I was a doubter of e-bikes for a long time, just like I was for 29ers and 27.5", but then I rode one at the Cannondale Demo we held at Northshore in August. I was blown away. I got to demo it for a week and am still blown away at how much fun it is. Like night riding your favorite trail, it changes the ride for a new experience. Simple fact: If you enjoy doing something, will you do it more? E bikes fit that. Bikes are made to be fun, plain and simple. I don't get to ride at the level or distance I want or have in the past, the E bike changes that. Only have an hour and a half to ride? Can you only get one lap in? What if you could get 1.5 or 2 in the same time, spend more time on the bike, pedal more, experience the trail at a pace similar to your friends. No more friends waiting for you every few miles. Want to ride with the fast group? If your handling skills are there, now you can. It's a blast and a game changer. I put more miles in one weekend with the e-bike than I did all last month, because it was fun and I was able to enjoy every minute of it. Loved it so much, I have my own Cannondale Moterra arriving tomorrow.
E bikes are coming and they are gaining momentum. E bikes for the disabled and slow is one thing, but they are so much more than that. If you have not ridden a modern e-bike, RIDE ONE! I'll set up a time to demo the Cannondale Moterra for you. Otherwise, keep uneducated opinions to yourself! You should ride one before passing judgement. And stay open-minded. E-bikes will allow so many more people to enjoy mountain biking.
Education is the first step we have to take with this new style of bike. With the big players releasing E bikes in the US, they too are fighting for us to help advocate for reclassifying the E bikes that need to be. For instance - Cannondale only had 1 E-MTB in 2017 model year in the US. 2018 model year, 3. Worldwide for 2018 model year they manufacture 11 different E-Mtbs... 11. E-MTBs are coming and will become common place on our trails in the few years to come.
First, the classes of E bikes need to be explained and understood on what they are and are not. Education is the first step to moving forward on what the future of E bikes are.
Europe and California have adopted these classes and I see them keeping the same class as they get their own classification.***UPDATE BELOW ARTICLE
Class 1 - Pedal Assist only (no throttle, must pedal for motor to work) usually 250w (max of 750w) motor with motor limited @ 20mph - This is the class we should be talking about for being allowed on any trail. I personally have a Cannondale Moterra arriving tomorrow which is a Class 1 E-MTB. This is usually a Bottom bracket mounted motor (ie Bosch, Shimano). More expensive than Class 2.
Class 2 - throttle only with motor limited @ 20mph - up to 750w motor. This is essentially a moped with pedals. This is usually a retrofit kit or a cheaper stock e-bike. Usually a wheel mounted motor on a stock e bike. Cheapest version. May be more difficult to get laws to encompass these.
Class 3 - Pedal assist only (no throttle, must pedal for motor to work) max 750w and motor is limited to 28mph. Usually Bottom bracket mounted motor as a stock e bike. most expensive. This class was just made legal in the US in the last year. I see this class like Class 2, possibly being more difficult for laws to encompass these, due to the extra speed that can be achieved.
I have read a lot of arguments both for and against e-bikes on websites, blogs, and articles. The reality is this: once you get past the usual 10 year cycle of our sport accepting something new (front suspension, full suspension, 29'er, fat bike, 27.5, plus sizes, etc - Gary Fisher) and all the complaining of something new, and understand the effects of E-bikes on trails - IMBA did a study of that, it can be found here: http://b.3cdn.net/bikes/c3fe8a28f1a0f32317_g3m6bdt7g.pdf E-Bikes have a similar effect on trails as Mountain bikes. - there remains the real possible issues:
1 - More people on bikes on trails. Isn't that what we want? Problem is a lot of those could be uneducated on proper trail etiquette. Is today so different? don't a lot of people not have a clue what they are doing on a trail? Even experienced MTBrs? This is an education and respect problem. We all (riders, bike shops, advocates) need to educate everyone on the trail in a respectful way. It starts with us.
2 - Land access issues. If a land owner deems a trail for non motorized usage, and Class 1 E bikes may still be under that umbrella in a lot of states, which they shouldn't, the land owner could revoke access to said trail until things change locally, state wide, nationally, etc. Right now a lot of laws are being rewritten due to the new technology of e bikes and they are updating decades old laws.
Bottom line is - E bikes are coming, and it is up to us to understand what that means in every aspect. The more we know, the more we can educate, respect and promote the sport of mountain biking for everyone.
***Update: Texas passed a law in 2001 defining what an E-Bike is: The state of Texas (TX) defines electric bikes as a device that is designed to be propelled by an electric motor, exclusively or in combination with human power and cannot attain a speed of more than 20mph in electric only mode. Electric bikes may not exceed a weight of 100lbs.
-Electric bikes are allowed on all roadways as far right as practicable except when making a left turn. Electric bikes are allowed on bike paths and trails unless posted otherwise.
Source: Texas Transportation Code