eBikes at The Bike Place trade show, Silverstone

I thought I’d have a break from interviews this week and talk about The Bike Place trade show I attended this weekend just gone.
In the past The Bike Place has always been held on the same weekend as Core Bike Show, which is very close by, enabling bicycle dealers to visit the 2 shows on the same weekend, or even the same day.  This year that changed and they were held on consecutive weekends.  Whether this was a good thing, is debatable and although there did seem to be less people in the shows, it could be argued that it was more quality time as people were certainly less rushed.  Who knows….

I definitely expected to see more eBikes at The Bike Place though.  At earlier shows in the year like the Birmingham NEC Cycle Show and Eurobike, eBikes were definitely centre stage on the majority of display stands.  Maybe it’s due to the time of year and exhibitors haven’t got their new eBikes ready yet?  Or more to do with the lack of large bicycle brand exhibitors in attendance?  As well as the large US bicycle brands, other notable absentees were Cube, KTM, Raleigh and Haibike – all prolific eBike manufacturers.

That said, there were still some eBikes around and these are the 3 products that stood out to me:

1.  Orange Bikes, Halifax.
Orange was the only manufacturer there that chose to launch a new product at the show – that being an eBike built around the Orange Alpine Six (previously the Alpine 160) and a Shimano E8000 Di2 drive unit, although it should be pointed out that this eBike is not yet a production bike, simply a prototype from Orange’s “Strange” skunkworks department.  I have little doubt that this, or at least something similar from Orange, probably will make it to production at some stage, although one would hope in a tidier form as this one did little to hide it’s rather “prototype” jagged edges.  I’m sure it will.  My guess for the retail bike (of similar spec to this prototype) would be around £6-7,000

2.  Pendix add-on eBike drive system
Not all that new, but the first time I’d seen a working version of this.  Obviously there is a huge plethora of home eBike retro fit (read “bodge”) kits available, plus quite a few people have just entirely made their own, often ludicrously powerful (and illegal) bodges, but this is one of very few that I think is quite neat and has a realistic chance of selling wide-spread as an after market add-on kit for a normal bicycle.  Quoted power is the legislated 250 watts nominal and a max torque of 50Nm – ie perfectly legal.  The battery is 300Watt/hours.
Pendix claim that their kit can be retro-fitted to pretty much any bicycle, hence using a Brompton folding bike to demonstrate this.  The bike even remained completely fold-able.  That said, I think it’s still mostly aimed at the road/commute/hybrid end of the bicycle market.  RRP is £1600 for the kit (plus bike obviously!) so still relatively expensive.

3.  Focus eMTB
There isn’t really anything revolutionary about this eBike, I just think it’s one of currently very few that have achieved an eBike that looks very similar to a standard bike and yet isn’t really ugly.  Kind of like Specialized’s Levo.  To me, very few other eBikes look this sleek although I know other brands are finally making serious efforts into designing eMTB’s that don’t look quite so home-made.

eBikes Opinions, Race / Event Organisers. Part 2

In Part 2 of Race Organisers, I’m offering opinions from a few more race organisers.

This week……

Part 2
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)

Chris Roberts – Naked Racing

I’m Chris Roberts, a race organiser and sometimes racer when time allows. We organise 4Cross, Downhill, Enduro, pump track and Dual races.
www.minienduro.tv is now sponsored by Haibike and have a dedicated e-mtb

