With no missions in sight (more on that in a future post), especially after a self-induced exclusion of the final two EWS rounds for 2018, it’s time to rummage around in the very empty Dirty blogging sac for some material that may entice you into pissing more of your precious time down the drain on niche musings.
In this series, it’s time to take on a couple of topics that have been lurking and remained unspoken on this site, but which have now forced themselves to be confronted and admired for the elephants that they are. These topics have been swerved out of an odd combination of disgust and loyalty and today we will start with the disgust. Yes, we’re going to talk about eBikes…
“Collectively the audience gasps and gently mouths ‘cunt’ involuntarily at the horror of the direction the post suddenly lurched in…”
We’re going to discuss these motorised monstrosities because as part of the creeping dystopia we live in, it’s becoming painfully unavoidable, something I shall elaborate on as we go. Ok, so to get the obvious part out of the way, as this is the first go to of the eAdvocates when they fight back: NO I haven’t ridden one, which is why my take on this ferocious topic will be slightly different than the usual Pinkbike comment vibe of “Set the cunts on fire“, and hopefully mildly more eloquent. I had hoped to just apply blissful ignorance and ignore them, but the Borg seems set on assimilating our loved ones and we’ve reached a tipping point where the ostrich protocol is becoming untenable.
Traditionally there are LOTS of reasons to hate eBikes. Indeed, those that wish to graze at the buffet of eHate will find themselves confronted with a lavish selection of delicious hateful delights; They’re not bikes, they fuck up trails, they will mow down small children, they maim animals, they’re for rich people, they smell like bad cheese, they will fuck land access up, they give the Rodfather sore abs, they fingerbang my Strava segments, it’s not cycling, it means you have to ride with your crazy uncle Kevin etc etc… These, and many more variations on these themes are all perfectly acceptable reasons to hate eBikes. It’s true that only seeing someone snap an Enve rim provides the same level of Schadenfreude as witnessing someone riding/pushing a flat eBike uphill sobbing gently as they suddenly remember that cycling by it’s very nature is supposed to have an element of suffering.
And we’ve been happily hating these devil chariots while high fiving and using customary derogatory commentary to describe eBikes, or even eMTB’s (allegedly there is a difference), comfortable in the knowledge that they have been a different ilk of patron adorning these vessels of assisted doom, usually people who thought LinkedIn was a form of Social Media, or those that prefer to ensure their rides have more calorie intake than depletion via the multiple cafe stops they partake in. Indeed, much like the Star Wars prequel movies, eBikes served a valuable purpose as cunt identification devices, as in you could easily locate a quintessential cunt by anyone who announced their admiration for them.
Indeed I recall an interaction last year where I was passing through a not-to-be-named branded store on my travels, to find myself a bystander to a gentleman purchasing what can only be described as an eMTB weapon of mass destruction. It wasn’t his calf skin loafers or Rolex watch which said “I could buy 10 of these and not break a sweat” or his entire “I’m from Auckland and I drove down here in my Merc laughing at the speed limit and getting an erection every time I almost died overtaking someone” vibe that made my cunt-radar start to chirp anxiously. No, it was his questions to the salesman, who was having a hard time believing that he was about to pull off over-selling a bike to the same levels of the US Air Force using B2 stealth bombers to attack dudes running around in sandals holding nothing more than a 1980’s rifle, that tipped me off I was witnessing the quintessential phenomenon driving the eMTB wave.
“And what does this thing do here?” Mr Gucci enquired, “That’s for the dropper post“, a frown appearing on Mr Gucci’s face… I could see him about to ask about the Ohlins suspension (160mm of travel is de rigueur for bike paths naturally), but then I think it dawned on him that based on his usual charge out rate, the time taking to ask questions about this $10k bike was starting to cost more than it’s value. After all, he had the distinct stench of a man who has said “Don’t you know who I am?!” to another human being. As he handed over his Amex Black card and muttered something about maybe riding it in the summer if he made it down to the holiday house, I felt a certain glow as my stereotype of eRiders was thoroughly and vigorously reinforced.
