Pikes Peak, Electric Mountain Climbers...

Josh K.

100 W
Dec 12, 2007
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
Hey Folks,

Josh Kerson here from RunAbout Cycles with a tale from the hill climb. Assault the Peak, 2011, Pikes Peak, Colorado USA.

We rode up Pikes Peak, and gathered some new info for everyone. What a great event, Everyone worthy has to start planning for next years Race, For Sure. This is starting to become THE event, as far as I am concerned. I know this will develop and become the beginning of some Real E bike racing. Let me set the Scene:

After Months of planing, engineering, designing, building, testing, and refining, we stripped down the new Rocha Mountain Drive, taking it off of our full suspension Mountain Bike, and mounted our full system onto a new Cargo bike. It lent itself well to carrying 40 lbs or so of batteries. The Frame is rated for 440 lbs, so at forty or so, it was ready to climb. Equipped with a Dual front brake systems, V brakes and Disk up front, and a good v brake in the back, I knew she was ready to rumble. 24 volts, and 60 amp hours of lithium Iron Phosphate, running through a Castle Controller powered up our Hand built Astro Motor, running through a beautiful helical cut gear reduction, with a free wheeling final drive, through the gears with a nice low mountain drive from Shimano...To the topic at hand, our bulletproof 48 spoke, double sidewall 26 inch Mountain bike rear wheel, with a new Continental tire equipped with a thorn proof Phat tube, and a dash of slime for good luck...

We met up with our rider from Small Planet E Vehicles, Steve Shoemaker, and checked out his new Strommer, a new Mountain climber designed in the hills of Switzerland. Equipped with 36 volts, and 20 amp hours of juice, He made a
great run, making it some 24 out of 26 miles. It was great to see a 600 watt hub motor make the climb under a strong rider without going into a overheating shut down. Way to go! The default settings were fine. He made it at least 15 more miles than last year when the Swiss Flyer made it around ten miles before going into a coma...He came down out of the 30 degree winds and moisture made a safe descent into Manatue.

The Optibike team was there, all ready to ride. Seven Licra Clad folks on high power machines, confident, and exited.
New Batteries, Higher Voltages, New Performance enhanced controller abilities with constant power modes...Possibly
40 mile an hour along the flats capabilities, and Sounds like Angry bees...Raised the bar again, with a one hour run.
These guys are clearly creating the need for Classes of E bikes, like the 1800 watt stock bikes, and possibly 3,500 watt off road pedal Dirt Bikes.

We also saw Chuck A. From Pete's there again with his Kalcauf, a pedal powered machine running power through the pedal drivetrain. and we understand that he too made it up to the top again this year, as he too had made the climb last year.
Way to go Buddy!

Okay, So here we go. It's 7:50 am, and we are lined up at the starting line. E bikes ahead of the roadies, so they won't be drafting off of us! Count down starts, we take off, and Wham, an Optibke rider has just wheelied up her machine, and slammed into the tail end of my bike. I took a hard hit, like in BMX racing, brushed it off, and kept on speeding up...
The pro rider had slipped off her clipless pedal, hit the throttle, and it was an out of control machine that crashed into my bike, and in doing so, tacoed my rear wheel, causing the brakes to cut into my tire, and I flat out of the race before we get out and onto the first road! Bummer, got to go back to the truck to fix a flat...

Changed the tube, Pow, blows right out. Changed it again, and found the cut in the tire...replaced tire and tube. Started out again, out onto the road, and up to the highway, Blam, Pinch a flat on a pothole. No Way, Dam, Got to go back to the truck to fix it, again. Bought a replacement tube from a guy, had a leak. Tried it again, using the only tube that I could find, out behind the dumpster of the shop that was offering tech support. Apparently they had something else to do that morning. No Holes, Looks good, Mount it up, and checkity check, Looks good. Time, 10:30 am, one and a half hours after the winner had taken the win.

