Eurobike 2014: E-Bikes Yay Or Nay?

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Like them or not, electric mountain bikes are now a reality. Battery and motor technology have moved on at such a pace that a reasonably compact-looking, full suspension, electric mountain bike can weigh in at less than 40lbs and yet ride like a spirited enduro machine on the climbs. We’ve seen carbon e-bike hardtails tip under 20lbs.

The subject of e-bikes on the trails is a hot topic (and one we’ll have on its own here some day) but you’re currently allowed to ride a ‘road legal’ e-mountain bike on the trails (where the motor assist is limited to 15mph) where you can ride a ‘normal’ mountain bike.

It’s not just the realm of the old and the infirm either. Bionicon has touted its prototype system as a way of earning bigger descents under (mostly) your own steam and list battery power in terms of metres of assistance. Other companies are keen to point out that an e-bike lets you get more of the climbing out of the way while keeping you fresh and alert for the descent. It’s controversial enough, though, that it’s a topic at the next IMBA world summit (where their use will be debated alongside allowing fat bikes on ski trails and more sensitive winter areas.)

Love them or hate them they are here to stay and if you’re looking into electric bikes then here are a few we found on our travels.

Chunky
Conway EMR 827

Looking not unlike a bikepacker’s bike, this is Conway’s EMR 827 with a Bosch Performance drivetrain. Hydroformed frame and 27.5in wheels.

Caribou QB-ES650B
Caribou QB-ES650B

This Caribou has 130mm travel front and rear. The weight of the frame only is 3.4kg/7.4lbs. The bike on display is 19.34kg/42.2lbs. It too features the Bosch system that contains all the electrical and drive gubbins in the bottom bracket area to keep the weight centred between the wheels.

 

IMG_0013

Giant’s full suspension frame is rocking Pikes, Guide brakes and then well that big thing in the middle, which is the removable battery.

 

Nicolai
Nicolai

German frame magician Nicolai is showing its full enduro machine with some added power. It keeps the weight still centred, but allows a virtually unaffected suspension system.

Lapierre's full suspension E-bike
Lapierre’s full suspension E-bike

http://vimeo.com/104702048

Lapierre Overvolt 500FS, Suspended alloy supreme 6 140mm rear travel. BOSCH ACTIV 25km/h – Standard Battery Pack 400Wh – Intuvia Display. 

Bish bash bosch
Bish bash bosch

The popular Bosch Active e-bike system is used on the overvolt. With five different modes ranging from 0% assist to 100% the active system is designed for all e-bike uses and riders.

Lapierre
Lapierre

A lot of E bikes were floating around demo day on Tuesday, here’s Lapierre’s after a quick mud run. See the video below to catch Nico riding one to its limit.

IMG_0035
The E-Protron is here to save you. Stand aside!

The Wheeler E-Protron  on display is more what most riders think of when talking about electric mountain bikes, but with some clever engineering, lighter batteries and motors, we’re going to start seeing some seriously fun trail bikes coming out soon.

So there’s a few of many E-bikes on display at Eurobike14. There are electronic bikes for everyone (or are they motorised?) Ugly or engineering genius? Pointless or necessary?

Think they’re not cool enough for the cool kids? Here’s Nico Vouilloz using the Lapierre Overvolt as part of his injury recuperation.

 

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Comments (12)

    Controversial maybe – but that Nicolai looks fun.

    I’m with Jorji – that is probably the nicest looking Nicolai I’ve ever seen. I’m not usually a fan.

    As an old and increasingly useless rider, an E bike certainly seems to promise me a good few more years on a bike. I was resigned to a not too distant future where I would be restricted to a potter on a road bike. Hopefully I will be out on my new battery powered toy!

    Goes against everything that makes Mountain Biking so amazing

    I’ve yet to meet one on the trails but they are likely to receive the same contempt that motorcross bikes get when they’re riding somewhere they shouldn’t be

    Everything? Is the physical effort really the only thing that makes mountain biking amazing for you? Not the views, being outdoors, the singletrack and any number of things you could still experience while riding an e-bike? They’re not for me but I can’t get as worked up about them as some obviously can.

    The same arguments (about added weight, cheating and ‘purity’) were made against suspension forks when they came out. Electric mountain bikes ARE allowed on bridleways though, Jon, whereas motocross bikes aren’t. It’s certainly a hot topic and one that will need a good debate.
    I’ve ridden one on a photoshoot – where I was carrying a full camera bag and trying to shoot the Scottish XC development squad. Having an e-bike helped me keep up with them. I wasn’t going any faster than them (up or downhill) and I was able to do a two hour ride without dying. e-bikes are only allowed to be electric-assist, so you still have to pedal and you need to ration your electricity as a dead e-bike is as fun as riding a downhill bike uphill.

    No..give them another forum. Like there is no motorcycles here…

    I’m kind of on the fence – I’m reasonably fit and nearly 50, but can see the days when the legs won’t be what they used to be. If an ebike helps keep me out and about – why not? you still need to pedal them don’t you – and no one complains about old biffers out in the hills enjoying themselves on ancient trail (motor) bikes do they?

    and for big alpine stuff – if you can ride up rather than get a chairlift, that’s a positive isn’t it?

    Charliemort- Completely agree with your view…

    its a motorbike – no two ways about it

    Just wait till the techies learn how to unlock them, so they can go much quicker than 15mph

    Then, when someone loses control of their delimited ‘motorbike’ in a place frequented by cyclists, walkers & horseriders, suddenly, someone gets mowed down by a fat bloke on a 45lb ‘motorbike’

    They’re not noisy, they don’t chuck out fumes and they don’t have enough power to tear up trails like I’ve seen motorbikes doing so I have no issues seeing them used in places you’d usually only get to by foot or pedal power.
    And I don’t see any more risk of idiot-induced danger to other trail users than that posed by the capability of current ‘enduro’ type MTBs on a 15% gradient footpath. There’s people riding like idiots already and E-bikes are unlikely to suddenly create more of them.
    I’m not a fan personally and I’d rather see E-bike tech increasing bike use for transport (commuters and cargo type bikes mainly) but E-MTBs have a place. Better than playing golf isn’t it?

    I think it looks like an ideal application for F1 style KERs technology, go faster down to get more go on the up!

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