eBikes on Indy — Pedal Assist Mission: Grizzly Lake

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 1, 2016      
Part of the spring skiing game, alpine start.

Part of the spring skiing game, alpine start in Colorado USA.

Ready for the approach with the use of a few straps.

Ready for the approach; closed road, no problem.

To continue testing the use of ebikes to access backcountry skiing, Lou and I pedaled up a gated road; our destination: Grizzly Lake under the iconic Grizzly Chute. One of our objectives was to see how the bikes fared with skis and boots strapped to the frame. We cruised along just fine with our cargo. After six miles of dirt road we came to the trailhead, nicely warmed up and eager to begin our tour.

Lots of straps are key.

Straps are the ticket.

The beautiful valley leading up to Grizzly Peak.

The beautiful valley leading up to Grizzly Lake and Grizzly Peak. We ended up doing a shorter tour to a high point next to Grizzly Lake as we were a bit late for a Grizzly Peak summit, though another group appeared to do fine on it. The road approach with the ebikes took about an hour, with battery conservation. Turned out the 6 miles could be pedaled more quickly with a higher power assist as we arrived at the trailhead having only used about 20% of our capacity, and the return is mostly downhill. As it were, we arrived feeling fresh rather than worked. Perfect for a ski tour gated road approach.

Lisa heading upvalley, looking north at Mountain Boy Peak.

Lisa heading upvalley, looking north at Mountain Boy Peak.

Backcountry in Colorado is mighty fine right now.

Backcountry skiing in Colorado is mighty fine right now.

When we got back to the truck, I estimated I had about 70% of power left in the bike battery. I was curious how far it would take me so I continued to ride to Carbondale, about 45 miles, most of which is easy cruising along an old railroad track. I rode through two rain showers and miles of strong winds. When my legs got too worked, turbo mode helped me keep pedaling.

About 2 miles from home the battery expired. With my skis and boots, the bike weighed at least 60 pounds and it felt like 80 as I lugged along. Thank goodness for the granny gear.

Since then we’ve gone on a few single track rides and it’s time to return the demos. My rides on the Haibike made me feel like I was 20 again, zipping along with a tailwind. Fun. And yes, still a good workout.

We will watch with interest as the future of ebikes unfolds.

Mountain bikes get dirty, so do strapped on skis.

Mountain bikes get dirty, so do strapped on skis.


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27 Responses to “eBikes on Indy — Pedal Assist Mission: Grizzly Lake”

  1. harpo June 1st, 2016 2:29 pm

    Great Beta!

    It looks like you strapped a pad to the top of the skis in front of the bike seat? Why?

    It looks like the skis are strapped together, and then strapped to one side of the seat post? Did you think of strapping one ski to each side of the seat post?

    Did your legs or butt have any contact with skis while riding and/or pedaling?

    This has got me thinking. Tahoe has problems with parking on (paved, open) county roads in winter but this might be solution.

  2. Lisa Dawson June 1st, 2016 3:09 pm

    Harpo, the seat post was between the skis. On the ride up, we had skins on the skis but they got muddy. On the way home, we strapped the skis on without the skins and they were just as stable.

    We strapped a pad to the top of the skis because the edges were sharp. The pad was narrow enough so it didn’t rub our legs.

    By angling the skis up, we were able to position them far enough behind so we didn’t hit the boots. All the straps kept everything tight but I noticed the skis whipped the bike around a bit when it was windy.

    I think ebikes would work well in the winter. The biggest problem I’ve had with winter riding is cold feet. Heated booties would help.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 June 1st, 2016 3:43 pm

    If nothing else, ebikes in my opinion will be a MAJOR factor in getting folks out of their cars and sipping energy. I know they’ll have that effect on us once we get a couple of our own set up the way we want. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how we’ll deal with them on trails. One solution is to simply designate certain trails as ok for pedal assist ebikes and others not. Compromise. My prediction is that once people are using them often on MTB trails, non electric riders will see that the pedal assisted type of bike is a non issue. Lou

  4. See June 1st, 2016 7:11 pm

    That bike looks very refined, and 50+ miles range loaded is impressive. Put a twist grip on it and no question what kind of vehicle it is.

  5. Kyle June 1st, 2016 8:42 pm

    Curious are you guys just hiding your bikes near trailheads? Maybe you don’t want to tell (;

    But that would be a concern for me I guess, with the price of those bikes. I guess it’s not muh different then leaving your snowmobile. And I suppose its unlikely the thieving type is going to hike 6 plus miles into the backcountry anyways.

  6. OMR June 1st, 2016 9:52 pm

    Great post! Bikes (pedal and power) are a great option for access when roads are gated. Although, I’ve found that ski edges, if not adequately padded, can surprisingly carve into cycle frames and molding, including aluminum, carbon (Stumpjumper) and plastic (fenders on my Yamaha).
    And your photos are killing me! Beautiful mountains!

  7. Ron June 2nd, 2016 8:18 am

    I recommend a hardtail flat top tube with a rear rack for carrying skis. I usually pedal with my boots on (la sportiva syborgs). For me light is right including the bike. Do you really need an electric motor for fire roads?

  8. Brian June 2nd, 2016 9:12 am

    why not just pedal a normal bike?

  9. Lou Dawson 2 June 2nd, 2016 9:37 am

    Sure, if doing so works. In the case of this road, we could not have pedaled the whole thing with baggage. Glad others can do so and more power to them.

    Bear in mind that a “pedelec” pedal assist ebike is pedaled as well, and quite a bit sometimes as the battery charge is finite. We’ve enjoyed getting into the middle of all this, but frankly, using a pedelic is not really a big deal as far as I can see. The “throttle” bikes, on the other hand, are pretty much an electric motorcycle as many commenters have pointed out accurately. Way way different. IMHO important to be super clear about what we’re discussing.

