E-BIKES AS A SPORT-SPECIFIC
Josh Carlson is a top enduro-class racer. For the uninitiated, enduro is a mountain bike racing discipline where the downhills are timed but the ascents are not, usually doing multiple laps, and the races last for hours, making them grueling physical tests for the riders.
Carlson’s coach suggested he try an e-bike to shorten the time spent climbing so he could get in more descending time. Lucky for Josh, his bike sponsor happens to be Giant Bicycles, and they set him up on a Trance E+ as similarly as possible to his race bike, a Giant Reign.
“Even before this project came to fruition, I’ve always been pro e-bike. Now that I’ve ridden one, it just brings the fun back! The whole goal of it was to get more descending time in and less effort pedaling on the climbs. The final goal was that I wanted it to replicate my race bike as much as possible.
“I’ve got 160-140mm of travel, which is a little less than the 180/160mm of travel on my race bike, but the geometry of it is pretty similar. I think the extra weight of the e-bike is definitely helping my riding on my normal bike.
“I’m not getting fatigued climbing back up the hill; I’m getting fatigued from doing so many downhill runs.”
“My normal Reign in race setup weighs about 15 kilograms [33 pounds], with big tires, big suspension, and the 180mm travel fork and coil-over shock. This thing weighs about 10 kilos [22 pounds] more, and when I get back onto my Reign after riding this bike, it makes it feel so light and nimble. You can just slap it into turns, and it dances underneath you through rough sections.
“You get to go twice as fast up climbs and twice as fast through stuff with all this extra weight. When you get back on your normal race bike, your mind is used to going that little bit quicker; you just feel like a superhero!
“One of my little training zones that I train on (at home) in Wollongong, Australia, there’s about a 15–20-minute climb back up the hill. Pretty solid, like I’m using a granny gear or a couple of gears down. Usually, in like an hour and a half or two hours, I’ll do maybe six laps. That’s a pretty solid day on my Reign. On this bike, I can pretty easily bust out 8 to 10, sometimes 12 laps. I just get way more downhill time in with way less effort, so I’ll pedal back up the hill at 100 beats a minute. I’ll pretty much just roll straight in, because I’m already rested and recovered, do the exact same downhill, just as aggressive, if not harder because the bike’s heavier and it’s hard to slow down. I get to the bottom and put the power on full gas and just burn back up the hill in like seven minutes, straight back up to the top and do it again! I’m not getting fatigued climbing back up the hill; I’m getting fatigued from doing so many downhill runs. For me, that level of training is ideal.
“I think e-bikes are a perfect training tool for Enduro World Series riders, and for an enduro rider, it will probably become more beneficial than a road bike. Hopefully (my competition) won’t work that out sooner rather than later! With a bit of luck I can keep that to myself a little while.”
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