Exposure

E-Mountain Bike Racing Is Now a Thing

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Photo: Jim Merithew

Last weekend, the Sea Otter Classic, an annual event in Monterey, California, that celebrates the arrival of bike season, held the first-ever large-scale eMTB race. Participants rode motorized whips around a 1.5-mile course for 60 minutes and competed either in the men’s (by age), women’s (by age), or industry category. All the bikes had to be pedal-assist (no throttles), with just one battery (no mid-race swaps). Some riders took the event seriously and tried for the win, while others donned costumes and just tried to finish. In the end, Christoph Sauser, a former mountain bike world champion, landed on top of the podium. “It was something completely different,” he says. “It was as hard as any cross-country race I’ve ever done. The pacing is just a little… different.”

Photo: Two riders rip the big S-curve leading into the finishing straight.

Photo: Jim Merithew
The event felt a lot like a laidback cyclocross race, with costumes, a lot of heckling, and beer hand-outs.
Photo: Jim Merithew
“Turn up the turbo!” was the spectators’ favorite chant.
Photo: Jim Merithew
Haibike had a fleet of bikes on hand for anyone who needed a loaner.
Photo: Jim Merithew
Yuri Hauswald, from GU, sported his full Yeti getup as he raced in the bike industry category.
Photo: Jim Merithew
Fans line the start of the first climb.
Photo: Jim Merithew
Riders had to weigh the benefit of boost with the threat of running out of battery before the finish.
Photo: Jim Merithew
Winner Christoph Sauser.
Photo: Jim Merithew
None of the fruit podiumed during the first-ever eMTB race at Sea Otter, but they still seemed to enjoy the experience.

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