E-bikes are a newish thing. The concept and a lot of iterations have existed for a long time. But the ever improving efficiency of batteries has allowed enterprising businesses to push sleek new models to the market like never before. And it is potentially a great thing. Imagine the effect of exchanging all of the mopeds in Bangkok for e-bikes. Less noise, less pollution.
Okay, but I’m not talking about e-bikes that could be used by couriers. I’m talking about a motor assist mechanism added to mountain bikes, ridden on mountain bike trails, to make them more efficient. And here’s my question about that: since when was mountain biking about efficient transportation from point A to B?
When I’m at work, efficiency is the name of the game. But when I’m in pursuit of leisure, my modus operandi changes. I’m done leveraging technology to simplify. Instead, I want to engage the world as it is. I want to encounter nature in all her awesomeness and accept the challenges she issues: cold and rainy days or hot and humid nights, swarming mosquitoes, precipitous cliffs. And yes, long, difficult (and fun) mountain bike trails.
The whole point for me is to sweat, and grunt and dig deep into myself to feel alive. So I’ll be damned before I put a motor between me and my bike’s drive train. If a hill kicks my butt one week, I set goals to eat better, train, focus and go back for a another round – not stick a freaking motor on the bike. I used to get shuttled (a decade ago), but I found that I enjoy the day more when I pedal my way through, event if it means one descent instead of three. I’m no top athlete, but I’ve ridden really long, really satisfying days many, many times without assistance.
As for the fun argument, I bet they are fun. But I bet poaching a flow trail on a golf cart is fun too (probably really fun). It just seems more like gimmicky fun rather than a way to make mountain biking better.
“[The] production of too many useful things produces too large a useless population.”
– Karl Marx, Human Requirements and Division of Labour