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ebikes on the Shore

Dec. 6, 2021, 6:12 a.m.
Posts: 833
Joined: Sept. 10, 2012

Speaking specifically about touring I've talked to a lot of cyclists about bike touring over the years. These are people passionate about riding bikes...most who love camping... so you'd think they'd love the idea of bikes + travel + camping and get out there doing it. Nope. I'd say my conversion rate from talking about touring to seeing them tour [and for folks I know in real life I'll offer to go with them]...is well under 1%.

I have no data to back this up, but my hunch is that for the sub-set of people that looks/thinks about bike touring and then thinks if I strap a motor/battery on there it'll be easier/better the conversion rate would be a lot lower. I'm basing that on the fact that bike touring involves solving a lot of issues, dealing with a lot of uncertainty. The "what ifs?" kill people's stoke. Someone who leans towards wanting to make stuff easier/avoid hardship is just going to find that wall of "what if?" a much bigger obstacle. So there is no point getting too deep into a discussion about an e-bike cross Canada trip because it's got a pretty tiny % probability of ever happening.

The only place I can see e-bikes getting frequent used for "touring" is with paid fully supported tour operations. The kind that sets up your tent, cooks your meals, carries your gear, cleans and lubes your chammy, etc... They can provide the bikes, wrench on them and charge them. Those customers are exactly the ones that want to do some "touring", but with as little of the hard work as possible. I wouldn't be shocked if the companies hack those e-bikes with thumb throttles so pedaling is optional entirely. Although I put "touring" in quotes because you could argue this isn't bike touring in any meaningful sense.


 Last edited by: Vikb on Dec. 6, 2021, 6:50 a.m., edited 3 times in total.
Dec. 6, 2021, 9:07 a.m.
Posts: 180
Joined: April 26, 2004

@Vikb your posts are great :-)

Keep on writing (and riding)

Dec. 6, 2021, 10:02 a.m.
Posts: 368
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: Vikb

The only place I can see e-bikes getting frequent used for "touring" is with paid fully supported tour operations. The kind that sets up your tent, cooks your meals, carries your gear, cleans and lubes your chammy, etc... They can provide the bikes, wrench on them and charge them. Those customers are exactly the ones that want to do some "touring", but with as little of the hard work as possible. I wouldn't be shocked if the companies hack those e-bikes with thumb throttles so pedaling is optional entirely. Although I put "touring" in quotes because you could argue this isn't bike touring in any meaningful sense.

There is lots of tour companies doing the multi day thing on the KVR etc.. I'm sure the electric motorbike thing will be common pretty soon. Opens up a huge amount of possible customers who find pedaling uncomfortable.

Dec. 6, 2021, 10:51 a.m.
Posts: 2110
Joined: April 25, 2003

I doubt there's one hot take on e-bikes and touring, as what touring is and why people do it is incredibly varied.

I've done a couple trips with Tour d'Afrique and the owner and staff are all bike evangelists - they love both the democratization and simplicity of bikes so I really wonder how they're going to address something that makes Bikin' more accessible while also tainting the purity of it.  The owner in particular takes very little interest in seeing his customers being comfortable all the time, he actually loves making pampered rich people have to figure their shit out on their own, so I kinda think he'd love something that gives people more access while simultaneously increasing their potential of them getting into a difficult situation.  Just getting a normal bike to survive while touring in a poor country is a challenge, adding the motor will really up the potential for mechanical issues unless it's some mountain bike grade kit.  I sure would't want to grind out a bunch of miles in the middle of Central America on a broken e-bike.

Dec. 6, 2021, 10:57 a.m.
Posts: 2110
Joined: April 25, 2003

Posted by: Vikb

The only place I can see e-bikes getting frequent used for "touring" is with paid fully supported tour operations. The kind that sets up your tent, cooks your meals, carries your gear, cleans and lubes your chammy, etc... They can provide the bikes, wrench on them and charge them. Those customers are exactly the ones that want to do some "touring", but with as little of the hard work as possible. I wouldn't be shocked if the companies hack those e-bikes with thumb throttles so pedaling is optional entirely. Although I put "touring" in quotes because you could argue this isn't bike touring in any meaningful sense.

