THE ZBIKE Lithuanian e-bike manufacturer ZBike announced that their initial stable will include two models, the Z1 and Z2. The bikes are manufactured in Lithuania. The ZBike Z1 model has a composite carbon fiber/fiberglass frame (ISO tested) and a liquid-cooled rear hub (the only one that exists). It can go up to 100 km/h, at 10-kW continuous power and up to 14-kW peak, with up to a 220-kilometer range on one charge. The battery is easily swapped in about a minute. Charging time is from two to six-plus hours depending on the charger type. It has a throttle and mode that limits power and speed to 25 km/h to make it street-legal. The front wheel is 26 inches and the rear wheel is 24 inches, and it features Magura hydraulic brakes, and DNM front and rear shocks as the base option. The Z1 weighs in at 50 kilograms (110 pounds). The Z2 has a 6082 T6 aluminum frame and fork, with 5mm and 3mm thick tubes, respectively. It also uses DNM suspension. It features a Bafang mid-drive, and a 1.4-kWh battery. Brakes are Magura MT5e and drivetrain is Shimano XT. If you go above the base model, they can spec the bike with suspension from Manitou, RockShox and Fox, and any components can be changed based upon customer needs. Price: Z1, €8777.77; Z2, €5221.00 www.zbike.eu THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post The ZBIKE appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
PEGASUS PREMIO NU New kid on the block Pegasus is a German brand that is under the same umbrella as Bulls Bikes, but billed as a less-expensive sister brand. They’ve been around since the 1980s, and they make both traditional bikes as well as e-bikes. Whereas Bulls targets athletes with performance-oriented bikes, Pegasus makes bikes for urban riders and commuters. They have spent a lot of time focused on the culture around urban riding. For several years, they have been treating bikes as the transportation of the future, encouraging a culture of riding and advocating for safer streets, etc. THE BIKE The Premio line is directed to the touring and trekking market. The Premio Nu is the one offered with the NuVinci continuously variable transmission, or CVT, with a Gates belt drive. The aluminum Premio Nu is available in multiple forms—from a regular diamond frame to this low step-thru version. It’s a very-low step-thru with gusseting to keep the frame from flexing too much. The battery is integrated into the frame, and the cables are mostly internally routed for a very clean look. The Nu comes with fenders, integrated lighting and a very sturdy rear rack. THE PARTS This bike is all about comfort. It has a very relaxed, upright riding position, with an adjustable stem to get it set up perfectly the way you like it. You can make the bars higher or further forward with a simple adjustment that requires an Allen wrench. Not only is the Selle Royal gel saddle really comfortable, the seatpost has a built-in shock absorber. The SR SunTour fork has enough travel to soak up the bumps in the road, and it has adjustable damping with a really easy lockout lever. For the back of the bike, there’s a wide and highly padded Selle Royal 3D Skingel saddle mounted on a suspension seatpost to keep you safe from rough roads. Ergon lock-on grips provide a lot of surface area and are very comfortable on long rides. The plastic pedals are likely the cheapest thing on this bike, but they’re big and flat and have grip tape. The CVT drivetrain is an interesting choice. To use a Gates belt drive, you need an internal-shifting rear hub to have gears. Or, in this case, a lack thereof, instead providing a glissando range of gearing. You twist the grip on the right side of the bars, and an indicator shows a hill (making pedaling easier but slower) or flat ground (giving you the highest speed) or anywhere in between. The whole drivetrain is set up for virtually zero maintenance and is super silent. The belt will likely never break, but if it does, the frame can separate at the rear of the chainstays to allow installation of a new belt. Nothing on this bike says “low-end,” especially with a Bosch CX motor and Miranda cranks. Another interesting choice is hydraulic rim brakes from Magura. It’s cheaper to use these than a hydraulic disc system and, if set up right, provides ample stopping power. This bike definitely has that. The rear rack has no shortage of attachment points for cargo and comes with a spring-loaded holder and an included SKS Rookie tire pump. The rack itself can easily get your stuff to work, and it’s rated to hold up to 55 pounds of cargo, which could even include a child seat. THE MOTOR The Premio Nu comes with a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, the same you’d find in an electric mountain bike, though this bike doesn’t come stock with the e-MTB mode. The CX is the most thrilling of Bosch’s motors, with the highest torque and the