Are Electric Mountain Bikes Ruining Trail Systems?
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There was a time when mountain bikers were the “drunk uncle” at the outdoor buffet: socially awkward, irreverent, “too noisy, too fast,” outcasts on the dusty lam. Hikers called them out for harshing the trail’s mellow. Conservationists pegged bikes as trail wreckers. Decades later, the once rogue group of trail punks have grown up, are wiser, savvy, and organized. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has emptied countless tubs of elbow grease advocating for social and physical space on the trails to ensure we have places to ride.
But here we are again. Same story, new bikes. This time weighing the validity of electric-assist bikes on the very same trail systems. The most hesitant to accept electric-assist mountain bikes? Their own breed, mountain bikers.
preventing the slippery slope of motorcycles getting back onto the quiet trail system
And e-bikes are the fastest growing sector in the bike market — an industry that was valued at over $800 million in 2017, and has a predicted 6% growth each year through at least 2025. With Specialized, Trek and BMC clearly in the game, a flood of e-bikes is being released into the market. Riders are looking for paydirt. So you might think all these new riders would equate to more power through voices in trail advocacy and be welcomed with open arms by IMBA, who’ve tirelessly worked to educate the public about mountain bikes and preserve trail space. But you’d be wrong.
“First and foremost, we advocate for access for traditional, non-motorized mountain bikes. IMBA does not advocate for access for e-MTBs,” stated IMBA Executive Director, Dave Wien’s, in the IMBA’s position statement. While the IMBA has warmed up to the idea of Class 1, pedal assisted e-MTBs on non-motorized trails, by and large, they’ve stayed out of the fray and left the access discussion to local land managers and bike clubs. The IMBA’s primary concern? Protecting their hard-fought trails from being taken away and preventing the slippery slope of motorcycles getting back onto the quiet trail system.
ES changed my life (for the waaaaay better).
Eff. June, 2014 Phoenix Ebike Promotions
(Current ride? High speed lawn chair.)
Phoenix Ebike Promotions conversion kit (work in progress. More drink holders, etc etc)
Joined yer local chapter of EA yet?
(Ebikers Anonymous - Where we're all miserable failures, but the parties are hilarious...)