eMtb weight and lower back ?

AzzaD

Member
Jan 7, 2020
15
5
Surrey
First post here, haven't bought an eMtb - yet, wondered if the guys here could help with a question before I pull the trigger on an eBike.

Disclaimer; I have ridden a few road based ebikes and they've all been great. But I ride mtb and try to avoid roads if possible. I haven't ridden an eMtb - probably becuase I'm concerned I'll really like it.

I know I can go hire one an eMtb for an afternoon and get a feel for this myself. But...

I have had back surgery years ago and been problem free for 13+ years, until recently. Cue MRI of everything, consultants visits etc upshot is have the ususal wear & tear in the spine, but the kicker is an issue with the (partially age related) narrowing of the spinal canal - which is impinging on major nerves, which has been for the last few months causing me untold grief, all improving better, but surgery is in my future - sadly. Plus all manner of other rubbish stuff.

So whats my question ?
I've ridden mtb for a long time and my bikes are all pretty light. Does riding a 2x the weight eMtb cause any of you guys lower back pain / stress ?
I do fancy the assistance of electric mtbs, but not if its going to unduly stress my lower back due to hauling 20+ kg about on the trails, as I need to enjoy myself and get out, but also stay mindful that it's not all great in my lower back.

Yes, core strengthing, lose weight etc etc. Can improve on all of that and am, but some of my issues are out of my control.
 

Gary

Old Tartan Bollocks
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Mar 29, 2018
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It depends massively on how you ride, what size bike you choose and how you set it up.
Luckily most of the extra weight is down low and centralised. But that doesn't mean trying to manual a long wheelbase Emtb isnt far harder on your lower back than the equivalent sized lightweight normal mtb.
 

JoeBlow

Active member
Jul 7, 2019
728
448
South West, UK
I never notice the weight when riding the bike but then I'm not a particularly accomplished or aggressive rider. In some circumstances the weight actually feels like a benefit as the bike can feel more "planted" than a normal MTB. I'm thinking here of cornering and small jumps. I do notice it when manhandling it e.g. loading into the car. I'm 73 years old and can just about manage it after a lot of practice doing so, I seem to have developed a knack.

Al
 

Richywalker64

Active member
Nov 14, 2020
211
173
Hartlepool
I hope everything goes well with your treatment in the future.
I too had back surgery in 2013 but fortunately it has been a complete success up to now.

I also find the extra weight give the bike a more planted feel on the trails, the only issue with the weight is lifting the bike over obstacles especially if you need to hold it at arms length such as over a fence which is near impossible or loading on a high bike rack.
 

phutureproof

New Member
Jun 4, 2021
94
73
Oxford
It's too early for me to comment, but at 6'5", tall and thin, my lower back does give me grief sometimes. And now, my knees and shoulders are going too ;-)

The weight of the bike is significant, but out on the trail, in my limited experience, the only places I notice it is turning around in a tight space if you've gone wrong. I could flick my hardtail around quite easily. With the eMTB, it just takes more effort. (when I say "flick" I don't mean in a cool, skillful way...just wiggling it around with my feet on the floor!)

The other places I notice it are basically lugging it around. Just manhandling it around in my shed so I can get to things behind it takes more effort. And loading it in the back of my car is also a bit of a struggle. My car isn't a hatchback, so that doesn't help. Removing the front wheel and shoving it in without damaging the car is a bit of a challenge, but doable.
 

alan_sh

Active member
Aug 3, 2020
178
88
Rochdale
I also have a weak lower back. Riding is no issue, but putting the bike on and off the bike rack has caused me grief about 3 times now. Once I was laid up in bed for a week - other times, not as bad, but not good.

And yes, I remove the battery first. Now, I get my wife to assist.
 

RickBullotta

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jun 5, 2019
1,796
1,529
USA
First post here, haven't bought an eMtb - yet, wondered if the guys here could help with a question before I pull the trigger on an eBike.

Disclaimer; I have ridden a few road based ebikes and they've all been great. But I ride mtb and try to avoid roads if possible. I haven't ridden an eMtb - probably becuase I'm concerned I'll really like it.

I know I can go hire one an eMtb for an afternoon and get a feel for this myself. But...

