Discussion: E-Bikes a Plus or Minus for Greater Bike Access Overall?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Discussion: E-Bikes a Plus or Minus for Greater Bike Access Overall?

    I'm intrigued by the recent flap over e-bikes and allowing them access to trails previously open to "analog" bikes.

    NOTE: This thread is not a troll—I'm NEUTRAL on this issue, mainly because after doing a lot of reading and listening, I've determined there are a lot of opinions out there on all sides unsupported by peer-reviewed, fact-based science and data (and driven primarily by emotion and preference). So I'm still in search of more fact-based science and data.

    I feel pretty sure that a perception (or misperception?) that exists over e-bikes is that they are more like "electric motorcycles" than bikes—meaning they're much faster and will be ridden much farther (in any given area) than analog bikes.

    So a big question I'm trying to get to the bottom of is...to what extent is this true? I've read in many places that this is BS...and that e-bikes are *barely* different from analog bikes.

    Regarding speed, I keep hearing about the 750W limit. That's a hard number which makes sense...but where things get a lot slipperier is when it comes to top speed. I've heard some say e-MTB's would struggle to reach 20mph on trails. Is this supported by facts? At the same time, I keep reading about certain types of e-bikes (not specified whether street or MTBs) topping out at 28mph.

    Either way, I'm certain of one thing: for the most part, e-bikes are perceived by the hiking community as "insanely fast, and too fast for trails." And without supporting science, it's perfectly logical for hikers to think "If I'm almost run off the trail by regular bikes, then electric bikes will be even worse." (And as an aside, I'd say that the e-MTB advocates would benefit from eliminating this perception that e-bikes are ridiculously fast. Something like a video, taken from a stationary position along a trail, with the camera being passed by an analog biker...then an e-biker, could really help!)

    So that's one issue—speed and safety.

    The other issue that has clearly risen to the top of debates over MTB access to trails is impact.

    And when we talk about impact, it's REALLY important to focus not on "impact to the trail tread" (that's been beaten to death, and too many MTBers obsess over this red herring), but on the overall impact of human presence in natural environments (e.g. impact to wildlife, plant species, the wilderness experience, etc.).

    It stands to reason that *if* everyone agrees one can go farther (in the same amount of time) on an e-bike than an analog bike, then trail use *could* increase in any given area ("use" defined as "the total number and frequency of users on a given trail in a given period of time").

    I think many in the hiking community are actually not concerned about impacts to the trail tread (which is why I called this a red herring), but overall impacts on the wilderness experience (which doesn't include lots of people screaming around on bikes).

    I should also add, importantly, that I'm not necessarily talking about Wilderness (with an uppercase W, as in "federally designated"), though there are certainly some MTBers advocating for allowing bikes in Wilderness. I'm mainly talking about wilderness with a lowercase w (as in any reasonably remote natural area away from civilization).

    So generally speaking, could the argument to allow E-bikes on existing trails open to biking (as well as possible trails NOT currently open to biking) potentially lead to even stronger limits on bikes generally?

    Scott
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  2. #2
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    Not legal for the most part where I ride in MA. And you have about 10 questions and conjectures in the opening mess. A lot more concise would help.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post

    I feel pretty sure that a perception (or misperception?) that exists over e-bikes is that they are more like "electric motorcycles" than bikes—meaning they're much faster and will be ridden much farther (in any given area) than analog bikes.

    So a big question I'm trying to get to the bottom of is...to what extent is this true? I've read in many places that this is BS...and that e-bikes are *barely* different from analog bikes.

    Regarding speed, I keep hearing about the 750W limit. That's a hard number which makes sense...but where things get a lot slipperier is when it comes to top speed. I've heard some say e-MTB's would struggle to reach 20mph on trails. Is this supported by facts? At the same time, I keep reading about certain types of e-bikes (not specified whether street or MTBs) topping out at 28mph.

    Either way, I'm certain of one thing: for the most part, e-bikes are perceived by the hiking community as "insanely fast, and too fast for trails." And without supporting science, it's perfectly logical for hikers to think "If I'm almost run off the trail by regular bikes, then electric bikes will be even worse." (And as an aside, I'd say that the e-MTB advocates would benefit from eliminating this perception that e-bikes are ridiculously fast. Something like a video, taken from a stationary position along a trail, with the camera being passed by an analog biker...then an e-biker, could really help!)

    So that's one issue—speed and safety.



    Scott
    I took it to a trail outside of SLC called bobsled and had been down and up three times by the time the non-ebike reached to the top.

    https://forums.mtbr.com/e-bikes/used...n-1118397.html
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I'm intrigued by the recent flap over e-bikes and allowing them access to trails previously open to "analog" bikes.

    NOTE: This thread is not a troll—I'm NEUTRAL on this issue, mainly because after doing a lot of reading and listening, I've determined there are a lot of opinions out there on all sides unsupported by peer-reviewed, fact-based science and data (and driven primarily by emotion and preference). So I'm still in search of more fact-based science and data.

