The German Enduro Champion works out with the eMountain bike
Sure, you can do that with any mountain bike, or you can hike, but I was only really able to turn my plans for discovering the region into reality with the eMountain bike. Because then it doesn't matter if I make a quick detour. So, nowadays, I take lots of short detours, which I can seamlessly combine with the tour route thanks to the map in the Nyon all-in-one on-board computer.
After injuries or illness, you can get back onto your mountain bike quite quickly. It's easy on the joints, is beneficial to the cardiovascular system and most of all, it's fun. For me, that was definitely the most important point. I knew rehab would take a long time, but with the eMountain bike I was soon having lots of fun again and was able to keep up my motivation.
What works during rehabilitation of course also applies to training. I was able to control my training in a very targeted manner. I've been spending much less time on my racing bike since then because I can do my basic training units independently on the eMountain bike. I just connect my heart rate belt to the Nyon all-in-one on-board computer and I can keep an eye on my heart rate and power values at all times.
The most important argument is simply that it's fun. Steep and technically difficult climbs remain a challenge, but they are accessible. I can regulate how much support I currently want, which allows me to customize the experience and enjoy the flow. For me, beyond all the other reasons, it's the fun that counts.
I experienced this for the first time during my rehab. I was guiding a group in Croatia. There, I was able to keep up with all the participants and vice versa. We were therefore a balanced group, were able to chat during the tour and just had fun together. Without the riding support, the group would no doubt have been much less harmonious.
has long been involved in the downhill sport and has now also been successful in the Enduro segment for some years. "Knecht", as he is known to his friends, didn't come from the cross-country discipline, but immediately started with downhill racing in the 90s. Jointly with Cube, he developed the Cube TWO15 carbon downhill bike and was victorious in the first German MTB-Enduro Championship in 2014. Over the last years André has made a name for himself as a professional biker and he is virtually the face of Saxony's mountain-bike boom.
Following a successful season in 2015, André wanted to use the winter to build on his fitness, but the first training analysis was sobering. The declining trend intensified and, shortly afterwards, André was diagnosed with glandular fever. "That meant I had to put all my training activities on hold from one day to the next. Physical exertion was taboo and it was unclear how long the healing process would take." His form, as well as the 2016 season, had to be written off.
As a ‘Cube Action Team’ rider André was convinced by the eBike product manager to go for a spin on the new Cube Stereo Hybrid. "The ride was just incredible for me. At last I was able to move again and, most importantly, my heart rate stayed low, even during the ascents. Thanks to the support levels of the Bosch Performance CX I was able to keep my exertion in the green zone." He took on some guided tours in the area on the eBike and became an overnight convert to the new technology.
“The eBike enabled me to get reacquainted with my home region”
he wanted to carry on using this drive and work towards regaining his previous form. He had training plans with extremely low heart rate ranges drawn up, had them approved by his doctors and now finally had sporting prospects ahead of him again. Even more important was the joy of being able to work out in nature again. "The long break had been driving me mad. To be back on the bike again, riding my home trails, was an incredible experience.” So as to not be guided only by his own feeling, the technology is lending him a hand. The all-in-one on-board computer Nyon shows him his current pedalling power in watts, so that he's always able to adapt the support level to his current training condition. Nyon can be connected to various heart rate chest straps via Bluetooth, meaning that he can keep a constant eye on his training ranges. "This way, I've been able to work out in a controlled way throughout the entire regeneration phase, and, significantly, not only on the road, but also in the forest, among nature."
Here, he has friends that he's been riding with for many years. The Schöneck Bike Park is also nearby. He admits that he would never have imagined the huge freedom that the eBike has provided him prior to his illness. Today, however, he wouldn't like to go without it. Even after having fully recovered from his glandular fever, he still uses the eBike on a regular basis. "The eBike still offers me controlled off-road training. Now, I can now do what used only to be possible on a racing bike in the forest as well."
as an aid to mobility, and not as a thoroughbred racing bike. Among his racing buddies, eBikes aren't scorned in any way. Many professionals use eBikes to control and intensify their training. André spent the summer of 2016 testing various eMTB racing models. "Personally, I associate the eBike with riding enjoyment and freedom, not really with racing, but I can imagine that, in future, some suitable and really fun models might come along."
“To use the eBike in a targeted way during training”
Interview with André Wagenknecht:
Hi André, could you please introduce yourself briefly?
I'm André Wagenknecht and I come from the Plauen Region.
You've been a pro for quite a while now. What are your origins? What's your background?
My background is pretty easy to describe. I always rode my bike a lot as a child and sometime in the 90s, I think it was in October of '95, I took part in my first race. And I've been active since '96. Meanwhile, I've been cycling in an MTB saddle for the past 20 years. I've experienced a great deal as I originally came from downhill riding. Unlike many others, I didn't start with cross-country, as was usual in the 90s. We used to ride downhill on hardtails and did lots of dual slalom. Those are my origins, how I started out.
You've been participating in Enduro races for a few years now. How did that come about? What's the appeal for you?
