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  1. #1
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    Incorporating e bike into training

    There are some real XC MTB techies on this forum and y'all might have some interesting perspective.

    Are e-MTBs useful for training?

    They seem like could be useful as a way to reduce intensity on easy days while still riding hilly terrain hard. Maybe useful as a way to add speed to downhills with less training cost?

    Aside from the stigma and the cost, do they complement a normal fleet of MTB?

    I could imagine them being more useful for an out of shape amateur like me. Nino can probably ride straight up the matterhorn in a low heart rate and might not need an e-mtb.

    If I win the lottery, i'm totally getting a super expensive e-mtb.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcskier66 View Post
    ...They seem like could be useful as a way to reduce intensity on easy days while still riding hilly terrain hard....
    Sounds like an oxymoron. Anyway, I know a couple of riders who like them for practicing techy uphill stuff as it offloads the extreme effort allowing concentration on the bike handling skills. They also like them for riding with their kids/friends when they don't want to increase training load. I don't have kids or friends so no need for an emtb for those purposes. I'm not yet into the idea of using one as a tech learning tool.

    I tend to do rides of at a given effort level and duration. Doing that on an emtb would be the same except I'd just travel further and faster. I like the idea of going further and faster, but not with the assist of a battery.

    FWIW: Sounds like you're trying to justify the purchase of an emtb to yourself. IMO, there's no justification needed other than wanting one and having fun on it.
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  3. #3
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    Most Enduro and downhill competitors in Europe used to train on road bikes for ready long days.
    Now most have switched to e bikes, since they can train on tech terrain all the time, but still be able to have easy days.

    So, yes

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  4. #4
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    Sorry, for easy long days,. Not ready days.


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  5. #5
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    Sorry, not useful for XC.

    Riding a big E-Bike with lots of travel/big tires while fresh as a daisy has nothing to do with hitting a descent while breathing through your eyeballs on a 21lb race bike with 40 other dudes want to rip your legs off.

    I want an e-cargo bike though

  6. #6
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    As well as the potential benefits mentioned above, I've heard arguments for them being useful for doing lower intensity intervals, meaning that the rider does less power up the hill than he would normally have to do, then descends back down and repeats. However the rider could just change the route and power output to get the same power-based training benefit. At this point the discussion usually devolves into how badly the rider wants a new toy, which is totally acceptable in itself.

    I've seen plenty of claims that lots of "pros" are using ebikes for training now. When I've checked those references it appears that all those pros are focused on enduro or downhill. It would be interesting to know if XC pros are using them too. Maybe LMN or an actual pro can weigh in on that topic.

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    A racer friend got one because his workday includes a couple of locations that are not quite doable on a regular bike without too long a commute time, but he can make it to all the locations in a timely manner on a ebike, so it allows him to ride when he would otherwise have to drive. That's the best reason for an xc guy to get one that I've heard.
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  8. #8
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    My experience with E-bikes is limited to riding my dad's up and down the street a couple of times.

    I think they could make a decent training tool. If you are particular about staying in zone an E-bike is going to allow you manage your effort and still climb at a decent pace. I don't think riding one is going to make you faster but I don't think it is going to make you slower.

    I have an E-bike arriving tomorrow, so maybe in a couple of weeks I will have a bit more insight.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfishdesign View Post
    Sorry, not useful for XC.

    Riding a big E-Bike with lots of travel/big tires while fresh as a daisy has nothing to do with hitting a descent while breathing through your eyeballs on a 21lb race bike with 40 other dudes want to rip your legs off.

    I want an e-cargo bike though
    I would push back on this and say anything that gets you used to riding faster over terrain is going to be usefull as a tool to help you go faster overall. At the very least it increases your eyethometer for what is possible. You can then take that back to the other bike and use some if not all of those lessons learnt.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    I would push back on this and say anything that gets you used to riding faster over terrain is going to be usefull as a tool to help you go faster overall. At the very least it increases your eyethometer for what is possible. You can then take that back to the other bike and use some if not all of those lessons learnt.
    In principal I agree your statement but question whether buying a 6k ebike and riding a trail alone will bump up ones perception of whats possible, and if that's really going to translate to someone being a faster racer. I would argue that 6k is better spent at a week long skills clinic or coaching, even a dirt bike, or simply racing/riding with faster people.

