Battery-assisted mountain biking allows you to go further for longer, and tackle trails you might've otherwise missed. Here's what you need to know, and the best places on planet Earth to try it...
The sport of mountain biking has evolved over recent years to include e-mountain biking, also called E-MTB, where riders are assisted by battery power. Most E-MTBs are pedal-assist, which means that the battery kicks in as you pedal.
It’s not an electric motorcycle – the rider still needs to pedal – but the E-MTB battery takes some of the hard work out of climbing on a mountain bike, meaning that you can go further and tackle more descents during one ride, than with pedal power alone.
Fancy giving it a go yourself? Remember: you'll still need a decent fitness level, like any cyclist, to give it a go. You can try it pretty much anywhere, though some destinations offer a wider variety of epic landscapes to ride past. Above all else, it's lots of fun.
It'll be hard to know who will be more startled on your E-MTB safari of Namibia, you, as soaring dunes come into view around each corner, or the zebra and oryx you’ll be pedalling past.
Namibia is the ideal place for a first foray into the world of e-mountain bikes, with challenging technical aspects kept to a minimum and the focus instead being on enjoying time spent in the saddle.
Namibia is a country that truly gets under your skin, whether that’s the encounters with local villages or meeting members of the Himba trip, or simply enjoying evenings around the camp fire gazing at the Milky Way.
A slightly more technically challenging destination, Croatia’s Istrian peninsula offers both mountainous and coastal trails.
There’s the famous Parenzana Trail (a 123km route linking Trieste and Porec), and also Rab Island, known as the ‘happy island’ where the coastal trail sweeps in and out of secluded beaches. Practically guaranteed to put a smile on any rider's face.
After a tougher day of biking, follow up the ride with a dip in the Adriatic or a taste of the local delicacies - truffles and seafood. Undoubtedly, Istria is the place to take your e-mountain biking to the next level.
Switzerland feels like it was custom built for e-mountain biking. Everything seems to run like clockwork, thanks to its superb infrastructure for travellers and cyclists.
There are, as you would expect, world-famous trails such as the IMBA Epic Trail and the ridge trails around Klosters. For a true sense of backcountry riding, it is hard to beat the new and little-known trails around Wiesen, running through spectacular canyons to the village of Filisur.
With routes and itineraries taking riders from the Alps to Adriatic, Slovenia is the ideal country for those with an interest in e-mountain biking.
There are tricky WWI-era mule tracks to follow, challenging daily climbs of up to 1,800m in the Triglav National Park (where you’ll be glad of the extra push!), and spectacular alpine valleys full of wild flowers to help distract from the burn in your thighs. Particularly special is the chance to ride from Kranjska Gora to the summit, which marks the border with Austria and Italy.
One of the best E-MTB tours in Spain is the incredible circumnavigation of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia; from the white-washed villages high in the Alpujarras, to the desert ‘Badlands’, to street-riding through the historic city of Granada. Coupled with the best locally-produced cheeses, jamón and red wine, this is a full immersion into Andalucian life.
There are some long (hot) climbs in this part of Spain, and having the e-mountain bike means that more experienced riders can conquer these and still have time for a traditional lunch, another ‘cortado’ and an extra descent for good measure.
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