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The All-New Trek Checkpoint Gravel Bike is Here
Welcome to the Gravel Boom – are you ready for adventure?
More and more folks are discovering how gratifying biking on gravel roads can be. Whether you’re looking to race, bikepack, or simply explore your local back roads, there’s a Trek Checkpoint gravel bike that’s perfect for you. The Checkpoint can even double as a great everyday commuter bike!
The 2022 Checkpoint is designed to be agile yet durable with progressive geometry that offers superior comfort and capability.
All models feature integrated mounts for frame bags and fenders to make it easy to carry everything you need for epic adventures.
Internal cable routing keeps things neat and streamlined while plenty of clearance allows for knobby tires to smooth out rugged terrain.
Plus, all-new Flat Mount disc brakes are lighter and smaller than traditional disc brakes, and offer outstanding performance and stopping power for precise control.
Read on to learn about the various models in the Checkpoint lineup. No matter which model you choose, you can be assured that your Checkpoint will prove to be an exceptionally capable and comfortable ride.
Do it all with Checkpoint ALR
Checkpoint ALR 5 offers versatility and durability while being the most affordable model in the Checkpoint lineup. This do-everything bike can handle rugged exploration as well as smooth commutes. Its high-quality build features an alloy frame and GRX drivetrain, as well as the standard integrated mounts, internal cable routing, disc brakes, and more.
Go free range with Checkpoint SL
Checkpoint SL 5 is the next step up from the ALR model. A lightweight OCLV carbon frame and gravel-smoothing IsoSPEED decoupler offer the comfort you’re looking for on epic multi-terrain rides. From hours-long adventures to multi-day bikepacking trips, this is the bike for you.
Built-in storage compartment in the downtube lets you stow tools and gear; along with the standard mounts that allow you to load up all the gear you need. Its top notch build also features a GRX drivetrain, internal cable routing, and disc brakes. Plus … new for 2022: its dropper post compatible, too!
Go wireless with Checkpoint SL 6 eTap which boasts an upgrade to the smart and smooth SRAM Rival AXS wireless electronic drivetrain.
Take that upgrade even further with SL 7 eTap featuring a SRAM Force AXS wireless electronic drivetrain and Aeolus Pro 3V OCLV carbon wheels.
Put your race face on with Checkpoint SLR
Itching to test your mettle on a gravel race? Checkpoint SLR is the steed that will get you across the finish line. Its lightweight 700 Series OCLV Carbon frame boasts Checkpoint’s signature progressive geometry for agility and stability, plus IsoSpeed to smooth out the rough bits. Aeolus Pro 3V OCLV carbon wheels are also standard on all SLR models except SLR 9 eTap (which upgrades to Aeolus RSL 37V).
Checkpoint SLR 7 includes a Shimano GRX drivetrain that offers smooth shifting, while the standard mounts for gear and accessories lets you carry the nutrition and tools you’ll need to keep rolling.
Go wireless with SLR 6 eTap or SLR 7 eTap which upgrade respectively to the smart and smooth SRAM Rival and SRAM Force eTap AXS wireless electronic drivetrains.
Make the ultimate upgrade to SLR 9 eTap which features a Smart and smooth SRAM RED wireless electronic drivetrain PLUS Aeolus RSL 37V carbon wheels along with integrated mounts, internal cable routing, disc brakes, and other Checkpoint standard features.
Test ride the all-new Checkpoint now
Eager to explore rugged gravel and beyond on the all-new Checkpoint? Whichever model you throw a leg over – from ALR 5 through SLR eTap 9 – this gravel-grinding powerhouse promises the ultimate in rugged exploration.
Swing by any one of our three convenient locations in Santa Cruz, Aptos and Monterey (with a brand new location opening soon in Pacifica) to discover up close and personal just what everyone is raving about.
How to Preorder Bikes
The world at large has changed post-Covid, and so has the bike industry, for better or for worse. The good news is that Epicenter Cycling HAS bikes in stock, unlike many other bike shops and brands currently. We also have more bikes on order for 2022, which is approaching quickly.
Looking for a new bike? Here is what you need to do:
1. Short and simple, please call sooner rather than later, as bikes are snatched up quickly.
2. Be prepared to put down a fully refundable deposit on your bike of choice.
3. Understand that bikes we can get to the store for 2022 are bikes we already have on order.
This is simply the new “norm” for the foreseeable future. But here at Epicenter Cycling, we are on top of getting orders in quickly so that our stores have bikes readily available. Give us a call or visit us at one of our four store locations.
Trek Kids' Bike Trade-Up Program
The holidays are approaching, and you’re thinking it’s time to introduce the world of biking into your kids’ lives. But your biggest hesitation is, you’ve seen how quickly your child’s outgrown things like shoes and pants. So let alone a bike, can be a fair bit more expensive than a pair of pants, could very well be collecting dust by next year. The investment seems difficult to justify, given those facts.
Do think again after you learn about Trek’s Kids’ Bike Trade-Up Program. The people at Trek have kids too, so they have encountered the same dilemma, and came up with a brilliant, community-based solution. Here is how the Trek Kids’ Bike Trade-Up Program works:
When you buy a kids’ bike at a participating location, you can bring it back within three years and get up to 50% of the bike’s original purchase price, if under $1,000, in credit toward the purchase of a new one.
No good bike should sit around collecting dust, so we donate older bikes to local charities when you upgrade. That way your little one has a fun, comfortable, safe ride that fits, and so does someone else.
It’s certainly a win-win for all parties involved. You can trade up your child’s bike from Epicenter Cycling as we are a certified Trek dealer. We will help you find the right size bike for your child as well as have up to 50% store credit towards that new bike when you trade in the old bike if purchased from one of our store locations within the past three years.
Don’t wait, call now and inquire about the Trek Kids’ Bike Trade-Up Program. We have a large number of bikes in stock. Surprise your child with a gift that will be remembered for years, with miles of memories ridden on it.
Introducing Trek Rail’s New Bosch Smart System
Bosch is taking a big step into a digitally-connected e-bike. With the new Smart System, Bosch now combines the physical experience of e-biking with the digital experience of using smartphone apps. The Smart System uses the e-bike Flow app, the LED remote Kiox 300, the PowerTube 750 battery, and the Performance Line CX motor. All components are fully connected to each other.
What makes the Smart System so impactful is that it's the first entirely digitally connected e-bike to a smartphone app, such as the Flow app – not just through the display. This comes with a huge advantage for ease of use: software updates can conveniently be installed through the smartphone app at any time. Now, your e-bike will stay up to date even after purchase.
The E-bike Flow App
The smartphone app connects to your e-bike automatically after registering as a user. The home screen of the app displays everything you need to know about how your Smart System is working, including the e-bike’s battery charge level, the next recommended service appointment, and the total mileage ridden during your ride.
Once you have the app set up, just hop on your bike. The app will automatically start tracking your ride’s analytics. Gone will be the days of forgetting to start your watch, Garmin, or fitness tracking app. In the near future, Bosch plans to connect the Flow app to popular fitness tracking apps so your rides are automatically uploaded.
The LED Remote
Attached to your handlebars, so you can easily take a glance, is the LED remote. This display shows 5 LED lights indicating the charge of your ebike’s battery, as well as the setting of the ride mode which is displayed in different colors. The LED remote is discreet and tidy on your handlebars, so it’s subtle, and not in the way while riding. Many riders prefer the clean look of the new LED remote as opposed to a bulky display. But if you prefer having an on-board computer display for training purposes, you can have this fitted to your e-bike by one of Epicenter Cycling’s shops after purchase.
The Kiox 300
The on-board computer display of the Smart System is perhaps the most compact display on the market. The Kiox 300 is simply the ideal training tool for riders that want to hit markers and set personal bests by tracking their analytics throughout the ride. With the Smart System, the Kiox 300 seamlessly connects to the Flow app so you can track your performance and optimize every e-bike ride. Lastly, the Kiox 300 can be updated through the Flow app after registering. It’s never been easier to own and operate an e-bike.
So there you have it, folks. The new Bosch Smart System redefines e-bike riding for total efficiency, power, and fun. Although recently released, Bosch already has plans for extending the capabilities of the Smart System.
Contact one of Epicenter Cycling’s four stores to learn more about the Bosch Smart System.
Respect the Trail: How Riding in Sloppy Wet Conditions Impacts the Community
We get it; tacky, amazing hero-dirt comes around once in a blue moon it feels while living in sunny California.
But we’d like to illuminate the difference between fresh, grippy loam a couple of days after a rainfall and sloppy, soupy, slippery mud…
When you ride trails in the latter's condition, you ultimately do yourself, your bike, and the community a disservice.
So What Are the Rules For Riding During the Wet Season?
Honestly, there aren’t hard and fast “rules” for riding during the rainy months for the year, but certainly there are guidelines that need to be known and respected so we have our mountain bike trails in the best shape possible for most of the year.
Here in our area (Santa Cruz and Monterey counties), riding shortly after a heavy rain often leads to rutted out trails and erosion. It’s key to consider giving the trails a couple of days to dry a bit to reduce impacting the trails. Erosion, in particular, is a concern as it causes damage to our forests’ ecosystem.