I have had back surgery years ago and been problem free for 13+ years, until recently. Cue MRI of everything, consultants visits etc upshot is have the ususal wear & tear in the spine, but the kicker is an issue with the (partially age related) narrowing of the spinal canal - which is impinging on major nerves, which has been for the last few months causing me untold grief, all improving better, but surgery is in my future - sadly. Plus all manner of other rubbish stuff.

So whats my question ?
I've ridden mtb for a long time and my bikes are all pretty light. Does riding a 2x the weight eMtb cause any of you guys lower back pain / stress ?
I do fancy the assistance of electric mtbs, but not if its going to unduly stress my lower back due to hauling 20+ kg about on the trails, as I need to enjoy myself and get out, but also stay mindful that it's not all great in my lower back.

Yes, core strengthing, lose weight etc etc. Can improve on all of that and am, but some of my issues are out of my control.

It shouldn't bother your back riding, but loading it might be a problem, depending on your style of bike rack. Some hitch mounted racks offer a small loading ramp, or you can also use a hitch mounted motorcycle carrier with a ramp.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,204
4,709
Weymouth
As all a bove has said the extra weight of an etmb is only an issue when lifting the bike to load or put on a stand etc.
I do not see that even that should be an issue provided the right technique is used. Basic manual handling technique is a good starter.........ie bend your legs and keep your back straight. When lifting the bike everything becomes a lot easier if you grab the bike in the best places. So for example, lifting the bike onto a bike rack, the best places to grab the bike are the seatstay and below the downtube.........combine those holds with good manual handling technique and there is no strain on the back.

For the guy above struggling with turning the bike around in limited space, get off, apply the back brake and pull the bike up onto the rear wheel. To turn in a tight space whilst on the bike, get off the saddle, drag both brakes, use a low power mode.
 

RustyIron

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Jun 5, 2021
1,568
2,442
La Habra, California
I've ridden mtb for a long time and my bikes are all pretty light. Does riding a 2x the weight eMtb cause any of you guys lower back pain / stress ?

Of course carrying around heavier loads poses a greater risk for injury. One of my buddies drives a truck with quite a bit of lift. When he drives, I ask for a hand in loading my bike into the bed. I also ride rugged mountains. Last weekend the trail involved getting the bike up a 20+ foot drop. The only solution is to heft the bike onto your back, and climb the rock. The solution is to be very careful about maintaining perfect balance as to not put strain on the back or shoulders. It's no different than carrying a big bag of dog food into the house. You'd better be cognizant of every move you make, or you'll suffer.
 

gareth burton

Member
Jul 27, 2020
17
21
S. Wales UK
First post here, haven't bought an eMtb - yet, wondered if the guys here could help with a question before I pull the trigger on an eBike.

Disclaimer; I have ridden a few road based ebikes and they've all been great. But I ride mtb and try to avoid roads if possible. I haven't ridden an eMtb - probably becuase I'm concerned I'll really like it.

I know I can go hire one an eMtb for an afternoon and get a feel for this myself. But...

I have had back surgery years ago and been problem free for 13+ years, until recently. Cue MRI of everything, consultants visits etc upshot is have the ususal wear & tear in the spine, but the kicker is an issue with the (partially age related) narrowing of the spinal canal - which is impinging on major nerves, which has been for the last few months causing me untold grief, all improving better, but surgery is in my future - sadly. Plus all manner of other rubbish stuff.

So whats my question ?
I've ridden mtb for a long time and my bikes are all pretty light. Does riding a 2x the weight eMtb cause any of you guys lower back pain / stress ?
I do fancy the assistance of electric mtbs, but not if its going to unduly stress my lower back due to hauling 20+ kg about on the trails, as I need to enjoy myself and get out, but also stay mindful that it's not all great in my lower back.

Yes, core strengthing, lose weight etc etc. Can improve on all of that and am, but some of my issues are out of my control.

I also have a weak lower back from an old injury, along with cartilage degeneration between c5 - c7 in my upper spine which has left me with regular 'grief' and limited feeling in my right hand.
My ebike has given me a new lease of life. I really don't notice any trouble with my lower back while out riding.
Lifting over fences/gates is OK as long as I don't just try to chuck it about.
I can honestly say it's the best thing I've bought in my 50 years on this planet and I'm fitter than I've been in quite a while.
 

