Electric Bikes Highlight Sea Otter Classic Bike Festival [PICS & VIDEOS]

There were many Bosch equipped electric bikes at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic.

There were many Bosch equipped electric bikes at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic.

This is a guest post from Douglas Schwartz, President of ELV Motors.

2014 was the turning point for electric bicycles at the Sea Otter Classic.

Frank Yohannan, President and CEO of the Sea Otter Classic, believes North America will follow Europe with embracing electric bicycles.

Throughout the four-day event, electric bicycles had consistent promotion over the loud speakers as well as having articles and advertising in the show magazine.

Thanks to Bosch, Felt, Haibike, and Currie Tech, serious as well as occasional riders had opportunities to test ride electric bikes, on the track and surrounding roads as well as off road on some steep mountain trails.

One of the highlights of this year’s Sea Otter was the twice a day mountain bike ride led by Jurgen Beneke, former UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill champion.  Jurgen was nice enough to take time out of his schedule and go for a ride with me on some mountain trails to take some photos.

Jurgen was riding the Haibike AMT Pro, and I as a neophyte off-road rider, was following him on an Optibike R8 on loan from Optibike with my camera and video equipment.

Jurgen was literally doing wheelies going uphill and zoomed downhill at neck breaking speeds. I on the other hand, was holding on tight and thanking my Optibike for getting me up and down the hills without causing bodily harm to me or damaging my equipment.

At the end of the ride, Jurgen mentioned that he loved his Bosch-powered Haibike because it allows him to ride further, and since he is not “blue in the face” when he gets to the top, he can focus more on his riding technique going downhill. He also mentioned that due to the low center of weight of the crank motor and battery, the bike felt well balanced, and easy to handle.

During the three days I was there, I had an opportunity to take the Bosch-powered Felt SPORTe, Felt City Bike, and the Haibike Xduro x29 on test rides up a steep 16-17% grade on the ring road as well as on some off-road trails.

On all of these bikes, I was impressed with the balance and quality as well as the ability to make it up the steep grade faster than the serious bike riders.

Off road the Felt SPORTe and the Haibike Xduro x29, both mastered the steep trails with no problem and felt well-balanced and controlled on the descent.

The other mid-drive bike I tested was the Currie Tech IZIP E3 Peak powered by Tranzx. Although the transmission did not feel as smooth as the Bosch, (partially because I was trying to shift under heavy load) the bike itself is well-balanced and in my opinion, a great bike for valued-minded buyers.

I was able to keep up with the Bosch-powered bikes on the race track, and it took the steep 16-17% grade with ease.

Currie showed the new full suspension IZIP E3 Peak at the show and plans on introducing the bike in the near future.

I was very impressed with the Currie Tech IZIP E3 Dash, also powered by Tranzx. The rear hub motor works flawlessly and in pedal assist level 4, getting up to speeds approaching 30 mph is relatively easy.

I also appreciate the throttle option for the times I have to start out in the wrong gear, or start from a dead stop on a steep incline.

Another bike I was able to test was the Bosch-powered, Grace MX II with a NuVinci transmission and a Gates carbon belt. This bike rode as refined as it looks. The seamless NuVinci transmission and Gates belt only added to the refinement of this bike.

Lapierre, Currie Tech, Yuba, and Emazing were some of the other companies with electric bikes at the Sea Otter Classic.

It seems like just a matter of time before the Sea Otter Classic introduces electric bike events to this world-famous venue.

Enjoy this slideshow of more electric bike pictures from the Sea Otter Classic.

Thanks to Douglas Schwartz, President of ELV Motors, for this report, videos, and pictures!

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!

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Stores I recommend: Amazon, REI, Jenson USA, Bike Trailer Shop, Bike Bag Shop, and Bike Kid Shop.

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  1. andrew April 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    you mention the izip rear hub motor could get up to 30mph on the flats but
    could it climb the 16% grades like the middle motor ebikes

    • Coy Stolpe April 26, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      I ride this bike a lot and it will climb anything you can throw in its path.

    • Coy Stolpe April 26, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      I’v had this bike going 42Mph and could probably go a little faster if i raised the seat and would put shoes on because i always ride in flip flops

    • Douglas Schwartz April 27, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      Unfortunately when I went to borrow the Dash to try the hill, the battery was dead. My guess, based on driving it around Silicon Valley, it has enough torque to handle the 16% hills with no problem.

  2. Walker Aumann April 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Any chance you could provide comparisons of the Optibike vs. Haibike vs. iZip E3 Peak? I’m trying to find something that could tackle 13% to 18% grades on the road while pulling a trailer.

    • Coy Stolpe April 26, 2014 at 10:52 am #

      Get the Dash. or if you are looking for a Good commuter bike Metro would increase you carrying capacity and for long rides most comfortable bike you can get. Currie Tech hands down.

    • Douglas Schwartz April 27, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      With the Optibike, I went up some very steep off-road hills and never ran into a hill the bike would not go up. On a couple of occasions, I stopped in mid-climbs to take photos and was glad the Optibike had a throttle to pull me and the bike up the rest of the hill. There would have been no way, I as a non-mountain bike driver, could have continued up the hill with a pedal assist only bike. From my experience, the Haibike and Peak can also handle the hills pulling a trailer.

  3. Thomas Kern April 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    Too bad you left all us non-MTBer’s out….we had amazing response to our BionX Mundo’s Cargo bikes….Tom

    • Douglas Schwartz April 27, 2014 at 11:59 am #


      Sorry I did not test your bikes. I must have missed your booth.

  4. Clair Basinger April 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Would like to see more about 3 wheel bikes if possible. Where you can get them and get GOOD service. Could I get help?

  5. Ed April 27, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    Dang, Pete! You did an awesome job with all those photos!!

    What happened to Trek and their PowerFly E-bike?

    • Pete April 28, 2014 at 7:46 am #

      Hi Ed,

      Douglas Schwartz was the reporter/photographer/videographer on site! He did an excellent job, thanks again Douglas!

      Here is his website: https://www.elvmotors.com

      Trek is probably not be distributing the Powerfly in the US at this time. Maybe at some point.

  6. Kevin Higgins April 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Nicely reported and great pics. I have to say I feel as though eBikes (any and all of them) have no place on our mtb trails. We mountain bikers struggle enough with consent to build new tracks and to keep them maintained that the last thing we need is “motorized bikes” tearing them up, the Stealth Bomber is a good example. I fully support anyone throwing a leg over a bike instead of getting behind the wheel of a car and believe that eBikes are the future of commuting in suburban or city areas. They should be kept off the trails though. Besides, no self respecting mountain biker would ever ride one of these (times must be tight for Jurgen). Can you imagine having to pedal one of these things out of Demo with a flat battery? Its hard enough for me to organize a group ride but if I turned up to a trail ride with one of these obscenities, i’d be riding solo for the rest of my days. Cargo bikes and commuting: good; Trail use: Bad


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    […] Electric bikes were a highlight at the Sea Otter Classic bike festival.  E-bikes from IZIP, Haibike, Felt, Lapierre, Yuba, Grace, and more were on display. […]

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