What are the main differences? We have an adventure for everyone.

MTB or E-MTB expedition: we have an adventure for everyone

Whether you prefer riding an analog mountain bike or an electric one, we have a mountain biking trip for you. Each type of expedition differs according to the specific requirements of the bikes. We have crafted trips exploiting the benefits of both types of rides.

What to expect from an E-MTB: a little recap

Electric mountain bikes are more common amongst riders – and guides – but some of you might have not ridden one yet. We find it useful to recap the pros and cons of those pedal-assisted bikes.

In a nutshell, an electric mountain bike gives you an extra boost but still requires you to pedal. This can compensate for endurance weaknesses or lack of strength. It allows you to make it through all the long days of pedaling, but it still requires piloting technique. Indeed, their extra weight and extra boost that can be a bit tricky to handle at first.

E-bikes are addictive: they will allow you to climb “the impossible” almost effortlessly. The word “almost” is important here. The motor provides the electric help proportionally to the power of your pedal strokes. Basically, the more you pedal, the more help you get from the motor.

The extra weight of E-bikes results in slightly harder cornering – particularly at low speed. Their higher inertia also makes it trickier to slow down in steep downhills.

This should not stop you from choosing an E-bike tour with us though. Indeed, it is pretty quick to adjust to those new factors. So you can expect to get used to riding an electric mountain bike after a couple hours only.

What are the main differences between the two types of tours?

We don’t say it enough, but mountain biking in Iceland is very challenging. Most of the common trails we use for analog MTBs include steep hike-a-bike sections. This means that we have to carry our bikes on our shoulders. This is the locals’ way to  make it to the summit and earn their turns! Do not expect to be able to make it through those segments pedaling or pushing your bike, no matter how in shape you are. But there is a few good news: hike-a-bike makes the feeling of reaching the summit even more rewarding. In Iceland, you have to sweat to earn your incredible views and amazing descents!

Electric mountain bikes are heavier than analog bikes, and hike-a-bike is extremely demanding. Some might object that they feature a “walk assist” mode. Indeed, it proves very useful to tackle steep climbs on hard packed soil and wider trails. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to keep your balance while using the “walk assist” in the highlands’ trails. The soil of the hike-a-bike section is loose and the singletracks very narrow.

This leads us to skip those sections on E-MTB tours and design E-MTB specific routes. We scouted for trails options offering the alternative of smoother climbs. “Smoother” meaning: you can pedal them up with an E-bike. These special routes also take into account the battery life constraint. On the E-MTB tours, riders can focus on the biking without having to think about saving your battery.

No worries, avoiding some steep segments enables us to use the “extra E power” to reach further at the end of the day. E-MTB definitely enables us to show you some more Icelandic hidden gems too. Different bikes, different gems!

I am in doubt, should I book an E-MTB or a MTB tour?

We have experience in accompanying riders through their tour selection process and guiding them in the field.  Those years of operation left us with a quite clear motto: If you are in doubt, go for E-MTB. And we say it even though most of us – within the Icebike adventures crew – are “hardcore analog riders” in our DNA.

Indeed, most people hesitate because they are uncertain that their fitness level is good enough to enjoy our long trips. This is exactly where E-bikes bring their magic and open new horizons for you. The extra boost provided by the motor will lower the strains on your legs and heart.  Enjoying  the breathtaking trails and unique vistas of Iceland becomes easy. Don’t get us wrong, E-mountain biking is still a physically demanding activity. Choosing them only gives you some sort of “backup plan” for the long days.

Another way to look at it, is that E-bikes offer a wide range of different levels of pedal assist. It means that if you happen to want to put in some extra effort, you can lower the assistance level. This  get your muscles to work more and your heart to pound. On the other hand, you can not get any extra help on an analog bike if you feel a bit low on stamina. All-in-all, E-bike is always a safe bet for a rider or a group of uneven strength.

And let’s be honest, we never heard anyone complaining about e-bikes making those steep climbs feel a little easier 😉

It can be frustrating to feel that you are missing out on your tour because you are struggling to keep pace. So keep the frustration away: Don’t worry, go E!

Do public tours mix MTB & E-MTB?

As the local experts, our knowledge of mountain biking trails is extensive. This allows us to choose the routes that are the most fun to ride for each of the mountain bike types.

Striving to make each of our trips a once in a lifetime experience, we make no compromise on the quality of your ride with us. We then keep MTB & E-MTB on separate public tours.

This allows our guides to focus on the specific constraints of each type of riding. The itinerary, the spare parts we carry and the accommodation are going to be bike type specific. Our selection or support vehicles & trailers also depend on the bikes types.

Can we mix MTB & E-MTB on a private & bespoke tour?

On a tailor-made private tour onlywe will happily consider the option.  For example, when specific medical reasons  make mixing the group a must. Anyways, we strongly discourage mixing bike types. Instead, we recommend having the whole group riding electric mountain bikes.

Five seasons operating trips with both types of bikes showed that this is the most enjoyable set-up for the riders. Trust us, we use the not very scientific but very accurate “smiles per miles” indicator!

We hope this helps you to make your decision. Feel free to reach us by e-mail if you still need some guidance.

See you soon on the epic trails of the Land of Fire and Ice!