In 2008, after I became German Downhill Champion, an opportunity opened up for me. I wanted to try out something new. After switching to Cube, I spent some time putting a new DH Bike together. This was just at the time when Enduro was getting established. Together with our team, the Cube Action Team, I got involved in the Enduro scene from the very beginning. For me, it was just a new challenge and above all a new fun activity, spending the whole day on the bike together with people, without having to sit around in the pit or on the lift. The downward inclines were similar to downhill racing, which I've always enjoyed.
You went on to win the first German Championship. And then you disappeared from the scene for a while. What happened?
Actually, I was really motivated after winning the German Championship. I felt relaxed and followed a structured training routine through the winter. But then I realised something was wrong. The performance tests confirmed my assumptions. At the time, we just thought it was a normal bout of flu. But my condition deteriorated and in the end I was diagnosed with glandular fever. That immediately ended the season for me. It was a really sobering experience. It took a long time before I was gradually allowed to start cycling again, and even then I had to be cautious.
What part did the eBike during your rehabilitation?
The eBike was a real godsend for me during that time. The doctors completely forbade me from riding a bike. But thanks to the eBike, I was able to start again in a very controlled way. It really kicked off when I was allowed to lead an eBike group at a dealer event in Istria. That's when I realised that I could train with the eBike in a structured way, that I could monitor my pulse and, above all, that I just really enjoy it.
So you mean that on the one hand it was all about the fun, but, on the other, that it also really motivated you to do something in terms of training?
Exactly, the combination of fun and training, but at precisely the low training load that I needed at that time, was ideal for me.
Are you still riding your eBike?
I honestly have to admit, I do use the eBike for training at home. Depending on the time available and my training plan, but especially on the low intensity days, when I still want to have some downhill fun and want to work my technique, it does a great job. Nowadays, I actually get on the eBike quite a lot. Especially during the winter months.
How do you actually control your training with the eBike?
At first, I tried out lots of things, there wasn't much empirical information at the time. In the beginning, I mostly focussed on the technique. What support can the motor give me and how? How much effort can it save? What do I still have to influence myself, for example with regard to gear shifting? Now, I try to use the eBike in a targeted way during training, just to maintain a good level.
Do you monitor this in any way? Or is it more a matter of feel?
No, I do monitor it. I can simply check my heart rate on the Nyon on-board computer. There, I can keep an eye on all the other training parameters as well, so I can monitor everything with ease, but I can also exert a fair bit of control.
What do you particularly enjoy about riding an eBike?
I've been able to get reacquainted with my home region. On the tour that I usually do, I suddenly found new variations, because I thought, "Ah, you've never cycled up there, and then you quickly go and check it out". That's what I really enjoy at the moment. It gives me new impetus and I make new discoveries when I'm cycling.
Do you think that it makes sense and is necessary to develop racing formats for eBikes?
A racing format for eBikes would definitely be interesting. In this respect, we're still at the exploratory stage. I tried out lots of bikes in 2016 to get to know new racing formats. I participated in the Bike Festival in Riva and I was also there during the Hillclimb at Crankworx in Whistler. I also participated in a purely Enduro race. As a cyclist, I still have the opportunity to shape and steer things. But the focus should always be on the fun rather than on the challenge.
Are you currently a pioneer among Enduro pros as an eBike user, or are others doing the same? What's the perception within the cycling community?
My gut feeling is that the community is more or less split 50/50. I know for a fact that there are top athletes who train on eBikes. Many of them do, actually. Especially because, today, lots of things are being tested with regard to eBikes. I also believe that many more people will start training using eBikes. There have been times when innovations have come along and we've gradually had to get used to them, but I thing the eBike is already there or is getting there.
Do you still have any major goals in sporting terms over the coming years? What would you like to achieve?
As I said, I've been in the racing scene for more than 20 years now. I would definitely like to participate in more races, that's simply who I am. I find it hard to stop myself. However, I would like to continue bringing my experience to the development process. I'm really enjoying that a lot at the moment. There's still so much potential, especially in the eBike segment.
What's your connection to the Vogtland, your native region?
I feel really connected to the Vogtland. It's a fantastic area for mountain biking. We have it all here, from downhill and Enduro to some awesome tours on mountain ridges, which are otherwise frequented by skiers in the winter. And I really like travelling, I really enjoy riding on different trails, but I also love coming home again.
What should we make sure not to miss in this area?
A lot's happened here in recent year, so you have your own little hotspots. Starting with the bike park and club in Schöneck, the Trailcenter in Rabenberg and, on the Czech side, BoziDar and the flowtrail in Klinovec. Everyone in the region benefits a great deal from this and we hope that these developments will be recognised and supported in the future.
What does Uphill Flow mean to you?
In Uphill Flow, the emphasis is on the "flow" for me. I get the same feeling cycling uphill as I do downhill on my normal bikes. When I can achieve the sensation that I otherwise only feel riding downhill, with little exertion or effort. It's a brand new experience for me when riding uphill.