is getting blown out already due to dry weather. 50 lb ebikes tearing the trails up piloted by noobs is not going to be a favorable result. All the work that has gone into these trails, seems a shame to watch it all get shit kicked by the lazy.

May 29, 2018, 12:12 p.m.
Posts: 367
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

Posted by: Brocklanders

How about this..... If Ebikes are ok for those who claim they can't ride for medical/physical reasons. Then the ones who have very limited movement in their legs can start using a 4 wheeled electric cart? Kinda like a gator?  So where is the line in the sand?

Rode Fromme yesterday morning. Oil can which doesn't get that much traffic is getting blown out already due to dry weather. 50 lb ebikes tearing the trails up piloted by noobs is not going to be a favorable result. All the work that has gone into these trails, seems a shame to watch it all get shit kicked by the lazy.

ebikes should be allowed on UOC but all trail features are now mandatory with no exceptions.

May 29, 2018, 2:35 p.m.
Posts: 306
Joined: Aug. 10, 2012

I was up on Seymour last Saturday...waiting at the power-line intersection between Ned's and GSM while the Sedins ran a trail race. Three dudes in spectacularly matching outfits rode up and through on matching e-bikes. This was my first e-bike cluster sighting. Due to all the matchy-matchy gear, and the lack of any dirt/wear marks, I was wondering if this might be a rental deal or a guided tour deal? Anyone know of such a thing? I would hate it if the riding trails were to suffer the over-popularity due to the of ease of use similar to what hiking trails are seeing these days (I'm thinking of Quarry Rock, and Lynn Suspension Bridge area).

On the flip side...about 30 minutes earlier, I saw an older/much heavier dude (sporting a  "future organ donor" t-shirt) approach the same area on an e-bike. He was definitely not the kind of guy who would be out there on a standard rig. I could see the e-bike was his ticket to the trails and still a bit of a work-out.

May 29, 2018, 3:34 p.m.
Posts: 885
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Are we seriously going to go down the road of “over use” or “increased traffic” as a valid reason against ebikers? By heavens, where were all the people complaining as increased bike tech made it easier for people to get on the trails or 50plus gearing made it easier to climb? When people were making an issue of trail maintenance not too long ago the solution was to get more people out maintaining trails not to ban more people from riding.

May 29, 2018, 4:56 p.m.
Posts: 137
Joined: Jan. 2, 2018

Posted by: syncro

Are we seriously going to go down the road of “over use” or “increased traffic” as a valid reason against ebikers? By heavens, where were all the people complaining as increased bike tech made it easier for people to get on the trails or 50plus gearing made it easier to climb? When people were making an issue of trail maintenance not too long ago the solution was to get more people out maintaining trails not to ban more people from riding.

Are you seriously going to compare the example devinci AC, capable of 32km/hr uphill, and 50km/hr with a chip that is undetectable visually, to the eagle drivetrain? 

Do you really honestly think those two items have even remotely similar implications to trail access and the user experience of other people on the trails? I am genuinely curious because those seem to not be even remotely similar.

May 29, 2018, 5:45 p.m.
Posts: 885
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: Kenny

Posted by: syncro

Are we seriously going to go down the road of “over use” or “increased traffic” as a valid reason against ebikers? By heavens, where were all the people complaining as increased bike tech made it easier for people to get on the trails or 50plus gearing made it easier to climb? When people were making an issue of trail maintenance not too long ago the solution was to get more people out maintaining trails not to ban more people from riding.

Are you seriously going to compare the example devinci AC, capable of 32km/hr uphill, and 50km/hr with a chip that is undetectable visually, to the eagle drivetrain?

Do you really honestly think those two items have even remotely similar implications to trail access and the user experience of other people on the trails? I am genuinely curious because those seem to not be even remotely similar.

No, as that's not the comparison being made. However, bike tech has constantly been progressing and as it's progressed one of the "selling features" is that it's made riding easier (or faster) - whether that be disc brakes, better suspension, better drivetrains or other items. One of the concerns that always gets trotted out against ebiikes is the increased wear and tear on the trails, whether that be via extra laps or more newbies on the trail. So I ask if that's going to be a legitimate concern, then at some point there must be an upper limit on the number of people allowed on the trails on pedal only mtb's right? If you did want to make the comparison though the argument can be made that an ebike climbing up a trail will cause less wear and tear than someone pedaling up.

The arguments so far basically boil down to:

1. increased trail wear

2. conflict with other trail users

3. potential trail closures due to the above two

4. risks to uneducated users (and possibly SAR) due to said getting beyond their skill level

As far as those concerns go, do they sound familiar at all? Are they arguments the mtb community has heard against them before? I see the fundamental argument as we don't like X because of the problems it may cause so we want to ban X. I guess I question the point at where it's ok to limit someone else's choice to recreate via method X based on perception that method X is going to cause some sort of irreparable damage. I know I don't have the answer to that question but it seems a lot of people do even though they can't offer any real evidence to support their position.


 Last edited by: syncro on May 29, 2018, 5:46 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 29, 2018, 7:02 p.m.
Posts: 137
Joined: Jan. 2, 2018

Saying:

By heavens, where were all the people complaining as increased bike tech made it easier for people to get on the trails or 50plus gearing made it easier to climb?

