E-biking

Where to ride an e-bike in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Electric bicycles, e-bikes or power bikes, are exploding in popularity across Colorado and the West. They used to mostly be ridden on paved roads, but now they are a common sight on trails in the Gunnison Valley and beyond. While some trails in Gunnison and Crested Butte allow e-bikes, many do not. Before taking your electric bike out on the trails, you should know what kind of bike you have and where you can ride it. On this page, you’ll learn about the different classes of e-bikes, where to rent an electric bike and what trails e-bikes are allowed on in Crested Butte and Gunnison.

What is an e-bike?

All electric bikes have pedals, and their motors can’t exceed 750 watts of output. These power bikes are separated into three different classes based on how the motor works and how fast they can go under motor power.

Types of e-bikes

On pedal-assisted electric bikes, the motor provides assistance only while the rider is pedaling.

On throttle-assisted electric bikes, the motor runs when the throttle is engaged, regardless of whether the rider is pedaling.

Classes of e-bikes

A Class 1 provides pedal assistance only up to 20 mph. Class 1 electric bikes don’t have throttles.

A Class 2 has a throttle that will only run the motor up to 20 mph. Class 2 bikes also have pedal assistance.

A Class 3 is a pedal- and throttle-assisted e-bike that stops providing pedal assistance at 28 mph. Class 3 power bikes have speedometers.

Where to ride your electric bike in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Riding on the road

All types of electric bikes are allowed on paved roads. If you enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery offered by gravel biking, it’s important to note that nearly all forest service roads are open to e-bikes, too.

Tips for riding an e-bike on the road

  • Ride on the road (not on the sidewalk) and with the flow of traffic
  • Use hand signals when turning
  • Ride single file
  • Use a headlight and taillight when riding at night
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Keep speed under control

To learn more about Colorado bike laws and etiquette of biking on the road, check out Bicycle Colorado’s Rules of the Road page.

E-biking vs. mountain biking

Electric biking and mountain biking have a lot in common, and the Gunnison Valley has hundreds of miles of trails for both. Aside from the obvious lack of a motor in a regular mountain bike, there are several differences between electric bikes and mountain bikes. The first and most important difference is that e-bikes aren’t allowed on many mountain bike trails due to most land managers’ classification of electric bikes as motorized vehicles. (See the next section to learn more about this.) These bikes are also much heavier, and they’re capable of going faster than a mountain bike, especially uphill. With a range of up to 100 miles, these bikes allow for longer rides than most mountain bikers can do in a day. Electric bikes can be a great tool for adaptive athletes and have opened the sport to many people who haven’t had access to mountain biking. E-bikers might also enjoy gravel biking and road biking.

Are electric bikes allowed on trails?

Class 1 and 2 electric bikes are allowed on some trails, but not all. A general rule is that e-bikes can go wherever a motorcycle or dirt bike can go. Read trailhead signage thoroughly, and check with the local land management agency (U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, etc.) before riding an bike of this type on any trail that does not have explicit signage.

Class 3 electric bikes are not allowed on any trails.

What trails are electric bikes allowed on in Crested Butte?

E-biking is allowed on all motorized trails in Gunnison National Forest. However, these bikes are not permitted on any non-motorized trails in Gunnison National Forest. There is a large concentration of motorized trails between the Cement Creek and Brush Creek drainages, which would be a good place to start planning a route. Check out Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association’s e-bike page for a complete list of trails open to e-bikes in Crested Butte.

What trails are electric bikes allowed on in Gunnison?

All trails at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area are open to electric bikes. Beginners might want to start on Evan’s Loop (Sea of Sage, Lost Dog and Broken Shovel). Intermediate riders will want to check out Aberdeen Loop and the other trails south of the Powerline Road. Expert riders will enjoy The Ridge and Collarbone. 

E-bikes are not allowed on any trails in the Signal Peak trail system.

Tips for riding trails on electric bikes

Trail etiquette for e-biking is identical to that of mountain biking.

  • Ride only open trails. Avoid riding muddy trails. If you encounter mud, ride through it, not around it. Never ride off-trail. Practice the principles of Leave No Trace.
  • Share the trail. Bikes yield to hikers and horses. Descending riders yield to climbing riders. Be kind!
  • Ride in control and at a safe speed.
  • Plan ahead. Know your route. Tell someone where you’re going. Download a map app on your phone or bring a paper map.
  • Bring plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and extra layers. Bring the tools and the know-how to fix your bike in case of a flat tire or other minor mechanical issues.
  • Respect wildlife and livestock.

Check out the International Mountain Bike Association’s Rules of the Trail to learn more about etiquette and Leave No Trace practices for electric bikers and mountain bikers.

Planning your trip to Gunnison Crested Butte

Electric biking is just the beginning of the many fun things to do in Gunnison and Crested Butte. With more than 750 miles of singletrack trail and access to more than two million acres of public lands, the Gunnison Valley offers endless opportunities for mountain biking and hiking. You might also enjoy fishing or boating on the rivers and lakes of the Gunnison River basin. Explore the Gunnison Valley’s cozy, quirky mountain towns after your adventures. You’ll also need to plan how you’ll get here and where you’ll stay.

Bike rental shops in Gunnison and Crested Butte

Below are all the mountain bike gear and rental shops in the Gunnison Valley. Most rent or sell e-bikes, but it’s best to call ahead to confirm. 

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