    I feel pretty sure that a perception (or misperception?) that exists over e-bikes is that they are more like "electric motorcycles" than bikes—meaning they're much faster and will be ridden much farther (in any given area) than analog bikes.

    So a big question I'm trying to get to the bottom of is...to what extent is this true? I've read in many places that this is BS...and that e-bikes are *barely* different from analog bikes.

    Regarding speed, I keep hearing about the 750W limit. That's a hard number which makes sense...but where things get a lot slipperier is when it comes to top speed. I've heard some say e-MTB's would struggle to reach 20mph on trails. Is this supported by facts? At the same time, I keep reading about certain types of e-bikes (not specified whether street or MTBs) topping out at 28mph.

    Either way, I'm certain of one thing: for the most part, e-bikes are perceived by the hiking community as "insanely fast, and too fast for trails." And without supporting science, it's perfectly logical for hikers to think "If I'm almost run off the trail by regular bikes, then electric bikes will be even worse." (And as an aside, I'd say that the e-MTB advocates would benefit from eliminating this perception that e-bikes are ridiculously fast. Something like a video, taken from a stationary position along a trail, with the camera being passed by an analog biker...then an e-biker, could really help!)

    So that's one issue—speed and safety.

    The other issue that has clearly risen to the top of debates over MTB access to trails is impact.

    And when we talk about impact, it's REALLY important to focus not on "impact to the trail tread" (that's been beaten to death, and too many MTBers obsess over this red herring), but on the overall impact of human presence in natural environments (e.g. impact to wildlife, plant species, the wilderness experience, etc.).

    It stands to reason that *if* everyone agrees one can go farther (in the same amount of time) on an e-bike than an analog bike, then trail use *could* increase in any given area ("use" defined as "the total number and frequency of users on a given trail in a given period of time").

    I think many in the hiking community are actually not concerned about impacts to the trail tread (which is why I called this a red herring), but overall impacts on the wilderness experience (which doesn't include lots of people screaming around on bikes).

    I should also add, importantly, that I'm not necessarily talking about Wilderness (with an uppercase W, as in "federally designated"), though there are certainly some MTBers advocating for allowing bikes in Wilderness. I'm mainly talking about wilderness with a lowercase w (as in any reasonably remote natural area away from civilization).

    So generally speaking, could the argument to allow E-bikes on existing trails open to biking (as well as possible trails NOT currently open to biking) potentially lead to even stronger limits on bikes generally?

    Scott
    Well, the Bike Manufacturers are not doing any favors for the trail access side of things with promotional video like this:

    https://youtu.be/_T0t-GezMh0?t=19 - - brake stand burn out.... I am sure the Hiking groups would faint seeing that....

    https://youtu.be/_T0t-GezMh0?t=53 - - Flying up a crowded staircase.... now imagine that is a crowded trail.....

    Yes, that is a pro level rider doing things the average rider probably cannot do on an eBike, but it is highly irresponsible of a bike manufacturer to make such a video.

    Show that video at a land management meeting and you can create all sorts of Havoc.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    Well, the Bike Manufacturers are not doing any favors for the trail access side of things with promotional video like this:

    https://youtu.be/_T0t-GezMh0?t=19 - - brake stand burn out.... I am sure the Hiking groups would faint seeing that....

    https://youtu.be/_T0t-GezMh0?t=53 - - Flying up a crowded staircase.... now imagine that is a crowded trail.....

    Yes, that is a pro level rider doing things the average rider probably cannot do on an eBike, but it is highly irresponsible of a bike manufacturer to make such a video.

    Show that video at a land management meeting and you can create all sorts of Havoc.
    I feel like those videos get picked on because they show e-bikes, but brake stand "burnouts" are entirely doable on a normal bike. When I was a kid me and my friends thought it was fun to do in loose dirt. Meanwhile there are plenty of ridiculously irresponsible promotional videos featuring normal bikes and no-one is clutching their pearls over them.
    . . . . . . . .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    I feel like those videos get picked on because they show e-bikes, but brake stand "burnouts" are entirely doable on a normal bike. When I was a kid me and my friends thought it was fun to do in loose dirt. Meanwhile there are plenty of ridiculously irresponsible promotional videos featuring normal bikes and no-one is clutching their pearls over them.
    Is stair climbing at those speeds entirely doable on a normal pedal bike? Not for me they are not and I doubt even a pro could ride up stairs at those speeds without a motor.

    The bike companies are promoting how much "faster/better/etc" the eBike is than a Pedal Bike.... It is all marketing cause they all want your money. Pedal Bikes are so good these days they can last a customer years and when the customer just needs to replace or upgrade components, the frame builders are missing out on money. So they need to sell something new.
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  7. #7
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    Climbing is all about power. If you can make the power you can make the climb.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    Climbing is all about power. If you can make the power you can make the climb.
    .
    While impressive, still half the speed of the eBike in the Rocky Mountain Video.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    I feel like those videos get picked on because they show e-bikes, but brake stand "burnouts" are entirely doable on a normal bike. When I was a kid me and my friends thought it was fun to do in loose dirt. Meanwhile there are plenty of ridiculously irresponsible promotional videos featuring normal bikes and no-one is clutching their pearls over them.
    Trail advocacy groups don’t appreciate these videos on real bikes either. I know most ebikers have never been to one, maybe you should check one out.


