Dirt bikes also called off-road motorbikes and Motocross/Supercross bikes, have been a favorite among off-road riding enthusiasts and professional racers for decades. Electric mountain bikes are a relatively recent phenomenon and, so far, the riding community remains divided about their suitability for off-road trails.
As with anything, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of both two-wheel vehicles. Read this article for a detailed comparison and evaluation of both products.
Let’s start with a basic understanding of the two.
What Are Electric Mountain Bikes?
An electric mountain bike is a battery-powered bicycle. When you pedal such a cycle, the battery provides power to the motor, delivering speed and thrust to the bike. This boost makes riding through challenging outdoor terrain easier, especially on steep climbs and mountainous trails.
What Are Dirt Bikes?
Dirt bikes are specialized off-road two-wheelers manufactured to withstand the jumps, pits, and bumps of uneven riding trails out in the wild. There are also specialist options within dirt bikes.
For instance, “trail bikes” are used by seasoned off-road riders on hiking trails. Designed for precision, these bicycles are usually lightweight and have a quick-throttle response.
Dirt Bikes vs. Electric Mountain Bikes
Both options are good, but which one’s better? A closer look at different factors will give you an idea.
There’s no clear winner in this category. Both bikes offer a fantastic workout. However, the risk of injuries is greater with dirt bikes. You’re also more likely to strain your back and knees while riding them.
Moreover, if you have any pre-existing medical condition (physical injuries), doctors probably won’t give you the go-ahead to ride a dirt bike.
On the contrary, electric mountain bikes don’t have any such limitations. You can ride them at any time and get an intense workout. Also, injuries won’t stand in your way. You can easily ride an electric mountain bike and enjoy a thrilling journey out in the wild.
Even with the tremendous growth in the popularity of electric mountain bikes, dirt bikes continue to rule off-road trails. Also, the level of excitement they provide remains unmatched.
However, a major sticking point is their complete reliance on fossil fuel and its impact on an outdoor trail’s fragile ecosystem.
In contrast, electric mountain bikes are eco-friendly and they can provide a similar – if not greater – level of excitement during a ride.
Considering how climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and environmental preservation is high on every country’s agenda, electric mountain bikes will have an advantage over traditional off-road bikes in the future.
A dirt bike demands more effort. For instance, consider the transportation angle; towing your bike and getting it to a specific location takes a fair bit of work.
In addition, you need the right safety gear, which includes helmets, gloves, elbow guards, knee pads, riding goggles, etc.
There’s also the maintenance part since a dirt bike runs on conventional fossil fuel. These two-wheelers also tend to have relatively smaller fuel tanks, meaning that there’s always that concern about running out of gas in the back of a rider’s mind.
On the other hand, you don’t need to worry about transportation with an electric bike. This means that no towing is necessary and you can easily carry it to the desired location when needed.
Furthermore, some trails are inaccessible on dirt bikes. You need either a conventional mountain bike or an electric mountain bike to access and pass through them with ease.
And the latter is a preferable option in such a scenario. Electric mountain bikes, or e-bikes, are also great for commuting over short to medium distances.
You can get an electric mountain bike for around $5,000 to $6,000. This is quite a high number and a considerable investment to make on a two-wheel ride. However, many experts believe that the features and offerings are worth the price.
Besides, electric mountain bikes hardly incur any long-term maintenance costs. Once you’ve bought it, the monthly expenses will be negligible.
On the other hand, a conventional dirt bike running on fossil fuel is likely to cost you hundreds of dollars in maintenance every month.
Dirt bikes are obviously heavier than electric mountain bikes. They’re also much more powerful. While this is a good thing during an off-road ride, the risk of injury in the event of a crash, accident, or collision is also much greater. That is not the case with an electric mountain bike which is lighter and steadier.
Can Electric Mountain Bikes Replace Dirt Bikes?
It’s certainly an interesting question. This has been a hot topic of debate within the off-road riding community in North America and other parts of the world for a while now.
Following are some convincing reasons why you might want to make the switch from dirt bikes to electric mountain bikes.
- E-bikes are faster. The best models in the category can achieve a top speed of around 25 mph.
- Staying on the speed angle, you might want to experience an electric mountain bike ride, even if you’re a seasoned dirt bike rider. Few things in life can match the thrill and excitement of a motocross bike ride. An electric mountain bike is one of them. It can help you relive that same dynamic experience in a new and unique way.
- Riding uphill is easier and more comfortable with an EMTB (electric mountain bike). Moreover, you can expect a lot of fun and enjoyment on the downhill segment of such a trail.
- During an electric mountain bike ride, your back, knees, and hips hardly experience any strain. So, if you have any sort of chronic pain in these body parts, an e-bike can help you enjoy a thrilling ride. The same can’t be said about a dirt bike. Even healthier individuals have to take good care of themselves to offset the straining effect on their knees, hips, and back.
Dirt Bikes vs. Electric Mountain Bikes: Hear from the Experts
Two-time Motocross champion and creator of the Optibike electric bike Jim Turner is no stranger to either kind of two-wheeler. He was a formidable racer and fierce competitor every time he swung his leg over a dirt bike.
After reaching the summit of the sport he loved, Turner got to work in his garage with a single-minded determination to build a top-notch e-bike. His vision was simple: create the finest e-bike in the world, with zero compromises on performance, quality, style, or aesthetics.
