HOW E-MOUNTAIN BIKES ARE CHANGING TOURISM

In Germany in 2020, nearly five times more mountain bikes with motors were sold than standard mountain bikes. This development is having an impact on tourism. In the Alps and lower mountain ranges, e-mountain bikes are winning over new visitors to the sport. However, tourist operators in many areas need to adapt to accommodate different users groups and adjust their infrastructure accordingly.

 

“Creating an attractive region for e-mountain bikers now means much more than just installing a few charging points. It requires new ideas and initiatives, because it is attracting a different clientele. Sporty biking is now being combined with leisure, comfort, and cultural experiences"

Nico Graaff from the Mountain Bike Tourism Forum Germany cites the Jungfrau region as just one of the ever-growing number of examples of how e-mountain bikes are changing tourism. “Creating an attractive region for e-mountain bikers now means much more than just installing a few charging points. It requires new ideas and initiatives, because it is attracting a different clientele. Sporty biking is now being combined with leisure, comfort, and cultural experiences, according to Nico Graaff. Tamara Winograd, Head of Marketing and Communication, Bosch eBike Systems, also points to the wide range of different users. “E-mountain bikes are now relevant to all age groups and are experiencing widespread interest. More and more people choose to be active in their free time – and are hiring e-bikes. Holidays are the ideal place for this, as you have more time and space to try out new things. And that includes single track or wider forest trails.” For many people, e-mountain biking is their first introduction to e-mobility.

 

 

“These days, there are a number of well-established trail networks that are also good fun to ride uphill. E-mountain bikers are now able to put together routes with a high percentage of single-track trails – both uphill and downhill”

Uphill flow – sporty uphill trails in mountain areas – is becoming a core element in discovering e-mobility and the sport of mountain biking. For this purpose, Bosch helped create the world’s first official uphill flow trail in the Bavarian Forest National Park back in 2017. The flagship project has become a tourist highlight for demonstrating the importance of e-MTB optimised trail-building and promoting the joy of riding. “These days, there are a number of well-established trail networks that are also good fun to ride uphill. E-mountain bikers are now able to put together routes with a high percentage of single-track trails – both uphill and downhill,” says Tamara Winograd. For everyone to be able to enjoy and share being out in nature, it remains important to show respect for other user groups and the environment when riding. As such, Tamara Winograd sees such trails as an important measure to provide attractive bike trails that help divert and distribute visitor flows.

 

To further support this approach, Bosch eBike Systems is working closely with partners this year to implement projects in trail-building and bike charging infrastructure. Especially as many mountain e-mountain bikers value being able to ride out tour directly from their hotel, in order to travel car-free as much as possible. Others like to use cable cars and ski-lifts or bus and car shuttles. “Thanks to a range of starting locations and a network of battery charging stations, e-mountain bikers can access new goals, far from the main paths and trails. This is creating new opportunities for tourist regions,” comments Tamara Winograd. Areas without major lift infrastructure can still be interesting to mountain bikers, and they also help to divert traffic from the tourist hotspots. Especially as building new lifts remains environmentally controversial.

“Thanks to a range of starting locations and a network of battery charging stations, e-mountain bikers can access new goals, far from the main paths and trails. This is creating new opportunities for tourist regions,”

Nico Graaff also highlights the point that although e-mountain bikers are able to cover longer distances, they often choose to ride shorter trails, in order to be able to have the afternoon free for other activities. “Some mountain huts only open at 11:00, but by this point, e-mountain bikers are already heading back downhill to visit, for example, a lake or open-air swimming pool. His advice: “This is something that tourist regions will need to adapt to.” In addition, he also recommends routing e-mountain bike trails so that they take in cultural points of interest and highlights along the way. This might include museums, for example. “And museums have parking facilities for bikes, and places to securely store helmets,” says Nico Graaff. GPS navigation, proving information about local charging points, opening times, trail use and cultural background – all by app – will be decisive factors in setting up an appropriate infrastructure. Service networks and the availability of bike hire also need to be considered too. “Some regions have already made good progress, others have a long way to go,” says Nico Graaff. To successfully establish e-mountain bike tourism, all links in the chain need to be involved – and many wheels still need to turn.