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 did not permit e-bike use on their trails at the time of this event*) 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 substantially 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.
The above posted Mammoth Mountain Boogaloo Race video has for some reason been removed. Could the factory reps have strayed off script bragging about the speed of their products? That is a fact that most e-bike manufacturers don’t want expressed in public. Whatever the reason, it is too bad. The video was fun to watch.
*Mammoth Mountain Bike Park will allow e-bike use on their trails for the 2018 season after receiving permission from the United States Forest Service.