Electric mountain biking the newest extreme sport?

by Allison Reilly

Electric bikes are progressing from a commuter vehicle to a recreational one, as the sport of electric mountain biking becomes more popular in the United States, and around the world.

“[The bikes] cross barriers between the older and younger generations,” said Darin Brin, Managing Director of Stealth Electric Bikes USA. “They are brand new in the US.”

Stealth Electric Bikes USA is a distributor for Stealth Electric Bikes, based in Australia. So far, there are only two models of electric mountain bikes: the Bomber and the Fighter. Both models have a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour (or about 50 miles per hour) without the noise and vibration that comes with a gas-powered mountain bike. The motors can also be switched on and off, so users can still pedal as if on a standard bicycle.

“It’s a natural progression [for the mountain bike],” Brin said. “It’s a cross between a bike and a motorcycle.”
Pete Prebus, who’s been mountain biking for over 20 years and is the president of ElectricBikeReport.com, is keeping a close eye on this emerging trend.

Residing in Sedona, Arizona, Prebus has noticed their increased popularity in the trails and said that he’s both excited and concerned about the prospect of electric mountain bikes.

“They’re lightweight, and can be used in even more remote places,” Prebus said. “But I’m concerned that there may be another point of friction for traditional mountain bikers.”

John Adamo, owner of Plugbike.com and a Chicago resident, echoed that same sentiment. He said that traditional mountain bike riders often refer to the electric bikes as “cheating”, although Adamo disagrees.

“[Electric bikes] are their own genre of two-wheeled transportation.”

Adamo also said that the higher speeds of the electric mountain bikes could lead to more erosion and more crashes, causing hikers, equestrians and landowners to complain.

“The way they’re used could cause problems,” he said. “But, I also see opportunities in areas where no one is riding.”

Although the bikes have yet to be used in any tournaments, Prebus said all it would take would be a few sponsors to see their use in traditional mountain biking competitions, or even e-bike specific tournaments.

“[The bikes] are gaining a lot of traction,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll see events coming up.”

Darin Brin of Stealth Electric Bikes USA is aware of the future potential of electric mountain bikes as well. The company is taking advantage of every opportunity to introduce the brand, such as Interbike in September, the largest bicycle trade show in North America.

“We’re looking forward to the introducing of other models, “ Brin said. “Our engineers are working to keep them at their latest and greatest.”

If considering an electric mountain bike, then Prebus’ guide to the different models (including the Bomber and the Fighter) will provide valuable insight.

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