The annual festival of everything exceedingly Euro and Bike kicked off today in a wet and soggy looking Friedrichshafen. The annual event has become a pilgrimage for anyone from the bike industry and it pulls in thousands of visitors and brands alike. It’s the kind of place where you turn a corner and see a stand bigger “than a Giants” with a load of bikes on it from a brand you have never heard of, at least I haven’t anyway, Wheeler anyone? Check out their electric bike concept…
And it is on that note that I should best carry on, it’s all gone electric, we were wrong to be fearing the end of the 26inch wheeled bike, far from it, it’s the end of being able to go for a bike ride without a battery it would seem. Whether it is suspension management systems, or full-blown electric engine mountain bikes the age of Lithium Ion is upon us!
Just about every brand I saw today had some kind of wire or battery on at least one MTB. Is that a good thing? Should we be embracing this new fangled age of the techno rider, will it sit nicely alongside Strava and the GoPro, which have already infiltrated the woods in a big way?
Personally, I won’t knock it till I have tried it, but I do enjoy the simple life, and I can’t stand cables on bikes as it is. Until I’ve ridden some of these “new” developments (they’ve actually been around since last year, but this year they are everywhere) I’ll reserve judgement. Hell, if it makes you ride faster in greater comfort without over complicating things then I’m all for that!
There are two types of “electrical fault” here though, intelligent suspension systems and electric mountain bikes. The former looks all right, isn’t too obtrusive and promises to make your hours on the bike infinitely more enjoyable. Systems can be seen not just on XC race machines but on full on Enduro rigs too, proving that the brands are really getting behind this.
Arguably the most exciting system is from Magura, it’s wireless for a start, and the Elect Cartridge can be retrofitted to any of their current forks. The system is fully automatic with a 3D accelerometer similar to the one in your phone. If you send it off a jump with the system locked it will sense it and open up the fork. The idea is you get all the benefits of a multi stage fork tune without having to do anything. It stiffens up on the climbs, softens up when you speed up on the trail and opens when the terrain drops away. All in an instant.
You can run Elect on it’s own and let it works it’s magic, or you can have a wireless remote which lets you manually lock out and open the fork. Should you jump off a drop with it locked out, it will open for you before you hit the deck. Clever stuff indeed!
If it is Electric Bikes you are after, then Cube, Lapierre and many others have options for you. Based around a pedal efficiency system using a new Bosch engine the harder you pedal the faster you go. Of course most of us won’t be too bothered about this development, but think of the options for engaging more riders into the sport. Unfit, unhealthy people can benefit, and get fitter, eventually moving onto a non-electric bike. Or you can get a little assist on the ups, in order to hammer it on the downs.
Riding bikes is pretty inclusive, after all riding a bike is just riding a bike, but not everyone is an XC whippet, and plenty of riders join a group ride only to get totally destroyed and dismayed. You also have riders who have jobs and can’t ride as much as they would, their fitness suffers and bikes like these will keep them out on the trails when they might perhaps be put off.
I can’t quite see us all riding these bikes in the future, but then we said the same about disc brakes and suspension! Far more likely the 27.5 revolution will have a greater effect on us than the electric one. On that note it is worth mentioning that 27.5 is definitely here in force, but there are plenty of 26ers and 29ers here, proving that riding a bike is all about choosing what is best for you and the terrain you ride, not what some company or marketing exec wants you to ride to sell more bikes.
As for me, I’m off for a beer and an early night ready for another hectic day tomorrow! And just so you know I’m going to the pub on a 27.5 fully electric hover bike with fat tyres… It’s the future and I’ve just tasted it!
Eurobile Enthusiast! #notatypo