strongest “kick” as it comes in. It’s a Class 1 bike, so it provides power to 20 mph. The sprocket sizes seem unusual, with a smaller one in the front than the one in the rear, but this is necessary, because the CX motor’s sprocket turns 2.5 times for every time the cranks rotate once. Because the CX samples everything from input torque to pedal cadence to rear-wheel speed on the order of 1000 times per second, it also senses when you shift, and there’s a nearly imperceptible drop of power to be kinder to the drivetrain as you shift. The Purion display is compact and integrates the controls into the display. For this model, they’ve gone with a PowerTube battery built into the downtube. It can be removed with a key fairly easily. The fully adjustable stem does require tools to adjust, but it’s easy to find the perfect riding position. WHO IT’S MADE FOR The Premio is a good bike for commuters who want a maintenance-free, quiet bike that can carry anything and everything they need for work. It also works well as a touring bike, with lots of creature comforts and great range. THE RIDE Though the range of the NuVinci CVT is fairly small, it still worked well on every hill we threw at it. Pegasus seems to have chosen this wisely. The silence of the system is palpable. The only thing you can hear is the sound of the motor, and unless you’re on the bike, you likely won’t hear it at all. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to worry about lubricating your chain or getting grease on your pant leg. A well-designed chain guard also keeps your pants away from the belt. If you’ve ever seen a pant leg get stuck in a belt drive, you know that’s a hard situation to free yourself from. The included SKS Rookie tire pump fits nicely in the rack. Everything about the bike is relaxed and comfortable. Long rides aren’t taxing, and with the PowerTube battery, you have the range to ride almost all day on one charge. Cruising the bike down the bike path is really pleasant, because every control on the bike is where you expect it. We did at times wish it was a Class 3 when we were in traffic on bike lanes, but the power to get to 20 mph was exhilarating. There’s a small, included bell that’s a nice touch. It’s much more courteous than yelling at people. The SR Suntour fork doesn’t provide much travel, but it does take out the bumps in the road. It’s adjustable to rider preference. The Schwalbe Marathon tires provide great grip and low-rolling resistance. We love them for their grip, their durability and, at night, for their retro-reflective rim stripes! SKS fenders kept us dry when the street was not. Day or night, it was nice to have the bright head- and taillights that are integrated and always on. The bright, wide beam is great for seeing at night, and in daylight it makes sure you’ll be seen. There’s some adjustability on the headlight to aim it up or down. Our only complaint about the bike is the seatpost. It’s nice, because as a suspension post, it takes the hard bumps out of the road. But because of the way it’s constructed, the saddle can rotate side to side a few degrees, which is just enough to make it feel not quite so sturdy. It is, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. THE VERDICT This was the very first bike we’ve had to review from Pegasus. It’s near the top of the line, and at $4699, it is no bargain-basement bike. But, it’s a good value with the premium Bosch system, Gates belt and the quality of all the other components. SPECS PEGASUS PREMIO NU Price: $4700 Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX 36V, 250W mid-drive Battery: Bosch Powertube, 36V, 500 Wh, lithium-ion Charge time: 3–4.5 hours Top speed: 20 mph Range: 20–50 miles Drive: Gates CDX Carbon belt, Nuvinci C8 CVT Brakes: Magura hydraulic rim brakes Controls: Bosch Purion Fork: SR Suntour SF18 TR HSI 63mm Frame: 7005 aluminum Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Plus 47-622, 29×1.75” Weight: 65 lb. Color choices: Dark blue with orange and black highlights Sizes: S, M, L www.pegasus-bikes.de THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Bike Review: PEGASUS PREMIO NU appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
CAKE KALK& STREET BIKE In our last issue we tested the unique Cake Kalk off-road bike. Built with an assortment of downhill mountain bike and motorcycle components, the Kalk hit the scales at a reasonable 143 pounds. The new bike, called the Kalk& (as in Kalk And), is visually identical to the off-road version, save for lights, signals and street tires. There have been some tweaks to the chassis, and the motor, gearing and programming have been tweaked for less torque but higher speeds and able to go over 100 kph. The bike is street-legal in the U.S. and the EU. Cake is now taking pre-orders. www.ridecake.com THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Cake Kalk & Street Bike appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
