AWOL Tours can now offer guests an easier option to ride the exhilarating and challenging trails around Table Mountain in Cape Town on an electric mountain bike.
The E-bike craze has hit Cape Town hard the last few months, and I can finally understand why these beast are so sought after. I was a professional mountain biker for 6 years, nothing can surprise me anymore – or so I thought. The joy of NOT breaking out a sweat when going uphill at 25km/h is a completely new thrill to me, waving at cars as I weave past them UPHILL would have never crossed my mind. (Don’t cheat on STRAVA now!!)
But what if this sturdy beast (The REX) runs out of fuel (Electricity). I tried to run it to the max, to kill the battery up the challenging climbs in and around cape town, I took the REX out for 3 days without a charge and still my energy ran out before the powerful electric kick did. This electric off-road beauty has a range of up to 100km. Now you can play yourself into another blood group – even the sun stays out late just to watch the joy oozing out of your ears!
The first test was done without cleats (shoes that clip into your pedals). This will be to simulate enthusiastic tourist who need a quick mountain bike (off-road) fix who did not pack their own cycling shoes. I cycled on the footpaths of Table Mountain and the single tracks of Signal hill. Normal shoes are fine to wear with the e-bike, it allows for a faster dismount and the flat spiked pedals had more than enough grip to navigate the drops encountered.
Next day test: Today I went all out to have a real feel for the off-road e-bike (REX E). These bikes (e-bikes in general) are heavy which makes them a bit intimidating at first glance and feel, but when that first pedal stroke sparks the pull away all doubt flies out the window. Today I used my cleats to see if it will enhance the experience (rocky descents or technical climbs). I would recommend having cleats when doing technical rides ONLY if you are used to them. This bike was amazing and pushed me through some serious technical sections uphill (That I would usually walk/run). This is a great way to sharpen up your line reading for the normal bike as you are more successful and relaxed on the e-bike that adds the extra KW kick over the obstacles.
Bike Performance: Its quiet as a mouse regarding rattles – I took out another E-bike for a spin a few weeks ago and I thought I’m losing the battery pack (even in locked state). The Rex was a confidence booster in every aspect. The rear suspension made the ride twice as comfy. I had my doubts about it having 27.5″ wheels but I survived drops with ease and could barely note the difference from my 29er.
Weight: The bike is heavy as hell to carry up steps or over fences (so make sure you don’t get these in the way). It’s not impossible to carry or lift it’s just not a feather weight. The weight did not influence the handling on the technical sections (I was very surprised by this). And if you go uphill the bike basically carries its own weight in Eco mode.
Beware the kick: Your confidence on technical uphill’s will get a kick out of the power booster on the bike, but be aware if you turn the pedals (even slightly) the command gets released to the beast to GO…even if you are not properly seated on the bike, he will leave you behind or ram you in the rear…So I would suggest to power down on any technical downhill section. On the road though the command to GO has a slight delay so don’t assume your pull away (to quickly take the gap in front of a car) will be as fast as on a normal bike.
For the first time I can relax about growing older as I will be able to enjoy this demanding sport now until the end of time with this machine – the REX. If you can’t afford one of these bikes, RENT one or join me on an AWOL Mountain biking tour! You won’t have to worry about the maintenance or technical support when the day of fun is done.
Written by Samantha Oosthuysen