Now Monkeyspoon.com is 11 years old and it’s main riders are around 30, the unthinkable has happened: we’ve started riding uphill, and what’s more on one of the most popular mountain biking descents in the Peak District!
With James running Bike Garage and Shane Peak ebikes, we had the chance to play with the latest full suspension electric mountain bikes from Trek and Haibike. And what better place to try them out than our old proving ground, Hope Cross (aka The Beast).
A couple of notes on the technology. It only puts in power when you peddle, so it’s not like a motorbike. The assistance reduces and stops as you go above 15mph and you realise you’re not superhuman after all. All that high technology adds a fair bit of weight to the bike (and that’s unlikely to change any time soon), so on the flat when you’re going faster than 15mph (or if your battery were to run out) you have a lot of bike to pedal.
James’ Thoughts – Riding the Trek Powerfly FS 8 LT
“So I like ebikes, but probably not for the reasons you might at first think. Often they are dismissed as a way of cheating, getting an advantage of your fellow rider. If that’s your game then yes you could quite easily use them to set the fastest KOM’s (King of the Mountain) on strava or equivalent. But for most people their real intended use is to allow you to ride further, take in more interesting routes, challenge yourself. Rather than being limited, because you know there is that hill. Effectively to give you the same freedom that as a cyclist we all enjoy.
With that said your probably wondering what that has to do with the challenge at hand. Climbing the beast, well our logic was if you can climb this route (spoiler alert: you can) then think of all the possibilities. I was riding the Powerfly FS 8 LT, which in case your wondering FS is Full Suspension and LT stands for Long Travel. 150mm front and rear so you can enjoy the downs as much as the climbs. This model and other LT models also feature plus size wheels. The tyre width of 2.8 inch provided a really big benefit on this rocky climb, with Bontrager staying away from fitting a super knobby tyre and have gone for the chupacabra. Which provides good grip without compromising the rolling resistance on less technical trails. Where this bike really excels for me is when you get it going downhill, it feels super planted and very confidence inspiring to ride.”
Jeff’s Thoughts – Riding the Trek Powerfly FS 7
“It was very impressive technology, the assistance of the motor was useful when tired (or lazy). Getting to the point where I’d normally give up and push (which is often), and being able to wack it up to full power and peddle with easy was great. But on technical climbing, like on Hope Cross, it was quite different for normal climbing. The assistance gives the feeling that gravity or the steepness has greatly reduced, until you lose rear wheel grip, can’t get power into the pedals, or your front wheel won’t go up a rock, then you quickly stop. The easy of pedalling and speed from the assistance gives a false sense of momentum. For those concerned that eBikes make mountain biking too easy or might take the skill out of technical climbs, they didn’t in our test. I performed about half as well on this climb as the other two (I gave up three quarters of the way the first straight), so about the same ratio to how well they do when we’re on normal bikes. Climbing Hope Cross remains a hard challenge.”
Shane riding the Haibike SDURO AllMtn Plus