I have been searching for answers to this topic but no luck…
Where i live, whenever i want to do an outside ride i have only quite steep terrain right from the start and all the way.
I’ve been riding trying to keep it easy the first 10 minutes or so and then vary the intensity according to the kind of workout i want to perform. The problem is that i end up going extremely slow or the intensity goes up dramatically pretty quick. My ftp is close to 3w/kg and i ride a Specialized Epic carbon, but i’m talking about grade average well above 10% with sections close to 20% in the first 2 km out of my house! And more of the same all over around here.
In order to mitigate the issue and actually have more fun riding outside, i’m considering getting an electric mtb; might be heresy, but my case is pretty extreme. I’m actually more and more training indoors with TR and less and less outside out of sheer frustration; and it’s not good.
From my ignorance, i have several questions:
- In order to have a decent record of the effort performed, should i record my exerted power? So far i rely on Strava estimate with my normal mtb, but with an e-bike it would obviously not work.
- If recording power is useful, is there a way to get power numbers from a Bosch gen 4 motor or should i install some sort of power meter? I think a Levo does it, but out of my budget…
- If i end up with a power reading, would it work nicely to perform outside TR workouts?
- If so, would i need a Garmin or other unit in order to do that (i have a Polar and don’t think it would work)?
Thanks for the suggestions,
Get a 26 or 28t chainring and a 10-52 cassette. Or a 2x setup with a tiny front chainring. It’ll be slow, but you’ll be able to go up the climbs while staying in z2 or whatever the workout prescribes.
Be okay with going slower. I think buying an ebike will create as many problems as it’ll solve.
I recently sold my Kenevo.
As you mentioned, the Levo/Kenevo bikes have built-in power meters. I had trouble staying in Z2 with the assist at 25%. Even at that level, the bike put me squarely in Z1 for most of the ride. So really only good for recovery rides.
Yea I could have bumped the assist down to 10-15%, but at that point why bother? I’m with @timon - just slap on a smaller ring.
Also don’t be afraid to grind at 40-60rpm to keep your power in check. As long as you don’t experience joint pain, it’s another trick up your sleeve that can help you in MTB racing. It does take some practice and is probably not something you want to do constantly throughout the entire ride.
I’ll expand a bit my situation: I have been on TR for almost 5 years with about 500 workouts, so fairly consistent; form has improved and weight is lower. Yet at almost 50 yo with family there is only so much i can achieve and i think i have been at my possible best for the last year or two.
I still have an older Epic 26" with a 3x11; easiest is a 22x38 (i changed cassette from a 36 for the reasons you mentioned). The bike itself is 10kg, so not heavy at all.
Yet cadence is the real problem: for MOST of the routes i can do (beautiful, i admit) i just can’t maintain a high cadence and am forced WAY down, even in the 60’s; on the trainer my standard is 92…
One option i have been considering is getting a more recent bike with 1x12; but it would not really solve much, being about the same weight and probably even a bit harder gear combination on 29".
So back to the outside workouts: if i get a standard mtb with power meter i can do outside workouts but for example a threshold interval would be done at maybe 65 rpm. The reasoning with a e-bike was to be able to just pick a higher cadence regardless of grade.
In the end i do prefer a lighter standard bike for purity, quiteness and satisfaction but it’s frustrating to grind and grind most of the time i go outside.
But please keep the arguments against the e-bike coming, so i’ll save myself a few grand
I don’t see the problem with riding at a low cadence, if the terrain demands it. I mean, what are you training for? To win an exact cadence competition, or to ride those beautiful mountains around you? If the hills put you at threshold at 60rpm in your lowest gear, than that is what you should be riding at.
In general I think it’s a good idea to be able to produce power at a wide range of cadence, for the terrain reason, but also because it puts a different load on the muscles.
We also have a few steep hills around here. One day, when we crossed a small ford with a 15%+ climb after it, I was chatting with one of our older club members (in his 70’s), and he was saying how they used to ride these roads all the time. I asked him about gearing, and he said the lowest was 42x21, but they managed fine. I’m sure they weren’t riding at 90rpm all the time in those days.
I do train for two main reasons: first, to stay decently fit while aging; second, to be able to ride around where i now live and enjoy the experience.
I grew up in a mountain region, riding my single speed bike to go to school since first grade, so i hear your old pal. Of course it can be done, especially while younger and if you need to do it.
But at this point i don’t really need that; i do have a car and i can train in the basement with TR for fitness.
