I’ve been asked my opinion on electric-motorized mountain bike racing many times and my response surprises a lot of people. I think it is great.
These events are held on closed-circuit, off-road courses specifically designed for e-bikes. In some cases, like at the Sea Otter Classic, the e-bike racecourse is surrounded by miles of singletrack where e-bikes are not permitted. These events separate electric-motorized bikes from human-powered mountain bikes (and hikers and equestrians), and that is a good thing.
The recent Boogaloo event at the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park (another venue that does not permit e-bike use on their trails) was raced on a purpose-constructed course that looked like a blast to ride. It resembled a BMX course, with high berms, a rhythm section and one very sweet, 25-foot step-up jump. The track is more of a motocross track than a singletrack. And unlike cross-country mountain bike racing where competitors suffer for up to two hours, the expressions on these e-bike riders’ faces tell a different story. They dig the flowing, high-speed fun.
Adam, a manufacturer representative from Bulls Bikes USA explained, “A lot of people don’t understand. You work just as hard on an e-bike, you just go way faster.” And Jim, a manufacturer representative from Raleigh Electric Bikes explained that on an e-bike, “You can ride twice as far in the same amount of time.” Jim is saying that e-bikes are double the speed of a human-powered mountain bike. Although my study found Jim’s statement to be a stretch, these representatives confirm that e-bikes are substancially faster than any other trail user.
I’m all for e-bike racing on closed courses (and OHV trails) while restricting e-bike use from off-highway, multi-user, recreational trails. The honest admissions from Adam and Jim explain why. These electric-motorized bikes are too fast to be compatible with other trail users.