Michael-Kelley_Interview_0020

As a co-founder of IMBA and as Vice President of that organization until 1999, Michael played the strong diplomat in establishing use rights for mountain bikes first in California, then abroad. He helped to establish the argument for bicycles by working hand-in-hand with hiking and equestrian groups as well as state and federal spaces that strongly felt that mechanical advantage had no place on trails. Simultaneously, he helped to develop educational programs for trail users, personally posting “Rules of the Trail” at trailheads, so this new mountain biker trail user would have a code of conduct. He has spent countless hours since the early 80’s personally building and maintaining trails across the west. His life’s work advocating for mountain bikes won him induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2002.

Now 72, Michael has taken on a new role in advocating for bicycles – electric bicycles, which he views as the newest technology that can bring new people to the trail to enjoy the outdoors and to enjoy the ride as he has. And, as someone who initially argued for mechanical advantage use on trails for mountain bikes, he believes there is a case to be made for these motor assisted vehicles…

BIKERUMOR: You’re someone who was very involved early on in establishing mountain bike advocacy, period. People forget that there was a time when mountain bikes were the enemy on the trails completely. And they don’t understand that one of the first things you did, from what I understand, is to establish trail rules for mountain bikers and to post those at trailheads.

MICHAEL: Rules of the Trail- we established them at IMBA way back in the day. We founded IMBA in 1988. I founded the Bicycles Trail Council of East Bay in 1987.

BIKERUMOR: Only a few months before IMBA, right? That’s the second oldest mountain bike advocacy group in the nation.

MICHAEL: I think it’s important to note that I’ve been in IMBA since the beginning. I’m not representing IMBA in this at all. I presume you have read IMBA’s white paper on the topic- the thing it says very strongly is that IMBA is all about entirely muscle powered bikes and they aren’t going to change their mission. And I fought hard for that mission by the way, over many years. I wouldn’t even change – I’m still an IMBA member and IMBA player.

BIKERUMOR: Why did you fight for that to be the case initially?

MICHAEL: Initially we were being asked all the time to get in bed with the motorcycles. As we faced certain issues such as wilderness, for example, closures were everywhere and we were having a lot of elements stacked against us, the motorcycle community and various entities, various movements within were like “come on IMBA, come with us. We’re your friend.” We essentially, rather adamantly, said no. We’re actually more aligned as mountain bicyclists with hikers and equestrians. In many respects that’s true- there were impact studies way back in the day that lumped all three of these user groups together and motors were way off in the clouds somewhere else as far as environmental impact. So we chose IMBA to be involved with the muscle powered community.

BIKERUMOR: Were there people within the IMBA community that were trying to work with motorcycles?

MICHAEL: Yeah. Oh, we had people who, particularly people who were really angry with wilderness issues, because we’re banned from all wilderness, who said to hell with that. Let’s join forces with motorcycles. IMBA did not do that.

BIKERUMOR: You were making disclaimers earlier, I interrupted you.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I’m not representing IMBA. I want to make that very clear. The reason why it is important in my view, anyway, that I have that background for so many decades now of doing this is that I have been brought up so to speak in an environmental – I’ve always been an environmental person and as a strong participant in the mountain bike advocacy movement for all of these years. I am totally committed to appropriate advocacy, to easing trail conflicts and solving problems with that. With having good relationships with land managers and agencies and other users, to addressing all concerns and adapting to them and having them adapt to our concerns, to making things work on trails. So if I’m thinking that there is a place for e-bikes on trails, it’s with that background.

They aren’t motorcycles. It has nothing to do with motorcycles. As far as I’m concerned, they are very very close to, in most instances the ones that I’m most aware of, they are very close to mountain bikes in terms of impact. In terms of the style of riding, in terms of the feel of riding. I’ve seen numerous cases where people have gotten on an e-bike ready to hate it, including some big players in the advocacy movement I might say, get on these things and say “wait a minute, these things ride like mountain bikes. They don’t go fast like everybody says. They are not so different. They do not have more impact.” And I’ve seen jaws drop in astonishing cases where people have been totally surprised.

BIKERUMOR: Why do you think there is so much of a negative backlash to them from your experience?

MICHAEL: The backlash that we get is astonishingly like the backlash we got when we were first introducing mountain bikes on the trails.

BIKERUMOR: Wait… mountain bikes?

MICHAEL: Back in the ‘80s when mountain bikes were coming out. “Oh, you’ll put these bikes out there. People will be able to ride farther in and they’ll go in over their heads and there will be a lot more people on trails and it’s a mechanical advantage, not just like doing it with your feet.” And so forth. People being resistant to change. One factor also at that point, at first, people didn’t want people to follow them that weren’t like them. I think that’s one thing that is happening today in many cases. “I’m a mountain biker. I’m here. I can ride. I don’t want change.”

BIKERUMOR: Have you seen that with other technologies? I mean, as Vice President of IMBA through the 90’s there was the full first burst of mountain bike technology. Arguably, suspension and improvements in tires and shifting make it easier for people to ride mountain bikes that wouldn’t have before.

MICHAEL: Without a doubt. I’m glad you mentioned those things. First front suspension. Dual suspension. The tires. The light weight. The much more advanced gearing that developed. All those technological advances lead to resistance in many places. I knew mountain bikers: “I will not ride a full suspension bike!” That kind of resistance. I think the resistance in those days as I think about it at this moment was from other users. All these things are happening to bikes… but I also saw it in mountain bicyclists and indeed, you ride a full suspension bike and it led to characteristics on trails. Some say it led to “washboarding” of trails, of fire roads as people braked on descents and so-forth. So we saw that, the same kind of thing. It’s going to get more people in, it’s going to be a lot easier to get in, and everything will go to hell because of it – which, I think society advances and technology advances.

BIKERUMOR: And people forget.

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MICHAEL: People forget that they were in the same boat before. In many cases. If I may, I would like to make a comment on the idea that this will get too many people on trails. In many respects, you can look at trails as the exclusive domain of a small group of people in our country. Oh, by the way, there are issues that are involved here, cultural diversity is important. There are a small group of white people that are – I know that’s not part of what we’re talking about except that it’s related- it’s a small group of people.

BIKERUMOR: Arguably a small group of white men.

MICHAEL: I’ll agree with you. Getting more people on trails increases our constituency for trails and open spaces. We can’t expect to get funding particularly in these insane times, for our trails and parks and open spaces and everything if it’s restricted to a small group of enthusiasts. We need a much broader group of people out there enjoying it, saying, “Hey, this is nice. This is something I want to support. This is something I want our government to support. This is more important perhaps than A or B expenditure.” I don’t want to offend anybody, I think for myself that all the money we put into the war could be much better placed in other places, particularly our parks and open spaces.

I detest pay to play. Charges to use trails and parks. It’s a super bad development that’s happened and is happening in our country. And that’s related to getting more people on trails to say “wait a minute.” We need a constituency to fight pay to play.

BIKERUMOR: Why do you think pay to play is popping up?

MICHAEL: All of the big agencies and small agencies are being cut down in terms of available funds. So they say “okay, we have to start charging.” I have some very good progressive friends who come out of agencies who say “we have no choice. We have to start charging to use parking lots and bathrooms at first. Then people start talking about charging to get on trails. Which has insane enforcement problems. It’s just horrible. What that does, by the way is when you charge and start saying “this little park can charge five, ten, fifteen bucks, then an active trail user can have to spend 100’s of dollars a year as each one picks up and starts doing this kind of thing. I once checked to see what I would have to spend a year in terms of minimal charges of the different agencies and entities that I visit over the course of a year. It came, back in the day, it came to six or seven or eight hundred bucks. It was appalling. It’s lack of funds that the government has to expend. And bureaucracy and a lot of things that lead them to say that they have to charge our users. And foolish ideas by the way. “Our users can afford it.” Well, that’s true in a certain sense. Middle class white men can likely afford to pay a fee to go use a park. Or at least a lot more likely than a lot of people I’ve ridden with over the course of the years. I’ve seen people who just could not possibly afford a $5 permit.

BIKERUMOR: It can be hard to justify. There are equipment costs. Transportation costs. At the end of that, there is another charge on top of that. There are so many barriers to the sport already, if you take away the social barriers. If you just have the things you physically need to do it.

MICHAEL: I’ve paid taxes and I’m in the west. These are my public lands that I’ve enjoyed all my life. The West may be different from the East in ways that I’m not aware of. This is my legacy, my heritage, my history is public lands. Anyway, we’ve perhaps diverted from the topic. But it does have to do with the fear of people increasing the number of people who go out on our public lands.

If you love something, why not share it? This is just me, I’m a gushy old guy, but when I see people out on trails, one person will say “this trail is crowded.” Me, I’ll say “wow, look at all these people enjoying this absolutely spectacular view that I enjoy. I’m so happy they are here with me sharing it.” You don’t want to see trails absolutely overrun.

BIKERUMOR: That’s why you build more trails.

MICHAEL: That’s why you build more trails. I don’t think, by the way, that with respect to the argument that we’ll get overrun, if you add these pedal- I’m speaking very mainly about pedal assist, low wattage, low speed bikes into the mix, you’re just not going to get the hoards that some people seem to fear.

BIKERUMOR: There is concern about the impact on the trails and concern that the trails will be overrun by people on e-bikes who, as you spoke about earlier, will have capabilities that will bring them further into the wild.

MICHAEL: I don’t see that happening myself. In my experience, the young riders will, in fact, you can see it by all of their objections “oh my muscles are fitter, et cetera.” I don’t think that they are going to want to spend the bucks that are necessary to move into e-bikes. The e-bike riders that I am riding with, by the way, tend to be late 60’s into the 70’s, ie. my age range, I’m just not seeing it. I know one younger guy who is associated with a bike shop, who likes doing enduro type events- he’s the only one that I know of, by the way. I know there are others.