YAMAHA WABASH Yamaha shocked the world in 2017 by announcing four new bikes at the big North American bike show, Interbike. Those bikes went into production and started shipping to consumers last year, and we’ve had a chance to ride all of them and review one so far. They announced the fifth bike to their lineup last year by announcing a drop-bar gravel bike called the Wabash. It’s named after the Wabash Trace trail that runs over 60 miles through Iowa—from Council Bluffs to the small town of Blanchard near the Missouri border. Yamaha delivered us one of the very first Wabash units to hit the U.S., and we couldn’t wait to ride it and see what it’s like. THE BIKE The Wabash is a drop-bar bike with a traditional, double-triangle frame with modern amenities like thru-axle wheels and disc brakes. The aluminum frame and fork construction make for a solid but stiff ride. Cable routing is largely internal, and there are external cable clamp bosses to mount a dropper post, if you’re so inclined. The seat tube is 30.9mm to fit a variety of posts available. There is a bottle-cage mount on the seat tube and bosses, and mounts for a rear rack and front and rear fenders. THE PARTS A SRAM Apex drivetrain is complemented by a KMC X11e e-bike-specific chain. SRAM dual-piston hydraulic brakes are plenty for this bike, and the magnet for the speed sensor is built into the rear rotor, while the sensor is integrated into the rear of the frame, something Yamaha started with their other bikes. The single shifter is integrated into the rear brake lever. The 700c rims are mounted with Maxxis Speed Terraine 33mm tires, which are a good choice for the right combination of low-rolling resistance and off-road grip, as they have really small knobs in the center but more aggressive ones towards the side to aid in cornering. The tires are tubeless-ready, but the rims aren’t. Larger tires with more volume can be used also, but Yamaha suggests not going over 40mm if you ever plan to mount fenders and/or a rack on the bike. The wide handlebars are meant for gravel riding and are covered with padded cork tape. An integrated small headlight comes on with a push of a button on the display. It’s bright but has a fairly narrow beam. THE MOTOR Yamaha had two choices for which motor to put in the Wabash. Since it’s an off-roader, at least part-time, they could have easily put in the PW-X motor, with one extra mode that boosts the torque to 80Nm at the highest setting, making it similar to their hardtail eMTB, the YDX Torx. They instead decided to go with the PWSeries SE, the same as on the rest of their line. Yamaha’s proven compact display offers easy-to-read information, and lights up the top in different colors based on the power level chosen. We asked them why they don’t put a 28-mph, Class 3 motor on a drop-bar bike. Their answer was simple and responsible—since the Wabash is meant to go off-road, they wanted to keep it as a Class 1 bike to keep it legal for street and trails. This makes perfect sense, and the hand-off from pedal assist at around 20 mph is so gradual, you barely notice it. “Our over-exuberance was met with some sketchy moments, but that’s what happens on an e-bike!” The motor offers instant torque—from zero rpm up to a maximum of 70 N/m and at a cadence of up to 110 rpm. There are four levels of assist: Eco+, which essentially overcomes the extra weight of the battery and motor; Eco, which offers a bit more power; Standard, which was our mode of choice for all but the steeper ascents; and High. Integrated LED light in front is included. It is enough to be seen but not necessarily to see off-road at night. The bike comes with Yamaha’s one and only display. It’s in a rugged case and mounted in front of the stem so you don’t have to look too far down to see it. The controller is behind the bars on the left side, near the stem. It’s a neat configuration, for sure, but you have to sit upright to reach it. The world’s smallest bike bell is directly opposite it, also with the same reason to sit upright. The 500-Wh battery gave us enough range for several rides before needing to recharge it. We rarely used Eco and only used Eco+ to find out if it was any fun. It wasn’t. We’d love to see an integrated battery on future Yamaha bikes. It seems there’s a natural progression toward this, and it really improves the look of the bike. WHO IT’S MADE FOR This bike is designed for commuters who want to ride flats in their suit on the way to the office, then switch to their cycling shoes, flip the pedals over, clip in and find fun dirt paths on the way home. As drop-bar bikes go, it’s a relatively inexpensive and capable bike for some light off-roading. THE RIDE We used the Wabash for both paved and unpaved expeditions. On the road there’s plenty of gearing even for steep