How to Have a Constructive Conversation about e-Bikes (Ep.8)


  • Current debates about e-Bikes (2:26)
  • IMBA’s role and stance (6:03)
  • What groups does IMBA hear from the most? (11:42)
  • Arguments against e-bike trail access (13:13)
  • Arguments for e-bike trail access (24:11)
  • Why distinguish between classes of bikes? (26:47)
  • Have there been many on-trail issues with e-bikes? (36:12)
  • What’s the best way forward? (41:10)

What do politics, religion, and e-Bikes have in common? They’re all topics that get people extremely worked up, often devolve into name calling, and rarely are productive. And this needs to change, because e-Bikes are not going away — quite the opposite — so this is not some fringe issue that we can simply ignore.

And given this, we need to figure out fast how to have more useful and productive conversations about e-bikes — and, in particular e-mountain bikes.

So, to this end, we’re talking today to Dave Wiens, the executive director of the International Mountain Biking Association, to have Dave explain what all the fuss is about; identify what the biggest issues are with e-mountain bikes; present the concerns that the advocates of — and the opponents of — e-bikes most need to understand; and weigh in on what the best way forward looks like.

And our hope here is that all of us will gain a clearer understanding of the relevant issues, and a better appreciation of the concerns that exist on both sides of the debate. Because if we can pull that off, that actually would constitute a solid step forward.

And so, let’s see if we can get there with the help of IMBA director, Dave Wiens.

5 comments on “How to Have a Constructive Conversation about e-Bikes (Ep.8)”

  1. Kudos for bringing this topic up. Totally unexpected and refreshing.
    Access is, hopefully, an issue that can be bridged.
    An aspect of e-power that is rarely addressed in the U.S. – whether talking bikes, scooters or Teslas – is the lack of any regulation on end of life battery recycling and disposal. Retired e-vehicles go to the salvage yard/landfill. Unless addressed, recreational use of e-bikes will contribute a catastrophic mess of heavy metals in the water table. Potentially worse than greenhouse gases. Sorry to be a downer. I guess I’m on the human power side of the debate, until the footprint is reduced.

  2. We live in Northstar, a ski resort and mountain bike park in California. Years ago we peddled out our back yard all over the mountain with regular mountain bikes, which involved lots of climbing, until I had an AFIB episode. I ultimately had an ablation performed and haven’t had an episode since, but am still paranoid of over doing it, hence we didn’t get on our bikes often until we got eMountain bikes last year. Now we get out 2 to 3 times a week. We can ride to Lake Tahoe for lunch up and over the mountain with about 1800 feet of climbing. We are in our mid Sixties and in pretty good shape for our age so don’t really need the eBikes, but it is such a pleasure to cruise around the mountain and feel more a part of our surroundings because it’s not such a grueling workout. I still get a decent workout by mostly keeping the eBike in the lowest setting where I think I’m probably doing about 2/3rds of the work on the climbs. I believe our baby boomer generation is going to have a big impact on the popularity of eBikes as we age. I’m also optimistic that the country will ultimately know how to deal with any environmental issues associated with e vehicles. IMHO our Class 1 eBikes don’t impact the trails any differently then regular mountain bikes. They’re not dirt bikes with throttles that can tear up the trail.

    • Hi Steve. Your story sort of parallels what we are experiencing. I’m 71 with bad neck, bad hip, etc. But still ride my non E bike most of the time when out with my friends. My wife is 65 and had a full blown attack of Guillian Barre’ Syndrome 21 years ago (she was paralyzed eyes to toes for 4 months) and thankfully recovered about 90%. Still…her feet and lower legs are not strong enough to do 90% of the stuff I do so I got her a full suspension E MTB for her birthday earlier this year. She is able to enjoy some of the easiest trails and go further than before. All of my buddies are mid 60’s and up and we all see this in our future. We have never seen anyone on an E bike on the trails be inappropriate such as passing us just cause they could. I think everyone who spends upwards of $6,000 on an E MTB is aware of the controversy and is respectful of others on non E bikes. BTW…I live in SW Colorado where MTB are extremely popular. Good talk.

  3. As a pro ebiker, I feel ok about this talk, not great about it, but ok. I understand what IMBA’s stance is, and I agree with eMTBs having their own classification, but believe it is only for the good of mtb access. A layer of protection for the #1 baby of IMBA, not for the good of both sports.

    I also realize that IMBA is getting stuck in the middle of this fight between brethren that really puts them in the hot seat. The path for IMBA to take will become more clear with time.

    SO as an ebiker I should still be paying my IMBA dues right? or… As an ebiker, how quick will IMBA throw me under the bus to save the life of my MTB brothers and sisters?

    I am first an mt. biker and second an ebiker, or at least I used to be, so, yes I support IMBA, but if I want to financially support an organisation that fights for ebike access, People For Bikes is definitely fighting for eMTB access.

    Thanks Blister – Tom

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