So, By recommendation by my partner Elana, I went for a ride, to gather some Data, Up Pikes Peak, 25 miles to go, with no support. Got out on the highway, and decided that instead of the regular way, I would ride on the right. Just kinda seems safer to stay to the right to me. Rode up to the Toll Road, and was stopped by the guard. I explained that I am in the race, and had a few flats, but I have my numbers and would like to ride as far as I can today. He let me through with a smile. His main Job was to stop the cars, as it was a closed course, and I was just getting started on the ride of my life.

As on a ski hill, my favorite time to ride is when nobody is around. It was so beautiful with rich forest, steep hills, hot weather, and lots of little animals scampering around in the car free environment. I actually love being able to ride without having to worry about being hit by a diesel truck, or to have to breath all the unburned Hydrocarbons. I get into a Zone, between hammering to hard where my legs burn, or breathing to hard where my lungs hurt, or I start to pass out. Then I just back it off a bit, and focus on duration, that is making it to the top, no matter what. Then it was a nice 2 and 3/4 hour ride.

Then the Optibike Punks started to come down the hill, Fast. Must have been 40-50 miles an hour, two guys at a time. The first ones just kinda scared me a little bit. Then, the next ones I yelled at, Craig your a punk, Your punks! Punks...I guess I just head to say something, Fast! These were the fastest guys to the top, and apparently, they are starting a downhill addition to the race. Perhaps once some classes of E bikes are established, and rules get put in place, maybe they could do a Up and Down Hill 50 mile race to the death, or something.

I had planned on getting my water from the support tables along the rout, and did not bring my own...The first stop was abandoned, table flipped over, bottles emptied, food removed, people gone. Sigh, got on the bike and headed on. The next one, by the lake was fully operational, and like a starving bear, I went through the water, Gatorade, and P B N J's with out care for socially imposed values or moreys. :mrgreen:
They assured me that I could at least ride to the cove, a few miles further than I had last year. I had made it 15 miles on a 36 volt brushless hub motor that cooked, and stank like (insert your own Favorite Burning Death like smell) Black Smoke...

Made it up to the Cove, and went over the wire for a time slip. The Guys gave me a look like way to go Man, only 4.5 hours, and told me to go up, turn to the right, and head over to the table for some food. Nobody was there. My Bike was running Well. I headed up and started to head to the right, but found that I was unable to turn right, and headed back up the road towards the top. I think their might of been some yelling or something behind me, they might be yelling kind words of support? Not sure, my hearing is getting bad these days, anyways, I got back into my rhythm, breathing, pedaling, Motoring, climbing upwards and into the alpine country. Somebody pulled up near me and said something about having to turn around, something about the race director telling everybody to turn around now...I said I was sorry, but I can't do that. The race ends at 2 pm, and I am going to make it by 1:15 at 7 miles per hour...He drifted off back and down the hill, and it was quite again. I felt great, and agreed that if they stopped a vehicle in front of me, I would stop. But for now, "I know we can make it if we try" was the tune I was a singing as I started passing road riders.

These guys had started at 8, and were now going around 1 or two miles an hour, most were walking in this slow-mo kind of Walking on the Moon thing they were up to. I don't get it. I just blew by them like they were standing still. Sometimes I would push it into the 750 watt area, but most of the ride I just rode at around 500-600 watts. I used 1150 watt hours of energy in 2.75 hours to go 30 miles. I had gone back and forth a little at the bottom of the hill, trying to get it together...
The Top was surrounded by dark clouds, the wind was breezy, not too bad, but the sprinkles and the lighting was a little scary. Got my photo taken at 1:15 on the top, and headed to the building for some food, water, and my rain gear. It was fun to look around, and see the surrounding mountains. We made it without rain, and the clouds were clearing.

