How not to be an E-Bike Hater

First visual contact with the e-bike

I remember it very well, it was a few years ago in my active Transalp leadership time when I had once again climbed the Chochoner Pass on the well-known Heckmair route pushing. As usual, I had some time and squatted in the sun on the top of the pass until all the guests arrived. During this well deserved break I spotted a biker coming up from the Livigno side. Pretty fit these Swiss I thought to myself as he rapidly approached. On the last meters, however, it seemed a bit strange to me. The cyclist looked nothing like the classic over-fit emaciated marathoner in Lycra. The athlethic stature one looked for in vain, saw instead a mid-forty-year-old family man dressed in long jeans, porno glasses and open shirt that fluttered in the wind when pedaling. Uphill, mind you. The bike was also anything but a carbon racing file and purely visually I classified it times in the category Inntalradweg trekking bike. My only thought at that moment:

What the F*** – I’m in the wrong movie.

A few years passed, the e-bikes became more, but were not yet really present. They had their niche: rental bikes in hotels, bikes for pensioners who no longer have enough condition for the mountains, etc…. So uninteresting for the sporty mountain biker like me, who was all summer on Transalps on the road, tried on every climb to beat their own times and at night was busy googling new parts to tickle the last out of the weight of their own bike. So what should I do with such a 25kg box with which you can ride gravel roads easy uphill, but at the same time lowers the driving fun downhill to an underground level?


…the day X had to come, and it did. My first e-bike tour. I must admit it was not a bike tour, but an ice climbing tour in the Pinnistal, but that does not change the fact that I found my transport device pretty awesome. The emphasis here is on transport! E-bikes are super for approaches to climbing or mountaineering, but are certainly no fun on the trail! Or is it? In my circle of acquaintances, 4 camps crystallized on this topic:

  • The clear e-bike haters: This group has mostly never sat on an e-bike, but they know all about it and can’t stand the people who now cycle in mountains without having trained doggedly for it beforehand.

  • The e-bike as the dark side of power: mountain bikers, who often have an e-bike, or at least know about it, but use it exclusively as a transport device. Why? Some are afraid it might be fun and others want to stay true to their biking line and stick to pure mountain biking.

  • E-bike as an additional fun and sports device: mountain bikers who have recognized the potential of the e-bike and know how to use it for themselves, without a guilty conscience and with all the advantages and disadvantages.

  • The e-bike missionaries: There is nothing else for them and they want to convince the whole world that e-bikes are the real thing.

Personally, I see myself in the third group. I must say
E-biking is fun and e-biking is sport
. Depending on how you run it, of course. Just cycling up to a mountain pasture, drinking three glasses of apple juice and rolling back down probably has about the same calorie consumption as walking along the Inn.

From a sporting perspective, I see two primary applications for the E-MTB:

One is the classic basic endurance training: Gone are the hours of biking on the flat just to stay in the optimal heart rate zone. Thanks to adjustable motor assistance, you can now bike up even steeper climbs at the individually optimal training pulse. This makes basic endurance training much more varied and attractive.

The second application is a kind of full-body workout, and that is riding uphill and trialing single trails. Compared to the unmotorized MTB, this clearly lacks the continuous hard use of power on steep ramps, but the rest of the body is more challenged. The heavy bike is of course a bit more ponderous when lupfen around the curves or work up steps, but still opens up new worlds in terms of uphill. Meanwhile, there is even a difficulty scale for uphill trails. Who still thinks the whole thing is not exhausting, should just go filming with Christoph Malin, then you get a third battery and a 3kg telephoto lens in the backpack. For this then the nice pictures and moving images in this post the Christoph of my Simplon Factory teammates and I made.

“You have to ride e-bikes for a living, that’s why you think it’s good now.”

I often hear this sentence, and here I must clearly disagree. I have quite a bit of privilege due to my job, and that’s why I can choose my work pretty well. Just because a lot of e-bikes are being sold doesn’t mean I have to offer trips for e-bikers. I only write out programs that I am convinced work and are easy to guide. And that’s exactly why this year, for the first time, we are offering pure e-bike events. Here are three examples we are particularly looking forward to:

E-Bike Uphillflowdays

Mont Blanc circumnavigation

E-Enduro Week Tyrol

Of course, a large part of the rest of the program is also possible with e-bikes. Mixed groups work great because the e-bikers can adapt well. For a group of pure electric cyclists, however, you can plan quite differently and make better use of the strengths of the e-bike. Fewer shuttles are needed and you can choose steeper climbs, but you may have to factor in a charging option. As far as guiding itself is concerned, the material makes it a bit more complicated in parts, keep this in mind especially with regard to defects that cannot be fixed on tour. However, the fact that performance differences in the group are better compensated for by the motor, thus minimizing waiting times, has a clearly facilitating effect.

Will the e-mountain bike replace the mountain bike?

It may seem that way in much of the industry right now, but it definitely doesn’t for me. A smart colleague once told me about his boat. Many years ago he bought it to be free, to have the freedom to sail always and everywhere. In the meantime, however, he is considering selling it again. He now also sees it as a burden, it eats money and it eats time, which in turn limits proper freedom. You also have to take care of it when you are not sailing around the world.

The e-bike also offers a new freedom at first glance. Suddenly you don’t need shuttles anymore, three hours of sunlight after work is enough for extended tours, and you don’t have to constantly exercise to stay fit for long rides. All these advantages fit perfectly with our fast-paced society and promise many opportunities in a short time. However, they are bought dearly by the dependence on electricity and a functioning motor. True freedom in the mountains probably looks different for everyone, but in my opinion, the experience value of a classic lonely and strenuous enduro tour is many times higher than an e-bike ride. By depending on electricity and avoiding longer carrying passages, many options are eliminated, more precise planning becomes more important, and an adventurous trip into the blue is rather unlikely.

The e-bike offers more fun in a short time, but the classic 12kg enduro bike offers more freedom and the possible tours a greater experience potential. So I clearly need (or use) both bikes. None will be able to replace the other. Each has its intended use. And please don’t ask me which one I would choose if I could only have one. I don’t know.

See you soon at the trail!



PS: If you have any questions about E-MTB on trails and in the mountains, you can always contact us.