The legendary mountain biker talks about the future of the eBike
At times, we all need to press our reset button. To go outside, enjoy freedom and get away from everyday hassles. Mountain bikes are ideal for this purpose and with an eBike the reset button will be accessible to many more people, as the entry barriers are significantly lower. This switching off is important and it would no doubt benefit us as a society if more people had access to it.
The eBike, just as the eMountain bike, offers tremendous potential in terms of future trends. Electronic support can pave the way towards an ecologically and physically sustainable lifestyle, it can transform cities and enable more open spaces in urban planning. And, of course, it also provides an opportunity of unprecedented growth for the bicycle industry.
Initially, we started riding mountain bikes because we wanted to have fun. We wanted to experience ourselves, enjoy our freedom and simply have some real fun together. The eBike brings together all the elements of mountain biking that open up new opportunities, increasing the fun part. Uphill climbs suddenly become enjoyable and the people that I've seen on these bikes so far are – like myself – simply thrilled.
I love cycling and I love it when technology helps people. The eBike is just such a technology, offering plenty of fun and opening up new horizons for me. There have been so many developments in recent years, so I'm really excited to see what's in store next. What innovations can we expect with regard to connectivity and what additional ways will we find to exploit this new technology?
Medical studies have shown that exercise has a significant positive effect on mental and physical health, mental capacity and motivation. Moreover, there are of course a wealth of positive ecological impacts as well. This positive effect on health should be exploited and promoted. eBikes offer many more people new opportunities to get active, while the high fun factor motivates them constantly to aim for new targets.
Gary Fisher, the former racing cyclist and bicycle mechanic, is recognised as one of the inventors of the mountain bike. He predicts a great future for eBiking. He has followed the development of the eBike from the outset. The symbiosis of human muscle power and intelligent electronics is what fascinates him – and he is convinced that the eBike will play a decisive role in the mobility of the future. He is particularly impressed by the great enjoyment that can be had from eBiking – whether in the city or in natural surroundings.
Interview with Gary Fisher, the inventor of the mountain bike:
When did you come into contact with eBikes for the first time?
My first contact with eBikes dates back a long time. I was at a bike show in Tokyo at the time and tried it out. I must say I loved it. But the batteries weren't yet fully developed, their range was still very inadequate. So it was a great idea, but it hadn't really been completely thought through. So I've been following the whole eBike development process for a long time. Mostly out of personal interest, because for me, an eBike is a combination of the most sustainable human-powered drive and exciting electronics. And yes, the developments have since achieved technical maturity and are even more exciting than we ever anticipated at the time.
"Even climbs are fun with the eMTB"
There's some catching up that needs to be done in terms of eBikes here at the moment. I see the people who are already using eBikes, see how proudly they sit on their bikes, how much fun they're having. They're realising that these bikes are super efficient and cost effective for getting around the city. It's like it used to be with mountain biking. There are early adopters, those who really believe in the success of eBikes and in their influence on the future.
In every city I visit in the US, there's at least one store that sells only eBikes, and they earn good money. But they're also changing the city in the long term with their offerings. I recently also tried an eMountain bike for the first time. Ten years ago, I saw these for the first time in Europe and thought to myself "What good is that supposed to be?" And now I know.
eMountain biking is just really fun. It takes away the strenuous part, the five-kilometre journey to the mountain, the super-steep climb. These elements are now simply gone, leaving only the fun part. I took part in a marathon with an eMTB for the first time in Germany in 2016 and now I just have to get one of my own at last.
In relation to eBikes in general, I believe that the bike industry in the US will grow at five times the current rate. Mark my words. The people who are currently riding eBikes will act as multipliers. Simply because they're so excited about the technology and the fun they can have with it. I love technology myself, especially when it works for me. And the eBike is really one of those great inventions that works for us humans. And they really do an extremely good job in terms of fun and efficiency in urban environments.
I've recently seen some eMountain bikes in urban environments in the US. Especially where the roads are poor and there are lots of obstacles, eMountain bikes simply offer a robust overall package for use in the city. Above all, I think that the fun factor of the eMountain bikes can make their use in everyday life attractive for many people.
"In ten years, your bike will talk to you and to the trail"
Today, we've come to the realisation that environmental pollution is having catastrophic direct and indirect effects. Fine dust emissions are a huge problem, especially in cities. Moreover, we know that we should do more for ourselves and lead a more active lifestyle. Numerous medical investigations have confirmed this. Studies have also shown that our psyche and mental capacity are positively influenced by sports and exercise.
Employers also like to see their employees travelling to work by bike. They arrive on time because they don't get stuck in traffic jams like everybody else does. And above all, they seem more mentally fit. Particularly eBikes are perfect for the task here. A change of clothes and other working equipment can be carried to work much more easily with an eBike. The weight is simply less relevant. In the US, every car is used to transport 1.3 people on average. In relation to cities and their transport system, this situation is simply not tenable. eBikes would soon solve the problem. And I'm already seeing lots of people using eBikes. Their numbers will keep growing and will solve this problem. It's still a small share, but it's growing rapidly.
What we need above all are safe places for riding, especially in the city. This requires a rethink. Today, more people in the US live in cities than ever before. Many are returning to the cities. If we look back to 100 years ago, life took place in the cities, because that was where the intellectual elite lived. In the 60s, people turned their backs on the cities and moved to the countryside. Now, people want to return, but cities don't provide a safe environment, especially for those with families.
The air and environmental pollution is severe in some places. And cities lack public places where children can move around safely and freely. We will see many changes in this regard in the near future. There will be a switch to electronic drives, driverless cars, which are communal rather than private property. This will also save space, which is currently lost through parking areas. The health care system in the US is currently heavily overloaded because people simply aren't getting enough exercise. This is creating a great deal of pressure and crisis point has almost been reached. And changes always result from crises. So I'd say that it's currently a wise decision to invest in an eBike.
A bill is currently being drafted in California to provide financial support for the purchase of eBikes. After all, you also receive support for purchasing an electric car. Our legislators are now recognising the need to invest in health and become active in this area. So, something is finally happening.
The greatest risk is currently the level of acceptance experienced by the eBiking scene. It's a fairly classic development. It just takes time. We always say that the hardest thing is to change our own attitudes and we're simply still facing a challenge here. So I'd just like to take this opportunity to appeal to people to look into and be open towards the eBike trend, and to try it out for themselves. Believe me, it will change your life.
I think it's really important, but what's even more important is to encourage forestry commissions to try out these bikes. They could be using them to coordinate rescue operations, for their work in the forest, as well as on paths.
"The eMountain bike is actually ideal for a special racing format"
When I created the name 'mountain bike', when we started riding, I was sure that normal users would have a great deal of fun with the bikes. It just seemed obvious. You could just get out into nature. Every now and then, we need a reset button, we need to leave things behind us, let off steam and feel free. The mountain bike provides all of these things.
At first, I thought that only real athletes would want to practice mountain biking. In the beginning, that was also the case, but I always wanted mountain biking to get really big. I wanted it to be practised by everybody. The eMountain bike has now taken away the strenuous and exhausting aspects. All that remains is the really fun and exciting side. Even with little time on your hands, you can enjoy this freedom and escape workday life. I think that's the key.
I'm sure that these will appear in the future. As humans, we love competition and we love to interact with machines, so the eMTB would actually be perfect for a special racing format.
I haven't seen this yet, but I have heard of it. There will always be a small number of people who overstep the mark. This will certainly happen, but I don't think that it will really create any major problems. After all, it's easy to identify and prove and it can be made more difficult technically.