So I headed down the hill with my two front brakes, and my rear disconnected as to keep the rubber on the rim. I took My time, snapped a few shots, and let it roll a few times. Made it most of the way, when I lost a front tube. Popped and lost air really fast. I dropped my crotch to the top tube, and skied my feet into my best self arresting slide I could do. Stopped ok in about a moment or two. Walked a couple of miles to the Toll Booth. Got a 700 c tube, into the 26 inch tire, and pumped for all it was worth, before heading out on the highway with police escort. Made it a couple of miles before it blew out again, everyone kept going. Walked for a few miles, then a nice Mountain Biker lady stopped, and hooked my up with a new tube, and a floor pump. I told her I would pass it on.

Made it back into town around 4, to meet up with Steve, His Wife Rachel, and my Partner Elana. My own little Personal cheering crowd. Life is good. Thanks Soo much to Elana and Rachel who helped me out a bunch as I got started up the hill.
With enough sheer determination, you can achieve anything you put your head to.

So, More Stats to Follow, as I record them off of my Cycle Analyst photos...
Possibly a U tube of the wild ride Start, showing the dangers of uncontrollable power, and some photos.

Peace, Josh K.


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Sounds like it's time to go to motorcycle tires and tube Josh. :) Bicycle stuff really is very poor for ebikes.

This lady that rear ended you, it's nothing to do with the power being uncontrollable, just that any measly amount of power is uncontrollable with an incompetent enough rider behind the wheel.
Congrats Josh on completing the race.

It sure sounds like it was the race of a lifetime. You are a hero for completing such an arduous and challenging race.

I can't wait to see your videos and photos.


Way to persevere! Thanks for sharing the story of your Pikes Peak climb. At least now we know how Optibike won.
What a story. Too bad the opti guys brough pedal bikers with no practice on an ebike. Well, one anyway.
There's something for future riders to consider. Pack a couple good tubes and a pump. You'll either be way ahead of or way behind any support.

At the power you were running there was no particular reason for you to flat so much, other than it always happens in a race.
Good to here from ebikers other than Opti. Hopefully we will see more ebikers making a run next year. Thanks for the detailed report. Surprised no other commercial ebike company tried out. Looks like Opti is determined to own this by the number of entrees they put out. Great free advertising and bragging rights.
Optibike earned it guys. Don't discredit what they did, it's fantastic. They came prepared and they delivered. My hat's off to them.

However, I would love to crush them next year. :) The Optibike I rode of some guy here (REMF, was it your bike?) was the slowest and weakest ebike I've ever thrown a leg over. All it takes is somebody with a solid setup to give it a shot and the record will be smashed. For now though, my respect goes to Optibike for making a good working product, bringing it, and dominating.
Great story - Reminds me of the saying that goes - Doesn't matter whether you win or loose - matters that you played the game! Too bad for all the flats - I thought I had it licked this summer with kevlar and puncture proof tires = the glass still got thru! Finally got a decent tread and carry a pump. Hope you can show em your stuff next year...
liveforphysics said:
Optibike earned it guys. Don't discredit what they did, it's fantastic. They came prepared and they delivered. My hat's off to them.

True, but I still would have loved to crush them with my almost 3 year old cargo bike/school taxi with none of that cheating pedaling stuff either. :mrgreen: Oh BTW, now that I'm going back to the factory controller to free up my 24fet controller, excluding my DIY battery packs, my work horse ride cost a total of under $350 including shipping and taxes from China for the motor rim and controller. Sorry fellas no deals anymore like I got in '08, especially for a bike that bumps up against 60mph on 74V nominal hauling a 250lb lardass.
My impression was that the pikes peak model optibike is not bad at all. Even if it is slower that bikes some of us have, it sounds like the ones they brought to the race do go fast. They are the clear winner this year.

