Steamboat Bike Park enters e-bike business | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Bike Park enters e-bike business

Nicole Miller and Tim Price ride Specialized e-bikes up Steamboat Ski Area.

When Trevyn Newpher's colleagues told him he needed to try out an electronic bike at the annual Interbike trade show, he was skeptical.

"You think of an e-bike, and you think you are cheating," Newpher said. "Why would you do that? That's not natural. That's not mountain biking."

Newpher, an elite cyclist who today is the Steamboat Bike Park manager, rode one of the bikes, and he was hooked.

"It makes going uphill fun," Newpher said. "I rode it, and it just blew me away. It encourages you to pedal further, faster, longer."

Now a fan, Newpher brought the trend to the Steamboat Bike Park, which now has a small fleet of five, full-suspension Specialized Turbo Levo bikes to make climbing Mount Werner less of a grind and more of a leisurely activity.

The Bike Park shop located in the bottom level of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort overlooking the promenade rents the bikes for either riding at the Bike Park or elsewhere.

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At the Bike Park, a two-hour guided tour costs $129. A guide is necessary because there are still federal rules that dictate where e-bikes can be operated.

For riding outside the Bike Park, it costs $74 for a three-hour rental and $104 for a full day.

This is Tim Price's fourth summer teaching as a guide at the Bike Park. Before taking students up the mountain, the former professional cyclist gets a grasp of riding abilities and then goes over the basics of the bike.

The bikes, which retail for $4,500, assist riders with power from a battery.
The bikes are in the class-one category, which is the least powerful of the e-bike classes.

It has a built-in power meter and puts in the same wattage that the rider does, up to about 530 watts.

Riders can use a smartphone app to track their ride and measure bike performance. Three power settings allow riders to extend their battery life for longer rides.

The extra boost makes it a breeze to navigate the tight switchbacks on Mount Werner, but some mountain biking technique is still necessary.

"It opens the door on fitness but doesn't change skill at all," Price said. "It's not like there is no fitness on this bike. There is a ton of fitness."

The bikes weigh nearly 50 pounds, but much of the weight is centered on the bike to make it very agile and fast on the downhills.

Last summer, Price rode his e-bike to win the Bike Park's Quick and Chainless, a downhill race where competitors are required to remove their chains.

While Newpher was once skeptical about the e-bike movement, he is excited to see where it goes and views it as an evolution of the sport, similar to the introduction of snowboarding or of mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels.

Similar to those, there is some e-bike resentment from cycling purists.

"I feel it really like it opens a ton of doors," Newpher said.

Newpher encouraged anyone who is interested to stop by the shop and take one for a spin around the promenade.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland