January 13, 2017


31.03.2016, by Robin Schmitt

“E-MTBs are just for lazy people and should be banned! You’re just cheating yourself and flooding the trails with wimps.” Seeing as we’ve probably all heard this sort of attitude at one time or another, we thought it was time to finally put an end to these presumptions by employing state-of-the-art technology to determine whether E-MTB riders are cheaters or not.

How many trails can I ride in an hour on a regular mountain bike? And how many in an hour of E-MTBing? Is E-MTBing more or less vigorous compared to regular mountain biking? And does turbo mode always mean turbo mode? There might be some raised eyebrows at certain findings from our investigation, and conventional mountain bikers might want to have a re-think when it comes to certain assumptions. As we’re about to reveal, riding in turbo mode can in fact be harder work than riding a regular mountain bike.

The Technology
Garmin kitted us out with all the crucial stats-collecting kit, we relied on the Vector 2 system to measure wattage. The Vector 2 pedals were the obvious solution for the sake of these comparisons, measuring power from the pedals instead of the cranks. Exclusively using one measuring system has ensured that we have valid and 100% comparable data from a conventional mountain bike (namely the Canyon Spectral) and an E-MTB (the Haibike XDURO NDURO Pro). We used Garmin Connect to analyse the data and filled in more than 2,000 Excel boxes before turning to a specialist in biomechanics to contribute to our data analysis.

The Test Bikes
Two enduro bikes took on the responsibility as test bikes: first up, the Canyon Spectral, an agile bike with performance-focused geometry that’s used by riders at the Enduro World Series. The Haibike XDURO NDURO Pro 2016 stepped up as the aggressive E-MTB. Both bikes were kitted out with the same tyres for the purposes of the test. Given the substantial and incontestable differences in the bikes, we didn’t change any other features. After all, the Canyon Spectral EX tipped the scales at 12.84 kg, while the Haibike was no less than 22.8 kg. We were keen to find out exactly how big the gulf could be between these motorized and nonmotorized bikes.

The Test Team
Two different test riders (one former enduro racer and one amateur) completed the test loop three times in order to collect valid and consistent data.

The Test Route
Where’s the best place to achieve consistent results? Exactly, on the trails that you know as well as the back of your hands. That’s why we chose our home trails next to Stuttgart. The loop was 4.5 km in length, including a range of riding conditions: a steep tarmac climb followed by a steep trail uphill, then a gravel transfer stage and another short climb before the final technical trail descent with jumps, berms, and root gardens. To conclude the loop there was a final road section back to the start. Overall, this was a challenging route that demands a high level of fitness and notably high technical skills for mountain bikers – and definitely requires a skilled and dynamic riding style.

The Test Parameters
But what are the parameters for a comparison like this? Should it depend on the time taken for the loop? Heart rate? Watts? Naturally, none of these parameters would provide a satisfactory analysis on their own, but each one contributes to the reality, which is also impacted by motivation, one’s sense of wellbeing, and riding performance. As a result, we decided to use the defined comfort zone of the experienced test riders as the base data. On an E-MTB ride you’re not riding to your heart rate or your exerted watts – it’s about riding within your comfort zone, which varies depending on the section of the trail. Consequently, the riders rode the course at a pace that they considered doable and consistent without risking mistakes. The collected data and values are confirmation of their consistency.

The E-MTB was ridden in turbo mode. The watts refer to the riders’ exertion on the pedals. Depending on the cadence, the Bosch Performance CX motor supplies up to 300% additional support.

The Test Results and Findings...

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