Seldom has a test device caused so much controversy in our household. Ski boots, bicycles, fly rods, camp showers – all kinds of equipment land on my doorstep to be checked, and my husband and ten-year-old daughter greet every item with curiosity. But unpacking the Woom UP 6 ($ 3,749), an e-mountain bike for kids, triggered emotions that ranged from anger to elation.
My daughter Simone, the bike’s intended tester, cooed about the bright blue finish of the UP’s aluminum frame, the 90-millimeter air fork, the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires on 26-inch wheels and the Fazua motor-battery unit, which the pedal amplifies hits with up to 250 watts of power.
My husband Ben was less enthusiastic. He hates it when faster e-bikers rush past us on paved bike paths and uphill singletrack around our home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “I don’t want her to be one of those assholes,” he muttered.
Security is another aspect. Commuter e-bikes are becoming increasingly popular with our local tweens and teens who fit the smallest adult frames from companies like Haibike, Pedego, and Trek. Equipped with panniers and luggage racks, the e-bikes enable children to pedal themselves to lacrosse training or violin lessons. But they also raised concerns: isn’t it dangerous to distribute people with undeveloped prefrontal cortex motors? Around Steamboat it has become common for children to zoom in on their motorized bicycles in the middle of the street or to push several of their helmetless friends onto the handlebars and top tube.
Now brands are starting to make e-mountain bikes for kids. Haibike makes the kid-sized Sduro HardFour ($ 2,710) with 24-inch wheels. Commencal sells the Meta HT 24 Power ($ 3,000). And this month, Austrian children’s brand Woom launched their eMTB models in the US The UP 5 ($ 3,599) has 24-inch wheels and fits seven to eleven year olds; the UP 6 ($ 3,749) has 26-inch wheels and fits ten to fourteen year olds.
The Woom UP 5 (Photo: Courtesy Woom)
Despite our obvious concern, I was intrigued by the idea of an eMTB for Simone. Her father and I have always invested in quality children’s bikes to help our daughter love mountain biking as much as we do. In order to increase your chances of success on the trails and to minimize unnecessary suffering, we looked for the lightest models (most children’s bikes are far too heavy to pedal for a real distance) and we insisted on models with geometries and optimized for children’s proportions Components. Why not extend this continuum of optimization to eMTBs, I wondered, as they have the potential to increase my child’s pedaling power?
Sure, Simone’s first trip through the neighborhood with the Woom UP 6 made her dizzy with high spirits. “It gets intoxicated so quickly!” she hooted and mistook elated for accelerated. I didn’t correct her because she was right on both counts.
With the UP 6, the rider can choose between three levels of pedal assistance, which can be set by pressing the buttons on the top tube. Colored lights indicate the three modes, with blue for the lowest motor support (100 watts), green for medium (200 watts) and pink for the most powerful (250 watts). Even in blue mode, she reached cruising speed over flat terrain with just two or three effortless cranks.
UP’s factory settings switch off the motor’s pedal assistance as soon as the rider has reached 12 mph (well below the limit of 20 mph for class 1 e-bikes). That makes it easier for her to start from a stop or go uphill, but it doesn’t make her fast overall – at least not on tarmac. I can still keep up with her and even leave her on my cruiser bike. She’s just faster off the line.
However, the UP rushes out in front of me on dirt. Our first off-road ride with the UP 6 was on an e-bike-friendly single trail network in nearby Oak Creek. Our uphill route included a mix of steep dirt roads and two-lane lanes that demonstrated the benefits of the bike. Simone cycled effortlessly up the hills, stopping every now and then to wait for me while I crawled along in my grandma outfit. “I feel like a show-off,” she annoyed.
“Are you using the blue setting?” I asked. “No, the pink,” she admitted. “I can’t help it. It’s so much fun not to be out of breath! ”She was already addicted to motor support. But at least she was a happy addict: on her regular bike she would have complained about the exertion or settled in a somber resolve.