    I still maintain descending at speed in a lead group in singletrack in the red is crazy experience and just more time doing just that is key. It's a very different skill descending alone fresh.

    I'll also add, to the other comments, how are you supposed to monitor your lower output efforts on an ebike? I do plenty of days riding z3 intervals or z2 days, can you even put a power meter on an ebike? I just don't see any point to it unless you feel the need to max out your descending time on every ride. Which if your training hard enough you should probably be welcoming chill day in z2 without descending 5,000 feet.

    If you want an Ebike fine, but I don't think you can justify it as logical XC training tool unless you're pushing 5.5+ w/kg and have the descending skills of Ilnur Zakarin.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcskier66 View Post
    There are some real XC MTB techies on this forum and y'all might have some interesting perspective.

    Are e-MTBs useful for training?

    They seem like could be useful as a way to reduce intensity on easy days while still riding hilly terrain hard. Maybe useful as a way to add speed to downhills with less training cost?

    Aside from the stigma and the cost, do they complement a normal fleet of MTB?

    I could imagine them being more useful for an out of shape amateur like me. Nino can probably ride straight up the matterhorn in a low heart rate and might not need an e-mtb.

    If I win the lottery, i'm totally getting a super expensive e-mtb.
    Yes, I use one all the time for for recovery. A couple of important things to note. Position, crank length, and Q factor will not be the same as your race/training bike and could create additional recovery issues. The added weight will use upper body muscle you are not use to as well.

    That said, if you need the recovery day or spin day ride fix that would normally be off the bike, it can help.

    But, be aware of the fun factor as that spin recovery will turn into a shred fest and screw the program.

  12. #12
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    Seems strange, but it's a reasonable question given the surge in popularity.

    I'd think a bike is all one needs for sufficient training across varying levels of intensity. I'm not sure if it would complement your training.
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  13. #13
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    Can the e-bikes be useful for training purposes?

    Sure, should you get one for that purpose? No, you shouldn't.


    Training on an ebike has no place with a serious athlete in my opinion. You see pros using them, but they are getting paid to sell the product.

    The industry is working very hard to get you to justify the ebike for many things, your training included. However on principle, they have no place for xc training. Mostly a mental thing by the way.

    Imagine peak Michael Phelps using and promoting some motorized flippers to aid his training towards the olympics, such case is the one with ebikes.

    Now, I don't have anything against ebikes, if you want one get it, just don't trick yourself on why you are getting one.

  14. #14
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    I actually largely agree with TDLover that a e-bike probably isn't useful a XC MTB athlete.

    Counterpoint thought for sake of argument:

    Road cyclist use motor pacing to achieve speeds and training effects not possible without a motor bike

    Swimmers use pulleys for assisted "over-speed" sprints to improve their water feel at fast paces.

    MTB athletes benefit from occasional training on a dirt bike. All that power and speed can help. (apparently, i've never ridden a dirt bike)

    Is an e-mtb really that different than examples above?

    An e-mtb might get a pro athlete that extra 0.25% they are looking for. It might make training a bit more fun too, which isn't nothing when you need to ride your bike lots?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfishdesign View Post
    In principal I agree your statement but question whether buying a 6k ebike and riding a trail alone will bump up ones perception of whats possible, and if that's really going to translate to someone being a faster racer. I would argue that 6k is better spent at a week long skills clinic or coaching, even a dirt bike, or simply racing/riding with faster people.

    I still maintain descending at speed in a lead group in singletrack in the red is crazy experience and just more time doing just that is key. It's a very different skill descending alone fresh.

    I'll also add, to the other comments, how are you supposed to monitor your lower output efforts on an ebike? I do plenty of days riding z3 intervals or z2 days, can you even put a power meter on an ebike? I just don't see any point to it unless you feel the need to max out your descending time on every ride. Which if your training hard enough you should probably be welcoming chill day in z2 without descending 5,000 feet.