  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    Well everyone who can ride a bike really, with all different disciplines there are race type for everyone including eBike riders.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I love them! They’re great for all sorts of things.  We use them to go exploring in the forest to find new tracks, we can cover a much larger area and find lots of new stuff, this also works for anyone. People only have so much time to ride and I would guess to maximise their time on a bike they will have loop they do each weekend; the only real time you discover new tracks is when someone shows you the local secret trails, with an eMTB you can just explore and find this stuff, ride more, improve your riding and just have a much better time riding bikes.
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    We have had an eBike category in our mini Enduro races for the past 4 years. It’s developing all the time, after listening to the riders we have added an extra stage just for them which is mostly uphill which has enough technical sections to make it about the rider.
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    Only riders who are racing in the eMTB category can practice on one, should riders who are racing a traditional bike be allowed to practice on one?  Then no, to keep it fair.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    It goes both ways really, the journalists that know, know, and the others just use it to get comments and stir it up for some reaction.
    There have been some very well written pieces that make good reading on what can be done on an eMTB.
    I do see a lot rubbish written on the subject, like eBikes are banned from trail centres; they’re motorbikes with engines; they scare walkers, etc.
    I think the most common comment is “it’s cheating” and that comes from the uneducated who have never ridden an eBike or are jealous of you going past them up a hill.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    It’s a shame the manufacturers didn’t build them to what the law requires so they could not be dongled.  I still think the current max speed is to low, but then if it was 20mph we would wish it had been 25mph etc but on the flat a “normal mountain bike” is quicker so 20mph would have been ideal.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    Ebikes will develop to point of its normal to have one.  We will also be launching the eBike games later this year, it’s going to be an eBike only race with multiple events during the day.
    We also have new www.instagram.com/emtbracing page if you would like to share that with your readers.

Mike Marsden – Borderline Events

I’m Mike Marsden – Borderline Events:  I run British Cycling National Downhill Champs, Borderline DH Series, PMBA Enduro Series, Welsh Enduro Series, Farmer Johns Race Series.


  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    Throughout the wide range of events we organise, we cater for all levels: from complete beginners aged 10 through to Professional athletesriders and everyone in-between.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I think eBikes are great.  I’m sure other people think differently but for me they offer those that are either less able or older to get out and ride but also offer anyone the ability to go further in less time.  Riding bikes is about seeing things and if we can see more in one day then we’re winning right?
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    Yes of course we would consider it – It’s not something we have done yet, but certainly not something we­­­­­’d rule out in the future.
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    We don’t currently allow e-bikes at any of our events at any time, but if someone came along and said they were less able or were disabled then of course we’d look into it and try to accommodate them.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    I try to ignore negative press if I can help it – Someone will always complain about something.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    The issue is what someone is allowed to do legally.  If someone de-restricts any vehicle then they’re probably breaking the law.  That could be fettling a 50cc moped so it goes faster or in this case an e-bike.  The two are no different and puts into invalidating both insurance and warranty.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    I think they’re great – My Dad for example (Who’s 72) could easily get himself an eBike and utilise it to either help him get fit or just generally get out and someone who is less able than perhaps they used to be for either age related or health related reasons can continue to enjoy the outdoors.    Those two reasons alone are great and everyone wins.

Carl Davison – Northern Downhill

Hi I’m Carl from www.northerndownhill.co.uk
We started off catering for hardcore DH race fans, but soon realised there was only a very small hardcore.  We run ND(H)Yeo events which are advanced level races along with Funduros taking in Trail Centre Stages. We also run what we call Trail Bike TT events which are basically DH races on trail centre trails, so a great events for 1st time racers meaning you only require your weekend trail bike to get stuck in.  These help people riders to decide which way their racing is heading: DH or Enduro.

  1. Who do your race events cater to?
    Kinda covered above.  We mainly cater for a local crowd, with a friendly relaxed vibe. However, the ND(H)uros have people travelling from further afield and our Kidland trails, for example, have people travelling from Fort William and the South Coast to tackle the steep fresh trails.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    E bikes…… I want one can’t afford one.
  3. Do you or would you consider an eBike race category?
    I would, I just haven’t checked out the insurance cover.
  4. Do you allow eBikes on track during practice?
    We have not yet had that bridge to cross, but in our Enduro races bikes are not interchangeable so it would be against the rules to practice on one bike and race on another.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    I think there’s a lot of  ignorance and arrogance really.  They’re not going to have a huge impact on the land as as you still have to put the effort in.  If you are a fit experienced rider you will probably be faster under your own steam.  They won’t make it into the lakes or Snowdonia as they’re too heavy to lug about once the terrain gets serious.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Dongles – that’s a hard one!!! I personally would have one, but I know I would’nt be using it on the roads or anywhere public.  I’d use it for more power so I could use it as an uplift machine. Towing a couple of mates at secret spots!
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    Dongles need to be frowned upon.  As technology becomes cheaper, I guess these bikes will become more affordable and give more people a greater range to have epic days out.  I just hope the ignorance can be overcome.