Weighing 37 pounds, the UP 6 is heavier than many kid’s mountain bikes (Simone’s Trailcraft Pineridge 24 weighs 23 pounds). But as an e-bike, it’s pretty light compared to the 41-pound Commencal Meta HT 24 and the 44-pound Haibike HardFour. That’s because UP inherits many of its design features from Woom’s non-electric frames, which are made from lightweight aluminum and are usually some of the lightest options available for any size rider.
Even so, Simone was enjoying the weight of the UP when we stopped climbing and tipped our bikes downhill onto rocky single trails. There the bike felt more stable than its lightweight. “I don’t feel like I’m being pushed around that much,” she reported. We’d adjusted the 90mm air fork to their preferred compression and rebound damping settings, and the suspension did an admirable job of absorbing both slow and fast hits.
Promax’s hydraulic disc brakes (with a 160-millimeter rotor at the front and a 140-millimeter rear wheel) allow her to modulate her speed on steep descents and rock rolls that require precise braking to avoid slipping. The handles, saddle, and pedals are all scaled down for smaller riders to make them feel comfortable for them. And the SRAM NX1 drivetrain and trigger shifter earned their credit for responsiveness.
The UP 6 frame is also more streamlined than many e-bikes, which are often smiled at because the down tubes are so inflated with batteries that they look pregnant. The Fazua’s seven-pound battery-motor unit is slim, and so slim in its integration that most passers-by will assume it’s a regular bike rather than an e-bike.
The device is detachable for easy charging, which takes about four hours. Woom still calculates the hours of riding time users can expect at each pedal assist setting, but the company estimates two to three hours in pink mode (full power) and five to eight hours in blue (lowest power). We charge it about once a week and get six to eight trips of varying duration from each essay.
So far I wouldn’t say the UP 6 made Simone a better driver. She was already a strong mountain biker who pounded technical terrain with balance and agility. But the UP 6 still doesn’t feel like a kick in the teeth when climbing, and that has allowed us to achieve a number of family rides that would have been too strenuous or too far for Simone to do on her regular bike deal with.
On a Saturday we circled a nearby reservoir on a 16-mile network of dirt roads and gravel paths, which would never have happened without pedal assistance. The next day, when my husband and I suggested adding a spurt trail to our single trail ride that went three kilometers uphill, we heard no complaints. (Ordinarily, something like this would require great flattery or bribery.)
That’s how we learned to love the UP. Even my husband tolerated it with reluctant acceptance, because the feared e-bike behavior did not occur. Simone is a sensible kid who refused to invite friends without helmets onto her top tube. And the only people she hums uphill are her parents. We pamper you.
However, this eMTB cannot completely replace your regular rig for several reasons. One is restricted access. Most of our local trails are closed to pedal assisted bikes. So if Simone wants to go there with us or her friends, she still needs an old-school lung buster.
But even if she could ride her e-bike all the time, Simone wouldn’t want to. Simone has found out through tests that triumph does not come without maximum effort. “The rewards feel better when you work for them,” she told me as we cycled home from a recent trip (the UP is too heavy for me to lift onto our cartop bike rack). It turns out that soothing some of the pain in mountain biking also tarnishes some of the satisfaction. In other words, the eMTB seems to offer a middle ground experience that is almost always enjoyable and enjoyable, but not always the most invigorating.
For a child this is rad. It gives Simone an alternative to fighting dragons on her bike and gives her enough energy to take in the view. That’s why we like to make space for a second children’s bike in our garage. The UP is the device Simone reaches for when she just wants to have fun instead of using up every ounce of determination and strength. But it also expands their riding horizons in a really nice way. Cant wait to take him to the Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah, where I expect Simone to have such unprecedented opportunities to conquer these ridiculously steep sandstone slabs. Maybe I’ll go to Rochambeau with her to try it out for myself.
For those who ride fewer single trails than Simone normally does, the UP seems to be an ideal quiver, as it increases the children’s desire to ride. Simone used to get on her bike every now and then to play with a friend or join me on errands, but now she’s inventing missions that might require an e-bike ride. “I think I’ll see if anyone is in the park,” she announced the other day without my asking. This bike is already expanding your scope of independence.
Source * www.outsideonline.com – * Source link
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