Often, you’ll see “trail closed” signs placed by volunteers when trails are simply too wet to ride. Please respect the closures. Doing so helps relations between mountain bikers and land managers.
Plus, waiting a couple of days for the trails to dry (but not dry out) will lead to riding in the most prime dirt. The type of dirt that still has moisture, chocolate-brown, and feels tacky and grippy: the hero dirt! Some of your best rides await a couple days after a solid rain!
Riding in a heavy down pour, or riding when the trails are sloppy wet is not as fun as it sounds.
And it does some things you won’t be stoked about later:
- Your bike is trashed with mud.
- Your trails will dry rutted, eroded, and blown out.
- You could slip more easily and raise the risk of injury.
- You contributed to negatively impacting the ecosystem you’re riding in.
Not only is cleaning a mountain bike a pain after it’s caked with mud, but there’s now muck and debris in your components and suspension. Mud buildup can lead to damaging parts of your bike, including the common bent derailleur. Save your ride for a drier day and save yourself a few bike part replacements.
Factors to Consider
Knowing when it’s a good time to ride during the wet season requires some thought, but we’ll give you some guidance on what to consider before you head out to ride:
- Has it already been raining heavily? Or were the trails very dry before a recent rainfall?
- What type of dirt is at the trail system I plan to ride. Some soils drain faster than others.
- Trail Closures. Likely after a heavy rain, trail volunteers place signage indicating a trail is too wet to ride. Please respect closures for the reasons listed in this post, as well as understanding that respecting closures helps the relationship between mountain bikers and land managers.
What To Do While Waiting for Trails to Dry Out
Waiting a few days for our trails to get into a hero dirt phase can feel reminiscent of waiting for Christmas morning to open our highly anticipated presents. Riding in tacky, amazingly grippy, dirt brings joy at a level very similar to those Christmas mornings.
But, “patience is a virtue” and why not spend those days in preparation for the most joyous riding of the year? Here are some ideas to kill time and even revel in the wait:
- Work on bike maintenance. Get your shred machine prepped for the weekend!
- Binge on bike films, watch professional races, and YouTube bike tutorials.
- Go for a gravel or road bike ride. Change it up and adapt! Pavement dries faster than dirt.
- Route out your mountain bike ride on a map or app like Strava. Hit some personal goals!
- Ride an all-weather pump track and work on bike handling skills.
Or, drop your bike off at one of our Epicenter Cycling locations for a tune-up. Riders who purchased their bike from us can enjoy free tune-ups for the life of their bike! Having your bike in the in the shop certainly lessens the temptation of riding in sloppy wet conditions. Contact us today!
We get it, we love bikes, we love good dirt, and we want everyone to enjoy trails that are in the best condition possible.
‘Tis the Season to be Merry and Bright
As the fall leaves change to vibrant red and gold colors, we revel in the days of milder temperatures, tacky dirt, and long miles on the pavement. Back to our earth science lessons, the leaves change colors due to their lessening ability to produce chlorophyll thanks to the dimming sunlight as our hemisphere tilts away from the sun. While trees drop their leaves, cyclists break out their bike lights to adapt to the shorter days.
With that being said, it’s time to get a refresher on safety tips while riding in the dark. Knowing how you can increase your visibility during the winter months sets you up to increase road cycling safety. Read on to learn more recommendations for how to dress for rides and change your bike’s setup to increase your visibility.
Riding Visibility Tips During the Day
The number one tip to increase daylight visibility while riding is to wear fluorescent colors. Wearing fluorescent colors only works effectively in ultraviolet light, or more commonly known as sunlight. There is 200% more light from a fluorescent color than a normal color because ultraviolet light excites the neurons of fluorescents.
It’s important to note, an automobile’s headlights will not create the same effect that ultraviolet light does on fluorescent colors. Studies show that riders overestimate the effectiveness of wearing fluorescent colors in the late afternoons and evenings. This presents a danger as the rider wearing fluorescents is likely to be less cautious than a rider wearing all black, who already assumes that cars cannot see them very well. Bottom line: As the sun sets, the effectiveness of wearing fluorescent clothes decreases more and more.
Another tip: use daytime running lights. Use very bright LED lights with a wide beam angle, focus optics, and a visible distance of 400 or more meters. Drivers are often distracted, and research yields that cars need at least that distance to slow down. A flashing light also helps catch the eye of a driver compared to a steady beam of light. Anything that helps set you apart from the background is beneficial.
Browse daytime running lights right here: Daytime Running Lights.
Our final tip for daytime riding visibility: Biomotion. Increase your likelihood of being seen by up to 83%. We are wired to recognize other humans more than any other creature or object. Use fluorescent colors around your feet, ankles, knees, and so on to highlight your body’s contour.
Riding Visibility Tips During the Evening
As you likely guessed, the best tip for evening and night riding is to deck out your bike with lights. By law, you must have one reflector (or red light) mounted on the back of your seat post and one white light positioned on the front of your bike, such as on your handlebars.
You must also have reflectors mounted on the following places while riding at night:
“Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d)”. (CalBike).
This is the bare minimum. You can read more about California’s bicycle laws by clicking here.
The brighter, the better. You want to shop for lights that are at least 400 to 800 lumens. If you plan to ride offroad, such as a mountain bike ride, you’ll want lights that are even more than 800 lumens. It is also suggested to mount one light on your helmet and another on your handlebars for optimal visibility and safety.
Our staff has picked the Bontrager Circuit Wave Cell Helmet as their top choice for evening road and commuting. Why? It’s cleverly designed with magnetic bike light mounts. You can ride equipped with the lighting you need snugly mounted on your helmet. Then you can put your focus on the road ahead of you.
Contrary to daytime riding, wearing clothing with reflective strips has been shown to work more effectively at night than wearing fluorescent colors at night. It should be a no-brainer. But the scientific finding is that fluorescent colors need ultraviolet light in order to be effective. There is next to no such light at night. Car headlights will pick up reflective strips on clothing, bikes, and shoes.
With that said, put reflectors on the back of your pedals, on your wheel spokes, and on clothing for best practice.
Click the links below to research and buy our most popular bike lights:
- Bontrager Ion 120/Flare 1 Light Set
- Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT Light Set
- Bontrager Flare RT Rear Bike Light
- Bontrager Ion Elite R Front Bike Light
- Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Bike Light
- Bontrager Ion Elite R/Flare R City Bike Light Set
Best Tire Choices for Your Electric Bike
When it comes to riding quality and efficiency, you don’t want to overlook the importance of your tire choice to optimize your ride.
Bike tires have a range of designs, so it’s up to you to know how to choose a bike tire that fits your riding style AND one that is ideal for handling the type of terrain you are going to ride on.
Let’s jump into tire choice for electric bikes. Here we will give you tips on how to pick out the best tires for your electric bike.
Why Do I Need E-bike Specific Tires?
A tire is a tire, right? Wrong! Bike tires are now designed to optimize specific riding disciplines (cross-country, enduro, road, downhill, etc.) for many different types of terrain. So as of recently, the bike community realized the need for e-bike specific tires.
E-bikes, with their powerful battery and motor, weigh more than their traditional bike counterparts. Therefore, it’s more likely that you could puncture one of your traditional bike tires.
The solution, though, isn’t to run more PSI; this will change how the bike feels during your ride, and most likely, you’ll find that you have less traction with the ground.
Additionally, e-bikes allow riders to maintain high speeds (50km at max speed) for longer distances than traditional bikes. This naturally leads to tire tread wearing down quickly.
The solution? Bike tire manufacturers designed e-bike specific tires. While tread pattern, tire compound, and casing will vary based on e-bike riding discipline, you’ll find that e-bike tires across the board are optimized for the weight and force that is applied with e-bikes.
Tire Choices for Electric Commuter Bikes
First and foremost, we recommend the 2021 model of the:
BONTRAGER E6 HARD-CASE LITE E-BIKE TIRE
A city/commuter e-bike tire that is designed for smooth-rolling cruises and meets the demands of e-bikes. Get your e-bike up to 50km and be thrilled to find out it keeps up with ease, provides reliable traction even on the smoothest of surfaces, and maintains its quality even with consistent use.
The Bontrager E6 Hard-Case Lite E-Bike tire comes in black, brown, or black with reflective sidewalls to increase visibility for those evening commutes.
Tire Choices for Electric Road Bikes
BONTRAGER R3 HARD-CASE LITE TLR ROAD TIRE
The Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR Road Tire is a bike tire staple with brand new design improvements after feedback from team riders. Looking for a tire that provides fast and efficient rolling paired with strong, but lightweight casing? Look no further. Check it out by clicking on the link above!
BONTRAGER AW3 HARD-CASE LITE ROAD TIRE
Claimed to be the “set it and forget it” tire for road bikers, this fast-rolling tire got an upgrade with durable Hard-Case Lite puncture protection. With proprietary TR-Endure compound supplies your bike with reliable traction in all conditions. Check out the brand new Bontrager AW3 at one of our four Epicenter locations!
