In a previous issue of New Zealand Mountain Biker, I had the good fortune to be able to thrash the living daylights out of Specialized’s 2019 model Levo E-bike on my local grade 5 trails for a couple of weeks. The results were surprising, in a good way. This time round I was once again on the Levo, but at the opposite end of the ‘radness’ spectrum – bikepacking. A far more sedate application where the bike proved once again why there is no denying the versatility of E-bikes, especially when the bike in question is as well sorted as the Levo.
The Bikepacking Gig
New places. New people. New experiences and challenges. Electric assistance meant the physical challenges were minimised, and we saw few people in our remote location, but we aced the new places and experiences part of the trip.
The only other people we met were fellow riders. They’d come from the other direction and were riding predominantly downhill to Opotiki. There are still some fair climbs in that direction, so full credit to them as they looked to be recreational riders on hired bikes and didn’t have our electric assistance advantage. The next day they were getting shuttled back up the Motu Road Trail from the coast to the Pakihi Track trailhead to ride the trail. It serves to show there are various options with how riders plan their rides in the area, and shuttle services open up even more possibilities.
Weird, But in a Good Way
E-biking: so cruisy. We saw so much more of the scenery because we weren’t in head-down bum-up pedaling mode. It also encourages riders to stop more often to admire the views or take photos - largely because it doesn’t break your rhythm of riding and is easy to get going and up to speed again.
We also had the energy to explore side tracks - which we never would have spent the effort on if riding regular bikes. One of the best views from the entire trip was from this exploration, and I am grateful to have been able to bank another epic view in my memories.
The weirdest feeling was getting to our accommodation for the night after six or so hours of saddle time. Weird because we were instantly relaxed - we weren’t exhausted and felt relatively fresh. Usually after a big ride like that on a loaded bike the priorities when you get off are preparing some food and getting cleaned up if staying with the luxury of a shower, or whatever your version of cleaning up is if free-camping. Instead, our primary objective at day’s end was to get our bikes plugged in so they could face the next day’s ride fully charged.
Our overnight accommodation was at the Motu Community House - what used to be the village Post Office has been repurposed as a rustic, rural-style homestead. Operated by a local trust to support the community, the House is unusual in that from a mere $25 per person you have the luxury of full kitchen facilities, roaring wood fire, clean towels, hot showers and linen and duvets included for the multitude of single beds in the three bedrooms.
The most impressive kitchen appliance was actually out the side door and over the neighbouring fence. Boris the Russian pig lives next door and is the most functional garbage disposal you’ve ever seen; our leftovers lasted mere seconds before Boris inhaled them.
Free camping or staying somewhere with minimal services is awesome in its own right, but being able to plan on having a hot shower with towels available and sleep in comfortable beds with fresh clean linen at the end of a day’s ride makes logistics so much easier. As if that wasn’t enough, we went the extra mile for a little more cost and had a ready-cooked dinner left for us, ready to heat up. The pièce de résistance of the day was the bonus of home-baked plum pie with custard and cream for desert. This luxury version of bikepacking has a lot going for it.
Check out part two of our Motu adventures to read about E-bikepacking on the Pakihi Trail.
Words & Images: Nick Lambert & Cameron Mackenzie
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