Cool to hear what some ordinary hubmotors could do too. Sounds like my commuter with a big enough pingbattery would at least make it to the top.
results from 2010

*- Kyle Hale 27 M 24:00.f 01:12.1 1:46:59
* – Jim Turner 54 M 24:00.f NO 1:46:59
Popouski Leroy 35 M 37:21.f 01:28.6 2:17:33
Jayson Middlemiss 39 M 24:00.f 01:34.3 2:28:20
Jonathan DeLacey 42 M 27:36.f 01:38.4 2:33:54


In August last year, the inaugural Assault on the Peak was held at Pikes
Peak, CO. It's a USA Cycling sanctioned Fun Ride open to all cyclists 18 &
over who want to climb the famous mountain climb. The 2010 event was a 19
mile route climbing 6,615 vertical feet to the summit and it was Kyle & Jim
from Optibike who led the way in the electric assist section from start to
finish at the top. Their time was 1:46:59, an average speed of 10.65 mph. A
Kahlkoff Pro Connect Sport finished in 2:17:33. Average grade for the climb
is 6.7%, maximum 10.5%.

This year, the event will cover will start in Manitou Springs and cover 49
miles - a 24.5 mile climb to the summit followed by the return descent,
climbing over 7,700 feet in total. The difference will be the descent. Or
maybe not. From the event's FAQ, "Riders who descend the mountain on their
bike will be required to follow all posted speed limits. US Forest Service
rangers and/or police may be present and any participants who fail to abide
by traffic laws and safety procedures run the risk of being ticketed and/or
banned from future events." So unfortunately it's just a race to the top and
it's unlikely that bikes like Stealth, Grace or eSpire could participate,
unless limited to road-legal power, like a Ferrari running on 4 cylinders.
But for other e-bike manufacturers and builders, can't you feel the slap of
Kyle, Craig and Jim's riding gloves on your face? Wouldn't you love the
opportunity of showing those Opti guys your dust trail? The King of the
Mountain gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down. The question is,
who's game to pick it up and throw it back?


1100 Watts continuous accross discharge!
48V - geared accordingly.
Rohloff 14 speed hub - 500+% range, not chain clang.
875Whr + aux pack 749whr= 1624 total
All at 60 lbs+ 10 aux.
top speed 35 mph
Torque high via the gearing, but will drop off at higher gears. Max
current is still around 23A Steady state (I think), vs 30A+ for hubs.
Therefore more efficient too.
Low center of gravity, full suspension, superb handling.
Full disk brakes.
2011 results


1 John Sagebiel 47 M Reno NV 15:48 47:43 1:06:40 162 E-Bike

2 Jamie Johnson 44 M San Francisco CA 15:48 48:30 1:10:36 82 E-Bike

3 Kyle Hale 28 M Boulder CO 53:44 1:14:19 59 E-Bike

4 Craig Taber 33 M Boulder CO 15:49 51:54 1:14:38 178 E-Bike

5 Traci Brown 37 F Boulder CO 15:50 51:51 1:21:04 204 E-Bike

6 Jim Turner 46 M Boulder CO 15:47 49:57 1:21:10 184 E-Bike

7 Garrett Owens 27 M Boulder CO 13:41 58:37 1:26:06 247 E-Bike

8 J J Clark 39 M Colo Spgs CO 26:59 1:34:25 2:25:17 29

9 Jayson Middlemiss 40 M Colo Spgs CO 1:38:23 2:27:42 128

10 Jonathan Bearden 31 M Colo Spgs CO 1:38:23 2:31:23 239

11 Nick St÷PLER 99 M NE 1:38:23 2:34:43 228

12 Dale Lembke 51 M Parker CO 1:45:18 2:35:05 107

You remind me of the Cutters in the movie "Breaking Away!" :)

Hey Folks,

Thank you so much for the kind comments!'

The dual front brakes are simply a disc brake, and a V brake, on the Front Fork, with two brake levers. It worked well,
as both were one or two finger action brakes. Glad I did it, For Sure.

E Braking Away! Or E Cutters! Yeah, I hear ya. Kinda tough breaks to play the underdog...But it's fun, and one of these
days, we will hand it to them on a silver platter...Almost slapped some pedals on my Zero Motorcycle to mess with em. Sigh.

Yeah, I broke the rules, and did not stop at the Cove, when I passed through 20 min late. Couldn't stop at that point though.

