Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole ValleyMuddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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Electric Extravaganza! Thoughts on riding e-bikes

Posted by Yvette | November 18, 2013 | 13 comments so far

Testing -bikes - e-MTB - at Holmbury Hill

(Photo © Karl Attard)

This weekend was the date for our meet up with the guys from Cycling Made Easy, Coulsden’s finest purveyor of electric bikes. As Tony said a long time ago, maybe we should call electric mountain bikes e-MTBs? Anyway, the idea was to try out a few of the growing number of electric mountain bikes on the market, over terrain we know well.

Albert and I arrived at the Village Hall in Holmbury just before 10am. Ray was already waiting for us with his son Tim. Then Ginny, Jo, Nik, Karl and Jessica (from Love to Ride and Single Track School) arrived. The ‘moles’ pitched up, stopped for a couple of minutes than disappeared into the distance never to be seen again. Thanks for your ‘support’ guys. And then Jim and his two sons arrived with 5 electric bikes. These included:

Nik came with Jo so she could have a quick try and see how the e-bikes feel… Well Nik got on and we all watched as she went off down the road, then she turned around and she simply sat back with one hand on the handlebars and giggled her way up the hill like a pro! And that was that, hooked! So we headed up the hill, with Nik, to Yoghurt Pots. On the way up we came across Karl, freewheeling down the hill with a broken rear derailleur. So he joined us at Yoghurt Pots to try the different e-bikes.

At the top of Yoghurt Pots I finally got a turn and climbed onto the Haibike Xduro RC29. I found it a bit stiff at the front but I got down safe and sound anyway. Then for the up! I selected the highest assistance setting (Turbo) to see what it can do and WOW! I pushed my foot down and the bike surged forwards!!! It felt like I was an arrow just shot out of a bow. I zoomed up the hill. One hand on the handlebars and giggling…

Haibike eQ Xduro FS RX Pro 2 e-bike on Yoghurt Pots

(Photo © Karl Attard)

I passed a group of walkers and then sat up and zoomed off. They stopped me at the top of the hill where I was getting onto another e-bike to ask me if I had an engine as they could not believe how quick I was. Well they were quite taken back when I told them it was in fact an e-bike. So off down Yoghurt’s I went again on the full sus 26″. I liked that a lot. I found it felt lighter and easier to handle round the singletrack.

After we all had a few tries on the different e-bikes and Karl had done his impromptu photo shoot we went off down Telegraph Row, section 2. I started that on the Ave and then swopped onto the Scott. The Scott is quite awesome and it’s easy to flow with it.

We turned off Telegraph and headed back up a small hill toward the village hall, Albert and I spied two guys on mtb’s, and the bug bit. So hand in hand we pedalled up the hill, with no effort, and flew past the two who could not believe their eyes. When we got to the top we stopped to wait for the others and saw Ginny on the full sus e-bike passing them so quickly that the guys went white.

When they eventually got to the top the one guy asked us if we had motors as he couldn’t believe how fast we were. We had to admit to him that we were on e-bikes… so the other guy calls back “That makes me feel so much better!” you should have seen their faces!

I think everyone had a different favourite e-bike and I have asked everyone to write up their thoughts so we can add them to this to make it a well-rounded review. In my opinion, I liked the full sus and the Scott the most for flowing singletrack. All of them are awesome up hills. I can understand how they will enable riders that would rather stay home for fear of not being able to do the distance or hold the group back get out and ride more and more often.

All I can say is if you are keen to try them, make contact with Ray Wookey at cyclingmadeeasy.co.uk and go try one for yourself. He is lovely and always keen to show people how they work. You’ll be amazed!!!

A Scott E Aspect 29er e-bike on Yoghurt Pots

(Photo © Karl Attard)

Jo’s thoughts

I am so chuffed that I got to try out an electric bike this morning… I love the fact that it can make cycling and mountain biking more accessible to more people… and mean that ‘personally powered’ peeps may be able to ride out more often. The feeling of being supported when riding uphill has to be experienced to be believed… it’s impossible to do it without a smile on your face… so much fun – highly recommended to anyone who loves enjoying the countryside on two wheels… now there will never be an excuse not to get out and ride – keep your old faithful and invest in one of these for the lazier days!

