The start of 2021 has seen me relishing a guilty Schadenfreude pleasure based on a simple phenomenon that people seem to be naturally flocking too.
It appears that large swathes of society were convinced that on 1 Jan 2021 not only would all bad things stop immediately, but we could spend significant terabytes of posting social media material referencing all the ways 2020 could fuck off, eat a bag or dicks or generally taunting it that it’s reign of evil was now washed away all in the space of a day.
Of course, that’s not how shit works, and the general cuntbaggery that unfurled itself in 2020 has had little intention of packing up and rolling over just because we flipped over the calendar. I’ve watched with intrigue as this reality has slowly started to seep into optimists, and in a way, I feel a strange connection to what they’re going through right now.
Yes, in many ways, this is how I thought it was going to go with eBikes. I had hoped that it was something that would happen to someone else, people in places I could read about but never experience. But, as I have been chronicling in this first world problem mini series, the battery bikes have shown that they don’t discriminate and are happy to infect anyone.
In spite of my vigorous confidence that I was immune to CoronEvirus, even I have fell to mild doses of this affliction over the summer.
Deep breaths… This smells like a disgusting confession
Before we start this, just remember one key point; As much as you might try, you won’t be able to hate me as much as I do myself as we work through this.
I’ve now traveled a total of 182km’s under the influence of the E, a stat I know with precision because I set up a new bike in Strava labeled ‘Kuntwagon’ to track my indiscretions every time I borrow someones machine. Naturally this is for journalistic and self loathing purposes only.
Given we’re in confession mode here, I have to also fess up to, in an orgy of brand disloyalty, having ridden 2 different Levo’s, a highly weaponised Kenevo, another Kenevo and a Commencal. If you want to depart at this point and shower, I won’t blame you. I still wake up crying sometimes.
I know, at this point you’re thinking I’m the Jerry Falwell Jr of cycling; preaching acoustic values while then secretly watching my pool boy smash my eBikes back wheels in whilst furiously masterbating over power settings on some App that talks to my bike.
I agree that the optics aren’t great (Which is CEO speak for: ‘Does my bonus look too big during this pandemic?’), which is why I felt it timely to try and provide an update as the HordEs have laid siege to my acoustic lifestyle. Even the French have been in on the action…
Yes, my Acoustic bike echo chamber has been under assault in the last 6 months and much like my North American friends, I too have felt the sting of my way of life being attacked by weirdos with mullets.
Like many catastrophes, it hasn’t just been one event or moment which has led to my echo chamber integrity alarm bells ringing, it has been a series of encounters, ambushes and honey traps that have started to poison me in ways that you haven’t seen since your parents said “We now get all our news from Facebook dear”
Let’s dive into some of these key alternative reality moments that have been part of some sustained penetration testing on my glorious Acoustic Echo chamber.
#1 – The Professor knows
My first E-ncounter didn’t come too long after my initial initiation event, one which left me with a decidedly sour taste in my mouth, including an outright rejection of this ‘fad’. The E-Cult, known as my ‘friend’ group, retreated to their underground lairs to plot rEvEngE after I refused to put my stubby fingers near my credit card pocket and join them in hEll.
In particular, the Professor went into his lab, reeling from my harsh criticism of the Levo I had ridden. On reflection, I set myself up for them to start poisoning my brain by asking on the group chat if anyone wanted to ride the first half of the Whaka100 course, which usually would get little to no takers… Unless of course, muthafuckas had an agenda.
Their premise was as simple as it was machiavellian – We would ride as a group, but only if I got on the E with them. This was my first time facing into a scenario I had forecast in the original instalment of this journey, where you ultimately end up having to choose between your principles and your band of brothers.
Simple answer was obviously to get new friends, I mean, if they all became junkies I wouldn’t be shooting up with them would I? Unfortunately I checked on line and confirmed that I could not find better cunts to roll with than this group, so I was left with having to contemplate getting new frame stickers made up: Instead of ‘Ride or Die’, it was now a case of ‘Ride E or Die alone’
If someone agrees to let you ride their bike while they ride a Giant, you should instantly be suspicious, clearly there is an ulterior motive or complex plot at play in such a scenario. It didn’t take long to figure out what this was about. The Professor sweet talking me into riding his immaculately prepared and tweaked Levo, adorned with all my favourite Fox, Shimano and One up paraphernalia. Like a fat trout I bit down on that delicious bait…
I tried to reassure myself that this was really about trying out a Fox 38 for the first time, which as suspected was an absolutely sensational piece of kit, but more alarming was just how much better this whole package felt.
