When I say “e-bikes”, I’m referring to the pedal assist mountain bikes that are quickly growing in popularity around the world.
These are considered class 1 ebikes, and are abundant in availability. They are limited to 20 mph, with a nominal power output of only 250 watts, and a max power of 750 watts (that’s not much- for example, when I have a big sprint I can see 1600 watts).
Legislation is quickly changing to incorporate them into many trail centers. However, these e-MTBs are still a divisive topic. If you mention e-MTBs to a room full of mountain bikers and you’ll get a diverse array of reactions, from “wow, that sounds kinda neat”, to “I’d never ride one of those motorcycles!”
Yes, plenty of cyclists consider e-bikes to simply be motorcycles. Personally, I find this viewpoint to be in the same camp that viewed dual suspension mountain bikes in the late 1990s to be the “devil’s addition to mountain biking, sure to get MTBs outlawed from every trail center”. I personally don’t consider them motorcycles by any means.
I started riding dirt bikes (off road motorcycles) before I could even ride a pedal bike without training wheels. However, my family much preferred that I stick to pedals, so I didn’t have my own dirt bike until high school, when a friend sold me his 1978 Yamaha IT-175.
We rebuilt that bike from the ground up- including splitting the cases. It wasn’t until 2008 that I’d finally own a modern dirt bike, a 2001 YZ125, and quickly became addicted to the world of premix and throttles.
Within a few months, I was entering AMA District 36 harescrambles and enduros. While I never progressed very far in competitive motorcycle racing, I really enjoyed it, and have adapted many motocross style riding techniques into my mountain bike riding.
We want folks to understand that e-MTBs are not motorcycles. But they’re not traditional bicycles, either. Instead, e-MTBs are a genre all of their own.
You can call them “mountain mopeds” if you want, as that’s a fitting description, but the official term is e-MTB. With approximately 1 horsepower of power on tap, and a maximum speed of 20 mph, they provide a unique experience. If you’re lucky enough to have local trails that permit e-MTBs, I recommend you try one.
If you’ve got budget for a second (or third!) bike, it’s a great way to enjoy your trails in a new light. For me, they’ll always be gutless and underpowered compared to a real motorcycle, but as long as we can incorporate these machines into our sport responsibly, I don’t foresee them bringing anything beyond a positive influence!