In our latest electric bike adventure, we rode through breath-taking scenery all the way from Mongolia’s geographical center to its old capital Karakorum. We truly put Bosch’s most powerful propulsion system to the test – fording rivers and scaling steep hills on speed pedelecs (pedal electric cycles) from the German brands Kreidler and Riese & Müller. Using solar panels mounted on trailers to charge the bike batteries (and other devices), we were able to supply all our electrical energy from the sun – an entirely self-sufficient way to travel. But that’s not to say there weren’t challenges – an impromptu horse race among others…
Hills and valleys, heat and hail were all part of Tour de Mongolia! We rode through the wilderness of Mongolia on a brand-new cross bike from Kreidler and a touring bike from Riese & Müller. Both speed pedelecs were equipped with Bosch’s most powerful propulsion system. With the help of an extra 350-500 watts, allowing for speeds of up to 45km/h, we crossed meadows and marshes, stony fields and loose sand. Dusty roads on hot dry days and flooded paths after heavy thunderstorms were both equal parts of the scenery. Navigation was with map, compass, and the valuable advice of the natives – even if the only common language was gestures and smiles!
The all-terrain one-wheel trailers from Tout Terrain served as our “mules” and mobile charging stations. For this trip, electric bike specialist Ecomo21 had specially equipped the trailers with swiveling solar panels. Thanks to the ability to keep the panels constantly tilted in the direction of the most sunlight, we were able to cover all of our energy needs for the tour from solar power.
The Bosch eBike system, bikes, trailers and charging devices withstood all challenges without any major breakdowns. With a traveling speed of up to 30 km/h on good flat paths, we quickly got used to the extra watts! But, what had seemed easy enough to achieve through our own efforts, rapidly transformed into a strenuous endeavor as soon as the battery was empty or we chose to shut the engine off. After a little practice, we were frequently surprised how quickly and smoothly we mastered difficult routes, even though we were weighed down with almost 50kg of baggage – each! On a normal bike – with the same speed transmission – we would probably have avoided a steep incline of over 1000 meters difference in altitude, while carrying that much stuff. On this climb, we really drove the powerful pedelecs to their limits, not to mention ourselves!
From beginning to end of our multi-week tour, from Mongolia’s geographical center to the old capital Karakorum and through the surrounding mountains, we were a fascinating attraction for the natives. Luckily, the standard deal could be negotiated without many words: bike in exchange for horse (or motorcycle). And they all came back smiling! It was quite an experience when we zoomed up a mountain pass neck and neck with Mongolian horsemen. We could keep up easily if the horses were just trotting, but when they started galloping, we did indeed lack a few watts to keep pace! Either way, sprints like this were a lot of fun!
However, apart from racing, you quickly learn to slow down in Mongolia and let life flow at its own pace. Immersing ourselves in the Nomads’ life was a wonderful, multi-faceted experience, full of unique stories to tell back at home.