The Rodfather had put me on what turned out to be a fucking Donkey by comparison, which whilst unfair to Donkeys is the baseline I was coming off. The Professors machine was a whole different world… Wooed by it’s Shimano drivetrain and seduced by the immaculately tuned coil shock and 38, I started to tumble down the poisoned rabbit holE as we turned mundane forest XC trails into a video game.
It did occur to me that we were annihilating trail after trail with such prejudice that it serve no really useful purpose as a course pre-ride, but given the collective train shred now in motion, I succumbed to its intoxication and just hoped I could wash this off me in the morning, denying it ever happened should anyone ask at work on Monday.
I started to rail uphill berms, carve descents and even accidentally had fun a few times, to which I embarrassingly reminded myself that I was only doing this because my friends are into emotional black mail.
My E-chochamber had taken a severe hit to it’s hull, but its integrity remained intact as I limped towards safe harbour. But like a wounded flag ship, the wolf pack of E-Boats could smell oil in the water and it only emboldened them to step up their assaults.
#2 – Getting properly Aka’ed
We can’t be sure if the Rodfather invented eBikes or not, there are compelling arguments either way, but one thing we can absolutely confirm he is at the forefront of is dragging people into the Akatarawas and fucking them.
If you’re nodding as you read this, then you’ve either been on the receiving end of such an experience, or you’ve heard the legend be told in hushed tones or written in vivid pen on a toilet wall in a petrol station somewhere… No one can fully recount what goes on in that bad ass bush, but survivors are in general agreement that it makes being probed by Aliens and Pagan ritual sessions look like fucking Sesame Street by comparison.
I wasn’t prepared for what lay ahead, especially as once again, I had been invited on an ‘E only’ group ride, into the vague back blocks of jungle where no one likes to document actual survival rates. Given there was a lot of ground to cover to get there, no one was talking acoustic in this expedition force. It was time to fly:
Still moist from the cries of a thousand cougar MILF’s, the “Bone dry Aka’s” (an odd assertion from a man who’s bone is seldomly dry) promise had now been firmly shelved into the Fake News bin and we were navigating a quagmire which was more accustomed to seeing fixed bayonets and soldiers dying of cholera.
Annoyingly and impressively the cyborg bikes were machining through the hateful terrain and conditions with an ease which left me feeling, well, uneasy… Worse than that, it was starting to hit home to me that the Rodfather may actually be right about one key aspect of eBikes – They make shit trail actually ok… And we had an abundance of such trail in front of us to validate his point as we climbed endless damp & soft 4WD track.
I could start to see why the RodfathEr had become one of the early Evangelists, converting many to his teachings and ramblings deep in this jungle hell/paradise. It was our turn to pay homage and kneel in awe at the muddy feet of our new Demi-god:
We powered through terrain which would have been simply wretched under pure human power, riding until even the help of a motor was overwhelmed by the jungle.
With the Rodfather setting my walk functionality to only work 6.9% of the time, we ultimately reached the moment where I had the horror realisation that I lacked the actual physical strength to carry an eBike which was now double its weight in mud up the terrain I found in front of me.
We all have to confront our own mortality at some point, and this felt like it was my moment. As I slipped over and down onto my knee pads for the 469th time, only managing to narrowly avoid being crushed by my faithful Aluminium fuck pig, it occurred to me that I perhaps didn’t have the actual physical strength and conditioning to venture into the back blocks of Jurassic Park with a bike that weighed more than an Alpaca.
Fortunately, and embarrassingly, people with arms a few notches up from rotten tooth picks came to my aid.
We had ventured to what seemed like the ideal place to be murdered and never found, or as Rodfather liked to call it “Tuesday’s loop“, surely after a legit death march we would get some DH gold as our reward for starring in the MTB remake of ‘The Revenant’.
The Aka’s Demagogue then gave us an ominous choice – We could go straight, descending down what would be akin to a World Cup DH course in the wet, or turn right and do a more ‘XC natured descent’ back to our alleged freedom.
When pressed on how gnarly the DH course would be, the Rodfather’s eye twitched profusely as he maintained “It would probably be ok“, to which I assumed that he meant whether or not the rescue chopper would be able to fly in these conditions. The herd nervously looked at one another and realising our maniacal leader had a historic penchant for making bad decisions, we opted to turn right for the ‘easier’ option.
I’m not 100% clear what sort of XC the Rodfather has done in his time, but perhaps he meant to say it was more like an EWS stage? As we navigated near virgin jungle DH that was primarily designed to maim humans and hide their bodies, I had my second unwelcome epiphany about eBikes as I mowed through shit that I might have normally unleashed a tripod on.
The extra heft was actually providing me with a level of stability that felt like an unfair advantage… I was relishing this maximum plow attack as I ran over and destroying the flora. Yes, stopping that mass in wet jungle was one of the downsides, but I was finding the extra stability, and plowability, to be intoxicating to the point that I almost smiled.
Thank fuck that urge had passed by the time we found the biggest tree available for the survivors photo.
I trudged away from the experience with wet feet mumbling something about eBikes making shit terrain fun to ride and grudgingly acknowledging that, range anxiety aside, they clearly had a place for back country missions to machine through the crap and help you find the gold.
I was now having to pull Neo like moves to dodge E-bullets and come out unscathed. Thank fuck it was time for race season and I could return to the warm confines of my Enduro bike echo chamber to cleanse myself and spend a week getting Aka’s mud out of my kit.
#3 – The Whaka Watt
Ok, so I could have shaken off all those previous moments as mere anomalies or random experiences and escaped with my echo chamber integrity fully intact. But the AluminatE had other ideas in their relentless pursuit to brain wash me and steal my acoustic soul.
They knew there was one angle still to try, something I would have extreme difficulty saying no to… Muthafuckas put on a RACE of all things in order to seduce me further. The lengths some people will go to…
But not just any race, arguably the very first eBike Enduro race in NZ… Yes, there have been other races where there are eBike categories, but we’re talking the full E-Apartheid situation here – No motor, no race.
Holy fuck, it was suddenly like someone had opened an escape hatch from middle age and we could export ourselves to another dimension where we were still as cool as kids who now have surnames for first names. Some of us were eager to get to this promised land:
Aside from motors poisoning pure sporting prowess, the eBike version of an Enduro race turned out to be much the same as a normal Enduro, except with the distinct difference of a couple of Power stages thrown in.
If ‘Power stage’ sounds like something your cock of a CEO would say in a meeting while doing the pistol motion with his hand, I apologise… But I can’t be sorry about unleashing my inner bandit on a format that advantaged a part time XC racer and had the full time Enduro-bros scratching their heads.
The climbs in question were a combo of ‘WTF is this shit’ steep, as well as absolute full gas madness climbing. I wasn’t going to look this robot gift horse in the mouth, especially when I witnessed how comically terrible some experienced riders were at riding up hill with motorised power. Let that inner bandito out to fucking rage:
Much like a Republican who abandons all their principles at the first sign of the warm glow of authoritarianism, I was fucking right into this as a race format. Number plate, timing mats, stage starts… You had me at the first click of the zip tie around my handlebars.
The other part that made this format a strangely good time was almost zero wastage – We didn’t spend 70% of our time in transition, it was a combo of uphill power stages and then all the DH stages in close proximity, meaning you were in a rapid fire Endurogasim scenario with little to no wastage. Naturally, there were also many electric powered trains being run on the DH stages as well.
It hadn’t occurred to me at the time, but the great leveller in this whole scenario race wise was the power stages. Yes, I could put my side gig Bandito racing to good use and not get completely blown out on the downhill stages to suddenly find myself in the mix from an overall results perspective.
In spite of taking a bit of a beating in the descending stages, my power assisted climbing form landed me not only a tantalising half a fucking second behind The Creator in 2nd place in the M40 age group, but fucking 5th overall!
I was so surprised I just sort of stood there looking on like that guy watching Zed in the Pulp Fiction Gimp scene, probably in some sort of shock that the Gordon Gecko of eBikes, the Rodfather, won the whole fucking shooting match:
Oh, hold up… If you can race these things, well, this may be the cover story I’m looking for? And race them in a manner which means being vaguely competitive?! There was another revelation that also greatly concerned me, but, ughhhh, fuck… It was also a lot of F…. F…. Fun. Oh fuck it, but it was actually an absolute fucking riot of an afternoon if I’m forced at gun point to be authentic about it.
Holy shit… We have a breech in the Echo chamber, E-mperial troops have entered the base! Luckily for me there wasn’t an eMTB which really caught my eye yet.
#4 – Lord Roskopp commands me to Execute Order 69
It turns out that democracy & acoustic monogamy don’t die in darkness after all, instead it dies with Lord Roskop approving a Matte Copper colour scheme, not to mention approving resurrecting a name that drove a dagger through the centre of my MTB soul. Yes, you know what this is about… The new Santa Cruz Bullit release:
As a previous acoustic Bullit owner (not to mention multiple Hecklers), and my current age demographic, it’s hard not to take it personally that these names are coming back into our lives with batteries on them while I wallow about like a fuck pig in the deep end of the ‘target market’ swamp.
Holy fuck, Fox 38, Mullet, Shimano equipped… Every man has a breaking point, and I felt like the Bullit had been fired right at my head. In a moment of weakness I accidentally muttered “I think I want a Bullit…“, which in our house is the equivalent of Hillary Clinton walking in the door of a Qanon party.
Instantly Mrs Dirty started to google for divorce lawyers while the kids started to hum Pearl Jams “Don’t call me Daughter” in the background.
Yes, extremely long term readers will fondly remember history with the OG Bullit here, way the fuck back at this blogs inception with the first documented trip to Whistler. Yes, simpler times when we only had one pivot, pandemics were movie plot lines, that orange cunt was doing shit reality TV shows and bikes with motors in them were called Motorbikes.
It dawned on me what had happened here… While the new Heckler didn’t really turn my head for a range of reasons, Joe and his team of beautiful muthafuckas had done something I was afraid of: They’d made an eBike for people who hated eBikes. I could already taste the defeat in my mouth as large internal cladding from my echo chamber started to fall on my head.
Luckily for me we’re currently in the middle of the Bike industry Armageddon supply wise, so even my wayward impulses can’t come to fruition, not to mention I can’t make my mind up on size, so with as much pun intended as possible, I appear to have dodged the Bullit for now.
#5 – Bike Glendhu E Gang Bang
I was now spending my summer dodging the large pieces of plaster and reinforced concrete falling from the roof of my echo chamber attempting to maim me and my wallet and validate the cackling of the fiEnds out there waiting for me to fall. A road trip with my friEnds didn’t help, especially when a nice man pulled up in his truck and offered me some orange candy on the way to Bike Glendhu:
As I may have mentioned on the BG low down, a day powering around pristine trails running more trains than even Brazzers can organise and getting some mega froth on was the Dam Busters equivalent for my echo chamber.
If you’ve made it this far into what appears to be some sort of drunk confession, you’re likely having a polarised response based on your electric preferences. eBike fiends will be perplexed as to how I’ve made something so straight forward into a Shakespearean level drama, while acoustic die hards will be deleting me from the Gram and bemoaning the fall of another false prophet who promised them a wall to keep out the hordEs.
So, is this the point where I confess I now have a battery charger in my shed? Have I had to also buy a pair of chinos and All Birds? Or have you already unsubscribed and cleared your browser history? For those wanting me to fall on a battery shaped sword, I’m afraid rumours of my dEmise are greatly Exaggerated, and no such purchase has been made yet.
My drop bar bikes and arsenal of acoustic bikes are still providing an effective vaccine against CoronEvirus, but perhaps the more efficient barrier out there is the muthafucken pricing! I’ve now been on bikes long enough to remember people rubbing their faces in dismay at a hard tail frame costing $900, so to see the new Ver 3 Levo S Works hit the market at $25k in Kiwi pesos is… Fucking obscene.
I’ll avoid debating the merits of such pricing, mainly because I know they’re all going to sell, and possibly because there simply aren’t enough of them to go around, which brings me to the other thing keeping me safe right now. Even if I was to succumb, good luck getting your sweaty mitts on what you want, or so friends tell me… Thank you global bike supply Armageddon.
I don’t know how much longer I can use the “My friends made me do it” excuse, perhaps I can wring another winter out of it? But I recognise the integrity of my Acoustic Echochamber is compromised, I mean, for fucks sake I now understand what a 700WH battery is…
The question is, will I surrender meekly at the first sign of a Bullit being fired, or battle on screaming into a block head wind?
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as e-bikes emerged, those riders left the normal group. No point rolling our 20kms round Woodhill when you can do 40.
I have nothing against e-bikes, though I’d love to roll up to the E-Enduro on a KTM EXC Freeride and point to the pedals. I just know if I got one I’d never ride my old bike again.
The $25k S-Works thing has me wondering too, is there any point to expensive drivetrains (shifter, cassette etc) on e-bikes?