BIKERUMOR: That’s your personal experience… that’s how you ride and the people you ride with.

MICHAEL: My experience is that I’ve been riding for a long time, beginning in the 80’s. I owned the first production mountain bike. I still have it; I don’t ride it of course. That was 35 years ago. And in those days… I’ve never been fast. I raced a few times in the 80’s. But now what happens is, it’s very unfortunate to me, personally, is I’ll be at the parking lot, ready to go out, or the trailhead, and I’m ready to ride six hours. And I’m ready do to the long ride. I still can do all that stuff, but immediately right at the trailhead, bingo, they are gone. I’m riding by myself all day long. The people who wait for me are cordial, by the way, but I’d hate to make that happen, but that’s the reality I am faced with on a regular basis. I can train to deal with that, fortunately I have some time to do it but not everybody has.

I just tried the Death Ride, as I just mentioned, a few days ago. Was way off the back. It takes a bunch more training at 72 to maintain. So when I get on an e-bike, I can ride with the pack, with the gang. I am so happy to be there again, riding with people in certain cases that I haven’t ridden with for years. It means an awful lot to me. As one of my pals once said, “mountain biking is a social experience.” It’s an experience of enjoying nature. It’s a social experience. It’s about being with your good friends. It is what has enabled with me to do that.

I take umbrage with those who subject that “if you can’t ride in anymore, then go and do something else.” One rider who I saw in the comments said that “aging is all a part of everything. You age, you get to a point where you are old, you are off the back, go do something else.”

BIKERUMOR: How does that feel as someone who has arguably grown up with the sport and has dedicated so much time to building the infrastructure and partnerships to support it?

MICHAEL: You hit on it. I don’t want to overdo it, but it is bothersome that I would be implicitly asked to stop riding when I’ve devoted a whole lot of time, a lot of years and efforts to make the riding opportunities available to people and then to be told to do something else. That’s bothersome. I do not intend to do something else.

The only people I’ve heard say that are considerably younger, by the way, and I don’t know what they’ll think when they get to this age. But hanging it up is not an option for me. And it might not be for those people when they get to that kind of age. And by the way, I’m not dead. I still want to ride. I still ride my road bike. I’m just looking for a new one now, in fact. And I’ve got a great mountain bike. I’ve always had decent mountain bikes. And I’ll be doing that as long as I can. By the same token, it’s just not fair to ask me to quit.

By the way, everything changes as the years progress. When I was born, which was 1943 during World War II, my life expectancy was 62 years and change. If I were born today, my life expectancy would be 78 years about, if I get that right, an incredible difference in life expectancy. That means an incredible difference in your ability to engage in activities. In my case, enjoy nature and enjoy, perhaps, the fruits of all my years of mountain bikes. Things change. Technology changes. We now have the ability first with mountain bikes, then with gearing of mountain bikes, and suspension of mountain bikes, and clipless pedals, and these various things that made it easy to mountain bike – now we have e-bikes. We can add to that list. So times have changed. Let’s change with them.

One thing we’ve got to be very careful of is all this business of people who get buried on an emotionally philosophical trip that “these are motorcycles.” Forget it. These are not motorcycles. I was talking with one of my good advocacy pals at an event within the past two or three months. I mean, he rides a motorcycle. He must have said this 10 or 15 times during our discussion. I couldn’t shake that idea from his head, he wouldn’t change that idea.

BIKERUMOR: What would you say to people who say that they are motorcycles? I get comments that they are mopeds or motorcycles all the time.

MICHAEL: Motorcycles- that’s a much bigger category. And there are e-bikes that are very very close to motorcycles. I would not want them on trails at all. I have one bike now that’s 350W. European is 250W. By comparison, I know of one that has 4500W that can go 50 miles per hour. That’s a motorcycle. That’s just an incredible thing, people are equating that with what we’re doing here. What I would say is that you get a pedal assist bike, it’s absurd to say that these bikes particularly can go without pedaling. That’s not accurate at all. It depends on the type of bike and the company and the different levels of pedal assist that they’ve got. Nevertheless, in all these bikes that I’m talking about, you HAVE to pedal.

Motorcycles can customarily reach high speeds. These bikes, the standards that seem to be being established, the speed shuts off at 20 miles per hour. These are not bikes that will go insanely fast. If you see somebody on a non-assisted bike and an assisted bike going over 20 miles per hour, they are entirely on their own. No one is talking about downhill bikes these days that reach insane speeds. Likewise, with mopeds, there is a lot of confusion as people equate [these] bikes with mopeds. [E-bikes] are really very close to being bicycles. I know it upsets readers who haven’t been on them. Just like bicycles in many respects. And in Europe in fact, if I have it right, below 250W bikes can go anywhere that bikes can go. They are just regarded as bicycles.

These bikes are great for single track. I don’t really like the highly tactical stuff, but I ride forest service lands in Northern California – little twisty narrow, crazy, straight up and down single track trails on the e-bike, what I ride when I go, and it works perfectly. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be able to ride with my guides around that particularly area. Yes, e-bikes are quite capable of riding. And I’m not a technical rider – never have been a crazy technical rider. But e-bikes are just fine on narrower trails. Having said that, it may well be that ultimately a category is developed that puts e-bikes first on fire roads, but that’s going along with the idea that mountain bikes are only good for fire roads and not good for single track trails. It’s garbage. It’s simply not true.

BIKERUMOR: What’s the big danger in categorizing e-bikes separately?

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MICHAEL: I think it’s a good idea basically for political reasons. If you say certain e-bikes are to be treated just like regular bikes, then I think you run into potential problems both with, shall we say, the radical anti-e-bike mountain bicyclists which are more prevalent in this country than in others.

I think we’ve always got an issue with land access, and I’ve worked, as have many many many others for a long time for land access and I’m conscious of the reality where we, if we really push e-bikes everywhere that mountain bikes can ride, that we can expect more push back than would be satisfactory from our environmental friends who would say without knowing anything about it necessarily, “oh, it has motors, look what’s happening,” then push back. There are a lot of people in our area that say that we could lose access that we already have that we’ve fought so hard for. And I want to be conscious of that, and make sure that any approach we take does not jeopardize our access and turn our friends that we are gradually winning against us, including land managers and equestrians and hikers.

BIKERUMOR: You’re a career diplomat at this point with those people. How do you think e-bike access happens? How do you think that e-bikes are implemented? I know that there is legislation in place, that there is an IMBA environmental impact survey taking place.

MICHAEL: -with the BPSA. They are working on legislation with three categories in California and New York, it’s really for road. We’re not talking about that. To me, that’s a no brainer. There’s 50 states with 50 different sets of regulations on how to treat e-bikes on roads and paved bike paths, so this is California which I’m solidly behind. I also track and participate in road issues by the way. That’s great.

That organization is not pushing legislation at this moment to deal with trails. I’m seeing too many agencies just saying, like they did with us, with mountain bikes by the way back in the beginning. They’ve got gears and wheels and mechanical things, let’s just ban them. We don’t know anything about them, let’s just ban them. I’m seeing some places where they take that approach. Let’s just ban them. It’s just way too complicated to see what it’s all about. I’m very concerned with that kind of reaction where I see it. There are other agencies that have it. It’s a gray area. They haven’t figured it out yet. They are working on disabled exceptions, which makes a lot of sense.

California has a self-declared way that that works. And forgive me for not expressing it exactly correctly but in California certain agencies come up to you, “hey, you’re riding an e-bike, what’s up?” And the response is “I’m disabled.” Well, your declaration is good enough. They don’t get to spread eagle and search you and require proof right on the trailhead. So that’s a good thing. But that only deals with disabled people. What if someone is disabled because they are 72 years old? So those are issues that are being resolved. I read one thing a few months ago by the way, e-bikes in Southern California on trails and some commentator or land manager said “all these e-bikes out there, someone is going to go too fast and someone is going to get hurt and someone is going to prohibit them.” That suggested that there are a whole lot of e-bikes out there and that they are not being prohibited.

I hear this other term. “Cheating.” Are you actually competing with an old dude on an e-bike? That he’s riding with you? Or even ahead of you? Does it really make the slightest difference to your life? Are you not confident enough in yourself that that’s a different thing? I’m cheating, yes- I’m cheating old age.

BIKERUMOR: It’s always a competition.

MICHAEL: If you get somebody who is able to keep up with you at any age with an e-bike, what difference does it make? I’ve gotten, “You’re cheating! You’re cheating!” a few times. Sweat is pouring off of me and I’m cheating. I don’t get it. There is an emotional response that these people are often having that this is some kind of competitive thing.

BIKERUMOR: I mean, suspension was, at one point, cheating.

MICHAEL: Yeah. “You’re cheating, you have suspension.” We’ve already covered that I’ve worked so long that- when I read these people that say I should hang it up-

BIKERUMOR: – which they’ll believe exactly until they have someone tell them that they have to hang it up.

MICHAEL: Or if they still believe it when they have to hang it up, that’s fine. I won’t miss you. I don’t like the idea people on e-bikes aren’t real cyclists. I’m sorry, I am a real cyclist. I’m not a great cyclist. I’m a real cyclist. It’s offensive. They don’t need to have those kinds of arguments.

BIKERUMOR: Why are people saying that?

