The E-bike has been around for a few years now, and it’s getting more efficient all the time. Why have I so far avoided it – I can’t answer that, because there’s no good reason, save for the simple fact that as I head into my late 50s, I want to keep as physically fit as possible. I kind of just thought that maybe if I had an E-Bike I’d pedal less! How wrong I was, and I’m happy to admit this.
Taking a trip to Chevin Cycles at Otley yesterday, their head mechanic and good friend of mine, Paul White Peters took me for a spin on the nearby steep and wooded Chevin trails. My bike for the day was the superb Orbea Rise full suspension E-MTB, with 140 mm out front, 139 at the rear and a geometry made for having fun. Off we go then.
The Rise comes with three power options, with two preset settings: Eco, for general riding; Trail, for when the technical elements need a little bit more; then finally, for those moments that we all experience, there’s a power boost setting that literally drives you forward and helps you to tackle those tricky moments of trail time. Orbea worked closely with Shimano to develop their in-house RS power concept; with Orbea developing their proprietary electronics and batteries, while Shimano configured their EP8 motor to work perfectly running the specific RS firmware. On the trail, all of this transfers to a power unit that delivers up to 20mph and that will last you for around 50 to 60 km.
Best of all, the harder that you ride, the more power it gives you. You’re literally rewarded for your efforts, meaning that the smiles become wider as you sweat. Tackling the Steep tracks on the Chevin, and twisting the tight turns between trees and over wet roots, the handling of the Orbea Rise was sublime. It’s a bike that wants you to ride hard and fast, but one which also wants to extend the trip, by looking after you. The front end tracks perfectly and the rear simply follows the line chosen with a willingness to ride, leaving you to swoop and steer to your hearts content.
Paul knows these trails like a fox knows where the best chicken coop is. With no signs on the trails and very little indication of where the next hidden single track lay, he simply turned left or right seemingly at random, always producing epic trails, rock gardens and grin-inducing descents. Testing the Lake MX 177 Mountain Bike shoes, I was riding flat pedals – always a good choice in the damp autumn woods. Thankfully my latent MTB skills came to life once more and the shoes stayed firmly pinned, with the stable sole giving me the right level of control, but with just enough flexibility for me to properly control the rear triangle and turn it in harmony with the direction that the front fork had decided to go.
It was a fast and furious trail at times, with tight S-shaped snake-like gaps between trees, damp and slippery tree roots and bubbling rock sections that the Orbea Rise suspension simply floated over and spat out its contempt for. Where potential hazards awaited me, I simply clicked the boost button, and with the power of Obi One, I simply floated to safety and continued the ride. The steep climbs, even the technical ones, became easy, and line choice was more open to me. Returning to the Chevin Cycles store, I found that my helmet lining had soaked up a good degree of sweat, and my Fitbit indicated that I’d actually pushed my heart. Yes, I was now and forever in Electric Dreams, thanks to Orbea.
How has the shoes performed? Absolutely spot on too, with the BOA system allowing me to tweak fitting on the fly, tightening when required. It was like riding in slippers, and the Supergrip Enduro Sole with Ice Lock anti-slip lug inserts had done their job perfectly. My feet had been wrapped in foot love, due to the wide toe box, and they’d also been free to breathe as I worked hard; meaning that my socks were dry and my feet were very happy.
As for me and my general demeanour – the smile lasted all day long and I’m now wondering how I can convince my wife that N+1 makes sense and that I owe it to myself to stay up to date with the latest technologies – especially those developed by Orbea!