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EBT Timber Trail team trip – ride report

Continuing our Matariki tradition of a team trip away into a second year, the team went for a weekend away to ride the Timber Trail in the Pureora forest. There were many contenders for where to see in the new year – would it be in Northland, on the Pou Herenga Tai – Twin Coasts trail? A combined train and bike trip on Te Huia to ride Te Awa trail from Ngaruawahia to Karapiro? Or a weekend of urbanist cycle culture (ie short rides to hot drinks and museums) in Pōneke/Wellington?

Against stiff competition, the Timber Trail won the day. Why? It was the highlight of Catrin and Simon’s trip of the north island last year, it’s got stunning scenery and most importantly – it’s a reference point for challenging ebike rides that our customers (rightly) want to do. We are often asked about the capabilities of certain bikes and their batteries with reference to the Timber Trail. And apart from long term cycle wanderer Alex (did you know he has his own bike riding blog?), none of the team had even been there! Professional duty was calling!

To get the whole experience, we took advantage of the amazing services on the trail, which result in not having to carry any overnight stuff on our bikes, all of which magically appears at our mid-trail accommodation (glamping tents in the most luxurious campground setup we’ve seen) to quietly re-appear at the end of the trail, complete with our van. Thanks Camp Epic, 10/10!

The ride itself was overall more challenging than I’d expected, though a lot of that was related to a decent amount of rain on the first day, making the ground softer, ourselves wetter and adding a lot more slippery mud to the equation. The second day was dry and it makes a big difference to the difficulty level of the trail and what kind of bikes (and humans) suit the terrain.

We were riding a mix of hard tail and full suspension e-bikes from eZee, Moustache and Riese and Muller. Full suspension was certainly a lot more comfortable, easier on the arms and overall meant a lower skill level was required to ride the trail. Having said that, with careful (and slower) riding, a quality hard tail bike was okay. Again, the weather the trail has been experiencing makes a big difference there.

The bikes we took carried anywhere from 500Wh to 1000Wh of battery and there was overnight charging at the camp. On the first day, we consumed on average 450Wh each on the first day and one bike (a 4 year old 500Wh battery) ran out within sight of campsite. On the second day, no-one was in any danger of running out, it’s mostly downhill or flat.

Would we recommend it? Of course! It is a spectacular trail, incredibly high standard along almost all of it and the services provided are great. However, if you or anyone in your riding pair/group etc are relatively new to riding and still building up confidence, this isn’t the ride to do first! The terrain can be tricky and if you’re not feeling comfortable on it, then it will be a struggle because it will just be such a long ride for you. There’s not any practical options for shortening the ride as far as we could see and with the vast majority of riders go in one direction (Pureora to Ongahue), turning back isn’t going to be very pleasant. Get your confidence and stamina experience up on easier rides (of which there are many – Te awa ride, Hauraki rail trail, Otago rail trail) and when you tackle the Timber Trail, aim for a couple of dry days!

Photo gallery is below and is also on our Facebook Page. The bikes we rode were:

1- Riese and Muller Superdelite Rohloff 2020. 75Nm, 500Wh (or 1000Wh with second battery in)

2 – Riese and Muller Delite Vario. 85Nm, 625Wh battery

3 – Riese and Muller Nevo Touring. 85Nm, 625Wh battery

4 – eZee Torq customised with Rohloff hub, titanium frame and 48V battery. 700Wh, Nm – “a lot”

5 – Moustache xroad 3 2023 (smart system) – 75Nm, 625Wh battery

6 – Moustache Trail 4 – 85Nm, 625Wh battery

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Maurice Wells

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