Pure MTB talks with Silvan Esslinger, tour guide and bike mechanic at Bike Academy Davos about cow bells, an alternative use for an inner tube and his favourite eBike trails.
How did you get into mountain biking?
Strangely enough through skiing. I’ve been a ski instructor most of my life. I used to have summers off but my boss had other plans! Skiing and mountain biking share a lot – epic descents, good times with friends. Even in terms of technique, separating at the hip, forward position, just like carving. It’s the flip side of the same coin.
Silvan, Davos’ eMTB guru!
Should I ride an eBike in Davos?
Davos eMTB trails with uphill flow included.
How’s the backcountry riding out there?
Shared access means you can literally ride on any trail, anywhere. Summiting a mountain with an eBike on your back is not exactly recommended but there are plenty of rideable trails, all singletrack. Danny MacAskill’s video gives a flavour of what’s here. 1300km of trails means everyone’s spread out, so even on a waymarked route it’s really just you, the mountain and a few marmots.
There’s a rumour that mountain bikers carry cow bells. Is this true?
Some of the more traditional Swiss cowbells weigh as much as 5kg, extra weight you can do without, even on an ebike. Around these parts we prefer trail bells. They’re much smaller, don’t weigh much and the jingle’s a nice way to give other riders, hikers, cows and the odd ibex a heads up or down.
Alpine serenity and the jingle of bells, large and small
What about big rides?
For crest rides, the Alps Epic tour on an eBike is legendary. Panoramaweg, the name’s a bit of a give away, offers 360 degree summit views – absolutely breathtaking. The three day hut tour was introduced this year and you stay overnight in a traditional Swiss mountain refuge. If you’re comfortable with rocky technical stuff you can also eBike from Davos to the neighbouring resorts Arosa-Lenzerhide then take the bus back, about 52km with 400m ascent and 2500m descent. Pretty big.
What's the worst breakage you've had to fix on an eBike?
We were on a tour and a guy in the group had a rear triangle failure – one of the linkage bolts had sheared. We were about 30km from base. I ended up using two bike levers as a splint and an innertube as a bandage. It was a slow ride back but we made it.
If I had just one day on an ebike in Davos...
If you could only manage one ride, take Parsennbahn funicular, pick up Panoramaweg and climb up to the summit of Choerbschhorn. The descent from there is unmissable. Pit stop for Nusstorte cake at one of my favorite mountain huts Berghaus Stafelalp. Follow the trail into the valley then top it all with a sunset grill. There are loads of public BBQ areas scattered about the mountains. Just grab some bratwurst, a few local brews and enjoy the views.
Stop for lunch at a mountain hut – try the Nusstorte
Bike Academy Davos are open throughout the summer months and offer eBike tours, private guiding, skills training and top quality full suspension eBikes from Trek, Mondraker and Rocky Mountain.