hills. The aggressive rider position makes you want to go faster. We’re big fans of fingers always on brakes, so we mostly rode with our palms resting on the Apex brake hoods. The single shifter for the rear derailleur controls up- or downshifting. This may be the world’s tiniest bike bell. It was actually useful to alert others we were coming. The relatively narrow tires translated bumps pretty harshly through the unforgiving aluminum frame and fork. We almost got stuck in a few grooves on the street, which is something commuters might consider. If you have horribly maintained roads, you might want to think about running wider tires. We loved the smooth transition between power assist and no assist, we could accelerate from stops, never having to roll through to carry momentum. Above 20 mph it’s all the strength of the rider, and this bike’s pretty easy to keep up there. Controls were well-placed overall. Most of the time we had to change position to ring the little bell or change power mode, neither of which we did much. Whistling was easier than the bell in traffic. When we hit the dirt, the bike provided more fun than we expected. There aren’t a lot of options for gravel bikes in the e-bike world, so this was a treat! It’s definitely a different experience than that of even a front-suspension mountain bike. Plenty of energy is transferred to the rider, especially from the front end, over rocks and bumps. We did like the padded cork tape on the bars. That did actually help smooth out the bumps. Yamaha went for an off-road saddle with chromoly rails. It was comfortable, even on longer rides. The 42t large rear cog and the power-assist turned up to High was just enough to climb most steep inclines, but lacking any suspension made getting through rutted sections troublesome. A fully SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain shifted perfectly and provided an excellent gear range. Descending on the Yamaha was a blast. It was nimble, and that was a good thing. On all the off-camber corners, even with all the loose rocks and dirt, the tires bit, never sliding once. The one time we did skid was the usual skid test to make sure the rear wheel can lock up, even while we’re sitting on the saddle. Modulation kept that at a minimum. THE VERDICT If we had one complaint, it would be that Yamaha really needs to update the form and function of their e-bikes. The Wabash, while a good performer, does have the look and feel of a bike from 2017. Being that they are as large a company as they are with a vaunted history of turning out incredibly designed motorcycles, we have higher expectations of what Yamaha could deliver. The Wabash looks dated as it lines up next to the competition, many of which now feature integrated batteries. Overall, this is a really fun bike to ride, and it does love to go off-road. It feels as natural in either environment. The great thing about drop bar bikes is the variety of riding positions it offers. It would definitely be a fun commuter, especially if there’s a dirt shortcut along the way. There’s a lot of value for the price, especially with the level of components. SPECS YAMAHA WABASH MSRP: $3500 Motor: Yamaha PWSeries SE Battery: Yamaha 500 Wh, 36V lithium-ion Charge time: 4 hours Top speed: 20 mph (with assist) Range: 30–50 miles (tested) Drive: SRAM Apex 1 Brakes: SRAM Apex hydraulic, 160mm rotors Controls: Yamaha Fork: One-piece aluminum, 12x100mm thru-axle, fender compatible, internal brake hose routing Frame: Yamaha hydroformed aluminum Tires: Maxxis Speed Terrane, 700x33c TR EXO Weight: 42.3 lbs. (large) Color choice: Latte Sizes: S/M/L www.yamahabicycles.com THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Bike Review: YAMAHA WABASH appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
Fully Charged Recently following a spate of rainstorms, I was out in the mountains overlooking Malibu scouting some trails with my girlfriend for an upcoming camping trip. The scenery was stunning. Everything was lush, there were flowers popping up, and the Sahara mustard was starting to bloom. The creek was full and rapid from the rains. As we walked along the trail trying to avoid the puddles, we were passed by a couple of volunteers from the Santa Monica Mountains Mountain Bike Unit. Although I had a feeling of what their response would be, I asked them what they thought about electric bikes. The two guys, who in their 50s and 60s, both gray-haired and both obviously cherished their post-ride beer refuels, talked at length with us. One of the two was overtly negative towards pedal-assist bikes, pointing out proudly that he not only preferred regular bikes, but his own mountain bike was a single-speed. He’s either that fit or a complete masochist, but I did have to offer my respect for that. His partner was a bit more open about e-bikes, though he, too, thought they were best for