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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    Trail advocacy groups don’t appreciate these videos on real bikes either. I know most ebikers have never been to one, maybe you should check one out.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Did more than my fair share on the East Coast. Was raised into it. Always found the stories about Cali interesting in that regard though. It sounded like some sort of quiet war going on to those of us back east. Living out here now it just seems like a total cluster%*&#. I remember in the 90s hearing the stories about battles with the Sierra Club, it was enough to make you want to grab the torches and pitchforks . . . .
    . . . . . . . .

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    Did more than my fair share on the East Coast. Was raised into it. Always found the stories about Cali interesting in that regard though. It sounded like some sort of quiet war going on to those of us back east. Living out here now it just seems like a total cluster%*&#. I remember in the 90s hearing the stories about battles with the Sierra Club, it was enough to make you want to grab the torches and pitchforks . . . .
    SC, Audubon, hikers, equestrians and a bunch of made up groups. Audubon is the one that is killing Marin County, currently
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I've determined there are a lot of opinions out there on all sides unsupported by peer-reviewed, fact-based science and data (and driven primarily by emotion and preference). So I'm still in search of more fact-based science and data.
    Scott
    The opinions you hint at are those that people enjoy debating, like just how fast an e-bike is, I'm going to refrain from discussing any of them because the real issue is the process. There is a complicated set of rules that determine how federal land is managed and now there is a discord.

    There are a heap of rules based on the motorized/human powered divide. Clearly an e-bike has a motor. Overriding this boundary creates conflict with Recreation Opportunity Spectrum, NEPA, travel management rules, RMP rules and probably a dozen others. All mountain bike access has gone through those steps at some point and got to this point for better or worse. Now our access is at stake as we are quickly taken across the line into motorized territory.

  13. #13
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    E-Bikes a Plus or Minus for Greater Bike Access Overall?
    Well I can't possibly see how it is going to be a plus....

    Whether it is a minus is up for debate. I think it will in the end be a minus, but how much of a minus I do not know. And we may never really know, because whether access gets better or worse over the next 10 years, it will be hard to pinpoint what the effect of eBikes was on that.

    I think it will depend somewhat on how they get classified....

    Where eBikes are considered something different than regular bikes, and regulated separately, I do no think it will effect access for regular bikes.

    Where they are considered the same as regular bikes, I think it will effect it. How much... that is the question.
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    My concern about e-bikes is related to trail access. Specifically higher climbing speeds that e-bikes allow and to some extent more riders going fast on flats (up to 20mph) will increase the issue of user conflicts. Most hikers will never be able to distinguish between e-bikes and regular bikes and more negative encounters will increase the push for restricting bikes in general. If every rider (both pedal and e-bike) were cool and respectful then this would be minimal to non-issue. However not everyone is. Some people don't respect rules or others. Some those will buy e-bikes, some will mod their e-bikes and some will piss off other users. The thing I don't understand is how many there will be and how the encounters will go down. I have ridden a few times with a guy on a e-bike on legal multi use trails and how he plays in group ride and around hikers is really 100% up to him. He can blend in nicely or be nasty outlier. I am not concern about trail damage as the power levels just are not there for the most part.
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  16. #16
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    I’m neutral on ebikes- yes, I’ve ridden some, and yes, they’re fun. They’re also great utility vehicles. They should be considered a new type of transport, and designated accordingly.

    They are already having a negative impact on access issues because opponents of MTB access conflate ebikes with them.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Well I can't possibly see how it is going to be a plus....

    Whether it is a minus is up for debate. I think it will in the end be a minus, but how much of a minus I do not know. And we may never really know, because whether access gets better or worse over the next 10 years, it will be hard to pinpoint what the effect of eBikes was on that.

    I think it will depend somewhat on how they get classified....

    Where eBikes are considered something different than regular bikes, and regulated separately, I do no think it will effect access for regular bikes.

    Where they are considered the same as regular bikes, I think it will effect it. How much... that is the question.
    I agree with this. If there are issues, it will take awhile to really arise and, since most people can't tell an ebike from a bicycle, it won't be obvious that it was ebikes that caused the issue.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    They are already having a negative impact on access issues because opponents of MTB access conflate ebikes with them.
    Exactly.

    The proponents of e-MTBs aren't helping either. Seriously, look at how this forum on trail building has become the dominion of e-MTB proponents that just don't want to acknowledge that e-MTBs create some real management challenges. Its even worse when you read an article and some yahoo from the e-MTB group within People for Bikes intentionally conflates e-MTBs with normal MTBs.

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