The End of Mountain Biking as We Know It?


It’s going to be the next big thing“, Gary Fisher, known in the industry as the inventor of the mountain bike, recently told American market players. The subject of the Californian’s statement: mountain bikes with electric motors. Many of the 2016 model year innovations in this segment will be presented at the Eurobike show in the next few days.

Mountain Bikes with electric motors? The mountain bike is dead, long live the mountain bike

A large number of the innovations in the bicycle market that became standard years ago were first introduced in the mountain bike category, with its wide studded tires. But in the case of e-bikes, it was the other way around. Whereas electric drives have been common in trekking and city bikes for several years, where bikes used in sporty off-road situations are concerned, pedal assist from electric motors is just now gaining momentum.

In ten years, there will no more commercial mountain bikes without electric motors“, Marc Faude, manager of the Focus brand for German manufacturer Derby Cycle, recently said. At the Eurobike Media Days in Kirchberg in Tyrol, Focus presented its new model year 2016 Jarifa i29 to press representatives. The bike is based on the Impulse Evo drive system, developed by the manufacturer itself, which, because of its compact dimensions, will also be used for Derby?s urban Kalkhoff brand in the future. At first glance, because the battery is integrated in the down tube, the new Focus model is barely distinguishable from a sleek racing hardtail. Many of the equipment features of the Cloppenburg company’s new e-mountain bike truly are reminiscent of the mountain bike models used in racing.

Other manufacturers can also be proud of their successful integration of drive systems in mountain bikes in the new model year. For its sporty Haibike brand, manufacturer Winora has taken advantage of the opportunity offered by the introduction of Bosch’s new Performance CX drive system to fundamentally redesign its Xduro bike line. The 2016 models from the Schweinfurt-based brand, which is counted as one of the market leaders among e-mountain bike providers, are based on the new drive designed by Bosch especially for use with sports bikes. It offers a higher torque, a 500-Wh battery and other special technical features.

Whereas Haibike has tightly integrated the electric drive into the bike, but otherwise makes no secret of the fact that Xduros are e-bikes, in the case of Rotwild’s new R.X+ FS, you need to take a closer look to recognize that it is an e-bike at all. The e-mountain bike from the Hessian bike maker makes use of the new e-motor from automotive supplier Brose, which, thanks to its compact dimensions, is almost completely concealed by the chain wheel. It is complemented by a battery developed especially for Rotwild that is completely hidden inside the down tube, despite its high 500 Wh capacity.

But it is not only the tight integration of the drive that is drawing attention to Rotwild. The e-mountain bike is based on a new generation of frames from Rotwild that can be equipped with 27.5-inch wheels as well as with the new 27+ format. 27+ stands for a new three-inch tire width that bridges the gap between traditional mountain bike tires and the fatbike format.

E-Bikes of all types are taking off in other European countries, but are still a very small part of the bike market here in the UK. According to Steve Grimwood, of bike shop Elmy’s in Ipswich, price is one barrier, as is the cost of a replacement battery. It remains to be seen whether UK bike riders can be persuaded – particularly if the manufacturers all move in that direction.

Lots of exciting developments for the Eurobike show!


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