Friends of the shop know that Alison and I are huge E-bike fans. We both zip around the 9th and 9th neighborhood on them to get lunch or run an errand. We’ll ride to games at the University or to any event where parking is going to be a challenge. At the shop, I am frequently trying to convince friends to take them for a test ride. Most of them leave with a puzzled face of “What do I do with this?” and all of them come back with a huge smile. We knew the day would come when our brands would finally start delivering their E-MTBs to the US Market. As these bikes are obviously completely different animals than commuter E-bikes, I wasn’t sure how one would fit into my cycling schedule. But after getting out and exploring, there is a place in the quiver for yet another bike.
In May, the shop finally received our first shipment of Cannondale Moterras. This is their full suspension E-MTB. While Scott and Orbea also have some great E-MTBs en route from Europe, I jumped on the Moterra to get my taste for a handful of dirt-E rides. This is what I like about having an E-MTB.
Riding an E-MTB is not necessarily a “walk in the park”. At least it doesn’t have to be. Since my riding time is very limited these days, I wanted to make sure that I was getting some exercise on my rides. Depending on what setting the bike is on and how hard I pedal, the Moterra definitely allows me to empty my own tank or to get the heart rate up to the rabbit range. With four settings or levels of assist on these bikes ranging from ECO as the starting level of pedal assist to the top level of TURBO, the possibilities are endless. In the ECO model, the Moterra’s Bosch power system delivers enough power to make up for the fact that this bike weighs nearly fifty pounds. If I was to just ride in ECO all of the time, I’d probably cover around 20% more distance that I would on my normal bike for the same effort. With all that extra power available, who wants to stay in “first gear” for their whole ride.
So this brings out one of my favorite things about the E-Mountain Bike concept. For the same effort, I can cover a lot more ground. Personally, I don’t really get any satisfaction out of passing someone on it. So I try to ride it where I’ll encounter less traffic on the trails. When there are others around, I’m usually in ECO model and working pretty hard. I already have a few big loops in mind to do that will like up some great sections of trail. In other words, three out-and-back trails will now become one big ride.
I also like this bike for exploring trails that are new to me or that aren’t well documented and then later going to ride them on my normal bike. On my normal bike I’m always asking myself, “I wonder where that goes?”. With the E-bike, I can venture a bit more on trails that I’m not familiar with and not worry about running out of time or getting into an epic ride where I am not prepared.
Plus riding the E-MTB makes me better on my regular mountain bike. The E-MTB rewards me for spinning. If I want the bike to really step-up and help, I have to spin faster. Spinning is like turning the throttle. It teaches me to keep pedaling through the obstacles and tricky sections of the trail. If I get in the mindset of things coming at me faster like they do on my E-MTB, then on my normal bike it seems a bit “slowed-down”. This holds true on the climbs and flat sections, but the E-MTB doesn’t really go any faster than a traditional mountain bike would on a descent.
At the end of the day for me, E-Mtbs are just simply fun. I look forward to exploring more uncharted territory and after decades of riding that excites me.