Arizona’s sprawling desert landscapes, crisp alpine forests and precarious mountain paths make it the ideal destination for thrill-seeking, outdoorsy types. To traverse precarious terrain, many riders are abandoning the analog and opting for trendier electric bikes for off-roading adventures.
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Don’t let the power source fool you – electric bikes (also known as e-bikes) can deliver just as effective and heart-pumping of a workout as a standard bicycle. As the founder of my own Arizona-based e-bike company, Mavric Electric Cycles, I’m sharing tips for how to select not just the perfect bike for the sport, but advice for staying safe on your next ride.
Thinking of taking an e-bike off urban sidewalks and into the wild? Here are four points to know and consider before taking off on electric bikes for your next off-roading adventure:
Shop smart: If you don’t already own an e-bike, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choices with the hundreds of different models available on the market. However, for the purposes of off-roading, seek out an e-bike with characteristics like wide tires, suspension and mechanical gears. Wide, sturdy tires make turning a breeze (skinny tires on a bike increase chances of skidding and falling.) Your tires should be sturdy enough to withstand cactus needles and sharp stones. Suspension helps to absorb shock from uneven ground to jumps over obstacles. Without suspension on an e-bike, your bike’s frame might not be able to handle impact, leading to damage and instability while riding. Finally, mechanical gears help tailor your ride to match the resistance of terrain. If you plan on climbing steep mountain inclines, mechanical gears are essential. The lower your gear setting, the easier it is to manually pedal, but the bike will be mostly human-powered. Higher gear numbers mean greater human exertion, with the motor assisting to propel the bike forward. Even though e-bikes have a lot of power to assist you up hills, having gears will reduce the strain on the motor when climbing and ultimately prolong the lifespan of your bike.
Safety first: Always tell someone where you’re going, and an estimated time of when you’ll return. If you are without phone signal out on the trail and need assistance, having someone aware of your whereabouts can help connect you with emergency services. Alternatively, riding with a friend is both exhilarating and secure! Whether you ride solo or as a dynamic duo, make sure you wear a helmet, no matter your skill level (it only takes one fall to become seriously injured.)
Plan your trip: Map out the trail you plan to ride, accounting for the terrain type and distance relative to the charge capacity of your bike. If you are new to off-roading, you may find that planning a route and sticking to it can minimize the chances of encountering terrain out of your skill level. It also allows you to do your research on if the trail is well-maintained and open for riding in the first place. Which leads into the final tip…
Charge your bike: Most e-bikes can travel anywhere between 20 and 50 miles on a single charge – do you know the capacity of your bike to handle long distances? For instance, the Matador, a bike I designed specifically for tacking the rough terrain of the Sonoran Desert, can last up to 75 miles per charge, making it ideal for longer trips (and more forgiving to riders who may have forgotten to charge it.) Charging an e-bike isn’t as difficult as it may seem; the battery can be detached from the bike and charged indoors, unlike electric cars, which require charging at a designated station or within a garage. If your bike does run out of juice, fear not – an e-bike is still a bicycle! While you won’t be zipping along with the assistance of a motor, you can still pedal like a peasant the old-fashioned way while off-roading on electric bikes.
Author: Mavric Electric Cycles was founded by Ryan Schultze in 2020, specializing in the design of high-end electric motor bikes with best-in-class bike components. Check out mavricbikes.com for a full e-bike catalog or to find a retail location near you.