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May 15, 2019

Is Electric Bikepacking Is The New Black? - Chapter 1

Ebikes have finally started to catch on with North Americans in the last couple of years and people are starting to use them for all manner of reasons. Electric mountain bikes are a thing. Electric city commuter bikes are a thing. Electric cargo bikes are definitely a thing. But electric touring bikes? Are they a thing?

They are indeed a thing, and we believe they are poised to propel more people into bigger/longer adventures as more and more companies design bikes with bigger batteries and faster chargers.

Riese and Muller is one of the companies at the front edge of this adventure wave, producing more than a few models that are capable of very long distances on a single charge - up to 200kms - depending on use and road/trail conditions and models that can be ridden on moderate singletrack and gravel/2-track roads.

We took one of our demo models - the Multicharger Vario with dual battery - out for our very first #ebikeovernight and it was an enlightening experience. It was a highway ride out to Gooseberry Campground west of Bragg Creek and back again the next day.

Strava Day 1
Strava Day 2

Key Takeaways:
  • It wasn't as easy as we expected but it was easier than a normal touring-loaded bike
  • You still have to pedal and you feel the distance
  • You can bring a few more camp comforts along
  • You sit almost the whole time so your saddle and bike fit matter - a lot
The next test ahead if to take a decidedly more off road, multi-day route with an appropriate bike - which we will document in Chapter 2.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo essay of the adventure.

Mission Control. Tunes? Check. GPS? Check. Hydration? Check. Daytime running lights? Check. Front bag with all the close-at-hands items? Check. On my way out of Calgary using part of our pathway network.
Overall, it was a really nice evening for a bike ride to the mountains. Mostly clear skies but this cloudburst ahead was a little bit worrying as it seemed to be parked right on top of the Bragg Creek townsite - which I had to go through, eventually.

It wasn't long before I ending up pulling over to install my rain jacket/gloves and meeting up with the rain but thankfully I was able to skirt around the edge of the worst of it, and by the time I reached Bragg Creek proper, the rain was gone and the skies cleared a bit with blue patches visible till the Sun went down.

My personal favorite road riding conditions are wet roads with clear skies. There is just something about the slithering sound tires make on wet roads that I love. I had to stop and shoot a photo of this scene: beautiful sky, thick forest, no filters or treatments, just that feeling of being on your bike, on an adventure. I feel like this photo captures that feeling. It wasn't too long after this that I arrived at Gooseberry Campground. It was getting close to dark, so no photos of the evening. Also, no camp host so getting a fire going required rolling around in the dark with a headlamp, scrounging around in the empty camp sites looking for firewood. The cargo bags in the Multicharger came in handy for that - one lao of the campground = 2 full bags of burnable wood.

Morning coffee and oatmeal. I had one of my best sleeps in a tent in years and awoke pretty well rested and refreshed in that "I Slept In A Tent Last Night" kinda way. Camping in the mountains means 2 things, no matter what time of year it is: 1 - never believe the forecast and 2 - always bring a puffy jacket. For me, in-camp-comfort matters so I always bring camp clothes I can change into - as well as my puffy jacket if needed. Getting out of the riding clothes, freshening up with a face wash/baby wipes, makes getting settled for the night so much more enjoyable.

Morning pose with the front range of the Rocky Mountains in the background. What a way to start the day.

Heading home. Can you see the deer in the background? They must see a lot of people on bikes because they sure weren't worried about me. After a quick stop in Bragg Creek for second breakfast, I was off down the highway back towards home. If I had been on an "acoustic" bike instead of an electric, this is the point where I'd begin whining about the brutal headwind blowing out of the East - 30kms back to Calgary. However, with the push of a button, a steady 25kph headwind was minimized and the ride home - although still difficult - was not brutal. This is where ebikes shine.

All-in-all our first ebikeovernight was a really cool experience and something we are definitely going to do again. While riding, I kept thinking about that old yarn about ebikes being "cheating" - which of course, is absurd. In this particular case, with the weather forecast, leaving kind of late in the day, and with myself feeling a little worn out from a hard work week, I probably would not have gone for a bikeovernight - IF IT WASN'T FOR THE EBIKE.

In other words - I got 2 bikes rides, an overnight in my tent, and that experience BECAUSE OF the ebike. I rode my bike more. I had another great adventure. All because of the ebike. And this is the magic of ebikes and what actual studies are showing: People that own them ride more often then if they didn't own one.

Magic technology. Truly.

Check out our collection of electric city, commuting, cargo, and yes - touring models - at our shop one day soon.

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