But that was then, and this is now
As we close in on peak 2018 and as each guilty pleasure is slowly hunted down and slaughtered by the faux outrage police, the hating of eBikes has suddenly become a highly frowned upon activity. Indeed the phenomenon that I’ve noticed of late is that people are starting to hate on the haters of eBikes. As one might expect, this is confusing for Haters, because as they rightly point out, they are simply completing the tasks laid out for them in their job description. Insert your horrified expression here if you thought you could safely and legitimately let your hate juice dribble out all over people with motorised bottom brackets.
People are hating people who hate ebikes? Yes, a backlash against the backlash, which given I like to consider myself well versed in Cuntology has intrigued me. However, it hasn’t intrigued me nearly as much as whats been happening in my own eco-system (that’s cuntspeak for “what my mates have been up to”) that makes me raise an eyebrow as I mouth in a panicked whisper “What the fuck is happening“. First, it started with our MTB hero’s getting on board… No… Surely not Nico… A 10 time world champ riding an eMTB?!
That was fine as I could excuse it for being a weird Euro thing, but it’s now spread much closer to home. People I consistently describe as Good/Great/Rad Cunts have now started to arrive at the trail head on eMTB’s and not only that, they’re… They’re… enjoying it… Not only that part 2, they aren’t even ashamed at what they’re doing! Faster than you can now scream “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING” they’ve even graduated to looking at you like you’re the one that’s lost their mind for not get eLabotomised.
I still recall the first conversation I had with the Rodfather about the eVirus, starting out with my customary “Fuck eBikes brah” and fist pump action in his direction, but no fist came back to greet me and give me that sweet group validation I was craving. A horror suddenly started to take an icy grip on me as the Rodfather explained to me all the merits of eBikes for 15 minutes of an increasingly awkward rapey van ride through Nelson back roads.
As he talked about “covering more ground” and said something about “fun“, I was overwhelmed with the same feeling’s from when I found out Santa wasn’t real, that dad had shot the Easter bunny, that all my Favourite road PRO’s were indeed railing gear or that porn wasn’t a realistic depiction of intimacy… As he droned away in the background like an eSalesman, I felt a pang of terror starting to form, not unlike a zombie movie where the leading character has a family member bitten and infected, the conflict on what to do with them running deep.
Given the Rodfather’s penchant for experimenting (“It was the 90’s so it was ok”), I should have expected this, but he’s just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the collapse of my eco-system of GC’s. But I knew that there was a problem long before this. The first time the penny dropped for me that the armageddon was nigh was when I was in Millau of all places… Yes, in the middle of France… Yes, the place with the epic fuck off bridge:
Seems like an odd place to realise the end of the world had commenced, but it was the first time I was eSlapped with what was looming. As you may recall, our shuttle hook up and local GC was Christophe, who happened to own the local Specialized store (predictably he owned & rode a Yeti). At one point during practice we needed to go and buy stuff because we were english speaking tourist fuckbags with a highly trained capacity to consume, so we went past Christophe’s shop.
Upon entering I noticed the entire front show room was exclusively eBikes/eMTB’s. Not one or two, but more eBikes than I had ever seen. Suddenly it felt like that time John Connor stumbled into the Skynet factory and felt his balls shrivel up into raisins as the realisation dawned on him that these cunts are mass produced…
As I tried to hide my disdain, in thick French accented English I enquired as to where the ‘real’ bikes were, to which Christophe informed me that he wasn’t really able to sell normal bikes any more as no one was buying them, so they were at the back of the store gathering dust and croissant crumbs. And much like John Connor, I ran screaming from that store looking for a time displacement machine.
“No one is buying normal bikes any more mon ami, they only ask for eBikes now”
Fucking real talk – These things are arriving in store already completely sold out, in fact, I’ve even heard tales of a certain brand’s stores bartering and trading with one another over floor stock to try and meet rabid consumer demand. Pallets are arriving at store pre-fucking-sold, AKA a bike stores wet dream:
You can see this fever just this past month with the launch of the new Specialized Levo, the eFroth has entered a new realm and is clearly moving into position to cannibalise trail bike sales with the same ruthlessness that Remco Evenepoel dispatched the Junior World Road Champs field with recently.
Forgetting for a moment that most people you see on an eBike resemble an enraged Supreme Court nominee going down in dumpster fire flames (eBikes are the new golf?), there are allegedly some good things about these mid-life crisis machines, not that I can list them here for fear of you dear reader and your backlash, the DNGC would be rapid in its conversion to the Town of Springfield to hunt me down and burn me like a Russian witch if I was to be positive, #nocollusion.
