Riding a bike up a mountain is no easy feat. Rocky terrain, bumps in the trail, and a sometimes-steep incline tend to deter most casual bike riders. But this year, Sunday River has added eight new e-bikes to their existing fleet of rental bikes, making a bike ride on the mountain trails more accessible than ever.
So what exactly is an e-bike?
“An e-bike is a bike—it doesn’t have to be mountain, it doesn’t have to be road—with a motor in it and a battery that will assist you as you pedal,” says Will Towle, “bike guy” at Sunday River Resort in Newry.
Unlike a scooter or motorcycle, e-bike riders won’t have all the work done for them. The motor kicks in while pedaling, so riders will still get a workout, but that extra help makes the ride feel significantly easier.
Sunday River Director of Communications Darcy Lambert likens it to being able to ride like a well-trained champion.
“It kind of gives you that added oomph, if you will. Somebody described it as having their best nights sleep with 10 cups of coffee, and just being able to pedal like Lance Armstrong.”
Sunday River’s e-bikes are full-suspension mountain bikes with fat, knobby tires, which are perfect for tackling the rocks and roots of a mountain trail. And they can be set to three different modes—from full assist to 20 percent assist—depending on how much assistance the rider wants. But even at 100 percent assist, riders won’t be getting a free ride.
“You still have to work,” says Towle. “The motor is going to do nothing for you if you’re not pedaling. And pedaling alone, you’re working your legs, you’re working your lungs, you’re still breathing. By the time you hit the top of this mountain, your legs are going to be sore, you’re gonna be breathing hard, and you’re gonna be sweating profusely.”
There won’t be any loud sounds from the motor disrupting the outdoor experience, either. The e-bikes are supremely quiet.
E-bikes make trail riding more accessible to casual riders or people who haven’t been on a bike in a while. There’s no special training needed.
“If you can ride a bike, you can ride an e-bike,” says Towle. And avid mountain bikers can find reason to ride them, too.
“They’re great for people who don’t bike a lot, but they’re also great for guys who do, because it makes it that much more fun for us,” Towle says. “On a regular bike, you get up there and you are worked. You’re worked. On an e-bike, you’ve still got something left in the tank to just have a blast on the way down, too. Instead of just survive the way down.”
The new e-bikes will help more people ride in places they might not otherwise, but the bikes aren’t allowed on the Chondola, which gives traditional mountain bikers access to all of Sunday River’s 20 miles of downhill terrain.
“It can’t go up the lift like a typical mountain bike—it weighs a lot, it costs a lot, it’s expensive to replace—so we try to keep the trail which it rides on pretty specific,” says Lambert.
Still, there’s plenty of trail for e-bike riders to enjoy, both on and off the mountain.
However easy-going or thrill-seeking you want your ride to be, Sunday River’s e-bikes make the terrain accessible - and a whole lot of fun.
“You gotta try it, because it’s an absolute riot,” says Towle. “It’s a hoot.”
A half-day rental is $35. For more information, go to http://www.sundayriver.com/events-and-activities/activity-guide/e-bikes