My point is that grinding at slow cadence most of the time every time i go out is not even close to my definition of fun; hence i know i do go out less than i could / should. If my knees hurt after grinding on the mountain and not after even the hardest TR workout, would you agree that it’s not so good?
And to repeat myself: the first two km after my house are steep, peaking at 20%. This, every time i want to go out.
I did not even know there were cadence competitions and i’m not interested, but a cadence between low 80’s and mid 90’s is way more confortable and enjoyable for me than 60’s most of the time.
I have a Levo SL. I just did a nice training ride with it. I made 1600m of Elevation with 33% Akku. My Avg Power was 200W, the Levo SL has a built in Powermeter.
I love my roadbike. But sometimes I don’t like to go on the road, and like your place every thing here is steep.
So with my Ebike i can do Zone 2 rides but still get to see something.
That was yesterdays ride.
Edit Sorry just saw that the Levo is out of your budgett
I use my Vado 4 ebike for outdoor zone 2 rides in Portland, OR. Three directions from where I live are downhill, no way to stay in zone 2 getting home without assist. It works great for that, makes 10% hills go away. The hard part after that is finding where you can ride without 200 foot block stop signs
If you’re committed to the E-bike then you have two options.
- get a pedal based power meter to record your workouts. This will be the most accurate representation of power from YOU. I suspect there will be an execution benefit coming from the electric assist by way of cadence (think high inertia vs low inertia) but it will be close enough to get the value from the workout. This would be the preferred method.
- Absolutely ignore ALL power numbers from the bike/Strava and do all your workouts based on RPE. RPE can be a very effective way of training. Trusting estimated power or assisted power will be ultimately useless to you.
It sounds to me like you are fishing for affirmation.
I did a 3 hour climb yesterday (not ride…climb) that had several sections that were 10-15% on my ~40 pound enduro. If I wasn’t trying to keep up with my friend who is training for something specific, I would have just pedaled easier and taken longer to get to the top. You don’t need an eBike for that, you just need to gear properly and mentally slow yourself down to match the effort.
But if you want to buy an eBike, then just buy it.
For affirmation i would have asked an emtb forum
I am interested in answers to the specific questions outlined at the beginning and i got some interesting insight from Sarah and Ridill.
It would actually be interesting to me to read convincing arguments against an ebike for my case, not just suggestions for easier gears with slower cadence: this is what I’m doing already.
I could be as fit as you an many others, but I’m not; i could be lighter too… Such is life.
I will probably not get an ebike for now, as it seems too expensive; but equally so would be improving my normal mtb to something ‘better’.
In the end I’m not a gear head and I’m a cheap ass; after all, my bike is a third hand 26" epic i got years ago, in hope to improve on a basic aluminum hardtail i used since forever (and it’s now on my trainer). And it did, up to a point.
My main desire is not the bike: it is to enjoy riding my environment enough to actually want to do it more.
Wow, nice place indeed!
The Levo and particularly the sl looks like something pretty close to what would work for me.
Sadly, as you correctly note, quite outside of my budget.
I’ll still keep an eye on the used market; patience i don’t lack.
You know, if an ebike had an erg like feature, I might be all in. If I could literally set a wattage and cadence for me to pedal and it would speed up or slow down based on the terrain, that might be a game changer for outdoor workouts. Off-road may have too much variance for such a thing, but the the road would still be cool!
The Levo has not a ERG mode, but you can set it up so that the assist level will be adjusted to your heart rate. So for example you set it to 145bpm. When you are over that HR if gives you more assistance and if you are lower I will turn it down. This works well for sustained climbs.
An update to my original post.
I finally received a Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 SL a couple of weeks ago.
This week i did a couple of easy zone 2 rides with it to complement the other (harder) workouts in my plan.
At least for my specific use case it is working even better than i hoped: i can roam around the mountains keeping an eye on the power and HR and changing assistance and gears accordingly. It’s actually quite easy to manage a fairly steady effort and keep it as low as needed - something i just can’t remotely do for easy rides around here with the regular MTB.
So i’m getting more volume, with proper intensities, and ride outside way more in the process (still do harder workouts outside with the regular MTB).
And there is absolutely no comparison between an indoor endurance ride and the same done outside; so much more fun!
Congratulations on your new bike! The older I get, the less I care about the “rule 5” replies. Sounds like you ignored them and got what you wanted. Glad it meets your needs and you’re having fun.