If you want to quickly divide a room of mountain bikers, ask for their opinion on e-MTBs. The pedal-assist bikes, which have proliferated in Europe, are showing up in shops and on trails in North America, and their presence is polarizing to put it lightly. When Specialized advertised its LEVO in the pages of our magazine throughout 2017, the hate mail poured in from readers angry at us for allowing the brand to even advertise a battery-powered mountain bike. Just last week we got a letter from a writer urging us to take a hard stand against e-bikes and “call them what they really are: light motorcycles.”
“Mountain biking is supposed to be hard. Period. That's what makes it fun, not everyone can, nor should everybody do it! This idea today that if it's hard we should always make it easier, NO! The hard work is the reward.”
We’ve also received letters espousing the benefits of having a little extra ‘oomph’ on the climbs, and advocating for e-MTBs to be accepted.
“Not everyone is blessed with minimal injuries and great health, so I advocate for them. No need to be rude on the trails or put people down either. I can tell you that hard braking or riding in the mud does way more harm that a pedal-assisted bike ever could.”
If we consider the Letters inbox to be a completely unscientific sample of mountain bikers’ opinions on the topic, it’s clearly divisive. So, we decided to get slightly more scientific and see how a broader spectrum of our readers feels about e-MTBS: like ’em, hate ’em, think they’re heavy and ugly or fast and fun?
Take our survey, and you’ll have a chance to win our newly released, hard-bound 25th Anniversary photo book. It’s a beauty (regardless of how much help you have pedaling).