So everyone’s saying ebikes are the future...
There’s many reasons for this blanket statement. They are perfect for someone who can’t ride a normal bike due to perhaps knee issues, hip issues, heart problems? The list is long. People who buy e-bikes are usually looking for a bike so they can enjoy cycling with a partner or perhaps wants to make the commute to work a little easier?
There’s a lot of stigma regarding ebikes too. A lot of people diminish thier validity as a bicycle in general, saying it’s lazy not proper cycling? Usually this attitude changes as soon as they have a go on one. When all said and done, who doesn’t want to go out further and get more time on the bike? That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day isn’t it?
Recently I was off work for a week and took the focus Sam2 out for a few rides. Mainly because most of my mates have recently purchased them and I didn’t want to take my normal bike. Having been off the bike for just under a month (due to laziness) I thought I would take an advantage of this most popular of demo e-bikes. I’ve tried a few different brands on short rides but never actually had a real good days riding on one at a trail centre. The fFcus Sam 2 has 170mm travel front and rear, but it’s lighter than most other bikes on the market meaning its handling is more like a "normal" bike. In this respect it's very impressive.
First impressions on the Sam2 are always good no matter who sees it. The Battery is tucked away in the downtube and the shimano e8000 drive unit is smaller than most of it's competitors. The "enduro" style geometry isn’t sacrificed either so you can make the bike the exact same size as the non ebike version and the narrower Q factor means the cranks are the same width as a standard shimano set up. So on paper it all looks good as a bona-fide mountain bike but what’s it like to ride?
There are three modes on the shimano system Eco,trail and boost. Everyone likes a bit of boost, but I stayed in eco most of the day so my legs still got a good workout on the climbs. We set off from the bottom of Glentress (Tweed Valley 7 Stanes trail centre) and climbed to the buzzards nest car park. We of course ended up passing some riders on non e-bikes so the comments were flying back and forth. A little under 3 minutes into our ride, cries of "oh that’s cheating" and "you're making us look bad" split the trees. The truth is I’ve never had as much fun going up a hill. Cruising at just over 5/6mph was a dream, and once at the top, you’ve still got a sweat on and you can still feel it in your legs so what’s different?
So it's a good work out, but we still have some help from the motor, so we carried on up to the mast. With a few short stops we got to the top in under 25 minutes. Good going I’d say, but it’s not as if we were flying. Just having a laugh and everyone was still smiling. On the descents is where this bike fully comes into alive though. We headed down the boundary trail and into "Hush Hush" (steep enduro style stail) Having only done it once before (on my santacruz Nomad) I thought I’d take my time. The bike had other ideas!
The extra weight and the amazing linkage on The focus made the Sam2 take off like a rocket (no electric assistant on) the extra weight makes it corner like it’s on rails. I could hear the tyres digging in for grip and with the linkage soaking up all types of bumps, keeping the back wheel planted it sling-shots you out of corners. We all came out of the trail grinning. We couldn’t believe how much faster the Sam rode down a steep, technical trail. One of the other guys on the ride who recently bought a Sam2 (this was his first proper MTB ride on it) said "I need to adapt my riding to keep up with this bike"
The brakes were pretty hot due to the bike being a little heavier which you don’t actually notice when your riding, and you can still pop off roots rocks and anything else on the technical trails. Once we climbed back up to the top, my legs were starting to feel it but still felt like I had plenty in the bag to carry on.
We'd rode just short of 15 miles which isn’t a lot by any means but we had climbed 4159ft and we had a 2 hour drive home. We didn’t feel totally destroyed, but my upper body definitely feels like it's had a workout from just manoeuvring the extra weight around. Overall I think you get a better work out on one upper and lower body with extra grin thrown in. That’s what it’s all about for me. Going out with your mates, flying down hills, laughing and having a massive smile or you face at the end of the day! On the Focus Sam 2 I was quicker on every descent (with the assistance off) and the climbs were faster. But here's the selling point. I would never have thought of riding 15 miles with over 4000 feet of climbing after being off my bike for a month. Not only that, but the next day,you're fresh and ready to go again!
At the end of the ride my thighs were burning arms were on fire and shoulders felt like I had been on a moto x bike. No wonder so many people are turning to these things for training!
The bike overall is a total animal. The bike just flies down descents, kicking up massive rocks drifting round turns and flying off massive jumps. I threw everything at it that I would have a "normal" MTB and at the end of the ride I had a little under half a battery left as well. I’ve tried a few shorter travel e-bikes and none perform like this. Even on the flat sections, with no assistance the bike is picking up speed everywhere!
So before you make fun an e-bike try one! We have a new hire fleet coming soon including focus and Orbea e-bikes. So come try one for a day or two. Go to a trail centre or do some enduro trails and I can guarantee your mind will be changed. Your past opinions e-bikes will be there no more! They definitely are the future (for some) and there here to stay. So you better get used to them.
This is the first cycling blog I’ve written. I’ve tried a lot of different products but never actually wanted to write about them. With this bike though, I simply wanted to let everyone know what there missing out on. I can guarantee you won’t have as much fun on a bike if you go out with a few other guys on these!