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Thanks so much to all of the contributors in this blog.  There will be more opinions soon.  Still to cover:

  • Trail Centre and Bike Park managers/owners/promoters
  • Professional athletes and race team managers Part 2
  • Journalists / photographers / videographers
  • Bicycle holiday companies
  • General industry tyres (distributors, brand rep’s and large retailers)

Please remember to like the MeB facebook page!

eBike Opinions: Professional Cycle Athletes Part 1

Part 2 of Race Organisers is still to come, but I thought I’d break things up a little and do some Pro rider interviews this week.

This week……

Part 1
Josh Bryceland – Santa Cruz Syndicate rider and DH World Cup overall winner
Sam Dale – GT Bicycles Factory DH rider and DH World Cup podium regular
Grant Ferguson – Brentjens MTB XC Racing Team and Rio Olympic XC racer

Josh Bryceland

Hi, my names Josh Bryceland, I’m 26 and i ride for Santa Cruz bicycles and am part of the 50:01 movement 😉

  1. What discipline/events do you compete in?
    For 2017 I’m mixing it up a bit, going to do some EWS, Crankworx whips offs, speed and style, and British downhill races aswell as hopefully the mega avalanche, FTF in Jamaica and some other adventure style races.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I must admit, at first i was pretty close minded about it all preferring to use my own power personally, but my dad bought an Ebike about 6 months ago and he has never ridden so much MTB!  In fact its made him ride way less enduro (motorbikes) and he charges it mostly off solar, rides for way longer than me and just generally loves it.  So I’m all about it now.
  3. What’s your experience of eBikes?  Have you ridden them much?
    Besides the “test ride” up and down the carpark on dads I’ve never ridden one, its not something something I’m really in a hurry to try either… i think ill try hold out as long as possible, maybe till mid-late 40’s… haha 😉 I appreciate they have a place and love that they will get more people into mountain biking but while my body’s still in its prime i shall resist.
  4. Would you ever consider racing an eBike if there were categories alongside the ‘normal’ bike categories?
    I would love to race against Ebikes, i think that would make for a great pro-am style event, like a golfers handicap, evening out the field. that would be sick.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    There’s negative press about everything. i haven’t seen any myself but there’s always gonna be that. it all comes down to what you think and feel personally, try it, form your own opinion. the wort part will be increased bicycle traffic and people getting annoyed at the speed of Ebikes on bridleways but if the jockeys conscious then there shouldn’t be any problems.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Why not, things are always sold dumbed down, if you can get more out of them safely without sacrificing running gear it makes sense!!! my dad de-restricted his and he bloody loves it.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    More people on bikes burning less fossil fuels and enjoying what the great outdoors has to offer.

Sam Dale

I’m Sam Dale, 26 years young, Downhill racer for GT bikes. Entering my 10th season of racing World Cups. In general i love anything with 2 wheels, from Downhill to Moto trials, I love it.

