E-bikes… You either hate them, form an opinion based on hearsay or you’ve actually ridden one and come to your own conclusion based on fact…
The bike in question was a HaiBike SDuro All Mountain RC with a 250watt Yamaha motor retailing at £3000. Now some would say “that’s a lot of money” but look at what you get… A 150mm travel alloy frame with Fox suspension, Shimano Deore components and relaxed geometry. When you add on a 250 watt motor and 400WH Lithium Ion battery it becomes quite a bargain!!
Picking up the bike for the first time it suddenly dawned on me that the weight of an E-bike is something of an issue when getting it into the back of a car!!. This particular bike weighing in at 50 lbs exactly. I’m sure as battery technology progresses the weight will come down.
Battery charged ( which takes 4 hours from flat) I headed for Bike Park Wales to set up Round 1 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series/Mini Enduro. Most of the time for UKGE and Mini Enduro I’m on foot setting up stages, taping and marking ttf’s. Transition marking is where the bike would earn it’s stripes…
From the Trailhead (at bpw) to the top of BPW via “Beast Of Burden” is a good 30 minute ascent, Martin Astley has done it in 16mins!!? what would the Haibike do it in… First things first, switch the power on via the left hand thumb controlled panel, select High power ( 4 settings of high, std, eco and off!!) and off we go…Now this is the bit that gets everyone the first time they ride an E-bike, its not a “push a button and go” system, it’s pedal assist!! which means when I pedal, an equal amount of power is transmitted to the cranks via the motor, it’s seamless and the feeling is very similar to someone pushing you from behind only this time it’s accompanied by the whine of an electric motor…I arrived at the top in 25 minutes having stopped 11 times to fix up the ENVE transition boards, impressive stuff. I’d ran out of boards so rode down stage 3 to check everything was ready for practice. It’s better to turn the motor off when heading down hill and let the weight of the bike and gravity do its thing, being the first time riding the bike downhill I took it steady, also mainly due to the lack of a dropper post, I was somewhat over the front of the bike which was not confidence inspiring and the general set up was not to my taste. Another day would be required to give it a fair test….
Racing was due to start very soon, I would be making sure stage one timing was working and uploading the live times to Actionsportstiming then heading straight to the start of stage 3 to set up the start timing…158 times uploaded I headed for stage 3 in eco mode, it took 10 minutes!! overtaking competitors up the transition was interesting when they were averaging 6-8 mph and I was doing a sustained 15.5 mph in trousers and flat shoes. Some of the comments ranged from “cheat” to “hooligan” to “Can I have a go?”. I arrived at stages 3 in plenty of time and without breaking a sweat, E-bike for work test completed and passed.
The day after BPW Itook the Haibike to Cwmcarn to recce possible stages for round 3. As the day would involve a hefty amount of DH work I fitted a Rockshox Reverb , Spd pedals (my norm) and spent half and hour setting up the suspension and controls to my liking.
Y Mynydd was my first port of call and was reached in a mere 16 minutes via the now closed Forest Drive. “That was too easy” I thought…
Only a few years ago Y Mynydd was classed as a tough DH trail, riding down it on a modern Gravity Enduro bike, albeit with a electric motor and battery! It suddenly dawned on me how perceptions of trails have changed and how far bike technology has come! I last rode this track on an Orange 222 with 200mm travel back in 2006!! and it was used for an NPS DH that same year!…The Sduro took everything in its stride and the trail became like any other Gravity Enduro trail. However, the weight of the bike became very apparent when heading into the road tunnel and I found the M615 brakes somewhat lacking in their stopping power but the weight of the bike gave it the stability and grip to counter act this. The agility of the bike through the switchback sections belied it’s mass and I often found myself forgetting it was an E-bike!!! Until that is, I got to the bottom of the hill with a huge grin, engaged the Yamaha motor and cruised back to the top of the hill without the slightest thought of tiredness.
This was to be the recipe for the day. After 32.6 km the battery finally went flat half way up the Cafall climb!! To be a fair test I carried on up…the 50 lb of weight not doing a very good job of concealing itself, I even overtook a fellow rider who muttered something under his breath. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the battery was flat. Even with the weight the climb was dispensed with efficiently, the 4 link suspension doing its job.
Pedalhounds was to be the final descent of the day and again the Sduro was planted! Those brakes were still showing their lack of stopping power but I emerged into the car park with a smile and new found knowledge of E-bikery and flat tyre right at the end of the trail, perfect day.
So where does this leave the E-bike… For the test I wore a Heart rate monitor linked to my Garmin. I’m normally as happy riding up hills as I am down them so for me the addition of an electric motor was going to be interesting. From the results I worked out that at my threshold I could beat the E-bike up the hill everytime but I’d only be able to do it for about 20 minutes. With the E-bike I could do it till it went flat and still be fresh at the top, interestingly if I rode at threshold on the E-bike the speed limiter kicked in everytime!?. The best use of an E-bike I can think of is for Gravity Enduro racers who want to practice the stages and stay fresh for race day. I couldn’t think of a better tool for the job than an E-bike! and its within the rules… For social riders of different abilities, for recovery rides where you can still keep a good pace or just setting up a Gravity Enduro race the E-bike is the answer.
Thank you to Race Co Cycles for the bike.