This is a fairly broad and not altogether accurate generalization on the motivations of supported tour clients.  Theres a lot of this type of "bike touring", but check out Tour d'Afrique if you're curious about a different take on supported touring.

Dec. 6, 2021, 11:39 a.m.
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

E-bike day tours are already a thing in touristy type places. They're a great way to get people who may not be bike fit out on a bike for a day to go see stuff. I just put together an ebike for a friend of mine a few weeks ago and she's loving it and riding it to work a few days per week. She got interested in them when she was in Banff over the summer and did a group day tour on one in the icefields iirc. What tashi said makes the most sense - there is a widely varied market of people and uses for ebike and they open up possibilities that a lot of people may never have considered before. One of the hard things in the psychology of the prognostication of the unknown is using one's own personal/anecdotal experience and applying it as the norm or predicting what people's future behaviour will be.

Dec. 6, 2021, 11:46 a.m.
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: Vikb

I suspect the bike/tech industries will make a lot of this discussion moot in the next 3-5 years with the release of the v-bike. 

The best bit is that the whole v-bike experience is incredibly green. No actual bikes or travel is required. Standards and bike tech can change weekly. The bike industry can charge and arm and a leg for v-riders to have the latest bike skin downloads. I mean nobody who is really into v-biking would want to ride last week's tech would they? Who needs to deal with supply chain issues when you money and bike tech can be swapped in micro seconds through the network. Not when all you social media contacts are instantly updated on how awesome you are...or are not. The future is "v".

Years ago, more than five for sure, I made a post about this when VR goggles first became a thing. I asked people if the could put on a bio-feedback VR suit and enjoy a mtb ride from the comfort of their own couch would they still actually go out and ride? No need for a bike, no need to shower up after, no bike maintenance, no dangers of crashing and getting hurt. Everything you want and basically non of the drawbacks. I think some people thought it was interesting but most here (unsurprisingly) said they would stick to the real ride. As the tech gets better and we get closer to a matrix like experience, it will be interesting to see what comes of these sorts of things in the future. If you could do a VR day at a bike park in the Swiss alps for $100 would you go?

Dec. 6, 2021, 5 p.m.
Posts: 1123
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: syncro

Posted by: Vikb

I suspect the bike/tech industries will make a lot of this discussion moot in the next 3-5 years with the release of the v-bike. 

The best bit is that the whole v-bike experience is incredibly green. No actual bikes or travel is required. Standards and bike tech can change weekly. The bike industry can charge and arm and a leg for v-riders to have the latest bike skin downloads. I mean nobody who is really into v-biking would want to ride last week's tech would they? Who needs to deal with supply chain issues when you money and bike tech can be swapped in micro seconds through the network. Not when all you social media contacts are instantly updated on how awesome you are...or are not. The future is "v".

Years ago, more than five for sure, I made a post about this when VR goggles first became a thing. I asked people if the could put on a bio-feedback VR suit and enjoy a mtb ride from the comfort of their own couch would they still actually go out and ride? No need for a bike, no need to shower up after, no bike maintenance, no dangers of crashing and getting hurt. Everything you want and basically non of the drawbacks. I think some people thought it was interesting but most here (unsurprisingly) said they would stick to the real ride. As the tech gets better and we get closer to a matrix like experience, it will be interesting to see what comes of these sorts of things in the future. If you could do a VR day at a bike park in the Swiss alps for $100 would you go?

Do you really think they will come up with a contraption that will satisfy? If so, why are people cycling these days then? Do people not enjoy being out with trees, animals, rivers, lakes etc. Do you not experience all that to a much deeper degree than what a VR suit could provide? Would you not miss the smells, changes in light, random sights, exploration etc? 

I think the main reason why assisted and vr everything is popular is because people are afraid of failure. They create false identities (social media) online because it's so much safer and easier to achieve a desired result. The standards these days for "success" are limited and people would rather vr or e-assist than work at something and potentially not achieve it. 

I wish there was a greater plurality for how we all individually enjoy activities. Of course this could include a contingent of people who prefer e-assist or vr realities. I just hope that people can understand what they are losing when they eliminate actually doing an activity. Your comment "Everything you want and basically non of the drawbacks" suggests that you wouldn't miss the nuances of actually doing something. I suspect this is not the case though. You posed the question to us, but what would your answer be? Would you prefer vr? Would you pay 100 bucks to vr the alps? 

Personally, I would rather suck at cycling on my local trails rather than shredding a VR reality. But I also enjoy pedalling uphill and that awesome feeling when you ride longer than you should have and your legs cramp for the last 10k.

Dec. 6, 2021, 5:12 p.m.
Posts: 14439
Joined: Feb. 19, 2003

Posted by: tashi

This is a fairly broad and not altogether accurate generalization on the motivations of supported tour clients.  Theres a lot of this type of "bike touring", but check out Tour d'Afrique if you're curious about a different take on supported touring.

I checked them out.  Wild tour options!  I’d love to have the time to do some of those full route point to point options they have.  Great tip.

Dec. 6, 2021, 7:20 p.m.
Posts: 2110
Joined: April 25, 2003

Posted by: Couch_Surfer

Posted by: tashi

This is a fairly broad and not altogether accurate generalization on the motivations of supported tour clients.  Theres a lot of this type of "bike touring", but check out Tour d'Afrique if you're curious about a different take on supported touring.

I checked them out.  Wild tour options!  I’d love to have the time to do some of those full route point to point options they have.  Great tip.

Wife and did their first runs of the India trip (Agra to Kanyakimari then, not just the northern plateau)and a few legs of the Central America ones.  Amazing trips, and now my preferred way to see poor countries in particular.

Dec. 7, 2021, 4:19 p.m.
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: RAHrider

Do you really think they will come up with a contraption that will satisfy? If so, why are people cycling these days then? Do people not enjoy being out with trees, animals, rivers, lakes etc. Do you not experience all that to a much deeper degree than what a VR suit could provide? Would you not miss the smells, changes in light, random sights, exploration etc? 

I think the main reason why assisted and vr everything is popular is because people are afraid of failure. They create false identities (social media) online because it's so much safer and easier to achieve a desired result. The standards these days for "success" are limited and people would rather vr or e-assist than work at something and potentially not achieve it. 

I wish there was a greater plurality for how we all individually enjoy activities. Of course this could include a contingent of people who prefer e-assist or vr realities. I just hope that people can understand what they are losing when they eliminate actually doing an activity. Your comment "Everything you want and basically non of the drawbacks" suggests that you wouldn't miss the nuances of actually doing something. I suspect this is not the case though. You posed the question to us, but what would your answer be? Would you prefer vr? Would you pay 100 bucks to vr the alps? 

Personally, I would rather suck at cycling on my local trails rather than shredding a VR reality. But I also enjoy pedalling uphill and that awesome feeling when you ride longer than you should have and your legs cramp for the last 10k.

Maybe? When the original Stark Trek came out the execs at Safeway decided to put auto-opening doors in all their stores cause they thought it would be a business advantage. When Star Trek TNG came out people thought those little pads they carried around that had info for everything were cool and now we're walking around with mobile devices that not only allow us to wirelessly communicate with anyone on the planet but also have the sum of all human knowledge at our fingertips. Bio-feedback/haptic suits are not all that far away. As for whether it will satisfy I think it will depend on the individual. It used to be a huge ordeal climbing Everest and was considered one of the greatest accomplishments anyone could do, but now anyone with enough cash can plonk down for a fully supported trip and wait in the line-ups at the Hillary Step. Maybe a VR exeperience of climbing Everest is enough for most people and overall would be better for people and the environment.  It's hard to say definitively what's "best" as different people can get different experiences from the same thing. I'd guess most people on here would want the real thing, in terms of mtb'ing anyways, but I'm sure there are enough people with money who would be willing to pay for a VR mtb/climbing/skiing/kayaking/whatever experience if it was available. 

