Are eBikes cheating? The (not so) endless debate!

Just the mention of eBikes is enough to get people raging. It’s cheating! It’s just not cycling! Get off the trails! Pedal harder, you slacker! Even with all this backlash, the past few years have seen an explosion in eBike sales. Sales of commuter eBikes, road eBikes and mountain eBikes all booming. There’s gotta be good reason for this, so while in New Zealand I went out and rode one to see what all the fuss was about!

I didn’t ride just any old eBike though. I went straight to the top and hired a Specialized Turbo Levo. That’s a full carbon fibre dual suspension trail dominating mountain eBike! Phwooaar!

Okay, so I actually hired it for my wife, April. She and I rode the cross country trails together for hours, her on the Specialized Levo eBike and me on a regular hardtail mtb. I mostly followed, giving her tips on how to tackle trail features and pick smooth lines. Without the pedal assistance there was no way she would have happily ridden with me for that long.

The ride was gentle, but every time the trail pointed upwards or we hit a more open section of fire road, she was away! She’d be the first to admit she’s no cyclist, but it was impossible to match her acceleration or uphill speed. Each time I’d be laughing out loud at the madness of her pulling away from me up the trail. Here’s a quick demonstration – a short rolling drag race on a slight incline.

That’s me counting down, then hammering as hard as I could (with phone in hand) racing April with her Specialized Levo in the lowest power “eco” mode! It’s a very one sided race.

Then it was my turn to ride it. I put the Levo in high power “boost” mode and pointed it down the trail. HOLY SMOKING ACES, BATMAN!

It was – quite literally – like having a motorbike on the trail. Bat. Sh!t. Cray. Cray. From the first pedal stroke the Levo accelerated away like a demon! Full gas trail slaying? No sweat. Steep rocky climb? Destroyed it. Power wheelies? Bring it! Face first into a tree at top speed? Yeah, almost…

Was it fun? Yes, but also a bit scary just how powerful it was. If you’re racing – then an eBike is MOST DEFINITELY cheating. If you’re sniping Strava KOMs with one – again cheating. With me piloting it – totally cheating myself. It was fun, but not for me in this circumstance. However, if an eBike enables you to enjoy your cycling more, to ride further or for longer with a smile on your face, then as far as I’m concerned it’s no harm no foul. For April, it enabled all those things.

April and I spent an entire morning mountain biking together, we returned the bikes having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. April happy, me happy. This would not have been possible with her on a regular bike. The eBike made that a reality. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for? :-) #happywifehappylife

Enjoy the ride.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. The Omil says:

    I agree – if they get people riding, or riding more, I’m all in favour. But I’m shallow enough not to want them with me on the ‘everesting’ Hall of Fame.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheree says:

    I’d buy one solely to be able to keep up with my hubby.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ericritter65 says:

    In my regular road group riding group, there are 1-2 eBike riders. One is the bike shops wife, she would never ride with this group, as even our easy rides where still too fast and hilly for her; she now rides with us and hubby. She may not ride the full ride, but she’s out there cycling!
    Like you said, if you’re racing, then an eBike is cheating, if you’re using the technology to get out there and ride when you otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t, that’s just bonus for all of us recreational riders!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bgddyjim says:

    And that’s exactly why eBikes are freaking awesome, brother. I’d love a Specialized Creo so I can ride to work (38 miles each way) in the spring, summer and fall. And you ticked all the boxes for the losers who try to KOM with one – I’ve got a buddy who gets all cocky about KOM’s in a fully fared trike… same thing – cheating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Only problem is now I might have to shell out the $$$$ to get one for the Mrs, haha!

      I’ve also considered getting one so I can commute to work more often. I can do it on a regular bike once or twice a week, but it’s too much for me any more than that.

      Like

      1. bgddyjim says:

        You don’t have to get her the full carbon rig either, though. Full sus, probably… yeah, it’s not gonna be cheap. And two is gonna be BIG TIME. Ouch.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. She’s already said it’s full-sus or no deal, haha! We’re similar heights, so maybe we can get just one and share? 😂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. bgddyjim says:

            See, now that’s what I was thinking! First, you’ve obviously got a keeper! She knows her stuff. Second, don’t get her anything in pink (!).

            Like

  5. they level the playing field. Great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I will almost certainly get one at some point simply to extend my cycling longer into my senior years. Rode in Belgium last year and there were loads of seniors out enjoying themselves on ebikes. That’ll be me one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. The technology is going to keep getting better and better too, so they’ll very soon be on par with a regular bike for weight and handling. You’re certainly not slowing down just yet though, Steve! :-)

      Like

  7. eBiker Diary says:

    I hear the word ‘cheating’ often, but always interpret the speaker’s motives as expressing annoyance because their demonstration of riding prowess is threatened by a less able rider who can match or outperform them on an ebike. There is little rational thought in this. Ebikers ride for themselves, not to belittle the hard won street-cred of those on regular bikes. In my case, at 70 I can explore places unimaginable on a regular bike; instead of an hour of exercise I go out for 3-4 hours without worrying about hills I regulate my pedalling load to get the workout I want, and my glutes would make most 30 year olds envious. If you are on the mainland, check out my rides on ebikerdiary.com (hope you dont mind the link tempocyclist). eBikes are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. My wife would have been complaining after an hour if she were on a “regular” bike, but with her on the eBike we rode all morning together and easily could have carried on! Apart from on a tandem, there’s no other way we could have done that. No doubting that eBikes truly are awesome! :-)

      Liked by 1 person

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