Letter to the Editor: Commons myths of e-bikes do not factor in important characteristics | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the Editor: Commons myths of e-bikes do not factor in important characteristics

Peter Wessel
Summit County

There are several myths circulating respecting electric mountain bikes, which will be referenced in this letter as e-bikes, that are worth clarifying:

Myth: E-bikes speed downhill on single-track trails faster than non-assisted “analog” mountain bikes.

Fact: E-bikes are heavier, less nimble and therefore not inherently faster downhill where more braking than pedaling is required.

Myth: E-bikes destroy trails more than analog mountain bikes.

Fact: E-bikes tend to have wider tires which disperse pressure per square foot.

Myth: It is a reasonable accommodation that e-bike riders be restricted to riding paved bike paths and trails open to other motorized vehicles such as motorcycles and jeeps.

Fact:  E-bike riders want to ride with their friends on the trails they love. It is not a reasonable accommodation to take this option away. Many of the trails open to motorized vehicles are steeper, deeply rutted from tire slippage or poor drainage, and loud and smelly from exhaust.

Myth: All e-bikes are the same.

Fact: Class 1 e-bike electric motors only operate when the rider is pedaling; it is a very natural assist of normal riding. Class 2 (throttle control) and Class 3 (faster speeds) are generally not encouraged or permitted on natural single-track trail surfaces.

Myth: E-bike riders and hikers clash.

Fact: Clashing is a function of maturity, not the means of propulsion.  E-bike riders are no less likely to stop and yield for other mountain bike riders, pedestrians, and equestrians than analog mountain bike riders.

Myth:  E-bike riders don’t deserve to ride the same trails as analog mountain bike riders because they didn’t “earn” it.

Fact:  E-bike riders regularly participate in trail building and maintenance with land managers, partly because many are retired and have the time.  Categorically excluding e-bikes, especially where analog mountain bikes are already permitted, does not seem justified.

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