Guilty Pleasure: The E-Bike Mountain Bike Test

With unseasonal (but awesome) weather this week, I managed to cram in one of my favourite activities; a multi-sport day. I rode my hardtail 29er, my Kawasaki KLR 650 and a Lapierre Overvolt 900. All in one day.

Which was the most fun? Well, I’ll tell you my hard tail was dead last. It felt sluggish (I’ve been eating a lot of chips lately).

Then came my 650. The dirt trails over near Meaford, Ontario are so much fun on this thing. There was just the right amount of water, but flying through the woods on a motorcycle tends to scare the shit out of me.

The Lapierre, however? That was a real treat to ride.

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Alex Churchill on the Lapierre Overvolt 900. Glen Harris Photo

Now, I’ve never ridden an e-assist mountain bike before. And I can’t say I’ve thought about them, researched them or ever considered buying one. A friend left one in my garage to try. So why wouldn’t I?

I know I’m about to take endless abuse from all matter of friends, purists and haters of every ilk. I know saying ‘they’re huge in Europe,’ is no defense and I realize, you’ll tell me, “but you’re not getting any exercise.”

But you know what? They’re a damn good time. With the assist on, every pedal stroke pushes you further than it should. And you start riding faster than you could normally. It’s like you’re always going downhill. Or there’s a constant and steady tailwind. It’s like doping without the associated health risks. I rode all of my local trails on this thing in the time it usually takes to do one loop. All of them. And yes, I still broke a sweat. I still got a workout.

“It’s like you’re always going downhill.It’s like doping without the associated health risks.”

Yes, these bikes weigh a lot. And they’re really sluggish without any battery power. But before you judge, try one sometime. They’re really, really fun. Going fast on a bike is always a good time. Why wouldn’t you want to go just a little bit faster than you normally could?

Is the e-bike the way of the future? Who knows? There’s definitely a place for them. Rumour has it that Blue Mountain will have a fleet of them next summer. And the e-bike has huge potential for getting more people out on the trail. Will we all be riding e-bikes in ten years time? I have no idea. After trying one, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Will we all be riding fat bikes in ten years time? Hell no (unless they have e-assist on them).

Of course along with the e-bike comes trail access issues, and a whole whack of new controversy for trail users, that I won’t dare debate.

I’m in the market for a new bike next spring. Since I last bought a new bike, mountain bike prices have skyrocketed. I’m looking at anywhere from $5000-$10,000 for what I want (a brand new Kawasaki KLR is only $7000!).

This Lapierre comes in at $5500. Will I buy one? Probably not. Because let’s face it, I’ll take way too much grief from my riding buddies. And what fun will it be to constantly kick their ass on the trails? But after trying one, an e-bike will certainly be on the list of bikes to consider.


Lapierre – Overvolt from Lapierre Bikes on Vimeo.