  1. What discipline/events do you compete in?
    I race all the World rounds, plus select British races and a few Enduro style races including probably my favourite race of all time, The Mega Avalanche. Which has unfortunately clashed with world cups the last few years which is a bit of a joke.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I think they are great. Yeah they’re very futuristic blah blah blah but that’s the world we live in. I travel around the world and seeing couples in their 60’s zooming about the European cycle paths enjoying the outdoors and not driving a car makes me happy. There’s something about bike riding that just makes people smile. Would there be any wars if everyone rode bikes? I don’t think so! Another great thing about the full-sus eBikes is for someone like myself i can take me old man out and we can ride together for a full loop of a decent trail centre.
  3. What’s your experience of eBikes?  Have you ridden them much?
    Ive had a few rides on the eBikes. One of my favourites was we went riding with one of my hero’s Hans Rey. I grew up watching him ride and we got the chance to ride some 130mm travel 27.5+ bikes out in Austria. We found a river, rode up that, found a hiking trail, rode up that, then found a bike track and rode up that. By the time we were at the top we had climbed about 1500meters and trust me none of it was easy. It was a full on workout and we loved it. Then we switched the motor off and pinned the downhill track at full speed. With all the weight so central and low id not felt a bike corner like that before.
  4. Would you ever consider racing an eBike if there were categories alongside the ‘normal’ bike categories?
    Yes
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    To be honest i don’t look at too much media.. I’ve chatted to plenty of dudes who work for magazines and websites and most of them have the same opinion as me. Great fun.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    Dongles! I didn’t know they had a name haha! Im a racer, so a big fan of anything fast. But as with anything just be careful who gets on a dongle. I’m pretty sure there could be some big crashes..
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?
    I think eBikes will only get more and more popular. We all depend on electric so much now that it won’t be long before they have heated grips, USB charging points and who knows what else for example my road bike has the Di2 groupset on it, and without power it doesn’t work which kind of defeats the point of a push bike. Of course i still love the normal pedal powered bikes, and will ride them forever. There is a huge market for eBikes and the more people out there enjoying the outdoors the better.
    Cheers dude.
    Sam

Grant Ferguson

Hi, I’m Grant Ferguson and I’m a professional for Brentjens MTB Racing Team.

  1. What discipline/events do you compete in?
    I compete in World Cup cross country MTB events and other international events including cyclo-cross and road.
  2. A pretty open ended question – what do you think of eBikes?
    I think they are getting more popular and I think it’s allowing more people to enjoy the sport which is a good thing. I’ve seen a lot of people out riding on roads and cycle paths with them and at my local trail centres. It makes cycling and mountain bike more accessible to different types of people.
  3. What’s your experience of eBikes? 
    I’ve been on my bike with people that have eBikes and it allows them to go much faster and explore the local area. I think eBikes on the road allow people to get help on some climbs but they ride similar speeds on a descent to a normal bike. But in mountain bike it allows people to ride as fast as they want off road which obviously has a few risks, but can be equally just as fun if you have the skills.
    Have you ridden them much?
    I’ve only ridden them once or twice and not for a long period of time. But I would consider riding around on one more in the future.
  4. Would you ever consider racing an eBike if there were categories alongside the ‘normal’ bike categories?
    I wouldn’t consider racing an eBike, I think in my sport if everyone was racing eBikes it would still come down to how fast you can pedal a bike around a cross country circuit so it wouldn’t make a difference.
  5. What do you think about eBike coverage in the press/media?
    I haven’t really seen any eBike coverage in the media so I can’t really comment on this one.
  6. What’s your opinion on dongles (de-restricted eBikes)?
    I think for the general public who might not do to much cycling or are new to the sport then it is a good idea to have a restriction because having limited skills and going on a bike that can go as fast as some eBikes, is quite dangerous. I think if you are a regular cyclist then you might want it de restricted but that’s a personal choice.
  7. What do you think about the future of eBikes in MTB and also a wider sense?

    I think they are going to get very popular. Just now eBikes are heavy and the batteries are big but over time they will get smaller and lighter with more powerful motors. I think they are great to get people into the sport and they allow a much larger audience into the cycling world whether it’s people riding up and down mountains and exploring on there holidays or people after a faster option to work. There is a lot of potential for them and I think if more people are doing sport and exercising it is great. It could increase cycling options around city’s and increase the amount of trails for people to ride at the weekends so I only see the future of eBikes in MTB and the wider sense getting bigger.

    Cheers Grant.

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More topics in forthcoming interviews:

  • Race / Event organisers Parts 1 & 2 (done)
  • 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)

Please remember to like the MeB Facebook page!

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.

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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.

Please remember to like the MeB facebook page!