Tire Choices for Electric Mountain Bikes
Yes, you could hypothetically slap any mountain bike tires onto your electric mountain bike’s wheels. But let’s think about it for a minute. Your e-bike is not the same as your traditional mountain bike. There are two strong reasons to pause before putting any ol’ tire onto your e-bike:
Your e-bike is heavier (by at least 15-20 lbs) than a regular mountain bike. As you might have guessed, this indicates that you need a more puncture-resistant tire.
You often ride faster, for longer distances, and brake harder on an e-bike which inevitability shortens the longevity of the tire’s tread more so than a regular bike.
So, you’re going to need to know which tires are up to the task of providing you with enough durability and efficiency while you’re ripping down the trail on your e-bike. The last thing you want to be thinking about on an epic ride is how your tires are holding up!
At Epicenter Cycling, we carry only the tried and true when it comes to tires for e-bikes and mountain bikes. We’ve consulted the experts at Trek so we can report back to you on which tires best suit the job:
BONTRAGER SE6 TEAM ISSUE TLR MTB TIRE
Bontrager’s newly released SE6 mountain bike tire is currently the burliest 29” tire on the market with 120 TPI and Core Strength Protection. With an aggressive tread pattern designed to bite into the dirt and construction that holds against the harshest conditions, you get a tire that can handle rough riding and exceed expectations on your e-bike.
BONTRAGER LT4 EXPERT REFLECTIVE E-BIKE TIRE
A tire designed explicitly for e-bikes because Bontrager just knew there would be a need for such a tire. It’s lightweight, grips the ground, is versatile, and handles the demands of e-bike riding with Hard-Case Lite puncture protection. Best part? Go ahead and shred hard! The LT4 is designed precisely for that. Suitable for trail or pavement.
BONTRAGER SE5 TEAM ISSUE TLR MTB TIRE
Comparable to the SE6, the SE5 can handle whatever a rowdy trail dishes out. This versatile trail/enduro tire with 120 TPI casing provides all the traction and braking confidence you need without sacrificing rolling efficiency. Available in 27.5” and 29”.
BONTRAGER XR5 TEAM ISSUE TLR MTB TIRE
The Tubeless Ready XR5 Team Issue tire offers strength, traction, and fast-rolling efficiency in a lightweight trail ready package. XR5 delivers the supple feel of an 120 TPI XC tire and the aggressive traction of an Enduro tire for superior performance in demanding conditions. Choose XR5 to stay light on the climbs with confident grip on even the most harrowing descents.
BONTRAGER XR4 TEAM ISSUE TLR MTB TIRE
The XR4 Team Issue TLR tire offers incredible grip and fast-rolling efficiency in a new and improved tread pattern with 120 TPI casing. Save yourself from punctures with our Inner Strength sub-tread protection while squeezing out every bit of cornering traction with the 61a/50a dual-compound rubber. This tire really is that good.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON BONTRAGER’S NEW TEAM ISSUE MTB TIRES
- All of Bontrager’s new team issue MTB tires are easy for tubeless setup.
- XR tire models are constructed with Inner Strength puncture protection.
- SE tire models are constructed with Core Strength puncture protection.
- All new Bontrager new team issue MTB tires are made with 120 TPI (threads per inch).
- XR1 is available in 29x2.2
- XR5 is available in 29x2.5 and 27.5 x 2.5
- SE5 is available in 29x2.5 and 27.5 x 2.5
- SE6 is available in 29x2.5 and 27.5 x 2.5
A Complete Guide to Buying the Right E-bike Rack for Your Vehicle
The e-bike market is one of the fastest-growing areas within the bike industry to date. As a result, the bike industry has put a substantial focus on product design for e-bike components and accessories; this includes vehicle racks to transport your e-bike.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what e-bike rack features to look for to ensure you are buying one that is safe and sturdy enough to transport your ebike. Unless you have a folding e-bike, your only option for transportation is a hitch mount bike rack.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to check out Epicenter Cycling’s “e-bike approved” vehicle racks, or click the link to view our inventory!
Standard Bike Rack v.s. E-bike Rack
The most significant difference between a standard bike rack and an e-bike rack is the tow bar’s weight capacity. A rack that can transport ebikes has a tow bar made from more durable materials than a standard bike rack. With that, the rack has the ability to support more weight. When researching to buy your next e-bike rack, a good baseline is looking at bike racks that can support 65 lbs per bike mount.
Precautions to Keep in Mind
E-bikes tend to cost more than standard bikes, so it’s in your best interest to make sure you buy gear and accessories suitable to transport your bike. Getting your e-bike insured is a worthwhile move for a plethora of reasons as well.
If your e-bike gets damaged during transportation, and you have e-bike insurance, pay close attention to the following: it’s essential that you correctly follow instructions and recommendations with e-bike care, including proper storage and transportation. Insurance companies often may only pay out if specific criteria have been met.
When it comes to transporting e-bikes, here are some must do’s:
- Check the vehicle’s recommended maximum weight capacity. Calculate the weight of the bike rack and the weight of each e-bike you plan to transport.
- Meet the torque setting recommendations on the rack.
- Make sure the rack’s keys are stored in a secure location.
- Only transport your e-bike on a hitch mount bike rack.
- Do not use a hitch receiver adaptor.
- Lock your e-bike when you are not within sight of it. Understand the lock works to prevent your bike from getting stolen but is not guaranteed protection.
E-bike Vehicle Rack Features to Look For
Not all racks are built to load e-bikes. Protect your e-bike by purchasing a bike rack that is up to the task of safely transporting your e-bike to your next destination. In this section, we point out what features to look for when shopping for your next e-bike rack.
Hitch Mount Bike Rack
When you see vehicles transporting bikes, you probably have seen three styles in particular: a hitchless trunk-mounted bike rack, a roof rack, and a hitch mount bike rack. When it comes to transporting an expensive, +/- 65lbs e-bike, we’ll make a strong case that a hitch mount bike rack is the most sturdy and reliable rack for your e-bike.
While hitchless trunk-mounted bike racks are minimalist and relatively inexpensive, I certainly would feel uneasy loading a $10,000 e-bike onto that. Many hitchless trunk-mounted bike racks have a weight capacity of around 35 lbs. Your e-bike will very likely exceed the weight capacity.
As for roof racks? Unless you’ve been doing your squat snatches during Crossfit, why don’t you save your back and the embarrassment of your e-bike toppling down the other side of your car? You don’t need the stress.
Hitch mount bike racks are the best option to find a rack with a high enough weight capacity for your e-bike, easy to load and unload, and reliable during transportation. Keep scrolling to view Epicenter Cycling’s inventory of bike racks ready to haul your e-bike to its next adventure.
Fortunately, almost any mid to high quality bike rack will include a locking hitch rack and locking cable for your e-bikes. While a lock does not guarantee your bikes won’t get stolen, it acts as a deterrent to any bike thief. It’s in your best interest to buy a bike rack with locking capabilities.
Look for a bike rack that has an anti-wobbling system. This feature prevents the rack from moving while driving your vehicle. If you’ve ever seen a loaded bike rack bouncing while the vehicle is moving, it’s a scary scene. Not to mention it’s a safety issue that your tow bar does not adequately support the weight of your bike(s).
A bike rack with a pivot is a must-have for those with hatchback vehicles and need quick trunk access. Unloading and loading -/+ 65lbs e-bikes can become a chore, especially when car camping during a bike trip.
Both the Kuat NV 2.0 and Thule EasyFold XT have a foot pedal tilt pivot system. You know a bike rack is well designed when it can tilt and hold two 60 lbs e-bikes seamlessly.
Have more questions about vehicle racks for e-bikes? Give us a call!
How to Choose the Right Mountain Bike Tire for Your Style of Riding
Let’s admit it; we put a lot of emphasis on bike geometry, suspension, and components when we consider what makes a mountain bike perform well. But when the rubber meets the trail, it’s your choice of bike tires that can give you an extra edge on your ride.
Today, tires are designed meticulously for optimal performance and any surface conditions. As a result, there are many tire options out there for all kinds of riding. However, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you may end up buying ill-fitting tires for your bike.
At Epicenter Cycling, we carry top mountain bike tire brands such as Bontrager, Maxxis, Continental, Schwalbe, and WTB. After reading, stop by one of our locations for your fresh set of tires.
Here we provide a how-to guide on identifying which bike tire is ideal for you based on riding style.
Why Bike Tire Choice Matters
Choosing the right bike tires will significantly enhance your riding experience. And there are more factors than you probably realized about bike tires that determine how your bike will feel while riding. Good tires can improve traction, comfort, and roll faster to increase efficiency. Quality tires can also last for months without a puncture.
But how do you know which design factors should you look for to reap the optimal benefits from your bike tire choice? A quick answer: It’s simply dependent on the terrain conditions you choose to ride on and your riding style.
You may notice that tire design is a dance between rolling efficiency, traction, puncture resistance, and tire weight.
Read on to find out what you need to know to determine your bike’s ideal tire.
