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Interview: What Kind of People E-Bikers Really Are?

By Adam Marsal

Do you consider e-bikers to be lazy fellows? Are you entitled to think that the guys who are overtaking you almost effortlessly are giving out way less energy than you are? We simply made an interview with an average e-MTB user. He’s not your average Joe, though. Apart from being an e-biker, Libor Hlisnikovsky (36) from Prague is a senior motorsport journalist, an excellent driver, and a Rally Monte Carlo ex-participant.

Libor, can you tell us what brought you to e-mountain biking?

My decision to buy an e-bike was made simply because I haven’t cycled since I got the driving license some eighteen years ago. Also, I have to admit that I’ve chosen this option because of the fact that my laziness slightly prevailed over my overall fitness back then. Another reason was that I got the opportunity to spend a great weekend with a test e-MTB and I really loved it at first sight.

Would you introduce your e-MTB to us? Why did you buy this particular model?

As a non-biker, I didn’t know much about pros and cons or technical differences of various bike brands. I simply chose a full suspension bike made by a highly recognized KTM company from Austria, which is well known as a high-end motorbike manufacturer. The price tag was around 3300 EUR, which I considered matching to the quality of the bike and its components. My bike is called eLycan and I have it in large size with 27,5” wheels. I was told by a friend to buy a model powered by an in-the-hub Bionix motor drive, so I can use all the normal gearing that one would expect on a 120-millimeter-travel dual-suspension mountain bike. The motor by Panasonic has an ability to recuperate energy, so I’m recharging the battery every time I’m descending and I also spare the brake pads and discs this way. I’m more than happy with the Rock Shox front and rear suspension that makes my riding a lot more comfortable.

Where do you ride mostly?

My favourite region is in Jeseniky mountains, in North Moravia, where I come from. I really love descents from Praded (1492 m) and Serak (1309 m) mountains. In the beginning, I spent about one hour riding per day which meant a journey of about 20 kilometres. With more experiences gained, I was able to ride longer portions, however, my daily maximum was 95 km that I made at the flat trails around Prague.

How much is your riding freedom limited by the need of recharging?

Actually, I can’t see many differences between riding a conventional and an electric bike. The biggest difference, though, is the higher weight of my e-bike, which is nearly 22 kilograms. It’s an older generation with a non-integrated battery, so it can be easily distinguished from a normal bike. In the future, I’d like to get a more modern type in a similar price range where the battery pack is better incorporated into the frame. I’ve never had a problem with recharging as I normally leave the bike connected overnight. Although, under really hard conditions and in the steep mountains, the riding range shrinks to about 50 km, whereas in the flat areas while using the Eco mode, the battery is supposed to work efficiently for approximately 120 kilometres.

Do some people make fun of you because of you’re riding an e-bike?

Of course, I faced mockery a couple of times, however, this was always coming from superficial people without deeper knowledge of mountain biking. Even on the e-bike, you have to pedal and you can only adjust the level of motor assistance. You can either use the total support mode, which, obviously, makes the ride super easy, or you set the Eco mode for light support. I prefer to ride with the minimum assistance mode and, as I’ve observed from my point of view, my performance is not much worse when compared to the cyclists using ultralight carbon road bikes with thin tires, which weight less than one-third of my e-MTB. The other thing is that no true cyclist has ever made fun of me just because I was using an e-bike. I leave other people doing what they like and I expect the same from them.