Dirtnvert

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Sep 25, 2018
1,362
1,625
BC Canada
Ive compressed 6 discs, broken 2, shattered 2 and herniated 2 and shrunk myself over an inch and im 55. The emtb has allowed me to get back to riding 5x/week . With my enduro bike i have to take more rest days because ill be pushing past endurance pace into intervals and intervals take me longer to recover. With emtb I can use the assist modes and stay at endurance pace most of the time.
Also with any bike my fitness and strength grows but my heart lungs and legs gain strength at a pace my back stability strength cant, despite my back stilll getting stronger. On those days that i might be off resting i can do some laps in boost. I ride more like i have in the past and am fitter, slimmer and get more vert/kms and am more consistent on the bike and can ride faster and stay in a comfort zone so not to crash and reinjure.
The problem with the weight of the bike is lifting it on to the bike rack on my truck. I have refined my technique and can do it easily and safely now. I stay tight to the bike and use my legs. Arms and legs bent witb the bike close to my body and one clean leg press and arm lift on to my north shore rack. Ezpz now
The ebike isnt a substitute for your stretches and pt core stabilizer exercises though. I fire the core muscles and stretch 2hr/day because i have to. Its habit after 25 yrs
 

Jeff McD

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2018
337
360
Kona, Hawaii
Hey AzzaD, I am in the same boat as you with gradually increasing spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease at three different levels. All caused by a severe injury in the past that left me paralyzed from the neck down for an hour before I recovered. My neurosurgeon just shook his head recently as he looked at my MRI films and said that I was not going to be a happy camper if I had to eventually get surgery because it was extensive surgery at multiple levels with prolonged recovery and I might never be able to ride a bike again. He gave a strict warning to never lift over 40 pounds again ever and core strengthening every single day for the rest of my life for my best chance of never needing surgical treatment.
The last thing I want is surgery, and I'm sure you feel that way too. I can still ride my Levo but I will not lift that sucker. My buddies lift it for me because they have seen my films and how bad my spine is. I won't even lift over 30 pounds anymore. I want to hold that surgery off as long as I can, forever if possible.
If you can ride a bike without getting sciatica then that is also helpful. But just don't lift heavy shit. Sadly, those who advise lifting with perfect technique are just plain wrong on this once you have spinal stenosis. With spinal stenosis you are way way beyond that point. I don't care how strong your core is and how much core strengthening you do or how much you pay attention to technique, if you lift heavy stuff your stenosis will progress faster. Also, every spine patient I ever had promised they would do their core strengthening every day for the rest of their life and none of them did it. You really have to do it! I never miss. Why? I really really don't want that surgery.
 