Certainly if you ask any of the MTB squids they’re proponents of the eMTB scenario, as you would be with a massive camera bag and the liaisons at EWS level, although some may have specific feedback on the Cube eBike. Clearly the UCI are now fans, aside from the fact they have been fighting motorised doping, by recently announcing the eMTB World Champs race in 2019… Yes, someone will wear the Rainbow jersey for riding a motorised bike. Before you can choke on screaming what the fuck, let’s channel your rage back into my own echo chamber.
And now, it’s time to scull the Haterade
So then finally to why I ‘hate’ eMTB’s or eBikes… Not that it makes any difference to your day, but I dislike them for slightly different reasons to the self-immolating Pinkbike comments crowd. The first one may be considered a personal reflection, but the second one is something that pretty much any cyclist reading this will have to face into sometime in the next 2 years or so. Let’s get reflective!
Part 1 – What if I can’t go back?
So in essence, I hate eBikes for exactly the same reason that I hate my smart phone. Bear with me for a moment here as I elaborate on this using a highly relatable and invasive example. If you’ve ever tried to have a coffee with me, you’ll probably know that whilst I do my best to be present and maintain a meaningful conversation with you, and hopefully even eye contact, at some stage those little buzzes coming from more group chat’s than you can shake an OCD at will drill into my brain until I finally ruin our in-person interaction and surrender to the cocaine like hit of virtual satisfaction to read messages which add likely zero value to my existence. Yes, I actually hate my phone, but I also seem relatively unable to distance myself from it – Validating the plans of every company in Silicon Valley perfectly as I surrender to the realisation they’ve created a digital opioid.
It wasn’t always like this however, remember a time when you didn’t need a smart phone, or all the shit that comes with it… Life isn’t better with the Gram or Twitter or news alerts or whatever the fuck is reaming your brain and attention span at any given moment, but we seem to think it is and indeed, we’re now all collectively held captive by it. Want to punch out? Goodbye group chat… Goodbye organising a modern ride with your crew, goodbye travel logistics, goodbye sending dick pics to co-workers, goodbye keeping in touch with family members, goodbye getting a job, goodbye seeing what ingredients your favourite ENDURO PRO is cutting up for dinner… The list goes on and on.
And this is how I feel about eBikes, except this time I can see it coming. No, not the “Trail bike apocalypse” that the Rodfather proclaims is nigh, but more how I would react to getting on an eMTB. What if it’s “fun“? What if I can get more runs in for the time I have? What if I get addicted to pissing up climbs laughing & pulling wheelies instead of feeling like a pregnant Hippo? and what if, shoot me now – I couldn’t go back to a normal bike again? What innate part of cycling would I potentially lose without knowing it? Yes, that sting on your lips is unintended consequences pulling out when it’s finished it’s business.
I’ve even had one DNGC member confide “When you get back on your normal bike it just seems dull. Kind of ruining Mountain Biking for me in the UK“, which is not only a statement which chills me to my cycling bones, but also has a distinct relevance to the feelings I have towards my smartphone and the fantasy I have about returning to a life without one.
Unlike the smart phone brain invasion, I can see the e-infestation coming with eyes wide open… And it bears all the same trade marks as social media apps. Remember when Fuckbook et al came out and there were rave reviews about how ‘fun’, ‘awesome’ and ‘game changing’ it all was and that you HAD to try it before knocking it? Well, fucking hello, same same right about now with eBikes – And with the same underlying fundamental at play: Cash.
Yes, Specialized have said to their dealers to expect more than 50% of their sales to come from eBikes over the next 2 years, so like most things that are pushed our first world way, this is a marriage made in heaven of the industry working out a rather large cash cow just started to moo and leak Benjamin’s from it’s udder’s, coupled with tapping into a very powerful modern societal movement: Laziness. Yes, the first perception of eBikes is that they’ll make life easier and in most cases this is right. I’ve been almost yelled at by people who assure me that it actually gives you more of a work out on an eMTB, but that aside, I can’t help but start to wonder if there’s a Wall-E vibe to all this down the road…
As we slide towards making everything easy and convenient, it’s natural that people will want that applied to their sporting activity as well, but from an industry perspective this is literally gold, as it’s not about making more from the existing pie you have, it’s about making your pie bigger! And this is where eBikes are perfect, attracting new people into cycling, even though a lot of us may not consider it to be cycling as such. Although, this is the crux of the debate. Some say it is cycling, but super charged and some decry that it’s super fucking NOT.
This plays nicely into the more, more, more mentality which is pushed our way (as the owner of 5 Santa Cruz’s I really did say that with a straight face) and is a big part of the sales pitch “Get the Levo and you can get more runs in, explore more terrain and have more fun – MORE fucking MORE and then some MORE again!“, you’ll need more as well, given the price being well north of $15k for the S Works version.
Much like smart phones, it’s not so much the hating of the inanimate object, or just the Specialized Levo, it’s the hating of the unintended consequences that you end up with as a result of introducing it into your world. If we’d realised that smart phones were going to annihilate our attention spans, kill real human interaction off and disconnect us from our children would we have still dived head first into the ocean of app fuckwittery we now have before us? Based on how many people voted for a proven Orange con man in 2016 the answer is probably yes, so whether you like it or not, eBikes are not only here to stay, but this is only the first wave.
We all know what happens from here, we’re now into the ePhase where early adopters have funded the spread and proliferation to the point that we can now see the next eGeneration arriving, and just like smartphones they’re going to be lighter, have more features, better range and more power and they’re coming for your trail bike and your riding buddies….
Part 2 – They took out my whole goddamn platoon!
And this is the more worrying theme – What happens when the contagion finds its way into your delicate ENDURO-BRO eco-system? And don’t think you’re immune either roadies, as per usual you’re lagging behind, but that will change based on the market for MAMILS who want a bit of turbo boost to match their viagra intake.
Yes, I have now started to see messages on riding group chat forums that go like “Going for an eMTB ride at 10am, who’s in?“, which is about the point where this becomes real AF. What do you do if your riding crew starts to get eInfiltrated? It’s a social doomsday scenario, but it’s happening in your backyard right now and much like trying to hold on to your Nokia brick in 2009 (“It’s cool bro, I don’t need one of those smart phone things eh”), you may find yourself an exhausted salmon as your buddies eBike downstream. At this point you do have some options however when someone sends out such a message for the Saturday morning ride, although they’re not that practical to be fair:
A) Turn up and get eFingered as people ride off away from you up the climbs laughing
B) Give into the arms race, surrender to consumerism and arrive with matching weaponry dripping in self loathing
C) Emulate old white Americans when faced with a hyped-up threat and elect a serial sex offender/con man who threatens to ban eBikes as president of the UCI, and then cheer loudly in support as he takes a giant shit on your face while giving all your tax dollars to Specialized to build better eBikes #sad #witchhunt
D) Just do your own thing, riding quietly through the forest solo and then setting the group chat to mute as your ex-riding buddies whine about how sore their abs are from their eBike work out.
So in essence, it will be about what you consider the ‘least worst option’. If you choose to abstain, how long can you hold out in equivalent terms as the only person not on WhatsApp, or Fuckbook, or the Gram? What if 80% of your crew end up on eBikes? What if they can’t give them up or don’t want to ride ‘normally’ (or is it ‘unassisted’?) any more?
Fucked if I know what that all means really and like most Dirty musing posts there is no clear conclusion. Ultimately it’s in the eye of the beholder on this issue, and it’s my firm aim to remain old school Nokia on it for as long as possible, preferably into my 70’s.
Training for the Pioneer in November has reminded me why I love cycling and why I crave the core aspects of what it’s about, the thought of any of those key elements of bike riding being watered down or ‘enhanced’ through an engine or mechanical assistance remains an abhorrent concept based on my current and slightly odd embrace of suffering. If that makes me sound like a crazy person walking around town wearing a sandwich board that says “Fuck eBikes“, then so be it…
Whilst I feel comfortable being Statler or Waldorf heckling from the upper balcony box, the question remains what will YOU do when you get a message back from a riding buddy declining your quaint old school pedal ride offer, in favour of a motorised outing with others? Prepare yourself, as it’s coming to a trail carpark near you soon… Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when the eBikes come for you?