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e-bikes - can you still gain fitness?

Good afternoon all!

I have just upgraded from an analog trail bike to a Specialized Turbo Kenevo e-mtb. I appreciate that its quite an upgrade and im expecting an interesting (but hopefully awesome) transition.
My concern is that I will not benefit from the physical tests of my old bike and may even lose quite a bit of fitness?

I am expecting to be covering a lot more distance and undertaking much more of the fun DH element - so I was hoping that would compensate? Anyone got any experience that they can share?




  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    edited November 2021
    It will depend upon how much assistance you use. If you stay in the lowest level of assist, then given that your bike will be ca. 23-25 kg with big fat sticky tyres, then yes you will get a workout. Add in that the assistance stops at 15.5mph after which you are on your own with that big heavy bike with sticky tyres, then once again you will get a workout.

    But the pedal assistance is very seductive. You can have fun climbing technical stuff much faster than you would usually. I bought my first emtb because my osteo-arthritic knees were preventing me from riding much at all. I was down to 10 miles every 3 days!! I was losing fitness because of that. At first, I kept to Eco and only occasionally used a higher setting, because I was concerned about range. But once I got used to the bike, how far I could go, how hard I could ride, what the impact of higher assistance levels had.......etc. Then I started using Trail. My bike had a Shimano motor and the "Trail" setting is responsive to how you ride. Now I mostly stick to Trail. Many riders that I know (and bike journalists too) do the same.

    My 14-year-old grandson borrows my emtb from time to time and he thinks I don't know that he sticks it in Boost for the whole ride. He does not care about range because he never has to go very far on it, he is only after the thrill of the acceleration. Some more mature riders still do the same, according to their posts on public fora. But it still cuts out at 15.5mph. :)

    As for fitness, I am not as fit as I used to be before the knee problems slowed me down. But now when I ride, I average 20 miles per trip and can do it on successive days. My peak leg strength may not be as high as it used to be, but compared to where I was before I bought the emtb, I am wayyyyyy fitter. And having MUCH more fun. I still get sweaty on every ride.

    You will find yourself going much faster uphill, slightly faster downhill, and slower on the level. If you ride with your old mates on their mtbs, you will get to the top of every hill before them, effortlessly. They will resent this and mutter comments about cheating and so forth. But they won't give you any quarter when it comes to the level trails where they will be able to outstrip you, simply because keeping an emtb above the cut off speed is such hard work. I am still friends with my old mtb mates, but I ride with a new crowd now.

    I am having the most amazing fun! I am now riding stuff that I would never have contemplated before, because the climbs that were such a pain before are now such fun in their own right! :)

    Join this excellent emtb forum.
  • seanoconnseanoconn Posts: 10,973
    I think Steve has summed it up nicely. If you up there miles sufficiently and don’t rely too heavily on boost mode you shouldn’t lose too much fitness. If you’re having fun and on the bike more I wouldn’t worry 👍
    Pinno, מלך אידיוט וחרא מכונאי
  • Hi both - thanks for the responses and a friend of mine has since basically said exactly the same thing.

    I'm heading out on it for the time tomorrow and cant wait, its going to be an interesting ride. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more exploring and getting amongst some of the offpiste that I didn't have the legs to explore before - so it should be a good day.
    I will have a look at that emtb forum too - thanks for that!

  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    edited November 2021
    Two tips:
    1) Be aware that there is a lot more power going through the transmission. If you are a masher then your chains and gears won't last long at all. But if you have mechanical sympathy and always back off slightly before shifting then the chain life should be no different. Keep your chain clean and lubed.
    2) When climbing something steep and technical, you may get to one of those places where you really need to shift to an easier gear, but if you back off the power you will lose momentum. What to do? Easy, shift up one power mode. This will give you a surge so that you can back off the power enough to enable a smooth shift. Then drop back to the previous power mode. It's a game changer.
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