UK eBike regulations

Hi eBike fans!
Now we’ve got the introduction out of the way, I can stop talking about myself (phew! I hear you say).  This week I want to talk a little about the reg’s.  This topic has been covered quite a lot by various publishers (a simple Google search will reveal plenty of articles), so I want to add things you may not already be aware of.

UK eBike regulations have been steadily changing over the past few years, but seem to be settling down now and falling in line with most European regulations.  There is huge variation throughout the world though, and even some foggy areas within UK law – which I’ll get to….

Personally, I think the most important thing to note about pedal-assist or “ped-elec” eBikes in the UK is that, in the eyes of the law and the Highways code – they are classed and regulated under the same rules as bicycles.  That means quite a few things.  Most obviously it means things like exemption from tax, registration, identification, and requirement of a driving license or insurance, but it also means that a helmet is not mandatory (which I personally applaud, but that’s a different story that I may do an article on later in the year).  The only difference to bicycle regulations that I’m aware of is there is an age minimum for eBikes of 14 years.  The access rules are the same too – you can legally ride an eBike, anywhere you can legally ride a standard bike.

Ok, so let’s start with some of the nitty-gritty about the UK reg’s….
The main 3 rules which legally define an eBike as no requiring “type approval” by the DVLA (other than really obvious things like fitment of pedals which propel the bike) are Nominal Wattage; Maximum speed assistance; and lack of throttle.

These are defined by the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPC) Regulations 2015 here.

Nominal wattage
The nominal wattage maximum allowed on a legal eBike currently stands at 250 watts, as set out in the January 2013 legislation, changed from the originally ignored 200 watts UK-only law.  I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I’m not an electrical genius, or have any specific academic electrical training or qualification, so I tend to keep things fairly simple – for my own sake!
I find the term “nominal” a little misleading in the context it’s generally used with regards to eBikes.  The word definition according to Google is “a role or status existing in name only“, (Source) so my own understanding in the context of eBikes is:
The wattage at which eBikes are designed and intended to run at in the majority of situations“.
This also equates to a roughly uniform 600 watts at maximum output for “legal” eBikes in the UK from the likes of Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano and Impulse.  To me, this maximum wattage number seems easier to understand.
It’s worth mentioning here, that quite a few European countries allow a special “S Ped-elec” or “Speed 45” category of eBikes, whereby the bike’s motor runs at 350 watts nominal and restricted to a higher 45kph.  As I understand it, it’s basically like a sub-scooter category, but bikes must adhere to additional regulations such as certain brake types, lights, a number plate and government registration.  I’ve heard rumours that this category may come to the UK as soon as March this year, but we’ll see.
Interestingly, as far as I’m aware there are no hardware differences in the motor or battery between standard and S45 eBikes – it’s just a software difference.  Also, the Bosch S45 eBikes all use a Performance (60Nm torque) motor, not the higher torque Performance CX (75Nm) motor.  I don’t know why this is.

Maximum speed assistance
Under current reg’s the maximum speed at which an eBike can assist the rider up to in the UK is 25kph (15.9mph).  The only small print attached to that is “+/-10%”, allowing for dependencies/variations of tyre brand and wear.  So you can, in theory, legally ride assisted at about 17.5mph at a push.  And from comparing eBike displayed speeds, to GPS speeds on the various eBikes I’ve ridden, brands do actually seem to run with this.

Throttles
Possibly the main category of discussion where grey areas persist is throttles, AKA “Twist and go’s”.  As I understand it, throttles were banned in a regulations update issued January 2016 on all new eBikes produced in the EU or purchased by shops for stock.  However, retailers could legally sell any legacy stock they had already bought.  This obviously allows some “descression” to manufacturers making such throttled eBikes (ahem!)
Put it this way, I’ve seen them on sale today, that clearly weren’t made before Jan 2016.  In fact, there were even brands exhibiting them at the Birmingham Cycle Show in September 2016.

