eBikes Opinions, Race / Event Organisers. Part 1

The term “eBike” is definitely the in-buzzword at the moment and there are some fairly strong opinions around.  I wanted to hear what those-in-the-know in the mountain bike industry had to say about things, so I’ve been emailing various sources to ask them.
The general response to this has actually been a little overwhelming – pretty much everyone I asked has generously spared some time to answer the questions (thanks a million guys!)
In fact, I got so many responses, I’m going to split the article over a few publications.  Its also the reason this blog is a little earlier than planned.

I’ve split the contributor’s into the following categories (although possibly not in order of publication):

  • Race / Event organisers
  • Trail Centre and Bike Park managers/owners/promoters
  • Professional athletes and race team managers
  • Journalists / photographers / videographers
  • Bicycle holiday companies
  • General industry tyres (distributors, brand rep’s and large retailers)

Today I’m starting with Race / Event Organisers, with contributions from:

Part 1
George Edwards – UCC Sport Event (Megavalanche, Maxiavalanche, and others)
Chris Ball – Enduro World Series
Simon Paton – HSBC UK National Downhill Series

Part 2 (next blog)
Chris Roberts – Naked Racing
Mike Marsden – Borderline Events (BC National Downhill Champs, Borderline DH Series and others)
Carl Davison – Northern Downhill (North regional DH and Enduro series)

George Edwards

UCC SPORT EVENT, organisers of the MEGAVALANCHE, Maxiavalanche (DH MARATHON medium distance), Transvésubienne (x-trem XC marathon) Bigreen (bike expedition for fun – 1600 riders) E-Bike Serie and Electro Bike Festival (fair for ebikes) www.ucc-sportevent.com

  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    The E-Bike Series are for every single person owning an E-MTB and willing to meet other e-riders in a nice atmosphere to compete with his / her e-bike on some of the most famous MTB race in the World, next to classic riders: E-Bike Series is about sharing a great bike experience together and push yourself and your ebike to the limits. The purpose of this Series, that we have been  organizing for 6 years already, is to show the world that E-Bike is not just a lazy sport! 😉
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    E-Bikes are the future of the Bike, not because it’s easier, but because it brings you further and faster. Instead of doing 30km with your classic MTB, you will do 50 or 60km with your E-MTB and feel as tired! Because you have to deal with the battery, and finally your own legs will always do the difference, there is no secret about that! For me, riding a EBIKE is like walking on a treadmill at the airport! You do as much effort, but you go faster and further!
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    We have an ebike race category on each of our event : general ranking is the ebike series!
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    Of course
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    I mostly see good point about ebikes on the press!
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Not sure to understand this question: is dongles ebikes going faster than 25km/h, or with a hand accelerator? If yes, we do not want to hear about it on our race, as it has nothing to do with eBikes, but classed as Motorbike
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    As I told you, and as we can see in the bike shops: e-bikes are going to be everywhere and the mentality about it changes. It is a different approache of the sport, but I don’t think it will kill the classic MTB !

Chris Ball

I’m Chris Ball Managing Director of the Enduro Mountain Bike Association. We run the Enduro World Series and work with organisers around the world who are awarded Enduro World Series Qualifier events. in 2017 we have 8 EWS events and 43 Qualifiers on the calendar. We write the rule book for enduro racing and happily offer any race organiser the opportunity to copy and follow our rules, allowing the sport to move globally in the same direction. For this year we are also running 4 EWS Challenger events, an easy version of the main race for riders wanting to join in without being tested too much!

