The Singletrack Staffers pick the standout products and locations from their riding year. This article was originally published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 140.
The year has felt a little like approaching that nemesis feature on the trail: you roll up to it full of optimism, then at the last minute pull on the brakes in an attack of ‘nope’. Whether it was a ping that put paid to yet another plan, or a shipping container that didn’t arrive as expected (by now, perhaps, that should be ‘as expected, a shipping container didn’t arrive’), we had plenty of interruptions along the way. However, our northern hills had an unusually dry summer, so we managed a decent spell of short-sleeved riding on our doorstep, and there were a few chances to get further afield that we grasped and enjoyed. Like that trail feature, once we cleared it, the elation at meeting friends, riding new trails and generally enjoying bikes was all the sweeter.
Mark – Publisher
This year has been about raising my riding skills. I’m a much better rider now in terms of speed on flowing trails, which I’ve particularly noticed at trail centres, but I didn’t set out to do this at the start of the year. It has just kind of happened as a result of riding almost exclusively e-MTBs. I ride more, faster and for longer and I go back and ride sections again, because on an e-MTB it’s not a massive hassle or effort to do that. E-MTBs this year have clarified why I have always ridden mountain bikes. I ride for fun. Getting fit or staying fit has always been a side effect and not the point of why I ride. This year I have become very comfortable with that. Your reasons for riding bikes may differ, and that is totally cool too. It’s all bikes.
Orbea Rise MT M10
Around five years ago I swung my leg over a Focus JAM2 with a battery capacity well below the norm at just 325Wh. From that moment I knew that, at least for me, the future of assisted mountain biking would be lower powered with better, more agile handling rather than the huge ‘max power’ route. The Specialized Levo SL with its 35Nm motor and 325Wh battery pack is of that ilk, and in fact I actually did buy one. It offers the agility I look for and just enough power to take the sting and fear out of any climb. But this year there’s a new bike topping my wanted list. The Orbea Rise.
It’s a low fat e-MTB with a full fat motor that has been custom tuned by Orbea to max out at 60Nm of torque. There’s no weight saving to be had by doing that – it’s purely a software thing and I think it’s a stroke of genius on the part of Orbea. For the sake of a few lines of code in the firmware this motor is around 33% less powerful, but the point is that by restricting the maximum power output the bike better matches the battery capacity (you’d burn through 360Wh in no time if you ran it in boost mode at 90Nm) and the weight. In short, it’s a fine tuning of power to weight ratio which I think works perfectly. With a 19kg bike you don’t need 90Nm of power and if you don’t need all that power it follows you don’t need all the capacity of a massive battery either.
You shouldn’t just take my word for this. Just try getting hold of one. Yes, there’s a general shortage of bikes across the board, but in particular, as word spreads about this e-MTB they are being snapped up eagerly. Even Andi, our departing Tech Editor, has just bought one, with his own money. Every iteration of e-MTB over the last few years has been presented as an ‘evolutionary step’, or worse as a ‘game changer’. We in the media are often as guilty as the marketing departments of the brands for trotting out those considerably overused clichés and I’m not going to fall into that trap here. Well, I won’t use those particularly egregious examples anyway. Orbea wasn’t the first to go down the low fat e-MTB route, but it has certainly now set the bar just that little bit higher with the Rise.
Read Mark’s full review of the Orbea Rise over on Charged:
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