It’s safe to say that people are better-placed to talk about the pros and cons of both kinds of bikes. This is what he had to say about them.
Image Description: Professional mountain bike riders passing through a dirt track in the wild.
Dirt Bikes Provide Unmatched Exhilaration
A professional Motocross racer from the age of 16 to 24, Turner competed in the World Championship in Europe and won 2 Motocross National Championships. In his view, there’s nothing more exhilarating than riding a dirt bike.
The feelings and adrenaline rush are unbelievable, but the rider’s body takes quite a bit of abuse. It’s risky even when you’re super-careful and don’t crash or have an accident.
Crashes Can’t Keep Passionate Riders Away
Turner recounts how many of his friends would experience a crash while racing and sustain injuries. Frustrated, they would decide never to get back on a dirt bike again, only to recover and resume riding at the first opportunity. This is because they remembered what an unbelievable experience it was, and they wanted to enjoy that feeling again.
However, frequent injuries will ultimately take a toll on your body. If they don’t, father time will eventually catch up. And racing will no longer be an option when that happens.
In contrast, riding an electric mountain bike doesn’t bring these risks. Even if you’re going through challenging terrain out in the wild, your body won’t take anywhere near the kind of punishment it would otherwise endure on a dirt bike.
Electric Mountain Bikes: A Fun Alternative
Turner reveals that he created Optibikeas a safer alternative for the fun and thrill people usually associate with dirt biking and Motocross racing.
The idea was to create a two-wheeler that you could hop on at any time, ride out your front door, and have a wonderful time. In the process, you’ll get a fair bit of exercise too.
Moreover, you won’t have to spend half the day towing your dirt bike to a racing track or off-road riding trail. And the maintenance cost is almost negligible!
According to Turner, he designed Optibike as an EMTB that you could easily integrate into your daily routine. Use it to go to work, get some exercise, or take a trip out into the wild while having tons of fun.
While the former Ford engineer still loves Motocross, Turner believes that electric mountain bikes are here to stay. He came out of retirement recently to race again after 25 years.
Riding a Dirt Bike Becomes Harder with Age
Turner speaks from experience when he says that Motocross racing and dirt biking is harder for aging individuals. Just loading your bike up and driving to a track – which could be 45 minutes away – can be draining. Then you’re unloading again, getting dressed, and putting on protective gadgets (helmets, knee pads, elbow guards, gloves, etc.).
All this has to be done before you’ve even begun your ride. And then the process has to be repeated after you’re done with the race/ride. You take off the riding gear, load your bike up again, and drive back home before unloading the two-wheeler again and parking it in your garage.
The point is that you might have been out the whole day, and yet only a couple of those hours would have been spent actually riding your dirt bike. Besides, life tends to get busier as you grow older. Quite often, it’s even difficult to find the time to go dirt biking.
So, whether it is physically challenging to ride a dirt bike or you become busier with age, an electric mountain bike is a viable alternative.
Enjoy an Adventure without Any Fatal Risks
You don’t want to kill yourself or leave your body permanently handicapped over the thrill of some race at a certain point in life. You want to exercise, have a good time, and feel like a kid again. However, your health conditions don’t allow you to get back on a dirt bike.
This is where the electric mountain bike comes in. It’s a safer alternative without any risks associated with conventional dirt bikes. It can help you stay in shape and lead an active life while still enjoying all the thrills that dirt biking is known for, but more safely and comfortably.
The Intense Physical Demands of Dirt Biking
It’s pretty clear by now just how physically demanding Motocross, Supercross, and general dirt biking are.
The average rider has a heart rate of 195 beats per minute during a typical race. In contrast, elite-level Tour de France riders have their heart rates in the 170 – 175 range.
Dirt bikers and Motocross racers can sustain higher heart rates because more muscle groups in their bodies are being used during a race.
Under normal circumstances, such a high number of beats per minute can make a person go anaerobic and lose power.
But, since the muscles of a Motocross rider are changing with every turn on the track, they can cope with this significantly higher heart rate.
In the case of an electric bike, a motor and battery have been added to a bicycle. This enables riders to attain higher speeds and utilize more muscle groups, just like dirt bikers and Motocross racers can do.
Related electric bike articles:
- How to Clean an Electric Bike
- Can You Use a Car Battery for an Electric Bike?
- Can You Use An Electric Bike Without A Battery?
- Electric Bike Keeps Cutting Out
- Can We Charge Electric Bike at Home?
- How Steep A Hill Can An Electric Bike Climb?
Versatility is the defining feature of an electric mountain bike. Depending on your specific needs and any pre-existing medical conditions, you can control how you can ride with an electric mountain bike. This is usually not possible with a dirt bike, whether you’re a casual enthusiast or a seasoned Motocross racer.
Given how safety is a primary concern for electric mountain bike manufacturers, aged people who may have stopped dirt biking due to injuries can still go out and have fun on an EMTB.
So, given the cost-effectiveness and convenience, an argument can be made about electric mountain bikes replacing dirt bikes. One market segment might undoubtedly go for these innovative two-wheelers.
However, dirt bikes aren’t going extinct anytime soon. Motocross and Supercross will continue to be popular extreme sports around the world. EMTBs will find the most success by targeting older individuals who have given up dirt biking due to physical conditions and other challenges.
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.