MICHAEL: The ones I’ve seen cling to this idea and not get beyond “motorized,” that’s fine. Put that in the equation. Now let’s continue talking. The discussion doesn’t end there, just as I hoped it didn’t end back when people said in the 80’s “You’ve got gears, you’re mechanical, forget it, let’s not even talk about it.” Fine. That’s in the equation. Put it in the equation. Now let’s continue our dialogue about what’s going on out there. So the idea that something is motorized ending the discussion is ridiculous.

BIKERUMOR: Mechanical advantage hasn’t shut down the discussion for you before. That’s kind of what you were working with from the beginning.

MICHAEL: We were faced with people who said that and I replied with, “Fine. I accept that. It’s mechanical. Let’s move on.” And we did move on. And people started using the bikes.

I guess my bottom line, the next step is: let’s get on these things. So many of the responses are emotional responses – biased responses. This business about being motorcycles, about being motor assist and stopping the discussion there – it’s an emotional response. It’s really important I think for people to get on these bikes before they make judgement and to slow down judgement and to keep an open mind on these things and to get rid of these emotional things. This cheating business is crazy.

Part two of this interview will include the opposite viewpoint with someone who feels ebikes shouldn’t be allowed on trails. Stay tuned.

111 COMMENTS

  1. Since the dawn of the sport, mountain bikers have fought those who would place what has proved to be a low-impact, non-consumptive activity in with motorized travel. As a result of those efforts, cyclists now have access to some of the most beautiful and secluded trails in the world- to say nothing of the urban and suburban trail networks that ban motorized travel. But in many places trail access remains tenuous.

    As currently regulated, many electric assists can now add an additional 275% to a rider’s input. While essentially quadrupling a rider’s power is impressive, given the electronics and mountain bike communities’ propensity for tinkering there’s little reason to think that regulatory limits will stand. After all, battery technology continues to evolve and in many places it’s difficult to find a motorcycle with its factory emissions or noise controls in place.

    The e-bike industry is quick to paint those who don’t embrace their product as exclusionary, ageist, and elitist. They shed crocodile tears for those who—for reasons of age, illness, or lack of time—cannot currently participate in the sport. But are the aged and infirm really the target market for the 6-8in motorized full-suspension bikes being marketed today?

    Once a motor—gasoline, electric, or other—has been added to a bicycle, a line has been crossed. Given the challenges in obtaining and maintaining trail access for the many, it is my belief that motorized vehicles should be restricted to the tens of thousands of trails currently open to motorized use. Claiming that a motorized bicycle is ‘just’ this or ‘just’ that (anything other than motorized) is not only disingenuous, it is short-sighted and dangerous.

    • i thank michael for what he is doing im am new to riding an ebike that is probably way more motorcycle than what he is talking about i am not new to mountain biking though and still have my good old no suspension steel frame Gary Fisher which I still ride more than my modern hardtail with front suspension aluminum modern mountain bike i recently had a mojor stroke and i have trouble riding my pedal bikes at any range or speed and cant ride my street legeal enduro motorcycles yet so i bought a super cool ebike though it does not even have pedals kuberg freerider and i ride bike trails all over my area and i am very courtious to other people on bikes of all kinds as well as peds running and walking and i am stopped often and asked about my bike and 99% of the feedback i get is positive and it has also been the absolute best therapy for the few weekneses i still have from my stroke like balance issues and left side weekness you heal much faster when your having fun! i can almost go back to work after over a year of recovery sorry for my puncuation and grammer its still very hard for me to type even though my bike looks like a motorcycle you would be surprised how easy it is on the trails it has super soft wide tires that will not spin or burn out on the trail when i really want to ride hard and fast i go to the single track motorcycle trails but my riding ability has not come back enough to be safe on these trails all the time and its hard for me to get to these areas i can ride to many bike trails from my house. i have to wear full protective gear and a full face helmet at all times and might look a little intimidating on my ebike but honestly i have had way more problems with other faster downhill and other mountain bike riders when on my bicycle’s than on my ebike. i even had a guy on a downhill bike nock me off my motorcycle when i was at rest on a single track trail it got to be pretty dangerous in a couple areas where we ride our gas powered motorcycles when the downhill guys started showing up regularly because we could not hear them on the trails and they would pop up out of anywhare going much slower than we did with power and i think about this often riding my very quite ebike around other people.anyway ebikes are here to stay and your just going to see more and more of them everywhere look at the new ca ebike laws they are legal to ride on any trail bicycles are legal to ride in ca with a few top speed and pedal restrictions i dont have the website handy but google for ca new ebike laws and they have clear easy to read charts. if you have not tried an ebike yet try one especially if you have any kind of dissability like i do just a ton of fun and i got my mobility back and getting back in the woods and outdoors is incredible. we can all do this together keep an open mind

  2. I’m most definitely not interested in supporting motorcycles on mountain bike trails, and I will pull my support for IMBA if they decide to throw ‘E bikes’ into the picture.

  3. I don’t want to ride a motorcycle on the trail, but for some, riding a regular mountain bike isn’t something they can necessarily do. Why discriminate against these individuals?

    My opinion is if it has a throttle – it is a motorized bike and could potentially do burnouts on the trail which is bad.

    Pedal assist just the same as some big strong guy.

    so swallow your pride when you are passed by a guy on a pedal assist bike.

  4. For people saying that they are pretty much the same speed uphill is crap. Last week I was in France riding Alpe d’Huez. I’m a pretty good climber (in fact based upon my time, I was slightly faster than this years Grupetto, (they may have ridden a few more miles than I did that day)), yet some guy whizzed by me on an e-Bike as if I was a fat newbie and he was a pro racer.

    On a road, who care, let them do that, but put that thing on a trail and as I’m slowly inching up a super steep climb and some guy blows me off the trail, it will only lead to trouble. At least today, if that happens on regular bikes, you tend to think, well he earned it, I’ll yield.

    Michael mentioned its the older crowd who e-bikes are aimed for. That argument sounds good in theory, but its only a matter of time until some meat head with too much money picks one up and is flying through the trail, cutting people off. Again, if someone comes up from behind me, well, they’ve earned the pass, but why should I yield for you just because you have the money to buy the biggest battery pack.

  5. If it has a motor, electric or gas, its a motorcycle and should be treated as such. That means restricted from non-motorized trails. At some point you have to realize that if you cant pedal through a whole trail or are too ashamed to stop and walk some sections then maybe you shouldn’t be out there riding. I don’t understand the push to let motorcycles on the trails. Why, why, why?

  6. You always have to blame it on the white guys! It’s always got to include race and sex diversity SOMEHOW. Please Anna, tell us how Ebikes will get more women and minorities on the trails.

    I’m deleting bike rumor from my bookmark’s; What a JOKE!

  7. The comparison to gears (mechanical advantage) and suspension is disingenuous.

    Gears multiply torque and allow for speed ranges over terrain not possible give a human limited torque/cadence/power ranges. Gears don’t add power. E-bike’s add power.

    Suspension increases control, it doesn’t really add anything, unlike an e-bike.

    Am I completely against them. No. But on hiker/biker/equestrian trails, I have yet to hear an argument where the pros outweigh the cons. Do I feel sorry for those without the capability to ride any and all trails due to age, injury, or capability. Yeah sure. But that isn’t a big enough argument and that is essentially what this comes down to.

  8. with all due respect, it’s not emotional responses you are hearing. it’s a motor you’re hearing. period. for older riders with pedal assist? i foresee whiskeythrottle like scenarios.

  9. @JBikes,

    Agreed- equating this discussion to those about suspension is a red herring. Suspension does nothing fundamentally change the nature of the bicycle- the fact that it is powered by its rider’s effort.

  10. Electrically motorized Bicycles will lead to a legal crackdown on all cyclists in the US once eFreds start getting killed and law enforcement can’t tell the difference between an ebike and a non-motorized bicycle. Every time we’ve add a motor to a machine in the US it lead to more regulation, restrictions, operating costs and enforcement. The bike industry has painted itself into a corner between rising bike prices and a shrinking customer base. Electrically motorized Bicycles are the industry’s last chance to get young baby boomers and old gen x-ers in the US to buy a multi-thousand dollar machine before their demographics age completely out of the high-end cycling market, with no-one behind them to make up the lost purchasing power.

  11. This will be an interesting debate to follow. By including e-bikes in the mix, the discussion may shift away from whether or not something has a motor but rather to how much environmental impact a given mode of recreation may have.

    Now we have to ask ourselves if that is a battle we are still likely to win, even if something doesn’t have a motor.

  12. the first image also represents why a lot of riders (particularly of the downhill / freeride segment) are turning against IMBA. they are all but literally paving trails.

  13. @Willem

    The published research puts (human-powered) mountain bikes somewhere between hikers and horses in terms of trail impact. Because of bikes’ higher speeds, perceived/social impact is higher (if hiker/biker/equestrian numbers are equal on a given trail/day, a given hiker will see more bikers than hikers or horses). That perception issue is the biggest part of what we face as a group.

    To answer your question, however, the environmental impact of bikes has been demonstrated to fall between horses and hikers- so yes, I think that it’s a battle we can win.

  14. Captain derp – it’s not just the DH/freeride contingent. I’m probably best described as a latex wearing XC snob, but the more technical/natural the trail the better. I may not huck an aggressive line, but I’ve rarely come across anything that didn’t allow me to pick my way through. And if it didn’t, I walk it – that’s part of mtbing.

  15. Suspension is cheating…. electronic gears are cheating….

    What a load of crap. Neither suspension nor electronic gears will move my bike a d*mn inch. All they do is give me a slightly faster way to do something that can be exactly duplicated by throwing a mechanical switch or toggle.

    No amount of mechanical refinement is going to magically add 250W to my legs in a climb, it takes a MOTOR to do that. Hence e-bikes are MOTORIZED VEHICLES.