    If you want an Ebike fine, but I don't think you can justify it as logical XC training tool unless you're pushing 5.5+ w/kg and have the descending skills of Ilnur Zakarin.
    1st: Awesome reference.

    2nd: I believe that just about every ebike actually has a power meter built into it (Strain gauge and cadence sensor). I also believe that some of the new software updates actually show your power output on the display unit. But even if it didn't, you can monitor it by heart rate.


    I think an e-bike would be useful for someone who lives some place with really crappy road riding. Let us say you live in Squamish BC, the road riding there is basically non-existent and the mountain biking has a lot of climbing. An e-bike would allow someone who live there to properly do a long zone 2 ride.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  16. #16
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    Train on the eBike, but without using any of the eAssist. Use your race bike for recovery days. You'll get stronger.

  17. #17
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    Another positive point I would like to add is an e-mtb operates at a similar speed "feel" as road and full xc racing so it can get you more practice sharpening the skills for hauling the mail in tight quick reacting single track conditions.

    Most have power meters and the Specialized Levo app will allow you to set motor assist to match a targeted HR.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    1st: Awesome reference.

    2nd: I believe that just about every ebike actually has a power meter built into it (Strain gauge and cadence sensor). I also believe that some of the new software updates actually show your power output on the display unit. But even if it didn't, you can monitor it by heart rate.


    I think an e-bike would be useful for someone who lives some place with really crappy road riding. Let us say you live in Squamish BC, the road riding there is basically non-existent and the mountain biking has a lot of climbing. An e-bike would allow someone who live there to properly do a long zone 2 ride.
    Pretty much this. All things being equal, time on an e-mtb on trails is probably more specific to the demands of XCO than time on a road bike on roads.

    Though, I'm curious, are all things equal? Excuse my ignorance, but doesn't pedal assist work as a force amplifier? If so, then the hugely variable terrain typically present on a trail would mean that achieving consistency is still really hard. And for that reason alone, it would probably mean that your long Z2 days (or <Z2 days) probably aren't achieving their desired effect. This could perhaps be partly solved with improved tech where the pedal assist actually only provides the boost necessary to reach some speed threshold, which would mean that you could spin at say 200w and the bike is handling what's required to keep you at ~8mph or something.

    Also, I'm not aware of e-bikes with batteries that can last in the 4+ hour range. Are there any?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeranzin View Post
    Pretty much this. All things being equal, time on an e-mtb on trails is probably more specific to the demands of XCO than time on a road bike on roads.

    Though, I'm curious, are all things equal? Excuse my ignorance, but doesn't pedal assist work as a force amplifier? If so, then the hugely variable terrain typically present on a trail would mean that achieving consistency is still really hard. And for that reason alone, it would probably mean that your long Z2 days (or <Z2 days) probably aren't achieving their desired effect. This could perhaps be partly solved with improved tech where the pedal assist actually only provides the boost necessary to reach some speed threshold, which would mean that you could spin at say 200w and the bike is handling what's required to keep you at ~8mph or something.

    Also, I'm not aware of e-bikes with batteries that can last in the 4+ hour range. Are there any?
    Specialized Turbo Levo SL can last up to a claimed 5+ hours, and you can get the waterbottle extender packs that are really quick and easy to swap out.

    Addressing your other point, having ridden a turbo levo sl (and other higher powered ones), I found it's quite the opposite to what you suggest the higher the assist level was set. I found I was riding at a more consistent exertion, and letting the higher speed from the assist deal with all the variability in the terrain. YMMV in areas that don't have 15-60 min somewhat steady climbs though

    On the lower settings though, I found the levo sl to be as natural feeling as I think a pedal assist bike could be right now, just had higher climbing speeds

  20. #20
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    eBike hater here:

    Yeah, probably could be a benefit. But when I am trying to keep my effort low, I just keep my effort low. I don't hammer up hills. All my training is done on a 170mm enduro bike (with power if doing intervals) or on my road bike. I just don't push the climbs on my long travel bike on easy days. I still ride the downhills extra hard.

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