What is an adventure? Is it the search for the unknown, an adrenaline rush, or the feeling of freedom? No matter how you define it, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. In the name of their new motto “Adventurous Spirit”, Ford invited us together with STEVENS Bikes on a test ride in Freiburg.
When Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and wrote automotive history with the successful Model T, just driving a car was an adventure in itself. Cars were special, exciting, and considered a big step towards a promising future. Almost 120 years later, Ford remain giants of the automotive industry, but times have changed: The roads are full of cars and driving them has turned into a largely mundane routine. Especially at Ford, where they’ve long focused on catering to the masses, apart from legends such as the Ford Mustang or the GT40. Like many automakers, however, Ford are currently undergoing a significant transformation. They’re discontinuing small cars like the Fiesta – probably because they can no longer compete with Chinese brands in this segment, like many other Western car companies – and reorienting themselves by targeting the adventure and outdoor segment. With the new motto “Adventurous Spirit”, this is where Ford want to position themselves and their passenger vehicles (these changes won’t affect their commercial division). Moreover, they believe that bikes and cars go hand in hand, and we’ve often experienced that this can in fact be the case. Whether in pursuit of maximum fun with a classic 911 and two high-end race bikes, on a 4,000 km road trip across Europe with the ID.BUZZ and our e-mountainbikes, or on off-road adventures with the new Land Rover Defender, to name just a few examples. But back to Freiburg, where we threw some bikes on the rear carrier of the Mustang Mach-E as well as the back of the Ranger Raptor and checked out what the two completely different vehicles are capable of – and whether they exude the same spirit despite all the technical differences!
What exactly is an adventure?
People have always been fascinated with adventures and heroic tales. Chances are you’ll have heard the Wild West stories of Davy Crockett, Buffalo Bill or Billy the Kid, but can we still experience a real adventure in today’s heavily regulated and highly developed environment, or is it a question of perspective? Everyone has a different idea of adventure, but most people think of it as an exciting and unpredictable event that takes them out of their comfort zone, leading to new experiences and memories. In this sense, adventures always have an element of the unknown and uncertainty because you don’t know what will happen. Adventures can happen on many levels. For example, there are adventures in the technical sense, such as the adrenaline rush induced by the incredible acceleration of an electric car, or the deafening roar of a monster truck.
What can we learn from ebikes?
Adventure is closely linked to freedom and independence. The things that cars were capable of before, when the terms traffic jam and rush hour traffic weren’t yet known, when the smell of gasoline was still considered sexy, and soot-covered faces and oily hands were thought of as manly. Cars have lost all of this during the last 100 years. Today, in the vast majority of cases, they’re just a means to an end, almost outcasts that protesters are trying to ban for good by supergluing themselves to roads. Bicycles are the new heroes of mobility, in the form of commuters and cargo bikes in the city, and mountain bikes in the outdoors, ideally with electric pedal assist. In Freiburg, it was the new STEVENS E-Inception FR 7.9.2 with the latest Bosch CX Race motor. However, let’s not forget that most riders take their bikes to trendy spots or parks by car. And the #vanlife trend is more popular than ever amongst bikers! So, one doesn’t exclude the other, and it ultimately comes down to having the right mobility mix. Once you’ve ridden an eMTB, you’ll be addicted to the feeling of being able to reach any destination while relying (almost) exclusively on your own strength, discovering new things behind every bend. And eMTB lets you live life to the fullest, connected with your surroundings, making you freer and letting you have more fun. Adventure is a feeling that starts in the mind. What has the automotive industry learned from this? Driving must be more than just getting from A to B. A car needs to make you feel free and independent again.
Wellness hotel vs self-catering at the Ford and STEVENS press camp
The Ford press camp gave us a taste of things that four- and two-wheeled off-road vehicles allow you to experience, and it was full of contrasts, from a wellness hotel and tightly scheduled test drives to self-sufficient camping in the outdoors with no schedule. The colourful bunch of bike and car journalists included a wide variety of skillsets, making the eMTB ride an adrenaline rush for some and just a warm-up for others. The same was true for the drive, though the other way around. But what matters, ultimately? That everyone got their fill of whatever puts a smile on their face. In this case, a shared enthusiasm about tech and machines, whether it’s feeling the power of the Mustang Mach-E with up to 500 electric ponies under the hood, experiencing the off-road capabilities of the huge Ford Ranger Raptor, or catching air aboard the STEVENS E-Inception. It’s not the kind of thing you experience every day, at least it isn’t for us. Okay, maybe except for the bike part. And at first glance, the cars and the bike couldn’t be more different. But they’re all exciting in their own way. Was it an adventure? Not in this setting. But did it make us yearn for adventure? Absolutely.
Must you always stay the way you are, and do you have to please everyone? Ford don’t seem to think so! The automobile company are targeting new groups, which results in heated debates, especially among die-hard fans. Most folks associate the Mustang with freedom, power, and the growl of a V8 engine. But Ford have reinterpreted it, introducing an electric model for the first time in Mustang’s 60-year success story. The SUV has little in common with the legendary icon, except for the lights and the mustang galloping on the grille. It’s on par in terms of performance, however, with an output of up to 487 hp. The new Ford Ranger Raptor is the polar opposite, making you feel like a ranger exploring the world’s most vast expanses. And you can just chuck your bike on the back, which is convenient and looks cool when you’re at the bike park. Our first impressions of the new Ford Ranger Raptor and Mustang Mach-E are promising, and they’re more than capable of real adventures, whether on- or off-road. We went looking for puddles that were big enough to prove it, but, unfortunately, we couldn’t find any at the press event. We’ve gone on many adventures with different cars in the past, and we always made a lot of special memories doing so. So, hopefully you’ll see us on another trip with the Ford Ranger Raptor or the Mustang Mach-E soon. Our visit to Freiburg let us taste blood, making us yearn for adventure the way we like it: charging up our e-bikes and heading off to countries we’ve never been to before, because adventure awaits in the unknown!
Over 100 years ago, any journey by car was an adventure, but the world has changed drastically since, and the role of the automobile needs to be redefined to keep up with the times. With the new Mustang Mach-E and the Ranger Raptor, Ford aim to put the fun and excitement back into driving. Can the car brand inspire the masses and keep the competition at bay with their new “Adventurous Spirit” motto? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: An exciting new adventure has just begun!
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Words: Mike Hunger Photos: Julian Schwede