High Performance in the High Desert: Mountain Biking in Fruita
Actually, make that e-mountain biking. We had the chance to test the latest from electric bike builder Haibike this spring on the trails of Rabbit Valley near the mountain bike mecca of Fruita, Colorado. And to do so, we had to bust out the best car camping and mountain biking gear we could find.
Here’s a look at just a small sampling of the gear that really got the job done.
Winora Group CEO Susanne Puello and her husband Felix established Haibike in 1995, but the German-based company’s roots shoot back to 1914. In that year, Susanne's great grandfather founded the custom bicycle manufacturing company E. Wiener Retail Trading Company.
Haibike USA, established in 2015, is Haibike's North American subsidiary, exclusively selling the company's popular ePerformance collection of XDURO and SDURO bikes. With top performing Bosch and Yamaha drive systems, Haibike's ePerformance line leads the electric bicycle industry.
We rode a variety of full-suspension SDURO (Yamaha) and XDURO (Bosch) Haibikes in Rabbit Valley. The SDURO AllMtn bike is one of the top performing bikes on the market and in our lineup. Stacked with 27.5-inch-wheel with 150mm travel, this full-suspension bike offers 180mm hydraulic disc brakes and a dropper post – necessary for technical climbs and decedents around Fruita’s West Rim and Kokopelli trails. Coming in three built-kit options, the AllMtn RC ($4,300) is a favorite with its 400W Yamaha motor, RockShox Monarch rear suspension, RockShox fork and XT brakes.
Haibike offers performance eMTBs that range from top-of-the-line full suspension, carbon-framed, carbon-wheeled bikes with top shelf FOX and RockShox suspension, and electronic XTR Di2 shifting, retailing at $11,000, to less-stocked entry-level hard-tail 27.5” mountain bikes for $2,500.
All electric bikes from Haibike are pedal assist with top-assist speed of 20mph. Battery life depends varying factors, but a single charge kept Active Junky testers going around Rabbit Valley for four hours and nearly 40 miles.
The Big Agnes giant Sugarloaf Shelter tent is every car camping group’s dream, from families to frat parties. Our e-bike group fell somewhere in between the two, with outdoor and bicycle industry persona, and a few journalists thrown in for good measure, out in the high desert of Colorado. For a mere $400 you’ve got a Big Agnes-quality E-Z UP-esque shelter in the fly alone, plus a ground tarp footprint that is great for itchy grass or rocky ground, and optional tent body with bug-net and nylon walls, which can also be used by itself to keep bugs at bay.
We agree with BA – it’s perfect for pitching over picnic tables with two zippered entrances that can be tied back. The walls and roof of a typical tent mesh work well in any environment from which you are seeking shelter from bugs, rain or sun. It works for a camp kitchen, group gear and changing tent for 24-hour races, or simple family outdoorsing.
We used EnerPlex’s Generatr 1200 to charge the eMTB batteries overnight . . . at the expense of the coffee maker the next morning. That said, we just plugged in the flexible, weatherproof, made-in-Colorado solar chargers and began the powering-up process all over again with the help of the desert sun. The Generatr 1200 ($1399) features 1,200Wh of charging capacity, and capably powers personal electronic devices likes headlamps, phones, cameras and tablets to small appliances at the campsite. And of course, e-bike batteries. Enerplex uses lithium-ion batteries instead of lead-acid, which saves nearly 60 percent of weight compared to similar models. It also has outputs for just about anything: USB (3), 110V (3), 19V (2), 12V (2) and an AC inverter. Light up your campsite and improve your connected camping life with one of these bad boys.
Pro riders Cedric Gracia, Damien Oton and Jordi Bago worked closely with the technical craftsmen at Northwave to create this hard-charging, technically enhanced enduro MTB shoe. Northwave partnered with Michelin Technical Soles who matched rubber to multi-layer thermo-welded upper, secured around the Michelin X-Fire sole using a SLW2 ratchet as well as a velcro strap.
Prototypes were subjected to thousands of miles of testing, and in the end, the Enduro Mid ($189.99) is not just comfortable for literally all-day wear, but offers superior protection to any other similar shoe I’ve worn. It performs like an XC shoe with the protection of an enduro, especially in its Mid version, which is really more just a thick cuff with raised, padded inside-ankle protection. The bomber-toe reinforcements were derived from motocross boots, making them even better suited to our eMTB pursuits. The SLW2 dial is easily as smooth and user-friendly as a BOA and comes with a snap-on protection cover.
Osprey Packs redesigned its popular Viper and Verve bike hydration packs, utilizing its new Hydraulics LT Reservoir in a lighter yet high-performance cycling pack, now available in a full three-liter capacity for desert riding, compatible with three pack sizes. The Viper 13 ($110) performed like all our Osprey packs – swimmingly. Even though it’s a small pack, the Atilon foam framesheet helps spread the load and moves with your body while riding. Osprey’s Airscape mesh-covered foam provides some of the best ventilation on the market. although you’ll always be sweating back there. The Biostretch Harness with mesh-covered die cut foam provides a secure, comfortable, slightly breathable suspension, especially when the 20mm webbing hipbelt is in use. Side-stretch mesh pockets are ideal for stuffing bike tubes and gels, and interior pockets organize patch kits, tools, jackets and other sundry necessities.