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ebikes on the Shore

May 25, 2018, 9:41 a.m.
Posts: 2026
Joined: May 2, 2004

Posted by: Ddean

I saw three bike path ebikes heading up BLT a couple weekends ago as I headed into 5th. They passed me as I went in, went up the trail and then turned around and also came into 5th.

A German family of three visiting from Munich and wearing Lycra and bike path helmets. Their online research revealed that 5th was the “nicest” trail to ride and that it might have some technical sections but nothing bad. I tried to warn them but it appeared that I offended them in the process!

I decided just to head down and I wished them well. I hope all ended well!

I bet we'll all see this kind of stuff happening a lot this summer, more and more places renting out those bikes

May 25, 2018, 9:47 a.m.
Posts: 1227
Joined: Dec. 3, 2003

Posted by: syncro
I was referring to the bike being on the boost setting and based on Brock's description. It seems that in this particular case at least, you get full power with next to no effort.

My commuter ebike has that, but that makes it a Class 2 ebike. Class 1 ebikes don't have a throttle.

IMHO trails should be restricted to Class 1.

Edit: There's no limit to the amount of boost other than the motor wattage, so yes, it can be configured to give a LOT of boost with little effort.


 Last edited by: AlanB on May 25, 2018, 9:55 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 25, 2018, 10:01 a.m.
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: AlanB

Posted by: syncro
I was referring to the bike being on the boost setting and based on Brock's description. It seems that in this particular case at least, you get full power with next to no effort.

My commuter ebike has that, but that makes it a Class 2 ebike. Class 1 ebikes don't have a throttle.

IMHO trails should be restricted to Class 1.

Edit: There's no limit to the amount of boost other than the motor wattage, so yes, it can be configured to give a LOT of boost with little effort.

Yeah I agree on trails being restricted to class 1. In fact I'd go even further and implement the Euro standards and limit the bikes to 25km/hr instead of the 32. I think that 7k would make a big difference. However, you can't really blame the manufacturers on this point as they are simply working within the regulations that currently exist.

May 25, 2018, 10:35 a.m.
Posts: 1227
Joined: Dec. 3, 2003

Posted by: syncro

Yeah I agree on trails being restricted to class 1. In fact I'd go even further and implement the Euro standards and limit the bikes to 25km/hr instead of the 32. I think that 7k would make a big difference. However, you can't really blame the manufacturers on this point as they are simply working within the regulations that currently exist.

The only time a mtn bike should hit 32 k is going downhill! Keep the non-DH trails gnarly enough to restrict speeds. More corners! More rough surfaces! Keep skill a part of the sport!

May 25, 2018, 11:08 a.m.
Posts: 1682
Joined: July 11, 2014

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:

May 25, 2018, 12:10 p.m.
Posts: 1781
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

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:

These are great points. 

Imagine if a lightweight battery track track system for ski touring came along?  Being used in sled restricted areas. All the same BS arguments will come up... old, injured, but it's really just out of shape and lazy. Now you have all these gapers out Backcountry skiing with no fitness, being where they shouldn't. If esleds aren't OK why are ebikes?

I really would like to see the percent of how many experienced riders actually use ebikes? I'm sure it's low, .....these bikes are for noobs and this shortcut they are taking to the top of the trail head without learning the ropes will be bad for the sport. My wife got into MTB a few years back and it was a process getting her from no experience to being a decent rider now, took years actually. Putting her on an ebike and letting her loose would have been a bad call. If you can't pedal up, you probably won't be able to handle the decent. Around here anyways....

May 25, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan. 31, 2018

Washington’s approach to ebikes seems to be pretty reasonable.  Banned unless specifically allowed by the land manager.  If they want access they’ll have to lobby for it just like mountain bikers had to do

May 25, 2018, 1:04 p.m.
Posts: 900
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

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 too am troubled that NSMBA has no position on these. They're probably silently hoping that they increase membership a large amount and do not want to get in the way of that.

May 25, 2018, 3:47 p.m.
Posts: 799
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

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 too am troubled that NSMBA has no position on these. They're probably silently hoping that they increase membership a large amount and do not want to get in the way of that.

+1. Some of my favourite spots are out of reach of noobs and trucks and I like it that way.

May 25, 2018, 5:08 p.m.
Posts: 1227
Joined: Dec. 3, 2003

Posted by: Ddean

I too am troubled that NSMBA has no position on these. They're probably silently hoping that they increase membership a large amount and do not want to get in the way of that.

The NSMBA recognizes that this is a matter for land managers. It's their call.

May 26, 2018, 7:58 a.m.
Posts: 18109
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

I rode Lake Garda, Italy last w/e.  A big German tourist mtb and emtb rental scene, with five shuttle up the mtn companies operating daily with 15-20 bikes per van load.  

The ebikes were rented by the fat old tourists who rode around the sea wall on them.   

The mtb were shuttling the shit out out of unsustainable hiking trails washed out by hundreds of years of rainwater flow down the falline of granite boulders. Think trails ten times worse than Ned's.

You be the judge, because I don't .  It was a great shuttle with 2500 meters descent to fresh water lake

May 26, 2018, 9:28 p.m.
Posts: 678
Joined: Sept. 10, 2012

Places I've ridden somewhat recently that prohibit e-bikes:

  • Sedona [sign above] on most MTB trails [everything managed by USFS]

  • Moab banned on all MTB trails. Okay where motos are allowed. [also USFS managed]

  • Pemberton banned on non-motorized hiking and biking trails. Well signed.

  • Cumberland banned on MTB trails. I didn't check the signage.

  • Victoria area CRD MTB trails are banned. Not signed. Okay on Regional Trails - ie. the Goose and Lochside, etc..

May 27, 2018, 7:29 a.m.
Posts: 142
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: 1729
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: 425
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.

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