THE FASTEST WAY DOWN. IS UP.

Australian Mountain Bike - - Gravity Check - WORDS: CHRIS PANOZZO PHOTO: TIM BARD­S­LEY-SMITH

Full dis­clo­sure: If at any point you are read­ing this and think­ing that surely this isn’t Chris Panozzo’s thoughts, that some­how he might have man­aged to get some­one to ghost write his ar­ti­cle, you’d be wrong. It’s me, and as you’re about to find out, I’m a big E-bike fan.

I’ve been in­vited to test E-bikes be­fore and have po­litely de­clined such vul­gar re­quests. Its taken a long time to get to the point where I get en­joy­ment and sat­is­fac­tion from achiev­ing a dif­fi­cult climb, in­stead of suf­fer­ing through any in­cline so that I could solely en­joy the de­scents. It may not be that well-known, but over the last cou­ple of years I have re­ally taken to rid­ing lots of road with the oc­ca­sional XCO or 3-hour marathon XC race thrown in there for fun. I’ve even raced a cou­ple of cy­clocross rounds, which says a lot about the per­cep­tion I had of E-bikes. I would rather ride a road bike in the mud and rain on the rev lim­iter for an hour in­stead of tak­ing a pedal as­sist bike for a spin.

Re­cently I was stuck in town with a punc­ture and not want­ing to go through the lengthy process of chang­ing out tyre in­serts for tubes away from home. My cousin of­fered me his E-bike so I could con­tinue rid­ing for the af­ter­noon. A 5-kilo­me­tre trip home with a flat, or keep rid­ing for the af­ter­noon on an E-bike? Hello E-bike.

I’ve done more laps around Mount Beauty than most, I know how much speed you can take into things, how long it will take to get from point A to B, you get the pic­ture. It took only sec­onds into the E-bike ride for me to re­alise that this ride would be dif­fer­ent. I would nor­mally be set­tling in for a sus­tained climb, catch­ing my breath so I don’t blow up early on the as­cent. Now, I was sprint­ing into the start of the climb.

It’s easy to think that these bikes are de­signed for those that don’t want t o put any ef­fort in, seek out a fire road to the top and make your way along at a steady 25 kph day dream­ing about that time you took old mate’s Strava KOM. To do that though would be a waste, and to think of E-bikes as an eas­ier method of get­ting to the top is the stereo­type that most of us have been sucked in to be­liev­ing.

For some per­spec­tive, I was out rid­ing with one of the top women in cross-coun­try rac­ing in Aus­tralia, no slouch on the climbs, she also hap­pens to be my girl­friend and one of the most com­pet­i­tive peo­ple I have ever met, a dou­ble whammy if there ever was one. By the time she had reached half way on the climb, I had al­ready done a full lap and was about to pass by her on my way for another. That’s more than 400m of climb­ing, and a de­scent down an early 2000s DH track and I was only warm­ing up.

I wasn’t rid­ing a full on En­duro style bike, it only had 150mm travel up front and 140mm out the back, but it de­scended just as well as most big travel bikes on of­fer. In the turns the ex­tra weight was work­ing for me not against me, and my legs felt like they were get­ting worked but weren’t fill­ing with that lac­tic burn­ing feel­ing. I was still get­ting a de­cent car­dio work­out and after ham­mer­ing around at full speed for 40 mins with­out so much as want­ing a break, it seemed hard not to lose fo­cus. I’ve never been able to push on sin­gle­track for that pe­riod of time with­out needing to rest ei­ther the legs or lungs, or seem­ingly both at the same time, and more to the point I don’t think I’ve ever re­ally braked for up­hill turns as much as I did that day!

The thing you have to wrap your head around, and what my cousin pointed out to me (speak­ing with au­thor­ity hav­ing been ranked 4th in the World in DH) is that E-bikes aren’t moun­tain bikes with a small mo­tor to get you to the top, they are their own style of bike. Not a moun­tain bike, not a mo­tor bike. Ride them as such and they are a com­pletely new world of fun, and if I was go­ing to buy a bike in the near fu­ture, one of these would be the top of my list. Ei­ther that or a new Honda.

“You’re go­ing to lose.” “LOL E-bike bruh.”

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