Technology seems to be disrupting nearly every aspect of our lives these days. I’m barely old enough to remember that finding information and answers meant physically finding the right book or person.
Today, I can remain draped over the couch and speak to a phone that does the all that for me remarkably well. Similarly, and in an odd twist, I remember the day when bicycles were just … bicycles. Those, it turns out, were the good ‘ol days.
Several years ago bicycle manufacturers began introducing electric bicycles to the U.S. market. E-bikes, as they are commonly known, are traditional bicycles with an electric motor on them.
As with most disruptive technologies, it began with a shotgun blast of all sorts of new types of e-bikes.
These range from e-bikes with a throttle that resemble a moped to pedal-assist e-bikes, where the motor engages in-line and only with pedalling output. The latter version is more common in the U.S.
This technology is showing up on every type of bicycle now, irrespective of category or use. Mountain bikes have received the e-treatment, putting us in a world where one must differentiate between a mountain bike and an e-mountain bike — e-mtb.
There is real appeal to these; e-mtbs can take a less experienced mountain biker up trails at speeds approaching 16 mph by simply pedaling the bike like one normally would.
In their first generations, e-bikes clearly stood out with big batteries and motors that looked as if they were oddly strapped to the bike. Today they are becoming increasingly more integrated and consequently, more difficult to differentiate between a standard, nonmotorized bicycle.
Though e-bikes certainly blur the lines between being a motorized or nonmotorized product, they do indeed have motors. Appropriately, cities, counties, states and federal land management agencies have begun rolling out their respective laws and rules regarding e-bike use.
Attention Big Bear: the United States Forest Service, which manages the national forest that surrounds our Valley, has designated all e-bikes as motorized vehicles. This means that they are legal to use anywhere an off-highway vehicles are allowed on Forest Service roads and OHV areas. But they are not allowed on nonmotorized trails.