The UCI and the World E-Bike Series management (WES) have joined forces to stage the inaugural UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup. Beginning in March and consisting of five stages across Europe, the competition expands on the UCI's growing number of e-bike events but we wondered what kind of bikes will be used?
First up, let's go into the details, this will be the first-ever XC-style e-MTB race held by the UCI. The rules state that riders will be limited to a 250-watt motor that cuts out at speeds of 25km/h as per EU rules, so we at least be sure we won't be seeing any US-style e-bikes with larger motors designed to reach much higher assisted speeds.
UCI President David Lappartient commented on the new event: “It gives me great pleasure to launch the inaugural UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup, and I am thrilled that the UCI can bank on the recognised expertise of World E-Bike Series for its organisation. The discipline now has a World Cup to go with the UCI World Championships, and I have every confidence in the development of E-MTB at the elite level and among amateur and recreational riders.”
Some high profile pro cross-country mountain bikers have already taken part in e-MTB events, such as such as two-time Olympic and five-time UCI World Champion Julien Absalon, three-time UCI World Championships medallist and former Junior UCI World Champion Nathalie Schneitter, and Olympic bronze medallist and seven-time UCI World Championships medallist Marco Aurelio Fontana.
The series will kick off in Monaco on 6th March 2020, before heading to Ascona-Locarno in Switzerland on 17th April and Bolgna in Italy on 5th June. The location of the fourth round on 11th September is still to be confirmed, while the series will wrap up in Barcelona between 2nd-3rd October.
Since cross country e-mountain bikes aren't really a thing yet, it will be interesting to see what types of bike the competitors will use. The UCI says the E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup is "an important step in the development of the discipline, not least in terms of technical advances – achieved in collaboration with manufacturers – and the promotion of an activity with a bright future", so perhaps we could see some bikes made specifically for the discipline in the not-too-distant future. For now though, we reckon these are the likely ride options:
- 150mm trail bikes such as the Specialized Levo - longer travel than a regular XC bike but this bike will deliver the maximum amount of power allowed, plus it's got 29er wheels which will go down well with cross-country riders.
- Sticking with Specialized, the brand also have a new lighter e-bike out, the Turbo Levo SL, its lighter but less powerful than the Levo above so it will be interesting to see the outcome when these two bikes are pitted against each other with similar riders aboard. Again it gets 29er wheels but it's also got 150mm of travel, too much for XC racing.
Specialized Levo SL Carbon Comp
- Similar to the Levo SL, is Lapierre's E-Zesty, another lighter e-bike that, this time, uses Fazua's lightweight motor alongside a smaller battery than regular e-bikes, bringing the overall weight down. This one is still excessive in the travel department to for XC racers, and it only comes with 27.5" wheels.
- Hardtails are also an option, with Kinesis being the latest brand to release an e-hardtail with the lighter Fazua motor seen below. This bike has some progressive trail geometry and its a 29er, plus we know XC racers don't mind riding hardtails.
- There are other hardtail options out there something like a Trek Powerfly pairs a shorter travel fork (120mm) with a hardtail frame and a 'full-fat' motor, meaning a 250w motor with a 500wh battery. Other bikes like this are the Specialized Turbo Levo HT or the Cube Reaction Hybrid EX, Scott E-Scale and the Canyon GrandCanyon:ON but these are all generally lower spec bikes. That's not to say they couldn't be upgraded for the XC racer.
- Canyon does produce a 130mm 29er e-bike the Neuron:ON, a bike with an alloy frame and a Shimano motor. The Giant Trance and Stance e-bikes fit in roughly the same category of 140mm and 130mm trail bikes, still too much for the world cup XC racer thought we think.
Discounting anything with over 150mm of travel, can you think of any bikes that might make the cut as an XC race e-bike? Do you think this will pave the way for a new style of e-MTB's and how do you think they will they look? Let us know in the comments below.
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