Electric Motion (EM) is a French trials, trails and electric bike producer who have been on the go since 2008. For 2020, they have launched the all-new Epure Race featuring a conventional hydraulic clutch – a must for any serious trials rider and a first in the electric trails bikes market. The new model is also price-comparable to a petrol trials bike, equal on weight and will last up to 4-hours on a single charge. Have we found ourselves a winner?
Trials is a low-speed sport held in a relatively small area and perfectly suited to electric bikes, and for the first-time enthusiasts are moving over from petrol to the environmentally friendly Epure. Could this be the first time an electric bike is a genuine alternative to a normal combustion engine? Has the petrol engine had its day in the world of trails?
Fast forward to a scene in the Ribble Valley, deepest Lancashire; I’m on a trials bike in a rocky stream. I feel the bike’s rear tyre search for grip and then propel me up a steep and slippery climb. I can hear owner/instructor Matthew Alpe’s clear instructions, “get your head up, look ahead!” and the Epure Race continues the climb despite the icy-cold flowing water. I hear a small round of applause when I reach the top, a few chuckles and the watery flow of the stream – everything except the sound of a motorcycle engine.
I wouldn’t have attempted such a tricky section a few hours ago, but along with excellent tuition from Inch Perfect Trials’ MD, Matthew, the Epure is making trials riding much simpler than it used to be. For starter, there are no gears. There are no flat-spots in the power delivery to worry about either, while throttle response is instant. You don’t have to kick-start it before every section, you don’t burn your leg on the hot parts when you it falls on top of you it and, best of all, it’s completely silent.
Now I know every petrolhead reading this is tutting loudly and shaking their head like a disgruntled backbench MP. And I agree, nothing beats the sound of a combustion engine, two-stroke or four-stroke but silent running opens so many more doors as to where and when you can ride. You can ride close to livestock, houses, even near churches on a Sunday morning and nobody appears to care. I’ve ridden and owned similar trial bikes to the Epure Race, and I’m always amazed by the reaction of dog walkers or ramblers. They are always polite, wanting to chat and aren’t intimidated by the silent running machine, which is almost the opposite reaction to petrol powered machines.
Above: Matthew Alpe, Inch Perfect Trials’ MD is on hand to demonstrate how it should be done
Electric trials bikes are nothing new. OSET has dominated the market for some time with a wide range of machines appealing to toddlers and adults alike, in fact my son was three when he rode his first OSET and started his journey onto two wheels.
However, the Epure Race is a serious trails bike built for competition use, and comes with a conventional hydraulic clutch, just like any other petrol road bike. This means you can build up power and dump the clutch to hop over obstacles, or purposely spin the rear wheel to clean the tyre. Previously, bike’s in EM’s Epure range and other similar models didn’t have a conventional clutch and responded like a twist-and-go scooter. But now with a conventional clutch it is far easier to ride and compete on. Matthew, the owner of Inch Perfect Trails, has been competing and winning on the Epure Race against petrol powered machines – the tide is turning.
I’m a secret fan of electric bikes, having converted a number of years back when I raced in the TT Zero class at the Isle of Man TT but there is no hiding the fact the electric equivalent road and race bikes are more expensive, considerably heavier, slower and don’t begin to compete on range and endurance. In trials, though, the Epure Race is a genuine match for its petrol counterpart, if not better.
Price-wise it’s comparable to a petrol bike £7995, weight is nearly the same 71kg, if not lighter, and running time is claimed to be 4 hours or 27-miles. You’d be hard pushed to find a trial event any longer, apart from the gruelling six-day Scottish version. Even deprecation cost is comparable if not better on the electric side.
Believe me, once you open your eyes you soon start to see the many advantages of the Epure Race. There is virtually no maintenance or servicing. On a petrol bike you’ve got to regularly clean the air-filter, change the oil and even the piston and rings. On the Epure, none of that. Just chain and sprockets maintenance. After a ride, clean it, lube the chain and put it away – simple. And yes, before you ask, you can ride through water, jet wash it and perform all those mud-based tasks. The bike comes with a 24-month warranty, or 800 full charges (it takes 3h15 to charge from dead).
