Bespoken Word – Are e-bikes the future of enduro and everything else?

Tracy Moseley e-MTB racing
(Image credit: Bosch)

Tracy Moseley is one of the most successful UK mountain bike racers ever. That includes a DH World Championships win in 2010, eight World Cup DH wins and 12 national DH, DS and 4X championship titles plus three years dominating the EWS Enduro series from 2013 to 2015. She’s recently jumped into the start of E-EWS (now E-EDR) electrified Enduro racing. That’s not just as a competitor but as a consultant on the advisory board for the development of the electrified side of the sport. 

That’s no surprise either as she’s always been an innovator in terms of tech. Benefitting from Fabien Barel’s now much copied innovations while she was racing DH for Kona and then pioneering 29er wheels in Enduro well before other riders. 

I caught up with her at a Bosch event at Ard Rock Enduro where she was working as an ambassador. So here’s our chat about why she’s become so positive about powered riding and where she sees it going. 

Tracy Moseley e-MTB racing

Tracy has always had her eyes on the latest tech developments to help her race success (Image credit: Bosch)

“I retired from racing to start a family, and my first experience of riding an e-MTB was an early Trek Powerfly. To be honest I was a bit anti at first as I really didn’t see a need. Then I did the e-MTB challenge at Tweedlove in 2019 and I also did a PR ride with a BBC breakfast sports guy. Seeing how much more he could do when he had a motor was a real eye opener. 

"Then I did the first ‘E’ version of the Tour de Mont Blanc on a demo bike and it was amazing. We had four batteries and were tackling proper alpine madness, but the distance we covered and the terrain we did was a proper eyeopener. It was also the biggest boot camp ever, it was so physically tough. I guess that was the moment I really got excited by the potential e-MTB events and racing.

"I love being in at the start of something new and racing E-EWS and E-EDR has been a lot like the start of EWS nearly a decade ago. With a young family and other work commitments there’s no way I could fit in the training to compete in EWS/EDR now though. Doing E-EDR is hard enough!

"It’s great to work on new skills though, it really keeps me interested after 30 years of racing. That’s where e-MTB racing can really grow too. There was a stage at Pietra this year that was almost trialsy, you could only do it on an e-bike and I think those challenges and that separation are the future. Racing gives you the span to choose your ‘setting’ and I’m lucky that I don’t have to push for the win to justify being there. I’m over 40 and a mum now and that changes your perspectives and priorities, but I still love that racing buzz.

"There are lots of extra difficulties with e-MTB racing though, including bikes. Power can vary by as much as plus or minus five percent from the set limits, but it’s really hard to police and check that. Especially as events get bigger. There’s also the question of how much of the course should be designed to keep you under the motor speed limit. This summer’s e-MTB World Champs had a flat out XC sprint start which was way beyond 25kph and that just seems weird. In contrast, some of the first courses were way too savage for the early bikes. That means there’s been some toning down but also bikes have become a lot tougher and more capable even in just a few years.

"I think to grow the sport we need to prioritise the sections where an e-MTB really feels great. Undulating tech, big distances, roller coaster flow boost, skill not speed challenges etc.”

Tracy Moseley e-MTB racing

Tracy is now an official e-MTB ambassador for Bosch and sits on the Advisory Board for the E-EDR as well as still getting some top race results (Image credit: Bosch)

"Racing is a just a niche though, so we should concentrate on just getting people out there at first. You’ve only got to look around this event and see the positives. Electric bikes create amazing opportunities. A hardcore enduro like this isn't just an exclusive majority fit male event. Women are more prone to worry but e-MTBs give enough assistance physically and mentally that they’re a great barrier breaker. It’s ace where you get a mix of everything and everyone like the Ard Rock. E-MTB enables people within families or groups to experience this together. People are here to have a good weekend with their mates regardless of what they’re riding.

"I think the next generation of lightweight e-bikes will really help that too. Make them weigh less, with a bit of support but more range is where I think it needs to go. Weight and it’s effect on handling, braking and how physical technical riding can be is the most limiting factor in terms of uptake. We don’t need more power, and if it handles as well an analogue bike but you can go further more easily, then you’re winning without any losses.

"Less powerful, quieter e-MTBs that look more like normal bikes create less of a divide too. There’s not that instant difference which can set people off but we just need to be polite humans whether they’re on an e-bike or not. The most important thing right now is realizing that everyone has a responsibility to represent mountain biking well. So be courteous to other countryside users and think about what trails you’re riding in what weather etc. We’ve got enough people having a go at us in the wider world without fighting among ourselves.

"That’s what I’m working really hard on with Bosch and Trek at events like these. I really want to make sure e-bikers become a responsible, respectful part of the MTB and greater outdoors population. But also show how e-bikes can be a solution to other wider issues. We’ve got an e-cargo bike now and it’s a brilliant car replacement. It lets us do so much more as a family in the fresh air whether that’s school runs, shopping or heading into the woods for a play. For me that’s the biggest draw of adding a motor to a bike. What you can do in those precious family hours is fantastic.”

The E-Lyte 150 RSX in profile

Whyte are the latest brand to announce a significant shift to a majority e-MTB range (Image credit: Whyte)

Tracy isn’t alone with seeing e-bikes as the significant growth area for riding of all sorts. Whyte have just launched their new 2024 range with a massive cull of non-motorized bikes leaving only two conventional MTBs for next year. Rotwild and Haibike moved over to a solely e-MTB footing a while back and motorbike linked brands such as Husqvarna, GasGas and Fantik are unsurprisingly full in on electric too. That reflects what we’re seeing more and more at every ride spot and event too, so it’ll be interesting to see how many other top athletes follow Tracy into the e-MTB advocacy field.

Guy Kesteven

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg