After a long and fortunate trial-biking career, Stefan Schlie became one of the first professional riders using an e-bike on a daily basis. As a Bosch ambassador, he is now one of the most acclaimed pioneers of the e-MTB world. Should e-bikers share the same trails with regular bikes and what is the benefit of e-bikes in the UCI World Cup series?
Stefan, how did you get involved with e-bikes?
There’s quite a story behind it. Once I met Claus Fleischer who booked a freeride week by Atlantic Cycling La Palma in the Canary Islands. After I heard that he is not only an MTB enthusiast but also the CEO of Bosch eBike Systems, I was keen to try the e-bike myself. Back in Germany, we arranged a ride and it ended with an enormous smile on our faces. This way, the campaign Uphill Flow has been born and in the next step, I became the ‘front man’ of the Bosch company.
What was your first impression of riding the e-bike back then?
With the e-MTB, you get so many new uphill possibilities and you lose almost nothing in the downhills. That’s kind of the reason for the success of the e-MTB. Riding on an e-bike is great as it opens completely new horizons. The motor assistance enables you to discover new regions without using cable cars. It also represents a new way of how you can improve your fitness.
Do you remember what you missed on the very first electric bikes?
I have to admit that all problems were straightened and now, the e-bike seems to be very complete. There is still room for the assistance improvements but that’s why we had invented the e-MTB Mode in Bosch, which I regard as a true milestone regarding e-MTBs. Even though the range still could be longer, we should wait for what comes in the next 10 years.
What do you like about riding e-bikes?
Everything. E-mountain biking is mountain biking 2.0. It’s a sport, fitness, exploring, independence, freedom. There are so many reasons.
How does your average e-training look like?
I don’t have an exact training plan. I just go out and ride. If the riding is too hard, I just change the assistance level. My main purpose is having fun, exploring, scouting, discovering, and creating new uphill riding techniques. All of this is going to be in my book that will be published by Delius Klasing at the end of July.
The UCI included the e-Enduro International Series with four races into its calendar for 2019. What is your opinion on racing bikes with motors?
In my opinion, e-mountain biking might bring Enduro Racing to another level on a condition that they will consider the uphill stages. The most important thing is to keep e-mountain biking away from tuning. I honestly believe that we should not create race formats that would allow any kinds of tuning. We are in the lucky situation that e-MTBs and Pedelecs with the assistance of up to 25 km/h and without a throttle are classified as bicycles. The races that focus only on the speed seem to be dangerous and they have the potential to worsen the image of the entire e-biking. I hope that the UCI will keep tuning under control and won’t let people spoil the sport with it.
Can both e-bikes and bikes share the same trails? Isn’t it dangerous for any party involved?
In general, it is not possible to ban an e-biker from the trails. The trail access should be ensured for anyone. With e-bikes, you can climb incredible trails and so there could be one-way trails in the bike parks, for example. Obviously, you are not allowed to climb up the downhill tracks in the parks on an e-bike but the same stands for hikers or trail runners. From the legal point of view, you can’t distinguish between an e-MTB and a common MTB. Trail-sharing is a part of the trail etiquette. If there is respect among all users, there should be no problems with sharing. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different but I believe that all controversies will be sorted out.