ebiking in the Cairngorms


The VisitCairngorms team trials e-bikes up Glen Einich

With most of us never having been on an e-bike before, the VisitCairngorms team jumped at the chance to jump on one for Aviemore Bikes…

Even pre-Covid, the VisitCairngorms team embraced ‘walking meetings’ as a way to get out into the fresh air, enjoy the stunning scenery and get our brains moving better, too. 

So, when lockdown lifted and the restrictions eased, we grabbed the opportunity to loan e-bikes from our friends at Aviemore Bikes for a ‘biking meeting’.

In order to put the Cairngorms e-bikes to the test, we chose a challenging route starting from Aviemore Bikes, in the heart of the village, up the Glen to Loch Einich. Our group of 4 varies in fitness levels and cycling experience but, usually, this route would have us all breaking out in a hot sweat and requiring stops on the steeper sections.

How would an e-bike make a difference, we all wondered?

Heading up Glen Einich on a bluebird day

The first challenge, though, was meeting at Aviemore Bikes and being briefed on how to actually use an e-bike. While this might initially feel intimidating because it’s new, we all quickly found our feet (or, rather, our pedals) realising it’s really straightforward. A quick practice around the car park next to the shop, overseen by a staff member from Aviemore Bikes, familiarised us with everything we needed to know.

The first thing you need to do is check how much charge you have on your battery, which you do by just pressing a button on it and seeing how many bars light up. Ours were fully charged. Then, while you’re cycling and the pedals are turning, to get extra assistance it’s a simple case of pressing another button to increase the power – our bikes had 3 settings.

If you’re pootling along on a flat bit of road or track, you won’t need assistance at all. But where the bikes really came into their own was on the longer stretches of ascent, particularly those steeper sections. Having an e-bike means you can gradually crank up the assistance so by the time you’re on the steepest gradient you’re in the most-assisted setting. For most of us the steepest parts of the route required a little extra effort, but a very different experience to usual on our ‘regular’ bikes. One thing some of us forgot to do occasionally – because preoccupied by the assisted power – is also change gears, as well as assistance level.

Even the fittest, most experienced riders in our groups were surprised at how much easier and more enjoyable an e-bike made the Einich ascent. Mostly, we were able to maintain a conversation throughout the climb and never got to the usual levels of exhaustion we would on this stretch, so were able to progress quicker. 

Arriving at our destination. The stunning Loch Einich and its sandy beach.

Being on an e-bike, because it’s less stressful and more comfortable, you’re able to take in and enjoy the scenery fully. This was a particular bonus on the day we chose, which was a beautifully blue-skied sunny one, when the trackside scenery on the way up was breathtaking (and, because we weren’t painfully puffing the way up the hills, we were able to enjoy it all the more!).

There’s also something about an e-bike that taps into a childlike joy in us all, perhaps the ‘zooming’ feeling it gives you that makes you feel like you’re flying and have superhero powers?

We all felt too, by the time we’d reached Loch Einich, that we were pretty invincible and we could have kept going much longer than our planned couple-of-hours adventure. 

To top off one of our most enjoyable team meetings ever, we headed to The Barn at Rothiemurchus to bask in the sunshine while chomping on a delicious burger, or bacon buttie. 

Thanks to Aviemore Bikes for (most of our) first experience of an e-bike. Would definitely recommend!

Powering through the river crossing on the way back down to Aviemore

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