Mountain Bike Tires
A good starting point is knowing the diameter of your mountain bike rims or simply knowing your “wheel size.” The diameter is equivalent to your wheel’s height. The standard measurements for mountain bike tires you will come across are 29 inches, 27.5 inches, and rarer nowadays, 26 inches. Kids’ mountain bike tires typically are 24 inches in diameter.
Smaller wheel size and, therefore, smaller tire size equates to a more nimble ride with faster acceleration. The tradeoff, however, is more rolling resistance which makes rolling over objects less efficient. In comparison, a bike with 29-inch tires will keep speed for a longer duration than a smaller wheel size but is less playful than its 27.5 inch and 26-inch counterparts.
For all factors involved with bike tire choice, the type of riding you do and the type of terrain you ride on will determine what tire size is optimal for you.
Next, it’s essential to consider your mountain bike tire width. The standard width of a mountain bike tire is between 1.6-2.6 inches. Any wider, and you’re heading into “Plus Tire” sizing, which is ideal for providing traction and stability in slippery trail conditions such as sand or snow.
A word of advice when it comes to a wider tire choice: be sure your bike’s frame and fork clearance to ensure a wide tire will fit! The rim of your wheel may accommodate a plus tire but your frame may not. It’s about paying attention to the details…
Thinner tires are ideal for long-distance rides because they have such high rolling efficiency and are lightweight. But they provide less grip and stopping power because there is less surface area to contact the ground. Conversely, wider tires offer plenty of traction but have less rolling efficiency.
Here is a general guide to tire width by mountain bike discipline:
Cross-country: 1.9-2.3 inches
Trail/All-Mountain: 2.3-2.5 inches
Enduro/Downhill: 2.5-2.6 inches
Plus Tire: 2.8-3.0 inches
MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRE CASING
Next, consider what kind of tire casing is most favorable for your type of riding. The casing of a tire indicates how thick the wall of the tire is. A tire’s casing is crucial in supporting the structure of the tire. The thickness of the woven material inside the rubber of the tire indicates the type of casing. If you want to nerd out on tires with me, tire casing is measured in “thread per inch” (tpi).
The thicker the casing, the more puncture-resistant the tire is. But with more material inside the casing, the heavier the tire is. If you trend towards riding in rough trail conditions with rocky features and dirt, you would err on the side of caution by purchasing a tire with a thick casing.
If you prefer dropping as much weight as possible on your bike for those long cross-country rides with smooth terrain, you will fair well with lightweight casing.
MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRE COMPOUND
Another factor is tire compound. Tire compound refers to the stiffness of the tire’s rubber. Many bike companies design tires with single, dual, or triple compounds (check out Maxxis Tires for their cutting-edge triple compound selection).
With single compound, the rubber of the tire is a uniform hardness. Tires designed with two or three different compounds on different parts of the tire are, of course, “dual compound” and “triple compound.” The benefit of having a dual or triple compound tire is that a tire can have a hard compound in the center of the tire for rolling efficiency and a softer compound on the edges to ensure better grip on the dirt while cornering.
For example, a tire may have a hard compound on the center knobs of the tire to produce a fast-rolling effect, with knobs made from a softer compound on the edge of the tire to ensure a consistent cornering grip.
Tire engineers measure tire compound in Shore A (sA). Most bicycle tires have a score of 70sA in a range of 0-90. A higher score indicates a stiffer compound. So if you had a tire with a score of 40 sA, that compound would be ideal for downhill riding where you want plenty of traction through the dirt.
Quick takeaway about tire compound: the softer the compound, the better the grip! The harder the compound, the faster the tire will roll!
TREAD PATTERNS FOR EVERY TRAIL CONDITION
Grab one of your spare mountain bike tires, or peek at the tires currently on your mountain bike. Notice the different knob sizes and heights; this is the tread pattern. Tread pattern varies in design to allow for an ideal riding experience on various terrain conditions.
The center knobs of your tread pattern provide stopping power. The knobs on the edge of the tire are responsible for the amount of traction you will have while cornering.
If your bike tire has tall knobs in the center, you’ll have excellent stopping power but sacrifice some rolling efficiency. If the knobs on the edge of your tire are tall, then you’ll have more grip in corners. If you want better rolling efficiency because you prefer cross country riding, purchase a tire with shorter and smaller knobs on its tread pattern.
Now that you have a solid foundation of knowledge regarding mountain bike tires, you’re ready to purchase your new tire set! Just remember to note the following:
- Know your wheel size, as this equates to your tire size.
- Terrain conditions you typically ride on.
- Do you need a lightweight casing or puncture-resistant, heavy-duty casing? Or somewhere in between?
- Which tire compound best suits your riding style? A uniform and hard compound for rolling efficiency? Or a softer compound for optimal grip?
- Tread pattern influences your bike’s movement in terms of stopping power, grip, and rolling efficiency. Can you now look at a tire’s tread pattern and know how it will dictate your riding experience? If not, go back to our section on tread pattern!
I promise there is no pop quiz at the end of this article on mountain bike tires. But you don’t want to flunk the real test of picking out the optimal tires for yourself... Luckily, at Epicenter Cycling, our staff is here to clarify the different elements you should consider about tire choice, ensuring you feel confident about your purchase.
Let’s get you shredding on my-bike-has-never-felt-this-good-before-tires! Walk-ins are welcome at Epicenter Cycling. See you soon!
5 Reasons to Buy a Bike from Your Local Bike Shop vs Online
There is no denying we live in a world with an unprecedented amount of convenience thanks to the Internet. Without having to leave our homes, we can purchase anything from toilet paper to food and bikes. Heck, you can buy a house while sitting on your couch!
But does this convenience of online buying always lead to a better shopping experience? Is it the best way to ensure satisfaction with your purchase? In this post, we explore the reasons why online shopping may not lead to optimal satisfaction in the long run.
Especially when it comes to purchasing your next bike, you have much to consider about how to go about finding the bike you want. Online, you have access to essentially any bike brand, new or a resale. Those reasons easily tempt anyone to buy a bike from an online source.
But here, we make a strong case that online shopping for bikes is an inherently risky move. Not only could it lead to an unsatisfying purchase, but you also miss out on perks only available from buying a bike from a local shop.
Before you decide where to purchase your next bike, use this post to help you make a final decision.
1. You Can Demo the Bike First Before Buying
Hands down, the most obvious reason why buying a bike from a bike shop is a bright decision. Bike shops offer test rides, so you can get a feel for the bike before committing. After all, the more bikes you hop on, the more you realize that not all bikes are created equal. Some will suit your riding style more than others.
Don’t get stuck with a bike that makes you feel “meh” while riding. Demo it first. Your local bike shop understands that testing a product out (especially a bike) is the best way to ensure customer satisfaction. If you buy online, what you got is what you get …
See our available bike models and call us about setting up a free test ride.
2. Unbeatable Customer Service
You get one-on-one customer service in real-time at a bike shop. Ask as many questions as you’d like. When you buy your next bike from a local bike shop, you’ve got someone helping you who lives and breathes bikes and will make sure your questions are answered.
Not to mention, you get custom fittings and set-up with each bike you test ride. With a bike dialed for your body, you get a proper read on how a new bike will suit your riding style. Your online deal will never be as sweet.
Additionally, chatting with a bike shop employee can give you invaluable insight on the local trail and road scene, suggestions on which trails to ride, and where the best brews in town can be found.
True that you can search for just about anything on Google, but a bike shop employee has knowledge about a cycling area you can only get from being a local bike nerd.
3. Professional Set-Up and Maintenance
After purchasing your new bike from a local bike shop, the best perks of purchase are about to come your way. Across the board, bike shops provide service and warranty with your bike. Many bike shops may also include bargains and free tune-ups included with your purchase.
While we can’t speak for all bike shops, Epicenter Cycling provides killer perks to our customers, and we might as well let you know what those are here:
- Professional set-up of your new bike to ensure optimal performance and ergonomic comfort.
- Free and unlimited tune-ups for the life of your bike purchased at either of our shop locations.
- Here at Epicenter Cycles, we are authorized and able to service any Trek and Electra bike we sell. Not all shops can say the same. Please do your research ahead of time.
- Free test rides.
- One-on-one expert customer service, 7 days a week.
Give us a call now to set up your free test ride or to hear more about our services: contact us.
4. Bike Shops Will Only Sell Brands Committed to High-Quality Products
Let’s think about this critically for a moment; ahem: it’s a fact that there are a fair number of online brands that come and go, thus making sourcing replacement parts challenging to do.
A bike shop with a physical place of business has to source bike brands that have been in the game the longest to ensure their chances of staying open are as secure as possible.
Therefore, the brands that have been producing the longest are likely to have been around for as long as they have because they are both high-quality and popular with cyclists. So, your local bike shop stocks the best engineered bikes, gear and components in the industry.
See our full inventory here.
5. You Can Feel Good About Supporting a Local Business
The world is in rapid change post COVID-19. We saw online shopping skyrocket, particularly for some already colossal and global corporations. We saw our beloved hometown restaurants, shops, and businesses close their doors for good. But with the reasons listed in this post, online shopping does not always equate to quality and satisfactory shopping experience.