Dirtnvert

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Sep 25, 2018
1,362
1,625
BC Canada
Hey AzzaD, I am in the same boat as you with gradually increasing spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease at three different levels. All caused by a severe injury in the past that left me paralyzed from the neck down for an hour before I recovered. My neurosurgeon just shook his head recently as he looked at my MRI films and said that I was not going to be a happy camper if I had to eventually get surgery because it was extensive surgery at multiple levels with prolonged recovery and I might never be able to ride a bike again. He gave a strict warning to never lift over 40 pounds again ever and core strengthening every single day for the rest of my life for my best chance of never needing surgical treatment.
The last thing I want is surgery, and I'm sure you feel that way too. I can still ride my Levo but I will not lift that sucker. My buddies lift it for me because they have seen my films and how bad my spine is. I won't even lift over 30 pounds anymore. I want to hold that surgery off as long as I can, forever if possible.
If you can ride a bike without getting sciatica then that is also helpful. But just don't lift heavy shit. Sadly, those who advise lifting with perfect technique are just plain wrong on this once you have spinal stenosis. With spinal stenosis you are way way beyond that point. I don't care how strong your core is and how much core strengthening you do or how much you pay attention to technique, if you lift heavy stuff your stenosis will progress faster. Also, every spine patient I ever had promised they would do their core strengthening every day for the rest of their life and none of them did it. You really have to do it! I never miss. Why? I really really don't want that surgery.
Good info but if youre referring to my comment i just gave my experience. I wasnt telling znyone what they should and shouldnt do. Every back injury is different. I have no experience with stenosis, or atleast i dont think i do. I do have degenitive disc disease though. First surgeon i saw 20 yrs ago said id be in a wheel chair soon. PT's will tell you to be careful not to get scared of tge ten cent words the docs throw at you too. Docs tend to be conservative in their recovery estimates.
For me i didnt just start picking things up like i was healed. Lifting is still precarious for me and ive worked at it for years religiously. If you do your pt and stretches and get back to being relatively active ,with a focus on doing it safely , you will have a good idea what you can and cant do. Its hard for anyone else to guage exactly where youre at when its such a fine line. People have no idea what we face individually, all we can do is share our experience and a few good core exercises. I was lucky to see some of the best pt's in canada, ex national team athletes. They had injuries and became pt's and they knew i wanted to get back. They gave me some great tools and ingo that ill use forever. I feel very fortinate for that.
Lifting any weight depends on your core and will it support that weight and isolate the injury. Maybe it can eventually maybe it will never. A milestone for me was doing multiple sets of my pt exercises and stretches every day for 2 years before i even skipped one day. That allowed my spine to stay aligned and never go into spasm for 2 years. It takes tendons 2 years to recover from being stretched when you go into dpasm and have disc misalignment. After your tendons have recovered/shrunk to how they should be you gain a lot of stability and that stability from the healthy tendons together with the pt exercises gives you immeasurable amount of stability. It was a life changing moment for me at at around that 2 year of intense pt training. After that period i continued at 8 out of 10 days for years. Stretch everyday. Now its mainly stretching everyday but my core intuitively fires out of fear and training muscle memory
 

phutureproof

New Member
Jun 4, 2021
94
73
Oxford
I get so annoyed with the whole 'bend your legs, not your back' advice for lifting. That works if doing a straightforward lift, like lifting a heavy box onto a worktop. But all too often, a lift is not that easy. Putting a 25kg bike in the back of a car cannot be done with your back straight.

I'd love some sort of hitch on my car, but as a lease car (and a Tesla), that ain't likely to happen. Best technique I've found so far is having a slippy mat/tarp on the bed of the boot. Lift the bike as far as you can on it (remove pedal on none-drive side) and then drag the mat/tarp into the car from the back passenger seat. Seems to work quite well if you take your time.
 

Richywalker64

Active member
Nov 14, 2020
211
173
Hartlepool
I get so annoyed with the whole 'bend your legs, not your back' advice for lifting. That works if doing a straightforward lift, like lifting a heavy box onto a worktop. But all too often, a lift is not that easy. Putting a 25kg bike in the back of a car cannot be done with your back straight.

I'd love some sort of hitch on my car, but as a lease car (and a Tesla), that ain't likely to happen. Best technique I've found so far is having a slippy mat/tarp on the bed of the boot. Lift the bike as far as you can on it (remove pedal on none-drive side) and then drag the mat/tarp into the car from the back passenger seat. Seems to work quite well if you take your time.

This is one of the reasons that I chose my van, as well as security
 

Gary

Old Tartan Bollocks
Author
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Mar 29, 2018
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Putting a 25kg bike in the back of a car cannot be done with your back straight.
Yes it can..
Lift one wheel into the car.. Then once it's placed in the boot lift in the other in.

einstein-570bcbbf5f9b5814082d892b.jpg
 

B1rdie

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Subscriber
Feb 14, 2019
839
1,034
Brazil
Yes, 23 kg emtb are too heavy and if you have other mtb that are light and you are fit enough to pedal on half day long rides with more than 1.000 meters climb you will regret buying a new emtb.
its not only loading the ebike to the car. If you ride trails that are not maintained and go through situations you might need to hike the ebike, the extra weight will mean a serious harm to the lower back pain.
 

BBear

Active member
May 18, 2019
105
86
Bristol
I have had a running battle with serious back problems over many years. I don’t have any difficulties actually riding my emtb. The problem, as mentioned by others, is manhandling the bike. I have difficulties lifting the front of the bike onto it’s back wheel to manoeuvre it out to the front of my house. It’s the only real problem I have with the bike as it definitively stresses my back.
 

