Riding 614km over seven days with 10 200m of vertical ascent does not hold the same appeal for every cyclist, so organisers of the TransCape mountain bike race have come up with an enticing solution.
ASG Events have recently announced that they would allow e-bikes in the UCI-rated event “as long as they do not interfere with the racing”.
Thanks to assistance from an onboard electrical motor, the organisers believe that e-bikes will give less competitive riders the opportunity to participate in one of the country’s toughest mountain bike races.
E-bikes have been a hit worldwide and the upward trend in sales is set to continue.
China, which has the largest market share of these motorised bicycles, saw sales grow from 300 000 in 2000 to almost 33 million units last year.
With 1.6 million sold in 2016, Europe has the second largest market share. In Italy, sales increased by 121 per cent from the previous year.
Trevor Sampson from Pedego Electric Bikes in SA said there was a definite increase in demand locally, especially in the leisure segment, and he expected sales to continue to increase as more people started using them for commuting.
According to him, there were two distinct markets.
“They are suited for those wanting to take part in events, but who may not be fit enough or don’t have the physical ability. Then there are those wanting to commute to work.”
He said e-bikes as a tool for commuting had two main advantages – they were economical and did not require licences.
Tony Impey, owner of Tony Impey Cycles in Johannesburg, said while the local e-bike market was still catching up with Europe, demand often exceeded stock in his store.
“It has opened up a new era for people who could not do a decent distance ride due to whatever reason,” said the former professional cyclist and father Daryl, who won the 947 Cycle Challenge on Sunday.
Both Sampson and Impey were in favour of e-bikes being allowed in mainstream races, albeit with certain conditions.
“At this stage there should be a class for e-bikes to participate in events,” said Sampson. “Real racing would be a problem as there are too many variations, but the fun element of being in the event should be extended.”
The TransCape, which starts in Knysna on February 4 and concludes at La Couronne Wine Farm in Franschhoek, will be the first multiday mountain bike race with a dedicated category for them.