    Are e-bikes fun to ride? Absolutely. So are dirt bikes. No one is saying motorized vehicles suck, or that they’re no fun, or blah-de-blah. All we’re saying is motorized vehicles belong on motorized access trails. Why is that such a hard concept to grasp?

  16. My experience with e-bikes is that it enables speed for people who lack skill and sense. Where I pay for a lighter bike to get my speed advantage, these people get the speed and none of the health benefit. They easily fit into the “cat 6 racer” attitude, (deleted)
    Welcoming e-bikes says to be they’ve reached “peak cyclist”.

  17. Every time I’ve seen an e bike on the road, the moron piloting it is riding against the traffic or on a sidewalk. People like that will be a great addition to trails. Around here, the first time one of them doesn’t yield to a horse, there will be a hearing about banning all bikes from that trail.

  18. Classic American entitlement. Just because you can no longer do something doesn’t mean the rule should be changed to suit you. I know plenty of 70 somethings who do just fine onnregukzr bikes. It’s like driving a car, if advancing age makes you dangerous behind the wheel should we legislate that all vehicles have huge safety balloons mounted to them just so you can keep driving?

  19. One of the best thing about mountain bike trails is the skill and endurance it takes to ride them. If access is granted to anyone who can throttle it, there will be serious issues. This includes people who have never ridden technical terrain getting in way over their e-bike heads. The ability to ride awesome, remote trails has to be earned!

  20. I’m very reluctant and apprehensive about e-bikes on trails for many of the reasons we keep hearing. That said, my dad is getting old (physically, not mentally) and has always been super athletic. It hurts me to admit that as much as I want to go biking with my dad on the trails I love so much, it’s just not safe to drag him out there. He wants to join me as much as I want him out there, and after reading every word of Part I of this article, it’s softening my stance a little. If putting my dad on an e-bike meant he could join me on the rides I get to enjoy so often, letting us share that moment and joy?…ok, I relent. Maybe there is a fair argument for e-bikes on trails. “Cheating age” was a nice way he put it…not that I’m competitive, I’m not. I mean in the sense of allowing older or disabled fans of mtb’ing to be able to share in the joy we get too.

    But yes, where and how do you draw the lines, categorizing what e-bikes should and should not be in order to gain access to “bike” trails? And for the record, given that I only ride steel, single-speed, fully rigid bikes—stay off my trails you fancy biked cheaters! 😉

  21. This is where the slippery slope starts… on a bike site, then next IMBA… they are just trying to massage the masses for the $$$, (deleted)

  22. @Marc Lindarets

    Good to know that research bears out that we would be on the right side of things.

    My fear is that if the discussion were to be revisited, especially with the inclusion of e-bikes, we might find a redrawing of the line of what is seen as environmentally damaging and we might find ourselves excluded from certain trail systems.

    From the other stand point, even if e-bikes are allowed access, who in the world is going to police it? I have a hard time believing that your local city or state will pay for the park rangers to check the wattage output on e-bike riders that are suspect of being on a too-powerful machine.

    I think what Mike is also getting at is that we will likely see a very small population actually riding these things, so advocacy for trail rights might be slow to stagnant, or they might not even register into the discussion when trail access comes up.

    If I were to make a guess at how this plays out, the motor vs. no-motor is too easy of a line to draw that in the areas where access issues do come into discussion any motorized vehicles what so ever will be excluded.

    Then the next question will be how well do the e-bikes get along with horses?

  23. E-Bikes on trails with people lacking the ability to ride the trails is a prescription for disaster on many levels. First if they have no trail etiquette, they are gonna blast someone bad, and if that person catches them, it’s not gonna be pretty. Second, if they don’t have the physical fitness to power a regular bike on the trails, what makes us think they have the physical fitness to CONTROL an assisted bike. This is gonna turn bad, and people are gonna get hurt, it’s just that simple.
    As for trails being more groomed. Most of the comments are right, they are, and the amount of people riding them have INCREASED substantially in our area. And that’s cause the easier sections are groomed mostly allowing novice people to get out thre. Allowing them to build on their skill level, and confidence. While the Blacks and double blacks remain intense, allowing for people to still get to ride their bikes to its full potential. That’s why it is ever so important to get out there with your local bike clubs and see what and why they are advocating changes. I just recently learn why a trail in our area, called Fountain Head, was totally transformed. Not for the fact to make it easier, but to minimize the trail from erosion, and most importantly because we were going to lose it, because of certain sections and safety issue. So before bashing IMBA and trail advocacy groups… Get out there and see what and why stuff is changing.

    So what did we learn today:
    E-Bike= Bad Idea
    IMBA/Trail Advocacy Groups=Gotta go and see why

  24. “its only a matter of time until some meat head with too much money picks one up and is flying through the trail, cutting people off.”

    So you’ve never heard of this happening with non-assist mountain bikes? Happens all the time.

  25. Marc: they’re coming for you! Somehow there’s a lot of money tied up in this lobby.

    Patrick: bikes with motors get people to places not otherwise reachable.

    If you’re not completely conflicted about it, you should be. Skiers have never been able to ski back to the top of the slope before. This is a brand new thing, with no precedent. Can we? Yes. Should we? …

  26. So what would happen if I took a 125cc two-stroke MX bike and removed the gas engine, put a huge electric motor in it’s place and a giant battery in place of the tank? It would still be an eBike if I limited it to 20 MPH, right? I respect the work Mike has done in the past, but it seems there are too many “what-ifs” about eBike size, speed, level of assist and so on. Does anyone really think that the bike companies are going to create these bikes to be just the same as the rest? Of course not- speed, range, quick recharge and the like will quickly escalate these beasts into what I originally described- sounds like fun, but not for the MTB trails.

  27. The argument that e-bikes are great for old or handicapped people is seriously flawed. What happens when the battery dies or the motor fries? Can that feeble old person pedal that incredibly heavy machine back to the trailhead? Could he even push it back up the hill?

    It’s also odd that he talks about trail use fees and how most mountain bikers are well off white dudes. Who exactly is going to be buying e-bikes and using them on the trail? That’s right – wealthy white dudes. Especially baby boomers since the youngest generation is too saddled with massive college debt and sky high rents. If he really wants to share the trail with a more diverse crowd of people, then he should quit wasting his time with pushing for e-bike access and fight to stop user fees and fund transportation and outdoor programs for urban kids.

    Bottom line is that this is just another incredibly selfish argument from the generation that wants to have it all regardless of what happens to the rest of us. Attention baby boomers – you do not have a god given right to mountain bike no matter how weak you are. Either you can pedal or you can’t. What if you lost your ability to balance? Do you want us to put in rails for you on all the trails too?

  28. I really don’t see the point about old/unfit/incapacited people not being able to follow younger/fitter ones.
    When I ride with my dad, I just go slower.
    If the people you ride with think chasing KOMs is more important than enjoying the trail with you, I’m sorry but the solution is not an e-bike…

  29. My problem with his viewpoint is that he says the e-bikes aren’t that fast, they assist up to 20mph, etc. Well, they do NOW, but the technology is evolving. Motors are getting smaller/lighter/stronger, and the same with batteries. The technology will continue to evolve to a point when you can’t tell if a particular bike is “e-” or not. People will hack the systems, making them faster. Manufacturers will comply with demand and follow suit. It’s not if, but when. Better to regulate them now before things get out of hand.

  30. Hell, whats the difference between your local fast guy and Chris Froome? Based upon his leaked power file, about 150 watts or so. Add 250 watts to someone, you’re going to be seeing a lot more damage to local trails, especially any steep climbs.

    Again, if it were something that only those 70 and older could buy one that would be one thing, but that’s never going to happen. As others have said, if you’re fit, you get rewarded by going to the best and sometimes most dangerous/fun trails.

  31. Another thing that I don’t think has been mentioned is e bikes will extend the range of “riders,” but won’t help them clear obstacles very well.

    You know how the trails closest to town are always the widest and experience the most rogue sanitizing? Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to bring a rock bar or a small shovel out on your ride on an e bike, thus extending the range of the bad guys.

  32. no no no!!!!!!!!!!

    this will never happen. we bike riders have worked soo hard, then and now, being attacked from every angle to build trails, maintain them and police ourselves. now you want motorcycles to jump on board. no no no!!!

    this is the end of all our trails. as soon as you call an electric motorcycle(even if it has pedals) a bicycle, you leave the door open for all motorcycles to come in. for all we know this is the motorcycle industry funding this movement and bribing key people to say these none sense things.

    it will never happen. bicycles are different in the eyes of the law from mopeds. that’s what electric bikes are. they are motorcycles with pedals and should be treated as such, not as bicycles.

    bike rumor keeps trying to stuff this awful idea down our throats and even you get tons of replies that this is a bicycle site not a motorcycle site they continue.

    no e-bikes on trails!!!

    please bike rumor, stop supporting e-bikes on trails by running these posts, the bike community does not want this,

  33. This is TOTAL BS. Look me straight in the eye and explain to me how a “cycle”, with two “wheels”, and a device that generates power using electricity (also known as a “motor”) is not a “motorcycle” or “motorized” vehicle? Effing BS. Go ahead and spend WAY too much money on one (better off getting a go-ped or a real motorcycle) and ride it all you want where “motorized” traffic is LEGAL. IF you (deleted) start riding them on trails designated for non-“MOTORIZED” trails, us regular huffing and puffing mountain bikers are going to loose access to the trails we LOVE. (deleted) E-Bikes are what they are, bikes with a MOTOR. NON MOTORIZED use means just that. Thats all.