My preference would be for the real thing, but hey, people never know how they'll react to an experience until they've tried it. That crosses across everything we do; sports, entertainment, food, sex - you name it. I know people that thought mtb'ing seemed crazy  and now they are hooked on it. The number of variables that come together to create an individual and how they react to their environment and experiences is huge. What you don't like, someone else may totally enjoy. It's part of the human condition, there are not rules on what someone should like or what is a "better" experience for any one individual.  Add to that the fact that technology has forever changed the way we interact with our world and the idea of something having to be a certain way just seems like such a polarizing way to look at things. Thirty years ago  idea an mtb contest like Red Bull Rampage wasn't even on the radar - but bike tech made that possible and now some people are saying maybe it's time to step back a bit as things are getting a bit too dangerous. Well, VR tech will make it possible to do that double backflip over a 60ft gap for pretty much anyone. 

So yeah, using a ebike as a means of being able to to a 11,000km tour doesn't seem like such a bad idea at this point.

Dec. 8, 2021, 2:33 p.m.
Posts: 2308
Joined: April 2, 2005

took the new orbea rise h15 out for a spin today, fun little machine that is

Dec. 9, 2021, 7:42 a.m.
Posts: 833
Joined: Sept. 10, 2012

Posted by: RAHrider

Posted by: syncro

Do you really think they will come up with a contraption that will satisfy? If so, why are people cycling these days then? Do people not enjoy being out with trees, animals, rivers, lakes etc. Do you not experience all that to a much deeper degree than what a VR suit could provide? Would you not miss the smells, changes in light, random sights, exploration etc? 

I think the main reason why assisted and vr everything is popular is because people are afraid of failure. They create false identities (social media) online because it's so much safer and easier to achieve a desired result. The standards these days for "success" are limited and people would rather vr or e-assist than work at something and potentially not achieve it. 

I wish there was a greater plurality for how we all individually enjoy activities. Of course this could include a contingent of people who prefer e-assist or vr realities. I just hope that people can understand what they are losing when they eliminate actually doing an activity. Your comment "Everything you want and basically non of the drawbacks" suggests that you wouldn't miss the nuances of actually doing something. I suspect this is not the case though. You posed the question to us, but what would your answer be? Would you prefer vr? Would you pay 100 bucks to vr the alps? 

Personally, I would rather suck at cycling on my local trails rather than shredding a VR reality. But I also enjoy pedalling uphill and that awesome feeling when you ride longer than you should have and your legs cramp for the last 10k.

I have no doubt that VR is the future. I just don't know when. It all comes down to how fast/well we can send digital sensory inputs to the human brain. Once mature it will feel real or at least nearly real so in theory you could have all the same experiences you do now, but in VR. However, I think most people will dial down the less pleasant parts of the experience and dial up the more enjoyable ones. 

A 2018 CDC study found that ~23% of US adults exercised regularly and their standard for "exercise" was low. I don't have a stat for regular strenuous exercise, but it's fair to say it will be a fraction of 23%. And a bunch of those people are doing their workouts in gyms or outdoors in developed urban settings. So people recreating in nature regularly is a very small part of the population. 

I'm one of those weirdos that likes to suffer outside in the forest. So I agree with your perspective in large part. I have no plans for stopping any time soon. That said if I get to 70 and you tell me I can feel like a 25 year old in an almost perfectly simulated VR world I'm pretty sure I would give it a shot. Watching my parents in their 80's and 90's there is not much about getting that old that I am looking forward to.

Dec. 9, 2021, 1:08 p.m.
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: Vikb

A 2018 CDC study found that ~23% of US adults exercised regularly and their standard for "exercise" was low. I don't have a stat for regular strenuous exercise, but it's fair to say it will be a fraction of 23%. And a bunch of those people are doing their workouts in gyms or outdoors in developed urban settings. So people recreating in nature regularly is a very small part of the population. 

Having worked in fitness and public rec for close to 25yrs I’d say the percentage of the population that exercises regularly is probably somewhere between 5-10%.

Dec. 10, 2021, 4:07 p.m.
Posts: 180
Joined: April 26, 2004

V-Race Car is here https://www.force-dynamics.com/irdps
supposed to match G forces 100%, but for more realism it needs to deduct $10,000 from your credit card if you crash and you still want to be able to do the next race


 Last edited by: taprider on Dec. 10, 2021, 6:08 p.m., edited 2 times in total.

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