LAGUNA SECA – Competitive electric bike racing presents the sport as a big happy mountain bike family. He added another discipline to a rich activity with athletes already pedaling on different machines on wheels.
About 100 athletes took part in the electric bike race at the Sea Otter Classic in the Laguna Seca Recreation Area on Friday. The hour-long event, organized in a single race, featured men and women, an open division and age group categories and with “wave” starts.
“I think the e-bike competition is where you would push the bike a little further than you normally would,” said Chris Kernaghan of Bulls Bikes USA, the mountain bike and e-mountain bike company created. in 1994 in Cologne, Germany. . ” It’s light. No one is going to “die” after a first place or a podium.
While electric mountain bike competitions have grown internationally in recent years, including a few professionals on the circuit in Europe, the Bulls arrived in the United States in 2015 and made their debut at the Sea Otter Classic.
Along with Bosch, Bulls (an event sponsor) and other e-bike companies participated in the Sea Otter Classic Show.
“It’s just time to try a bike, push it to its limits, figure out how it performs and see where the pros and cons could be,” Kernaghan said. “It’s a great opportunity to get on the bike and try it out for a real ride, not just on a demo track.”
With the help of electric motors, electric bikes reach a maximum of 20 miles per hour with assistance at different levels, from eco to turbo. Electric bikes range from around $ 3,000 to over $ 10,000. Charges range from around two hours to dual battery bikes which can hold a charge for around 150 miles.
“You’ll get a little bit of resistance when you overtake (20 mph),” Kernaghan said. “You won’t see the pros going much faster in the sprints. You see them like in real life (normal bikes), but flying a little faster uphill and a little faster on the technical sections. It’s basically like a candy store. You’re just having fun, chasing as much as you can.
According to Rick Hoak, global sales manager, Bosch introduced e-bike racing to the Sea Otter Classic a few years ago, a few years after some races started in Europe.
While retaining its original status as a “fun bonding and camaraderie event”, a few athletes are now making a living on e-bikes.
A competitive electric bike class recently took place as part of the Enduro World Series event in Scotland. Former world titlists and other top athletes took part.
“I followed the event on the internet and some of the pro runners said it was one of the most enjoyable, the hardest and really added a whole different element to their racing season.”
Mike Ahern, owner of Current eBikes in Santa Cruz, was visiting the Sea Otter Classic. He sees the increase in popularity of electric bikes as another progression of the sport.
“I just think you own an electric bike and you say I’m going to participate in it,” Ahern said. “E-bikes started with guys our age (seniors), so to speak and with a downward trend. Many young people choose to buy them. They are just a lot of fun.
“And so, hey, you spent $ 5,000 or $ 10,000 on a really nice bike and you want to run. You’re still struggling with aerobics. I mean the guys who win those races are still basically the ones. people who have aerobic conditioning Motor helps you But to beat the guy next to you you just have to pedal harder.