  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    We are open to professionals and amateurs alike. For 2017 we have 29 Professional Teams registered to compete in the EWS but after they have taken their place in each event the remaining spots are open to anyone who wants to really challenge themselves against the best in the world.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I think they’re a fantastic development for all aspects of cycling
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    I don’t think having an E Bike category in a traditional MTB race is the right direction. E Bikes have a very different set of advantages and are enjoyable in a whole different way to a normal bike. So, to race an E Bike on a course designed for a MTB isn’t going to be the best experience for the rider in my opinion.
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    Our media team use eBikes throughout the event to get to all the hard to reach spots and stay ahead of the race. Racers aren’t allowed on them though, that would be unfair.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    It’s getting better but I feel the whole eBike story has perhaps been a bit misunderstood in the riding public. Confusion between an eBike and an electric motorbike is the main issue still confused by a surprising number of riders mainly in the UK and North America. Although it is changing now.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Tough one – I know a lot of eBike advocates are pretty militant in stating the need to keep within the law and rightly so, they are already contentious and to be seen to be bending the rules and going faster than they should is only more reason to question the whole activity. I think the question though should be more aimed at the reason dongles exist in the first place, not the application of them. It’s such a grey area, with technology moving far faster than the law, as is always the case for most things in life, but when you look at the reasons for restricting an eBike in the first place, it’s to do with old road safety/taxation laws. However, if I’m out riding with my wife on my normal bike and her on her Bosch powered Cube eBike, I regularly on flat terrain want to ride faster than she is able to. There’s no limit on a normal bike travelling at 30kmph under human power in a cycle lane or bike path or fire road climb, so it seems odd that she should be restricted to 25kmph and myself not. Just because she has a motor assisting her. By allowing a normal bike to travel above 25kmph to me, that negates the safety argument and understandably makes people want to consider derestriction.  Although we’re at the beginning of a very long and exciting time and at present it’s understandable that a brand new object like an eBike has to fit into regulations that already exist, even if not perfectly suited, until they are understood more.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    I see them as the missing link to true mass participation in mountain biking. I think we all talk about and want mountain biking for the health of the sport to enter the mainstream more, yet seldom do we realise that it’s actually a pretty hard sport. The barrier to entry in this sport, both technically and physically is in my opinion quite high, and an eBike I see as allowing people to get a good experience of the sport, the views, the trails, without demanding such a high level of physical fitness straight away. How to balance eBike Vs normal bike on popular climbs in trail centres or how the perception will be taken at hard to reach spots where the existing rider who has had to work hard to achieve that journey and an eBike equipped rider can buzz up to the same location in half the time, will be absolutely the next and most important chapter in the story. EBikes can and will I think add a lot to the sport, they just need to be managed in a way that there isn’t anything lost from the sport as it stands now.

Simon Paton

Event Director for the HSBC UK National Downhill Series, UK Pinkbike Editor, British Cycling Commissaire and MTB Racer

  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    The top end downhill mountain bike racers across all age categories.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    eBikes are awesome, my next purchase would be an eBike for sure. With limited time these days to hit the trails, every minute counts and an eBike would give me those valuable extra laps and descents. The only downside would be i’d probably finish my dog Hensley off and it would limit my riding social circle. i.e Nobody on a regular bike is going to come for a spin with me on an eBike because they could not keep up with the pace.
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    I have now pulled the plug on the Cannondale British Enduro Series. For 2017 we had planned an eBike category.
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    No, British Cycling rules do not allow eBikes on course.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    [The negative press is] Not justified as a whole. We all know once you try one, mindsets are changed.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Not ideal as it will cause legal and insurance issues as they are then classed as motorised vehicles. This could lead to trails closing and a ban on eBikes. Let’s not encourage them shall we.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    I strongly believe within 10 years 80% of trail bikes sold will be e-bikes, if not higher! Prices will come down as will the size and weight of the batteries, increasing performance and enjoyment.

Thanks so much to all of the contributors in this blog.  Next week is Part 2 of the Race Organisers, then it’s Trail Centre/Bike Parks; Pro Athletes & team managers; Journo’s; Holiday Companies; and Industry Types.

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Published by

Tristan Mayor

For a full bio' of who I am, please read my blog introduction: http://blog.manchesterebikes.co.uk/2017/01/04/introduction-2017/

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