FNB Wine2Whales in general holds a significant place in South African cycling. The Pinotage race, the event’s mid-week fixture, is forging its own legacy and importance with the addition of an E-Bike competition. Racing, perhaps due to the competitive quirks of South Africans, drives the cycling industry and the Pinotage is fostering E-Bike adoption by showcasing how much fun they are to ride and race.
Bobby Behan, who heads up Specialized Bicycles in South Africa, is one of the many converts to e-powered riding. “I’ve done about ten FNB W2W, but this year and last were the most fun – because I’m on the E-Bike,” the Irish former professional triathlete smiled. “It’s so much fun! The bikes are so capable and they put a huge smile on your face. People think you lose fitness riding an E-Bike, but that doesn’t take into account how hard you work. You can push hard and get a great work-out, or take it easy and just cruise.”
“The bikes are also totally tuneable. The technology is really impressive,” Behan added. “You can modulate the amount of power you use in order to extend your range. And honestly – I have normal and E-Bikes in my garage – 9.5 times out of 10 I ride an E-Bike.”
Oliver Munnik, one of the most familiar faces in South African mountain biking is a brand-new E-Bike convert. The Giant South Africa Brand Manager is loving the experience. “Look, Charl [Neethling] and I are riding, to race you need a second battery,” he said. “We’re having a great time, it’s amazing to have the big tyres and long travel suspension of the Giant Trance X Advanced E+ 1. It makes everything more fun to ride, but the motor and battery then negate the weight disadvantage. People who haven’t ridden one before really need to test ride an E-Bike to experience how much fun they are.”
Cycle Lab Marketing Manager, Taryn Henstock, is taking on FNB Wines2Whales for the first time. Riding alongside Wild Air Sport’s Doug Bird, Henstock is putting one of Cycle Lab’s new fleet of SCOTT Strike eRIDE test bikes though its paces. “By the races opening up categories for E-Bikes allows so many more people to take part,” she noted. “For us, as Cycle Lab, the E-Bike race and tour in the FNB W2W Pinotage are great initiatives. And personally, I’d recommend that anyone who rides but thinks a stage race is beyond them fitness wise, to come take part on an E-Bike.”
“Stage races are such a great experience and E-Bike categories opens up that experience to so many people,” Henstock expanded. “Or keeps the experience available to older people. I was chatting to two gentlemen yesterday who are 69 years old. They’re both on E-Bikes and loving the gees of FNB Wines2Whales as a result.”
“Plus, you can race or ride. We’ve been riding at a slower pace, taking everything in. But at the front the guys are racing as fast as they can. It’s impressive to see. Then further back people are just riding to finish the event, and being on an E-Bike makes that possible,” Henstock concluded.
For riders looking to maximise their fun, E-Bikes are nearly impossible to beat. Longer travel full suspension E-Bikes are exceptionally capable, but are still easy to ride up to a trail head, unlike long-travel enduro bikes. Battery life has improved too, making it possible to ride a 65 kilometre stage, like the ones at FNB W2W, on a single charge. South African also love an excuse to be competitive and the Pinotage provides that as well as the justification for a new bike day…
Just imagine lining up in the 2024 FNB W2W Pinotage on a new E-Bike. Name a better way to experience the #SeriousGees?!
To vicariously experience the E-Bike action on the final day of the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage follow @wines_2_whales on Instagram or like the Wines2Whales Facebook page. There will be regular updates in the stories as well as a taste of the trails the riders are taking on. Fans can also catch the daily highlights on the Epic Series YouTube channel and read all about how the racing unfolded on www.epic-series.com/wines2whales.
Results: FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage
General Classification after Stage 2 eBike Men’s Results:
- Specialized Factory Racing: Benno Willeit & Joris Ryf (4:03:08)
- Toyota Specialized: Giniel De Villiers & Bobby Behan (4:25:35 | +22:27)
- FuelX: Jovan Jacobs & Wayne Van Der Walt (4:30:02 | +26:54)
- Greatsoft Cloud: Robert Briggs & Colin Morgan (4:36:14 | +33:06)
- RBC Suspension: Robbie Powell & Dylan Chillcott (4:45:17 | +42:09)