By supporting local businesses, local bike shops, in this case, we preserve a service that is invaluable to communities everywhere. Often bike shops are a social hub for bike enthusiasts to connect with one another, set up social rides and events, create fundraisers for local trail systems, and much more. These aspects just cannot be recreated in the same fashion by online brands.
To conclude, bike shops offer professional services, top quality products, expertise and personability that cannot be replicated by an online shopping experience. Buying online may offer cheaper pricing, but with that can come lesser quality, lesser reliability, and some uncertainty in what you are really purchasing.
Best chances of enjoying the bike you wish to buy? Go visit your local bike shop. You can find Epicenter Cycling in three convenient locations: Santa Cruz, Aptos and Monterey.
We’re here and ready to set you up with your dream bike.
Bosch 625w Battery Upgrade Available for Compatible E-bike Models
“Ready for any adventure,” the Bosch PowerTube 625 battery is available for compatible electric bike models. If you purchased a Trek or Electra e-bike with a 400w or 500w battery from Epicenter Cycling, now is the time to upgrade that puppy.
If you currently have a 400w Bosch battery, bump your e-bike up to a 500w battery and experience a more powerful ride. Our technicians at Epicenter Cycling are ready to help level up your e-bike’s potential.
Curious about the future? The PowerTube 625 lithium ion battery puts maximum range and altitude in easily attainable reach. Securely locked onto the bottom of your e-bike’s frame, this lightweight and powerful battery is ready for an extended adventure over any terrain.
The Bosch 625w battery fully charges in 4.9 hours, while it charges up to 50% in only 2.1 hours. With a quick charging time, you can enjoy more blissful and adventure-packed hours on the e-bike.
Why Upgrading Your E-bike Battery Matters
Upgrading your e-bike’s battery is important first and foremost for these two reasons: You increase the power and the range of your e-bike per charge.
Who doesn’t want a more powerful e-bike that can keep up an efficient pace for longer stretches? Additionally, no matter how well you care for your e-bike’s battery, it inherently loses efficiency over time. E-bike battery upgrades are a cost efficient way to enjoy your e-bike for years to come rather than buying a whole new e-bike.
Keep in mind, you should consult your local dealer on whether or not your e-bike’s components are compatible for an upgrade. All Epicenter Cycling e-bikes are powered by Bosch motors and batteries and therefore when you upgrade, only use a battery from the same manufacturer.
Contact us to schedule your e-bike’s upgrade.
WARNING: If you use an e-bike battery from a different manufacturer, you run the risk of shortening the life of the battery while also lessening the e-bike’s efficiency per charge. Bosch’s batteries are perfectly designed to match the components on the e-bike’s battery port.
Maximizing Your E-bike’s Battery
After you have upgraded your e-bike’s battery, you still have a great amount of influence on how to maximize the range of your e-bike, just by how you ride it and take care of it.
The range of your e-bike per charge is determined by three main factors: battery capacity, the level of pedal-assist you choose to use, and motor efficiency. Obviously, the more pedal-assist used during a ride will drain your charge faster, so be sure you are using the appropriate level of pedal-assist needed.
Basic Bike Tire Maintenance
You can’t go wrong by informing yourself of essential bike maintenance. The more attuned you are to your bike, the more likely you’ll be able to troubleshoot mechanicals and keep your bike in ride-ready condition.
It may seem overwhelming getting started with bike maintenance. So let’s start with the basics: tires. By the end of this guide, you shall be provided with enough know-how to feel comfortable tackling the basics of bike tire maintenance.
What to Have in Your Tool Bag for Tire Maintenance
If you ride a bike frequently, it’s in your best interest to pack a few essential bike tools if you get a flat (or some other mechanical) while on your ride. Here are suggestions for what should be readily available in your bike tool bag:
A multitool is compact and handy enough to provide a wide range of minor fixes and unforeseen trailside mechanicals. From allen wrenches to hexes and chain breakers, you won’t want to leave this tool at home.
Good luck trying to fix a flat without two of these babies. Tire levers are crucial to removing your flat tire from your wheel and assisting you with guiding a fresh tube or tire back onto your wheel. Many bike-specific multitools will come with tire levers but be sure to double-check before your purchase.
HAND PUMP OR CO2 CARTRIDGE & INFLATOR
You don’t have to wait till you are near a floor pump to inflate your tire. There are plenty of nifty hand pumps small enough to fit into your pack and efficient enough that you’ll have a completely flat tire reinflated before your arm tires out.
Some cyclists prefer the convenience of using a CO2 cartridge and inflator over a hand pump; this uses pressurized CO2 to fill a tube in a flash.
If you get a flat on your ride, a spare tube can save the day. Make sure that your spare tube is the correct size for your tire (27.5”, 29”, etc.). Also, pay attention to the valve type of your tube. Tubes either have a Presta or Schrader valve. Many bike pumps have a feature to convert the type of valve it can inflate but not all. Some pumps only can inflate with Presta valves or Schrader valves. Keep scrolling for our guide on how to fix a flat!
Having a plug kit with you could be a bright idea if you run tubeless tires. With tubeless tires, tiny punctures are filled by the sealant inside the tire, preventing a flat. But occasionally, we rip a tire too wide for the sealant to do its job. In this case, carrying a plug kit will allow you to plug up that leak so you can finish your ride.
TUBE PATCH KIT
If you get a flat with an inner tube in your tire, with no spare tube available, don’t panic. If you brought a tube patch kit, you could still run that tube after patching up the puncture. Patch kits are incredibly user-friendly and offer a speedy fix.
Basic Tire Maintenance
Checking your bike’s tire pressure is good practice, and eventually, this will be second nature before each ride. Finding the proper tire pressure for you is calculated based on your weight, plus the weight of your riding gear, with respect to the conditions of the surface you choose to ride on.
Each cycling discipline has its recommended tire pressure:
- Mountain Bike Tires (25-50 PSI)
- Gravel Bike Tires (40-80 PSI)
- Road Bike Tires (80-120 PSI)
Start at the lowest recommended PSI (based on the average weight of a cyclist:160 lbs). Cyclists weighing less than 160 lbs may want to run less than 25 PSI, cyclists more than 160 lbs may prefer riding with more than 25 PSI. Mountain bikers and gravel cyclists, also keep in mind the rougher the terrain, the more pressure you may want to run in your bike tires to mitigate the chance of getting a flat.
Pro Tip: A handy dandy tool for PSI is a digital tire pressure gauge. Many pumps will have a gauge built into them, but often they can read inaccurately, or the gauge becomes inaccurate over time. A digital tire pressure gauge is easy to read and sensitively accurate.
Tubeless vs Tubed Bike Tires
Whether it’s tubeless or has an inner tube, your tire set-up is a personal preference along with your bike tire choice. But there are pros and cons to each which you should be aware of.
A tubeless tire setup is designed to allow the tire and valve to seal on the rim of your wheel without losing air. While setting the tubeless tire, pour a liquid, tire-specific sealant into the tire. Sealant is tubeless tire magic; it fills any small punctures (generally any puncture size under ¼”), thus keeping your tire from losing air! To go tubeless, you either need tubeless-ready wheels or use a tubeless conversion kit with your current wheels.
Need help going tubeless? Bring your bike to one of our Epicenter Cycling locations! Our professional bike mechanics will get you set up quickly.
While tubeless tire set-ups are faring more on the side of popularity, there are still advantages of riding with a tubed setup. Riding with a tubed tire setup means that there is an inflated rubber tube inside of your tire. This inner tube should match the size of your tire’s diameter size (26”, 27.5”, or 29”).
Let’s look at the pros and cons of tubeless and inner tube setups:
Inner Tube Pros
Setting up tires with tubes is easier and faster.
Worldwide, there are more bikes with tubes, so it’s easy to find replacement tubes almost anywhere.
Patching a tube is easy.
All tires and wheels are designed to use tubes.
Road bikes ride better with tubes than tubeless due to the tendency to run high tire pressure.
Inner Tube Cons
Must run more tire pressure to avoid pinch flats.
Tires with tubes are heavier than tubeless.
You’ll likely ride slower. While having to run more pressure in your tire to avoid flats, you’ll also experience less traction and thus are more at risk for washing out on your bike.
You will have fewer flats on average than riding with a tubed tire.
You can run less tire pressure, have more traction, and ride smoother.
Tubeless is lightweight.
Often can repair a flat without taking the tire off the rim.
They are more expensive and can be tedious to set up.
You should still carry a tube on a ride in case you flat.
Maintenance is more frequent (ex. sealant dries out, and occasionally punctures continue to leak air despite the liquid sealant in the tire).
Tire burps are more frequent.
Fixing a Flat Tire
Flats happen. Bike tires are quite durable these days, but trail and road conditions can still present an unlucky scenario that leads to a flat tire. Bike mechanics will tell you one of the most important repairs you should know is how to fix a flat bike tire. So let’s guide you through the steps.
If you skimmers don’t feel like reading through a list of instructions, no worries. We’ve got the perfect video on how to repair a flat from Trek. Click here to watch!
These instructions are for fixing a rear tire flat. The steps are the same for a front tire but easier since you don’t have to move the chain and gears.
