E-bikes are an extremely fast-growing segment of the bicycle market and with good reason. The pedaling assistance coming from a strong motor and capable battery opens all sorts of possibilities. Even people who thought their bike riding days were long gone and finding they can once again enjoy biking for pleasure, sport, and commuting.
This rather amazing popularity is confirmed by sales. Since March of last year, mountain bike sales have grown by 60%. Total sales in the US last year reached $1,464,000,000. And in excess of 47,000 bikes are being sold every day. Electric mountain bikes are claiming their share of the bike industry growth.
Exactly what is an Electric Mountain Bike?
You have probably seen a few mountain bikes or at least heard of them. Are EMTBs just conventional electric bikes by another name? No, definitely not. Mountain bikes have a few identifying characteristics.
In general, EMTBs are "tougher" than other bikes. They are built to handle the stresses of off-road riding, whether on grassy fields, forest pathways, gravel roads, or mountain trails. At the same time, electric mountain bikes must be manufactured to meet rigid specifications that allow the bike frame to handle the stress and extra weight of a powerful motor and long-range battery.
Rugged and Capable
When you want to ride off the pavement, you naturally should expect to encounter higher impact conditions. Terrain that includes gravel, large rocks, dips, holes, tree roots, sand, etc. makes a tougher bike very desirable. EMTBs have the capability of taking you safely into these types of terrain.
Most likely, you will want an electric mountain bike that is equipped with fat tires of at least 20" in size. A good 4" wide fat tire goes a long way toward helping your EMTB absorb those high-impact bumps -- not to mention your personal comfort while riding the trails. You'll also be looking for good rear suspension. The more high-impact and technical the trails you prefer to ride, the better your suspension needs to be. You'll definitely want high-quality front forks, and excellent rear suspension as well.
Quality Components are a "Must"
The "component" category of an EMTB comprises everything that is not strictly frame-related. Because an EMTB is expected to encounter stresses that are beyond other bikes, the components must be more durable than those installed on conventional bikes. Let's take a quick look at some of these components...
Motor and Battery
Obviously, an electric mountain bike must have a motor. A powerful motor gives a huge advantage to EMTBs as they tackle the challenges of off-road riding. You'll want to check for things like nominal and peak wattage, torque, durability, and motor noise. Motor location is also a factor for serious mountain trail riding. A mid-drive motor located at the crank provides better bike balance than a hub motor located on the wheel.
A good EMTB gives you the advantage of the ability to ride in remote off-road locations. These are not places where you want to get stranded without power. Thus, the provision of a high-voltage long-range battery is key. Don't settle for a motor/battery combination that is unlikely to get you back home.
All bikes have a front fork. After all, something has to be present for holding the bike wheel in place, and that's the job of the front fork. Front forks can be made either rigid or with suspension. Electric mountain bikes definitely need front fork suspension to help smooth the bumps and allow you to ride faster. Again, high quality is important for off-road riding.
Wheel and Tires
Here's another obvious place where quality is important. Your safety depends on reliable wheels and tires because that's where the rubber meets the road. Or in this case, it's the point of contact with potholes, serious bumps, loose gravel, mud, snow, sand, washboarded gravel roads, erc.
For this type of riding, the tire size on your EMTB makes a difference. Most riders will want at least a 26" fat tire. In terms of quality and reliability, it is probably best to stick with brand-name tires and wheels.
Brakes for Hard Stopping
EMTBs are strong and powerful. The same should be true of your brakes--it's a very significant safety factor. You'll encounter difficulties such as sudden turns and steep downhill runs. Powerful brakes that can bring your EMTB to a quick stop are definitely a must-have. Be sure that any electric mountain bike you consider purchasing is equipped with brand-name hydraulic disk brakes. Your life and limbs may depend upon it!
Safety is Job One
Regardless of how much experience you may have with mountain biking, safety is always a priority. If you are new to electric bikes for adults, safety is even more important. First, never -- that's right, never -- never ride without wearing a helmet and gloves. This is even more important when riding off-road.
Purchasing a bike helmet is not the place to go cheap. But neither do you have to get the most expensive head protection. Consider a helmet moderately priced (middle of the price range) and made by a reputable company.
Be Sensible about Speed
Not too fast and not too slow -- that is the recipe for successful riding with your EMTB on difficult trails. Certainly, high speed is dangerous, but be aware that it is also important to maintain momentum. Don't spend too much time riding your rbrakes. As when riding any bike, if your speed drops too much, you will lose your balance and hit the dirt.
If you get into a situation where you must reduce speed immediately, apply your rear brake (right hand) first, using your front brake (left hand) as little as possible. This will help you avoid crashing due to a viciously sliding front tire. If you must skid a tire, it's best that it be your rear tire.
Use the Gears to Your Advantage
Practice shifting (a lot!) before you do any serious trail riding with your electric mountain bike. Always try to ride "ahead of yourself." In other words, ride defensively by constantly looking ahead and anticipating the gear that will be best. In this way, you can shift right on time and be ready for that sudden incline or drop in altitude.
What's so Great About Mountain Biking?
Riding a good EMTB can bring you experiences and pleasures that just are not possible...at least not safely...on conventional bikes.
A Workout for Health
Riding any type of bike can improve your health. It can benefit you in many ways, making you stronger and more flexible, as well as improving your mood. The physical effort of pedaling strengthens large muscles such as your glutes and quadriceps. It also benefits the many small muscles that supports your joints and helps you balance.
And remember, it's not all about the legs. Yes, your legs are the primary power providers, but your arms, back, and core also benefit from riding. Balancing and steering are still exercised! If you are interested in getting fitness on ebikes, I am sure this blog can help you.
Lose the Traffic
Tired of cars whizzing by you at high speeds? Are you sick of breathing fumes from gas and diesel engines? Weary of all the road noise? It might be time for you to get a quality EMTB and head off-road.
Sometimes you just need to "get away from it all" and enjoy a little quietness and scenic beauty. A good electric mountain bike can be just what you need. There are endless possibilities, maybe just you alone, or maybe you and a friend or your family.
Better Memory and Quicker Reflexes
Yes, it's true -- EMTB riding can be a big plus in unexpected ways. More and more research is being done in this area, and it seems that mountain biking can help much more than your heart and legs.
Many people are concerned about diminished memory capabilities, both for right now and for what could come in future years. That's another good reason to get on an EMTB. Certain parts of the brain are stimulated by cycling, even to the point of manufacturing new supplies of brain cells. If you can begin improving memory by biking, that's a very nice perk!
All mountain bike riding requires alert attention to road conditions, changes in terrain, sudden twists and turns, etc. All these things involve your reflexes, as your body is required to act quickly in self-preservation. Further, the improvement in reflexes can "bleed over" into other areas of daily living, such as driving a vehicle.
EMTBs are for Everyone
Many electric mountain bikes are suitable for multipurpose use. You might, for example, enjoy a remote forest train on the weekend. Then on Monday, you could be loving the fun and economy of commuting to work on your EMTB. You might even decide to take an off-road shortcut on your way home that evening!
Regardless of age or your current level of fitness, electric mountain bikes are a possibility for most folks. Sure, you'll need to exercise a little common sense about where you ride, how fast, and how long you ride. But all those things are easily manageable, and there could certainly be an EMTB in your future!
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