people who needed them and not just wanted them. Their concern wasn’t about the e-bikes tearing up the trails, as they both knew that they don’t cause any more wear than a traditional mountain bike. They were more worried that kids with no sense of trail etiquette would do damage and end up ruining the experience for other people on the trails. Organizations like NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) are doing a great job of teaching etiquette to teens, as are some forward-thinking bike shops. It’s good for us to all work together to have a civil discussion with others to ensure we can all keep enjoying our local trails. YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY The two volunteers talked about the problem of user-group intolerance on the trails. Hikers want the trails to themselves, and cyclists do, too. Mostly, they get along, but some selfishly wish they were the only ones allowed on the trail. As one example, they recounted an event where volunteers took wheelchair-bound people down the trails, out into nature, and all the way to the beach at Sycamore Canyon. The Highway Patrol was there to block traffic so everyone could cross the Pacific Coast Highway to get out to the beach. Apparently, it was very emotional for the participants, with some of them crying because it was the first time they’d ever been to the beach. “It started when a blind man walked into a bike shop to buy a bike.” Sadly, both hikers and bikers lodged complaints because there were so many people and wheelchairs on the trail, such as, “How dare they be out here, especially on a weekend!” Shouldn’t this be a chance for everyone to enjoy the outdoors? If you slow down a bit for someone else to enjoy it with you, is that a bad thing? LEADING THE BLIND The wheelchair story reminded me of an article that ran in our sister zine Mountain Bike Action many years back (MBA, May 2001) about a group of blind mountain bikers. The group was known as BATS, or the Blind Adventure Travel Society. It started when a blind man walked into a bike shop to buy a bike. They thought he was joking, but one of the shop’s employees talked with him about his plan, since he could perceive light and could ride at night around the street near his house. Ultimately, the blind man’s brother demanded that the shop owner take the bike back. That experience inspired Griffin to go back to school and earn a master’s degree in special education, and he ultimately figured out that he could follow another mountain biker down a trail just by listening to the rider in front of him. He then started organizing rides for the blind, and it’s an incredibly inspiring and empowering story. You can read it on MBA’s website at https://bit.ly/2V6pywd HOW ABOUT YOU? Speaking of talking to people, I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how e-bikes have changed your life. E-mail me stories and pictures, if you have them, or send them in snail mail or via passenger pigeon. Until then, get out and ride! THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Fully Charged appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
The kings of mountain bike YouTube were all in Innsbruck for Crankworx so took some time away from the racing to go for a wild street session( Comments: 1 )
We went to Virginia’s Blue Ridge to see how it’s become a heaven on earth for mountain bikers The 100ft neon star at the top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, a city on the East Coast of the United States, is comfortably the most distinctive man-made landmark in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After all, it’s a 100ft neon star and it’s on top of a mountain. Come on now. It also happens to be surrounded by a plethora of mountain bike trails, and there’s something quite comforting about that, isn’t there? If the number one attraction on TripAdvisor is also a hotspot for mountain biking then you can safely presume that the place is probably a ‘mountain biking town’ by definition, and that you’re going to meet a lot of ‘mountain people’ while you’re there; the type that don’t mind if you’re covered in mud and won’t ask if you’ve ever competed in the Tour de France when they hear you’re there to ride a bicycle. “The Roanoke Star has at least 94ft on the Bollywood legend” The Roanoke Star is the largest freestanding star this side of the stratosphere. A quick Google search for the ‘biggest star in the world’ suggests that Indian film star Shah Rukh Khan is actually the biggest star in the world of course, but we doubled checked the maths on and Kahn is only 5ft 8”, so the Roanoke Star has at least 94ft on the Bollywood legend. The star was originally installed on the 1738ft Mill Mountain in 1949 as a Christmas decoration, but like a student household who leave their fake Christmas tree up so long that eventually, there’s not much point taking