But I know my times, 10:30 Start, and 1:15 at the top. I am trying to get access to the time stamp on the photo for proof.
They could have posted my times, but I can understand their reasoning. Hopefully, they will let me in next year...

For us, We are happy with our new Pedal Puller design, gearbox, and temps during the ride. the system worked well, and
we know that we can run a little higher current next year. For me, I like to follow the rules, laid out by the DOT that defines E bikes as one hp, and 20 miles an hour on motor alone. So I know we are dealing with Punks who do not care to
follow the rules. Kinda hard to compete in a 49cc race when punks show up with 500 cc bikes, You know?
I ran my bike at 500-600 watts, continuous duty, and Zipped past many unassisted riders. For me, I want to show folks
what they can do, with a 750 watt system.


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Here are a couple of shots, one from last year, and This years line up...

Chuck from Pete's E bikes in Boulder is on his Kalkauf. Yellow jersey last year, and Plad in the line up this year.
Steve from Small Planet was on the Swiss Flyer last year, and the Strommer this year. Blue and red, and white n Black jersey.
And I was on my green cargo Cruiser last year, and the Yuba this year. White jersey.
Seems Optibike sure has a great team coming together for E bike racing...Nice to see.

For me, I am just so thankful to be a part of these pioneering days. I want to see E bike racing grow up and into a real sport.
I see classes of racers, classes of E bikes, and Meters to regulate and report Fuel Use.

We are starting preparations for next years event!

Josh K.


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For me, I like to follow the rules, laid out by the DOT that defines E bikes as one hp, and 20 miles an hour on motor alone. So I know we are dealing with Punks who do not care to follow the rules.

As far as I know, we did follow the rules...we showed up and made it to the top as best we could. Next year, we completely support "classes" of E-rides such as "DOT legal, offroad, etc, but as far as 2011 was concerned, there were no such rules to follow. If that makes us punks in your eyes, that sounds a little lame.

There were lots of folks in this very forum who were "going to" show up with a homebrew system of god knows how much power- what then? Are they punks too?

If you don't like the system, change it- but don't just whine about the results of the current system.

Craig Taber
Oh, and for the record- I, for one, did not have a thread of lycra on. :)

just sayin.

Craig Taber

Your being an ebike company with 7 riders outfitted with >$10K bikes with the latest technology does give you a bit of an advantage over one guy with a home-brew motor on a cargo bike! Don't forget that one of your riders ran into him as well! It would be better if you'd come on and been magnanimous about winning rather than complaining about a finisher whining. :shock:

He persevered on and could have easily stopped and headed home but he didn't. I admire his incredible persistence and fortitude.

I agree with you- as soon as I descended and found out what had happened, I immediately sought out Josh's partner to apologize on behalf of the team for the accident. I have known Josh since 2006, and certainly did not want any had feelings and the whole team felt horrible about what happened, but it was an accident. Pro-cyclists miss clipping in all the time, its part of the sport.

I had to leave before I saw Josh again on race day, but I called his shop that night and emailed the same day to apologize and to have a conversation about what had happened. In the end, shit happens, but I did not want it to cloud the big picture here- so I reached out until I reached him- we finally talked last night.

The point of my post was to discourage being called a "punk" because Josh CHOSE to follow the federal guideline for E-bikes while on a closed course with no rules and we chose to show up to set a new record on a kick ass bike (as promised).

Just before the race, I approached Josh to include him on a conversation I had with the race organizer about regulating the E-bike portion of the event- and I wanted Josh to be involved in that conversation because of his long time advocacy for E-bikes. We have every intention of following the rules when there are rules.

I also appreciate Josh's perseverance, and appreciate his contributions to E-bike events over the years. We met at an e-bike race in 2006 in NY, when Optibike was still working out of a small garage in Boulder. I have the utmost respect for up and coming E-bike entrepreneurs- being one myself. I just want to keep it civil and respectful, thats all.

Craig Taber