The conversation around ebikes has stirred up many emotions over the period of it’s introduction to mountain biking and the advancements made since then.
Many critics describe ebikes as a harbinger to the destruction of local trails. Others class it as the lazy man’s choice of transport.
I decided that if I am to form an opinion, it should be based on facts and therefore I chose to experience this futuristic mode of transport first hand by joining Roger and Gregory of EBike Island Adventures on one of their Pedal Assisted Culture Tours.
Safety briefing and waiver forms completed, it was time to get to know this machine in and out. After all, I was going to be spending the next 3 hours or so riding it through epic views and the nice cross country terrain of Barbados.
The bike selected for my adventure was a Raleigh Tokul iE eMTB. Standout components I noticed were:
- Fork – Rock Shox Judy Gold 120mm 27.5+
- Rear Derailleur – Shimano Deore M6000
- Brakes – Tektro M735, 4 piston front 180 rotor, 2 piston 180 rotor
- Wheels – 27.5″x2.8 Kenda Havoc tires on 45mm ID rims w/ Formula Boost hubs
- Motor – Bosch Performance CX, 250W 20Mph
- Battery – Bosch Powerpack 400wh
On the trails
￼Having not adjusted the fork’s sag nor fiddled with any tire pressure settings, the bike tracked the terrain pretty decent. The 2.8 tires with their large air volume/low psi offering, allowed the rear end of the bike to soak up much of the small bump chatter usually associated with riding a hard tail. The 120mm fork suited the terrain we traversed and never felt out of composure going through the cross country oriented trails. Though my thirst for gnarly terrain wouldn’t be satisfied on this ride, I felt that the fork, the bike’s geometry and plus tires, would make for a cracking time on slightly more aggressive trails.
No I haven’t forgotten that this post was meant to cover my experience of riding an ebike but that’s just it, it’s a bike when it’s all said and done. The Bosch performance motor via the small mode switch located on the handlebar, allowed me to cycle from Eco, Tour, EMTB and Turbo by simply pressing a large Plus or Minus button on the display. This translated into varying degrees of pedal assistance. You still have to pedal but the physical effort required is reduced as you increment the modes. This was a pleasant surprise when I ascended one of our favorite technical climbing trails “Consette Single Track”. On reaching the top I couldn’t believe how easy the pedal assist got me over. There was a bunch of hikers there who candidly said “you like you got a motor in that bike”. The one time I wish I could have said the motor was my legs but alas I showed them the Bosch motor.
The fun was about to begin, for at the top of this trail was the start of “Ben Trail” a tight and twisty single track. The bike and I darted through the tight turns between the trees with my face having a permanent grin. The pedal assist had zero function here, as the bike was just like any regular trail bike. However, the 2.8 tires gave me gobs of traction and allowed me to break even later than I usually do.
I could see the benefit of the ebike in these two scenarios right there. I could pedal up the climbs multiple times to session that descent without getting gassed. Which would make for epic whole day runs with the boys.
Heading back to the start point we decided to take a route I’d never chosen in the past for good reason as Pot House hill in the past always seemed like a killer hill. Due in part to the hills steepness and super bumpy eroded semi paved surface. Engaging the Turbo, I made light work of the climb and actually made a KOM. I made sure to switch my strava to eBike so there would be no complainants from the roadies. 😎
eBikes in general are a fantastic way to get people who would not be interested in mountain biking due to some of the excuses I’ve heard in the past, out on the trails. It makes for family, friends and tourist excursions to be a lot more fun, as everyone can adjust the degree of pedal assistance to ensure the group rides together. This also means that you can ride for far much longer. Equating to either more calories being burnt or seeing more of a destination in one outing than you would normally be able to do and still be useful for the remainder of the day. Not to mention that a person with a heart condition or other disability now has an option to get out and hit the trails.
If you haven’t tried an eBike yet, I strongly suggest you give them a go before coming to a conclusion.