Nik’s thoughts

One word: FABULOUS! After trying several of the electric bikes this morning, I’m seriously thinking of getting one, probably the full sus. I have a med condition, lupus, which means I have to keep my pulse lowish or risk getting rather seriously ill. As a result, having been fit all of my life, in the last 5 years or so I’ve become pretty UNfit, felt trapped in/by my body, haven’t been able to go mountain biking with my partner before – and hated not being able to join in.

Suffice to say, after 5 or 10 minutes’ riding uphill today, I was barely out of breath and the dreaded pulse was OK! Once the implications sank in, I had a bit of a ‘moment’; yes, tears – of relief and hope. And freedom! The even better news is that, as I discovered, you can control just how much help the bike gives you – so I’ll be able to get fit gradually. Oops, see what I did there? WILL, not would…!

Ginny’s thoughts

Ginny on an e-bike

Trying out the electric Haibike 29r was an interesting experience. When I lifted the bike up it did seem a little heavy, but bearing in mind the motor and battery, this was hardly surprising. Going up hills on the trails was an absolute doddle. Very little effort was required, and my usual puffing and panting was absent. On descending Yogurt Pots I found the bike to be heavy on the steering and not very flexible. Whether this is just a case of getting used to the bike, or the weight of the bike I am uncertain. Certainly on the main trails it was fine, but on the technical I found it to be a little unwieldy.

The full sus Haibike was great fun. This was a smaller frame and a 26r. This bike seriously motored. I had a bit of fun over taking a couple of lads on their mountain bikes and motoring up the hill. They were a bit dismayed until we pointed out that there was help from a battery. This bike was far more flexible and seemed to whip through the trails and plough over the terrain more easily. It was no effort to ride.

Both these bikes had a lot to offer. I can see me as a geriatric thoroughly enjoying one of these. Anyone who is unfit or struggling to keep up with other riders will benefit from one of these. It’s great for boosting confidence for beginners or those wishing to get fitter.

Filed under Rides in November 2013

Yvette

About the author

Yvette is a very positive person to have around and turns out to be quietly competent both up and downhill. Well, she has to be quiet at something!

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  1. Karl says:

    Did a very long day on my feet Saturday, so decided to meet everyone at Holmbury at ten. Didn’t fancy the schlepp over from Bocketts, but did rather fancy a muck about on the hill on both my own bike, and the selection of electric bikes supplied by “Cycling made easy” http://www.cyclingmadeeasy.co.uk.

    The Moles who had ridden over from Bockets turned up bang on time, with JR at the front. (Quelle surprise)!We decided to head on up the hill as the electric MTB’s were a bit delayed, and reached Yoghurt Pots after an easy climb. One by one, the Moles headed into the Pots and with only three of us left Elliot suggested I go in front as he wanted to check out my bike.. and riding. No pressure then.. So off I headed, trying to impress him with my trail god skills and ultra cool bike, Fail..

    Pretty soon I found myself squirming all over the track.. quite a bit more than is usual, and not at all giving a good show. All over the blooming place. Can I hear Elliot shouting behind me? Yes. More or less at the same instant my chain flew off. Dam. Then Elliot handed a pedal to me…mine!

    Not a great start to the morning but I managed a bodge to re-attach it, and headed off after DW and Elliot to complete the trail. Soon got back to whizzing along again and crunch, chain off again, + then again, and after another two times, feeling frustrated, I tried to pedal it back on..!?
    Big mistake, snapped my mech hanger clean off.. Clever move that.

    Lots of kind suggestions for repair from the guys at the bottom of the trail, but since I was well and truly stuffed, I bid them adieu, and waited for the arrival of the electric bikes.. Well, I’d get a ride one way or another.

    I was offered the electric full suss (Haibike eQ Xduro FS RX Pro 26). Tried lifting it.. blimey it was heavy.. Anyway, after a short instruction.. I headed up the hill.. What superb comedy,
    I giggled all the way, up as I flew up, with hardly any effort, passing ordinary folk huffing and puffing along… This was good. Soon arriving back at the top I took a second at the top, then headed down.. gave the bike some stick.. found I was giving it a bit too much actually, and went in to corners too blooming fast, the bike was not particularly controllable.. Maybe it was me not being used to it, and hashing it up. Nevertheless, I didn’t fall in love.

    Next up, a go on the Scott hardtail lecky bike. I liked the feel of this much more and found myself chuckling with glee at romping past all sorts of poor mortals on the way up.. Took a second at the top once again, and rolled in.. gaining speed fast, but enjoying it, positively rollocking along.. Got to the bottom with a big smile. The lower centre of gravity and easy power made this a very reasonable ride. Not too shabby at all.

