They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity but it’s been a tough week for the team at BikePark Wales after they announced their controversial decision to increase charges for E-MTBs at the park for day visitors from £8 to £15 per day.
Rumour and conjecture spread like wildfire, with sparks flying from every direction and the Cycling Press wasting no time in pumping the bellows. We at E-Mountainbike Magazine, obviously, support the integration of E-MTBs into all aspects of mountain biking but also recognise the demands of running a trail centre or bike park.
With that in mind, we approached Martin Astley, the Director of BikePark Wales, to better understand the reasons for the price increase and to address a few of the issues that had resulted from their decision. He asked for 48 hours to respond as the team had been shocked by the response from riders and wanted to carefully address each point of contention before answering our questions.
…36 hours later Bike Park Wales issued this statement:
“ BikePark Wales is a gravity bike park for people wishing to ride downhill trails, predominantly uplift assisted. We are quite unique in the bike park world in that there is a pedal up option, most do not offer this and hence e-bike riders cannot use the facility (unless they want to use an e-bike on the uplift, but from what we have seen at BPW this is very rare). This means we are in a fairly unique position as a pay to ride mountain bike destination with regular e-bike customers.
We had not thought that the introduction of a charge for e-bikes would be quite so controversial; we have listened to the feedback both supportive and understanding, and negative and at times angry. Introducing this entrance fee was never about ‘driving profits’ as all of the entrance fee revenue goes into maintaining and developing trails, it was about ensuring that we can continue to do that into the future and introducing a price differential between ‘standard’ self-propelled mountain bikes and electric, ‘pedal-assist’ mountain bikes which we feel is the right thing to do and now is the right time to do so.
We have been watching the market for a few years and spent time on e-bikes ourselves both inside the bike park and outside at other venues to understand them; they offer a slightly different experience to standard bikes and open up other ways of using the bike park. Riders are generally able to ride a lot more trails using an e-bike than they would do so when climbing under their own steam.
Our business model is one of continual trail evolution with maintenance, trail rebuilds, improvements and new trail developments funded by our pedal pass park entrance fees and by using profits from the uplift service. The introduction of the e-bike entrance fee serves to differentiate between the users, the potential for more use of the trails in a day (and subsequent increased wear) and ensures that our business model and importantly our trail network can keep developing into a great place to ride, on whatever style of bike you may choose!
Taking onboard the feedback and listening to our customers, we have chosen to adjust the pricing of the e-bike entrance fee and have added clarifications below where people have misunderstood our intentions:
- E-bike riders booked onto the uplift will not be subject to the e-bike charge.
- Any E-bike riders not booked onto the uplift will pay the e-bike entrance fee (This includes those who purchase individual runs on the day on the uplift).
- Current season passes remain valid and existing holders are unaffected by the charge. They are to collect their e-bike passes in the usual way at reception. When season passes are set to renew in January we will introduce a two-tier pass – one standard season pass and one for e-bikes.
- Riders who can only use an e-bike due to a physical disability may contact reception and enter the park for the standard park entrance fee of £8 (or the standard uplift fee). All other e-bike users will be subject to the e-bike charge irrespective of age/weight etc.
- E-bike riders will be provided with a unique entrance band to display on the bike.
- Finally, we have decided to adjust the entrance fee for e-bikes from £15 to £12 with immediate effect. This is to reflect the fact this is not about profit but to ensure there is a differentiation between self-propelled riders and e-bikes for the reasons already indicated.
We are excited about e-bikes and how they may continue to improve in the future, we hope to see e-bikers coming to ride at BPW and enjoying the trail network riding alongside standard mountain bikes, and this pricing differential is the model that will allow that to continue into the future. Our customers are our key concern, we have listened to feedback and hopefully the points above clarify our position.
The BPW Team”.
As riders, what do you think?
Words: Tom Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey