The particularities of an E-MTB tour

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Find out everything you need to know about a longer E-MTB tour – in the third part of our series about tour planning. Christoph Malin shares his insights! 

Perfect tour planning: part 3

The particularities of an e-mountain bike tour 

E-MTB pioneer Christoph Malin  has covered countless kilometres on his bike already. He says he covers about 250,000 metres of difference in altitude per bike season – so he’s a true expert and knows what he’s talking about! In part 3 of our series about tour planning, he shares his tips on how to go on a tour with an E-MTB and what to take into account … 

Questions and answers about the battery 

  • Which temperatures await you on your tour? 
    Why does that matter? Batteries don’t do too well on temperatures that are either too high or too low. In summer heat, the battery management system automatically prevents current consumption from the battery. This also means that the drive unit runs on reduced power. In low temperatures, the battery should initially be used in the highest assist mode, so it stays warm. Tip: Keep the second battery in your backpack warm by using heat pads! 
  • What do you do if the battery goes flat? 
    If the battery really runs out of charge at some point, switch to the lowest and easiest gear and keep pedalling slowly and steadily! On steep ascents or ramps, you need to push your bike. 
     
  • ​​​​​​​How do you charge the battery correctly? 
    If you have the option to charge it somewhere along the route (e.g. at a café, restaurant or hut), you should keep an eye on the charge time: It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours on average to get the battery to an 80 percent charge. The remaining 20 percent can usually be charged within about an hour. Keep in mind the battery charge management as well: Very hot batteries shouldn’t be charged right away – you need to let them cool down first! Another tip: Never go on a tour with a half-empty battery, and always fully charge it ahead of each stage! 
     
  • Is a second battery really necessary? 
    A second battery is definitely useful on longer tours. Many backpacks even have a special battery compartment and a back protector, e.g. the FR Trail E-Ride 20L by EVOC

Battery and drive unit sparing use 

A high pedalling frequency of 80 to 90 revs per minute improves drive unit performance and uses less electricity. When going uphill, this means: Choose a low gear ratio and crank out a few more revs! 

Generally speaking, for an efficient use of the drive unit on tour, you should keep in mind the revs, avoid excessive heat, use the gear ratio effectively, check the tyre pressure, and adjust your assist level to the terrain! 

The chosen assist level along with the performance of the rider are the main determining factors for how much power is used. The highest assist level should thus only be chosen on very steep ascents and difficult uphill trails. 

The battery lasts up to three times longer in the lowest assist level than it does in the highest. As soon as you’re going downhill, switch the assistance to the lowest level or turn it off all together! 

Tips for choosing a route with an E-MTB

  • An e-mountain bike – in comparison to a regular bike – allows you to cover greater distances and more elevation gain. Even more careful route planning and weather monitoring are necessary because of that. 
  • When choosing your route, you should take the E-MTB’s range and elevation gain performance into account, so you don’t drain your battery too quickly. Riding without drive unit assistance on an E-MTB requires quite a bit of strength and endurance. 
  • It’s also important to gauge the difficulty of a descent correctly. By having to hold on more firmly, a descent on an E-MTB can be more taxing than on a regular bike – despite the fact that the bike has more traction on the trail because of its higher weight. The tour should thus always match the level of skill and performance of the rider. 
  • Pack sufficient snacks, drinks and sunscreen! 
  • The right equipment is essential: Bring a backpack, first-aid kit, clothes, small spare parts like a derailleur hanger, tube, spare brake pads, shock pump and tyre pump!
  • Before you head out on a multi-day tour with your E-MTB, you should gradually work your way up to it by going on one-day tours. That’s how you can better gauge the distance you can cover on a full battery. 

Range & elevation gain 

The elevation gain performance of an e-bike is determined by the bodyweight of the rider, the rider’s own performance, the chosen assist level, the weight of the bike and the battery capacity. 

The general rule of thumb is: 10 kilogrammes of difference in weight of the rider = 100 metres of elevation gain. A rider that weighs 60 kilogrammes can cover about 400 additional metres in elevation gain than his friend who weighs 100 kilogrammes – if the motor and assist level are the same. 

Your own performance matters as well: Are you out of shape, in decent shape, in good shape or in excellent shape? That influences the elevation gain performance of your E-MTB as well. 

About the cruising speed on flat terrain 

Depending on the drive unit, you should stay at a reduced speed of 25 km/h on flat and liaison sections of the route. This lowers the kilometre performance significantly in comparison to a non-motorised bike. 

Carrying your e-bike!? 

Generally, you should try to avoid sections where you need to carry or push your bike. Even though there are bikes now that have so-called pushing assistance , this can still get quite tedious after a while. If you still can’t avoid it: Walk at a slow and steady pace and take enough breaks! 

With all these tips and tricks (Part 1 and Part 2) for tour planning by Christoph Malin, you should be perfectly equipped for your next weekend trip with your e-mountain bike. 

Plan your E-MTB tours meticulously and well, and you’ll have tons of fun. Alongside the trails, you should enjoy nature as well! Make time for breaks! Deceleration and relaxation are the magic words. That’s how your tour becomes an amazing experience.
-Christoph Malin-

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