Tools and Materials Needed: A multitool, two tire levers, a spare tube, and a pump.
1. Keep your bike upright and shift into your most difficult gear.
2. Stand on the non-chain side of the bike and remove your back tire by loosening the quick release or thru axle on the rear wheel. Hold the wheel down with one hand and lift your bike from the wheel with the other hand.
3. Grab your tire lever with the scooped end. Work this end of the lever underneath the edge of your tire. Then attach the hooked end of this lever to the nearest spoke.
4. Next, use your second tire lever and work the scooped end underneath the edge of the tire just a few inches away from your first tire lever. Then, continue to work the second tire lever around the whole wheel to remove the tire from one side of the rim completely.
5. Beginning at the valve stem, pull the old tube out of the tire.
6. Carefully check the inside of your tire for any sharp debris. Then visually check the outside of the tire for anything sticking out of the rubber that may have caused the flat and remove it.
7. Get your replacement tube. Inflate it with just enough air to give it some shape.
8. Find the valve stem hole on your wheel and place the valve of your replacement tube through it. Then work your way around the tire, tucking the tube carefully into the tire. Avoid having the tube getting pinched in the process.
9. Start at the valve stem again and use both thumbs to press the tire back onto the rim of the wheel. This becomes increasingly difficult as the edge of the tire sets back into place. You can use the scooped end of a tire lever to help press the rest of the tire back onto the rim.
10. Using a pump, inflate your tire to your desired PSI. The flat is now fixed! Time to get your wheel back on your bike.
11. Thread your axel through your hub and tighten it properly. Guide your bike frame back onto the wheel. Spin your wheel to check over the tire and your wheel.
12. Take a quick pedal around to make sure everything is running smoothly.
13. Resume your ride and have fun!
Patching Up a Bike Tube
Let’s say you are running tubed tires and flat. With no spare tube? Hopefully, you brought a patch kit. Your ride will be saved, and it will be a really quick and easy fix!
Tool and Materials Needed: A multitool, two tire levers, a patch kit (or patches, glue, sandpaper), and a pump.
Pro Tip: If you are patching a tube at home, fill a tub or bucket with water. Inflate the tube and submerge it into the water. Watch for bubbles – they will indicate when the puncture is.
Find the leak. Closely inspect the tube for air hissing or submerge the tube into water to detect the puncture site.
Decide whether to fix the tube or replace the tube. Some punctures are too big to patch.
Clean the area where the patch will go. Rough up the surrounding spot with sandpaper to help with adhesion.
Spread the glue and apply the patch. Hold the patch firmly in place until the glue is dry.
Inflate your repaired tube with a pump.
Start with Step 7 of this article’s section on Fixing a Flat. This will provide instructions on how to put your replacement tube back into your tire.
When to Replace Bike Tires
The tell-tale signs of when it’s time to replace your bike tires are something you should know off the top of your head. Running old and worn-out bike tires increases your risk of flatting, losing traction, and having a generally less safe riding experience.
Signs that it’s time to replace your bike tires:
Worn out tread.
The fabric inside your tire pops out.
Bumps form on the sidewall of your tire.
Asymmetries appear while spinning your tire.
Tire labels are starting to fade. Your tires have been put to work!
You may also consider replacing your tires if you are riding in different trail conditions. Stay tuned for our guide to choosing mountain bike tires – coming soon. In the meantime, give us a shout or stop by for more info.
Additionally, you may want to switch out tires when going for long rides to accommodate the conditions you’ll be riding in and save the tread pattern on the tires you typically run.
Cyclists that race frequently switch out their tires to optimize for their race experience. Worn tires are less efficient, unsafe, and less fun to ride on. When racing, you’ll want to increase your odds of riding well in any way you can. Running fresh tires is a surefire way of making sure you do.
Feel free to browse Epicenter Cycling’s impressive selection of bike tires from top brands next time you come by the shop. Or give us a call to hear what we have in stock. We are happy to assist you.
COMING SOON: OUR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES!
A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Electric Bike Etiquette
Before we get started, if you’re new to mountain biking (whether it’s an ebike or not), be sure to check out our post on Mountain Bike Etiquette.
There you will learn the basics of mountain bike etiquette and get helpful tips on ride preparation. It will save you from making a few rookie mistakes.
We also cover best practices during COVID-19 to keep you and others safer on the trails.
Okay, now let’s drop electric mountain bike etiquette. “DROPPING IN!”
Electric Mountain Bike (e-mtb) Etiquette
It’s not easy being the new kid. In the mountain bike world, electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) are the new kid, the young whippersnapper. It’s still a bit of an adjustment for some to accept that e-bikes are here to stay.
A short history lesson for you: in North America, particularly the United States, there are thousands of miles of trail designated as “non-motorized vehicles only.”
Yet at many trail systems, it took years of negotiation to even allow traditional mountain bikes on the trails. This permission remains shaky in some regions.
So if you’re an eMTB owner, know that you are somewhat automatically a steward for the sport. You help shape the future of e-bikes by your conscientiousness and ability to inform yourself on e-bike regulations.
E-bike Regulations: A Must-Know for eMTB Etiquette
Not all states regulate e-bikes the same way. Hence, you’ve got to do some research before that next out-of-state road trip. Heck, you should know e-bike regulations for the state you live in. Know your rights!
Let’s look at California’s regulations on e-bikes for example:
In California, e-bikes are regulated the same as traditional bikes. You obey the same rules of the road.
California defines e-bikes into 3 classes:
Class 1: Bicycles with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to assist when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
Class 2: Bicycles with a throttle-actuated motor, that ceases to assist when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
Class 3: Bicycles equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to assist when the e-bike reaches 28 mph.
Individuals younger than 16 years old are prohibited from riding a Class 3 e-bike.
Additionally, it’s not needed for e-bike owners to meet the registration, licensing, and insurance requirements of a typical motorized vehicle within California.
If you wish to see California’s law on e-bikes to the letter, more power to you. Dive in here.
Not sure which class your e-bike falls into? Give us a call or visit one of our locations at Epicenter Cycling.
Lastly, and VERY importantly for e-bike etiquette, research local and regional laws on ebike trail access. Local governments reserve the power to prohibit e-biking on their trail systems.
Know whether or not eMTBs are allowed on the trails you’re riding and you’ll avoid that very uncomfortable experience of sticking out like a sore thumb among local riders on their traditional mountain bikes.
There’s a good chance you’ll be asked not to ride your eMTB there as well. Remain respectful and remember they are protecting their hard-earned ability to have access to the trails themselves.
Learn where you can lawfully ride an eMTB in the Santa Cruz area here.
The Basics of e-MTB Etiquette
Before you ride your eMTB at any (new to you) trail system, research to find out which trails if any, allow eMTB access. Perhaps that’s redundant at this point, I certainly hope so!
If eMTBs are given the green light at your chosen trail system, bring a map! Or just as easy, download a third-party app such as TrailForks. You’ll have the ability to look up trails, know your location, and track your ride, right in your pocket.
Pack snacks to fuel yourself, check the weather, wear gear appropriate for the ride, and bring bike tools in case of a mechanical issue. Refer to Guide to Mountain Bike Etiquette for more in-depth tips. Set yourself up for success!
Trail Traffic School
Understanding the right of way while riding trails is crucial to all users but especially to eMTBers due to the difference in speed we can reach. This is where e-bike etiquette and courtesy go a long way.
To break it down, eMTBs yield to other cyclists and pedestrians (hikers, runners, walkers, anyone on foot) as well as equestrians. To safely yield, slow down to a complete stop and pull over onto the side of the trail to allow them to pass.
Passing from Behind
Passing another trail user from behind may be a common occurrence while on an eMTB. Best eMTB etiquette to pass another cyclist goes as follows:
Slow down, give ample warning such as shouting out “On your left!” and wait to allow the other cyclist enough time to move to the right of the trail. Remember your manners, say thank you, and wish them a pleasant ride!
If you come across a pedestrian or equestrian, give ample warning, allow them to move to the right of the trail, and dismount from your eMTB for safest practice. Same deal as well, thank yous are nice to exchange afterward.
Whether you are riding an eMTB or a traditional mountain bike, the rule stands that downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic.
While this is the long-standing rule, situational awareness is called for. Sometimes, it’s not realistic for the trail user on the downhill to yield, but they should do their best to slow down as they make their way down the descent.
The uphill user should move to the side of the trail to allow the downhiller a safe line to exit the situation. Do your best to communicate clearly as you navigate passing each other.
Lastly, you should never assume the uphill trail user will yield for you. Cyclists are always required to yield to pedestrians and equestrians.
Perhaps one of the biggest buzzkills to a fantastic ride is a darn mechanical issue. But mechanicals happen.
If you remembered to pack your tools and can fix the issue, great! Just remember basic trail etiquette by getting your eMTB fully off the trail to leave room for other trail users while you attend to your bike issue.
