Moab Has One Super E-Bike Friendly Trail System
One of the challenges of riding e-bikes is that they kind of fit into a weird grey area. They’re bikes, but they aren’t allowed on many bike trails. Worse, the Class 2 and 3 bikes often don’t have enough power to run on regular trails that are dominated by trucks, ATVs, and dirt bikes. So, it can be tough to find a place that’s a great fit for e-bikes sometimes.
But, a video I came across on YouTube makes me regret canceling a reservation for Dead Horse Point in Utah last year, because it seems to be a great place for riding electric.
Unlike the nearby national parks, the State of Utah is actually a lot nicer about e-bikes. Ty’s Rides on YouTube ran up to Moab for a week to give his e-bike a real challenge, and made it a camping trip. And, after traversing the Rocky Mountains, they made it to a prime camping spot along the river.
Unlike many people, they arrived in Moab without much of a plan. The next morning, they went into town to see what kinds of rides they could go on with the bikes. This ride was taken in August, which was a lot hotter than it is today at the end of the year. After checking with locals, they were pointed to Dead Horse Point State Park, just a few minutes north of the little town. They headed up there because many other famous biking trails don’t allow e-bikes at all.
Dead Horse Point is near Canyonlands, and is in fact along one of the roads going into Canyonlands. As such, it has some amazing views over some big cliffs, showing off the full array of views the area offers. Some of the trails run along the edge, and some go down onto another lower shelf. I had planned to go up there next year to cover a Jeep event, but had to cancel as the time came because of some animal and money issues.
But, these guys were able to make the trip and try out the trails so I’ll know what they’re like when I finally make it up there.
First, they hit Big Chief Loop, which seemed pretty mild in the beginning, and then some twists started about a mile in, followed by some minor jumps. But, it was all friendly to beginners if they don’t hit the throttle too hard and maybe walk some of the tougher segments with larger rocks. So, it’s a good trail for skill progression in a purely optional way while enjoying the views, including some distant snow-capped peaks.
Some segments of another trail ran right along the rim of the canyon, and others ran along side canyons, so it looks like a great set of views. Dead Horse Point also has some good campgrounds, including some with full hook-ups that would be good for EV charging if you bring the right EVSE along.
Another good option for e-biking in Moab is to get away from the California-inspired three-class e-bike system and go for something with some more oomph. Octane Motorwerks has another video showing that with some more power, a more dirtbike-like experience is possible and even popular 4×4 trails are reasonably doable.
In this video, he takes on Hell’s Revenge, a trail that’s both closer to town and more well-known. It’s near the Sand Flats Recreation Area, which is very popular with outdoor enjoyers of all kinds.
Starting at the parking lot, he takes the famous climb up a slick rock ramp. For those unfamiliar, the sandstone in the area is called slick rock, but it’s actually very grippy and gritty, making for the opposite of slick for anything on rubber tires. Once he gets up the top of the fin and goes back down, it’s obvious that the more powerful Sur Ron bike is just as capable of taking on most obstacles as a Jeep or ATV.
Being on two wheels seems to be pretty advantageous because he only needed to pick one line instead of a pair for obstacles. Sometimes, he hit some challenging rocks. Others, he went to the side and hit the sand instead. Choices are key.
Like Dead Horse Point, the views around Sand Flats are amazing. The desert contrasts with the mountains in amazing ways, and along the way, it’s possible on some of the trails to get a view of Arches National Park and the Colorado River. At one point, he even got views of the town. In other words, the off-road challenge is only a small part of the reason to go out there. Even moving at a leisurely pace and avoiding all of the most challenging terrain is a rewarding experience.
But, once again, terrain was no problem for the Sur Ron. It ripped right up all of the steepest fins and kept composure on the way down, making for a great alternative to just about any four-wheeled vehicle on such rough country. Plus, the whine of the electric motor seemed like it added to the experience, at least in my opinion.
But, moving at those speeds, I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of treating it like a normal mountain bike. Full-face helmets and other safety gear are a must. If you get a fast e-bike like a Sur Ron or a Talaria, be sure to gear up for safety on the most challenging segments, like the staircase or riding by the “tubs”.
With 19 miles of such super rough riding, he managed to still get back to his RV park space to be able to charge back up, so there’s no need (at least on those trails) to use a truck or something to get to the trailhead!
Personally, I’d like to see more bike trails open to normal e-bikes like the ones I have. It’s obvious that something high-powered like a Sur Ron or a Talaria wouldn’t mesh well with pedal bikes on trails, but something with a 500-750 watt motor really isn’t fast enough to make trouble for other riders or the environment.
Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.
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