What exactly is the difference in time, effort and speed between a Trail and an e-Trail bike?
Okay okay so it’s not exactly a fair contest and perhaps it’s more a comparison ride than a shootout. Nevertheless, many riders are puzzling over just how an E-Bike ride compares to an average trail bike ride so I put together this shootout day to gather some data for you.
I headed out to Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch for back to back runs on the Red Phoenix trail. In terms of the devices for the data gathering, I used Strava (iPhone) and a Polar HRM. First off, I did a slow inspection run down the trail on the Stumpjumper, just to check out the trail. Then, I did a timed climb up and recorded the data. Then a fast timed run down the trail and recorded all that data.
Then I got the Specialized Levo out and did the same climb route and recorded the data. Lastly, I did the same descent, and, you guessed right, recorded all that data. After uploading the eBike ride to Strava as a normal bike ride, I noted the time on the ‘RED PHOENIX 1,2,3’ segment before reloading the ride as an E-Bike ride. This allowed me to use the exact same segment for both descents yielding stable data. All the rides are on Strava so you can have a look there if you are interested.
ABOUT THE TEST BIKES
Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper
This is an ideal do-it-all trail bike for South Africa and with
Take the ultra-playful Specialized Stumpjumper, give it a bigger downtube to house a battery and a motor, then bump up the travel by 10mm and hey presto – you have yourself a Specialized Levo. Well, it wasn’t nearly as easy as that – but the end result is a bike that is very close in geometry to the Stumpjumper. This particular Levo has some aftermarket items like carbon wheels from cSixx, Maxxis DH casing rubber
// Note: As good as Gary Perkin is, it’s impossible for him to be on two continents at the same time so the action images seen here are not from the RED PHOENIX trail. //
It’s quite a brutal climb from the bottom of Jonkershoek to the top of the Red Phoenix trail. The distance is 3.95km with an elevation gain of 355m on gravel roads. On each lap
|Average Heart Rate||88%||91%|
|Max Heart Rate||102%||99%|
|Time in HR Zone 5||26min14sec||19min25sec|
|Time in HR Zone 4||5min01sec||2min11sec|
|Time in HR Zone 3||3min10sec||2min14sec|
Interpretation of the data: The Levo wins the climb! No prizes for guessing that one right! And naturally, if I had used the Mission Control App to provide more support that climbing time would easily be halved on the Levo. But this is how I ride the eBike most of the time, with minimal support, so this is the setting I elected to use for the shootout data since it shows how much work can be done on an eBike. The 91% average heart rate for the climb on the eBike is the key indicator in this data, that’s working – by anyone’s standards or fitness level.
The Red Phoenix descent is a flow line with singletrack from top to bottom. It measures 2.2km, has a 287m drop and is an average gradient of -12.7%. Here is the data:
|Timed Descent (Strava)||4min10sec||4min08sec|
|Average Heart Rate||90%||98%|
|Max Heart Rate||105%||124%|
|Time in HR Zone 5||4min19sec||3min44sec|
|Time in HR Zone 4||0min44sec||1min33sec|
|Time in HR Zone 3||1min10sec||0min23sec|
The Levo wins! But only by 2 seconds. That was really interesting – even after having spent a year on the Levo, this really surprised me as I thought it would be much quicker. Now there are a
If the test
Shootout day POV, descending the Red Phoenix on the Levo:
The numbers show that E-Bikes can give you a proper workout when climbing with reduced assistance. Also, the Levo is not necessarily a whole lot faster than the Stumpjumper when descending, but it is far more taxing on the rider physically. The ride dynamic between the two bikes is very different –
IMAGES: Gary Perkin