  34. Hopefully IMBA gets behind e-bikes, one more nail in the coffin of an organisation bent on sanitising the riding experience and making every riding destination the same nauseous mix of roller-berm-roller-roller-berm-berm….. Look at that “trail” he’s building in the first photo…

  35. Can we stop assuming that everyone that rides an E-Bike is an idiot that has no idea what trail etiquette is??

    That assumption is completely unbacked and is pretty terrible. And yes.. I’m sure your friend told you a story about something that happened to one of his friend’s sister’s dog walker, and it was caused by an E-Bike rider.. But last time I checked, 1/4 of the “cyclists” out there are terrible when it comes to cycling etiquette.

    Hate on E-Bikes all you want.. But they are here to stay, and there isn’t going to be this grand incident that shuts down trails all over the country. That would have happened years ago due to the stupidity of a good ol’ fashion leg powered mountain biker doing something idiotic.

    And no, I don’t ride an E-Bike.

  36. For once I think I agree with virtually every comment on a BR post. Thank you, MTB community, for being able to see through this crap. Now take this sentiment – a rational form of it, please – and apply some influence to your local and regional trail-use deciders.

  37. I’ve seen enough fools skidding the crap out of trails and generally having poor etiquette plenty of times. Every one of us at some time has done something to harm the trail or agitate another rider. Along with the fact that there are tons of us out there who are happy to ride trails, yet don’t allocate time in the schedule to participate in a trail maintenance day. Yes, the e-mountain bike is a polarizing issue. If you’re a 20-50 year old rider with some experience, then you really shouldn’t have an e-mountain bike. If you are a septuagenarian who still wants to ride trails and not risk literally having a heart attack, then use one with the utmost respect to the trail, and other riders. We all know who is going to buy an electric mountain bike and it’s not anyone in the comments here. Yet Mark says he would like to see his dad get to ride with him while simultaneously dumping on the concept that he just stated would be acceptable for an older rider. Perhaps someone with more time to ride; more patience when on the trail (No skidding for Daddy), and maybe even someone who would be happy to be an advocate for mountain biking in general. If we’re going to go the route of calling these riders “cheaters”, then go out and buy a fully rigid, steel single speed with cantilever brakes (because discs provide an advantage and use this oil stuff found in car and motorcycle brakes) so you can at least walk the walk when your passing one of those (deleted) 70 year old dudes that just wants to ride the same stuff he did 20-30 years before. This debate sucks because it’s telling people to stay out of the sport without considering what positives could come from this or if that person could just dump a good chunk of money on a full carbon pedal bike and be happy. I don’t own one and I won’t for as long as possible or ever if possible. However, I went for a ride with someone (late 50’s) on a Haibike just a few weeks ago and it had no impact on my ride experience or the trail. He was faster uphill, I was faster downhill. He was just happy to be riding a bike on trails and was nothing but respectful to the activity. He also inquired about what actions he could take to keep the trails in good shape and be more of an advocate for mountain bike access. That’s just my personal account of actually sharing time on a trail with an e-mountain rider but I hope it sheds a tiny bit of light on some potential positives.

  38. I think this is only truly a debate for trails out west that are practically paved. Many trails in PA are rocky and technical enough that you would be walking the trail with or without an e-bike if you don’t have the skillz. People will quickly get tired of carrying a 60 pound bike over rocks and logs and quit. Inclusion of e-bikes would likely lead to more injuries due people diving into deeper terrain before they’re ready. At least dirt bikers wear full-face helmets and body gear.

    A few state parks in PA have large portions of the park reserved for equestrian ONLY trails…now THAT is a small demographic of people for trail use!

  39. Dear Mr. Kelley,

    This letter is to inform you that you are not longer a cyclist. You are not really ‘riding’ with your friends anymore. That stops when you strap a motor onto your bike, changing it from a bike to a motorcycle. Sad really. Any real cyclist experiences ‘not riding’ with others because of differences in skill. There were people that were too fast/slow for me to ride with when I was in my twenties. I’m now in my forties and there are still some people that are too fast/slow for me to ride with. Understanding and living with this reality if part of what makes someone a cyclist. Either train harder, or find slower people to ride with. For those that are too fast, you can always hang out with them post ride.

    This letter is also serves an official request from those of us who are still cyclists. We are requesting you honor all the decades of work you yourself put in to get mountain bikes access to as many trails as you have – (deleted). Park rangers will never have the capacity (nor should they bear the burden) to examine every bike to determine if it’s an e-bike or not, or to test how much wattage it has. God forbid we have to start paying our Park rangers to camp out in the forest with radar guns to enforce speed limits.

    Unfortunately this letter also serves to let you know you’ve lost your mind. By definition a motorcycle is any two wheeled vehicle with a motor. It’s not a matter of opinion or preference. It’s a fact. Undeniable. (deleted) I have a 1600cc motorcycle, a 250cc scooter, and have ridden an e-bike. With the exception of how fast they go, all three ride exactly the same. You sit on the saddle, twist the throttle, and the motor moves you forward. (The e-bike I rode had 3 modes, ‘light assist’, ‘medium assist’, and ‘full scooter’). So yes, e-bikes can be ridden without pedaling. While current battery sizes limit the power available, rest assured, they will get smaller lighter and more powerful. E-bikes of the future will look back at ’20 mph’ and have a good laugh. I totally support e-bikes for commuters and urban use, as they have a great potential to ease congestion and reduce pollution. But they will devastate the trails, as any heavy powered-rear-wheel vehicle will do.

    (deleted) Every time you print one of these you show support for e-bikes. And every time your viewers overwhelmingly say stop it. Please please stop supporting e-bikes while we still have access to our trails…

  40. Have any of the negative responders ever ridden one of the bikes that Mike Kelley is advocating for? Is everyone aware of the difference between a pedal-assist/pedal-elec bike and a throttle-controlled motorized bike? There is no throttle on a pedel-assist. The electronics sense the riders power input and add to it based on the level of assistance that is selected. The maximum additional power is comparable to a strong rider (and sometimes only a moderately strong rider). Yes, it means you can go faster up a hill but it does not mean that you can throttle the rear tire and chew up the trail. These are not dirt bikes even though they do share some common hardware.

    I do not ride an e-bike, but I can see how they apply to less physically able riders. I’m not clear on how regulation could work that effectively distinguished between the two types of e-bikes, but I see pedel-assist riders out on trails who are no different than other users except for a bit of additional speed on the climbs that makes me double take. I run into Mike Kelley occasionally and have listened to him recount his excitement about being able to get to the top of climbs that were easily achieved in his earlier years but had become too challenging in later years. We’ve had the same feedback from some of our other customers who are in similar age brackets – and very little of our business involves motors.

    Maybe the threat of regulations having negative ramifications on general mtb access is too high overall with this issue, but I don’t see anything wrong with old guys getting out on trails with a little boost to get them to the top of a hill!

  41. “shall we say, the radical anti-e-bike mountain bicyclists”

    This is self-contradictory. If anyone can make a coherent argument for how an “e-bike” is a bicycle, I’m all ears. However, a bicycle has always been human powered. A motorcycle has…. wait for it…. a motor. There’s no such thing as an e-bike mountain bicyclist, only motorcyclists. You can even call them people riding electric scooters with pedals if you want, but they’re not bicyclists.

  42. A pedal assist e-bike is NOT a motor bike. An e-bike with a throttle however is. if you don’t have to pedal to move then its a motor bike. Having said that I don’t want either on MTB single track. but I don’t see a problem with e-bikes on fire trails.

    The more people we get off stinky noisy dirt motorcycles (and out of cars too for that matter) the better off this world will be. (deleted)

  43. Seems like a lot of bikers have taken the same attitude of the holier than thou Sierra clubbers—this idea that public lands should only be open to a select few, a “club.” You’re all by the way (Michael Kelly is 100% right) sounding EXACTLY like the people who wanted to ban bikes from public lands. Horseback riders don’t want anyone on the trails but themselves. Hikers want the same. Now, it seems mountain bikers don’t want to be around anything with motor assistance. End result—less people using the land, fewer people invested in it, fewer stakeholders, less funding, which all equates to the loss of public land. Ever been to Utah? Most of the trails out there are open to just about every type of user and guess what—it’s the ultimate mountain destination, the trails are in great shape. The public land in Utah is celebrated by its residents because it’s open to a wide variety of users.

  44. Great article!
    Disappointed with all the negative comments, not very opened minded, maybe full suspension bikes should also be banned as they increase speed and trail damage!
    And a class 1, pedal assist (no throttle) bike is likely to be approved by CA state for all trails, so better to work towards better acceptance as it is going to happen.

    PS can’t wait for those negative people to have to hang up their bikes as they can’t ride anymore, where a ebike would!

  45. How about this simple rule: if it has a throttle, it can’t go on trails. I have zero problem with pedal torque assist, but anything that can make a “bike” move on its own should be relegated to OHV parks only. That way there’s no confusion over motor capacity- it’s a very simple calculation: throttle = no trail riding.

  46. “You always have to blame it on the white guys! It’s always got to include race and sex diversity SOMEHOW. Please Anna, tell us how Ebikes will get more women and minorities on the trails.
    I’m deleting bike rumor from my bookmark’s; What a JOKE!”

    This is absolutely key. Bringing race and sex diversity into the discussion is absolutely dishonest, which tells me there is a selfish interest represented. If the purpose of e-bikes is truly altruistic, why do they feel the need to lie? Apparently there is absolutely nothing that will not be monetized to the point of ruining things for regular people.

  47. I’ll hang up my bike. If only to ‘can’ the old-man pity party. A Motor is a motor and it’s a nightmare to work on. We all should be editing our service menus to make some money though. For better or worse, change is coming.