it down at all, the locals in Roanoke liked the star so much that they decided to make it a permanent feature, and it’s now an icon of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Rigged up with 2000ft of neon tubing, the star lights up each night, and on the way up to the star, and particularly on the way back down, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Photo: Stuart Kenny We spend the best part of an hour or so weaving and winding our way up to the top of Mill Mountain. You can see the star from almost any street in Roanoke, so we’d been a little wary of the climb – the star being so high up and lurking over us in the days and nights previous – but it wasn’t as punishing as we feared. The sidewinding trail was merciful and offered enough variety and trail features that the climb was actually, dare we say it, pretty enjoyable. Looking out from the star back out over Roanoke, you get a fantastic sense for how green the whole region is. It’s really, really green. Extremely green. There’s a bit of city in the middle where you can see downtown Roanoke, and the neighbouring city of Salem (not that Salem), and then everywhere else is just… green. Green as a vegan cafe. Which is good, isn’t it? That’s what you want from a trail town. Bit of city. Lots of hills. Best of both worlds. Pictured: Downtown Roanoke. Photo: Creative Dog Media When you’re actually downtown in Roanoke it can feel like any other small city. It’s got the coffee shops, some great brewers, art galleries and an intensely chaotic pinball museum, but not every city can boast views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and access to the world famous Appalachian Trail (which strictly, sadly, doesn’t allow mountain biking). Still, there are no lack of options when it comes to getting your turns. “Within an hour of downtown Roanoke there’s over 200 miles of singletrack” There are 13 miles of trail on Mill Mountain alone, a 10 minute cycle from the city. We take a trail called ‘Monument’ back down to the bottom and whizz over bone-shaking rocks, root and dirt in a fifth of the time it took us to get up the trail. There’s plenty of room to connect trails and make the mountain more of a rolling ride though if you wanted to make a day of it. The good folks at the Roanoke Outdoor Adventures hub, where we rent our full-sus bike, tell us they often head up Mill Mountain to ride over lunch or for a ride after work on weekdays. “It’s one of the few places where you can be downtown, then get on a bike and be on mountain biking singletrack in 10 minutes,” says Richard Blackwood, my guide to the trails in Roanoke. Richard is Ride Coordinator of the local Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists (BROC) group, dedicated to preserving and enhancing the trails in the area. Pictured: Starr Hill Brewery. Photo: Visit Virginias Blue Ridge The Mill Mountain trails are just the start of the riding in Roanoke, a city whose newly-received status as an International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) silver-level ride centre is quickly establishing it as the mountain biking capital of the East Coast. “Within an hour of downtown Roanoke there’s over 200 miles of singletrack,” says Richard. “And that’s not counting fire roads or double track. That’s just pure singletrack.” “That’s what you want from a trail town. Bit of city. Lots of hills. Best of both worlds” All-included, there’s a whopping 320 miles of trail within an hour of downtown Roanoke. With that in mind, it’s almost remarkable it’s not become a mountain biking mecca before now. The trails aren’t particularly new, either. Most of them were built within the last 15-20 years. The difference recently though, and something that sets Roanoke apart from a lot of places with great mountain biking potential, is that the city is doing all it can to help mountain biking grow in Roanoke. Bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way here. Photo: Stuart Kenny “It started off as just a few trails,” says Richard. “There was a trail called Four Gorges built by four brothers. It had been ridden a lot but it was unofficial. The city knew they could fight it and just constantly have people putting the trail back in, or just say ‘okay let’s make it a trail’. “That was one of the first ones out and then it expanded from there into the lowers. Once they realised there were people who were willing to come on out and work on the trails, and that they weren’t having to dump a bunch of money into it, they really gave their blessing.” We rode the ‘lowers’, a section of the nearby mountain biking paradise of Carvins Cove, the previous day, taking us through enchanted forests, up winding climbs quickly rewarded with technical downhills and past wild deer and turkeys and below hawks. We hear stories of the black bears that often roam the trails though sadly, or perhaps luckily, none pop up. Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second largest municipal park in the country, covering 11,363 acres. It includes McAfee Knob, one of the most commonly photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, and more importantly, boasts 45 miles of mountain bike singletrail. Photo: Stuart Kenny The area can be divided into the upper, steep climbs rewarded by stunning panoramas of the surrounding mountains and reservoir, and the lowers, which offer up an enormous variation of rolling forest mountain bike trails expertly maintained and always expanding. “There’s a really strong volunteer organisation and its stepped up since the city stepped up and started backing the riders and giving permissions to expand the trails,” Richard says. “It’s made a huge difference in people’s willingness to help out and do more instead of just going out to ride occasionally. We have a couple of different crews now, and they’re all volunteers. They build trail because they love doing it and they get enough out of it that they want to give back and help build Roanoke into an even bigger mountain bike destination.” One of the things that strikes us when we ride is how well the builders have made use of the forest; with what must have been meticulous planning in order to map out trail routes which offer variety in both feel and views, without ever feeling like they’re imposing on the forest or taking away from its beauty and wild feel. As a mountain biker, these are the sorts of trails you like to dream are in every forest you drive past on a daily basis, but rarely actually find. Pictured: Carvins Cove. Photo: Sam Dean Photography It was in May 2018 that Roanoke were recognised by IMBA for their efforts. IMBA say their Ride Centres denote the “pinnacle of mountain bike communities”, and there are currently only 39 in the world. Roanoke is the first spot on the East Coast to be awarded silver status. “It’s very recent but we’re already seeing an influx of people coming in and riding from different areas,” says Richard. “Roanoke might just be on the brink of becoming one of the most visited mountain biking destinations in the United States” “I think that’s really going to ramp up as the weather gets better through spring and summer.” There are plans to develop certain areas of Roanoke, including the camping and luxury camping options in the city; in anticipation of the expected influx. The trails are always developing too – we pass three new builds underway in Carvins Cove on our route. The half-finished ‘Rock and Roll’ route makes a fantastic out-and-back, flowing both ways, with beautifully sculpted stone bridges and river crossings, and the trail will make for a tantalising prospect when it’s done. It seems the trail network is always growing more, alongside the other essentials that Roanoke already has covered. Photo: Stuart Kenny The 10-stool Texas Tavern dates back to the 1930s and will whip you up something cheap and greasy if you want to put those calories back on after your ride, and the craft beer scene is flourishing – check out Starr Hill on Tuesday for a pub quiz or Deschutes on Wednesday to drink a huge variety of beer to a soundtrack of traditional string band Americana music. We’re told on more than one occasion that most people who grew up in Roanoke used to get out as soon as they could, and only came back when it was time to raise a family or to retire – but that’s changing now. The mountain biking community has given the city a new focal point; and a new pull for the youth to stay. There’s award-winning bike shops – check out Just The Right Gear – a diverse and developing trail network, and it all offers such variation. Roanoke might just be on the brink of becoming one of the most visited mountain biking destinations in the United States, and they’ve got there in the best possible way – through the hard work of a community that just loves digging trails, and loves riding bikes. Do It Yourself We flew from Heathrow to Washington (Dulles) on British Airways, then got the Amtrak (train) from Washington D.C to Roanoke in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We rented bikes from Roanoke Mountain Adventures, rode at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve and on Mill Mountain Park, ate at the Texas Tavern, Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje and Fortunato and drunk at Starr Hill brewery. For more information on travel to Virginia and the wider Capital Region visit: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk You May Also Like Mountain Biking In Saint Martin | How One Small Caribbean Island Is Bouncing Back From The Devastation Caused By Hurricane Irma The First Time I Went… | Mountain Biking The post Stars and Bikes | Riding the New Capital for Mountain Biking on America’s East Coast appeared first on Mpora.