While peo­ple tend to hear about pro­fes­sional rid­ers per­form­ing adren­a­line-pump­ing feats, for many peo­ple the sport of moun­tain bik­ing is mostly about get­ting out and en­joy­ing the wilder­ness. With the re­cent de­vel­op­ment of mo­tor-driven, elec­tri­c­as­sist bikes, recre­ational moun­tain bik­ing has be­come more ac­ces­si­ble than ever. While some phys­i­cal fit­ness is still re­quired, sud­denly rid­ers can en­joy the sen­sa­tion of su­per­hu­man strength, tack­ling longer dis­tances and up­hill trails with rel­a­tive ease.

On Cana­dian Wilder­ness Ad­ven­tures’ Great Cana­dian E-Bike Ad­ven­ture tour, vis­i­tors to Whistler can ride the Gi­ant Full-E, a 500-watt, dual-sus­pen­sion E-MTB around a cus­tom-built net­work of trails in the scenic Cal­laghan Val­ley. Guests wind past 1,000-year-old trees to­ward Alexan­der Falls, while pro­fes­sional guides pro­vide help­ful bik­ing tips and share in­for­ma­tion about your sur­round­ings.

As an avid moun­tain biker, I was happy to give the Gi­ant Full-E a test ride my­self. Af­ter eas­ily com­plet­ing a nor­mally chal­leng­ing loop of trails in record­shat­ter­ing time, I im­me­di­ately un­der­stood the ap­peal of elec­tric bikes! The dif­fer­ences be­tween the E-MTB and a reg­u­lar MTB are no­tice­able, but over­all highly em­pow­er­ing and never en­cum­ber­ing.

Here’s what I think first-time rid­ers should know about pedal-as­sist bikes: With no throt­tle, op­er­at­ing th­ese E-bikes is sim­ple. The mo­tor au­to­mat­i­cally starts as­sist­ing when you push the ped­als and stops when you pause. The power kicks in smoothly, so it will never lift up your front wheel or flip you over. E-bikes are equipped with a full range of gears, and you do still have to shift be­tween them as you would on a reg­u­lar moun­tain bike — the pedal as­sist won’t com­pen­sate enough to al­low you spin up steep hills in a far­too-large gear.

While elec­tric bikes are much heav­ier than a typ­i­cal moun­tain bike, the as­sist they pro­vide more than makes up for the dif­fer­ence as you pedal up or along the trail. E-bikes are also equipped with pow­er­ful hy­draulic disc brakes, so a gen­tle squeeze on the brake levers will bring you to a halt.

There are only a few but­tons on the han­dle­bar-mounted con­trol unit. The only func­tions are to turn the mo­tor on/off, switch be­tween power-as­sist lev­els, and turn the dis­play’s back­light on/off. There are three power lev­els, so ca­sual rid­ers can boost the juice while ex­pe­ri­enced bik­ers can pro­vide more of their own out­put.

To sum it up, if you are com­fort­able rid­ing mel­low off-road trails on a nor­mal moun­tain bike, the hard­est part of ad­just­ing to an E-MTB will be keep­ing the silly grin off your face as you ex­pe­ri­ence the em­pow­er­ing boost it pro­vides! Many of CWA’s em­ploy­ees have tested the E-bikes them­selves, and found the ride less stren­u­ous, mak­ing for a whole new feel­ing of fun on the trails. “It made bik­ing re­ally, re­ally fun again … it picks the pace up, (and) makes the whole ex­pe­ri­ence faster and more fun. It takes the hard part out and leaves all the good parts,” says CWA co-owner Al­lan Craw­ford.

The Great Cana­dian E-Bike Ad­ven­ture tour route con­sists of wide dou­ble­track trails that in­clude some rolling hills and gen­tle downhill slopes, but ad­vanced skills are not re­quired. As you still ex­ert some ef­fort on an E-MTB, the tour is best suited to ac­tive in­di­vid­u­als. How­ever, ad­justable-as­sist elec­tric bikes do make it eas­ier for groups of var­ied abil­i­ties to en­joy rid­ing to­gether. Each guide rides with up to five guests, and water, hel­mets, gloves, rid­ing glasses and rain jack­ets are pro­vided as needed.

In­clud­ing round-trip trans­porta­tion from Whistler Vil­lage, Cana­dian Wilder­ness Ad­ven­tures’ E-MTB tours take about three hours to com­plete. As soon as the trails are snow-free (ap­prox­i­mately midto late-June), three tours will de­part each day at 9 a.m., noon and 3:30 p.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit cana­di­an­wilder­ness.com.

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