THE SETTING | KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
We take our fan’s comments seriously, and after two years of winter test sessions in the desert settings of Palm Springs, CA and then St. George, Utah, we moved our eBike shootout to a much greener destination with more trees than cacti. Last fall we drove around looking for potential locations that would offer a wide variety of terrain, welcome eBikes and would be a ton of fun to visit. Knoxville, Tennessee ended up being the best fit for this year’s test and we couldn’t have had a better time enjoying the trails and southern hospitality on display. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Knoxville’s mayor, Indya Kincannon, is a mountain biker that’s helping to facilitate the ever-growing network of awesome trails and infrastructure for MTBs and eMTBs alike in Knoxville and the surrounding area.
The city of Knoxville, and specifically the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission and Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC), have made some major investments into mountain biking and outdoor recreation as a whole. The city has built greenways filled with skinnies, other fun pump and jump features, wall rides and more. What’s better is that they’ve got one of the best urban bike trail centers we’ve been to, ever: Baker Creek Preserve. The kind of place we’d be stoked to have within a couple hours drive, never mind cycling distance from a city. They’ve got a paved pumptrack and slopestyle jump line; a large, varied skills area and plenty more in the Baker Creek Preserve. Just beyond the family-friendly fun zone is a huge variety of singletrack trails that offer riders a wide variety of options, from fun and effortless flow trails through to rough and chunky rocks. For those looking for their freeride fix, there’s even some big jumps thrown in for good measure on the awesome Devil’s Racetrack.
Our crew also visited Sharp’s Ridge, which is a trail network on the north end of Knoxville that has some fun options including a brand-new trail that we couldn’t get enough of. We were thankful for the electric assistance as we lapped and lapped the fun descent filled with both natural and man-made jumps, long off-cambers and some tire ripping berms. The trails at Sharp’s Ridge offered some fun, mellower singletrack for us to test the Trail category (155mm travel and less) eBikes, too. We found the terrain to be very natural and on-par with what we expect a majority of trail riders to encounter. Sharp’s also has a couple of very fun black diamond trails with some jumps and berms that are a blast to ride.
If you are looking to visit the region, other neighboring trail networks including Haw Ridge and Vee Hollow can be reached with a short car journey. However, when it came time to finding a place to test the Enduro category (160mm and more) eMTBs, our crew preferred driving 40 minutes north of Knoxville to Windrock, for its Bike Park and separate “XC” trail area. The two full days we spent at Windrock were not only a ton of fun as it was our crew’s first time there, but they gave us some of the most demanding terrain to test what these long-travel enduro eMTBs – and our bodies – were capable of.