eBike registration with the DVLA
As it stands, there is no way to register an eBike with the DVLA unless they are type approved as a “motor vehicle”.
What all of this regulation boils down to is: if an eBike does not comply with the law, it is an illegal motorbike.  There is currently no legal machine that is somehow between eBike and motorbike – it’s one or the other, or it’s illegal, as described by the DVLA’s type approval requirements

Illegal modifications
Technically, if ANY changes are made to a product that has been given specific “type approval”, it then fails to be type approved and the modifier becomes the manufacturer in the eyes of the law.  It gets a little big foggy here, because obviously some things on an eBike need replacing after wear and tear, like tyres and brake pads, so “consumables” are allowed exceptions, but surely everything on a bike is subject to wear and tear to some degree?  Even a handle bar has a usable lifetime.  Plus some parts may be required to be swapped out early on, in order for the bike to suit it’s owner, like stem length for example.

OK, onto what really is the Elephant in the room: max speed de-restricters, commonly known as “Dongles”.  There are various ways to de-restrict a pedal assist eBike, but the most common system is to somehow trick the bikes computer into registering a slower speed than it is actually going.  However the restriction is changed, removed or tampered with – the law is clear and dongles ARE illegal and void any manufacturer’s warranty.   It’s also not possible to make a de-restricted eBike legal – it can’t be registered as a scooter and it is not subject to the freedoms of bicycles.

The rumours are, that the Police are increasingly becoming aware of dongle’d eBikes and have started checking for them in London. That said, the problem really isn’t simply “getting caught” with an illegal eBike – because chances of that happening, are fairly low.  The much bigger problem is litigation in the event of an accident involving an illegal eBike and the consequences on the individuals involved, plus the wider impact this could have.

Let’s imagine a simple and relatively likely situation, in fact, I’ll use the recent real story of an MTB instructor being sued as a parallel story, as covered by MBR here.  Imagine now that an illegal eBike was involved.  It’s the same as being crashed into while drunk in a car – it doesn’t matter who drove into who, if one party is over the alcohol limit, it is a pretty simple case as to who is at fault in the eyes of the law….

I’ll be honest, I’m not a total kill-joy and I have tried quite a few illegal eBikes briefly, mostly ones that were illegal from factory, usually with a throttle.  What they all have in common to me is, yeah they are impressively fast, but why not just get an actual, legal motorbike?  It’s just so blatantly obvious that the bike I was on was illegal and I felt very exposed, even when just on an industrial estate or carpark.  And as for S45’s or dongle’d pedelecs, yeah I’ve tried them too, but these are the most pointless really, because if you take them on MTB trails, you don’t actually go any faster.  Even on a legal e-MTB you rarely reach the bike’s maximum 15.9mph going up an offroad trail and going downhill, most of the riding is gravity fed and doesn’t really involve all that much pedaling anyway.
I ended up with the conclusion that there just isn’t much to be gained going up or down.

Sorry for ending on a bum note!  See you next week hopefully!

Introduction 2017

Hello, my name is Tristan Mayor. I’m owner of Trig Point Sales, an independent sales agency company for bicycle brands.  Manchester eBikes (MeB) is a series of blogs about my experience with eBikes and all that goes with them.

Past
A little background if I may (don’t worry, these blogs are always vetted by a few friends first, to make sure I don’t meander too much).
I’ve been a very keen cyclist pretty much all of my life. I began with BMX racing when I was a youth and started mountain biking when I was around 14. I eventually started racing DH mountain bike racing when I was a student and raced DH regularly right through my 20’s and most of my 30’s. Along the way, I’ve also raced pretty much everything on 2 wheels (without an engine). XC, Cyclocross, Road & Criteriums, Marathons, Enduro’s and I’ve done 10 Megavalanches. I’ve had a few podiums and trophies along the way, but probably my favourite racing achievement was coming 2nd place Master’s category in the 2013 Megavalanche. The Mega’ is a 2500 entrant, mass-start race in Alp d’Huez form the Pic Blanc down a glacier, over ice, snow, scree, mud, dust, and forest ending right in the bottom of the valley. It has literally everything in it.


