WHEN WOULD WE CHOOSE E-MTB OR CONVENTIONAL MTB FOR OUR RIDE?
The electric mountain bike is fast gaining its way into mountain bike lifestyle – epic rides and race formats. Is it really the easy way out of real cycling? Or are we opening up to to more options? Our Chiang Mai representative shares her views.
TO GEE HOUSE AND BACK
We have never ridden an e-mountain bike at Doi Suthep. All we know is that it’s heavier, should feel planted like a downhill bike when descending and climbs like a cheater when pedal-assist is engaged.
Naturally, we were stoked when Matt from Asia E-Bike invited us for a morning ride on his electric mountain bikes.
As per our usual practice, we took our truck uplift to San Ku before disembarking and rode on to Khun Chang Khian and Gee House trailhead. On our way to the trailhead, we had our first taste of the electric mountain bike’s pedal assist, and immediately regretted taking the vehicle uplift leg to San Ku. We could have made the ride even more interesting by riding up to San Ku on our bikes. It would be a long ride but it would be a great warm up lap before we hit the descent.
The ride to Khun Chang Khian is easier than our usual ride. The pedal assist took the toll away from riding a heavy bike on the tarmac road and jeep trails. During climbs, it was effortless. We realised we have more “breath” to chat along the way and take in the beautiful countryside sceneries.
The descent from Gee House was fun as always. The planted feel of the electric mountain bike we were riding felt much like that of downhill bikes albeit difference in handling. All said, the electric mountain bike did not change the enjoyment of the descent.
A MINOR DISTRACTION AND A PLUS FOR E-MTBs
We stopped a few times during the descent to take photos for this article. And during one the stops, we left one phone behind at a rest point. We only realised it after 2 km of descent. Given our usual rigs, we would have to spend about 45 minutes or so to hike back up to the spot to retrieve the phone. With our electric mountain bikes, we made short work of the climbs. On hindsight, we sort of enjoyed the climbs as we have never really tried doing a reverse sectioning this way before. Steep sections became rideable. We need not hike any section and could continue the climbs with the same momentum. This really added to the joy of the ride.
LOVE THEM OR HATE THEM NOW?
Our first experience with electric mountain bikes at Doi Suthep was very positive.
The advantage of riding a electric mountain bike could be summarized as follows:
- We can ride longer distance now, which means we can explore new trails without fearing of being exhausted.
- Electric Mountain bikes are also good for race organisers – whether it is for marking out the route or sweeping trails at the end of the race
- It is a better alternative than using motorbikes which damage the trail more
- With pedal assist, we would be more confident to carry our own baggage during bike-packing trips. This means no need for a support truck at interim points, making the bike-packing trips more authentic
- Shuttling up to trail head with vehicles could also be omitted now since we can pedal up to any trail head on our own, and with enough time and energy to enjoy the sweet descent
What about the disadvantage of electric mountain bikes?
- They are not accepted at all trails yet. Some trails do not allow any form of motorised vehicles in the trail, so E-MTBs are out.
- You still can’t fly around the world with E-Bikes
- E-bikes are more expensive than conventional bikes
- Care needed when storing e-bikes at home in view of fire hazard
- There is a tendency to over-rely on the pedal-assist.
- Not a good choice for short rides
(Ed: these are the advantages and disadvantages we arrived at in our own use of the electric mountain bike. Our experience may differ from other users)
RIDE A LOT? GET A E-MTB
If you ride occasionally, and you are physically fit, the E-MTB may not be for you.
If you ride very often and over a wide range of trails, then the E-MTB could be a sweet addition to your bike stable.
If you love cycling but you have some minor ailment that had hindered your riding, the E-MTB could be your ticket to riding the mountains again. (Ed: doctors and experts verification needed please!)
The E-MTB would most likely not be a first mountain bike for you. And it would not be a replacement to your go-to trusty non-electric rig. For now, it is a good addition to your stable that can give you more confidence on long epic rides, multi-day bike-packing trips and exploration expeditions. Use these bike in their right applications and you would cherish them!
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