Advertisements
Best Online Travel GuidesTravel

The joys of pelting around the Highlands on an electric mountain bike

‘If you have a look at the tree, you hit the tree,’ remarked our information, sagely.

We have been on electric mountain bikes in the dramatic Cairngorms. In one of the bike’s increase modes, it was straightforward to overcook the motor-assisted pedalling and thereby thump into inanimate objects too insolently everlasting to get out of our method.

That was the motive why our biking sage – Chris Gibbs, head information of mountain bike holidays firm H+I Adventures – had suggested us to put on knee and elbow guards in addition to noggin safety.

Jude climbing in the Cairngorms. The heather was home to millions of wee biting beasties leading Carlton to joke that this was Glen Midgie

Advertisements

Jude climbing in the Cairngorms. The heather was residence to thousands and thousands of wee biting beasties main Carlton to joke that this was Glen Midgie

Jude riding in Glen Feshie on an EP8-equipped Merida e-mountain bike

Jude driving in Glen Feshie on an EP8-equipped Merida e-mountain bike

WHAT IS AN EP8 UNIT? 

EP8 is Shimano’s electric bike drive unit, a 2.6kg motor in the backside bracket space, behind the entrance chainwheel. It’s ‘pedal help’ so it’s a must to maintain pedalling for the battery-powered increase. In different phrases, e-bikes aren’t motorbikes the place you employ a throttle and do not must pedal. Like virtually all electric bikes in the UK and EU, an EP8-equipped e-bike provides help as much as 25kph or about 15mph. 

Advertisements

Speed is not every little thing, although, and what the EP8 supplies is unbelievable torque (85 newton meters of torque in truth) so you possibly can sort out steep hills with ease. The motor is included into the body of the bike as is a battery, though that is additionally detachable for ease of charging.

There are third-party motors that may flip customary bikes into e-bikes, however the EP8 system is one thing bike firms design their bikes around relatively than one thing that may be connected to your individual bike. 

EP8 is what’s often known as a ‘mid-motor’ system in that the drive unit is type of in the center of the bike body. Another e-bike system is for the motor to be in the hub of the rear wheel. Most European e-bikes now use mid-motors as a result of they’re extra environment friendly and it is higher to have weight in the centre of the bike relatively than at the again wheel. 

Metaphorically wrapped in helicopter-parent-style bubble wrap, we felt like youngsters once more. Well, I did anyway, which is why I had the impish urge to leap forward on a water splash to soak my spouse with my spinning again wheel.

Advertisements

‘Oh, thanks!’ Jude yelled sarcastically.

‘I’m sopping now!’

‘Ha, ha, you simply bought tidal waved,’ laughed Chris.

‘You’re gonna must be sooner subsequent time to get him again,’ he steered.

‘He wished me to squeal; he did it on goal,’ replied Jude, understanding that I wished vigorous sound results for the podcast I used to be recording.

‘It’s not a Scottish bike experience till you’ve got bought moist toes anyway,’ identified Chris, additionally sporting a radio mic.

‘By the time you’ve got been via just a few mountain streams, smashed your method via the pine timber for an exfoliation, it is virtually a spa therapy.’

We have been in the majestic Glen Feshie on the third and closing day of a non-public tour organised by bicycle elements model Shimano, which wished me to trial its newest electric mountain bike help system, EP8 (see boxout).

Electronics? In damp Scotland?

Despite the rain, leaping via water splashes, and Jude dunking her bike in a stream whereas I photographed each millimetre of her fall with burst mode on my iPhone, the bike batteries survived.

And despite the fact that we did some lengthy valley rides – I used to be significantly fond of my joke about Glen Midgie – in the highest-draining energy modes, we by no means even bought shut to totally depleting the battery ranges.

I’m an skilled mountain biker; Jude’s a relative beginner. Relative in that she final mountain biked – and even then, gingerly – one thing like 20 years in the past. She hasn’t achieved a lot MTBing since and positively hasn’t been on one of these new-fangled, full-suspension eMTBs.