    In terms of actual laws and regulations, the trend seems to be that an e-assist with speed limit and power limit is treated as a bicycle, despite our semantic banter (grin).

  10. powbanger June 2nd, 2016 12:36 pm

    EBikes as approach vehicles make a lot of sense in CO. in the spring. As long as the FS roads are somewhat dry and you are not causing damage to them. (solar charging stations at trailheads???) As far as trail riding on them the users will hopefully be mindful of the trail conditions, these bike are heavier and will cause more damage than a mtn bike on muddy trails. Let’s face it though, any knucklehead riding on consistently muddy trails in the spring will put ruts in them for the entire summer.
    I believe the trails themselves will designate where EBikes can be ridden. Their weight and geometry don’t inspire me to ride them on technical singletrack. I for one would not be stoked to drag one out of the backcountry if a fall breaks a vital part. I try to be a good trail user and jump off my bike for riders who are climbing trail I am descending, but I don’t see myself jumping off my bike to allow an EBike to pass me going uphill which could cause a balancing problem for them .

  11. Scott Nelson June 2nd, 2016 1:10 pm

    Really cool! Too pricey for me, but I’d use it to get to a bc trailhead if given the opportunity. As with anything different, some will like it, some won’t. It’s all relative. Looks like fun to me though.

  12. Lisa Dawson June 2nd, 2016 3:39 pm

    We locked the bikes with a heavy cable. The trailhead is fairly remote. We didn’t see another person all day.

  13. See June 2nd, 2016 8:14 pm

    So Lou, if you could easily convert your pedelec to a throttle bike, would you?

  14. Steve June 2nd, 2016 8:36 pm

    Cool TR. But why not just ride a dirt bike?

  15. Kyle June 2nd, 2016 9:26 pm

    These bikes are silent unlike a dirt bike, less smelly and they won’t do the damage to a trail that a dirt bike could. Not that I disagree with you, a dirt bike would work great and I am not against them. But you can’t really compare these to dirt bikes.

  16. Werner Koch June 3rd, 2016 5:00 am

    Great post with with image of contourskins on your Blizzard Skis…
    These bikes make sense in the Alps, too find ease access to spring snow conditions…
    Have a great remaining season!
    Werner Koch

  17. Lou Dawson 2 June 3rd, 2016 5:39 am

    The other thing about the bikes is they’re easier to lift over obstacles, hike-a-bike over snow piles, and so forth. Assuming it’s legal to do so, they’re also easier to maneuver around or under a gate intended to block automobiles. Mostly, it’s just that they are indeed a bicycle that has battery help but that you pedal, often without the electric system. Happy to help try and clarify what’s going on with ebikes, but everyone interested should really try the different types, the pedal assisted are very unique in terms of transportation, in a class of their own for sure. Again note that the speed and power limited pedelectric bikes are legally a bicycle in many jurisdictions, which after our experience I believe to be entirely appropriate. Powerful “throttle” bikes that don’t have to be peddled, on the other hand, are a different story, though they have their place.

  18. GeorgeT June 3rd, 2016 6:30 am
  19. Lisa Dawson June 3rd, 2016 11:28 am

    I’m surprised Cabelas Rambo bike is not painted camo. Mainstream for sure!

  20. Lou Dawson 2 June 3rd, 2016 12:39 pm

    The Rambo is definitely worth a review! Fits right in here with our WildSnow philosophy of everything, only when it’s not. Is that clear? Lou

  21. Casey Greene June 3rd, 2016 1:15 pm

    Motor. Assist. Bindings.

    I could go anywhere!!!
    Lap everyone.
    Shred everything.

    Why is this not happening?

  22. See June 3rd, 2016 6:40 pm

    Ok, if Lou doesn’t want to answer my rhetorical question, that’s cool. I was, however, trying to make a point— throttle bikes provide a better user experience because they give the rider more control over the power delivered by the electric motor.

    I think electric bikes are great, and if they have to be artificially limited in order to be acceptable to the powers that be, then so be it. But I much prefer a throttle and I think I can be trusted to use it responsibly.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 June 4th, 2016 7:48 am

    See, LOL, are you aware of the definition of “rhetorical question?”

    “A rhetorical question is a question that you ask without expecting an answer. The question might be one that does not have an answer. It might also be one that has an obvious answer but you have asked the question to make a point, to persuade or for literary effect.”

    But I’ll answer anyway, even with my delay since I actually got away from the office and went skiing (grin).

    The pedal assist bikes also have a “throttle” in that you have a number of power settings. The difference is that the application of power is controlled by your pressure (torque) on the pedals rather than movements of your thumb. But it’s actually pretty similar in practice. Once I got used to this system I didn’t feel any desire for thumb throttle, especially so in our hilly mountain terrain where a lot of time is spent not pedaling anyway.

    On the other hand, if I was pedaling an ebike across Kansas, I might want a throttle bike so I could take a break from pedaling now and then.

    All rhetorically speaking, of course (grin).

  24. See June 4th, 2016 8:02 am

    Thanks, Lou. I assume that’s a rhetorical question.

  25. Mark Worley June 4th, 2016 10:39 pm

    Pretty cool approach tools. Glad you got to test ’em.

  26. Zach June 10th, 2016 10:47 am

    You get to play with all of the toys :). Bike approaches are so much fun! I’ve found that moving some heavy items from my pack to my panniers or a framebag makes the journey much more enjoyable.

  27. Stefano June 13th, 2016 6:45 am

    I suggest to make 3 simple Alu support to hang-up skis.

    I find that very confortable still with 2 pairs on…


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