Furthermore, there’s no heat, no petrol, no liquids. You can load your electric bike straight into the van after a ride without fear of burning your hands as you try to strap it in. There’s no kickstart, no warming up procedure and no gears – it couldn’t be simpler.
You have three modes to choose from. Green, which generates user-friendly power and is similar to a 200cc petrol bike; blue is slightly more aggressive like a 250cc; and red, 300cc and slightly scary. You can change the power on the move and each mode has a noticeable step in oomph and throttle reaction. Simply switch the bike on and when the light in the middle of the small dash is white the bike is active but the throttle itself inactive. Press the button on the right bar and you hear an arcade-like ‘ping’ as the light changes to green, and the throttle becomes active to stop you from accidentally snapping the throttle back while the bike is ‘live’. Press again and it changes to blue, again then red… very simple. There is also a lanyard on the left bar which kills the power when pulled.
Everything else is like a conventional trials bike. There’s little weight, a low seat, a clutch on the left, front brake on the right, back brake right foot… the only ‘strange’ part is the lack of a gear lever on the left side. However, this does mean your left foot never has to move and that you don’t have to worry about changing gears in a tricky section traversing rocks or in deep ruts.
Initially, the first few meters are a little alien if you’re not used to electric power, then natural riding instinct takes over. In green mode the throttle is very elastic, power is soft – ideal of novices and new riders. Blue has the same full-fat power as red without being as aggressive. Even Matthew the expert admitted to rarely deploying red.
The new clutch is apparent but rarely needed. You don’t need it to change gear because there aren’t any gears to change, and you don’t need it to start either – just twist and go. The clutch allows the electric motor to spin up, then when you release the lever you receive a burst of power and drive, ideal for when you need to attack a rocky ascent from a standstill or hop over obstacles. It’s not a switch and can be fed-in with a biting point like a normal clutch.
I spent the morning on relatively simple sections getting the basics right, controlling the speed, getting body position and weight distribution correct. The Epure couldn’t have been simpler to use. I spent 80% of the morning in the novice-friendly green mode, conducting figure-of-eights at less than walking pace. No clutch, no gears, simple. Before lunch, we moved onto tricky wet and muddy climbs and descents that required switching to the blue mode. As power is instant the Epure appears to find grip easily. It’s hard to make a direct comparison to a conventional petrol bike as we mainly rode on slippery wet grass with the grip level of the underside of a penguin on ice, but the lack of engine noise certainly made it feel less intimidating.
After close to three hours of activity, which included walking stages, my Race had used less than 20% of its power. And after an hour to stop for lunch, the bike was fully charged ready for the afternoon’s more challenging conditions.
The Epure took everything we could throw at it. The only strange aspect was the noise from the rocks skimming off the rear tyre or the underside bottoming out, which are normally drowned out by engine noise. I’m a relative novice to trails but Matthew demonstrated what the bike is capable of, mastering climbs I couldn’t even walk up. The bike took abuse all day without any problems and nobody was left tired from trying to kickstart it back into life either.
For a club or novice rider I’m unsure why you’d chose petrol. The Epure makes so much sense and has so many advantages over a petrol bike, key among them the fact you can ride anywhere due to the silent running. It’s even price and weight comparable. If you’re not convinced you should take one for a test ride at Inch Perfect Trials.
For more advanced competition riders I can still see why you may want to opt for a petrol bike; you can hear the engine, the feel is different, so too the response and arguably the grip but to there are so many advantages to the Epure which can’t be ignored. One thing so for sure, you’ll see far more Epure Race bikes in competition and on trials over the coming months and years.
Above: What goes up must comes down!
Inch Perfect Trials was started by Matthew Alpe, who achieved top 10 finishes in the British Youth Trials Championship and was several times North West Centre Expert Champion. After running a successful trials display team, Matthew set up a training school alongside the showroom.
Inch Perfect Trials run a full range of experience and training days suitable for aged seven upwards and all ability levels. Based in the beautiful Ribble Valley, just 20 minutes out of Clitheroe, lies 100 acres, catering for riders of all talents. New bikes, quality Alpinestars kit, including boots and helmets are all taken care of. There are warm changing rooms and lunch is even taken care off. All you have to do is turn up. Prices start from under £50 for half a day. www.inchperfecttrials.co.uk