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BikePark Wales has just had permission for a new lease that could see it double in size. A part of their plans is one for a dedicated eMTB cross-country style loop. The question we pose is what does this mean for the future of trail development and ride spots?

We recently noticed that Tarland Trails had launched a climb focussed on eMTB riders to get them back up to the top aptly called Mike's Elevator (reference: Has Tarland launched the first eMTB targeted climb? (ibikeride.com). It was a little tongue-in-cheek but we posed the same question then. I think in all seriousness we could over the next few years be about to see a proliferation of this type of eMTB-focused trail development. 

So some context, what is happening at BikePark Wales? In June 2024 permission was granted that could see them double in size over the next few years (read more here: BikePark Wales To Double In Size (ibikeride.com) ).

Part of this plan includes a concept for a proper eMTB cross-country loop consisting of 5 or 6 full steep tech climbs and steep tech downs. Expect a natural style, enormous fun and a bit more focus on the technicality of the ups. Part of the motivation for them and likely other bike parks as this trend takes off is e-bikes can increase potential land use and take you to places that can be trickier with an uplift for access. 

So increasing the range of where they cover and can build trails, comes with positives and increased complexity. The positives are clear, more is more. A key area of complexity though is that it increases the spread of the area they need to manage and specifically access quickly when incidents inevitably. All will be worked through effectively as they work through the planning of the concept.  

Other questions for Bike Parks will be with eMTB proliferation will riders when visiting still use the uplift in the same way as analogue riders? Many e-bike riders will already today to conserve juice, get to the top again faster, for the rest to maximise energy for the downs, and have time to have some banter with mates). How will his behaviour evolve? As the tech advances will the uplift demand drop? In time will the technicality of the ascent become part of the challenge again (I hope so) and so be an integral part of the day trip?

Looking wider as well as bike parks, what does it mean for local community ride spots, trail centres, and off-piste tracks? Let us look briefly at each in turn. 

For local community ride spots, how is the impact of eMTB affecting maintenance and design today and going forward? I'd guess maintenance is becoming trickier given the increased throughput per rider. Will 'No Dig, No Ride' become more of a reality to preserve? 

For trail centres is eMTB design at the forefront of your mind be it trail design, of charging points (probably not!). 

For Bike Parks you folks will lead so what is the new trail format for eMTB and how will it impact wider services like uplift and charging spots? 

Finally the elephant in the room question. Is trail segregation between analogue and eMTB riders an inevitability? 

BTW I've gone from being a hater to my next bike is an eMTB (but still a year or so off). 

Hang in there folks, never a dull industry. Changes ahead.

Published: 30/06//2024
 

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