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E-MTB FUN IN THE TUSCAN SUN

The sun dipped below the tree line and the sweat dripped from our temples; we were aglow with the Tuscan golden hour and the thrill of negotiating some unforgiving rocks.

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The SHIMANO EP8 Media Camp delivered on all the tick-boxes of a mountain bike dream, and it felt particularly special to experience them in a year that has dealt far more uncertainty than stoke.

After two rides already that day, a small group rode up to the trail head at the top of the forest to shoot some photographs. We filled up our water bottles, got the necessary equipment together and promised to be back in time for tea. In a world without e-mountain bikes, this would have been an empty promise indeed, but we clocked up three mega locations, multiple shot angles, a lot of chat, no end-of-day bonks and returned to the hotel with some banging shots and four minutes to spare!

E-bikes are enablers. They enable the injured to regain fitness, the slow to become fast, the fast to go further, the photographers to squeeze in an extra hour of shooting and a group of journalists with vastly different riding experience to ride the same trails together with equally epic amounts of fun!

Granted, it’s hard not to have an amazing day of riding on Monte Arsenti. This is a small but perfectly formed area of Tuscany near to Massa Marittima, carefully carved into mountain bike paradise by The Trail Brothers (link http://www.thetrailbrothers.com/en/ ). These guys know a thing or two about trail building, and to have them show the group up, down and round their playground was a real delight. They kept us informed of what was coming up and kept asking what we thought of the trail when we got to the end. But they need not have asked, our grins told them our answers!

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Few need an e-MTB to induce a grin on the downhills, but without one there would certainly have been a few grimaces on the uphills. Actually, there still were a few of us who ramped back the power and used our own motors on the tight and technical ascents in order to test ourselves and the customisation of the new SHIMANO EP8 motor. It’s a common misconception that sticking a motor in a bike a) makes riding easy, and b) makes riding unnatural. Happily, the first point is down to rider preference and the second point comes as standard with the EP8 system.

Once we had all calmed ourselves from the initial high of riding all-time trails with supernatural power, we took the time to really dial in the EP8 motor. The idea of opening an app, pairing our bikes and customising the settings didn’t scream fun in the same way as heading into the next section of trail did. However, it was five minutes of seriously well-invested time.

SHIMANO's E-Tube app is surprisingly simple to use for something that has such an impact on the way the way the EP8 motor works. Some riders ramped up to maximum power, fingers sliding across screens and the glint of evil genius creeping across their faces as they bestowed themselves superhero status! Those whose power-to-weight ratio told of plenty of kilometres clocked without electric assistance, knocked the feisty 85Nm back a peg or two to perfect a more progressive power curve and natural feel which still allowed for a proper workout on the climbs.

With customisation complete, we set off again.

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We were dialled in; (wo)man and machine working as one. We had the power of the motor and the power of personalising it. And as we all know, with great power comes great playtime!

Stoke meters revved into the red without our heart rates having to, and it was our cheeks aching from all the smiling rather than our legs aching from all the climbing. Ordinarily unmanageable climbs were conquered; tight, switch-back ascents could be ridden smoothly, even when rock steps or awkward roots challenged timing and balance; technical downhills were a joy thanks to the small, lightweight motor and manoeuvrable bikes, and also the fact that we weren’t completely out of puff by the time we dropped in.

We went further, faster and with extra fun. All in all, it was flipping fantastic!

Over the course of two days, some of Europe’s finest mountain bike media had the opportunity to really get to grips with this new system. Of course, there was plenty of riding, but everyone also got the chance to speak with members of the SHIMANO development and marketing team in small interview sessions. Coffee and questions flowed as the nitty gritty was picked apart, analysed and explained.

Having been made to sweat in the hot seat of an interview, the designers and developers also sweated it out on the trails alongside the guests; it was a perfect mix of laughing and learning, and each individual was really able to get the most out of the camp.

This approach really mirrors the EP8 motor itself: individual adaption to get the best out of the ride.

And fun. SO MUCH FUN!

So, back to the sunset photoshoot and the four-minute turn around before dinner. Thanks to the ease of whizzing up the hill on boost mode, plus a quick shower, we arrived to dinner fresh as daisies!

Journalists, photographers, ride guides, trip organisers and SHIMANO employees all assembled on the restaurant terrace for our evening meal. Each had experienced the constraints of the Covid19 pandemic in different ways, but we were all full of renewed appreciation to be back together, riding bikes, sharing stories and tucking into pizza as the Tuscan sun finally slipped below the horizon.

Thanks go to H+I Adventures and The Trail Brothers for the route guidance, Irmo Keizer and Dan Milner for the photo shooting, plus Wideopen mag, BIKE mag, EMTB Forums, MBR, Cycling.be, Vojo Magazine, Velo Vert, Vélo Tout Terrain, Velomotion, emtb-news.de, ElektroRad, Bike Rumor, mtbcult.it/ebikecult.it, Bicycling mag, 1enduro.pl blog, MTB Pro, Solo Bici, Ride magazine, Pianetamountainbike.it, Mountain Bike Action/Electric Bike Action and Fillari-magazine for joining us.

 

 

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