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Leaving your house for a cycle is a good way to sneak in some exercise while we're banned from travelling too from home for anything non-essential.

And while the idea of using your legs instead of an engine to power yourself up a hill might be a turnoff, ADB Health Editor Stephen Gall has the answer – electric mountain bikes! Plus, if you live close to some mountain bike trails, it’s even better!

Words: Stephen Gall

Last year a good friend, former Ironman champ Guy Andrews, lost his mate Darren Mercer to a fatal heart attack. Darren also was a former Aussie Ironman champ, in his early fifties but still an extremely fit individual who always trained hard. In fact, too hard!

At his funeral I was to learn that his constant high-heart-rate training led to a heart condition. As I’ve been training hard in various activities for 45 years I thought I should go to a cardiologist and get my ticker checked out. Fortunately I passed with a gold standard but was given a stern warning that if you continue high-intensity training in later life you can seriously damage your heart.

The result was that I immediately purchased an electric (pedal-assist) mountain bike for my favourite leisure activity, MTB riding. After nine months I have clocked up 2000km.

All my MTB mates said I was showing my age (I knew that already) … cheating … a pussy … lazy … soft … you know what nice things your mates say! Firstly, MTBs are one of the best forms of training for moto heads. Some will say that riding your motorcycle is the best form of training and I agree, but there are restrictions.

You need to have the time, be able to afford the constant wear and tear on your bike, have access to suitable riding areas, time for bike and gear preparation, cleaning, packing etc. MTBs are cheaper and easier to maintain, have more-accessible riding areas, cover similar terrain and are easier to transport.

Why an eMTB over a regular mountain bike or roadie?
1: The average travelling speed of an eMTB is higher than a regular MTB so this simulates the speed of your motorcycle, resulting in improvements to your sight lines and depth perception.
2: eMTBs are slightly heavier and feel more like a motorcycle on rough terrain.
3: People say that eMTBs are too easy but that depends how hard you push. It’s all about the effort you put in to the session. I can easily achieve the same average heart rate as when I was riding my regular MTB, you just cover more ground, more quickly and are able to extract more fun from a shorter time.
4: Hills don’t hurt as much. You may only use normal eMTB assistance on the flat and undulating ground but can up the power for those nasty hills.
5: With more speed, line selection is more important and very similar to a motorcycle.
6: Though you may be carrying some extra weight when you start racing, it’s easier to start training on an eMTB and particularly good for entry-level riders.
7: It’s way more social. You can’t have a conversation on your moto like you can on an eMTB that’s doing some of the work. This adds enthusiasm and variety to your motorcycle training.
8: Instead of walking, you can use your eMTB for checking lines on the motocross track, the Special Tests of an AORC event or the prologue of a rally or desert race.
9: In regards to the weight of an eMTB, not only will this weight give you a better upper body workout than a normal MTB but you will notice that any extra weight you are carrying doesn’t matter as much when you have power assistance.
10: With more speed and weight, you can use motorcycle-specific techniques like line selection, braking points, traction awareness, body positioning and helping the flow of your machine over the ground.
11: High heart rates are less likely on an eMTB because of the electric assistance to help you pedal up the hill sections.
12: There’s less chance of injury on an eMTB.
13: An eMTB is easier on your knees and ankles in the long term than a normal MTB.
14: When recovering from a lower-body injury you will find eMTBs great for a tapered recovery.

AN eMTB can form a regular part of your training efforts.
– Use it early in the year for Base Training with longer, lower heart-rate rides.
– Closer to the start of the season, try shorter, more intense, higher heart-rate effort or use it for training maintenance during the year or if you are under time constraints due to work/family/life situations.
– For racers during a taper week before a race you can use the eMTB for short, sharp intensity efforts.
– An eMTB can be used for your active recovery sessions after a tough motorcycle ride or race.
– As discussed earlier, quality eMTBing teaches you more than just the physiological benefits. More dirt riding time tunes your muscle and psychological memory awareness for motorcycle riding.