Exploration on an Electric Mountain Bike

A couple times a year, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy hosts Open Access Days at Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. Individuals are permitted to bike, hike or horseback on more than seven miles of trails in this historically rich, but usually closed area.

I went out for one such  event and the day dawned clear and cool as I anticipated exploring where trappers and Native Americans engaged in a fierce battle during the 1800’s and California grizzly bears once roamed. Also, this was an opportunity to experience the diverse spectrum of plant and animal species replete in the park. Some people think that Black Star is haunted by ghosts, but it was too early for an encounter.

My e-bike gave me the confidence to know I would still have the energy to hike after riding to the trail head.

Electric bikes are as easy to build and customize as pedal bikes. This project made the trip from Newport Beach to the canyons a more casual and exploratory experience.

I rode a hardtail mountain bike with a mid-drive motor to the park. This system adds electric power to the crankset, which is potent, but legal for bicycle lanes in California. I arranged to meet with the rest of the BICYCLIST team at Black Star to review the event. My e-bike gave me the confidence to know I would still have the energy to hike after riding to the trail head. We checked in at the entrance, explored the trails and took some photographs, then departed.

I rode home and reflected back to a time years ago, when this journey would have been much less practical because the lead-acid batteries needed for power ponderous. The advent of lithium in battery chemistry heralded a new era for electric vehicles by reducing the battery weight markedly. E-bikes have become lighter and more powerful with excellent range. Now, it is feasible to explore remote areas or use the bike for traveling moderate distances. Imagination and technology have converged.

Visit the Irvine Ranch Conservancy website to find more details about Open Access events near you.