  48. ebikes- I don’t really care if they are out there. I really welcome anybody to have fun out there on the trails. I don’t see how they are all that different than equestrians. In fact equestrians have the equivalent of a fairly large motor under them to haul them all over the trails. A measly e-bike is nothing in comparison. I like equestrians, for the most part they are good people when I meet them out there. Maybe better than most MTB riders I meet out there and way better than the BOH (Bitter Old Hikers) .
    What I think is going on here is the usual politics of envy. The anti e-bikers see a threat to their delusion of purity. Nothing could be further from reality. But they like to ramble on and on about how the old fat, decrepit, uncool, whatever shouldn’t be out there if they can’t handle it like them. Boo hoo. Tech is now threatening your status quo. Well join the club. I have been fighting this politics of envy with Moto access for going on 35 years. It will never end as Drones are next.
    I disagree with Mike’s comment about user fees. Particularly in highly populated systems.
    The fact is, the mass of humanity that has been allowed into this country cannot be educated or depended upon to respect the trail system. They simply don’t care. user fees keep the riff raff out and the user experience is much better as a result. Interesting note. When my local trail system initiated user fees. The only people who park outside and ride or hike in have Liberal Political decals on their cars (almost exclusively) and save the $3. Typical.

  49. Allow ebikes and there’ll be users that start to push boundaries. Some users will work within set limits, but others will be tweaking for more power. Picture, the quite feasible possibility of, 2kw motors. Next year 4kw.

    As a passionate volunteer trailbuilder working extensively with my local government and working with my club having secured $200 000 plus in grants, I would be pulling all of my support should ebikes be allowed.

    No to ebikes, that is my one vote added.

  50. Insane arguments. Calling a motorized vehicle motorized is an emotional response?

    “That’s bothersome. I do not intend to do something else.” An E-bike is something else.

    As one who’s spent the time digging and working with local land management (USFS mostly), I understand how bringing a motor to the bargaining table is complete suicide. +1 to mortimer.

  51. One way you can tell that e-bikes are such a good idea is to see the emotional backlash from relatively young people in good shape, while ignoring the 99% that can’t, and won’t, otherwise ride. The better the idea, the more people resist it — and that’s how we know this is going to be such a success.

    I can’t wait to buy a full-suspension e-bike and get it out on the trails. It will hang out alongside my Epic and Stumpjumper! I can ride longer, further, faster, and just generally have more fun on days when I feel like it.

    Hey, maybe we should get people off the trail if their FTP is over 250W! They are probably not humans.

  52. Charles–

    Utah is a huge state, with a wide variety of trails, management agencies and access polices. If you’re up north, in the heavily populated Wasatch front, there are plenty of non-motorized trails. In fact, motorized vehicles are allowed on very little singeltrack in those areas.

    Sure, in Southern Utah many of the popular mountain bike routes–even the Slickrock Trail–were historically, and continue to be, open to motorized use. But there are also non-motorized trails in the Moab area, and it’s worth noting that the Moab Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management has banned ebikes from those trails. So, even in motor-happy Utah, people are recognizing there are places motors don’t belong, even when bikes do.

  53. Please Bike Rumor- Do make it clear that Michael Kelly, whatever his IMBA role in the past, not only currently ‘doesn’t represent’ the organization’s official position in the E-Bike matter, but that he is also now an E-Bike business owner looking to create and develop a new market. He is now joined arm in arm with the consortium of businesses, etc. (quite possibly a small group of white men, Hmm.) looking to tell us there is no real merit to a rather consistent gut reaction I am reading in the comments here. The “small group of white men” and the mistaken and unfair comparison of the MTB technology advances is irresponsible journalism and bogus politics at best. Michael mentions his viewpoint has the intent to address “concerns” about trail conflicts and facilitating land manager’s adaptation to our (Michael’s, et al.) concerns. What exactly are Michael’s concerns other than the implementing of rules that allow the use of the E-Bikes he wants to sell? There is no current issue (the bikes are currently limited to the same trails motorcycles are using- so where is the issue?) excepting that which may soon result in Michael and others lobbying (this word used very intentionally). At the base of each ‘pro’ argument along these lines I’ve encountered recently I have seen this kind of 2nd rate politici-ng. That should be indication enough of the real intent and impetus behind the “concerns”: $$’s to be made.
    I am concerned that ease of access to trails, normally difficult on human-only powered bikes, will result in too much traffic and excessive wear and tear in some very pristine places. I have a trail in mind- the upper portion of the trail leading to the top of Burro Pass, a little over 11,200 near Moab (I know many such places, and I am ok with this kind of concern expressed here knowing we all have some pristine trail favorites we don’t want to see overused). Imagine seeing a bike tour of 5 to 10 riders in such a place, and then in another hour 5 to 10 others, and again.. I am happy with natural and enforced limits to that kind of access and tired of being made to feel I am not open-minded for expressing that concern.

  54. P.S. I meant above “imagine seeing a bike tour of 5 to 10 E-Bike riders, etc.” As in the motor eases access to the point of over-use.

  55. We’re an open minded shop, so we’ve worked on a few of these now.
    One could go to the corner store on a freeway feeder road doing 38mph unassisted.
    But I have yet to see one last two years.
    They last longer if you use them. For real. Otherwise, its a short death
    Always some ridiculous problem to be had with the motor, or the battery, or the charger or friggin something. They always need factory support, and it usually doesnt end well for the customer. I’ve got my tear jerker veteran/old man cases, and I’ve got my obvious dui offenders that think they’re fooling someone. But at the end of the day here, my irritation is about me being tired of selling expensive breakable crap to people in the presence of better solutions.
    If you work in a shop, and sell product you know will break to elderly enfeebled patrons separating them from large chunks of their retirement money hoping to reclaim some youthful ability, but instead it usually turns out to be a $3500 paperweight, you need to go home, cry into a pillow, and feel bad about yourself.
    Push product that works if you believe in your industry

  56. E-bike pushers…your views are idealistic and need to be more realistic regarding singletrack use.

    Most (if not all) of the advocacy that supports the use of e-bikes on singletrack is coming from those attempting to benefit monetarily from them….who I might add are all white males.
    If there is a publication regarding this subject written by a minority or someone who doesn’t work for an e-bike company…please show us.

  57. …and Michael says “The West may be different from the East in ways that I’m not aware of.”
    Maybe you should get together with the Sun and start there?

  58. What Skip said. My shop has sold 10 or so battery assist hybrid style bikes from a major brand over the last few years. They have all failed, and have been nothing but a nightmare for the customers. Much to my protest I’m sure I’ll see another one get sold and returned.

  59. I also feel that the argument that ebikes ‘allows users to get outdoors’ is purposefully misleading. There are miles of trails open to ebikes, in beautiful natural settings, with great views and vistas, through forests, past lakes and streams. This idea that no ebikes on single track means that we are denying access to enjoying outdoor recreation is disingenuous.

    And appropriately, if it’s pedal assist, that is if you need assistance, I see no issue with prescribing assisted use on fire road and rail trail style paths. Kinda like no diving in the hotel pool?

  60. who of all those haters have actually ridden a pedal assist ebike ?

    and …. I let you in a secret…
    You all eventually get older, have bum knees, etc etc
    You all surely will quit riding all together and the local bingo night will be the highlight of your week.

  61. There is a push from the e-bike industry to categorize e-bikes as non motorized vehicle therefore can gain easier acces to trails. What a joke. This thing has a motor but is not motorized vehicle. Maybe is a flying rug with 0 impact.

  62. This needs to be an open debate. Mountain bikers aren’t going to help their argument one way or another by calling e-bikes motorcycles and trying to end the argument there. Some of these bikes are much closer to mountain bikes as the article mentions. The issue is far from black and white.

    Mountain bikers hear ‘e-bike’ and immediately picture hoards of unskilled riders out on their trails getting in the way, making trails wider, and ruining the experience for everyone.

    People who need an e-bike for health reasons, etc. to stay on the trails (that they know and love) don’t want to be ‘part of the problem’. The people who spent a large part of their lives riding traditional bikes are NOT the people we need to worry about. They respect the trail and it’s current users. Also, they are a relatively small group, for now.

    While I see the benefit for older riders (or riders recovering from injury) being able to use low-power pedal assist bikes, it seems like such a slippery slope. If this one type of e-bike is allowed for special circumstances, how to we prevent more powerful faster bikes from being allowed when they exist? How do we decide who gets to use one? Are there special permits that you apply for based on age or health conditions? Are the specific ‘approved models’ of e-drives or bikes?

    I have encountered a few e-bikes on trails. They aren’t allowed on local trails, but they were being used by people who needed them due to physical limitations. In one case the rider was just recovering from a surgery and used the bike to get back into shape then sold it. He caused no problems on the trail with his e-bike. Most people never even realized it was an e-bike. The second person hadn’t ridden for a while, and didn’t respect trail etiquette. He was fast on the climbs and slow on the descents and a little out of control. He scared several riders, wouldn’t let my group pass him, and ticked off a lot of people. But he might have done the same on a regular bike if he was fit enough to ride one.

    For now I don’t think e-bikes belong on trails, in general.
    But I hate to deny experienced mountain bikers some more good years on the trail if they aren’t causing harm.
    This is a tough issue, and one that needs to be in the open (or we may get a solution we don’t like!)

  63. Ebikes on trails will lead to overuse and massive damage, go anywhere in Colorado on a summer weekend and there’s fat Texans out on quads, ATVS, motos, anywhere there’s a dirt road or doubletrack, 8 in a row with their kids in tow on their own machine, would these people be riding bikes to enjot the outdoors if quads hadn’t been invented and available so easily? HELLL NO! They’d be at home on the sofa slowly working their way through a KFC bargain bucket each. Make it easier for people and they’ll go where they couldn’t before, leave us somewhere to get away from the crowds. Death to EBikes!