Gary

Old Tartan Bollocks
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Mar 29, 2018
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I have difficulties lifting the front of the bike onto it’s back wheel
mate. lock the back brake with both hands holding on the grips while stood next to the bike (close) and simply walk backwards.
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,508
8,787
Lincolnshire, UK
Back problems, me too since 1995. I bought an emtb because of arthritic knees. But I bought a tow-bar and rack because of my back. There was no way I'd be loading it in the back of the car like I use to do with an mtb.
As others have reported, I don't find that riding the bike hurts my back, quite the reverse in fact. When I am riding I NEVER have problems with my back, not aches and pains, no twinges, nothing. I have fallen off my bikes multiple times in all manner of ways and never hurt my back. Other parts of me, yes. Just be careful when lifting it, like you would any heavy awkward load and you will be fine. The exercise will do you good ,as will the articulation of the spine while pedalling. :)
 
Last edited:

BBear

Active member
May 18, 2019
105
86
Bristol
mate. lock the back brake with both hands holding on the grips while stood next to the bike (close) and simply walk backwards.
So I’ve been doing wrong all these years - no I’m not being sarky, I have been doing it wrong and your suggestion works perfectly

thanks ?
 

nB2000

Member
Jul 23, 2020
78
27
South coast UK
First post here, haven't bought an eMtb - yet, wondered if the guys here could help with a question before I pull the trigger on an eBike.

Disclaimer; I have ridden a few road based ebikes and they've all been great. But I ride mtb and try to avoid roads if possible. I haven't ridden an eMtb - probably becuase I'm concerned I'll really like it.

I know I can go hire one an eMtb for an afternoon and get a feel for this myself. But...

I have had back surgery years ago and been problem free for 13+ years, until recently. Cue MRI of everything, consultants visits etc upshot is have the ususal wear & tear in the spine, but the kicker is an issue with the (partially age related) narrowing of the spinal canal - which is impinging on major nerves, which has been for the last few months causing me untold grief, all improving better, but surgery is in my future - sadly. Plus all manner of other rubbish stuff.

So whats my question ?
I've ridden mtb for a long time and my bikes are all pretty light. Does riding a 2x the weight eMtb cause any of you guys lower back pain / stress ?
I do fancy the assistance of electric mtbs, but not if its going to unduly stress my lower back due to hauling 20+ kg about on the trails, as I need to enjoy myself and get out, but also stay mindful that it's not all great in my lower back.

Yes, core strengthing, lose weight etc etc. Can improve on all of that and am, but some of my issues are out of my control.
Read back mechanic by Stuart McGill and get your day to day stability and positioning dialled. Handle the heavy bike carefully. I’m and out the car. On and off the work stand.
I’m in virtually the same position as you with stenosis (canal narrowing) and herniateddiscs. I hope an e bike will enable me to ride again
Specialized SL is in a different league for weight. Same weight as my enduro bike.
good exercise strengthens the back. Bad knackers it. As does chronic bad position sitting etc.
If I’d read that book15 years ago I’d not just have been off work for 6 months.
Good luck.
 

TXHookey

Member
Oct 7, 2020
5
7
Texas
Similar situation. Chronic back pain but not a "surgical" back. Still ride all of my MTBs but wanted a EMTB for times when I wanted to go on a longer ride or was feeling low energy. I got the Orbea Rise but that is exactly what I wanted, fairly light bike with a lower amount of assist. No regrets. I live in a pretty flat area so no need for a full turbo emtb around here but if your in an area with elevation may not be the best fit.

I do feel the weight of the bike, small jumps, drops, and popping over things under 2 feet, just takes a little more effort. Popping over or dropping off anything higher than that is beyond my fitness experience but I can clear them pretty easy with my other MTBs.

Overall, well worth the money, I ride my emtb about 3 times more than my mtbs now and I am riding at least twice as much in total.
 

Gary

Old Tartan Bollocks
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Subscriber
Mar 29, 2018
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To all you guys who may be struggling with popping and lifting the heavier bike while actually riding. Put your effort into pre-loading the bike a lot more than you currently are rather than pulling or yanking it. if you do need a pull preloading the bike more before will make pulling become less effort too.
to ride like this you need good a supportive suspension spring rate to pre-load instead of an unsupportive super soft marshmallow spring rate that a lot of folk run to try in an attempt to add comfort and small bump compliance.
 

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