While you do that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many cyclists passing by will check in with you and offer to help. Another basic tenant of trail etiquette: we help each other out!
e-MTB Etiquette Conclusion
If you are riding an eMTB you should automatically be primed to err on the side of caution. You have to weigh the fact that you are likely moving more quickly than other trail users and eMTB use is heavily regulated in comparison to other trail uses.
Hence, knowing your eMTB etiquette will guarantee you more joyful, stress-free and safe rides with more cheerful interactions with other trail users. There is room for everybody as long as we all respect the rules of the sport.
Know the eMTB regulations in the state you are going to ride in.
Research the local and regional trail systems.
Appropriately prepare for your ride.
Review the right of way under “Trail Traffic School.”
Remember you are an ambassador of eMTB.
5 Reasons to Ride Pumptracks and Where to Find Them in Santa Cruz
In a nutshell, a pumptrack is a playground for your bike, but with far more utility. You become a better rider the more you hop on a pumptrack. It’s a fun assortment of berms and rollers that leaves you with a grin on your face no matter your skill level.
A pumptrack is a spot in the community where people of all ages and skill levels can gather, ride bikes, and watch their bike skills improve rapidly.
Here in the Santa Cruz area, we are lucky to have more than one outstanding pumptrack for our community. We can assuredly give pumptracks credit for helping our bike scene thrive!
Read on for five reasons why you should welcome pumptracks in our community and where to find them!
1. You’ll Boost Your Bike Skills Quickly
Hands down, the number one reason you benefit from living near a pumptrack is skill improvement. The more you ride it, the better your bike riding gets overall. Pumptracks build fundamental skills such as cornering, pumping, keeping speed, and eventually, jumping. All of which naturally transfer to trail riding.
2. PumpTracks Are Fun for All Ages and Skill Levels
But let’s say you’ve got these fundamental skills down. You’ve graduated from the pump track, right? Wrong!
Pumptracks facilitate fun and challenge for all skill levels. Try lapping without a pedal stroke. Beat your fastest lap time. Double or triple some rollers. Manual through rollers. The list of skill development is endless! In fact, professional riders that compete at events such as Crankworx attribute pumptrack as having helped dial in their incredible bike handling skills.
Conversely, take your kids to the pumptrack and watch them glide up and down, whether they are still sporting a Strider bike or 20” wheels. It’s a safe spot for them to enjoy cruising on a bike without having to worry about cars on the street. And it might be the birthplace of the next generation of talented riders.
3. Pumptracks are a Full-Body Workout
People rave over the killer workout high-intensity interval training (HIIT) provides. But why not burn fat and build muscle while riding your bike? Pumptrack workouts can be as brutal as you can handle! The motion of pumping engages your arms and shoulders while also activating your legs, core, and glutes!
If you commit to riding the pumptrack a few times per week, guarantee you will see significant gains in your physical fitness. And you didn’t have to pay for a gym membership!
4. They are a Great Place to Stop While Traveling
Most of us can easily recall those long car rides where your back is stiff, your butt went to sleep an hour ago, and you just want to get out of the car NOW. Arrange your travel route strategically. Plan to stop at a pumptrack along the way to your destination. Get your workout in, give your legs a stretch, and wear out your kids before they get back in the car.
FWIW ;-) … there’s a high correlation between communities with pumptracks also having a rad mountain bike scene and microbreweries as well.
5. Pumptracks Facilitate Community Involvement
When you grow up riding pumptracks or watch your kids ride pumptracks, they become near and dear to your heart. You recall the memories, successes, and the occasional wipeouts that made you love biking. Maybe you met a few riding buddies and expanded your social circle along the way.
Why not give back to the spots that enhanced your happiness? Whether it’s by participating in a trail building party or donating to a fundraiser, let’s ensure we have fun, free, and accessible outdoor recreation opportunities in our community for all to enjoy.
Where to Locate Pumptracks in the Santa Cruz Area
Santa Cruz, CA
The Westside pumptrack celebrated its grand re-opening August 8, 2021. It boasts 28 fresh obstacles and features, safe for all skill levels. The track is paved, which increases its longevity and consistency.
Additionally, it’s a gorgeous spot to hang out and ride with native plant landscaping, benches, and picnic tables.
Epicenter Cycling is proud to have partnered with Trek and Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship (SCMTS) to help rebuild the Westside Pumptrack by donating three Trek kids’ bikes to a recent fundraising raffle.
Touted to be the largest pumptrack in the county currently, you can enjoy 200,000 square feet of paved rollers and berms. Located at the Ramsay Park Family Center, there’s something fun for every family member if pumptracks aren’t their thing. But YOU can enjoy a well-built, well-designed track for hours.
Harvey West Pumptrack
Santa Cruz, CA
A BMX track raved to be “a bike paradise” leaves visitors blown away. It’s always well-maintained with excellent dirt, thanks to SCMTS!
Santa Cruz, CA
Considered a favorite by families that have little shredders, the Chanticleer Park Pumptrack is perfect for beginners on tiny wheels. A beautiful, shaded, and relaxing atmosphere is what you will find here. If you’ve got a four-legged family member, don’t forget to bring them to this pumptrack; there is a dog park as well!
Santa Cruz, CA
A unique pumptrack appropriate for all skill levels in this lovely neighborhood park. The pump track at Grant Park looks a bit like a roller coaster and is all-weather proof! If you have family members that don’t love bikes as much as you do, Grant Park provides plenty of other activities such as:
A fenced dog area
A picnic area
Bocce Ball courts
Scotts Valley PumpTrack
Scotts Valley, CA
This dirt pumptrack has fans of all ages and skill levels. Praised for its design, but not so much for size. Ride it on a not-so-crowded day, and you’ll be glad you stopped here! Popularity is always a good indicator of fun.
McGregor PumpTrack and Skateboard Park
This pumptrack is a treat for those that love to rip around a well-built pump track at warp speed. This park is excellent for the whole family as the designers thought of entertainment for everyone: a skatepark, a kid’s play area, a dog park, benches, and ample parking!
Punch one of these pumptrack locations into your GPS and enjoy the ride!
Electric Bike Postures: What Suits You and Why
Before we talk about posture on an electric bike, what type of riding are you interested in?
Do you see yourself sliding through berms and sending it down singletrack? Or are you looking for an e-bike that will double as your daily commuter and source of early morning joy?
Electric Bike Postures
Getting an e-bike that positions your body in the optimal posture for you is very important. Purchasing the wrong e-bike can not only wear down your body but your bike as well.
If you were to purchase a comfort/cruiser bike and went off-pavement, chances are your knees and hands will be feeling it the next day after getting jostled down a dirt trail. Not to mention, your bike was not designed to be ridden off-road.
Read further to determine what type of e-bike posture is meant for you.
Upright Position: Comfort/Cruiser Electric Bikes
Picture yourself hopping on your e-bike for a leisurely pedal to the market, a coffee shop, or to work? Consider Electra or Trek’s city cruiser e-bikes. Perfect for city touring or commuting. Equally important, if you experience lower back pain, you will be most comfortable in an upright position. Comfort and exercise can co-exist!
Also, if you prefer a lower standover height than a standard bike, Trek’s Verve+ Lowstep and Townie Go! models are for you. With one of these e-bike choices, you’ll avoid having to swing your leg over the saddle and will stand over your bike at a stop with complete ease.
The upright position on these e-bikes ensures you’re engaged with your surroundings, taking it all in. Handlebars on cruiser e-bikes are shaped into a gentle upward curve for effortless steering. Riding a cruiser e-bike has never felt so pleasant!
Active Position: Hybrid Commuter e-Bikes
Meant for cyclists who desire high-performance on the pavement as they power past morning traffic. These e-bikes are designed to be sleek and lightweight for commuters.
In the active position, your body is leaned slightly forward for optimal pedaling efficiency and speed. This forward position increases your aerodynamics as well.
Need a reliable mode of transportation that will get you there quickly? Trek’s Allant+ models are for you.
Active Position: Electric Mountain Bikes
Like a regular mountain bike, Trek’s electric mountain bike geometry is designed for stability, control, and smoothness on the rowdiest of trails.
Seated, your body is slightly leaning forward to allow for pedaling efficiency. On the downhill, your legs are in a squat position, chest over the handlebars, and eyes forward as your maneuver your way down some single-track.
Active position equals adventure position here.
Performance Position: Electric Road Bikes
Your electric road bike gets you moving at top speed, for a distance you thought unachievable on a traditional bike.
With drop handlebars, you have the ability to tuck low over the e-bike and let it fly. Your body is as leaned forward from the hips as you can get: it’s time to get serious.
High-performance, smooth, and designed to set the pace, check out Trek’s electric road bikes.
With many e-bike options, it’s important to know what type of riding experience you want. Additionally, knowing what your body prefers in terms of posture on a bike makes or breaks those long rides.
If you purchased the type of electric bike best suited for your needs, you can be sure to have an experience where you are present in the moment, enjoying every pedal stroke.
But you don’t want to make any guesses! Refer back to this blog post and be sure to connect with our professional mechanics here at Epicenter Cycling to ensure you get the electric bike best suited for you.
Rule of thumb: the e-bike for you should be functional, stylish, comfortable, and fun.