  64. The “LINE” is NOT add ing a motor to the bike. The “LINE” is the environmental impact and usage impact of the bike.

    Gas motors are an easy NO because they pollute and put of 2.5-4hp.

    An electric bike does not pollute, puts out 1/2 hp or less. They are not the same.

    The guy who won the access rights for all of you purist, to get on the trail, now have your heads in the sand to a close cousin of the mtn bike world, low -powered ebikes.

    Try them, be open minded.

  65. everyone has an agenda. money wins. old white men usually have more of it to win with. fact. not hatin just statin. do i care if my grandpa wants to pin it on a trail? no. will i chuckle a little if he has a funny pedal assist otb? yes. inclusion.

  66. Great comments and I think representative of a wide majority, NO E-bikes.

    The “have you ever ridden” one comments are the best. It isnt’ elitist, it isn’t crunchy granola, it’s darn simple, we don’t want lose to trails we have worked so hard for. If E-bikes join…we will. Stick your head in the sand if you want, this is reality and will be a huge step back on 30 years of forward momentum.

    Michael, time to turn in the IMBA card. Seriously.

    don

  67. Ebikes will likely be regulated by classification, and have identifying labels, like a Green/yellow/red sticker. Then trail managers can specify the ebike class allowed on that particular trail, with respect to the class, and all riders will know what “color” to look out for, as a means of policing the trail and being fair.

    It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing folks. Your IMBA founder is not insane or have dementia. He knows what he is talking about. YOU are in ignorance if you think ebikes equal gas powered motorcycles. Ebikes have 3 mixed modes. No assist – normal pedaling, PAS – pedal assist added, human effort is amplified, throttle – assist is added to human effort anytime. There are multiple levels of power that can be set. Trail conservation and safe riding is fully possible. Yes, the extra power has potential for a rider to be more reckless than a normal bike, simple due to the propulsion being used, (ie. go too fast) People have to know the trail rules and how to operate their machine.

    The bionic man has now been replaced with the Bionic Bike. Embrace the opportunity.

  68. Don-
    Prove that claim that riders will lose access.

    ——————-
    don – 08/06/15 – 2:31pm

    Great comments and I think representative of a wide majority, NO E-bikes.

    The “have you ever ridden” one comments are the best. It isnt’ elitist, it isn’t crunchy granola, it’s darn simple, we don’t want lose to trails we have worked so hard for. If E-bikes join…we will. Stick your head in the sand if you want, this is reality and will be a huge step back on 30 years of forward momentum.

    Michael, time to turn in the IMBA card. Seriously

  69. Loki-
    Your argument is poor. You are basically calling for privileged access for yourself, telling a class of riders to enjoy “other” trails, except the ones you enjoy. It doesn’t work that way. There has to be a compelling characteristic about the PERFORMANCE of the ebike to disqualify it from a given trail.

    IMO, not ALL ebikes should have access to ALL trails, but most are designed to allow just as little impact as a FS mtn bike.

    Loki – 08/06/15 – 10:23am

    I also feel that the argument that ebikes ‘allows users to get outdoors’ is purposefully misleading. There are miles of trails open to ebikes, in beautiful natural settings, with great views and vistas, through forests, past lakes and streams. This idea that no ebikes on single track means that we are denying access to enjoying outdoor recreation is disingenuous.

    And appropriately, if it’s pedal assist, that is if you need assistance, I see no issue with prescribing assisted use on fire road and rail trail style paths. Kinda like no diving in the hotel pool?

  70. Tom,

    That’s pretty funny. Don’t worry, these people aren’t going to get on anything with pedals.

    BTW, get an ebike and you will ride FURTHER away from people and be able to explore more of God’s creation via the extra energy and assist that will get you to places your normal bike did not, or you could not.
    ________________
    tom thumb – 08/06/15 – 11:42am

    Ebikes on trails will lead to overuse and massive damage, go anywhere in Colorado on a summer weekend and there’s fat Texans out on quads, ATVS, motos, anywhere there’s a dirt road or doubletrack, 8 in a row with their kids in tow on their own machine, would these people be riding bikes to enjot the outdoors if quads hadn’t been invented and available so easily? HELLL NO! They’d be at home on the sofa slowly working their way through a KFC bargain bucket each. Make it easier for people and they’ll go where they couldn’t before, leave us somewhere to get away from the crowds. Death to EBikes!

  71. Ebike means DUI bike around here. About every information request for motorized bikes I get begins with, “So I lost my license…”

  72. Dan R – 08/06/15 – 11:58am
    “…An electric bike does not pollute, puts out 1/2 hp or less. They [gas powered bikes] are not the same…”
    ______________

    An electric bike does pollute. It technically pollutes while charging (unless its solar or super rare human powered generator charged) and it has an incredibly larger environmental footprint during manufacture.

    Does this matter regarding trail access? Maybe not. But they do pollute and pollute more than a bicycle. It’s great when an e-bike substitutes the use of something like a car. But when it’s replacing a bicycle, it’s a negative impact.

  73. I’ll say it out loud – MTBing is an elitist activity and I like it that way.
    Part of the allure is it’s hard, it’s dangerous and not everyone else can do it. I don’t want to share or change to accommodate some electric joeys on the trail. Cycling advocates will say “more riders means more safety/funding/trails, blah, blah blah”. I don’t agree that those things are actually good, for me personally. I don’t want to “improves access” or “broaden the appeal”. That just makes the trail/street/path more crowded with pleebs and freds. -Flame On!

  74. who cares when you get overtaken by an e-bike?
    If you want to compete, enter a race. There everyone is level.

    when i’m doing an after raceday recover ride i sometimes get passed by 90+ people with one leg and a glass eye…

  75. Dan R, my regular bike has got me everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go… Great Divide, Colorado Trail, Idaho Hot Springs loop, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, etc., etc. I’ve been ‘bikepacking’ all over the world since it was simply called ‘touring’. Meeting other like minded folk on bicycles is part of the appeal, the solitude is more of an appeal. Motors should stick to roads.

  76. Michael Kelley said “Initially we were being asked all the time to get in bed with the motorcycles. As we faced certain issues such as wilderness, for example, closures were everywhere and we were having a lot of elements stacked against us, the motorcycle community and various entities, various movements within were like “come on IMBA, come with us. We’re your friend.” ”

    Perhaps it is time for the e-bike community to hop in that bed. Just don’t expect the rest of us to join you.

  77. When I started Mountain biking, there was no suspension, no disc brakes, no wheel size choice, no carbon, no dropper post, no X11, no electronic shifting!

    And every one of these has allowed riders to go faster and further….. No different than anti electric assistance as argued by some.

    And ebikes is not the ultimate answer, they are heavy, certainly not a downhill or technical trail bike, but it lets me join my friends on some rides, and yes I pass some people climbing (but I use to do that before I got ill anyway) and the comments I get is “I wish I had one of those right now” and “good for you been out here”

    It has a limited range so I am not riding to places I could not ride to before, it does not (won’t) go at the max speed all the time, I just climb a little faster than before and descend a little slower and are no more dangerous than the next person.

    I can’t wait to get fully better so I can ride my other bikes, but for now this is great, and sorry if I take you KOM, it will just give you something to aim for!

    Electric assistance is only the next step in bike evolution!

  78. can we just address the elephant in the room…what’s up with that trail he’s building? A compactor? Black plastic? Seriously? Need a nice base for the concrete!?

  79. I have just read this great article, and then all of the comments from readers. Whew!
    I found a stunning amount of prejudice against e-bikes, mostly from people who have no friends who ride them. This is clearly an emotional issue for the currently young and fit riders who are without the perspective and wisdom of age. Many older athletic adults find that replacement surgery of hips or knees can allow them to continue to be active and enjoy hiking and biking the trails they advocated for and built 25 years ago. Technology has allowed us to live longer lives with stay fit. E- bikes ridden discreetly have allowed some of my dearest friends (who have been riding mountain bikes together for the last 33 years) to stay with our mixed age group. As a mountain biker since1982 I can personally reflect on decades of incidents by individuals who have caused us embarrassment and grief with local trail access. It hasn’t been the evolution of the bikes they ride (from 49 lb. clunker to 26 lb. full suspension carbon fiber) but the attitude with which they ride them. A young idiot or an old idiot bombing downhill on the edge of control on any kind of bike inflames the same resentment from fellow trail users. The future issue with e-bikes on trails should be determined by how the bikes are ridden instead of the technology they represent. The mountain biking community has worked hard to self regulate troublemakers and create safe guidelines for shared open space access. The same speed rules apply whether your on a 29er hardtail or a HaiBike.

  80. No, No, no. Not a bike. I’m going to speak from a MA rider and perspective. Almost all public riding areas state, ” No Motor Vehicles Allowed” From DCR( the state agency controlling state parks) to other private stakeholders and organizations. A very slippery slope starts with an assisted 250 W to 500 to 750 watts with full throttle. Who can tell by just looking? To full on electric motorcycles. Here in MA, not all areas allow mt biking and not even on all trails either. They will lump us all together and ban us ” wheeled locusts” You have a permanent HP or disability, fine, the ADA will cover access to users, as should be. E bikes, great for cargo or paved commuting, stick to the roads where they belong. Long time trail builder and advocate here. Would REALLY get me upset to see trails that I have built and maintained to get closed. I would take action. There are maybe 3 areas in MA for ORV on public land, they can ride there.