Sure seems to be inviting the comparison, but ok, if you say you're not comparing, you aren't.  So, let's also say that you are absolutely correct and none of the points listed in the thread about why ebikes should not be allowed have any merit.

So given we have now established that ebikes pose no use issues, I am curious about two things-

First: If you are good with e-bikes, do you feel there needs to be some limit imposed with respect to the speed/power that "approved for trail use" ebikes can have? Only electric motor, but not gas? Must have "pedals"? Speed limit? 5km/hr? 25km/hr? 90km/hr? Power limit? What if one of these folks with a physical issue is too heavy for a 750watt model (or whatever is "normal"? By not allowing 1000 watt, you are discriminating against them. What if he has bad ankles and can only use an ebike with a thumb throttle? Will you discriminate against that person? Where does it stop?

Second: Assuming the first point is given a clear definition, how is it enforced? Especially when, again,  you can already buy a "chip" to run that shimano 8000 whateveritis up to 50km/hr and nobody can tell the difference. 

I realized this sounds sarcastic but I'm genuinely asking.

May 29, 2018, 7:54 p.m.
Posts: 885
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: Kenny

Saying:

By heavens, where were all the people complaining as increased bike tech made it easier for people to get on the trails or 50plus gearing made it easier to climb?

Sure seems to be inviting the comparison, but ok, if you say you're not comparing, you aren't.  So, let's also say that you are absolutely correct and none of the points listed in the thread about why ebikes should not be allowed have any merit.

So given we have now established that ebikes pose no use issues, I am curious about two things-

First: If you are good with e-bikes, do you feel there needs to be some limit imposed with respect to the speed/power that "approved for trail use" ebikes can have? Only electric motor, but not gas? Must have "pedals"? Speed limit? 5km/hr? 25km/hr? 90km/hr? Power limit? What if one of these folks with a physical issue is too heavy for a 750watt model (or whatever is "normal"? By not allowing 1000 watt, you are discriminating against them. What if he has bad ankles and can only use an ebike with a thumb throttle? Will you discriminate against that person? Where does it stop?

Second: Assuming the first point is given a clear definition, how is it enforced? Especially when, again,  you can already buy a "chip" to run that shimano 8000 whateveritis up to 50km/hr and nobody can tell the difference. 

I realized this sounds sarcastic but I'm genuinely asking.

I get what you'e saying, but it's not a direct comparison at least. Say in the same way that an ebike is not a dirt bike. And I don't think your post sounds sarcastic, you have legitimate queries in the scope of the discussion.

So to start I'm not saying that those points I listed don't have any merit as on some level they are all true. What I'm arguing is that saying those are facts that will get mtb'ing shut down or ruined would be similar to saying that people riding illegal trails are going to get all of mtb'ing shut down, or mtb'er conflicts with hikers are going to get the trails shut down, etc. In any issue regarding human behaviour and compliance with the rules you are never going to get 100% compliance. Murder is illegal, has been for a long time and in some places even results in a death sentence if found guilty. Pretty much everyone agrees that murder is wrong, but it still happens. Just like pretty much all mtb'ers know that riding closed trails is wrong, but some people still do it anyway. Now I'm not trying to equate illegal trail riding with murder, I simply use it to illustrate the point that not everyone pays attention to the rules. It's like we all drive the speed limit all the time right? But how many of us rip through schools zones at 60k or more? So I actually do recognize and believe that pedelecs will cause some problems, what's up for debate is the severity of those problems and whether that as yet unknown severity is justification for banning them.

Before I answer your questions I will preface them by saying that initially I was against ebikes, but after more consideration I changed my stance somewhat.

So first yes, I do feel there should be limits on ebikes and I believe I even stated that earlier in this thread. I would be totally fine with reducing the current top speed on mtb pedelecs to that of the Euro standard of 25kph or less - 20? I think the speed factor is more important than the power as hills, bike weight and people's bodyweight can all affect speed  on a lower powered motored and vice versa. Yes only electric. Yes only pedal assist - no throttles. Bad ankles? If they're bad enough that someone can't pedal even a minimal amount to engage pedal assist they they're not going to be able to ride down hill with their feet on the pedals. I encourage questions but let's at least keep them reasonable and within the realm of what's practical.

Secondly, yes I agree enforcement is an issue. Right now the rules are lax to non-existant, so it's easy for the mfr's to build bikes that tiptoe on the edge of the line but don't break it as per the current regs. If the regs are tightened, ie tamper proof motors/electronics, then onus is put back on the mfr's to come up with something that can't be altered or is so difficult/expensive to alter that it becomes impractical for all but a select few. But what about those few you say? Well that's where I turn back to the idea that you will never get full compliance. Even if mtb pedelecs were banned from the trails tonight, you are still going to have a select few who will use them anyway just as some people will continue to ride closed/illegal trails on their pedal mtb's anyway.

There is a balance point though somewhere between an all out ban and a no rule, free for all. That point will have a level of use that minimizes the potential chaos while still allowing people who would ride mtb pedelecs in decent/respectful manner access to a good selection of trails (not necessarily all trails). Right now there seems to be far more people who are opposed so the call for an all out ban seems strongest. My guess is that will change, as will the sport to a certain degree whether ebikes are in our future or not.

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