At our first ever cycling festival, Pedalfest, last May we had hundreds of people test riding our range of Haibikes on the fantastic trails at Sherwood Pines Forest. Unfortunately our friends working at Sherwood Pines were so busy they missed out on a chance to give them a go so we gave them some to test out and here’s how they got on.
As someone who manages the bike trails at a busy forest centre ranging from easy family trails to red graded mountain bike trails I often see riders of all ages and abilities aboard a variety of bikes of varying standards and capabilities, often in places they probably shouldn’t be.
Over recent years I’ve seen a huge growth in eBike use. Like most people, initially I was a bit sceptical, are we dumbing down mountain biking by accommodating these beach cruisers for the layzee-boy generation who don’t want to earn their turns, or are they an access point into mountain biking for the unfit and infirm? Or are they something else, are they an opportunity to ride more trails, for longer? Luckily for me I was about to find out first hand.
Back in May of this year I worked closely with Raleigh Bikes UK, Haibike UK and Lapierre UK all suppliers of conventional bikes and eBikes to our on-site business partners Sherwood Pines Cycles, in staging Pedalfest, a two day family bike themed festival, where aside from the opportunity to demo the latest eBike tech, we staged live music, bike stunt shows, food and drink. I had my eye on taking one of the eBikes for a spin as soon as I had a spare hour.
Unfortunately, in my job spare hours don’t come around very often. I watched with envy as the demo bikes left the arena, returning later with Cheshire cat grins on the faces of the broad range of riders; old, young, male or female…what did surprise me was the regulars who I see week in week out, seasoned XC racers, hardened enduro racers, even the odd hardcore downhiller, vowing that their next bike would be an ebike.
At the end of the Pedalfest weekend, thinking my chance had gone I offered to show the demo teams a tour of the offpiste trails the next time they were in town, but knowing we were about to enter a busy summer for both us I doubted where that opportunity would arise.
A PLEASANT SURPRISE
Fast forward three weeks to hastily organised meeting with Raleigh to discuss Pedalfest 2019, Natalia from the marketing team uttered the magic words ‘I’ve a couple of eBikes in the van…do you want to use them, see what you think?’ I think I deliberated for roughly 3 seconds before saying ‘Yes!’
The bikes, Haibilke SDURO LT with 150mm travel front and rear were unloaded. It was at this point, seeing how capable these bikes looked, we realised what an opportunity was in front of us. Instead of just using these to hoon around the trails smashing KOMs why don’t we use them like we would our own?
In my role managing the trails, I use my own bike to get around. Using a bike is sometimes the easiest way of getting to a remote area. Due to the inherent dangers associated with mountain biking, an important part of what I do is checking the trails; are they still in grade? Has that blue trail become more like a red trail? What work is required? Are they potential accident blackspots? Is there any unofficial building going on?
The best part of working with a bike is of course riding trails you’ve just built, there’s no better tool to see if the result matches the plan.
We agreed to find out does an ebike perform better than a conventional bike, not only as a work tool but as my daily mtb fix? Will living and working with an ebike kill the myth that it’s for the unfit, infirm or that it’s just plain cheating?
Find out how they got on during their busiest period in the forest as well as the benefits of using electric vs normal bikes in Part 2.