I have a degree in Geology BSc (Hons) from Manchester University. I worked for 10 years after Uni’ in Railway and Highway construction (ground improvements) and I’ve been in the cycle industry full time for the last 6 years, although I’ve always had a hand in something cycle related since I was 18 building wheels for Planet X.
Anyway, I’m in danger of waffling, so that’s enough personal stuff for now.

Present
A couple of years ago we had our first daughter and my wife is pregnant again now, so the racing is on hold for a while (to say the least!). This is kind of where the eBike thing started. I don’t get so much time for training these days, so eBikes were initially just a way to squeeze some riding into family life, without needing to be fit. I soon realised that eBikes are so much bigger than a quick-fix or a single-use tool….
I live just inside the Peak District on the outskirts of Manchester, in Broadbottom. Its very hilly and the climate is wet! But that’s why I moved here really, to ride hills in the mud. Which makes it an ideal testing ground for eBikes and believe me, I LOVE eBikes. I’ve ridden scores of them and owned around 10 for decent periods of time. All types too, from dutch style city eBikes, to trekking eBikes, folding eBikes, mountain eBikes, hardtails and full-sus, fat eBikes and even some home made bodge-arama’s!

Future
There will be the following blogs below and many others over the next few weeks and months, plus adventures and other experiences with eBikes along the way. Oh and don’t hesitate to contact me with specific requests if you have any.

Planned blog titles (not necessarily in order):

  • 2016 Year in review with eBikes
  • eBike running costs and battery consumption
  • eBike Regulations UK
  • Demonstration days and Races attending, calendar
  • KTM Ventura Vienna / Shimano STePS eDrive,Long term review
  • KTM Macina eGnition / Bosch Performance CX drive, Long term review
  • eBike running costs and battery consumption
  • Types of eBike and which is for you
  • eBike security
  • eBike gearing systems
  • eBike sales stats and trends – EU and UK
  • eBike benefits: Health, rehabilitation, fitness, training and fun
  • eBike Drive Systems, data monitoring and diagnostic reports
  • Maintenance, house-keeping and warranty of your eBike
  • History of the eBike

Bosch Training Day

A couple of weeks back I attended the Bosch Training day hosted by Trig Point Sales in Glossop to find out about the latest Bosch products for 2016 and the latest servicing techniques. Organised by KTM, the day was a chance to hear directly from Bosch about the latest on eBike technology and put to them some of our questions and quires.

KTM Boach training day, Glossop, Manchester eBikes

First thing of note about Bosch drive systems for 2016 is the release of their greatly anticipated Performance Line CX motor. The CX motor has been specifically designed with mountain biking in mind and, as a result, incorporates several features to assure

The CX drive produces and incredible 75Nm of torque, giving pedal assistance from 50% up to an impressive 300% and assuring you can take on any terrain. A Direct Flow system has been specifically developed to excel off road, delivering continuations torque even at low cadence. The results are instantly noticeable. Even on fast twisty single track, the CX drive delivers an abundance of power the moment you step on the pedals out of the corners. Finally the motor casing has been purpose built to give a rugged look, and to help keep the motor protected on all different types of off road terrain.

KTM Bosch Training day, Glossop, Motor System, Manchester eBike

Next up was is the extensive diagnostics system offered by Bosch. This system is something Bosch is very proud of and rightly so. By connecting the bike to Bosch’s diagnostics hardware (held by all good Bosch dealers, and of course by Manchester eBikes), a full readout can be achieved of all Bosch products: motor unit, battery and display unit. This readout, can locate and correct any system faults, recommend system updates and show the history of the product, including the number of miles done and the number of charge cycles done.

Finally, Bosch has released a new 500 watt Battery. This new 500 watt battery incorporates all the the same features of their 300 watt and 400 watt batteries, but delivers a higher output for longer. In fact, the 500 power pack delivers 25% more range for just 4% additional weight. Guaranteed for 500 full cycle charges (from when the battery is completely run down, until it is completely charged), the Bosch battery can be charged in just four and a half hours.

So, all in all it was a great day! We hope you have found this post informative and useful.