  81. I’m not young, and I’m not that fit. I can’t ride all the trails I used to, so I ride what I can. I have absolutely no wish whatsoever to ride an e-bike just so I can ride everything I used to. No more than I want to install “bucket holds” and escalators on the rock climbs I used to do. To some extent, if you need a lot of help to do something, you’re not really doing it.

    And to add to the lines drawn, there shouldn’t be any e-bikes sold with throttles. Period.

  82. I ride protected trails (hikers, horses, mtb) and open trials (dirt bikes, atvs, and anything else that’ll fit). What I notice most is the trash left on the open trails – beer & soda cans, cig butts, & fast food wrappers. This is because when you are motor assisted you don’t necessarily care how much weight you carry or about your health. E-bikes will most definitely give access to our protected trails to this crowd and their trash.

  83. First off, I disagree with the premise that e-bikes should be welcomed to protected trails because we need to encourage more access. I don’t particularly care to have more people on trails, I like them quiet.

    Second, why is no one pointing out the obvious, which is that interviewing this guy is a tactic to legitimize the e-bike shilling that BikeRumor is doing for the industry. This guy has worked hard for trail access, he has mtb cred and he supports e-bike access. See? It can’t be bad, Mikey likes it.

    The people who represent us before the NFS and other bodies, as riders, are worried about losing trails because of e-bikes. What more do you need to hear? End of story!!!!!! I don’t give a crap what the industry wants to sell. This blog is full of what the industry is grasping at to stay relevant, 1x road, gravel bikes, etc. Sales are still going down.

    If e-bikes get more people out of their cars on the commute, great! If e-bikes save bike companies and shops by broadening the base, great! But I don’t want to lose trails to whoever thinks e-bikes offroad are fun, and I also don’t want to get run over by one because the rider never learned their turns while earning them.

  84. MONEY! THE “BIKE” industry is selling outjust for MONEY! They couldnt give a monkeys about our sport. Our trails, Our health. All this crap about old people being able to keep up is just crap. I’m 60 now and have no intention of slowing up and i know of many locally who are way older than me, quite capable of pedalling a bike. If you can’t keep up, get fitter.
    The real issue here is the new young rider who is given a choice of a bike with a motor or a bike that he has to pedal. Given the choice the majority will go for the motor, why wouldnt they.

    WE THE CYCLIST SHOULD START A CAMPAIGN TO GET THESE THINGS REGISTERED AS MOTORCYCLES. SIMPE AS THAT. I do not see why a bike plus a motor is known as anything else. When i grew up you could get a moped, a moterbike with pedals. You were/are required to have a licence, An E-bike is the same. Its not rocket science!

  85. Jbikes:
    Does this matter regarding trail access? Maybe not. But they do pollute and pollute more than a bicycle. It’s great when an e-bike substitutes the use of something like a car. But when it’s replacing a bicycle, it’s a negative impact.

    I agree the ebike is not as pure as a normal bike, no doubt. But this does matter per trail access. What is the impact of an ebike on the trail, overall, and specifically? My point is that they pollute MUCH less than a gas powered motorcycle. Much less power and energy, much less noise, much less trail damage.

    The point is that ebikes are much, much closer to a normal bike in it’s impact than the claim they are MOTORCYCLES. that’s all. Judge them based upon that and not a biased, misinformed view.

  86. -Rizza – 08/06/15 – 3:51pm

    I’ll say it out loud – MTBing is an elitist activity and I like it that way.
    Part of the allure is it’s hard, it’s dangerous and not everyone else can do it. I don’t want to share or change to accommodate some electric joeys on the trail.

    I appreciate your honesty, LOL! You guys still are OVEREACTING out of FEAR and true, selfishness. A hard trail is a hard trail and an ebike isn’t going to get an amature through it. It WILL get a good mountain biker through it a bit easier. EMBRACE it a upgrade technology for you to go higher and further. They ride like a bike, really.

  87. Tom Thumb – 08/06/15 – 6:05pm

    Dan R, my regular bike has got me everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go… Great Divide, Colorado Trail, Idaho Hot Springs loop, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, etc., etc. I’ve been ‘bikepacking’ all over the world since it was simply called ‘touring’. Meeting other like minded folk on bicycles is part of the appeal, the solitude is more of an appeal. Motors should stick to roads.

    I hear you Tom, and you certainly have credentials to make such a statement. But didn’t you read the article? Hikers have made way and allowed bikes to share their trails. These beautiful places and remote hideaways are awesome! Some day, you will meet a really cool biker out there, maybe at a water hole, have great conversation, and then find out he or she got there by ebike.

    Bike pack ON!

  88. If you can’t ride the trail and you need a motor, then don’t ride the trail. Do a road ride. Go to fire roads.
    Perhaps the way to allow a motor would be if the person gets a “handicap” sticker and gets a certified handicap pedal assist. That perhaps might filter out big engines.
    Just saying pedal assist is enough to regulate is not right, I can easily rig 4500 watts without a throttle and make it pedal assist.
    However if you are handicap you should not be looking to do extreme sports anyway.

  89. @Dan R. – 08/08/15 – 11:03pm

    Tell us, Dan, do you own stock in Bosch or the various producers of these ebike motors? Do you work in the battery industry?

    You make a fair enough point about the access that ebikes will grant for those users who ‘need’ them–indeed, an ebike, properly ridden, would have no more impact that most other FS mtn bikes on any given trail. However, it is completely disingenuous to say that those not in favor of ebikes are acting emotionally! Quite the opposite my friend. It is completely fair and logical that those responsible for acquiring access to land, those building trails, and those pedaling bikes on those trails are apprehensive about allowing access of a motorized vehicle onto the trail system. Why would it be deemed a logical argument that the vast majority put THEIR access at risk for the benefit of the very few?

    I’ll also disagree with the notion that one should ” EMBRACE it a upgrade technology for you to go higher and further. They ride like a bike, really.” Have YOU ridden one?? You sure make it sound like you have–that’s great, as I have too. We had one at the shop for a week. Nearly anyone who took a pedal stroke on that thing while in ‘turbo’ mode crashed into some person/structure/bike within 10 feet. Outdoors, not so bad… but case in point, they’ll buck ya! They’re also ~40lbs, with a battery range of 35-65 miles.. that makes for a heavy bike with a range limit. Explain how that gets a person higher or further exactly?

    These bikes are not the future, Dan. No matter how badly you want them to be.

  90. “Great comments and I think representative of a wide majority, NO E-bikes. ”

    MTB riders are a tiny minority and that minority is only shrinking. We’re losing a access simply for having a tiny voice.

    Time to bring something else into the fold. E-bikes are not motorcycles, nowhere even close. The same limitations that keep speeds in check exist for them (traction, obstacles, etc.). So they’ll climb a little bit faster, who cares? The people riding them are conservative riders who will go completely unnoticed to the rest of you.

    If it’s bad behavior you’re worried about, then address the behavior with enforcement (they give tickets to riders at Mt. Tam, for example).

    It’s public land we’re talking about. If the public adopts e-bikes then provisions will be made to allow them to ride on public land, exactly the same as when MTB became popular. Better to welcome them then fight, kicking and screaming, the way the equestrians did…

  91. Wow, taking another look at this thread, it’s stunning how many people are against eBikes for no other reason than they’re different. This is public land, people. As in, for everyone. Not just for hikers, not just for bird watchers, horseback riders or unicyclists. Everyone. Sorry, but eBikes must be included somehow, even if they annoy you.

  92. @mike

    No, not at all. I’m am just an enthusiast. I have ridden ebikes for commuting since 2007, riding 2000-4000 miles a year. They are just fun to tinker with and very useful for commuting @ 20-24mph averages. For my 17-25mile commutes, it saves up to an hour a day. I still do short park-n-ride commutes on regular bikes too.

    As the infrastructure matures in the US, I do believe we will eventually see ebikes as a legit green alternative from cars, and hopefully be mainstream.

    As for mtn bike trails, it seems their is a real fear of losing access to trails. That can be overcome. So ebikes may not ultimately go further, but they can make the 50 mile loop a bit faster and enjoyable.

  93. Why is it I’m always seeing the “no” crowd being trail users, and the “yes” crowd being either industry people, or theoretical thinkers? Where’s the throng of e-bike users being restricted their access? I think in reality, this is a bigger fear than is actually worth arguing about.

    I have decent off road ability, I’m a cat 3 crosser, cat 2 mtb’r, but my fancy epic downstairs is more bike than I deserve, and there are trails I just don’t mess with. It’s not because I’m missing the power.. I’ve got state road TT medals in a corner of my office here.. It’s because I’m missing the skill required to enjoy those trails. Adding a motor to my epic wouldn’t make me ride them. Going up is easy, going down is hard. Going down on a heavier, less controllable bike would be harder, I’d imagine. I think that in general, this problem will solve itself in practical terms, and we all need to stop being so butthurt about it.

  94. I’m a Brit getting on in years, ride with a mixed group of various ages, have arthritic knees. Should I stop enjoying the company of my long term riding companions or use my pedelec (electric assisted pedal cycle). In Europe the assistance cuts out at 15mph. My e-bike could extend my cycling life indefinitely, I will not be giving it up. Fortunately for recreational riding there is no discrimination between e-bikes and normal MTBs over here, some people dislike us all but we manage to live with that.

  95. Wow, the ignorance, elitism, and disgusting attitude of not sharing. Freedom apparently equals the freedom to ban others who are not harming others? So many (actually a small minority) from my own community are completely off the back. I’ll see you on the trails. I’ll be the nice guy on an ebike not being a dick. Please stay out of the way of the progress that will happen despite your disagreement, and despite the fact that many of you will be riding ebikes a few years from now realizing how wrong you are. So sad. Ebikes are blast.

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