The e-bike isn't going anywhere and the sooner we embrace the concept, the sooner we'll realize that it represents another path into the culture we all love. While some may dismiss it as cheating, it actually represents accessibility. It's another way of getting bums on saddles and people outside, which is one of the reasons we all fell in love with this beautiful sport in the first place.
Of all the cycling disciplines, however, it's the mountain biking community that has embraced the electric bike with open arms. Trail centers are jam-packed with riders of all abilities, ages and backgrounds. More families are riding together than ever before, and it's not just the 'fun rider' or amateur that has seen the benefit of the e-bike: many professional riders - particularly mountain bikers - are using the e-MTB to finesse their skills, particularly on rest days when effort and intensity need to be minimized for recovery. The e-MTB is the perfect weapon to do more descents and single-track runs with less effort pedaling to the trailhead.
The e-MTB has also been recognized by the UCI, and the E-Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup is now a thing. There's even a World Championship and inaugural event was won by South African Alan Hatherly in 2019. Last year, Ineos Grenadiers rider and cycling superstar Tom Pidcock took the title - something which undoubtedly brought more credibility to the e-MTB concept. Other genres have followed suit and there's now an e-Gravity and e-Enduro series (EWS-E).
We can't forget the past year either. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees, it did also represent a renaissance of sorts for the humble bicycle and an industry boom followed. As lockdowns forced people to stay local, the bicycle became a tool for freedom and exploration again. Bike sales skyrocketed - more specifically, e-MTB sales went through the roof. That said, for many, the e-bike and its attributes are often misunderstood.
E-Bike Live has been designed to educate the reader - both the newbie and old hand - in an attempt to break down any preconceived notions around this hotly debated topic, and address the issues and questions many of us are too afraid to ask. Some of you may have already noticed our E-Bike Live preview last week. Over the next five days, Bike Perfect will be publishing a series of articles ranging from how-to features and opinion pieces to advice and listicles, all designed to debunk fact from fiction and highlight the many benefits of the electric bike, leaving you with a better grasp of what makes the e-MTB tick.
While gravel cycling and bikepacking have captured the imaginations of riders all around the world, I believe that e-bikes will do the same. Like many purists, I was against the whole e-bike thing and considered it a means of cheating - until I actually took one out for a spin. It was back in 2017 when Giant launched the new Anthem and Full-E+ Pro - a burly 650b with 140mm of travel. I was living in South Africa at the time and the launch was held in Stellenbosch, a region many consider as the world's trail mecca.
Surprisingly, only a handful of journalists opted to take it for a ride, the others were more enamored with the all-new Anthem and flocked to it instead. I was blown away by the capability of the Full-E+ Pro - not just in terms of the way it dismissed the technical terrain but rather the power delivery and economy of the five-mode SyncDrive Pro motor. But this was nearly four years ago and the technology is far more refined and less obtrusive. What I'm saying is don't make any decisions without thinking about the many benefits it brings to the party - approach the electric bike with an open mind and enjoy the ride.
I hope you enjoy E-Bike Live as much as we did putting it together for you.
Aaron Borrill, Tech Editor