Because I’m a know-it-all outdated hand, I’m responsible of relying on the driving kinds from my youth, so it was an training for me to observe Chris exhibiting Jude how greatest to deal with path obstacles reminiscent of roots or fallen branches, and show the greatest bike stance for descending.

‘This is the time to make use of that dropper submit,’ suggested Chris, pointing to the digital gadget that, with the press of a lever and a bum slam, compresses the saddle and its seatpost, so that you sit decrease on the bike and are due to this fact much less more likely to be jettisoned forwards.

‘Get the saddle out the method and simply begin descending good and massive and open,’ stated Chris, exaggerating his stance over the bike whereas shifting forward.

‘Like a giant gorilla!’ he laughed. 

Instructor Chris Gibbs riding across the Fhearnagen stream in Glen Feshie

Instructor Chris Gibbs driving throughout the Fhearnagen stream in Glen Feshie

Oops! Jude takes a tumble into the Fhearnagen stream. Carlton remarks that the batteries on her bike survived the dunking

Oops! Jude takes a tumble into the Fhearnagen stream. Carlton remarks that the batteries on her bike survived the dunking

Chris explains riding technique to Jude as they descend to the H+I Adventures HQ close to the Beauly Firth near Inverness 'Ride like a big gorilla!' said Chris

LEFT: Chris explains driving method to Jude as they descend to the H+I Adventures HQ near the Beauly Firth close to Inverness. RIGHT: ‘Ride like a giant gorilla!’ stated Chris

Jude crossing the Coire Follais stream near Aviemore. The EP8 on the bikes the group rode are 'pedal assist' units that provide 'incredible torque'

Jude crossing the Coire Follais stream close to Aviemore. The EP8 on the bikes the group rode are ‘pedal help’ items that present ‘unbelievable torque’

Jude and Chris riding into Glen Feshie. Chris leads tours on e-bikes as well as on non-electric bikes. He likes both, Carlton says

Jude and Chris driving into Glen Feshie. Chris leads excursions on e-bikes in addition to on non-electric bikes. He likes each, Carlton says

The handlebar-mounted screen on the EP8-equipped Merida e-mountain bike shows speed and is how the rider toggles between modes - eco, trail and Boost

The handlebar-mounted display on the EP8-equipped Merida e-mountain bike reveals pace and is how the rider toggles between modes – eco, path and Boost

‘You’ve bought masses of room for the bike to maneuver beneath you, and you have 160mm of suspension, so that you need not flip around each rock,’ he yelled, hitting a giant rock and rolling over it with ease.

‘If you possibly can maintain free in your legs and arms, the bike’s gonna soak it up for you,’ he promised.

‘So simply good and straightforward; down this line; right here on the left.’

Prang! Jude smacked right into a tree.

‘Sorry,’ she exclaimed, unharmed.

‘No, do not apologise,’ Chris soothed.

‘The trick is wanting far forward. Look the place you wish to be as a result of if you happen to have a look at the tree, you are going to hit the tree. If you look previous the tree, you are going to sail proper previous it.’

A drone photograph of Bunchrew House hotel beside the Beauly Firth near Inverness, with the Kessock Bridge in the far distance

A drone {photograph} of Bunchrew House resort beside the Beauly Firth close to Inverness, with the Kessock Bridge in the far distance

'Bunchrew House is an ideal base for mountain biking in the hills above Inverness or for travelling into the Cairngorms,' writes Carlton

‘Bunchrew House is an splendid base for mountain biking in the hills above Inverness or for travelling into the Cairngorms,’ writes Carlton

'Bunchrew House was built in the 1600s by John Forbes. Fans of the historical TV series Outlander will be tickled that the house has both Fraser and Mackenzie clan connections,' says Carlton

‘Bunchrew House was inbuilt the 1600s by John Forbes. Fans of the historic TV collection Outlander might be tickled that the home has each Fraser and Mackenzie clan connections,’ says Carlton 

Just a few hours later, Jude’s method – and, in truth, mine additionally – had improved immensely, and he or she was in a position to shimmy at pace down the type of root-strewn steeps that may have thrown her on our first day.

And she might experience up them, too, aided by the motor, however nonetheless having to pedal.

Chris leads excursions on e-bikes in addition to on non-electric bikes. He likes each.

‘The second that [electric mountain biking] clicked for me,’ remembered Chris, ‘was once I began down-powering. There can be climbs that I’d bodily by no means make on a daily bike; like, tremendous technical or tremendous steep, however a down-powered e-bike gave me simply sufficient [power] that I used to be nonetheless working bodily actually laborious, however all of the sudden, I used to be in a position to make issues that I would not have achieved in any other case.’

The view from the bar of Bunchrew House's ancient cedar tree, planted in the 1700s

The view from the bar of Bunchrew House’s historic cedar tree, planted in the 1700s

'The walls of the hotel - which has the feel of a country home - are adorned with original oil portraits of the families from both the Fraser-Mackenzie lines and the Forbes line,' reveals Carlton

‘The partitions of the resort – which has the really feel of a rustic residence – are adorned with unique oil portraits of the households from each the Fraser-Mackenzie strains and the Forbes line,’ reveals Carlton

A sign explaining the history of the Bunchrew House's cedar tree

An indication explaining the historical past of the Bunchrew House’s cedar tree

Jude agreed. Better method was now getting her down the hills, however with an eMTB, she was now additionally in a position to sort out steep, rocky climbs that she probably would not have been in a position to clear on a pedal-only mountain bike.

‘You nonetheless get a mountain bike really feel,’ she agreed.

You do not feel as if you are driving a bike, then, I requested?

‘No!’ she replied, virtually offended.

Our experience over, and with the rain beginning to fall, we shuttled to our luxurious lodging, the historic Bunchrew House beside the Beauly Firth, only a few miles west of Inverness.

We’d already had our Highlands spa therapy – mud, largely – so, after showering, we dressed for dinner, a silver-service affair in the outdated resort’s oak-panelled eating room with massive bay home windows searching to sea.

We dined on high-quality meals as we talked with Chris about our driving that day, the solar dipping behind the Black Isle hills in the distance. Luxury.

  • To hearken to Carlton’s podcast on the journey, click on here

TRAVEL FACTS… AND MORE ON STUNNING BUNCHREW HOUSE

Jude drinks in the view from the Bunchrew House dining room

Jude drinks in the view from the Bunchrew House eating room

Bunchrew House is an splendid base for mountain biking in the hills above Inverness or for travelling into the Cairngorms. The resort can also be well-liked with these driving – or driving – the North Coast 500. Scotland’s reply to Route 66, the NC500 is a spectacular route that winds around the coast roads of the Northern Highlands.

Bunchrew is a Scottish mansion home with hyperlinks to the Jacobite Risings. It was inbuilt the 1600s by John Forbes. Fans of the historic TV collection Outlander might be tickled that the home has each Fraser and Mackenzie clan connections. The partitions of the resort – which has the really feel of a rustic residence – are adorned with unique oil portraits of the households from each the Fraser-Mackenzie strains and the Forbes line.

The HQ for H+I Adventures is a stone’s throw from Bunchrew House. Group journeys begin and finish at this new-build HQ. The H+I used to face for Highlands and Islands however reverted to initials solely when the firm started providing abroad MTB journeys. H+I has three group journeys in Scotland: the Highland Odyssey, which works via the Cairngorms after which out to the West Coast and up into Torridon in the northwest.

There’s additionally a week-long journey in the Cairngorms, an east to west coast-to-coast traverse. A personal three-day tour with an H+I information and each day transport to the Cairngorms prices £1,550 per individual, with a minimal of two individuals staying at Bunchrew House for 2 nights with breakfast and dinner included. 

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button