E-MTB in the Montafon
The lightness of being in the unique region of Vorarlberg
The Montafon is a 40-kilometre-long high valley in Vorarlberg that stretches from Bludenz to the Bielerhöhe Pass at the Silvretta Reservoir, on the state border with Tyrol. A 270-kilometre network of routes invites visitors to explore the alpine world around the summits of Rätikon, Verwall and Silvretta by mountain bike or e-bike. In the Montafon, it was recognised at an early stage that the topic of e-bikes has a future, for which it also received an innovation award. Reason enough for us to get to know this valley and electricity-supported mountain biking.
We quickly found a destination where coordinated e-MTB tours with trained guides are offered – the Aktiv- & SPA Hotel Alpenrose in Schruns, approximately 15 kilometres from Bludenz. When we arrive at the hotel, we are greeted by the head of the house, Karl Mäser, who seems extremely able and sporty. As we already booked an e-bike programme in advance, the landlord shows us electric wheels that we will use for the planned tours. We are a little bit sceptical; after all, up till now we have always driven our mountain bikes uphill with pure muscle power and have seen no need for engine support. Karl gives us the first technical briefing and recommends we do a short test ride to try everything out and to familiarise ourselves with the unfamiliar material. Later, we also meet Markus, the guide of the house, who discusses the first e-MTB activities with us.
Following Markus’s recommendation, we begin with rider training specially for riding an e-mountain bike. There are, in fact, many details to note, in order, for example, to receive the right support from the engine at the right moment. In contrast to the traditional bicycle, considerably more attention must be paid to the shifting technique in particular. After the dry run, we start with a familiarisation tour with our guide and we are enthused by this effortlessness. From Schruns, we begin the strikingly long – 1,100 metres in altitude – ascent up to the mountain station of the Hochjochbahn. We start with low engine support and thanks to our good physical condition we barely have to exert ourselves.
However, as our batteries are still almost full, we then do want to test the limits and we push ourselves up to the highest point in no time with the turbo level. Here, we even have to reduce the speed in the curves so as not to
be carried out – simply brilliant.
Things now continue on unhurriedly to the Innerkapell Alpe, where we are treated to a hearty snack by the innkeeper. The cheese of in-house production, in particular, tastes fantastic and it becomes clear why Vorarlberg is so well-known for the high quality of this delicious dairy product. This tranquillity completely without hecticness and stress has an extremely relaxing effect. On the other hand, however, we are curious about what is possible with the e-bike on the descent of the trail. So we say goodbye to the extremely friendly landlord and landlady and set off back into the valley. Thanks to the initial riding training, we know what is required and the e-bike impresses us in these technical passages as well. We hardly notice a difference to the usual material and even the extra weight does not make the bike cumbersome in this terrain. After this impressive trip, we are surprisingly relaxed, very satisfied and full of anticipation for the next e-MTB tour. This time is it to be a landscape highlight and we opt for a trip that leads first through up the Silbertal valley and later out of the valley again over the so-called “sun balcony” on the Bartholomäberg. Since we are already familiar with the new material, we are able to take more notice of the landscape and the environment this time.
Markus’s motto is: “On holiday, people ought to relax, removing all loads.” With the electric bicycle, it is easy to concentrate on the positive and calming aspects of this breathtaking landscape of the Montafon. Before the Silbertal valley leads into the Verwalltal valley, which goes towards the mountain from St. Anton am Arlberg, we face the steep ascent into the Wasserstubental valley. On a short distance, 500 metres in altitude are to be overcome here, which we manage easily, with a broad smile on our faces, thanks to our e-MTBs. We ride pleasurably on the sunny side with gentle ups and downs to the Kristbergsattel and further over the Maisässe typical of the Montafon, those cleared surfaces to which the Montafon owes its unique cultural landscape. Accompanied by the magnificent view of the valley villages of Schruns and Tschagguns and of the splendid alpine world of this region, we enjoy the concluding descent back into the valley. Summary:
The Montafon offers everything to enthral mountain bikers and we are enthused by the opportunities that the electric mountain bike has to offer us. Thanks to the considerably greater action radius, our tours receive added fun and enjoyment value.