Seen at one of the local motorcycle shops (Perri's in GJ). Quietkat Apex - 71 lbs and 1,500 watts. Still a bicycle?
It seems the main issue here is that they are viewed as an alternative to a motorcycle in the sense that hunters and anglers are using them to access non-motorized places, which is a debate of its own.
But they get too far in and run out of juice, which presents a problem in that it's not easy to recover them being essentially to pedal without assist impossible unless you're a good cyclist (in which case you probably didn't really need the assist anyway) and impossible of course to use a pickup to carry them or dirt bike to tow, because they're on a non-motorized trail.
There’s another great example. Said fat ass hunter needs an e-bike to access backcountry he/she can’t hike to. Then drops a nice trophy elk. Now what? Is this hunter going to ride said bike with a 70-120lb pack? OK, lets section said animal down into 50lb loads and just make more trips. Wait my battery is dead now what? Charge off a generator I’m sure.
Angler, OK whatever. Just tell them you released your 50lb trout because you couldn’t ride it out. Fish stories never get old.
I like Dave’s simple approach. Motor/engine yes or no. Treat accordingly as we always have. Just wait until we have drones capable of carrying a person. Then we can all summit any mountain peak.
In a perfect world that being motorized has to be a negative (which is the implication) but each trail would then have to be categorized on merits. There's trails where the extra power wouldn't create excess wear on the trail surface and an eMTB would still be easier on the trail than a dirt bike.
It also goes the other way where there might be trails that a lightweight XC bike is the limit (viewed as a beefed up hiking or equestrian trail) and the big hit DH bikes, human or electric, would be too much wear and tear or allow too much speed for high traffic trails.
Where I'm leading with is I honestly think that hunters and bikes have a common meeting point especially when it comes to Wilderness. When bikes got kicked out in the 1980s so did hunters using wheeled trailers and carts. Maybe there's opportunity to say some MTBs are no different than a hiker or horse in this case.
But adding electric motors is going to undercut any opportunity for that.
Here's some examples of this class of e-bike for hunting. It's fine, really no different than an ATV or something. Just think it needs to be recognized as the vehicle it is and not a bicycle.
They're quiet and easier than a gas engine so there is certainly real benefit to the application as long as the user takes responsibility for extra batteries, flat kit, extra chain. Not sure how many potential customers are "bike people" so-to-speak to know that stuff.
Just finished a 53 mile ride on the Mickelson trail up in the Black Hills. They now allow pedal assist bikes. Would never have been able to ride this far any more, how nice it was to get out for a long bike ride. I took an extra battery which I used.