Off-Roading on an E-Bike: Is It Possible?

By Charlotte Murray

Once upon a time, electric bikes were seen as the ‘lazy’ option, ridden only by older folk who had maybe retired and had little desire to push themselves physically. As we now know, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In recent years, electric bikes have grown in popularity both as a sustainable and efficient mode of transport. They are used for leisure and for practical purposes by a huge range of people – retired or not! As technology has advanced, electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, have become more powerful and versatile, increasing their range and the possibilities of where they can go. Of the adventurers amongst us, we’ve often wondered, can you go off-roading on an e-bike?

E-bikes have revolutionised the cycling industry. They allow riders to pedal with minimal effort through the use of an electric motor. Of course, there are varying levels offered by the motor, making it possible to choose the amount of assistance required by a rider depending on the terrain or even just the type of day you’re having. This choice is a game-changer for commuters, those riding for leisure, and even mountain bikers. But the question still looms, to what extent can they handle going off-road?

Whilst not all e-bikes are capable of being ridden off-road, the popularity of electric mountain bikes (e-MTBs) has continued to grow. E-MTBs are specifically engineered to tackle rough terrain; they’re different to your run-of-the-mill mountain bike in a number of ways. They have:

  • Enhanced suspension systems
  • Wider and knobbly tyres for better grip
  • Durable frames capable of withstanding off-road riding
  • Specialised riding modes to provide optimal power delivery during uphill climbs and technical descents.

So, they’re physically capable of riding off-road but how enjoyable is it?

How about going e-bikepacking?

One of the significant advantages of electric mountain bikes is their adaptability. The rider has the freedom to choose between manual pedalling or relying on the electric motor’s assistance. This adaptability allows riders to conserve energy when needed, using full power during those steep ascents or accelerating through flat sections of the trail.

Off-roading on an e-bike opens up a whole new world of possibilities for those who aren’t fans of the hill climbs or want to link up sections of off-road trails. It may entice those who have been previously deterred from the sport by the physical demands of traditional mountain biking.

There are even ‘uphill flow’ trails now that are specifically designed for use with e-MTBs. These are a whole new fun experience. E-bikes can level the playing field, allowing riders of varying fitness levels to enjoy the thrill of off-road adventures together; families can keep up with each other on long days out. It encourages more people into the sport, and to explore nature, engaging in outdoor activities and promotes a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle, which they may have avoided otherwise.

Of course, there are drawbacks. With e-bike batteries weighing some 2-3 kg, the e-MTB isn’t as light as the original manual mountain bike. There’s also the issue of running out of battery. Of course, the human body has its limits but we can train it to go longer and further than a portable battery is currently capable of.

So, can you go off-roading on an e-bike? The answer is: you absolutely can! Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned downhill rider, electric mountain bikes can open up a whole new world. With technological developments enhancing their capabilities, riders can now venture off the beaten path and experience the thrill of the trails on two wheels. E-bikes provide the opportunity to blend effort with electric assist, expanding the boundaries of what’s possible in your biking world.