easy to go off with way too much wheel
speed and slip out.
MBA: What are some major pros and
cons of e-bikes?
DD: At the moment, they have a bad
image, create endless debate on land
access and really get people all worked up.
I think as the information and experience
spread throughout the industry, more and
more people will begin to understand how
much of a positive impact these bikes
could have. The technology is ahead of
the politics and its time. I think the cons
will slowly slip away as proper guidelines
are put in place to ensure continuous land
access in the U.S. and abroad. There are
so many obvious pros to these bikes—
from people with chronic injuries getting
back on a bike all the way up to park rangers patrolling the backcountry. The access
and freedom it provides to so many people
is the biggest pro.
MBA: Are there any other thoughts
you’d like to add?
DD: For me, an e-bike can never replace
the rawness of a true trailbike, but it sure is
close to it. Would I choose one as my only
bike? No, but it’s certainly a unique tool to
add to the stable. It does what it does well,
which in the end lets you ride more trails
in less time. Who doesn’t like riding more
MBA: How did you discover mountain
biking and later electric bikes?
Curtis Robinson: I’ve grown up in
the small town of Roberts Creek, British
Columbia. The area was shaped by early
industries like fishing and logging, with
road networks dating all the way back to
the early 1900s. The access left behind
from all those years has slowly been
adapted into a dream mountain bike trail
network that happened to be two minutes
from my home. My youth was spent
exploring these old roads and trails, and
the older I got, the more I would find.
Naturally, trail building became a very
strong passion along with riding. Living in
a place so suited for exploring with endless
terrain, you would be a fool not to take
advantage of it. Now, with the rapid growth
of technology in mountain biking, there
are all new kinds of innovators out there
trying to explore different areas and potential, much like early pioneers did. When
the Levo came out, I wasn’t sold on it. I
thought it was a gimmick. That was until I
had the opportunity to try one. Now I ride it
whenever I can—to the mailbox, the store
or out to clear trails. It’s a unique tool that I
feel has a place in the stable.
MBA: Tell us about your first experience
with an e-bike.
CR: The first time I rode a Levo was
about a month or so before we shot our
“Skeptical” video last November. I set the
bike up like I would my Enduro—800-
millimeter bar, 40-millimeter stem, regular
27. 5 x 2. 5 Butcher and a DH 2. 5 Hillbilly
cut spike on the rear. The bike surprised
me. It cornered well; it even jumped well,
and obviously it went up well. The weight
of the bike took a few rides to get used to,
but I found it helped glue the bike to the
ground and held traction well in the corners. It’s like anything new—if you don’t
try it, you will never know if you like it. I
use mine a lot, even just for goofing around
in the driveway doing uphill wheelies.
MBA: Do you believe e-bikes will cause
CR: Where we live, there are all types of
surprised how your opinion can change. I
was a hater too.
Mountain biking is pretty extreme these
days. The bikes are well prepared to take
those big hits and high-speed downhill
sections. People already get themselves in
over their heads and go way too fast without a motor, so I really don’t think that it’s
going to affect people’s speed. If anything,
the heavier bike will slow them down. In
the case of the Levo, the motor shuts off
at a certain speed, so it’s certainly not an
advantage on the downhills.
MBA: In what ways have you adapted
your riding style for your e-bike?
DD: There is a period of time where
you’ll need to adapt to the heavier bike,
but after a week of riding, I was switching
between my bikes without noticing a difference. Expect to get a much greater upper-body workout while riding, as it takes more
effort to throw the bike around and pick it
up off the ground. I honestly feel far more
in control on my Kenevo or Levo strictly
because of how it corners. I have never
had a bike that corners so well. And you’re
thinking, “Yup, that’s because you get paid
to say that,” but that’s not the case. That
extra weight down low really affects the
handling in a positive way. Gravity goes to
work, and you end up with a bike that corners like it’s on rails and stays very firmly
planted on the ground.
My riding style doesn’t change, but there
are limitations. A few things I have learned
are that you can’t whip it out like a regular
bike, and it’s terrifying to ride over steep
rollers because of the BB clearance. It’s
also hard to hop the bike and keep the
chainring out of the ground/trail features.
And last, wheelie drops are a no-no, as it’s
Coastal Crew boys: Dylan
Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson
shred their local trails aboard
their Specialized Kenevo e-bikes.