IMBA Preliminary Study Results Suggest That Electric Bikes Aren’t Especially Damaging To Mountain Bike Trails

BY Cameron Newland
IMDB Electric Mountain Bike Impacts Preliminary Study Findings

In what could be an important finding for the electric bike industry, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has conducted a study on the impacts to trails of 20MPH pedal-assist electric bikes, and its preliminary findings state that “the physical impacts of low-powered, pedal-assist (Type 1) [electric mountain bikes] may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.”

The IMBA has seen a backlash from mountain bike advocates who have already had to defend their trails from encroachment from motorized motorcycles and dirtbikes. The angry hordes seem to think that allowing low-power pedal-assist electric bikes on trails will be a slippery slope that will lead to damaged, crowded trails and the possibility of over-powered electric bikes that are hard to differentiate from the low-powered variety. Clearly, the IMBA is between a rock and hard place on this one, and will have to create sensible guidelines for regulation that balance the interests of its members, but considering how strong the anti-ebike voices are, the IMBA may in fact cave in and maintain its position that “eMTBs should be considered to be a form of motorized recreation and managed separately from traditional mountain bikes.” We’ll continue to report on this story as it plays itself out.