    Took one of the other hardballs up for my next ride, not entirely sure which one, and following the wonderful and talented Jess from SingletrackSchool. Not sure which electric bike she had either, but I knew she’d be giving it some welly and a serious test. While I was adjusting my seat down, she was off… Right, I thought, lets have a go at catching her up! I hurriedly chased her from 10seconds or so behind.
    I couldn’t really believe it when she actually came in sight about a third of the way down.. wey hey!
    Sadly tho, I’d caught her in not quite the heroic way I had hoped, as she had only slowed and stopped trailside to put her chain back on.. Bums.

    So, I ended up having a very sociable and fun morning, and met with much interest, and enthusiasm from all sorts of bikers on the trail.

    There’s no question about it, there’s a big future for these bikes.. In fact it’s not the future, it’ now!

  2. Tony says:

    I think that anyone who is snobbish about electric bikes should be sent a copy of Nik’s comment here. Truly the best comment I’ve yet read about eMTB and so great to hear what they can give you back. Give us a wave as you pass us next time huffing and puffing on the hills.

  3. KevS says:

    Nice write up Yvette and it sounds like you all had huge fun on the ebikes, sorry i missed it.

    I think all the comments sum up the ebike options really well and there is definitely a market for them.

    Quote: “The ‘Moles’ pitched up, stopped for a couple of minutes than disappeared into the distance never to be seen again. Thanks for your ‘support’ guys.”

    Note: Now you will know that organising a bunch of Moles is not too dissimilar to herding cats! 🙂

    Karlos Fandango: Top piccy taker and destroyer of bikes. I cant stop laughing at your report and trail of destruction, seriously funny but not uncommon. 😉

  4. Dandy says:

    Ah, a first hand report of the trail kar(l)nage. A great write-up too, Yvette et al – and I know Al wasn’t able to make it before you lot make any smart comments 🙁 Seems like the Scott was the best handling then, with the full-sus Haibike giving it a run for its money.

    Like your last sentence too, Karl. I read a report about e-bikes churning up the trails like a mx bike, but can’t imagine they’re that powerful. Any sign of that on Sunday? Don’t think I need or want one yet, but it’s probably just a matter of in how many years (or decades, I hope) !

  5. Matt says:

    I’ve been really surprised at everyone’s attitude to e-bikes.

    My first thought was that we should all ‘earn our descents’ but stepping back a bit – and reading Nic’s comments – makes me realise that they likely will have a growing place for us all at some point. It’s not really cheating if the alternative is not to get out at all.

    Obviously there is some scope for people to behave badly on these things – riding up hill with little effort and passing riders who are probably going a lot slower is where a bit of etiquette and consideration needs to come in, especially if the trail is narrow.

    The other factor not mentioned here is the need to make sure the bike is correctly set up for the extra weight of the bike and rider, in order to get the suspension working as well as it should be.

    And finally, there’s off-road and there’s off-road. Some of these bikes are more gnarly than others but all of them seem well able to get people out into the countryside.

    Shame I missed the demo as I would have liked to see them for myself but I feel we were well represented by Yvette and co (thanks v. much!). I was floating around the Center Parcs pools instead (and trying my hand at field archery; call me Legolas!).

    Karl! hilarious… 😉

  6. little big mouth says:

    Was a great morning, thanks for organising it Yvette. I tell you what those electric bikes were great when you gotta cycle up a hill with a hangover!!

  7. Jem says:

    Great write up Yvette, there is a style of mountain bike for everyone even electric. I would say that a few years back I would have probably been in the same camp as Matt, you have to earn the down’s by cycling up!
    My personal view has changed now.

    Would have loved to have a go, but unfortunately off the bike at the mo with a dodgy hamstring!
    Nik’s comments were great to read. I know exactly how that feels. After being bloomin fit 3 years ago and then being hit with illness, it’s hard to regain and for some it will never be as good as it was.

    So to be able to get out in the hills and potentially keep up with your old buddies (well their not all old are they Kev!!) is a dream come true for people such as Nik and potentially me. Now where’s my credit card and how do you get to Coulsden?

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  9. Thanks for aranging this Yvette, I had a great time on Sunday. I had a few thoughts on the bikes I’ve put them in my blog:
    http://jessonabike.co.uk/2013/11/trying-out-some-e-mtbs/

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