How to Care for Your Electric Bike
So you’ve brought home your new electric bike. It’s as capable and shreddable as a traditional bike – only you’ll now smash out after-work laps in half the time! You’re already planning out an epic ride for the weekend when you realize, “I better learn how to take care of an e-bike …”
You have come to the right place then. Here is a quick guide on how to maintain an e-bike. You’ll find that they are extremely user-friendly and with just a few pointers, you’ll have a solid foundation on how to maintain your ebike in ride-ready shape.
Here at Epicenter Cycling, we offer the newest Trek electric mountain bike and Electra urban commuter e-bike models to cover all your e-cycling bases. Click here for more info on our e-bikes. And just a reminder: when you buy your e-bike from us, we offer free test rides and unlimited free tune-ups for the life of your bike.
Both Trek and Electra e-bikes are powered by Bosch motors and rechargeable batteries. Bosch offers a competitive edge with some of the most durable batteries on the market. With Bosch’s updated software on the Performance Line CX, experience a ride with more flow and control than ever before. Learn more about Bosch motor, display, and battery 2021 updates here.
Before Your Ride
It’s so easy to hop on your e-bike and feel tempted to start your ride “full throttle.” But before you leave, do a quick check on your e-bike’s set up:
Check your tire pressure. Tire pressure greatly influences your ride. Pump up your tires to at least the minimum psi. Doing so reduces rolling resistance. You can find the psi recommendations conveniently located on your tire’s siding.
Keep in mind, the terrain you ride on, your weight + riding gear, and the type of tires on your bike, influence your optimal tire pressure setting. Feel free to give us a shout if you need any help determining this.
Lubricate your chain. Making it a habit to do so after cleaning your e-bike is a small task that can save you from spending more on bike maintenance due to chain wear. Chain wear can also cause wear on your cassette and front chainring.
The chain transfers energy from your pedal stroke to your e-bike motor. Getting regular checks for chain stretch, at least every 3 months, will reduce the need to replace your drive train. And if not more importantly, the checks help ensure your e-bike motor stays in superb condition.
We also suggest checking the tightness of the bearings on your e-bike just like you would with any other bike before your ride. Carry a multitool with you in case any mechanical issues occur.
And of course, make sure your e-bike battery is locked into place and you have plenty of battery power to reach your destination.
How to Clean Your e-Bike
Before getting busy hosing down your freshly muddied e-bike, remove the battery and the displays located on your handlebars. Bosch e-bike Systems have a Removable Integrated Battery (RIB), a one-piece battery that can easily be removed and reinstalled into the bottom-bracket of the frame with no tools and no struggle.
While spraying off your e-bike, don’t aim for the electrical contact points. A light wipe around the plug pins with a cleaning solution appropriate for e-bikes will be sufficient in preventing build-up or corrosion. Keeping these plug pins free of build-up helps transfer power from the battery to your e-bike motor. Now, if your bike is washed off, use a soft towel to dry it off.
Once your frame is squeaky clean, don’t forget to lube your chain! A rusty chain will mess up your cassette, and rust looks awful on a beautiful e-bike …
Lastly, grab your battery and reinstall it into your bike frame. Or, if you see that your battery power is running low, refer to our section on how to properly charge your e-bike battery.
Bosch Motor and Battery
Taking care of a bike with a motor and battery may sound complicated, but they are designed to be downright intuitive. All of our models are pedal assist, meaning that the motor is powered by your pedal stroke. The battery and motor are installed on the bottom bracket of your bike’s frame. This placement ensures optimal balance and stability.
Bosch lithium-ion batteries are powerful, ranging from 400Wh to 625Wh of energy. Not to mention, they are one of the lightest e-bike batteries on the market, weighing 5.5 lbs. With such battery efficiency and lightweight design, you’re guaranteed maximum miles per charge. If you’re curious about ride factors that influence efficiency of battery charge, check out Bosch’s e-bike range calculator.
Here are some tips to optimize the lifespan of your e-bike battery:
Store the battery in a space that is 50-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Like humans, e-bike batteries like it “not too hot and not too cold” when parked in the garage.
Keep the charge between 30%-60% when stored for extended periods (1 - 5 months).
Do not park your e-bike in direct sunlight.
Cover your battery in a neoprene sleeve during rainy and wintery rides. Doing so protects it from the elements and improves battery efficiency in cold temperatures.
Remove the battery from the bike frame before washing your bike.
Store your battery in your vehicle when transporting your e-bike.
The level of pedal assist you select determines how quickly the battery charge decreases during your ride.
Just know that every battery naturally degrades over time. But following these tips will set you up to extend your battery’s life as much as possible.
Charging Your e-Bike’s Battery
It’s the end of a wonderful afternoon of e-biking and your battery percentage on the display indicates that it is indeed the end of the ride. But don’t worry. Depending on the Bosch battery, your e-bike can fully charge between 3.5-8.8 hours.
Essential e-bike charging tips:
Do not use a charger from a different manufacturer. You run the risk of causing the e-bike system to malfunction as well as shortening the battery lifespan.
Charge your battery at room temperature.
You can double the battery life by charging it up to only 80%-90%.
The battery should be charged at 30%-60% if it’s stored for an extended period of time.
If two battery packs are mounted on one e-bike, both battery packs can be charged using the unsealed connection. To begin with, both batteries are charged one after the other until they reach approx. 80-90 % capacity, then they are both charged at the same time until full (the LEDs on both batteries flash).
While these tips are best practices, always refer to your user’s manual.
When Should I Get a Tune-Up on My e-Bike?
A good rule of thumb is every 6 months or every 1,200 miles, whichever comes first. If you ride aggressively, or in rough conditions, consider getting tune-ups more than twice a year as a safety precaution. Checking the e-bike motor should only be done by an expert mechanic. If you bought your e-bike from Epicenter Cycling, enjoy unlimited free tune-ups for the life of your bike.
How Often Should I Replace the Firmware on My e-Bike?
Bosch recommends updating the firmware on the bike every 6 months. This ensures you’ll always have the latest features on your ebike.
Conveniently, Bosch offers the Bosch e-bike Connect app which not only allows you to track your activities, but also automatically updates your display (Kiox & Nyon) software for you. After downloading the app, sign up and create a user I.D. to enjoy the full benefits of the operating system. You can create a user I.D. directly at eBike-Connect.com then track your data, create routes and get the latest news from Bosch.
Once you know the basics, how to care for your e-bike becomes second nature. Visit us in person or give us a call to schedule your first tune-up on your e-bike.
Bike Commuting: Staying Safe and Dry
Although California’s Central Coast boasts some of the best weather on earth, we certainly get enough rain and drizzle to challenge bicycle commuters.
Whereas many intrepid cyclists aren’t put off by inclement weather, others find it very daunting.
If you’re one of these fair weather riders who wants to commute by bike even in “iffy” weather, here are some tips to help keep you dry, warm, and safe.
Dress for the weather
A breathable, waterproof, hi-vis jacket or shell with reflective elements is clearly a must; rain pants are a smart call, too.
If the pants are loose, use a hi-vis and/or reflective leg band around the bottom of your right leg to prevent the chain from catching on the fabric. Also be sure to cover your hands and feet with waterproof, insulated gloves and shoe covers/booties.
Keep your core dry and warm by dressing in light moisture-wicking layers under your outerwear. Get our detailed tips on proper layering here.
A neck gaiter will protect your neck from rain and wind, and you can pull it up over your chin for added comfort.
Finally, a brimmed cap worn under your helmet will help keep your vision clear and can be worn along with clear glasses for optimum protection. Keep in mind that glasses without a brimmed cap may actually impair your vision as droplets from the rain will gather on the lenses.
Dress your bike for the weather
Day and night, be sure your bike is outfitted with a set of day-time running lights (DRLs) and don’t forget to keep them charged.
Fenders will minimize water and mud spray; ask us which style will work best for your commute. If possible, run wider tires during the rainy season as they will give you additional traction on slick pavement.
Waterproof storage is a must for carrying a change of clothes, an extra pair of gloves and socks, and other items such as work necessities and groceries. Choose from panniers, trunks, backpacks, and bags — whatever best suits your style and needs. Learn more about carrying your stuff here.
Lastly, dress up your bike seat in a plastic bag if you have to park it outside where it will get wet. You’ll be happy to have a nice, dry seat for the commute home!
Ensure your bike is in good condition
Proper bicycle maintenance is important no matter what the weather, but it’s especially crucial if you’re going to be riding in wet conditions.
Get your bike tuned up regularly, and check it over carefully before each ride. After a wet commute, don’t forget to dry your bike off completely, and lube the chain well.
Learn more about how to care for your bike here.
Be aware of Hazards
Crummy weather can present hazards that fair-weather riders may not be used to.
Railroad tracks and other surfaces can become dangerously slippery, oil patches on the road can be slick, and puddles may obscure potholes or debris. Give yourself extra time to brake and take turns carefully.
Finally, it’s a good idea to brush up on the rules of the road and practice your bike handling skills so that you’re at your best out there on your commute no matter what the weather conditions.
We hope these tips will help you feel confident and inspired as you build more biking into your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!